Why Mad Men is a hard show to watch.

by quebecalexander





Hey guys, great to be back after a somewhat relaxing summer. Now, you get to hear my thoughts and craziness again, whether you want to or not. 😛 Anyways, on with the blog.

Imagine a time where life seemed it be working against you or where you were calling some bad shots on court, where it seemed that no one was willing to even lift a finger to understand where you were in life, where all you wanted for someone to tell you that everything will be okay? Now, remember that point in time and keep thinking about it

I’ve gotten a lot of flack for choosing to catch up with Mad Men over Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead. I have to admit, I love the show. I love the attention to detail, the writing, the story telling and the acting that goes on within the show. Of course, whenever I tell people this, I get called a slew of names, but I don’t really care.

I’ve gotten a few friends and family members into the show. They’ve heard the hype about it and found that its one of the best written shows ever. I’ve also heard complaints from friends and family that its slow, the acting is meh or some other complaint in one form or another. I’ve pondered over why people wouldn’t watch the show (as a huge fan, like all other fan-geeks of other TV shows, we do that sometimes) like someone pondering over why someone would not like the awesomeness that is Nutella and Bacon (another time, I promise)


My main theory as to why people don’t watch it is not for the slow pacing or the redundancies in the storytelling that happen on and on, but because that there are some very depraved and seriously flawed people that give you no reason to cheer for.  Don cheats on his wives and lovers, Peter Campbell slow tears apart his wonderful wife Trudy by being the spoiled brat that he is, Peggy has a baby and gives it up as she “wanted other things.”, not to mention the drinking, smoking, drug use, racism, homophobia and sexism that defined the era. Not one character in the show gives you the impression that you want them to move ahead, to succeed in their endeavors. To see all of these behaviors juxtaposed against the sophistication, glamour and all American life (for Middle and Upper Class white Americans anyways) of the 1960’s seems equally jarring.

When there was a character that people loved, they were fired (Salvatore Romano), killed off (Lane Pryce) or left to their own self-destructive devices (Paul Kinsey). There’s no hope for the heroes (or what would constitute as one) on the show, as Peggy once lamented to Don “Innocent people get hurt, and people, people who are not good get to walk around doing whatever they want. It’s not fair” .

Despite all of this, I have come to conclusion that Mad Men is not a show about heroes, but it’s a show about people. Remember how I asked you to think of a time in your life earlier, its to remind you that people are flawed, people make mistakes, people make all sorts of bad decisions in life, but at the same time, people can be vindicated. What’s unique about the show is that we rarely see the vindication on the show, and that it’s up to the viewers in their minds to decide for themselves whose earned redemption. I’ve noticed that rather than cheer for the characters, I feel a mix of pity, empathy and sympathy for them, which make for a very powerful connection to them. I could relate to Peter Campbell and Peggy Olsen in some instances, wanting to make their marks on their careers, or Sally Draper trying to make sense of growing up and having to deal with some of the drama that comes with divorced parents. To me, that bond was a lot stronger than anything a hero saving the day could do. And of course, Betty’s weight loss drama hit real close to home (this is part of what this blog is all about right?)

In short, Mad Men is the show that gives the viewers a chance to connect with characters in a way that can be uncomfortable for some viewers and to demonstrate that even flawed people have a tiny shred of hope for them. It’s the chance to vindicate a person on the show that lures me in, and I for one am happy to give in.