Mad Men. We all get the point

24 Mar

Ellie Hutchinson

Being the kind of gal who keeps her finger on the pulse of pop culture, I recently watched series one of Mad Men. I know, I’m totally zeitgeisty. Here are my top four thoughts on it:


1)      Don Draper is “good with words”. We know this because the other characters tell us in every scene.

2)      Joan has a super foxy body. We know this because the camera zooms in on her super foxy body in every scene.

3)      The world is a bad place for anyone who isn’t white and/or a man. We know this because of the sexist/racist jokes in every scene.

4)      Peggy Olson gets fat. We know this because.. well you get the point. We all get the point, and this is my problem with Mad Men.

I know this is all kinds of blasphemous and I’m ready to be converted but.. EVERY SCENE. Come on. You’d expect that in a film, but in a TV show that’s been lauded as better than the Wire? Better than Jesus the Sopranos? I don’t think so. My second issue is that for a show that claims to explore all these gendered rules, why is Don still the main character? Wouldn’t it be, you know, more interesting to have Peggy front and centre?

I like it, I really do. But in the same way I like Coronation Street, or Silk. It’s easy to watch and therefore good entertainment, but at no point do we have to work for anything. It’s all there, nicely laid out for us and we have handy flash backs to keep us firmly in Don’s world. Watching the Sopranos is a full sensory experience; you feel tense or scared and it’s everything that’s not said that makes the show work.

With Mad Men everything is said and it doesn’t make me feel anything. Which is perfectly fine and enjoyable, but I’d expected my mind to be blown. I will of course watch the second series, partly because my leg’s still broken, but mainly because I’m nothing if not a sheep who wants to fit in. But Mad Men, you’ve got some work to do if you want us to be friends. I’m disappointed in you.


7 Responses to “Mad Men. We all get the point”

  1. Emma March 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    It’s always interesting to see when a new viewer gets to a critically acclaimed show that has been compared to past greats such as The Sopranos, are expectations to high and will this taint the viewing experience?

    I am a huge Mad Men fan and have been writing about it for a while and whilst I don’t necessarily agree with the points you have raised it is not the first time they have been uttered. I think with any first season as well that the point can be reiterated a bit too much and Mad Men can often be a bit too on the nose with it’s symbolism but I think you feel find that some of the issues you have with the characters should get resolved by the time you end the season/get to season 2.

    Anyway it’s always interesting to hear new thoughts on this show and I’m not sure how happy you will be when you hear who my favourite character is…

    • dance ricky dance March 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      who is it?? I think it’s ok, and I want to be convinced, but.. hmm. I just feel a bit meh about it.

      • emma March 25, 2011 at 11:59 am #

        It’s Pete but in the first season he is pretty wretched. It’s a slow burner and after reading this you’ve inspired me to write about what happens when you watch a critically acclaimed show and don’t necessarily feel the same way everyone else does. I’m also going to finally start watching The Wire which as a TV academic I really should have done by now but have been strangely resistant.

  2. dance ricky dance March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    oh good choice! I like him actually, well not like but he is the most complex character so far. I think I just don’t care about Don at all, so I’ve prefered the episodes when he’s not in it much.

  3. dance ricky dance March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    also- the Wire rules.

  4. emma March 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    So glad to finally find someone that finds him as interesting as I do. But I have to disagree in regards to Don who I love (which very much extends to Jon Hamm in anything). Have you finished season 1 yet? I don’t want to say too much that might spoil but as a character he is a lot more complex than it first appears.

  5. dance ricky dance March 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    yep, finished series 1 on sunday, so onto series 2 for me! We shall see..

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