What Would Don Draper Do?

The thing I am most excited about at the moment is that one of my all-time favorite shows, Mad Men, just premiered its fourth season. As we all know, I have been lamenting the lack of any TV worth watching during the summer, so this comes as a welcome relief. Actually, I did discover one other show this summer in desperation — BBC’s Robin Hood. The first two seasons were excellent, and then one of the key characters died. So I’m done with it now, but there is a third season. All three are available on Netflix’s Watch Instantly. I recommend checking it out if you’re bored and in need of new TV like me.

Mad Men is ridiculously awesome. For those of you who may not have seen it, it’s a drama on AMC about an advertising agency in Manhattan during the early 1960s. That’s a very basic description that tells you almost nothing about why the show is so great. As a literature aficionado and aspiring writer of some kind, I’m attracted to film and television that is so well-written it would read like a great novel even if there were no pictures to accompany it. Like great literature, Mad Men’s characters are fascinating and well-developed, and the plot contains a lot of cultural subtext. The writer, Matthew Weiner, is notorious for his attention to detail and spares no expense at furnishing the set with authentic vintage furniture, decor, clothing, you name it. You can be sure that if you are watching Mad Men and you see a secretary using a typewriter, it is the same EXACT vintage model of typewriter that a secretary in 1963 would have been using.

Another thing I think draws people to Mad Men is a fascination of how different the time period was socially from today, even though it was not that long ago in the grand scheme of things. It’s pretty fascinating to see a depiction of how real life problems may have been handled (or swept under the rug), instead of the usual idyllic, rosy portrait of the era we are normally fed. Not a single character on that show is perfect, and their flaws are reflective of their environments, circumstances, upbringings, and so on — just like real people.

This is a good recent interview with Matthew Weiner on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Or you can download the podcast for free on iTunes.

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1 Comment

  1. david michel said,

    August 23, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    people are stupid


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