Sharp Writing, '60s Vibe Draw Viewers To 'Mad Men'

The AMC program Mad Men had fewer than a million viewers per episode in its first season. Its sharp writing and cool '60s clothes get nowhere near the ratings of cable hits like WWE Raw, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Spongebob Squarepants. But more people are watching Mad Men's second season.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

You may be wondering what about that AMC program "Mad Men" has excited so many critics, even if it hasn't excited folks at USA. Most people can only wonder since most people haven't seen the program. It has fewer than a million viewers per episode, or at least it did in its first season. So we're going to give you a taste of what it's about. It centers around the office of an ad agency in the early '60s when all the men drank whiskey at their desks while the women, or girls - they're called girls - sat outside at their typewriters.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) How old are you, Pete?

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As character) I just turned 26.

Unidentified Man #1: (As character) I bet the whole world looks like one great big brassiere strap just waiting to be snapped. Advertising is a very small world, and when you do something like malign the reputation of a girl from the steno pool on her first day, you make it even smaller. Keep it up. You'll die in that corner office, a mid-level executive with a little bit of hair who woman go home with out of pity.

INSKEEP: This scene is from last night's show, "Three Sundays."

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): (As character) You there, chewing your cud. It's one thing to be unladylike. It's another to treat her office like a subway platform. Pack up your Wrigley's and go home.

Unidentified Woman #1 (Actor): (As character) How could it be my gum? My gum's in my mouth.

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): (As character) This place is a zoo.

Unidentified Man #4 (Actor): (As character) Thank you for getting him out of here for the day. Lose the gum and get yourself some dinner. He won't remember firing you.

INSKEEP: "Mad Men"'s sharp writing and cool '60s clothes - and references to cud chewing - get nowhere near the ratings of cable hits like pro wrestling and "SpongeBob SquarePants," but more people are watching "Mad Men" during this second season, about one and a quarter million last week.

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