As Mad Men begins a new series, should we be nostalgic for the 1960s workplace?

David Hellier

The return of Mad Men last night couldn’t come soon enough for those, like me, who long to follow more of the antics of Don Draper and his colleagues. The excitement of working on Madison Avenue in the sixties overwhelms the viewer; the bold colours of the decor in the bars; the sleek suits and glamorous outfits; the music that was the background to a decade of drama and social change. Viewers can’t fail to be gripped by the adrenaline of being at work, in the office, looking out of windows that spanned the Manhattan skyline. Of course, being at work didn’t always mean working. The office drinks cupboards and persistent cigarette smoking evoke an era when such activities said you were grown-up and sophisticated, before they became frowned upon by the health police. The crude sexism of the era grates but it’s hard not to be sucked into the world of the Mad Men. And wish you could live through it all again.

David Hellier is deputy editor of City A.M.

Zoe Strimpel

Having a man that looks like Don Draper stomping around your office wouldn’t be all bad. You could swoon when you weren’t being harassed. The Alpha males that dominate the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce don’t evoke an era for which any self-respecting woman (or man) should be nostalgic. Impossibly buxom Joan, and impossibly slender Betty Draper, with their vivid colours and cigarettes, make it all seem terribly glamorous. In our fashion-obsessed age, women seem willing to go back and endure systematic inequality if only they could wear the cinched dresses of the Mad Men wives. But we must keep distinct the costumes and piquant sexual drama from notions of how things should be. Mad Men glamourises a culture that depressed and frustrated women. Peggy is the exception, not the rule, and – in rejecting a life as a lash-batting secretary – must endure infuriating injustice every day.

Zoe Strimpel is lifestyle editor of City A.M.