Last month, AMC wrapped up its third season of the critically acclaimed series, “Mad Men,” with one of the best episodes to date. So, if you’ve flipped past it on a Sunday night or heard rave reviews from a friend or even your (gasp!) parents, let me see if I can whet your appetite and make sure you Netflix in time for next year.
Imagine where you currently work. Maybe Starbucks or Davidson Library. Now imagine you get to wear a fancy suit or dress everyday. You smoke? Great, do it in the lobby. You drink? Great, your boss loves to share. Boys, you have a secretary who was hired mainly on how hot she is. Ladies, this place is perfect for finding a man who will set you up for life. You spend most of your time gossiping or fooling around with new goodies brought in by clients. Oh, and everybody takes four-hour lunches.
Probably the best aspect of “Mad Men” is that the makers never shy away from the shock factor. Flashing back to the third- season premiere, not 30 minutes in, Sal was finally getting some seriously overdue action courtesy of a bellboy — a moment that nearly sent my poor boy-toy of the time into a state of homophobic shock, considering it was fairly graphic for cable.
“Mad Men” especially capitalizes on those surprises provided simply by the difference between modern day and the ’60s. Throughout her pregnancy this season, for example, it was deliberately emphasized that Betty smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish. In episode four, young Sally Draper drove the family car down the road with her senile grandpa and younger brother. Roger Sterling even appeared in blackface.
The writers of “Mad Men” also possess a phenomenally successful ability to incorporate real-life events of the 1950s-60s into the show, the most memorable of this season being “The Grown-Ups,” in which JFK was shot. Not only is the viewer privy to a glance at the feelings of anyone who lived during this time, but the event also spurs a breaking point for many main characters, including the bored homemaker, Betty, and the underappreciated accounts man, Pete.
This is why when I bring up “Mad Men,” I can’t stand the general response I get: “Oh, I tried to watch that show, but it was just so boring.” Obviously, you’re not watching the same show I’m watching. Yes, the pace is drawn out and, yes, you have to pay attention in order to fully understand what happened. But isn’t that what TV should be about? Why would you want to watch something that you can leave the room for 10 minutes and nothing has happened?
The TV show drama has been slandered over the years, leaving few shows to remind us of what it truly entails. The simplicity of a quality storyline backed by pure acting is what “Mad Men” and ultimately television, is all about. This show doesn’t need eight kids to win your heart.
So set your TiVos for AMC’s re-runs, or stock up on some DVDs this Winter Break: Season 4 will be upon us before we know it, and it’s certainly not something to be missed.