““America this is the impression I get from looking at my television set.
America is this correct?”
—Allen Ginsberg, “America” (1956)
AMC’s critical darling Mad Men depicts, with obsessive attention to visual and verbal detail, the early-‘60s, a precarious time in American history. On one hand, echoes of the purported suburban paradise of the late-‘50s, found more in the monochromatic world of Leave it to Beaver than in real life, resounded well into the ‘60s. On the other hand, hints of future tensions and radical change found their way into the “innocent” early part of the decade.
Mad Men depicts the darker underbelly of America’s supposed age of innocence. In the show’s early episodes, it seems that Don Draper represents the ideal urban man of the epoch. He has an exciting, creative job in Midtown and returns each evening via commuter train to his attractive Westchester family.