Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency…
Mad Men is one of those shows that makes you ask yourself, “How could it be this good?” So many shows get bogged down with too many characters, story-lines and subplots. So why not Mad Men? Because the writers never stray; they never lose sight of the story they know they need to tell, and they always keep the focus where it needs to be. These facts are some of the most powerful and necessary aspects of storytelling.
For those who don’t know, “Mad Men” were advertising men in the 60’s working on Madison Avenue in New York City. As we all know, the main goal in advertising and marketing is to sell and usually by way of convincing others to buy. Essentially, you’re trying to make a product out to be better than it is, something that you must buy for one reason or another. Right off the bat, one of the great things about Mad Men is it’s main character, Donald Draper.
Draper is a walking mirror of what he does every day. He’s not who he says he is and represents himself as something he’s always wanted to be. Who better to be in advertising than someone who lives a life of misrepresentation? He’s instantly compelling as a character. He’s the best at everything he does and no matter what he’s doing, it always looks cool. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life, but watching Mad Men makes me want to buy a pack of Lucky Strikes and drink bourbon instead of coffee when I wake up in the morning. Watching Draper pitch an idea to a client is so authentic and inspirational that I wouldn’t blame you for searching for some nostalgia on eBay.
Mad Men is THE great ensemble character drama of this decade, and might possibly even be so in the next (creator Matthew Weiner has said he can’t see it going longer than another 2 seasons). Yet as great as Don Draper is, he’s not the only one to watch for. There are at least four or five other consistently interesting characters who come to mind without even looking at character list on IMDb. But when you do hit up IMDb, you’re reminded it’s much deeper than that.
Mad Men‘s own best character trait? Subtlety. Nothing I’ve ever seen in my life handles subtlety more effectively than Matthew Weiner and his writing staff. It’s poetry. Mad Men often says more in silence than it does through words, and it’s messages are often more powerful because of that simple fact. Hanging beats and silences between conversations are used to perfection. It’s really a joy to watch. Some people might say they wish the show was on a network like HBO. But would that make it better? There are many instances in which I’d say yes. Mad Men? Absolutely not. HBO would tear Mad Men‘s subtlety to pieces. Who knows what we’d end up with. Either way, I don’t want to find out.