It’s a show that defines an era. Only not our era. Mad Men drips with glossy 1960s charm–or shameless 1960s indulgence, depending on your perspective. A soap opera, ironically, for the 21st century. The series perhaps over-dramatizes the evolution of the mid-century advertising world, but offers something in terms of unique character development that breaks our notion of what to expect in a period drama.
If you’re a part of its fan base, you have the benefit of retrospect when reading the pilot, and will immediately recognize how well Don Draper is established from the start, setting us up perfectly for what will be an intimate and profound character arc. Is Mad Men nothing more than an exaggeration? A hyperbole of those living in the most tumultuous decade of the modern era? Sure. But it’s the type of grounded glamorization that rips it out of the cliche, a style we anticipated from the episode one.