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Thoughts on AMC’s Mad Men | September 25, 2010

I’m a late comer to the show; I don’t have a television, haven’t for a few months, and haven’t had paid subscription tv in a few years. I watch the majority of my television shows on Hulu, Crackle, network sites, on DVD or through the kindness of people who record them.

My good friend David H has been nagging me for the past year to watch Mad Men. So, finally, I did. Over the past month, I’ve watched the entire first three seasons, and most of Season Four to date (I may be a week behind, I’m not sure.)

In short, it’s a very, very good show, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you’re the sort of person who cries racism when there’s Muslim terrorists in a modern day anti-terrorism show, you might be crying sexism or decrying how everyone’s an adulterer. I don’t know how it was on Madison Avenue in the 60s, but this strikes me as somewhat accurate, albeit exaggerated for entertainment value.

But, really, that’s what the show is there for, and all the good shows do that – not many prisons are like Oz – but there’s truth in the story. The Wild West wasn’t completely the way Deadwood portrays it, but that stuff did happen. The criminal justice system doesn’t quite play out like Law & Order shows us, but the elements are all there.

My biggest problem is I don’t like who I’m supposed to/expected to – not that I have a problem with that. But Don Draper, the main character, is not someone I admire as a person. And I’m not too keen on Peggy, either. And Don’s wife, Betty, is a completely obnoxious and petulant child.

Honestly, the only truly admirable character that I can think of off the top of my head is Burt Cooper, and he’s more of a background character who doesn’t play a major role in every episode. I like Joan, I like Roger, I like Price (Pryce?)… but it’s the drama that keeps me coming back. I’m big into character interactions, dialogue, interpersonal conflict – and this show excels at all three of those elements.

Season three is my favourite season, thus far. I enjoyed the mystery of Don’s past from the earlier seasons (don’t worry, no spoilers), but the drama of the third season has been the best this far. (Season Four, while strong, isn’t quite following through with the potential of the previous season. This way well change before it’s all said and done.)

If you’re interested in the show, find season one; do not, I repeat do not, poke around on Wikipedia, there are some major plot spoilers on the main page of the show. I do recommend it, highly – it’s a good tv show.

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