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The “Mad Men” chartbook: Just how different Don Draper’s world was from yours

The final season of Mad Men, AMC’s hit TV show about a 1960s New York advertising agency, begins on Sunday, April 13.  The show has had something approaching a cult following, though its audience last season declined in the US, and crashed in the UK.

A lot of us at Quartz are fans, however, and we thought we’d take a look at how the world of Don Draper, the steely creative director who is the show’s main character, compared with the modern-day US, by comparing statistics from the year the show is set in with the present day.

TWA uniformsBut what year is that? Season six ended in 1968, and AMC won’t tell us when season seven begins. We have only one thing to go on. In AMC’s press kit, one picture (right image) features a TWA air hostess. Luckily for us, a KLM purser, Cliff Muskiet, maintains an astonishing historical archive of airline uniform pictures, Uniform Freak, showing that that uniform was in service between 1968 and 1971. So we’ve chosen 1970 as the reference year—especially since, judging by the outfits in the press kit, this season is going to be very seventies indeed.

Here, then, is a guide to how the US looked then—and looks today.

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With reporting by Rachel Feltman, Roberto Ferdman, Tim Fernholz, Jason Karaian, Gideon Lichfield, John McDuling, Annalisa Merelli, Max Nisen, and Matt Phillips; photo editing by Roberto Ferdman; and graphics by David Yanofsky. Air hostesss uniforms: uniformfreak.com (left) and AMC Networks (right).

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