5 Reasons to watch and love Mad Men a year later12:13 AM
Today marks the one year anniversary of the Mad Men Series Finale and, although I was definitely a late rider of that bandwagon and only fairly recently finished the entire show, I could not let this day slide without due acknowledgement of its greatness. You see, I was highly reluctant in watching a show set in a marketing agency in the 60's called Mad Men, which should not require much explanation as to why, right? When I finally caved and started watching, I was just so angry at all of it. All the booze, all the sex (ridiculous sex, I might add), all the smoking, all the sexism, all the assholes. I could not handle it for the life of me. But I kept watching slowly but steadily, as is my never-giving-up nature, and soon enough I fell in love. Nothing stopped me. When the day finally came to watch the last episode, I had fully understood why this show was so incredible, why everyone kept pushing me towards it for the last years, righteously so.
So here's to a celebration of everything that makes Mad Men possibly one of my favorite TV shows in quite some time.
1. Flaw-full characters
One of the things that made it difficult for me to enjoy the show at first was how much of an asshole all the characters were. I hated all of them, full force. Watching it further on, though, such perspective changed drastically. Not that the characters stopped being assholes, but they were human assholes. Every single one of them was flawed, every single one of them messed up, grandly, multiple times. But every single one of them had inner demons, dreams, aspirations, fears, personality that made them so much more interesting to watch and so much more relatable. There is no good guy or bad guy in this show, because life has no good guy or bad guy. We're all incredibly flawed.
2. Snippets of historical moments
Mad Men is a show set in a decade packed with historical importance. But it's not a documentary. And it's not historic. It's just a show set in that period of time that represents upper and middle class life as it was. In everyday life, we see historic moments pass us as just that, moments. Life never stops. And that's just how the show portrays it, exposing just the right amount of historical snippets to make it feel exaclty how people in that specific privileged world reacted to those news. Sometimes a bit more shocked and involved, sometimes a little less, but always moving along with life as the main event.
3. Character and relationship development
Donald Draper, our main man, is possibly the most closed up, quiet and mysterious type ever portrayed on television and he is surrounded by a vast amount of different people, backgrounds, quirks. During the show, we accompany almost every character's growth, Don's downward spiral and the birth of many unexpected yet perfectly fitting relationships. Friendships, colleagues, marriages, family, portrayed with the many nuances of real life. Although we may not enjoy all relationships and paths, it becomes impossible to not see how accurate the portrayals are, with every good and bad.
4. Impecable attention to detail
If you're not yet sold on watching it, you'll have to agree with me on one thing: Mad Men is beautiful. From the men, to the women, to the settings, to the wardrobes, to the photography. You can pause it almost at any moment and the scene will look impecable. Every detail shown is clearly well thought and researched. The evolution of the years and character styles portrays this perfectly. Just as the decor of the offices evolve.
4. The women
Mad Men may revolve around a man, but its truly all about the women. And oh my God, the women. Complex, lovable, detestable, empowered and delicate women. It says something when your main character's life revolves around the women in his life. When he depends on them to understand who he is, what he does and how to get his shit together.
The first woman I loved was, actually, Joan, the ruling agency's chief secretary, a highly competent know-it-all Queen disguised as a mere office secretary. There is nothing Joan can't solve. And, as one of the agency's boys points out, "Joan isn't a Marilyn [Monroe], Marilyn is a Joan." And Mad Men makes that quite clear, including portraying what being Joan means in confrontation with power and privilege.
Betty was my second love. Powerless and desperate, but full of dreams and nothing less of a real life princess, she is, in ways, Don's female representation. And it's impossible not to feel and cheer for her to find her own path.
Dawn Chambers, an underrated underused character, was another of my women loves. I raved to see her story develop, conquering the wildly white-male dominated environment, as a women of color in the 60's.
Sally was a surprise. Gaining only what is best of her parents and knowing from a very young age all of their flaws, and there were many, she grew up more messed up than any other character. But she is also the most emotionally developed, grounded and mature of them all, knowing full well that she and only she can rule her life.
Peggy though, Peggy is my ultimate favorite. The bond she builds with Don, the confidence she grows over the years, how she accomplished a copywriter position in an advertising agency where women are secretaries and, eventually, decorative pieces, her personal inner demons, multiple failed relationships, continuous fight to figure out who the hell she truly is and utterly flawed, privileged, sometimes boderline egocentric, feminist stances, gives us the most awesome, complex, interesting female character in the show. And oh, the one liners this girl gets easily approach perfection.
And don't even get me started in the relationships these women build amongst each other. It's magical and rare in entertainment, and needs to be praised more often. I could watch an entire spin off about these women. Wat'cha say, AMC?