Mad Men Screen 10 articles

Mad Men

2007

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  • If sticking it out for two-and-a-half episodes of Season 1 and one episode this season can be called trying, the Siren has tried with "Mad Men"... Despite the stratospheric sex appeal, the show is just so goddamned _dour_. The Siren suspects Matthew Weiner wanted to avoid the nostalgia trap, but this is too far in the other direction. A little soupçon of affection for the past will not turn Mr. Weiner's dead-serious critique into "The Wonder Years Meets Ad Age."

  • The lack of exposition in the pilot is one of its most seductive qualities... There's no equivalent to Tony Soprano's sessions with Dr. Melfi to let us know what's going on inside his head; indeed, the thesis that drinking served the same function in the 1950s that antidepressants and talk therapy do today is shaping up to be one of the major themes of the series.

  • This is not Deadwood, with its grubby optimism about society’s and the individual’s potential for change. It’s not The Wire or Treme, with their humanistic empathy for citizens let down by governments and institutions. It’s not the black-comically pessimistic Seinfeld or The Sopranos, on which characters crow about improving themselves, then revert to type with a vengeance. Mad Men’s characters are more true to life than any others on TV because they’re so random, inscrutable, and mysterious.

  • On the surface, the series appears to be a straightforward, narrative historical drama, but it's really a spectacle of surreal scenarios that don't mean much. I don't mean to say that Mad Men isn't a good television show; quite the opposite. It just proves that an excellent series requires neither plot nor meaning.

  • Mad Men has, to these eyes, remained television’s most supple, consistently surprising series. Weiner’s show functions according to its own slightly askew internal logic, but it also expands out into the world... Always refusing to take the easy road to sensationalism, it combines the pleasures of televisual serial narrative with Hollywood classicism at its best.

  • Unlike many other directors who graduate from technical positions, [director Phil Abraham] knows when to just point the camera at the actors and avoid unnecessary distractions. [In a scene from "The Other Woman"], his primary visual decision is to quickly have Don sit down while Peggy remains standing, and to choose angles that make her dominant and him submissive.

  • Never fully in control of the opportunities available to her, Peggy is always torn between what she’s supposed to want and what she feels is meaningful and worthwhile. There’s no man waiting for her on the street, offering that missing sense of completion, and even if there were, he could never be enough. A character like Peggy could never get a Hollywood ending. She’s too interesting for that anyway.

  • [Jennifer Getzinger,] the auteur of inappropriate touching! These are moments of transgression — we know that because they begin as moments of rigid, charged formal separation. But they’re also moments of profound truth... This is something like Mad Men’s visual theory of true love, its giveaway that Matthew Weiner believes there are things that unite these characters beyond artifice or lust or convenience.

  • There’s something to be said for aiming high. Mad Men has been an instructional tool in how far television can go, freed from traditional conventions of pacing and plot. Sometimes it didn’t go far enough — the racial issues of the era were only touched on fleetingly. But it was a testament to the potential of the form. Like The Sopranos, it is novelistic in scope and rich with minutely filled-in personal details.

  • In Weiner’s split-second transition from Draper’s ambiguous smile to the overtures of the Hilltop commercial, Mad Men communicates a new narrative about not only Draper’s life but also the trajectory of the entire series, wholly refashioning the latter as a result. With that final cut, the show reveals the clever deception of its seven seasons—and ironically, the moment Mad Men reveals its true self comes precisely at the same time that Draper learns to forget his own.

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