In the Marriage of Figaro (episode 3), Mad Men Season 1, The Draper family throws a birthday party for Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka). Betty Draper (January Jones) opens the birthday party scene by serving the adults Mint Juleps, a seasonal drink she seems obligated to serve. As the episode progresses Sally approaches Don, (Jon Hamm) and asks if she can serve him a drink. Not only does this scene act to highlight the service oriented mentality expected of women during the period, but also to emphasize the prevalent nature of alcohol.
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The presence of alcohol was a common occurrence for many Americans for most of the 20th century. What we may perceive today a Dons excessive or unsafe drinking habits were likely on par with the times. Towards the end of the episode a clearly intoxicated Don is asked by Betty to drive to pick up the birthday cake. Drinking and driving or DUI/DWI were not sufficiently countered in New York, the setting of Mad Men, until 1981 with the passage of the STOP-DWI law by the State Legislature(NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision). In fact, there was not a large push to reveal the effects drinking could possibly have on ones driving until the 1980’s with the creation of groups like MADD and the rise of the national drinking age to 21 (Drinking and Driving).
There has come to be a war waged against alcohol and the negative social, biological and mental side effects it has been found to cause. In 2010 there were close to 200,000 DUI related arrests in California alone(California Department of Alcohol and Drug Prevention). Many states are focusing efforts on street patrols, but also on preventative and educational measures. Increased signage, special programs in schools and even television and radio ad campaigns, have all been recruited to combat the dangers of alcohol. Just what would the Men on Madison Ave. do if they knew their industry would forever change theirs as well as many other American’s lifestyle? I believe they would propose a toast, to drinking.
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"A Short History of Drunk Driving." Drinking And Driving .Org. Drinking and Driving, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2012.
"FACT SHEET Driving-Under-The-Influence (DUI) Statistics 2010." N.p., Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2012.
Maccarone, Robert M. "DWI History in New York State." NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. N.p., 17 June 2011. Web. 13 Oct. 2012.