What makes Mad Men soooo irresistible?

Mad Men: the American phenomenon that seems to have swept into the television world and firmly taken a leading role. There doesn’t seem to be a single person who hasn’t heard of the award-winning show and its critically acclaimed for its historical authenticity. Yet one adjective in particular is consistently repeated when Mad Men is mentioned: sexy.

I could just say that the show’s popularity is all down to Jon Hamm. He is the yin and yang of the whole show, but as much as I like his face and his acting, I have to say that there is more to the show than good-looking people with really good acting skills. Instead it seems that the show is so loved because it’s dealing with issues that ruled society fifty years ago, raises ‘old’ social questions and at the same time entertains, not lectures, the viewers.

I believe that Mad Men manages to open our minds and helps us to observe the conditions of the late 50s and early 60s. However it manages to spice up the factors we may find boring and repetitive – the pressure of working in an advertising agency; the desperate desire to get promoted; to start a family; and so forth – by allowing the viewer to witness the double lives of characters; the secrets and the lies. What enriches the story is the broken moral compass of the characters. They each incorporate more negative than positive traits and that’s what makes the show relatable to pretty much anyone.

Gender politics is the main issue that makes Mad Men juicy and attractive to both sexes. The show is trying to sell the ideas of emancipation and change. It does that by focusing on the effects that unwritten values of modern society have on the psyche. The characters’ oscillation between the office and the household emphasises the different rules that governed each. The show also concentrates on the birth and rise of consumerism in the post- World War II American society and brings to light the role of mass media. The persuasion business, also known as advertising, promotes happiness and manages to attach countless meanings to it. The ‘American Dream’ sets the pace in this industry and is also its ultimate aim. The show explores the irony of happiness; people who are far from it must define and sell it to others.

In Mad Men, behind every product there is a story that brings to light hidden desires or pleasures. So does that make consumerism a lullaby that sends us all to sleep? And by falling asleep I mean believing everything that we are told and letting mass media dull our critical capacity.

Is Mad Men so good because it’s so down-to-earth? Or because it’s all about an era that was such a long time ago and there is no way of going back? Is this nostalgic feeling the one thing that puts Mad Men in a mysterious light? Or is it because the late 50s – early 60s is actually a period of time we are all (secretly) intrigued by? But the most obvious answer is this: it’s so good because it’s smart, sensitive and real.

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