I don’t get it. They’re all a bunch of unlikable people in an unlikable profession doing unlikable things to each other and sometimes to themselves.
Mad Men is the critics’ favorite, which, as we have all learned over the years, doesn’t automatically make it either great or sucko. It just means that a few people who get paid to watch TV and write about it like it. It might also mean that one or two really influential people who write about TV like it and then everybody falls into lockstep.
I hacked my way through the entire first season of Mad Men and kept telling myself that I would get it sooner or later. I’m still waiting. (I have a friend who watches every episode in the hopes that he’ll be able to see Christina Hendricks’ breasts someday. I explained to him that it’s basic cable, but he’s keeping hope alive.)
The main character, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), isn’t even Don Draper. He’s really Richard “Dick” Whitman. During the Korean War, Sergeant Don Draper was killed right in front of Whitman, who swapped dog tags with the dead guy because the dead guy was about to finish his tour and be sent back to the States. This guy is the perfect ad salesman.
This may sound incredibly juvenile, but one of the things that I hate the most about the show is the smoking. I know that people smoked a lot back in those days (the first few seasons take place before the Surgeon General’s warning came into being). Having grown up in a house with two smoking parents, I have a visceral dislike for smoking, which pretty much gives me a visceral dislike for Mad Men. However, after some soul-searching, I’ve come to the realization that I would hate Mad Men if they chewed gum instead of smoking or if they blew pretty bubbles out of their noses instead of chewing gum.
It goes way beyond that. Every freakin’ person on the show is either cheating on a spouse, stabbing a business partner in the back, or trying to blackmail somebody. I find some of the characters on The Walking Dead to be more life-affirming, including one or two that are munching on somebody else’s quadriceps.
Outside, in the real world, the Vietnam War is raging and American society is in complete upheaval. So how does Don Draper evolve? He puts down his omnipresent cigarette long enough to smoke some marijuana. Yeah, that makes me want to watch this show more.
The rest of the episode involved an ad campaign for ketchup. It’s gripping.
How long until Breaking Bad comes back?
Emily Stern leads a two-part creative nonfiction and cooking workshop exploring the intersections of nurturance, starvation, celebration… More