Kevin Warnock

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Insightful comment on Mad Men, the US television series about morality and ethics

without comments

The cast of Mad Men, Season One. Photo from http://www.amoeba.com/blog/2008/10/all-the-news-that-s-fit-to-sing/mad-men-crazy-like-a-fox.html

The cast of Mad Men, Season One. Photo from http://www.amoeba.com/blog/2008/10/all-the-news-that-s-fit-to-sing/mad-men-crazy-like-a-fox.html

On Sunday, January 15, 2012, the blog for The Wall Street Journal newspaper carried a small piece entitled ‘Mad Men’ Finally Returns to TV announcing the return of Mad Men for a fifth season.

Mad Men on the surface is a cable television show about the advertising business in New York City during the 1960s. But it’s also a show about morality and ethics, and I think the advertising business is just a vehicle to make the larger points about life that the show advances. In this regard, the show reminds me of the cancelled HBO drama Carnivale, which I loved. That show on the surface was about a traveling carnival, but it really had little to do with such triviality. Carnivale was a masterpiece on par with The Wire.

A reader identified only as John wrote the following comment at 11:49 am on January 16, 2012 to the Wall Street Journal blog entry that I think succinctly summaries what Mad Men is about.

I wish I could give John more credit by publishing his last name. Here is John’s comment in its entirety.

“I have seen all episodes of this tragedy. Here are people who cannot hold onto anything of value. This is really a fine portaryal of betrayal and selfishness. With appropriate commentary it should be shown to people contemplating their future as real people and real adults. It is in effect a morality play showing the emptiness of sexual freedom and destructive lack of standards. Set in the vacuum of advertising and manipulation this series should alert every thinking individual to the dangers of living for pleasure and self interest. I suspect that the next season (starting March 2012) will further strengthen the premise that men and women left to squander their lives in sex, drink and irresponsible behavior as parents in the final analysis end up on the heap of derelicts.

Most of these Madmen characters cannot stop abusing their own opportunities and children. We must learn from their mistakes and not adopt them as excuses for our own tragic weaknesses.”

I know people that squandered their lives in sex, drink and irresponsible behavior.

I bet you do too.

If you don’t, you’re not looking for evidence very hard, I suspect. Look harder.

Mad Men is worth watching with due deliberation and careful reflection.

Perhaps Mad Men will shake more than a few people out of their stupor so they can clean up their act and live more just, honorable and ultimately more rewarding lives.

Left unchecked, people who behave shockingly poorly end up homeless, broke and alone, no matter how nominally ‘rich’ they appear at their ‘peak.’ Don’t let that happen to you or someone you care about.

[Note: I corrected a few minor typos in John's comment. You can see his original comment here.]

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 17th, 2012 at 5:00 am