The third season of Mad Men is off to a fine start, earning Emmy awards this year for Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. Although viewer ratings fell from 1.9 billion to 1.6 billion after the Emmys according to thrfeed.com, Mad Men retains a strong hold on its loyal audience spanning seemingly everyone from Baby Boomers to Generation Y2k. The Huffington Post projects viewers ages 18 to 49 have grown 71% since the season two premier in the fall of 2008.
Mathew Weiner, the show's executive producer and former producer of HBO hit The Sopranos, opens the viewer's eyes to the emotional, psychological, and sociological underpinnings of the budding consumerist culture of the 1960's. And his excruciating attention to detail pulls new age civilization away from the present and back to a time of nuclear families, tract homes, and stay-at-home moms. The show is meticulously stocked with period decor from unpolished apples to era-appropriate dances. And with a soundtrack featuring classic artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Bobby Vinton alongside newer artists like Aceyalone and RJD2, the show drops cultural references for a broad range of viewers.
Mad Men uncovers the underpinnings of a sociological paradigm shift that took place in America in the 1960's, when common people began examining their lives and their purposes more closely. Their discontent speaks to something in all of us. It seems each character in Mad Men pushes needles into our deepest veins. Our own inner demons are summoned through each character. Peggy Olson, Cooper Ad Agency's only high-paid female employee, struggles to maintain her femininity and authority. And Roger Sterling, the cold, capitalistic head honcho at Cooper Ad Agency, fights to make a name for himself among his co-workers and a slew of romantic relationships. We see greed, envy, desire, insecurity, and lust during classic dinner parties, office meetings, and familial conversations. Baby Boomers in particular may be able to see their parents played out in the show's cast. A Sunday night with Mad Men allows viewers to escape their week and enter an era unscathed by economic recession and war.
Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m., with encore showings at 10:30 p.m., on AMC.
-- Alison Alter