How Mad Men Crafted the Perfect Episode of Television

  • AUTHOR: dua
  • POSTED ON: September 8, 2020

When it comes to TV

has established a reputation of having nailed the ideal character analyzation –
a piece of art that reflects the culture of that era, primarily the 60s. It
skillfully sheds light on the contemporary issues of the 60s and creates an atmosphere
that is both nostalgic and enlightening.

It single-handedly broke
the mould that was earlier used to create male characters – here, the
characters were androgynous and corrupt but tactful and complex. Even the
female characters had a purpose and voice despite having somewhat traditional

Every dialogue
delivered by these characters was layered with dual meanings indicating the
deeper struggles and rummage. One of the best things about the show was the
fact that many of the character arcs mirrored the state of the United States at the

Mad Men ran on
television for
perfect seasons
 and masterfully kept all the
characters consistent and cohesive. Although each season is perfectly stroked,
it’s the fifth season that truly binds them all together. It is this season
when all the crucial characters were given time to introspect and explore
themselves emotionally.

The fifth season of Mad
Men could’ve easily torn apart the arcs of all the dominating characters, but
the brilliant writing and dramatization kept it afloat. The characters never
missed a beat and with that, we ended up getting a season that was crafted to

In season 4, Mad Men
made some bold moves: it ruffled up its narrative along with the writing and
presentation style. It begins a few months after the new agency is formed – so
while the new firm struggles to find balance, the characters are sent for a
little soul-searching of their own. They were now face to face with more
existential and philosophical issues. 

Source: Yahoo

Hence, by the time it
reached its fifth season, the characters had mostly resolved their inner
conflicts. They were more stable and solemn. In the past, we had already
deep-dived into the psyche of
and Peggy Olsen, the central characters of the
show. And so, in this season, the spotlight was put on other significant but
supporting characters.

This season focused on
its strengths; it created rich stories throughout the episodes that emphasized
more on the character development of Joan Holloway, Roger Sterling, Lane Pryce,
Pete Campbell. It gave us episode 5, titled Signal 30, which is
arguably the most brilliant and stunningly written episode of all time!

This episode primarily
focused on Pete Campbell, who is undoubtedly the most underrated character of
television history! Before this episode launched, we had seen him as a
character that was always thirsty to prove his worth to the world. It wasn’t
just plain attention that he demanded, but genuine praise and appreciation. All
his life, he had felt burdened by his surname as people remained ignorant and
unappreciative of his personal merits.

Source: YouTube 

He wanted to establish
relationships that made him feel seen and valued. He was keen on finding his
happiness, but the most disturbing truth unveiled in this episode is the fact
that he didn’t know what it was.

We see a man who is
lost and is craving to find meaning in his life. His adventure with the young
woman shows that he’s not satisfied with his married life either. He’s
restless, and even a mundane event like the dripping of his leaky faucet keeps
him on the edge. He doesn’t feel fulfilled even though he has everything that
he ever aspired for.

He is overwhelmed with
anxiety but his wife turns a blind eye to the way he behaves out of desperation.
With his state of unhappiness growing, his frustration also grows.

Source: VOX

Throughout the series,
we see that his need to stand out and outshine others remains unfulfilled. His
insecurities are powerfully emphasized in this season – something that every
person can easily relate to.

It’s clear that he always wanted to be Don
Draper – he desired to have his charisma and charm. Whenever Don would speak,
others would listen, as he naturally possessed authority and power; he had the
ability to easily influence others and become the center of attention without
even trying.

Pete was the opposite: he had to struggle and often opt for shallow ways to feed
his pride. He would underestimate the achievements of others, making everyone
else in the room uncomfortable.

In just one episode we
see his flaws, insecurities, and the psychological state that was tragically in
shambles. We witness his continuous failed attempts to run away from his life,
but at the end of the day, he was only running away from himself.

By the end of the episode, we realize that he’s simply a mad man trying to find his true purpose,
and he despises others because, in his eyes, they’ve all figured it out.


Updated September 8, 2020
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