Mad about Man Men

by Lauren Taylor Shute

This chapter is a free excerpt from Quicklet on Mad Men Season 1 (TV Show).

Chances are, you heard about Mad Men before you watched it. Seemingly out of the blue, drinking during the day was cool again, fashion from the 60’s was back in stores, and a handsome man in a suit was hosting Saturday Night Live. Enough people likely expressed shock, and perhaps even disdain, that you’d never seen the show. So you sat down and watched an episode. Then another. And then another.

We understand. You’ve become obsessed, and so have we.


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Chances are, you heard about Mad Men before you watched it. Seemingly out of the blue, drinking during the day was cool again, fashion from the 60’s was back in stores, and a handsome man in a suit was hosting Saturday Night Live. Enough people likely expressed shock, and perhaps even disdain, that you’d never seen the show. So you sat down and watched an episode. Then another. And then another.

We understand. You’ve become obsessed, and so have we.

Mad Men is one of those few shows that comes along every few years and turns everything on its head. When it initially premiered in 2007, few could foresee how much of a cultural impact it would have on television, especially since it was shown on a channel known for televising old movies. AMC took a leap of faith on the series though, even after it was already turned down by both HBO and Showtime, in the hopes that “quality would win out over formulaic mass appeal.”

What’s ironic is that by not trying to have mass appeal, Mad Men spoke to the masses. Suddenly there was a cool, smart, and glamorous show on cable TV that didn’t pander to those who obsessed over cheaper reality television, and people started to talk. Critics began acclaiming the show, saying it was “the series that breaks new ground by luxuriating in the not-so-distant past,” and not soon after, the creators picked up a Golden Globe for best drama.

In short, Mad Men had become a sensation. But what exactly was it about the show that made it so addicting? Perhaps it was that the characters had depth, that we truly and deeply cared about them even as they ran themselves into ruin. Maybe it was the beauty of the authentic costumes, or the hazy, romantic glow of the sets. Or perhaps, though we’d hate to admit it to ourselves, it was that these characters imbibed without restraint in ways that we never could, with three-martini lunches and nooners with girls in the Village, smoking packs a day and soaking up power as though it was a birthright. The characters of Mad Men live life in ways that we never will, simply because we’re born in the wrong era. Luckily for us, the show is engrossing enough that we can pretend.  

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