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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?