The smoking, the drinking, the selling, the sex—Mad Men, the AMC hit television show, is coming to an end tomorrow night. The mid-century interiors and sleek fashion from Seasons One through Six were so uncluttered that it occurred to me the show might offer more than a few hints on orderly living. Unfortunately, the clothes and furnishings of Season Seven, set in the 1970s, are as bad as I remember. The polyester! The sideburns! And still with the smoking!
1. Use your (up and) down time — some of the most important business of the show was conducted in the elevator. Be ready with your elevator pitch about what you do.
2. Your car represents your life. What does yours say about you? As advertising genius and main character Don Draper says, do you need to change the conversation?
3. Even surrounded by bohemian fashion in Greenwich Village or bikinis in California, the man in the classic grey suit is still in the power position.
4. However, just because you’re wearing a classic grey suit doesn’t mean your life is in order.
5. Always be prepared for a great idea. Carry a notebook — a cocktail napkin will do in a pinch — and have a pen handy just in case you can’t borrow one from the bartender.
6. Tell the truth — it’s much easier to organize. Applies to relationships, work, taxes, caloric intake, everything.
7. Everybody needs a Joan, the redheaded beauty whose efficiency and cool head in a crisis is as impressive as her outrageous hourglass figure. She begins the series as office manager and ends it as a partner in the agency.
8. Excessive drinking, smoking and eating eventually take a toll. At least once an episode a secretary is fetching coffee, aspirin and Alka-Seltzer for one of the ad execs who staggers in late and has missed a meeting.
9. It’s not whether you fall down, it is whether you get up. The main characters all make terrible mistakes, but (thanks to the amazing acting and writing) it’s fascinating to watch them self-correct and get back on track.
10. Progress creates problems before it makes life easier. The copy machine that saves the secretaries reams of work is so huge it needs its own office. The new multi-line phones are confusing and complicated. A massive computer nearly bankrupts the office and drives one employee literally insane. The learning curve is steep, but eventually using these devices becomes second nature. Also, they either get smaller or, in some cases, (fax machines, Walkman cassette players, rotary phones) disappear completely.
11. Binge watching TV has disorderly side effects. After a few episodes of Mad Men in a row I feel a nasty contact high from the incessant drinking and smoking. Also, several hours can pass too easily, causing either a wasted chunk of day or lost sleep at night. I’m forcing myself to portion out the episodes to one per week this season; I don’t want it to end!