While the writers of Mad Men are pretty good at creating what appears to be a historically accurate universe of the 1960s ad world, even going so far as to rip things from actual headlines, there's always room to improve. Were there, in fact, Bugles in the 1966? (Yes.) Did people really drink in the office so much? (Maybe not.) Lola Cherson, who worked in PR at Grey and Davis Advertising from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, is also a big fan of the show. We've enlisted her help to run down the factual inaccuracies and anachronisms from this season. Cherson says, "I enjoy the series. It's so much fun to watch; it's very good with the exception of some booboos.  I do think they should hire some old lady or man to make sure they don't do things that are really silly." 

On civil rights, and the introduction of Dawn...

"There were no black secretaries and no black employees period (outside the mailroom) at ad agencies throughout New York City, and that was true in 1972, not 1966," says Cherson.

On the fashions...

"Megan is dressed like a Chanel model, and Peggy is dressed like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Back then, we wore nice dresses," says Cherson. "I remember when the biggest inconvenience were the seams in the stockings, making sure they were straight. We thought pantyhose was the greatest invention; we didn't have to wear garter belts anymore. What a revelation! Women did not wear pants to the office—they have that correct. But Joan coming in to the office [in last week's episode] in broad daylight in a dress you'd wear to a cocktail party—nobody dressed like that. You didn't show cleavage in the office. Someone must have been on the sauce when they filmed that."

"Also, you'll notice, the posture of everybody is much better than we stand today. And when I first started at McCalls [before Cherson went to Grey], women were still wearing hats to the office. When you got to be an editor, you wore a hat to the office."

On Megan and Don working together...  

"No spouses were allowed at the same agency (that was a common rule among most corporations then)," says Cherson. "If two employees met and got married, one had to leave the company, almost always the woman. The idea that a senior partner could marry his former secretary and give her a 'promotion' at the agency is just ridiculous." 

On babies in the office...

Cherson points out what she calls a male mistake: "Joan shows up with her newborn at the agency. Wouldn't ever happen! And Joan is wheeling a baby carriage which is non-collapsible. How did she get on the bus or subway to get to the office? It's NYC, remember? Even today people don't bring their newborns into the office—and that baby was passed around like a hot tamale."

On the myth of Peggy Olson...

"And then there's Peggy, not the only woman copywriter in town," says Cherson. "Shirley Polykoff worked at Foote Cone & Belding and came up with the [1956] campaign for Clairol, 'Does She Or Doesn't She?' Advertising and PR were two fields in which there were women who were at the top. Mary Wells was the only women at the head of her own agency. Polykoff, she was famous. There were women copywriters. I won't say all over town, but at every major agency, there were women. Women were not in account management, though: They didn't go out and pitch accounts."

On the Jewish stereotype...

"Roger's line: 'Everybody has a Jew' was so out of date. The stereotype offered is offensive: a brash, pushy Jew wearing a tacky sports jacket who goes home to a family intoning Hebrew. Give me a break!" Cherson adds, "There was anti-Jewish discrimination though; Grey was founded by Jewish men and called 'Grey' because the walls of their offices were gray. They didn't use their very Jewish names. It was a huge success, everyone of all religions wanted to work there."

On the representation of the agency...

"Everyone in any postition then did have a secretary. Now they don't, it's too expensive," says Cherson, who has a beef with the Roger Sterling/Pete Campbell plot line in which Pete forces Roger to leave a meeting, and then tricks him into going to a fake meeting at the Staten Island Ferry. "That's nuts," she said. "How in the world in any business is this junior person going to tell a senior person they can't stay for lunch?" She also took issue with the Rolling Stones plot line: "You don't go to the concert, you talk to their agent. You don't run out to the concert and think you're going to have a business discussion, and the other guy who signs the wrong band -- how dumb is he?"

On adultery...

"Everybody was sleeping with everybody. People had affairs. This was the era. But if you met somebody in an office, if you were dating them, you met away from the office. You weren't supposed to be dating employees. In a lot of corporations, it wasn't allowed." 

On Betty, and divorce in the '60s...

"People didn't get divorced very often. The only grounds for divorce was adultery. You had to go to Nevada; when Governor Rockerfeller wanted a divorce, his wife had to go to Nevada for six weeks. Betty found out her husband isn't who he said he was, and she has two children with him, and he's a womanizer. What is she going to do? She can't get a job. She doesn't have any options -- that would be accurate, absolutely. This is the era in which Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique: [Betty's] waiting for him to come home, loading the washing machine, and she has no options at all," says Cherson.

On drinking in the office...

"It's absolutely true that many executive lunches were 3-martini affairs," Cherson confirms. "But it's not true there was liquor in senior partners' offices and drinking in the office. People didn't get loaded in the office with booze. There were long, long lunches; anybody could put anything on an expense account. Later in the 70s, the creative people were growing pot in their offices."

Images by Michael Yarish/AMC.