Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On Mad Men 

DISCLAIMER: I have only watched one partial episode of Mad Men, which I thought was boring and dripping with a sense of self-importance. Yet I am going to bust its balls on two fronts, and you're going to like it!

Mad Men irritates me.

This doesn't mean I think it's a bad show. Heck, I might even love it if I gave it a chance. But I'm not going to. And here's why:

I regularly hear its name invoked as "the one thing I'll watch on TV." Or, "TV sucks... except Mad Men!" The implication is always the same: Other television fare is to be consumed only by a sub-class of IQ-impaired degenerates.

In short, "It's the show that television-bashers love to forgive themselves for watching." And as regular readers know, broad-brush, knee-jerk, elitist TV-bashing is among the things most likely to make smoke come out of my ears. So, entirely irrational or not, I've decided that I don't care to watch this program.

(These bashers are the same people who, like the reliable caricatures that they are, almost always boast that they don't own a TV/pay for cable, but attach a postscript about watching "a few" shows on DVD or Hulu. On DVD -- on their laptop. Which is so not watching TV!)

On another front, shouldn't a few more people be watching the show by now, if it's so indescribably stupenderiffic?

The AMC drama's much-anticipated third season premiere scored 2.8 million viewers. That's a 34 percent increase over last season's premiere, which is certainly a strong improvement.

But really... that's it?

Compare its numbers to another critically acclaimed show that I'm becoming more and more hooked on by the day -- HBO's True Blood, which in its second season is breaking its own Nielsen highs almost every week. Its most recent episode scored 4.5 million viewers (11+ million including DVR and HBO replays).

Mad Men, on the other hand, has huge press, the Emmy for best drama, and it's on a channel that reaches 87 million homes, almost triple HBO's 30 million.

I guess I see it as a potential red flag when a hugely publicized show has such a substantial gap between critical accolades and real-life interest. Are more people saying they watch it because it's the one to watch? Or trying and falling asleep? Or perhaps it's simply that ratings for AMC are low in general, so there's no spillover help for MM. But still. Even if you never watch AMC, who hasn't heard that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread?

Oh well. Maybe I'll get over it someday and watch it.

But only on DVD.

On my laptop.

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