Has Mad Men Run Its Course?

When Mad Men first came on the air the consensus was that it was perhaps one of the most groundbreaking and innovative shows to premiere in years (translation: it was less formulaic than most of what was on the major networks). It was and is well acted, believably recreates 1950s and 1960s America, handles major historical events without exploiting them, and moves at its own pace. Also, for the first three seasons, it had a style reminiscent of a classic noir film and a plot to match. Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm had a dark secret in his past that was slowly revealed over the course of the first season, then left the audience in suspense for the remainder of that season, as well as the second and third, as they were left wondering what would happen if Draper’s coworkers and family were to find out

By the end of season three, these questions are answered, as well as those surrounding a side plot that was wrapped up in season two involving a woman from Draper’s past who knew more about him than anyone and could have exposed him if she wished.

Now this should have wrapped everything up and the third season finale that played like a 1960s caper film in which the principle characters of the series break into their own office one weekend to steal their own clients from the British firm that was marginalizing them would have been a fitting end to the series. But, popular shows don’t die so easily, and in season four fans were treated a series of episodes in which the interrelationships between many of the characters were developed further, and often done so quite well, yet the noirish ambiance of the first three seasons was now absent and the way the season ended, the show seemed as if it was going to become a mix of a subtle PSA anti-smoking ad and a more standard, albeit well made prime time drama, still a step above the rest, but far from innovative or groundbreaking.

 

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