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April 06, 2013

Mad Men. Mad Indeed?

A drama about one of New York's most prestigious ad agencies 
at the beginning of the 1960s, 
focusing on one of the firm's most mysterious 
but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper.


I’ve read some negative reviews on this television series, considering it an attack on gender and women. Well, I don’t think so. Mad Men is the portrait of a bygone era, though many ideas and customs remain nowadays. “Creator Matthew Weiner called the series science fiction in the past, reasoning that just as science fiction uses a future world to discuss issues that concern us today, Mad Men uses the past to discuss issues that concern us today that we don’t discuss openly.” (Heidkamp, 2007)

The series offers an interesting plot with characters worthy of a detailed study on the psychological and socio-cultural arena.

Observe the female. I get the impression that the woman is the thread of the story.

First, we have the main character: the lack of maternal love makes him a frivolous man looking for a surrogate mother. He believes he will find her in every woman who crosses his path. He is extremely unhappy.

On the other hand, we see the housewife raised to be a perfect being as a wife, a mother and a woman. She can't handle the stress, turns bitter and causes suffering to those who love her.

We can also see women with free and independent thought, who are severely judged at that time. Or those ones, with few aspirations that go beyond getting a man to provide them with financial security. The latter come to be the life of the party.

Many of these issues have not changed. A few months ago, a friend of mine threw a party. I asked him how it had been, and said: “It was a bit boring, there were more men than women; the party is fun when the girls come along.” I'm talking about a man of the XXI Century who claims to be a strong advocate of women's rights!


Mad Men as a work of art, is superb. The costumes, setting, and actions reveal a thorough job, and the soundtrack is wonderful.

From Seasons 1 to 5, the show has won 34% of all nominations. Its main prizes were won in the category of “Drama”. Most come from The Emmy Awards (26%), Writers Guild of America (12%) and Television Critics Association (11%). Look at the following graphs:

Click on pic to enlarge.

We can also see that 2008 has been the best year in awards, until now.


Mad Men’s audience has increased significantly from the first to the fifth season, as shown in the following chart.

We note, too, that the most watched episodes are in seasons 4 and 5.

However, not everything is at is seems: “Despite the critical acclaim, the program, which is found in bursts in 12 or 13 episodes each summer on AMC, draws a minuscule audience.” (Steinberg, 2010)

Comparing one of the highest-rated episodes of Mad Men, with other programs at the same time, we note the difference:

Well, it doesn’t matter. Mad Men is still a fabulous show. It “has done more than anything else to grow a new audience, even if it isn’t gigantic. It has helped AMC reinvent itself, as a place for new, well-liked programming, alongside HBO and Showtime. And yes, the network knows that, down the line, it will benefit from DVD sales and international distribution of the show.” (Gura, 2010)

In this context, what can we expect from Mad Men in Season 6?



Gura, David (August 2, 2010). ‘Mad Men’ Is A Show About Advertising, But AMC Isn’t Rolling In Revenue. Retrieved April 6, 2013.

Heidkamp, Bernie (August 24, 2007). New Mad Men TV Show to reveal Racism and Sexism of Today. Retrieved February 14, 2012.

Steinberg, Brian (August 2, 2010). Why ‘Mad Men’ Has So Little to Do With Advertising. Retrieved April 6, 2013.

Other sources:
Internet Movie Database
TV By The Numbers. Zap 2it


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