Acclaim, justified

12:00:00 AM

Mad Men is one of the most critically-acclaimed (non-HBO) television shows today, and for good reason. It's a great example of how all the elements of great programming come together seamlessly - from the script to the acting, from the setting to the wardrobe. It gives quality television a whole new meaning.

Title card
(image from the internet)
Set in the 60s, the show touched on sensitive issues of the time such as racism, homosexuality, marriage and infidelity, and women in the workforce. Some of those issues are still quite big to this day, although I daresay discourse is much more open now than it was fifty years ago.

Although the pilot premiered in 2007, I only started watching it this year when my best friend, Joandrea, recommended it to me. As I was already five seasons behind, I had reservations about watching it. But when I read the glowing reviews from various websites, I figured it could be worth my time. And it was.

It's not marathon-friendly (like Suits, Alias, or Doctor Who); Mad Men is a tad too heavy. It is, after all, a drama series, and I will admit I'm not particularly fond of that. I could only bring myself to watch two to three episodes at a time, so it took me about a month to finish all five seasons.
Quite the ensemble, eh?
(photo from the internet)
Casting is definitely one of the strongest points of this show. Everyone fits right into their respective characters, and the chemistry among the cast is evident. Jon Hamm as the talented but troubled Don Draper is genius, as is Vincent Kartheiser's ambitious Pete Campbell.
I wish that I could find that dress in ukay-ukay.
(photo from the internet)
It should come as no surprise that I instantly fell in love with the wardrobe. I especially love the dresses they put on Joan Harris (played by Christina Hendricks) and Megan Draper (played by Jessica Pare). I would have loved to live in the US in the sixties if only to wear those clothes!
The copywriter takes the subway.
(photo from the internet)
And it's not just the clothing that accurately reflects the period. The houses, the cars, the offices, the music, and even the packaging of the products shown are all from that era! I read from somewhere that this show is quite the expensive production, and it's clear why.

But as my film professor always pointed out, everything starts with a strong script. You can have the best actors and the best production designs in the world and still fail on account of bad writing. The script is the main reason this show sweeps the Emmys year after year (well, except for 2012, that is).

Because of the quality of the writing and the great casting choices, the characters and how they interact with one another comes across as very realistic. Mad Men is character-driven, with each individual contributing significantly to the overall appeal of the show. And the presence of strong female characters that went against the period is something that I particularly appreciate.
Move over, Don. Pete has arrived.
(photo from the internet)
However, I have to say that in season five, I found Don Draper's character becoming one-dimensional. When his secret was finally revealed, he seemed less interesting. Pete Campbell, on the other hand, has steadily grown on me. His shining moment was when he visited Beth Dawes (played by Alexis Bledel) in the hospital - that scene just broke my heart!

Season six started filming last October, and will be aired in 2013. If you haven't seen the show, I suggest you start now. If you're missing some episodes, brush up. The accolades should be a clear indication that this is a show that no television junkie should miss.


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