Mad Men Pilot – “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”
Since I first started watching two years ago, Mad Men has reigned as my favorite show of all time. It’s actually likely the reason I am going into television. Before Mad Men, I was unaware that a television show could be so completely captivating, that it could make you root for someone and then hate them in a matter of episodes. Never before had I been truly invested in a show, and in a character’s well-being (I’m looking at you, badass amazing kickass woman Peggy Olson). I have always had a LOT to say about the pilot, however. At first, I was not hooked. I was intrigued, but not hooked. Looking back on it, that’s perhaps one of the things I love so much about Mad Men. It tells an honest story within every episode. In the series’ pilot “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” we are immediately taken back into the world of the 1960’s. Right at the top of the episode, the term “Mad Men” is explained to us, almost setting the mood for the show. Once we are taken through the dimly lit bar and introduced to main character Don Draper, we are intrigued. He is portrayed as a good guy. He sticks up for the little guys and is fully invested in his work. Mad Men is filmed unlike any show I’ve ever seen. You almost feel as if you’re right there with Don, experiencing what he is, seeing what he does. Nevertheless, it isn’t long until we are introduced to an abundance of other characters. The pilot does an excellent job of establishing characters and hinting at their development. The audience can tell how much goes into the making of one episode through the flawless time period execution, costume design, acting, and even right down to the specific dialogue. Each character is given their own specific aesthetic; an aesthetic within the show’s own aesthetic. Don’s is mysterious, charming, captivating. Peggy’s is timid, unique, filled with unfulfilled potential. Betty is at first kind-hearted, maternal, cookie-cutter… though that changes shortly throughout the season. Mad Men never ceases to perfectly portray these characters’ stories within their time period. Throughout the shows remainder, Mad Men’s designers execute the show’s aesthetic to a tee. It is consistent and visually pleasing at all times.