Don Draper and his rag-tag team of advertising misfits at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce come back to the small screen today, and that’s a good enough reason to write about it. You should give the show a try. Unless you’ve been living under a culture-proof rock for the last 4 or so years, “Mad Men” is an award-winning show on AMC about advertisers in the 60’s. That’s the abbreviated version. If you watch the show religiously, you know it’s really about the existential crisis of a man who never is quite sure of who he is or who he wants to be, set in a 1960’s Ad Agency. It’s a time machine to an era full of drinking, smoking, and philandering, but also an era full of change and empowerment. I could continue the pretentious drivel for a while, but I figured it’d probably be easier to persuade you to watch the show through quotes and videos, and a little commentary in between.
A few months ago, I had an interview for a company in Madison. I had to give a 10-minute presentation on anything I wanted. I chose to do a presentation on The Simpsons, but in a way that connected it to the ethos of the 90′s, and how the show was an important critique of modern culture. After I started preparing for the presentation, it dawned on me how similar this show and what is generally considered the best TV show ever, The Wire, are. The Wire was a show on HBO that centered on the drug trade in Baltimore, but it was also a show about how the institutions that drive the world are corrupt and let us down. The local government, police force, public school system, and media are institutions that are supposed to aid the people, yet because of funding, red tape, and sensationalism they let us down. In its own way, The Simpsons does exactly that. What follows is a rough outline of what I said during the presentation. I may not have gotten the job, but it did allow me to think deeper about two of my favorite TV shows.