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Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0786447381
ISBN-10: 0786447389
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Scott F. Stoddart is the dean of School of Liberal Arts at the Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY. He has written broadly about popular culture, literature and the arts, including on such topics as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen Sondheim and the Coen brothers.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786447389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786447381
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,434,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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With the return of Mad Men days away, it is seemingly impossible to avoid seeing or hearing mention of it in the news, through social media, or by the water cooler. In its hiatus, I found substitute in a few of the books that have been written about the show. A standout is "Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series". The book is comprised of twelve essays involving the context, politics, women, and nostalgia of Mad Men.

The series is the brainchild of Matthew Weiner and I learned it is based entirely on monitoring the effect of change. And though Mr. Weiner is clearly fascinated with the early sixties, the show is meant to parallel the changes experienced in this last decade. He is interested in knowing whether people in tumultuous times "recognize that change is going on?"

At its base level, the series centers on capitalism, clear roles regarding the sexes and races, and unchecked hedonism. Those topics make for a great soap opera but Mad Men's appeal is in the search for deeper meaning and connection. All the struggles and conflicts that make up the storylines are predicated on a rejection of the status quo.

The series is akin to an episode of The Twilight Zone: the characters are trapped in a world they have contributed to but one in which they want to escape...it is a nightmare of their own making. And many would argue that we find ourselves in exactly the same dilemma today... "Mad Men offers the schadenfreude-filled message that their predecessors were equally unhappy - and that the bleakness meter in American life has always been set on high."

Mad Men's brilliance goes back to the first season when it began with "classic literary archetypes".
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