Mad Men – TV week

I have not had much time to watch movies lately because we have been watching loads of TV shows on instant Netflix. All four seasons of Mad Men are currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Mad Men (3007-2010) – Rated TV-14

“Set in 1960s New York City, this AMC series takes a peek inside an ad agency during an era when the cutthroat business had a glamorous lure. When the cigarette smoke clears and the martinis are set down, at the center of it all is ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Meanwhile, his marriage suffers as his wife, Betty (January Jones), recoils from his womanizing ways. Garnering numerous awards, the show also stars John Slattery and Elisabeth Moss.”

This one is absolutely a no-brainer. If you have not seen Mad Men, you are missing the best-written and -acted show on television. This is not to say that it is my favorite show as I love the macabre so Dexter and The Walking Dead are my favorites. Still you are really missing out.

My big bone to pick with Mad Men is that they command such a large slice of the AMC budget that the budget for The Walking Dead (as well as Breaking Bad from what I hear) has been cut and showrunner Frank Darabont has been cut loose.

Mad Men was such a daring move by AMC. Having a series set in the 1960s automatically means greater expense and with the slavish attention to detail the creators have (incredible period props, outfits, and hair styles), the budget for those departments must be shocking but having a program set in another time period also automatically means a greater difficulty winning viewers.

Setting the story in an advertising agency also limits the melodramatic opportunities afforded police and medical dramas. It does however allow them to show how advertising developed for politicians and products which is surprisingly fascinating.

Tobacco use, alcohol use, and sexuality are not only common but rampant throughout the show. Mad Men also does not shy away from the logical consequences of these behaviors.

Jon Hamm is fabulous as the lead, Don Draper. He shows a great deal of charisma and some wonderful nuances in his acting. I like that he is simply the protagonist and most assuredly not the hero or villain.

Hamm is ably supported by John Slattery and Robert Morse as the Sterling & Cooper of ad agency Sterling & Cooper. Working for Draper are Vincent Kartheiser as reprehensible schemer Pete Campbell who strangely comes across very sympathetically, Aaron Staton as Ken Cosgrove, and Rich Sommer as Harry Crane.

For all of that, it is actually the women who are most interesting. Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson has the best character arc as an exceptionally independent-minded secretary. Christina Hendricks is absolutely riveting as uber-secretary Joan Harris. Christina also gets the best outfits. January Jones plays the long-suffering wife Betty Draper and while I have not cared for her in other roles (Unknown, X-Men First Class), she seems to really inhabit Betty.

The acting and writing are so dead-on that everyone comes across as a real person and there are no heroes and only a few villains. I simply cannot recommend this show highly enough.