For anyone who’s watched Mad Men from the beginning, or even joined half-way through, they’ll be eager to see the second half of the final season take off again this week. Mad Men gives us the chance to do some time-traveling from the sofa, watching how the world used to be, while being wrapped up in a series of intriguing storylines at the same time.
Focused on the inner wranglings of a New York advertising agency through the 1960s, while we watch the main characters’ stories unfold, each laced with love, jealousy, hypocrisy and office politics, in the background, we’ve seen how an amazing array of historic events such as the Moon landing touch the lives of the ad agency’s staff.
Mad Men has been a gripping series for people to watch but not because of a fast-moving plot that’s filled with action. It’s the exact opposite. It is a slow boil where in many of the episodes very little actually happens but you’re somehow entranced by the whole visual feast of the program. The sets are immersive and authentic and the styles of both men and women are very evocative of the years they are portraying.
Over the years, Mad Men has won 15 Emmy awards and enjoyed the Best Drama win for five years in a row. Its fan base is hooked into watching what happens to the main characters – such as Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Pete Campbell, Roger Sterling, Joan Harris, Betty Francis and Sally Draper. Peggy started off in season one as the timid little secretary who worked for Don, but we have watched her claw her way to the top of the industry over the years, until finally in the first half of this season, she got to tell Don what to do. Peggy’s rise through the male-chauvinist ranks of the ad agency world in the 1960s should have made it onto gaming site bgo’s blog list of work underlings who beat the boss, but her rise to the top has been more subtle than most of those included on that list. She even had to go and work somewhere else for a while to get the recognition she deserved.
Part of the appeal of watching Mad Men is that we can all identify with the workplace issues at some level. We may not work in the glamorous world of advertising (or, to be more precise, the glamorous world of advertising in 1960s New York) but the same niggles and difficulties in relationships come through in many different organizations. But what really keeps us watching Mad Men are the personal stories and the hope that before the end of this, the final season, we’ll find out the whole story about lead character Don Draper’s past. We’ve had plenty of flashbacks and clues over the years, but we don’t know enough yet. However, we viewers shouldn’t expect a neat wrap-up to this seven season masterpiece. We rarely get those these days.
There are theories galore on how Mad Men will end – whether Don’s true identity will be revealed, or whether we’ll see him falling from the building as we see a male silhouette falling during the opening credits. We’re also wondering which of the many women in Don’s life he’ll end up with. Or will he end up on his own, as some might say he deserves.