The American Studies Centre has had the recent privilege of hosting a talk by Maria and Andre Jacquemetton, the two writers of the popular and critically acclaimed tv series, Mad Men.
Centering on the life of Don Draper, the charismatic creative director at an advertising firm, the show which is set in the 60’s deals with various themes such as sexism, racism and alcoholism, which were prevalent though the rapidly changing times.
The writers began the talk by introducing themselves, giving brief accounts of their backgrounds and describing their 10-year long struggle towards establishing successful careers. They encouraged any aspiring writers amongst the students not to give up.
From its conception to the final stages of editing, Maria and Andre, who also work as executive producers, explained how a television series is made. The process is an eclectic team effort on the part of the writers, set and costume designers, makeup artists, producers, actors, the director, the filming crew, etc. The work is difficult, but extremely rewarding.
They answered questions regarding their experiences in relation to the show and otherwise—for instance, their approach to writing, in general. Both agreed that plots driven by compelling characters were a necessity. Shows or movies that were heavy on action but had little character development were only enjoyable for a short while. They also advised to break out of the mold. As in any industry, the television industry has rules, but none are hard-set. Original stories are, in the end, the ones that truly stand out.
They played a few clips from Mad Men, touching on the characters: their drives, the roles they played. At the very end, they bequeathed a Mad Men T-shirt and two seasons of the show to the American Studies Centre.
The event was concluded with a group picture.