Fordham Discusses the End of “Mad Men”


Don Draper sits in front of “Fidelity,” possibly contemplating a future in retirement after a 7-season run. (PHOTO BY BRIKEND BEHRAMI /THE OBSERVER)


Don Draper has been through two divorces, countless bottles of whiskey and numerous one night stands – but he’s managed to be our favorite, most dapper anti-hero.

After eight successful years the Mad Men era will end on May 17. Communication and Media Studies faculty and students from Fordham at Lincoln Center say that the end of “Mad Men” is a hard pill to swallow.

“For a series to succeed, it has to have strong characters and an interesting narrative,” Albert Auster, associate professor of Communication & Media Studies, said. “‘Mad Men’ has been appealing partly because of the characters it follows: Don Draper, Peggy and Joan for example. They are all interesting and complicated characters that draw in an audience. These are people who [the audience] can understand.”

Audiences want something interesting and complex to watch, and “Mad Men” hit that target precisely. “Over the years we’ve loved stories about a bad guy whom we can’t help liking. He’s very attractive and very smart. He doesn’t worry about morals,” Michael Tueth, associate professor of communication & media studies, said. The character he’s referring to, Don Draper, is a character with flaws, who isn’t boring and isn’t perfect.

Any person who watched “Mad Men” might have other responses toward the show. It has a different impact compared to other earlier history-based television shows. “People sort of enjoyed the regressive pleasure. They saw on screen something that is impermissible to us. In some ways we could see it as a very conservative gesture to say, ‘look at the good old days; look what we can’t have anymore if we are upper-middle class white men in America,’” said Jennifer Clark, assistant professor of Communication and Media Studies. “Mad Men” was a unique way to look at history in a certain perspective and see the progression America has made.

“I’ve always been interested in the 60s. I was interested in the events that took place in that time span, so I wanted to see how it would play out in the show,” said Adrianna Redhair, FCLC ’17. “I really like the character growth. I feel like all the characters have really progressed and advanced.”
“We know it won’t go too far because we understand how history will unfold from then on. So, it’s kind of a safe way to see that happen knowing that history is going to come along and play itself out in a way that will rectify some of the most egregious behaviors of the characters,” Clark said.

“Mad Men” did something that generally hadn’t been done before , taking historical and social information and incorporating it into an ongoing series. “In the past, television has restricted historical explorations to things like documentaries or adaptations of historical novels. They’re really seen as special viewing events,” Clark said.

“Mad Men” has had so much success because it has created new ideas for the television world, and so few shows have done this. “It is set in a historical period, but it still follows the genres of family, drama, a little bit of comedy,” Clark said. This is a show that people can relate to, even though it’s set in a different era.

The growth is seen as the show moves from each season, as well as each decade.

“I liked that we learn more about the characters’ past even though temporally we’re going forward across the seasons, so more of Don’s history gets revealed across the seasons,”Ady Bijay, FCLC ’15, said.

This show had so many unique qualities, which led it to success and seven seasons. It covered eleven years of character growth just over a span of eight production years. “You’d end a season. The next season you’d be eight years later. That was an interesting idea to do that because we want to get up to the present. I can’t think of another show that did that,” Tueth said.