Why We Love “Mad Men”

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I’m someone who caught up with “Mad Men” thanks to the wonders of Netflix and DVD bingefests. Once you start up on “Mad Men” that way, it isn’t easy to stop. Watching one episode becomes watching a second becomes watching a third, and then it’s 4 am and half the season is in the bag. It’s that kind of show: Hypnotic, all-engrossing. Alas, now that I’m caught up, I now have to suffer through one episode a week rations, like the rest of the suckers.

And so I’ll savor these upcoming weekly hourlong morsels much the way I did “The Sopranos” back in its heyday. It’s no secret that “Mad Men” has plenty in common with the mob smash, specifically the contributions of Matthew Weiner and episode directors like Alan Hunter.

But, in many ways, “Mad Men” has exceeded that show for pure viewing satisfaction. Unlike “The Sopranos,” this show isn’t under the thumb of David Chase, who seemed just as likely to flip the audience the bird each week as he was to give them what they want. “Mad Men,” on the other hand, has no qualms about delivering the goods: affairs, firings, sudden moments of violence, sex… and it does all that while remaining just as stunningly unpredictable as its predecessor was. I literally have no clue what will happen this season, and neither do you. Nothing makes me more excited than that prospect. “Mad Men” is unpredictable without being tangential, and that’s a trick “The Sopranos” didn’t always pull off.

And so that’s what I’m looking forward to this year. I’m looking forward to the show building off of the last four episodes from last season, which were flat-out dazzling entertainment. I’m looking forward to wanting to punch Pete Campbell in the face. I’m looking forward to Betty Draper’s new marriage crumbling. I’m looking forward to wanting to adopt Sally Draper and tell her everything will be all right. And mostly, I’m looking forward to Roger Sterling getting LOADED and saying impossibly clever things. Man, do I wish I was that guy. I asked a few other dedicated “Mad Men” fans in the blogosphere what they were looking forward to most about this upcoming season. Here’s what they said:

Spencer Hall:

“I'm looking forward to watching Roger Sterling press the 1960s envelope for most sundaes consumed while nursing a martini and getting a backrub. I'm looking forward to giggling at Joan's wretched husband getting excited about his impending death in Vietnam. I'm getting giddy over the increasingly reptilian adventures of Pete Campbell amidst the "humans" surrounding him. I'm looking forward to drinking a bit too much on Sunday nights. I'm looking forward to Betty Draper working as a Vegas showgirl and developing a horrible drug habit.”

Brett Michael Dykes:

“More than anything, I'm looking forward to being transported to another place and time (the 60s) that I'm mildly fascinated with, which I think Matt Weiner always does effectively with his stories, music, sets, costumes, etc. I'm also looking very forward to engaging in the national conversation about the show again. Mad Men is one of those shows that just about everyone I consider a friend -- both in "real life" and on the internet -- watches. I really enjoy the running dialogue on Twitter about the show, and I especially enjoy reading the recaps/analysis by writers like Alan Sepinwall and Mark Lisanti.”

Matt Ufford:

“While every other channel is mired in re-runs and reality shows, AMC rolls out "Mad Men" every summer, which makes one of the best shows on TV seem even better than it already is; it's a life preserver of entertainment in a sea of garbage.

Also, I enjoy the way that Don Draper and Roger Sterling make drinking look so cool and essential. I can't watch an episode without drinking three glasses of scotch.”

So buckle up, kids. You’re in for a late summer treat.

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