I pride myself on my taste for television. While the majority of my time is spent watching sports, I always make time to tune into shows that have tickled my fancy. And the show that I've found the most satisfaction in is Mad Men.
If you haven't seen it before
Who is Don Draper?
The thing that makes the character Don Draper so thought-provoking is that, technically Don Draper doesn't exist -- not in the "well he's a TV character, of course he doesn't exist" -- more in the "in this made up Mad Men world, even Don Draper doesn't exist" sense. Let me explain.
|"I live like there's no tomorrow, because there isn't one."|
Still with me? Good. As time goes on, Don meets his wife Betty, has kids, sleeps with a bunch of women, drinks a lot, smokes a lot, sleeps with more women, drinks more rye, smokes more Lucky Strike cigarettes...yada yada yada.
The "aura" and "sexiness" of Mad Men
|I think red is my favourite colour|
But that's what creates such a buzz for a show like this. Another show that I have become addicted too, and could argue as the greatest show of all-time, is The Wire. If you have seen the show, then you obviously agree with me on the all-time comment. Could Mad Men pass it on the pantheon of television? It has a chance. With season five and six being green-lit, combined with a possible seventh which show creator Matt Weiner has said would be the last, Mad Men certainly has a chance to become the greatest series of all-time.
Back to my point with The Wire -- I said that it is the greatest show of all-time. But if you do the research and ask most with knowledge of pop-culture, its ranking on a more public and commercial scale fails to meet. How so?
The show was never "sexy". The plot of the show was the culture behind drug dealing, politics, police-work, and the streets of Baltimore, Maryland. Yes, there were some handsome or attractive characters, and every so-often a sex scene or two, but The Wire never had an aura of "sexiness" to it like Mad Men does. That's why, despite being critically, one of the most applauded and transcendent television series ever, The Wire played second-fiddle to fellow HBO powerhouse The Sopranos. And no, I'm not saying Tony Soprano is sexy. What I'm saying is, all the girls that Tony slept with, the fact that his wife Carmela and his daughter Meadow were attractive women, the idea of their joint being based out of a strip-club; the aura that I said The Wire was missing is there with The Sopranos.
So let's get back to Mad Men, and the aura of sexiness that I'm trying to explain. The vocal point of the show is Draper, and the aura that he carries with him is what makes him so appealing. Even though he is a noted adulterer, and has broken the hearts of his wife and several women he has slept with, there's still something about him that brings you into his circle, and makes you sympathize.
Don Draper's arrival at rock bottom
As season four developed, Don was adjusting to single life, and spiraling into a dark, deep, bitter sadness, that had become an evolutionary discovery of self, in which we had never seen from our protagonist. One noted scene from the season was Don coming home from a night of heavy-drinking with a woman, then waking up to find himself with a different woman. Only thing was, an entire day had passed. It never even hit him.
What we were witness to was rock bottom for Don Draper. With no wife, a frustrating career, and only small opportunities to see his children, Draper became an enigma of what we thought of him in the past. Before, we saw a confident man with an air of arrogance, combined with good-looks and a sense of deviancy that would make you want to hate him, but you just couldn't. Seeing him smoke his smoke, and drink his drink, you felt green with envy. But now, it was only pity that you felt.
|The Suitcase: Season Four, Episode Seven|
Some consider this episode to be one of the most well-written television episodes of all-time
It was there that the relationship between Don and Peggy became the strongest in the show. While Don feels like no one understands his struggle, the audience is given the sense that Peggy is just as broken mentally as Don is, as she deals with her own personal demons that haunt her on a daily basis.
Right there -- did you catch it? -- right there is where other people relate to Mad Men. There is such a mythology that follows the show, in the sense that people want to be like the characters. They want to sleep with beautiful women and drink on a daily basis and drive nice cars and make a lot of money and all that jazz; what they don't realize is that they already are like the characters. We deal with addiction, divorce, jealously, betrayal, violence, everything that makes life living just a little bit harder. We do drink to get away from that, and we do cheat on our spouses to fill a void that may or may not exist. Mad Men isn't an escape from reality -- it's a support group.
Don cleans his act, and season four comes to a close
|This man has probably slept with your wife. Even though he isn't real, he probably has.|
The season closes with the couple engaged, the firm laying off almost half of their staff, and Betty taking the kids and her new husband to a new house outside of Manhattan.
I have no idea what is going to happen, and I like it that way. With over 17 months since the last episode, Mad Men promises to bring a plethora of new plots and surprises that we haven't seen before. And it's two hours long!!! Mind me for seeming a bit too gleeful, but there aren't many shows on television that I look forward to watching anymore. And this is one of them.
So tonight, when I'm watching the best show on television, please do not tweet, email, Facebook chat, bbm, or text me. You won't get a reply.
I'll be at my support group.
Hunter Crowther is a regular blogger, and contributes to the Lifestyle Blog for Gongshow Hockey. Follow Hunter on twitter @HunterCrowther or email him at email@example.com