My husband and I have made a conscious decision to not have cable, but something we have been trying out is Netflix. And right now Netflix has four seasons of the TV Series Mad Men. So we gave it a shot and now we have gotten through the first season and have just started the second season. The strange thing about this show is that it is dreadfully addicting. Chris and I both feel very depressed after every episode we watch and yet we keep tuning in (although we usually have to chase it with something light-hearted like The Office in order to recover).
This show is (from what I can tell so far) a fascinating tale of one man’s slow and painful demise. In fact the opening credits to each episode show’s a shadow of a man falling slowing through woman’s legs, booze and business accounts. The point though is that he is falling. Slowly.
And the more you watch the show, the more you see his demise. The show is set in the early 60’s in New York City (on Madison Avenue, hence the name Mad Men). The lead character Don Draper is an executive at an advertising company and from the beginning you see that he is a womanizing, adulterous, deeply dark man with an obvious drinking problem (although it seems everyone in the show is an alcoholic) and a past that he is trying desperately to forget.
Draper’s wife Betty is perfect by all outward appearances, but it doesn’t take long before you see that she is terribly repressed and has her own lists of problem’s. And she, like most of the other woman, is just trying to mask her inner struggle’s with perfect, house-wife, womanhood.
This show is also drenched in the darkness of 60’s sexism and racism. And a cloud of cigarette smoke sit’s heavily on everyone shoulder’s.
Sound depressing? Cause it is.
Now I know this is a TV show in which ratings and drama are it’s game and aim, so I will not make it my only source for a history lesson. But I can’t help but dissect every episode I watch. In fact my husband who has a hard time picking up on subtleties (which Mad Men is wrought with) will usually turn to me throughout the show to get an interpretation.
Everyone on the show is dysfunctional in their own way, but they all have one thing in common. They are terribly sad and lost in a world they don’t understand and all of them are trying to hide it. They desire success in life; money, spouse, kid’s, comfort. But something is missing from it all.
Joy and purpose.
They get up every morning and live for someone else’s ideal. Even the meek new-girl character quickly starts to play the part of a Manhattanite woman, striving for success at all costs. Even the cost of giving up her oops-baby for adoption, in order to remain working.
This is the obvious beginning of the feminist movement, and it is easy to understand the feminist reaction when you watch this show.
But there is nothing in all these characters endeavors that satisfies them. The women are lonely and repressed and the men are mad and lost.
So excuse me as I over-spiritualize a TV show for a minute. Because I cannot think of any other solution for these sad people other than a Saviour. These people live in a pit of despair with no idea how to climb out. But their problems are not emotional, they are spiritual. Although these are fictional character’s, we all know people who live like this. There is an inner darkness that is lying under the surface trying to be hid away, but nothing can keep it from peeking through.
And the only answer is Christ.
Of course this solution will never be presented in a show like Mad Men. But I still find it fascinating, and I will continue to watch and dissect these case studies of the human heart. It makes me all the more thankful for the hope I have and the joy that comes with it. Otherwise I would be falling endlessly into my own demise like the rest of them.
“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.” ~ Psalm 71:5
*Please note, this is not a blanket recommendation of Mad Men, because it has its fair share of junk in it. My husband and I find ourselves fast-forwarding a lot, so watch with discernment or don’t watch at all!