A Mad Men Latino History Lesson

AMC

Mad Men season 5 premieres this Sunday, March 25 on AMC. The hit tv show gets bigger and bigger each year and has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon. At first glance, it doesn't seem that the series has anything to do with Latinos, but it is set during some of the most important moments in Latino history. Let's take a look at what's happening in the Latino background of Mad Men.

- The first season of Mad Men is set in 1960, from the spring through late fall. It takes us into the world of an ad agency and focuses largely on the powerful exec Don Draper. We soon see all sides of this self-made man whose life is just as much of a mirage as the ad campaigns he creates.

In the Latino world, Cuban revolutionaries had recently removed Fulgencio Batista from power and Fidel Castro had taken over. Come 1960, Castro's nationalistic colors had started to show and the U.S. placed an embargo on Cuba

Meanwhile, Hispanics were making their mark on national politics after helping to elect JFK as president. For their support, he appointed Hispanics to serve in his administration.

- Season 2 gets juicy with affairs, pregnancy, a rape, and talk of abortion. Latino history actually makes it on the screen this season, which ends with one of the most important events in modern Latin American history: the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The season also covers the time leading up to that when the U.S. tried, unsuccessfully, to overthrow the Castro's regime with the Bay of Pigs invasion.

- Mad Men's third season spanned the spring of 1963 through December. The Mad Men agency, Sterling Cooper, grapples with its identity after being bought by a British firm. JFK's assassination is featured on the show, but what were Latinos up to?

Well, this was the year of the first modern bilingual education program in the U.S. After the influx of Cubans in Miami, Florida starting in 1959, the community had a need for bilingual education like never before and the Coral Way School was there to serve that need.

- November 1964 through October 1965 was the timeline for season 4. The freshly-formed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has plenty to prove in the business world especially when their money and clients begin to fade away. The characters were all a bit of a mess, especially Don Draper and his alcoholism. 

In terms of Latino history, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 changed an earlier quota system in order to bring skilled labor into the U.S. This is largely responsible for the cultural make-up of the nation today. 

- The new season starts in May 1966, only a few months before the United Farm Workers was formed, a pivotal moment in U.S. labor history and Mexican-American history. Latino leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta were at the forefront of that movement and inspired Latinos for decades to come. 

There's your Mad Men Latino history lesson!

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