Yes, I know the fall TV season has begun, and I am going to talk about it. But in the meantime here’s an important post about an important show that’s already in progress. Let’s talk about this year’s Emmy winner for Best Drama Series (even though Lost was a fierce contender) – Mad Men.
Five reasons to watch Mad Men
1. The writing moves easily between heavy drama and lighthearted moments. One reason I think this show is catnip to Emmy voters is that it doesn’t shy away from storylines that are full of darkness or despair (witness what happened to Salvatore at the hands of that Lucky Strike guy). But to balance that, the writers aren’t afraid to throw in some screwball moments to lighten the mood – a technique that worked well with other classic dramas like L.A. Law and ER. Farewell, Ida Blankenship!
2. Characters you love (or love to hate). Amongst the sprawling cast there are plenty to root for and even adore. The pluck of Peggy! The sass of Joan! The abs of Don! And on the flip side are characters so deliciously awful that you really get into hating them. Pete Campbell – what a wiener! Betty Draper – worst mother of the century!
3. Actors that make the most of every moment. It’s easy to say that the actors in the bigger roles are stars. But on this show even actors in the smallest roles make the most of every line. Rich Sommer consistently cracks me up as beleaguered TV man Harry Crane. Don’t get me started on Alison Brie who portrays Trudy as a perky Lady Macbeth! And can we say how scary it was this week to watch Kiernan Shipka turning her Sally into a miniature version of her mother?
4. The style of the times. Now we come to the reason that Mad Men gets so much attention – it’s the detailed depiction of a bygone era. The show is set against a backdrop of historical events, and the attitudes of the day reflect them. The sets and costumes are meticulously crafted in a way that makes you miss a “kinder, gentler” time. And the drinking! Who hasn’t wanted to toss one back at work now and again?
5. Men that are men, while women struggle with identity. So yeah, some of the men on the show are a bit odd. But you can’t deny the sex appeal and rugged manliness that is Don Draper. You know he’s a letch, and yet you find yourself rooting for his every conquest. But the really interesting aspect of the show is how women are shown – they range from those settling into the roles defined for them by society (Betty and Trudy) to those seeking to break out. This past week’s episode – ‘Beautiful Girls’ – was the best example yet. It was embodied by a simple closing, as a fiercely independent lesbian took one elevator, we watched three women take another. An elevator that represented trying to be a career woman in a glass ceiling society. Peggy – never getting into the boy’s club meetings where real decisions are made. Joan – supporting her husband but wanting to be recognized for her own accomplishments. Dr. Faye Miller – an established professional that still gets asked to babysit. The rise of feminism is what makes this show so darn intriguing.
So check it out! Next time I’ll tell you a bit about what’s on our schedule to watch in the new fall season.