Browsing: Mad Men

Mad Men Waterloo

So much of Mad Men is about people past their prime or worrying they are past their prime, that the ever-changing world has shifted under their feat and lost its use for them. “Waterloo” begins with the idea that Don Draper is past his prime…

Mad Men mad-men-the-strategy

Is there a better song to encapsulate Mad Men than Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”? A bittersweet ode to times gone by sung by a man with at least his own agency, his own steadfast obstinacy to cling to, but also a self-congratulatory pat on the back by a man who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and…

Mad Men mad-men-the-runaways-peggy

“The Runaways” is an odd duck of a Mad Men episode, a sort of spiritual successor to last season’s “The Crash,” where everything seems to be coming unhinged, the world appears to be falling apart, and there’s no real savior in sight…

Mad Men mad-men-season-7-jay-r-ferguson-elisabeth-moss-ben-feldman-amc

Once, a few years ago, Don Draper stood on an empty floor, right above the booming ad agency he had created, right alongside the people who had helped him make it, and gazed out at the Manhattan skyline, taking in the view from the top. Everything was in front of him; the world was at his feet, and anything he…

Mad Men Mad Men - Episode 7.03 - Field Trip - Promotional Photos (5)

Don Draper is a genius. One of the many subtle currents that runs through Mad Men is the question of how much genius buys you when it is accompanied by moral bankruptcy and increasing baggage. And the answer the show has provided is “kind of a lot.” This season has been after something slightly different, though. It has been asking what…

Mad Men mad-men-a-days-work

There is some amount of pride in doing a day’s work (at least, an honest one, but we’ll get there). Getting through a workday can be a difficult thing, and making it to the finish line carries with it some satisfaction, or at least, that’s what we tell ourselves to ensure we get out of bed every weekday. “A Day’s Work” sees the workday as something else though, as a pile of small indignities, little chinks in armor that grows more brittle by the day. It sees a day’s work not as a point of pride, but as a thing to be endured, as a constant gauntlet to be run to preserve any sense of your self, your pride, or your values.

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Let’s talk about endings. “Time Zones” is the first episode of the final season of Mad Men (though it will be broken up into two seven episode chunks, one of which will air next year), which means it is the beginning of Matthew Weiner’s final statement. As a writer on The Sopranos, I imagine Weiner has had plenty of time to think about how important the ending to a series can be to its fans, and I have high hopes he has crafted a conclusion worthy of Mad Men’s place as one of the greatest television shows of all time.

Mad Men don-draper

“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” It was the title of Mad Men’s pilot episode, and a perfectly apt description of what it can feel like to try to understand its characters fully, to view them not as they portray themselves to the world, but authentically. Everyone on Mad Men is wearing a mask. Everyone is hiding behind perfectly constructed walls they have built and fortified to keep the real world from getting in, and to keep their true selves from getting out. Everyone is playing a part they are writing themselves, the part of their ideal self, the part they hope will get them through another day intact. Leading into the first part of the show’s final season, it seems only right to try to clear away some of the smoke and figure out if we can see these people for who they truly are going into this final run of episodes.

But seeing these people as they really are is tough stuff, and if we try to look at them head on, we are bound to miss the truth for their most captivating fiction. So below, we will take a look at each of the major Mad Men players through the lens of what drink best represents them and their place in the world.

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Mad Men is a show about a nation in turmoil weathering a decade of monumental change, the likes of which we are still contending with today. But more than that, it is a show about a series of broken people slowly coming to terms (or failing to come to terms) with the ways that the world is leaving them behind. Since before the show began, Dick Whitman has been running from himself, from his past, and from the notion that some breaks just cannot be fixed, that some wounds will never heal. He ran from himself into a different identity, onto a different coast, into a different career and two different marriages. He fled from his demons down the bottom of so many bottles, the drink threatened to overtake him entirely. He’d drown himself to look in the mirror and see something different.

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Mad Men has never been a show afraid of change. In its landmark third season finale, “Shut the door. Have a seat,” it blew up basically everything we knew it to be, with the characters leaving the show’s primary setting and Don’s marriage imploding before our very eyes. Since then, there’s been an instability to things that the show has exploited incredibly well. The creeping dread that has lingered over Mad Men in the back half of its run has come partially from the knowledge we have that the floor could fall out from under these people at any second. It comes from the fact that we know that, to a certain extent, it already has.

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