No surprise that there is a difference watching a show for entertainment and for reference. Before Kings of Madison Avenue (heretofore referred to as KoMA), I watched the series by savoring each episode like a gourmet, luxuriating in each morsel before moving on to the next course.
However, With a looming deadline I switched to a ravenous gourmand, gorging on multiple plates at a time, stuffed and over-sated, trying to squeeze in just one more episode as it is only "wafer thin".
These are periods of my life that I now call pre- and post-KoMA, with the latter sometimes resulting in a KoMA-induced stupor. (Note to self: a real Mad Man would cringe before making that kind of "joke".)
The closest I came to enjoying Mad Men in a manner befitting the series was when I sat down at my PVR to watch the entire second season in one go. Excited at the prospect, and not a little daunted at having to produce a manuscript shortly thereafter, I hit upon an idea. I had just thrown a birthday party for my wife and found a good amount of alcohol left over from the fete. The bulk of this liquid joy was in the form of wine (as a child, you bring bottles of pop to a birthday party; as a grown-up, it's wine), but one good friend thought out of step with the rest and brought two mickeys of whiskey, one scotch and one irish. For this, I am eternally grateful. Not only because it provided a great context in which to watch my favorite show, but because wine gives me indigestion.
Careful to pace myself, I topped off a glass and sat down to a full day of viewing. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a drinker, so I had to cut the whiskey with Coke, an action that has moved the good friend who brought the whiskey to cease all communications in protest (damned purists).
With this in mind, and the third season just around the corner, I offer a few options on proper Mad Men-watching activities.
1. Drink up! If you're a real man/woman who can handle booze (this discounts me), I'd suggest you drink it Old Fashioned, just like Don Draper. I tried this at the outset of watching the second season, but by the time I came to everyone on screen was fretting about the Cuban Missile Crisis and I had to start again the following day.
2. Light up! Smoking seems a natural, but I cannot in good conscience recommend this. Most viewing rooms are tight, enclosed spaces and this would be awful for any roommates or partners who may not enjoy filling their lungs with tar. Either save it for the end of each episode (a perfect time and manner in which to reflect on what you've just seen) or, if you can't stem your craving for more than fifty-plus minutes, set up your television room in the backyard. Or a nearby park. Or a forest.
3. Dress up! Comfort is always key in watching television, but would it kill you to put a crease in those khakis? A nice, crisp white shirt would go a long way, to say nothing of a sweet skinny tie. Again, I got this wrong the first few times I watched the show, opting for a bathrobe and track pants. And given that I watched the majority of season one on the subway via iPod, this was not well received by
those around me.
4. Shut up! Seriously. The show is on. There will be plenty of time to talk after.