Lives of Mad Men

There’s this great scene in Mad Men, mid Season 4. Man I love it. Genius!

In parallel, at the beginning of the episode, almost every character in the show has their own shit hit the fan.

It’s something the writer does over and over again. Parallel plot lines and themes.

He didn’t start to pursue creating a show until he was 30? Everyone laughed at him when AMC picked it up, because they were a nobody at the time.


Anyways right at the beginning of the episode there were deaths, lost accounts, unwanted pregnancy, the works. Boom boom boom lives are CRACKING.


Mid way through, in parallel, each character arrives in a place where their wives, boyfriends, and significant others are waiting for them at home.

Each are consoled, as they sit on a couch. Then their significant other lays in the same pose curled up against them puts their head on their lap. One has a gift. Another plays with their hair.

But each of the main character’s is staring off into space. They’re distracted. Too much is going on.


One of the spouses asks “what’s wrong? You can tell me. I want to know…”

But they wont share. They’ve cut themselves off. They wear masks. They can't let themselves be seen.

In the last third of the show, all those same characters end up at a funeral of an important advertising director who passed. One by one, his colleagues get up and share stories.

“I remember closing the deal with Bill….”

“We celebrated with champagne when we got that account…”

“Man he really came through for us for that client”

All stories related to their jobs. “war” stories from work.

And then it’s subtle… but the camera zooms in on the wife of the deceased. She can’t even look up.

These stories mean nothing to her. A whole testimony and she seems to realize she was totally separate from that world. Two worlds, their work lives and their home lives.

And you realize this was their sign.

Wake up people! You’re in the middle of disasters and now is the time.

But they were so engulfed in work they skipped their personal lives.

And that’s when you realize they won’t change. If this won’t do it, nothing will. 

Everyone in the show wanted it all. Their lives were a chase. When will I make partner? When would they finally get a car company as a client? Would I catch the new secretary's eye? 


In the land of opportunity you have a free buffet available to you and still end up starving. 

“We’re flawed because we want so much more.

We’re ruined because we get things and wish for what we had.” — D.D. from Mad Men

Culture, StoriesDavid Sherry