A Show About Advertising? And It's Good? It's "Mad Men"
Mad about "Mad Men"
I'm not one to get obsessed with much of anything. Especially not television shows.
But somehow, when I stumbled upon "Mad Men" last summer, I got hooked.
Why? It's a show about men in suits (and a few women) who strive and struggle, sin and sell. They work on Madison Avenue, in advertising. They pitch lipstick, liquor, cigarettes and air travel to the masses. Consumption and aspiration — to them, it's what they eat and breathe.
A Glimpse of "Mad Men" Season 3
It's about advertising? Oh, come on...
Perhaps all this sounds like a show that belongs on the lineup for some obscure business news channel, airing at 1 a.m., after a stock market recap and before an infomercial?
Don't worry. This is fiction — good, riveting fiction.
The show is made by its characters — a complex, vast multitude of characters, and their often crass, complicated yet fascinating lives. (As in, complicated work lives, complicated home lives, even complicated double lives.)
The show's setting in the early 1960s — and all the great costumes, music and details that entails — add to the show's appeal. (Generational spoiler: for me, it's an unknown era.)
So far, I'm not the only one raving about the show. It has won awards, and earns non-stop name drops in major publications. The show's creator, Matthew Weiner, was even the subject of a 2008 feature in The New York Times Magazine.
Will "Mad Men" last?
The question about to be tested is whether the show can carry the weight of all its varied plot lines through a third season.
Will some characters become too tiresome? Will it all get too confusing? Will it begin to feel like a soap opera with good lighting?
As a member of the show's clan of fans, it seems we have high expectations. Will we be too hard to please?
Worse, will there be too few of us? Will the supposedly tiny audience for the show be the death of it?
I hope not. And make no mistake, when "Mad Men" returns — August 16, on AMC — I'll be watching.
Or, at least, I'll try to watching. I don't have cable — I don't even own a television — so I'll be relying on (hopefully prompt) episode downloads from iTunes to get my fix. (I only hope such viewership adds to the show's ratings.)
I want to know what happens next with Don and Betty, Peter, Peggy and all the rest.
It will also be interesting how the show is perceived this year, when hyper-consumerism and well-paid, smooth-talking businessmen are like dirty words peppering the dark economic news of the here-and-now.
Links for "Mad" fans
- Dyna Moe's "Mad Men" illustrations
Artist's depictions of key scenes in the show, posted on flickr. Amazing and amusing. (Check out the "Mad Men" paper dolls.)
- "The Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue"
A 2008 exhibit at the New York Public Library featured real-life advertising campaigns (and characters) from the "Mad Men" era. Here's coverage of the show.
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