One of the coolest things about Mad Men is the clever use of then-current events to advance the plot. Season Two began with the characters all watching Jackie Kennedy’s tour of the White House, and the last episode, “Flight 1,” was based on the true story of the American Airlines Boeing 707 jet that crashed in Jamaica Bay on March 1, 1962. It was apparently a huge deal then! What other 1962 events could the show’s writers look up on Wikipedia and base entire episodes on, I wonder?
The entire Northeast is shut down by a storm that would come to be called “The Ash Wednesday Storm.” The staff of Sterling Cooper is stuck in their office for two days and are forced to ration sandwiches from the cart and stay up late playing Truth or Dare. Everyone sleeps with Joan. Even Peggy.
Sterling Cooper negotiates a deal with American Airlines that includes the Boeing account as well, because that happens in advertising sometimes. While celebrating the deal, however, the team learns that another Boeing 707 has crashed, this time in France, killing over a hundred Atlanta businesspeople. They must go into overdrive to restore their client’s image, and Don asks Joan if she’s ever thought about switching from office managing to advertising copywriting.
Seriously Another Fucking Boeing 707 Crash? Jesus Christ.
Just three weeks after the last Boeing 707 crash, there’s another one in the West Indies, also an Air France flight. Sterling Cooper puts Joan on the account full time, because they don’t want to represent Boeing anymore and she’s too busy gossiping and flirting and being a bitch to do a good job. It works.
The Winds Of October
We’re introduced to a new character, Carlos, who works in the Sterling Cooper mailroom. But then the Cuban Missile Crisis starts, and everyone is suspicious of Carlos even though it was the Russians we were afraid of, and besides, his family was originally from Mexico, because people were so ignorant back then! After Carlos writes an impassioned and brilliant letter about his patriotism and posts it on the mail room door, Don Draper immediately recognizes Carlos’s writing ability and promotes him to copywriter. Then the Cuban Missile Crisis ends.
Silent Spring Fever
Just after Sterling Cooper lands a huge industrial pesticide account, Betty and Francine start a housewife reading group, and their first selection is Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. As a result of her increased environmental awareness, Betty urges Don to sabotage the new pesticide account by writing bad copy for it or something. But he says no. I don’t know.