A feature in the most recent issue of Wired magazine proclaims that we are in the "platinum age of television", a progression over the past decade or so in the rise of quality television programming across all mediums (broadcast tv, cable tv, and online) and the availability to access those shows whenever and wherever we choose (DVDs, DVR, downloads, and on-demand streaming). Shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Arrested Development, Justified, 30 Rock, Louis, and Game of Thrones are just a handful of television shows that could all be included in this echelon, and perhaps none more so than one of the best of the dramatic bunch, Mad Men.
Mad Men, a period drama set around the advertising world on Madison Avenue in NYC in the 1960's, premiered on AMC in 2007. It quickly garnered critical acclaim, being a window into the social, cultural, political and economic changes that happened in the 60's, as well as for its visual style, costume design, acting, writing, and directing. The show has won many awards, including fifteen Emmys and four Golden Globes. Just this year, TV Guide ranked it #6 in its list of "The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time". The show includes an ensemble cast, but revolves around its main protagonist, secretive and deeply flawed self-made man Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm).
While there's plenty of fun associated with the nostalgia of the 60s on the show (see this Mad Men cocktail guide, give yourself a Mad Men makeover, or check out some swingin' tunes from the series), the show does not just sell its story though rose-colored glasses; there are also definitely some dark underlying currents of sexism, racism, domestic violence and secrets galore. At times you are rooting for Don to come out on top, and others times hating yourself for doing so because of the awful things he does and way he treats others and destroys himself. It's that duality of dramatic highs and lows that lures the viewer in--you want to see what these people will do next and what will happen in their lives. Whether the outcome is good or bad for the characters, it is compeling storytelling at its finest.
Season 6 of the series starts this Sunday on AMC with a two-hour premeire.
If you've never seen the series, need to catch up or just refresh your memory on what has happened over the previous 5 seasons, you can go "mad" borrowing all the episodes from us here at Free Library before the new season starts.