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Series DNA: ‘Bosom Buddies’ begat ‘thirtysomething,’ which begat ‘Mad Men’

It’s long been said that there are no new ideas in Hollywood. But we have to admit that there have been some pretty good new incarnations of the old ones. Here we trace the possible genetic forebears of AMC’s “Mad Men.”

PREMISE

“Mad Men”: A poor Korean war soldier reinvents himself as a suave ad executive and family man and confronts the increasingly complicated sexual politics of the 1960s.

“thirtysomething”: Peace-loving hippies of the 1960s reinvent themselves as ad executives and family men and confront the increasingly complicated sexual politics of the 1980s.

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“Bosom Buddies”: Two ad men reinvent themselves as women and confront the increasingly complicated sexual politics of the 1980s.

LOVE CONNECTION

“Mad Men”: The identity of the father of January Jones’ baby is a mystery, so who knows where that romance took place.

“thirtysomething”: Costars Ken Olin and Patricia Wettig had been married since 1982, but they did not play husband and wife. Their characters were married to other people.

“Bosom Buddies”: Tom Hanks met his future wife, Rita Wilson, when she guest-starred as the love interest for costar Peter Scolari.

AD WORLD SHENANIGANS

“Mad Men”: The New York advertising agency Sterling Cooper is bought by British company Putnam, Powell and Lowe. The principals defect and start a boutique agency: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

“thirtysomething”: Philadelphia boutique ad agency Michael & Elliot Co. goes bankrupt, principals are scooped up by larger agency, DAA.

“Bosom Buddies”: New York ad guys defect from larger agency Livingston, Gentry & Mishkin and start their own boutique agency: Sixty Seconds Street.

BOOMER APPEAL

“Mad Men”: Explains why baby boomers are messed up by demonstrating the foibles of their parents.

“Thirtysomething”: Explains why baby boomers are messed up by demonstrating their lost idealism.

“Bosom Buddies”: Explains why baby boomers are messed up by putting them in drag.

patrick.day@latimes.com


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