If Luke Skywalker overthrew an evil emperor and restored order to the Galaxy; and if Aragorn lead an army against Sauron and reunited a Kingdom; then the return of Don Draper to the small screen this Sunday has the potential power of eliminating America’s debt. Mark my words, and your calendars for 9PM Eastern (8PM Central) this weekend on March 25th: the 60’s are back and Matt Weiner has a two-hour 5th season premiere you might confuse with the second coming of Christ.
Hopefully for many of you, this is old news. And for the rest of you: SHAME ON YOU!!
I kid. I kid. But seriously some of you may not even know Mad Men exists. Or maybe you have heard of it and you raise your nose at it with skeptical disdain. Whatever your reason for never watching Mad Men, please allow me to give you 5 reasons why you should start watching Matt Weiner’s Brain Child.
1. It’s good drama. If you are like me and you hear about any show called a drama, then you immediately think “BOoooo-RING!!” While I was growing up I always associated dramas to soap-operas and/or movies shown on the Lifetime Movie Network. Well, when I was a child I spoke like a child. And now that I am a life vetted almost 25 year old, I have put behind my childish ways and embraced the genius of Matt Weiner that is Mad Men. If there is anything that Bill Shakespeare gave this world, it was stage performances that everyone (and I mean everyone) enjoyed. The mark of a good drama is the same.
I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t like Mad Men. All around, it has something for everyone to enjoy. I watched the whole first season not knowing why I liked it. I only knew that it grappled my attention; and I couldn’t let go.
2. It will broaden your cultural palate. Soon enough you’ll pick up on the shows cultural references. And you’ll realize how these references only add to the greatness of the show. I am not claiming to say I know what all of those references are, but I know they are there. And that’s thing that it’s important. Because once you see they are there, you’ll want to lick the bottom of the bowl after scarfing down each episode to make sure you got every last bit of cultural flavor.
3. It will increase your self-awareness. No doubt all of us are individually shaped by the culture we live in and the dynamic of our family lives. There couldn’t be a clearer picture of this than in the character Don Draper. Each of us everyday wrestles with making a name for ourselves. If you don’t see this now, hopefully you will see this more so after watching Mad Men. You may even begin to see Don Draper in yourself.
4. It’s culturally relevant. One of my favorite aspects of this show is it entrenches its audience in the shifting sands of the 1960s. Personally, I think Mad Men offers a unique view of our current culture through a lens of a time past. As I watched the (currently, but not for long) available 4 seasons I began to see how many of our culture dynamics were influenced by this generation. Developments in racial rights, women’s rights, the rise of mass media, and counter-cultural movements are all put on stage. And I have a greater appreciation for where our culture has come from and a better sense of where it should be going.
5. It’s flat-out brilliant. Every reason I’ve listed so far is proof of this. And if that’s not enough for you, watch a few episodes of the first season, think about the name “Don Draper,” and ask yourself “What does his name mean?”
The main thing that makes Mad Men brilliant is it’s subtlety. It’s like reading a Flannery O’Connor short story. All of her stories seem to just follow the mundane happenings of people’s lives. But if that’s all you get from her stories then you missed out on something huge! In the same way Mad Men follows the mundane lives of ordinary people, but there are layers upon layers upon layers of meaning packed into the stories of their lives. These layers of character development and overlying plot lines encapsulate the shows brilliance. There is so much going on you’ll be hard pressed to have a nice, neat, and concise interpretation of everything. It may take a little work to finding it all. But when you do, you won’t regret it.
Finally, the show keeps getting better. I just started watching the first season again and I was amazed at where the show started and where it ended up in the fourth season. A lot of other shows seem to go through ebbs and flows of greatness. But Mad Men just keeps snow balling down the hill toward excellence.