The psychological significance of Mad Men

. 2 min read

Since the beginning of the month, I've been watching Mad Men an episode a day, finishing season 1 last night. While the show has its obvious shortages (lousy editing), there are some major upsides to watching it. Here are some.

  1. You'll start to adapt the characteristics of Don Draper, especially his dignity and resilience.
  2. You'll start to solve everyday problems innovately, outside the box.
  3. You'll start drinking whisky, which in turn leads to thinking of yourself as a high-end business man.
  4. The Ayn Rand references are a nice bonus.

Funny thing is, so far in the series, literally every single character in the show is a bad guy, including the women, excluding the children (and maybe Cooper, he's been a good sport hitherto). The show, while advocating Ayn Rand and the pursuit of one's own self-interest, is filled with nihilistic people with no principles, making themselves and everyone else miserable while waiting for death. Most of them drink excessively so they wouldn't have to face the lack of meaning in their lives. Marriages are facades. No one loves anyone. And no one sees their occupation as the worthy cause to dedicate their lives to.

What was the title again? "The psychological significance of Mad Men?"

While one might think that the nihilism and the self-interest go nicely hand in hand, painting a sorry picture of what life is like for someone who's not interested in the wellbeing of others over his own, it doesn't necessarily mean anything. The way I see it, the people are bad, and the ideologies are good. Simply following to the ideology of self-interest to some extent is not enough to differentiate between a good guy and a bad guy. To be the good guy, you need to be consistent. And if the values according to which you act in your life are in conflict, you're automatically a bad guy.

So, in a way, Mad Men both shows you what you could be, and what you shouldn't be, at the same time, in different specifics. It's up to you to decide which ideas to adapt from the series.