Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mad Men - Season 1

Mad Men has been one of the most critically acclaimed shows of the last couple years, and seems to have stepped into The Wire's place as the show hip people call the best on television. Watching the first season, I didn't quite see it as that great, but it's certainly quality entertainment. It's about the guys who work at an ad agency in the early 1960's, as they try to please clients, get drunk, and cheat on their wives. A big part of the show is the flavor of the time period, which seems pretty authentic and makes some moments more interesting than they might normally be. It's somewhat funny to watch how often the characters light a new cigarette, and it's pretty easy to lose count. Jon Hamm is Don Draper, the main character with a shady past, and he really captures that old fashioned sort of man's man you don't really see anymore. He's surrounded by a bunch of people who usually play to those late 50's/early 60's stereotypes that are somewhat quaint now but contribute to that atmosphere pretty well.

The main thrusts of the first season's story arc are Draper going through a bit of an identity crisis as parts of his life catch up to him, and the new girl Peggy, who doesn't really fit in with the other secretaries content to giggle and take phone calls. Any bit of story involving Draper is usually good, but too much of the other stuff going on around him is just a little too weird. If every guy back then was really this creepy towards every woman he was attracted to, it's definitely a time I'm glad I didn't live in. The show just made me uncomfortable sometimes, and not in a funny way. Some of what happens is the same trite romantic stuff we've seen before, and you can just see it coming a little too easily. Mad Men is a very well put together program, but I sort of feel like it holds that "Best Show on TV" title by default.

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