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‘Mad Men’, Gene Hunt and Other Men

By David Herman  

What do ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Life on Mars’/’Ashes to Ashes’ have in common? They are both among the best TV dramas in the last decade. And they both use the past to find a way of talking about men today.

‘Mad Men’ is the Madison Avenue drama set in 1960. The advertising men are neanderthals when it comes to women (‘What do women want?’ ‘Who cares?’). The ad guys (most of them) are relentlessly sexist. And even the thoughtful Don Draper is cheating on his wife (as Kathryn Flett put it in her review in yesterday’s Observer, ‘In the early…

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