Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Coming Late to the Party

Posted by CJ Cregg on July 27, 2010

Season Four of Mad Men just aired on AMC, and while I am significantly behind the times (which is funny considering I’m currently in China and 13 hours ahead of my fellow bloggers in the Midwest), I want to give the show my hearty stamp of approval.  I’m almost done with season one, and can hardly stop watching the show (once again, this despite being in China with massive amounts of touristing about to be done).  While at times the show seems to force its time period (‘hey look! it’s 1960! we objectify women in 1960! we also drink a lot and smoke a lot in 1960!’) down the viewers’ throats, I like the characters and the issues that Mad Men engages.  On the one hand, it evokes a nostalgia for a simpler time, but also demonstrates that our collective memory of the 1950s and early 1960s has often overlooked pressing issues of the day: domestic ideologies, consumption, the bomb, access to birth control, the blossoming of psychiatry as a field.

I also like the way the show is underhandedly funny.  That is to say, the humor is understated, which makes it hilarious.  A key example from one of the first episodes: the old boys club at Sterling Cooper sits down with their client, cigarette giant Lucky Strike to discuss pending law suits about the health claims made by cigarette companies.  Every single ad man lights up as they begin their meeting and they all burst out in fits of coughing.  Nothing is said about these outbursts, they just move on, talking about how no one cares that cigarettes may give you cancer.  A joke or comment about how they were all coughing would have rendered this moment of contrast not funny.  As my analysis probably did as well.  At any rate, my point being, humor at its best is subtle.  The Mad Men writers seem to have captured this dynamic.  One of my final favorite moments from the eighth episode of season one is, after Betty Draper’s failed attempt to restart her modeling career, she jumps back into motherhood with a vengeance by taking a shotgun to her neighbor’s pigeons because said neighbor had threatened her children.  Awesome.

I can’t even imagine what types of plotlines will evolve when I finally get to season four, but in case you were curious, the season four premiere drew 2.9 million viewers, significant for a relatively obscure cable network.  Keep in mind also that season one averaged 925,000 viewers.

So for all of you party people out there watching, enjoy season four.  I’ll keep chugging along watching the earlier seasons and enjoying this mad, mad world.


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