THE BLOG
09/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Mad Men

Of mad men gulping vodka on the rocks
while ogling secretaries whom they're scheming
to take to bed I sing, for forever dreaming
the fantasies a PC world now mocks.

The '60s is where I would like to be,
but times have changed, and I must change with them,
which makes me mad, as all my friends can see.
The former challenge was "cherchez la femme"--
pronounced, if you prefer, to rhyme with "dumb"--
but only losers hit on fellow workers
in games whose rules lead to a zero sum
because of laws that act like Muslim burkhas.

The world has changed, and men must manage lives
without the interludes that they enjoyed
back in the 60's. Will their lovely wives
step forward, please, and help them fill their void?

Inspired by Amy Chozick's article on the TV drama Mad Men ("The Women Behind 'Mad Men,'" WSJ, August 7, 2009).

In the fictional Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper where "Mad Men" is set, male executives gulp down vodka on the rocks and ogle their neatly coiffed secretaries. Early in the series agency partner Roger Sterling tries to cheer up creative director Don Draper by assuring him that "When God closes a door, he opens a dress." In response to a question about what women want, Roger replies "Who cares?" The story centers on Don Draper and his shadowy past, but a key part of the series, the writers say, is its complicated female characters. "It's less skewed than it appears," says consulting producer Maria Jacquemetton, who is married to fellow writer Mr. Jacquemetton....

Last week, at the Los Angeles Center Studios on the set of the Sterling Cooper office, co-producer Ms. Waller talked to director Mr. Hornbacher as he prepared to shoot a tense scene between Don Draper, Roger Sterling and closeted gay art director Salvatore Romano that Ms. Waller co-wrote. Actresses with up-dos and floral blouses tucked into A-line skirts held herbal cigarettes. An ashtray on the receptionist's desk brimmed with cigarette butts stained with pink lipstick. Ms. Waller says she tries to keep a 1960s mentality in her writing. Last season office manager Joan Holloway's seemingly perfect fiancé raped her on the floor of an office at Sterling Cooper, and "I wanted her to get revenge in the third season," Ms. Waller says. "I didn't even propose it. There's no way that would've gone over."