Eagerly Awaiting Mad Men.

by Meredith O’Brien


I’ve been waiting impatiently for July 25 to hurry up and get here. That’s the day when the best show on TV starts airing new episodes. I’m talking, of course, about AMC’s Mad Men.


For a show set in the 1960s -- when women were admonished to strive for marriage, motherhood and domesticity; when female employees were openly harassed, undermined and assumed to be mentally and emotionally unfit as compared to men; and when the advertising men working on New York City’s Madison Avenue could and did act as though they were the kings of the world – it makes a lot of sociological insights that still ring true 50 years later.


In preparation for the fourth season’s premiere, I watched the first three Mad Men DVD sets again and read a collection of fascinating yet academically-oriented essays, Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing is as It Seems, which examined the show which was described as a drama which “is as much a mirror on ourselves as it is a window into a bygone era, showing us who we are by reminding us of what we once were and have chosen no longer to be.”


Several essays dissected the lives and the portrayals of the three primary women in show: Betty Draper (a mom of three who was unhappily married and, in last season’s finale was flying to Reno to divorce the lead character Don Draper), Joan Holloway Harris (who used to work at the Sterling Cooper ad agency, married a doctor, quit the firm, then, in the finale, joined a group of rogue Sterling Cooper ad men who were starting a new agency) and Peggy Olson (who started as a secretary, then became the firm’s first female copywriter, secretly gave up a baby she accidentally conceived with a married colleague for adoption and vocally advocated for herself in the workplace).