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Smoke in Barbie's eyes: Mad Men gets pop culture doll validation

Smoke in Barbie's eyes: Mad Men gets pop culture doll validation

The retro-deliciousness of Mad Men has made its way into the culture at large, inspiring collections from the likes of Michaels Kors and Banana Republic, but now Don Draper and company have made it to the apex of pop culture prestige: Their own Barbies.

The figures getting the doll treatment are smooth-talking but tortured ad man Don Draper, unhappy housewife Betty Draper, agency head Roger Sterling and his former mistress, office sexpot Joan Holloway.

The dolls will debut in July, corresponding with the premiere of the show's fourth season. Seven thousand to 10,000 copies of each character will be available from amctv.com, barbiecollector.com and in specialty stores for a suggested price of $74.95 each.

According to The New York Times, this marks the first time characters in adulterous relationships have received the Barbie stamp of approval. The Drapers, particularly Don, have had more than their share of extramarital dalliances. Roger Sterling carried on an affair with Joan Holloway and then slept with an even younger secretary behind his wife's back before leaving his wife for her.

There are no Pete Campbell or Peggy Olsen dolls though — pseudo-rapists and those who give up their babies apparently need not apply. 

Even though the dolls are from the Barbie Fashion Model Collection — a series meant for adults — certain adult accessories are not included. The Times notes "the dolls come with period accessories like hats, overcoats, pearls and padded undergarments, but no cigarettes, ashtrays, martini glasses or cocktail shakers."

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner told the Times that the dolls were scrutinized for complete period and character accuracy (including a tweak to Don Draper's hair and sideburns) and had to get approval from himself, costume designer Janie Bryant and executive producer Scott Hornbacher. 

If Barbie represented the 1950s domestic ideal, Mad Men gave a window into the hollowness and imperfections in that system.

Does a Mad Men Barbie mean that complicated is the new ideal? I hope so.

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Courtesy of Mattel