I came late to Mad Men. It was one of those shows everybody I knew talked about, which pretty much is the surest way to keep me from trying something. I didn't think Jon Hamm was nearly as attractive as everybody said he was (too Ken doll for me, and honestly, I can appreciate he's good looking but oh god, not my type), and the idea of a 60s show didn't interest me.
Enter Netflix and its suggestions. I was watching a lot of TV because Craig was spending two nights on the peninsula rather than coming home to save time he needed for work. I kept the TV on to help banish the quiet after the kids went to bed. I'd already watched Continuum and I wanted another show. So I said yes to trying out Mad Men when it popped up.
Let me tell you, binge watching a television show will mess you up. You'd think that's a lesson I'd learn by now, but nope, I kinda like how emotionally wrung out I get from it (even when I bitch about it afterward), and I know I'll do it again and again and again when the show is right.
So what is it about this show?
Everybody knows it's smart, and while I love that, I also love that everything *means* something. I love that I can take a single scene and discover something new in it every single time I watch it. It's layers upon layers and peeling those apart is such a guilty pleasure. That's not normally my bag. It's a surprise to me that I've responded to this part of it as much as I have. But oh man, do I love reading analyses.
It's those nuances in looks and dialogue that makes it such an emotional roller coaster. As over the top as some of the actions are (as most TV drama is), the people feel *real*. Their responses feel *real*. I might not like a good number of them, but hell if I don't believe them. They are complex human beings, who sometimes do really stupid things or react in what might seem like contradictory ways. It's very hard to summarize them in just a few words.
I'll ignore Don right now, though I do recognize he's the core of the show. Look at Peggy and how she's grown, and yet in some ways not. She can be as driven as Don, and still yearn for the romanticized relationship with Ted. Somewhere deep inside her still resides that nervous Catholic schoolgirl, and it manifests in ways we don't expect on the odd occasion, even when she's moved so far beyond it. She's a reminder that we are the sum of our experiences, that we're capable of change but also sometimes incapable of moving on.
Speaking of characters...I love Stan. Unabashedly. I know he's minor - very minor - and I loathed him when he first came on, but let me tell you, I was completely sold on him fairly quickly. I love his friendship with Peggy and wish desperately that it would evolve into more. I love that his friendship with Peggy has probably been a major contributing factor to his personal growth.
And Roger. Ah, Roger. He makes me laugh, I love how his hedonism doesn't get in the way of his generous, loyal nature, and I adore how far he's come.
I could go on and on about each of the characters, but considering how long the show has been on, that could take a while. I'll talk more general. I like how it writes women. I like that there's a variety, and that even with the roles they were expected to play, everybody responds and acts as an individual. Do I agree with what the women do sometimes? No, but it was a different era. In that time, under those circumstances, they perform as society tells them. And then as the changing times dictate.
One of its real successes for me, however, is that it takes events we're all too familiar with and makes them seem fresh by focusing on how they affect real people rather than replaying stock footage and concentrating on the history. That might just sum it up, actually. Mad Men remembers that engaging people in a story is more than gimmicks or redoing history. It's about drawing viewers into the characters' lives. It's about the *people*.
And as a funny, this photo gallery of the cast before they were famous cracks me up. Jon Hamm especially.