10 Reasons Why You Should Watch Mad Men

Let’s officially start the countdown — today we’re 10 days away from the start of the fifth season of Mad Men, TV’s best show.

That’s a good chance to offer 10 good reasons to pick up Mad Men and just start watching now, even though there already have been 52 episodes aired:

1. It’s easy to catch up on. OK, I lied. It’s really not. But it’s really easy to look like you know what’s going on since most of the references to past episodes are so thin and understated that even regular viewers don’t initially catch it. But it’s not like you’re trying to pick up Lost in the middle of its run. You can watch the 30-second, catch-up highlight reel right before the season premiere and you should be good to go. Watching Mad Men is all about what’s going to happen, not what already happened. And if you’re worried you missed something, fear not. This will take about 15 minutes to read, but it’s worth every second. Or you can just watch this four-minute clip — the final moments of the season 4 finale — and it’s pretty much everything you need to know.

the man. the myth. the legend.

2. Don Draper is the most indefinable character of American television. And that’s what makes him so interesting. With all the ups and downs, you need Dramamine to define the life of Don. Is he the slick-talking douche that would stab you in the back before he’d talk to you? Is he the condescending, adultering jerk who is under the mistaken impression that his (now ex) wife isn’t wise to what he’s doing? Or is he the guy who mentors, grooms and saves a former secretary? Or falls head over heels for a different secretary? Even the good things he does — sending monthly checks to a sickly war widow for a decade — is tied to his conniving ways, since he stole the widow’s husband’s identity. Love Don or hate him, it’s your choice. But you must watch him.

3. No one spouts dialogue like Roger Sterling. It would be pretty funny to see Roger Sterling battle with Sue Sylvester for TV supremacy of fantastic one-liners. I’d go ahead and make Roger the 7-5 favorite.

4. It’s the one Hollywood venue where January Jones can excel. If you saw her host Saturday Night Live or in X-Men: First Class, you know it’s hard to make that woman look like she has the first clue about acting. On Mad Men as Betty Draper? Two Golden Globe nominations and an Emmy nod. Pretty girls need to work too, you know, and it would be debatable whether she could work in this business without Mad Men.

5. Vincent Kartheiser is now acceptable as Pete Campbell. Good news! I think I can finally watch a whole episode of Mad Men and not even have the slightest urge to throw my shoe at the screen when he comes on the screen. Whether it’s because he’s gotten better, or I’ve just learned to forgive him for almost single-handedly ruining the show Angel a decade ago, I can’t be sure. I just know I’m cured.

6. It’s a guide for how not to raise your kids. You need parenting advice? Then watch Mad Men and do exactly the opposite of whatever Betty Draper does. Forget about the fact that she’s the northern version of the racist, well-to-do wives of The Help. Those ladies probably could take care of their kids if they had to. Betty? Without a nanny, her kids would be on crack in, like, a day. The last episode of the show should be a flash forward to present day when the three kids are sharing a jail cell.

7. You have a week to plow through four seasons. No one said it would be easy. But it will be worth it. 

and you don't want to get to know this why?

8. Get to know Christina Hendricks. She’s somehow managed not to break out as a leading lady yet. That can’t possibly last much longer, so in a couple years when she’s starring in a Channing Tatum rom-com you can say, “I knew her when she was Joanie on Mad Men!”

9. It’s the best show for couples to watch. Is anyone else tired of shows geared specifically to women or men? Me too. That’s why it’s fun to put the kids to bed and watch Mad Men, because it’s a show you can talk about after it’s over and actually sound intelligent to your significant other by saying things like, “Wait a minute, how did Don and Roger not get really drunk even though they downed a bottle a of scotch at 10 a.m.?” It’s also the best show for white people to watch.

10. Because it’s the shining example of what TV actually can be. In a time cluttered with not one, not two, but three different CSI shows, Mad Men is the gold standard for networks to say, “If we take our time, get good people involved and give them the freedom and tools to succeed, we can make some really, really good TV.”

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