Mad Men is in it’s third season on AMC. It has become an extremely popular show in our culture, almost every person you speak to who watches their TV shows on the reg have Mad Men as a part of their routine. Mad Men isn’t a comedy really and isn’t particularly racy…it’s on AMC so how juicy can it really be? Mad Men is kinda interesting, but its also a little depressing , yet not in that addictive dark and twisty way we all love True Blood. So what is it that drives everyone so mad over Mad Men?
I think our culture can relates to Mad Men right now. Mad Men takes place in 1960 when the show aired three seasons go. Mad Men prides itself on cultural and historical accuracy too. Three years ago when the show aired, our culture was heading in a similar pattern as we had in the early sixties. We were hungry for new leadership just as we had been when JFK ran for office. Today we are worried about the current state of the economy and might find a show like Mad Men interesting because it takes our minds off of what is going on in our world today and might give a little perspective to the viewer about historical patterns in the United States pertaining to the culture and way we live our lives. Consumerism and gender roles play a huge role in the show. The show is about an advertising agency, Sterling Cooper, in NYC. Mad Men, priding itself on cultiural and historical accuracy, often uses cultural/media references int he show. One reason these references are used is to tie a television show’s characters or world to our world, the “real world,” and to trick us into believing they live in it. I don’t watch the show, but when asked to research the show for this critical thinking exercise I watched the pilot episode and then jumped into the first couple episodes of season three. In one of the first episodes of season 3 , Pepsi wanted Sterling Cooper to create them an advertisement for their new ‘diet-cola’ product. They use the iconic film Bye-Bye Birdie as a pop culture reference in this episode. Pop culture references are an easy way media can quickly characterize someone. All the characters in Mad Men are obviously aware of thier culture around them and are affected by the media they are exposed to, and that is probably why many people watch the show religiously and discuss it. A lot of show skip this step in characterization and leave out pop culture references all together. Mad Men does this intentionally throughout the entire show and constantly exposes the inner workings of all the character’s emotions. Later in this episode the Bye-Bye Birdie reference is cleverly used to build an arc for the character plot of the episode. The gender roles resurface again later when Peggy, again aspires to be sexy. She fails and ends up at a bar and going home with a random guy. She doesn’t feel self-worthy or feel sexy in her own skin. Viewers in our world today know how she feels. Women today judge themselves on a scale that’s defined by what they see around them. All the magazines, models, celebrities around us help to define our relationships with others and our views of ourselves. It breaks your heart watching Peggy in this episode, but every young woman today know how she feels and can secretly applaud her, and knows why she goes home with kid from the bar.