I very much appreciate it’s been done already, but I’ve spent most of my waking moments over the last few weeks trying to get through this show, so by-gum I’m going to review it in 500 words or less!
Engaging plot lines and fantastic acting aside, the pure style of Mad Men is what I enjoyed most. The clothes, the drinking, the culture (questionable though it is), it felt like I was there, in an ad agency, in the 60s. It’s strange though, as much as I can comfortably sit through episode after episode, soaking in the atmosphere and machismo flamboyance of it all, I feel myself become attached to characters that, when you break it down, I actually hate.
They’re all so flawed, through a variety of vices, be it alcohol, adultery, jealousy or insecurity; very few seem genuine. As a result I can like some of them, some of the time, but for the most part I feel like a bit of a voyeur, looking on as these people sink lower and lower. For a couple of series, Don Draper (Creative Director) is the guy that everyone wants to be, but further down the line he just becomes a very sad man, with a pitiable past, loathsome present and questionable future. The others too, be it sweet Peggy (Copywriter) or ambitious Pete (Account Manager), seem like characters you want to root for at the start, but over time just become irritating, through arrogance and a misplaced sense of entitlement. In a weird twist, it’s the ones who I started off hating that I grew to cherish. Roger Sterling (Senior Partner), for example, once you look past his chauvinism, I think is one of the wittiest characters in modern television (let’s just ignore the bit where he blacks-up at a party).
Mad Men is often lauded as one of the greatest television shows of the past 20 years, if not of all-time. I don’t necessarily think this judgment is inaccurate, but it should come with some disclaimers. The series begins with a bang, slows down then picks up again; if we’re being honest, I tried watching it about a year ago but stopped around the third series, partly through lack of time, but partly through not being immersed enough by the story. This doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the greats, having taken the time to watch it properly I can say the mid-section, though laboured at times, is a great opportunity to just sink into the period and enjoy the story-building.
The Complete Mad Men is out now, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone with some time on their hands. Though it has a slower tempo than something like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, taken as a whole it’s a masterful piece of television, and you can see why it’s won as many plaudits as it has.
Dir: Phil Abraham, Michael Uppendahl, Jennifer Getzinger, Matthew Weiner, Scott Hornbacher
Scr: Matthew Weiner
Starring: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Aaron Staton, Rich Sommer
DOP: Chris Manley
Number of Episodes: 92
Episode Runtime: 47mins
Mad Men: The Complete Collection is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.