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Mad Men

Gary R. Edgerton

Television Studies, Popular Culture

TV Milestones Series

Available April 2023
ISBN: 9780814345467
Pages: 144 Size: 5x7
Illustrations: 20
Available April 2023
ISBN: 9780814345474

This one-stop primer offers a succinct analysis of one of the most skillfully produced, artistically innovative, and culturally resonant scripted series in modern television. It opens by explaining how Mad Men (AMC, 2007–2015) functions as a representative example of much deeper and more profound structural changes happening in television since the 2000s. Gary R. Edgerton highlights influences driving the creation of the show, including creator Matthew Weiner’s personal connections to the subject matter and the development of the main character, Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Analysis of the show’s story progression is delineated by a pivotal shift from a culturally relevant Zeitgeist phenomenon to a narrative more concerned with Draper’s introspective and existential journey to reconciliation and self-awareness. Cultural reflections are also explored with interrogations of privilege and prejudice, the American Dream, ethnicity, race, gender politics, and class as witnessed through the program’s complex and conflicted characters.
Following its debut, Mad Men quickly became a bellwether of contemporary culture. The award-winning series set the creative standard in drama over the span of its initial run and is now recognized as a milestone in the history and development of scripted television. Throughout its seven seasons, the series struck a delicate balance of being both complex and cerebral while also entertaining and accessible, a balance that Edgerton skillfully carries over to this book.

Gary R. Edgerton is professor of creative media and entertainment at Butler University. He has published twelve books, including The Sopranos (Wayne State University Press, 2013), and more than ninety essays on a variety of television, film, and cultural topics.