Don *effing* Draper…

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April/14/12

Mad Men

…is one of those little things that remind me life is good.

Mad Men

…es una de esas pequeñas cosas que me hacen recordar lo buena que es la vida.

It took me a while to get into this show, but now I can’t get enough of it.

My first attempt to watch Mad Men didn’t go so well. I watched the first 5 episodes but couldn’t really get into it. I felt the pace was too slow and there seemed to be no conflict, no apparent drama. So I dropped it.

And then I started listening to constant praises on the writing of the show and decided to give it another shot. I’m so glad I did.

The first thing I noticed on my second time around was, again, the apparent lack of drama. I was used to shows like Grey’s Anatomy in which conflict and dramatic situations are pretty much spelled out for you; they are very obvious, they are in your face and they drive the plot more than character development does. There is nothing wrong with that, but that is not the way Mad Men works.

I think one of the genius characteristics of the writing in Mad Men is that you have to dig a little deeper to understand the conflict. You have to pay close attention to the dialogue as well as what is not being said; you have to actually look at the screen to catch the subtle expressions in a character’s face which sometimes completely contradict what he/she is saying.

Another great quality of the writing in this show is that the way conflict is conveyed agrees with the time period it takes place in. The show starts off in the late 50’s and early 60’s. This was a time when keeping appearances was extremely important and problems where swept under the rug because pretending to be the perfect family/husband/wife/employee, etc… was more important. And so, like I mentioned before, the conflict between characters is not blatantly shown/spoken, but it is conveyed in a more subtle way. This is why the show seemed to have a really slow pace for my taste, because conflict tends to take a while longer to break free when everyone is trying to hide their problems.

As the show progresses, they start getting into the 60’s. Things start changing. Conflict becomes a little more obvious, people start growing tired of pretending. We see Mr. Sterling getting divorced to marry his 20-year-old secretary, we see Betty confronting Don when she discovers he cheated on her, we see Sal slowly accepting his homosexuality, we see Paul joining the civil rights movement.

But even as the show changes according to the times, the writing is still superb and maintains that characteristic subtlety which does not allow the audience to check facebook while watching it because they think they will get the gist of the episode by second-hand listening to the dialogue.

One last thing: even if the plot and the rest of the characters were terrible, the show would still be pretty good just because of Don Draper. Kudos to the person who though of the name! And also kudos to the person who created this character; as much as I disapprove of a lot of his actions, as many mistakes as he has made, I cannot help but keep rooting for him.That, right there, is great writing.

 

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