Ten ways to stay busy until Mad Men returns
Published: August 24, 2011
The long-awaited fifth season of Mad Men — Sunday-night destination TV, Emmy magnet, and masterpiece of faux-nostalgic melancholy — has been postponed.
Show creator Matthew Weiner’s well-documented battles with his writing staff, Lionsgate producers, and AMC network execs led Season 5 negotiations up to the precipice. The delay means fans will have to wait until March 2012 for their next fix, instead of the late-July/early-August premiere of the previous four seasons. Until then, we’ve devised a list of substitutes. Break out the chips ’n’ dip; it’s going to be a long seven months.
1. Watch the Draper clones
NBC still hasn’t set a start date for The Playboy Club, newbie creator Chad Hodge’s imagining of the magazine’s swinging heyday, but the show is already having predictable affiliate trouble (too racy for Iowa!), and its cast, devoid of any genuine stars (as Mad Men was, at first) could be a disadvantage in the kill-or-be-killed prime-time climate. ABC’s Pan Am, on the other hand, has everything going for it: a movie star (Christina Ricci) as its lead and a gleaming crew of Emmy-hoarders behind the camera.
2. Rent movies
Curvy, stiletto-heeled Elizabeth Taylor stars as the lust object of married Manhattanite Laurence Harvey in Butterfield 8. If you prefer the existential despair of Don Draper over Joan and her silver-haired fox, check out Gregory Peck in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Of course, no ’60s New York marathon is complete without Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, and you can also cue up 1963’s Bye Bye Birdie, starring Ann-Margret as the girl that Sterling Cooper just couldn’t quite copy for a failed Pepsi campaign.
3. Read books
New York Public Library’s Battery Park branch has created a continually updated and meticulously sourced Mad Men Reading List (nypl.org/blog/2010/09/13/mad-men-reading-list) for your pleasure. Every book mentioned in an episode is included in this treasure trove of literary backup.
In June official word came that Janie Bryant, Mad Men’s ace costume designer, would collaborate on a capsule collection with Banana Republic. Unfortunately, Bryant’s BR line looks uninspired but, if you just can’t resist cross-promotion, the Banana Republic collection went on sale Aug. 11.
This December, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is scheduled to drop: Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin promise a tour through the kitchens and restaurants of the 1960s, “with every detail true to the period and themes of the show.” Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book was published in 1960, and Julia Child’s landmark Mastering the Art of French Cooking came out in 1961. The perfect Christmas gift from the secretaries of Don Draper, Lane Pryce, and all the other suddenly superfluous ’60s husbands? A copy of Wolf in Chef’s Clothing, Robert Loeb’s male corollary to Bracken’s book.