AMC’s Mad Men made its debut on Netflix on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Since then I’ve watched 5 episodes and am still at a loss of words to explain how I feel about the show. Usually, there needs to be at least one likeable character or a character with redeemable qualities for me to continue watching. I haven’t found such a character in this show and yet I’m looking forward to the next episode.
I’ve heard people say that this show takes a while to develop and get interesting but I haven’t had that reaction. The writing is incredible, subtle, intelligent and really takes you back to the 60’s. Each character is packed with layers of characterization, nuances, neurosis and quirks that they seem believable and you feel like a fly on the wall peeking into the private world of real living breathing people.
The show is of course centered around one character, Donald Draper, who is played by Jon Hamm to brilliant effect. Thus far, 5 episodes in, I find nothing relatable about this character. He seems the most flawed of the cast, with a troubled past that he wants no one to know about and who can’t help but act out in self-destructive ways with indulgences of infidelity, chain-smoking and hard-drinking. You would think this would cause me to have contempt for his character but the writing is such that I can’t stop asking, “why?”. Why is he doing those things? It’s obvious that he’s troubled, filled with some self-loathing and isn’t proud of his moral ambiguous ways. And yet he continues on with his never-ending circle of self-destruction.
This is one of those shows that I have no idea where the ride is taking me and yet I have complete confidence in the writing that it will be a someplace good. Despite having more questions than answers about the characters and the plot of Mad Men I’m still enjoying it tremendously. The visual authenticity of the time period definitely helps. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the four seasons on Netflix.