I share an obsession with many people and this obsession is Mad Men. This is also an obsession that causes withdrawal for 168 hours a week and, all forces forbid, an entire summer (we already waited a year between!). This obsession does not stay at the doorsteps of viewing. In fact, this obsession needs to be talked about in order for it not to overflow into mania (it’s already being talked about everywhere so why not more more more). Here begins such an attempt to stave off the itch—the absence of eternal new episodes—and thus to talk about that which we cannot always be within.
Since its conception Mad Men has altered the landscape of television with very acute pizzazz; first, and I believe foremost, it has the ability to make its viewers not only want to partake but actually partake in the actions the characters do and to do so while viewing—I don’t mean in all facets, just some more than others (I doubt anyone is boxing one another with the foolhardy awkwardness Lane and Pete so recently did. . .). There are a multitude of reasons Mad Men succeeds at causing/encouraging/conjuring this communal existence between viewer and character but there’s not enough space to get into that here. Instead, what I want to point out is the immediacy, that even my non-drinking and non-smoking friends comment on how much they’d like a small glass of bourbon and a cigarette during every episode, and for drinkers and smokers it seems impossible not to clink a few cubes and strike a sharp match while Don Draper crops his impatient brow mid-meeting, or when Joan Harris patiently withholds her rage at a dinner table with an unlit cigarette in mouth. Side note: might this all be Pavlovian?