Mad Men: the new Sopranos

It's back to the unreconstructed 1960s for the latest US TV import

Farewell to the "made men"; hello to the Mad Men. Television has found a successor to The Sopranos – a chronicle of the psychotic yet strangely sympathetic members of a New York crime family – and it's coming here.

Tonight British viewers will be introduced to Don Draper, and if the reaction to him in America is anything to go by, they will quickly form a new love-hate relationship with the all-man, misogynistic hero.

Draper, played by Jon Hamm, is the central character in the award-winning Mad Men, written by Matthew Weiner, a former Sopranos scriptwriter, and set in a 1960s New York advertising agency.

Unlike recent US imports such as Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City, or The Sopranos, which had strong female characters, Mad Men harks back to when guys were guys and women were doormats. Draper asks one colleague: "What do women want?" The reply is terse: "Who cares?"

Part of the appeal of the drama, which has already won two Golden Globe awards for its first series, is its setting in the 1960s when social and political change transformed America. The characters smoke. A woman asking for the contraceptive pill is warned by her gynaecologist: "Even in our modern times, easy women don't get husbands."

The commercial and critical success of Mad Men has given hope to many who despaired of US television after the trauma of the Writers Guild strike. Produced by the small cable station American Movie Classics, Mad Men started life as a pilot script by Weiner in 2000. He sent it on spec to David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos. It was enough to see Weiner hired on The Sopranos although Mad Men was shelved.

When The Sopranos ended in the US last year after eight years, HBO turned down the Mad Men script, despite Chase championing it, a mistake recently acknowledged by the channel's executives. "I loved The Sopranos. But not every problem can be solved by killing someone," Weiner told The New York Times. "When you take that out of the mix, talking is kind of what you have left, although a lot of problems on this show are solved by sleeping with people."

Chase said of the script: "It was lively and it had something new to say. Here was someone who had written a story about advertising in the 1960s, and was looking at recent American history through that prism."

'Mad Men' is on BBC4 tonight at 10pm

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss