Mad Men's sixth season premieres Sunday. To say that Mad Men changed television would be an understatement. It introduced a generation to all things retro. Visually speaking, Mad Men is stunning in its decor. Mad Men is stark reminder of the past and peek inside a world with limited technology. Here are four notable ways Mad Men changed television.
1. Retro Glamour
Simply put, Mad Men is a visual masterpiece. From the stylish suits, form fitting dresses, to the set itself, the show is a time capsule. The characters themselves conform to the scenery. As the National Post put it, "The uniqueness of television is its way of teaching us what we least expect. Mad Men exults in this role, offering an elaborately imagined version of how sophisticated, devious New York advertising people lived half a century ago." Enough said.
2. The Mysterious Don Draper
Who is Don Draper? Don Draper is an enigma. Undoubtedly he is one reason Mad Men changed television. He's an ad man, but he himself is an invention. In creating a character so complex, flawed, and dapper, Mad Men latched on to an audience, eager to watch the unfolding of the mysteries surrounding Don Draper. His past shrouded in secrecy, his present drowning in complications, and what will become of him has kept audiences captivated for nearly seven years.
3. The Women of Mad Men
The women of Mad Men are the glue that holds the show together. They are all vastly different, but confined to their roles largely dictated by the times. In the world of Mad Men there is Betty, Don's ex wife, Megan, his current wife, Joan, an office manager, and Peggy, a copywriter.
Betty represents the 60s status quo, a woman who stays home with her children and feels trapped in her role as a wife. While Don repeatedly cheated on her, she tolerated it to a point, and only left after finding another man. Joan and Peggy are working women, finding their way in a man's world.
If Mad Men shines the light on anything it is how women's roles started to pivot in the 60s. No two women on the show are alike, but they are very true to life. Mad Men changed television in depicting the evolving roles of women in the 60s, but in unexpected ways.
4. People Don't Change
Mad Men's genius is showcasing the flawed and unpredictable lives of its characters. It never sugar coats anything. The 60s were simpler times in terms of technology, but the show relies heavily on the feeling of the change sweeping the nation throughout the time period.
What Mad Men does not do is neglect its rich characters. They are what draws the audience to the show. Don Draper is by all appearances a horrible excuse for a man. But underneath his flawed armor lies a sad figure, haunted by a horrific past. The audience sees him, and then they recognizes themselves. People, no matter when they lived or where, do not change.