This week the final episode of the television series Mad Men aired on AMC. The smart show about an advertising firm in the 1960s is a favorite with academics. In 2013 we published Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s. Edited by Lauren M. E. Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, and Robert A. Rushing, the collection of essays explores the groundbreaking drama in relation to fashion, history, architecture, civil rights, feminism, consumerism, art, cinema, and the serial format.
The editors and many of the contributors to Mad Men, Mad World have been blogging about the series for years. Posts for each episode of seasons 4 through the first part of season 7 are on Kritik. For the final episodes, the team has moved to Public Books. Lauren Goodlad blogs about the series finale today. She has a few words on Mad Men’s overall importance to television.
“When it first took the world by storm back in 2007, Mad Men was unlike anything else on television. Whereas The Sopranos, the show that elevated Matthew Weiner to a writer of note, had cultivated a hybrid postmodernism, Mad Men’s continuous narrative arcs and multi-plot ensembles evoked the serialized realism of the nineteenth century. And whereas The Wire recalled Dickens in taking the modern city for its subject, Mad Men has always been more focused on its characters than on New York City, Madison Avenue, or even the Sixties. Then too, in a way reminiscent of Flaubert, Mad Men has combined “a relentless exposure of social pathology with a surface allure culled from the most glittering self-representations” of its period palette.”
If you’re still working your way through the series, pick up a copy of the book and read it alongside. If you’re planning to teach the series now that it is complete, Mad Men, Mad World makes a great, accessible textbook. And if reading about Mad Men makes you hunger for other works in the aca-fandom genre, check out The Sopranos by Dana Polan and On The Wire by Linda Williams.