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Watching 'Mad Men,' Boomers Revisit Their Youth

The show's meticulous re-creation of the 1960s casts a powerful spell

John Slattery and Jon Hamm in Mad Men

In "Mad Men," admen Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm) drink and smoke ... a lot. — Courtesy AMC

Everything you see on the popular series Mad Men has been chosen and placed in your line of sight for a reason:

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The floral couch into which Pete Campbell settles uncomfortably in his Connecticut home, the light fixtures that frame the Manhattan hallways in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices, the liquor bottles from which so many cocktails have been poured, the vintage glassware from which those drinks are tippled — the list can go on.

AMC's hit drama has always been as much about its look as its story — how many other shows have inspired an entire Banana Republic clothing line? — but on its currently airing sixth season, plot points seem to slip away as easily as a Don Draper pledge of fidelity. By now, the characters have been well established. We know what to expect from them, or at least we think we do.

Floral couch in the Campbell home

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) relaxes in his so Sixties living room, inspired by set decorator Claudette Didul's childhood home in suburban Connecticut. — Courtesy AMC

The scenery, however, can still surprise. Indeed, one of the joys at the dawn of each new season is picking through the visual cues to detect how much time has passed as the show moves through the 1960s.

Changing Times

With Mad Men now set firmly in the seminal year of 1968, the look is shifting from the dark mahogany and knotty pines that have largely defined it toward a more colorful, sometimes psychedelic template.

As the story continues to nudge up against the 1970s, those changes will become even more pronounced, which set decorator Claudette Didul expects will be a challenge.

We’re kind of turning to new colors, the burnt oranges and the avocados. And you’re going into the not-so-great-looking furniture and look and artwork,” Didul, 51, says of the time period in question. “Things are getting a little murkier.”

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