'Mad Men' Season 5: The Creation of a Classic
'Mad Men' Season 5: The Creation of a Classic
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Some things are enjoyed best when they're over. Like Mad Men.

Don't get me wrong, Mad Men is a great show. But you have to admit it is kind of slow. As the story unfolds -- at whatever pace it wants -- we have to wait for the show's overall meaning and payoff. Sometimes we only get those rewards after Mad Men ends.
That's OK. Because **Mad Men, like a classic novel, gives us more when it's over.

Mad Men as a Classic
Everyone who spends time on the great classics of literature notices a fundamental truth: Not all classics are fun to read. They can be a lot of work.

But they're worth it. Mad Men is worth it too.

Classics are slow. Mad Men is slow.
Whenever anyone bothers to criticize Mad Men, the word "slow" always comes into play. They're not wrong. Mad Men is slow. Plots often take half a season (and occasionally more) to come to fruition. Entire episodes can pass with virtually no action.

The Mad Men season 5 premiere is a perfect example of this. In two hours, what actually happened?

  • Rival ad men drop water bombs on protestors.
  • Megan throws a surprise party for Don and sings. 
  • Lane lusts over a photograph and a voice. 
  • Pete gets a new office. 
  • Joan visits with her baby. 
  • Don and Megan have porn-style make-up sex. 
  • A whole bunch of African Americans terrify the office by showing up with resumes.

That's it. Two hours. Slow.

Classics are worth it. Mad Men is worth it.
Slow as it was, Mad Men fans seem to have loved the season 5 premiere. That's because -- like a great novel -- Mad Men is worth the effort.

A classic novel is pretty much defined by its lasting influence. Having read one, you have been exposed to some truths about the world, and your life feels enriched as a result.
I'm not implying that Mad Men is on the same level as, say, War and Peace, but there are some similarities.

Watching Don and Megan's new marriage, we see the disconnect and frustration that exist between enthusiasm and cynicism. In the increasing irrelevancy of Roger Sterling and Bert Cooper, we have a reflection of the way older society inevitably crumbles in the face of change. Pete's ongoing war with Roger shows the all-consuming nature and bitterness of the unimportant fight.

Mad Men gives us a small, limited world that allows us to understand the real world -- with all of its wildness and complications -- in a manageable format. We may think that Mad Men presents only a little at a time, but every deeper look gives us another layer.

As is the case with the classics of literature, the effort to find the meaning in Mad Men is totally worth it.

What did you think of the Mad Men season 5 premiere? Was it what you wanted? Are you looking forward to the rest of the season? Leave your comments below!

(Image courtesy of AMC)