Mad Men Essay

1551 words - 7 pages

Introduction
Created by Matthew Weiner in 2007, the television Drama series, Mad Men, from the television network AMC, is set in New York during the late 1950s and early 1960s. According to the networks official website, the series "follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell"(AMC.com). The show is largely based on Don Draper’s relationships inside and out of work, as the creative director at Sterling Cooper. According to AMC’s website, the premise describes how Don Draper “struggles to stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing times and the young executives nipping at his heels. The series also depicts authentically the roles of men and women in this era while exploring the true human nature beneath the guise of 1960s traditional family values”. Since I am an avid fan of the show, I have seen every episode to-date. Therefore, I have seen Don Draper’s struggle with his personal identity. As a result, I will attempt to examine it with Kenneth Burke’s Identification reading (1950). Throughout the episodes from the first three seasons, we see how Don Draper unveils part of his past identity fraud, which culminates his first marriage. His daily struggle with who he is, is a major theme to these series.
Context
As stated in Wikipedia, recurrent themes in the show are sexism and adultery, alcoholism, identity, racism, and smoking. They continue and indicate that “since its premiere, Mad Men has received high critical acclaim” (Wikipedia.com). An online article titled “Matthew Weiner on Creating Mad Men”, by Neil Midgley quotes Weiner, the creator, saying, “The most stimulating thing, intellectually and creatively, about Mad Men is that I’ve been able to write about how we experience history”(2010, Telegaph.UK).
Season 1 of Mad Men depicts the life struggles of Don Draper. He is married to his exceptionally beautiful wife Betty, and together have two small children. Throughout the first couple of episodes, we discover that Draper is unfaithful to his wife and has extra marital affairs with an artist and his, woman, Jewish client. Struggling to keep her perfect image, Betty cannot control her anxiety (exposed through her hands), and ultimately sees a psychiatrist. Thus, we see Peggy Olson, Draper’s new secretary, conflict with her new roles given by Joan, the head secretary. Peggy is attracted by flirtatious Pete Campbell. They end up sleeping together on several occasions, even though Campbell is engaged, and eventually marries his beloved. She soon realizes all secretaries are seen as sexual objects (who are bound to comply, given the era) and is ecstatic to be discovered during an exercise for a lipstick account. She is made a copywriter and handed an account to work on herself. Set in a conservative time, we see other struggles in the following: Salvatore, an Italian art director, fights with his inner sexual orientation when he is...

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