“Mad Men” launches its Season Four this Sunday night, and, like several other ensemble dramas before it (“West Wing,” “24,” etc.), it’s moving beyond a cult-type audience to a wider viewership.
The show had some more Emmy nominations and wins this year; the expected audience is much larger for AMC and the season premiere is being shown live in Times Square this weekend. So Season Four seems like it will be a successful one.
Which leads me to one hope that I have, and that is that somewhere, somehow, the writers or producers would find a way to introduce the spiritual component into the script.
Yes, I know–religion in the early 1960’s wasn’t as much a matter of public discussion as it became in the 80’s and 90’s. And, statistically speaking, it was something that had more activity on Sundays than during the week. (Bible studies, mid-week groups and Christian-centered political activism didn’t have the role it does today).
But common, guys. Couldn’t we have one Bible-believing church going character in the firm or client of the firm? Couldn’t we have someone in the series plot who asked intelligent questions about matters of faith? Couldn’t we even have someone who was known for religion on Sundays but not during the week? Okay, how ’bout just showing a steeple!
Seriously, how cool would it be if Betty Draper got invited to church with a neighbor and found herself taking it seriously, while Don at the same time found his next new companion’s date choice was a tent crusade hosting a young preacher named Billy Graham. What if Roger brought in some business from a major denomination’s desire to overcome its reputation as being prejudiced? What if Pete reached out to a faith tradition for victory over some of his demons while while his wife was concerned simply with the appearance of church-going?
John F. Kennedy was the first Irish-Catholic president of the United States, and the show missed the chance to explore that deeply through the eyes of an advertising firm. The show’s plot will be coming up on the Dr. King years, civil unrest, the role of women and many other matters that were as controversial inside of churches as they were relevant outside them. And people of faith really struggled during this decade.
I’m sure Season Four will be fun as Don and his team have moved to start their own firm. But in a show that’s found a way to include topics from pre-marital sex to multi-affair marriages, from drinking and smoking at work to the health issues of the partners, from wealth-building to hiring and firing, from office politics to national politics and certainly, certainly, certainly from martinis to straight scotch, I sure hope they find a way to get beyond that to the really interesting stuff. Who knows, it might even broaden the audience while posing some great questions at the same time?
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