Friday, August 12, 2011

Mad Men: The Best Show Your STILL not Watching!

With incredible critical reviews and strong and loyal fan base this show will be entering its 5th season in  January, and regular viewing audience is still not large enough.  The show like many popular shows has a large underground or cult following.  I speak with a lot of individuals whose media saturation involves a wide variety of television shows, meanwhile older audiences are still tuning in to more and more reality television because they want to be a part of the "new water cooler conversations."  

After seeing previews for shows like Bachelor Pad and other summer shows it baffles me that more people would rather watch mindless entertainment that displays some of the worst qualities within people.  I personally would much rather pick a well written show like Mad Men (and yes there are writers for reality television, but they are terrible.)  This show is also on AMC and although this network is doing increasingly better, especially with shows like The Walking Dead, Mad Men still should have more people watching.

Mad Men's character's are of course flawed, but creator, writer and producer Matthew Weiner has constructed a story about a group of individuals in the 1960s that is so sharp, poignant, witty and well made.  The show focuses on Don Draper (John Hamm) and his life at work as creative director at ad agency Sterling  & Cooper (the name evolves throughout the show), as a husband father and family man, and and his numerous affairs with other women.

mm_ep206_don_betty_760x535_img_4901Weiner was a producer and writer for The Sopranos from 2004-2007 as well; he seems to take a page from the brilliantly constructed home life of Tony and Carmella Soprano to help formulate Don's life at home with his wife Betty (January Jones).  Don and Betty with their two children at the beginning of the series are the picture of the perfect 1960s family.  The two are Ken and Barbie come to life, and the flaws in both their personalities contribute to the chemistry that makes these two work so well together.  This family is so well constructed and complicated that with each episode we fear that the repression of the 60s will prevent these individuals from growing and becoming deeper, but Weiner and his writing team use the time period and the development of his characters to make this family complex enough to break the norms.

One of the best portrayals of the workplace of all time.  Don's work family has him surrounded by some of the most entertaining and complex individuals.  Roger Sterling (John Slattery) is the older lethario who never grew up and still chases women and drinks like his is in 20s.  Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) runs the office her icy glares and an iron fist; she has the power, pulls the strings in a world dominated by men.  Peter Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) is the antithesis to Don Draper.  Don is a womanize (Pete can be too), abusive and just should not be a like able character, but you can't help disliking Peter and rooting for Don.  Maybe Don's charm works better because of his looks, or maybe its because Don is written with such confidence unlike Pete.  Then there is Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss) the woman who wants to be more than a secretary and the representative of the start of the woman's movement.  Moss plays Peggy with such innocence; she is also fierce in her determination to be more than a wife.

So why highlight this show that is almost in season 5 instead of a show that has only a season or two under its belt.  This show was signed on to its completion and will end after season 7, but there are still fans to be won, specifically older audiences who have been sucked in by Dancing with the Stars or American Idol.  I am not here to judge, watch American Idol, but make sure you catch the most brilliant and well written show currently airing on television.

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