Has Mad Men Affected People’s Drinking Habits?

The television show, “Mad Men,” has certainly made an impact on today’s television-loving culture. Fashion has taken a marked turn back towards the subtle professionalism of the 60s era depicted in the TV show, and waves have been made over whether or not Don Draper’s constant cigarette smoking is a bad influence on viewers. But another thing is very prevalent in the show that has been addressed much less than the cigarettes and the suits and dresses: the drinking.

Perhaps one of the more striking consistencies in this comedy is the amount which its characters drink in the office—a 1960s standard for getting through the day. This constancy of men in suits, whiskey-in-hand must have some effect on the way drinking is viewed in our society today. Drinking whiskey in the mid-morning with a cigarette has typically been seen as a sad state of affairs, and a cause for concern, certainly. But with the gentlemen in Mad Men consuming their fair share of spirits in the office in what appears to be the middle of the afternoon, alcoholism seems manly, professional, and even intelligent and creative.

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This effect is not only theoretical, as Mad Men has made a small yet definitive impression on the publishing market, with books teaching fans how to eat and drink like Mad Med. In addition to the two  cookbooks that have been published on the Mad Men theme detailing recipes for sixties favorites like oysters Rockefeller and Waldorf salad , there is also a published guide on drinking Mad Man style.  It turns out that this is a retread of an actual 1962 publication along the lines a a Survival Guide for Executives.

But although Mad Men initially depicts drinking and smoking as a care-free day-to-day habit in early episodes, the show does continue on to address the true issue, which is alcoholism. Don Draper (who must have a never-ending supply of whatever passed for Viagra during the 60s?) does, realistically, spiral out of control, and characters begin to reference the problem at hand, saying things to the effect of, “You can’t find the answers to your problems at the bottom of a bottle.”

Don keeps a stash of t-shirts in his desk, and we see the reality of alcohol use in the office (and everywhere else) and not just the glamor and manly-coolness of it. Although Mad Men may have made whiskey and cigarettes out to be an acceptable habit for working professionals, for the most part, people’s drinking habits and opinions of alcohol in general have likely remained the same.

 

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