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Reel Recovery

By: Leonard Buschel

Follow the musings of REEL Recovery Film Festival Producer and Writers in Treatment Founder Leonard Buschel.

Mad (Angry) At 'Mad Men'


Apr 07, 2011

I come here not to bury Don Draper but to pray he gets help and back on the air before this love affair ends from ennui and abandonment issues. Daily Variety (March 30) reports that the fifth season of “Mad Men” probably won’t be back until 14 to 15 months after last season’s last episode.

Not good news for this “Mad Men” addict. Don was out-drinking everyone in the office, an office that consumed more booze in an afternoon than the characters at Moe’s Tavern in Springfield. 

I ran into Matt Weiner, creator, writer and executive producer of “Mad Men” at a fundraising performance a few weeks ago for the Baby Dragon Fund, which supports an array of essential recovery programs developed for the youth of Los Angeles to live fully and courageously in the face of addiction, depression and issues of sexual identity. The fund also helps the crystal meth recovery services at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Centers.

 

We talked briefly about whether Don is sent into constant inebriation and whether it was “situational alcoholism” or if Don was now officially a professional drunk. The answer seemed to be, time will tell.

It seems like success is spoiling everyone involved with this show. All responsible parties want more of something ($) and less of other things (minutes). AMC wants to cut two minutes from each episode to sell more ads. “Mad Men”put AMC on the map in regard to programming high quality, original episodic dramas. I guess nostalgia and loyalty don’t matter at $100,000 a minute.

But my main concern is for my habit. I’ve seen every episode of “Mad Men” and I don’t even have a TV. My addiction started four years ago when I was having a very bad week and life seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.  Back then, there was a thing called Blockbuster. One night, on the way home from Trader Joe’s, with a quart of yogurt and a pint of maple syrup, I picked up Disc One of Season One. With laptop on and lap and spoon deep into maple yogurt, I watched the first episode. 

Not bad, I thought. A little buzz.

Then episode two. A rush.

Then number three, and I was hooked.

My problems seemed to dissolve into ’60s New York and Madison Avenue. This is where I needed to be—at least virtually.

Not to mention the secretaries looked a lot like my dearly departed mother—hair, clothes, and attitude identical.

The next day I watched another three episodes and, suddenly, I had an office full of new friends who I really cared about. Well, it turns out they don’t care at all about me. I’m jonesing, I tell you. Not since “The Sopranos” and the Fisher family have I felt so close to real fictional characters.

Last year when I bought the season from iTunes, it was downloaded to my computer every Monday morning. I would tell myself I wasn’t going to watch it for a few days, until I had some quality free time to really enjoy all 48 minutes with no commercials.  (God, I don’t know how people allow their viewing experience to be interrupted by commercials every twelve minutes! Would you want to watch Casablanca if every time Rick said “Here’s looking at you, kid,” they broke for commercial?)  

I rarely got past Monday night without watching it, no matter how late or how tired I was.  It was my crack, and I could not say no. 

But now that I’m off it, who knows?  Maybe it’s time to start reading Upton Sinclair or re-reading “Hidden Persuaders” by Vance Packard and “Subliminal Seduction” by Wilson Bryan Key, the best books on advertising I know of. 

So please, Matt and Lionsgate, and Lionsgate and AMC—have concern and respect for your viewers. Just because you win the Emmy every year doesn’t mean we’re not going to find another dealer.

 

 

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