Mad Men is the new Sopranos

Mad Men is the new Sopranos

 

You know that one TV show that you should be watching but never have? That show that critics rave about and your friend swears by but you just haven’t found the time to check out?

For me, it was “Mad Men.”

But no longer! Inspired by Laura – the editor of this newspaper – I finally gave it a chance. Now I’m completely hooked.

I was unsurprised to discover that the creator of “Mad Men” – Matthew Weiner – used to write for “The Sopranos.”

“Mad Men” isn’t all about corporate advertising any more than “Sopranos” was all about the Mafia. Both programs are about relationships, love, and the entire human condition.

Like “The Sopranos,” “Mad Men” is a colorful, complex ensemble drama.

And like “Sopranos,” “Mad Men” is anchored by a wealthy, powerful, dynamic leading man. Jon Hamm’s Don Draper earns the admiration of male viewers and the hopeless crushes of female viewers.

He’s a man’s man. But he’s also a deeply flawed human being.

The show insightfully explores Don’s issues with identity, pride, anger, and infidelity. One of the key plot points of this season is the unraveling of his third marriage.

Human nature never changes. Human culture definitely does. “Mad Men” helps us understand our own 21st Century society by contrasting it with the 1960s.

The show reminds me of how grateful I should be that I grew up during an era where the sexes are equal in the workplace. I like having a female boss and I am proud that my wife makes more money than I do.

“Mad Men” shows us how different things were just a few generations ago. In a recent episode, the firm’s top young copywriter was forced to leave the company because she couldn’t put up with the unequal pay and marginalization anymore.

In the same episode, the company named a long-time employee as its first female partner. However, she was promoted as compensation for sleeping with an auto executive in order to land the Jaguar account. Yikes.

While women have been making enormous gains in dignity and respect in the American workplace, smokers have been experiencing similarly huge losses.

Nearly all of the “Mad Men” characters smoke in the office. Some just occasionally to deal with stress; some have a cigarette in their hand in every scene.

People in the 60s understood – like us – that smoking a pack a day is a bad habit and a serious health risk. But they also understood – unlike us – that merely being in the same room as a smoker is not a serious health risk and that it is impolite to make snide comments to a smoker’s face.

With all of the heavy smoking going on, I imagine that somebody on “Mad Men” is going to develop emphysema one of these days. And, unfortunately, it isn’t going to be weaselly, contemptible Pete Campbell. He’s the only one who doesn’t light up.

“Mad Men” is the best drama on TV and the best soap opera. It has the best writing and the best cinematography. It is all things to all people. But only if you watch it. Join us!

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