Mad Men has played an integral part in my life. I know. It sounds silly. It’s a TV show written about a 1960/70’s advertising agency, a time period I did not live in and a job description I am not currently pursuing.
To describe the show in its entirety in the scale of a few paragraphs is almost an impossible task. Is it about advertising? Certainly. For anyone working in the field you will no doubt relate to the pace, the types of people, the day to day of the Accounts, Media, and Creative Team that you either love or hate. But beyond the front facing theme of advertising Mad Men is at its core about people, our relationships with them, and an attempt to understand human nature.
So who is Don?
Why is Don?
I had a conversation with one of my best friends the other day. It began in the day to day and as per usual drifted much deeper. Relationships. The way we were raised in the Midwest. How the neighborhoods we grew up in shaped our definition of self into manhood. Family. The recent riots in Baltimore and race relations in America.
The beauty of Mad Men is that the messages and symbolism aren't as blunt as other shows and not easily deciphered. I . We are merely guided through the through a series of complex events through the eyes of our lead (protagonist/antagonist?). That all comes from your perception and how you see things. The show is very similar to the conversation I had. Not objective. We weren't solving any problems --we weren't doing it the sake of narrative -- we were just recounting our tale, the lives that we lived, the ups and the downs. And in the process understanding who we are in the process. Thats how I view Mad Men.
So what have I learned from Mad Men, what is my personal take away that can make you understand why I liken Mad Men to a some sort of life epiphany. Here it is in 2 short bullets.
- Your family is everything. And there are those who will stop at nothing to escape them. But what makes life so much more sweet is when you realize that they are the key. Cheating will catch up to you and never worth it. Cherish your kids. And be there for them.
- Your job isn’t everything. I think it can be glamorized that when one attains x,y,and z you have it all, whatever that all might be to you -- power, money, women.. Mad Men showed me that you can have all of those things and still be left alone. From the outside looking in Don is everything we want to be -- smart, handsome, charismatic, charming, cool calm and collected. But after spending the time to look inwards Don is lost. But with hope, Don is searching and with some hope he will find what he is looking for.
Mad Men really is the end of an era.
And wherever Don choose to go, I wish him the best. I hope that he continues his pursuit to find himself and what he truly wants. And I hope above all it leads him to a sense of happiness and purpose that money and Madison Avenue could never provide him.