Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Scott D. Pierce: No, ‘Mad Men’ is not the greatest show ever

By Scott D. Pierce

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Apr 11 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Apr 12 2014 05:15 pm

At the risk of committing TV heresy, "Mad Men" is not the greatest thing ever to hit the small screen.

Don’t get me wrong. I like it. And it’s been more or less fascinating to see the characters develop — or not develop — over the 78 episodes of the first six seasons.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But, while folks like me who write about TV have gone more-or-less gaga over "Mad Men" at times, while the Emmys have dumped more than their share of awards on Don Draper & Co., the series is not without flaws.

Not the least of which is that it takes itself so seriously that it often feels as if it has become more about the people who make "Mad Men" than it is about the people for whom "Mad Men" is made — the viewers.

Creator/writer/executive producer Matthew Weiner has made it a trademark to set up situations and then deny viewers the payoffs they’ve been waiting to see. Or, at least, he’s delivered more muted payoffs.

Yes, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is a fascinating character. But — more TV heresy here — it’s easier to create a troubled antihero if you’re not worried about empathizing with him. And, over the past 78 episodes, Don has become increasingly difficult to empathize with.

We know the roots of his bad behavior come from a horrific childhood, but that’s not an excuse for the hell he puts everyone close to him through. And how many times have we seen Don take the happiness presented to him on a platter and throw it away with both hands?

It’s less noticeable and less annoying if you watch 78 episodes spread out over six years; if you binge watch "Mad Men," you’ll see that theme play out as if it’s on a loop.

Sunday’s seventh-season premiere (8 and 9 p.m., AMC) is yet another in a long list of episodes that can only be described as morose. The big question is whether Don has finally hit bottom — a question that has been asked and gone unanswered time and time again.

Season 7 picks up in early in the Nixon administration, not long after Don was ousted from the ad agency. He flies to California to be with his wife, Megan (Jessica Pare), and not much of anything is resolved. As usual.

story continues below
story continues below

"Mad Men" clearly was never designed to appeal to the masses. And it doesn’t. Its most recent episode, which aired in June 2013, drew the series’ most viewers to date — 2.7 million.

AMC’s season finale of "The Walking Dead" on March 30 drew almost six times as many viewers — 15.7 million.

But I refuse to argue that "Mad Men" is too good for the masses.

Maybe I’m reacting negatively because the Season 7 premiere left me feeling glum. And maybe that’s exactly what Weiner wants us to feel.

But he’s played that note so many times it’s far less interesting than it once was.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.