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Mad Men- The Best Show On TV That You Aren't Watching

Updated on September 30, 2008

Advertising is everything..

Perhaps your remember a little show called The Sopranos. Maybe you don't, it was very underground. If you do happen to remember that indie darling, it might be time to start tuning into AMC's Mad Men. Created by Matthew Weiner, a writer and producer of the smash-hit mob drama, Mad Men trades in the guns and lasagna for sharp suits and a never-ending fount of whiskey.

Named for Madison Avenue, Mad Men is all about how people sell themselves. At the advertising offices of Sterling and Cooper, Weiner's characters struggle to sell their services to their clients and themselves to each other. Advertising, of course, is key. Leading man Jon Hamm plays Don Draper, a man who has sold himself so well that he has literally and figuratively, ceased to exist.

In fact, Don Draper died years ago in the Korean War and our protagonist has taken his name and identity and crafted himself a life of upper-class perfection. A truly brilliant advertiser, he has risen the ranks to become the most respected man in the company, and in fact, the entire advertising industry.

Everyting old is new again...

Mad Men takes place in the early sixties, and follows a very carefully plotted timeline. The writers have been very careful to integrate appropriate references to real world events and products which happened during that time period. The first season is interwoven with much of the young Senator John Kennedy's presidential race against Richard Nixon for the presidency, as the behind-the-times Sterling Cooper helps to create advertisements for Nixon.

What I find refreshing about Mad Men's choice of time period is that it avoids the traps many fiction writers set for themselves. Set in neither the placid, post-war 50s nor the turbulent 70s, Mad Men has no easy outs when it tells a story about oppression and not obvious parallel to make when the world seems like it is burning. The 1960s were about transition, and the test of the main characters will be whether they can sell themselves in the new America that is still peacefully gestating, soon to be born into a wild, screaming infant.

Winning Hearts and Minds (and statues)

The big winner at this years Emmy Awards, Mad Men is the first basic-cable network program to win the award for best 2008. Alongside FX's Damages, Mad Men is breaking new ground. With more and more channels available, it was only a matter of time before the programming on the cable networks would equal the output of broadcasters such as NBC and Fox.

Previously, pay stations such as HBO and Showtime were the only other players in the big leagues, their method of revenue providing for big budgets for their prestige shows. As television viewership begins to level out, cable stations are reaching an equilibrium with broadcast television. This is good for cable, and bad for broadcast- as viewership for dramas such as Mad Men and The Shield draw people to cable, they leave the broadcast stations with less bodies in the seats.

Watch or Die

The Mad Men train is just starting to get out of the station, and viewers would be wise to catch it while they can. The first season is available on DVD, and will be a quick catch-up for the second season, already in progress. Watch it Sunday nights on AMC at 10:00 pm.

Don't be afraid to leave the big networks behind, they'll be there when you come back. Right now, though, you have a job appointment on Madison Avenue.

A brief clip from the first episode

Jon Hamm's intensely powerful performance selling a pitch for Carousel slide projectors


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      dextermorph 5 years ago

      All madmen episodes on



      Project free tv

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      thrmmsnn 6 years ago

      I watched all 4 seasons and agree Mad Men is one of the best written shows ever. The stories of personal and business are interesting, and compelling. I find the creative process highly entertaining. The foreshadowing is always present. Remember when they took on the young wealthy man who wanted to recklessly spend 3 million dollars. Hamm was against it, but they took the account. Later they show the ad men playing with hook shaped hand mittens. This is a metaphor for not being welcome, an earlier story told by a hobo to a child Dick Whitman. Then there is the bird incident that shows Betty's independence from Don.

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      petrelli 7 years ago

      You can buy season 4 of MAD MEN on DVD here:

    • soheilr profile image

      soheilr 7 years ago

      Mad Men is truly one of the best written shows on Television next to House. However I notice that the end of Season 3 and the beginning of Season 4 is similar to Season3 Pt.2 of Entourage.

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      Justine76 8 years ago

      Ha..indie...your funny, man. I dont have cable, will check it out on netflix. Im always looking for something new.

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      Josie Adams 8 years ago

      I WAS A SECRETARY IN THE LATE 60S thru the 90s, Wore the clothes, dresses w/girdle, nylon, heels, perfectly made up., matching costume jewelry. I also made the coffee, ran bosses errands and got the whistles. No one grappled me tho....I was appreciated - and my boss tho a screamer and impatient, fitsy...thanked me every evening as I left the office. "THANKS JOSIE FOR A GOOD JOB WELL DONE TODAY." I was considered a top notch private secretary, eventually an Administrator's Assistant.

    • E. A. Wright profile image

      E. A. Wright 8 years ago from New York City

      Very absorbing show. Came to it a little late, but now, I'm definitely a fan.