Enough is Enough: ‘Mad Men’ and the Purpose of Consumption

Being a show about advertising, Mad Men was always a show about consumer capitalism. And being a thoughtful show about consumer capitalism, Mad Men was always a show preoccupied with the question “When is enough—money, sex, power, consumption—enough?” What is the purpose, the end, the terminus of consumption? Of course it is happiness. But what … Continued

Entertainment, Television

Can “Sadvertising” Feed Our Hungry Souls?

If you’ve ever felt your lip quiver during a television commercial, you know what “sadvertising” is.  It is marked by a shift from pitching products to fill consumer needs to pitching products to fill human needs.  In an alternative Mad Men universe, we might say that it began with Don Draper’s “carousel” speech, in which … Continued


The Power of Character on ‘Mad Men’

This past Saturday I attended a wedding of a close friend, followed by a matinee screening of Godzilla on Sunday, and finally a Mad Men night cap. It was interesting to juxtapose the three events – with the wedding and Mad Men inducing tears of joy and Godzilla inducing tears of laughter. Whereas Godzilla attempted … Continued

Entertainment, Television

Post of the Week

Did you catch the Mad Men season finale this week? If you did, then you’ll understand why we’re giving the Post of the Week honors to Ashley McGuire’s piece on the show’s deft handling of infidelity, divorce, and derelict father figures. With Season 6 now in the books, what are we going to do all … Continued

Entertainment, Post of the Week, Television

Home Alone on Mad Men

“It’s 10pm. Do you know where your children are?” When I was growing up in New York, Fox 5 used to pose that question every night at ten. If we were all watching TV together, my mother liked to respond, “Yes, they’re right here.” Similarly, I always like to know where my toddler is and … Continued

Entertainment, Parenting, Television

Is Narcissism a Good Thing?

One of the most controversial plot lines in the Mad Men series has been Joan’s decision to sleep with a Jaguar executive in order to secure their business for the company, and in turn, secure her place as a partner. No one was more upset and disgusted by this outcome than Don. By the end … Continued

Culture, Entertainment, Television

Don Draper’s Solitude

“Are you alone?” In typical Mad Men fashion, a complete stranger casually poses Don a superficially banal question that turns out to be the question this season was simultaneously built around and building to. This question looms over all of the main characters, as dramatized in the closing montage (Peggy goes to bed alone in … Continued


Mad Men: What Is Happiness?

For a series that’s been dark and brooding from the start, the last two episodes of Mad Men have been particularly grim and morbid with Joan’s decision to prostitute herself for the Jaguar account and Lane’s fatal departure from the firm–from life itself. Both choices were motivated by money and commercial success (or the lack … Continued


The Daily Pop Culture Scene

RIP Vidal Sassoon, Liberator of Women’s Hair–Vanity Fair Don Draper’s Advice: How to Be a Man or a Young Girl–Speakeasy Don’t Try This at Home: The Dark Habits of Vampires–The Daily Beast Our Emotional Responses to Jane Austen, Graphed!–Brain Pickings Linda Evangelista Goes to Court Dressed Like a Star–NYT Marion Cotillard Opens Up About New … Continued