Is Mad Men really that great?

Yeah yeah, I know, it’s the best thing on TV ever, there’s so many layers, it’s the slickest thing since they were all walking in slow motion in Reservoir Dogs etc etc. But is it actually any fucking good?

I’m not denying it’s slick, I’m not denying it’s cool, I’m certainly not denying that I want to work for Sterling Cooper in the 50s, drinking whiskey in my office all day (when I’m not napping, that is), wearing sharp suits, gelling my hair and being ridonkulously sexist. But I had such high fuckin’ hopes for us* after I found out the hilariously named Sopranos writer and producer Matthew Weiner was in charge, and it just failed to live up to them. I have to admit I rather enjoyed the first episode, though that was only because my brother walked in after two minutes and I convinced him it was a murder mystery and he’d just missed the police at the crime scene, and managed to string him along until right at the end where nothing happened (for a change). Subsequent episodes only served to beg the question of why it wasn’t in fact a murder mystery, or at least why it didn’t do something to fucking liven things up a bit.

Peter Parker

Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than most shit out there, but as it is I don’t think it’s even worth the time spent on watching it, let alone being among the best programmes ever made. It’s obviously got things going for it – it does look fantastic, there’s no overstating that, the ginger one with the fantastic charlies is pretty easy on the eye, and Don Draper’s wife is definitely the hottest woman on Earth named after a month (Avril Lavigne and June Sarpong coming in a distant second). Oh and it does make smoking look FUCKING cool, but is that really a good thing? Also, Peggy is butters, the in-the-closet gay guy is distinctly uninteresting, and Pete Campbell looks too much like Peter Parker to be taken seriously. Altogether, I’m just not convinced.

I mean, it’s all well and good to make a damn stylish programme, but there needs to be some substance underneath it all, and this is essentially where my opinion differs with that of everyone else’s that I respect. That’s what makes this so hard for me. I want to like it, don’t get me wrong. Charlie Brooker is all over it like a cheap suit, as are JB, DannyMoran, and even my dad. They all swear that it’s got substance coming out the wazoo, you just need patience. Either that or you’re a moron. But I’ve sat through the first five or six episodes, waiting to get hooked, and it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t care if it’s a slow-burner, it’s had five fucking hours to get me interested and it’s failed! Most films have less than half that time, and there’s just no excuse for it to take that long.

No, this isn't an excuse to just show the hot ones (and Peggy) at all, what are you talking about?

And don’t tell me I don’t ‘get’ it, and look down on me patronisingly like I’m some sort of pitiful retard who wouldn’t understand that This Is Spinal Tap was being ironic (and I’m using the word ‘ironic’ incorrectly ironically, of course). I get that Don’s marriage isn’t as happy as it appears, it’s not exactly subtle, as much as it tries to be. And maybe this if what I find most annoying about it. It’s got this whole air about it like if you’re not enjoying it, then you’re too stupid to appreciate all these beautifully textured layers it has to it. And yet these ‘layers’ aren’t fucking subtle at all, they’re right there, but it thinks it’s being so bloody clever. Ooh, the main character’s all brooding and dark, who fucking cares? It does not give it an excuse to take a whole season to get interesting. Maybe it gets fantastic come season two, but quite frankly, I’m not willing to spend eleven hours of my life (in which I could be watching Treme or Generation Kill) to take the risk.

Am I wrong? Convince me otherwise, in a way that the show itself has failed spectacularly to do. As I say, I want to like it, but at the moment the emperor remains starkers from where I’m sitting.

*Obligatory Wire reference No. 1

  1. Good to see you’re getting the hang of the tagging system


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