In the first episode of “Mad Men,” Don Draper (Jon Hamm) declares, “Advertising is built on one thing: happiness.” Is there a more effective approach to understand people than by looking at what they purchase? The 1960s were a crucial decade for advancement in America, and “Mad Men” examined the burgeoning trends in the advertising sector at this time. It also provided an excellent history lesson on the social, political, and economic changes that took place in this country.
The fictional lives of staff members at the Sterling Cooper advertising agency are followed in “Mad Men.” Don Draper works as the company’s creative director and junior partner. Even though Don seems to have the most charisma in whatever area he enters, tragedy often interferes with his life. The show gradually reveals how Don’s prior traumatising events influenced who he became. Despite having a fantastic cast of people, “Mad Men” ultimately poses the question, “Who is Don Draper?”
“Mad Men” received a tonne of attention throughout its time on AMC and won four straight Emmy Awards for best drama series. Mad Men maintained a steady level of strength throughout its entire run, unlike some excellent shows that tend to lose steam at the conclusion of their runs. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen “Mad Men” yet; you won’t be disappointed by the conclusion! All of the character arcs on “Mad Men” received a happy conclusion in the series finale, “Person to Person.” Here is a list of “Mad Men” seasons, from worst to finest.
7. Season 6
The sixth season of “Mad Men” isn’t terrible by any means, but it’s undoubtedly the least interesting. Season 6 closes on a somewhat depressing note because the show started laying the groundwork for plot arcs that would culminate in the final season. Peggy Olson’s (Elisabeth Moss) future is uncertain, and Don’s marriage to Megan (Jessica Par) is disintegrating. While Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) and Peggy cherished their relationship, Ted decided to go to Los Angeles to be closer to his family and work at a different division of the business.
In Season 6, a few of the reoccurring storylines fall flat. Don has a protracted relationship with Sylvia Rosen, his next-door neighbour (Linda Cardellini), which his daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka) eventually learns about. Although Don has always been a complicated person, his latest affair makes him downright unlikable. Having said that, Cardellini puts on a fantastic show.
Season 6 also spends a lot of time on the Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) character. Jim is a partner at the newly formed Sterling Cooper & Partners, which was formed when Cutler Gleason Chaough and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce amalgamated. Don, Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), and Bert Cooper are constantly bothered by Jim (Robert Morse). Jim is a necessary enemy, although he’s nothing compared to the villains from prior seasons, like Duck Phillips (Mark Moses). He’s also just plain unpleasant.
6. Season 2
The second season of “Mad Men” struggles to live up to the high expectations of the audience after the brilliant first season. Despite being a good season of television, season 2 lacked season 1’s “newness.” There are still some excellent plots, though. Peggy develops into her role as a copywriter after becoming a mother to Pete’s child at the conclusion of season 1. In the toxic workplace of Sterling Cooper, she fights against systemic injustice. Pete also develops in maturity. Pete feels he lost the opportunity to marry Peggy after confessing his love to her.
Season 2 of “Mad Men” saw a rise in experimentation. The “The Jet Set” episode takes viewers on a self-contained, dreamy trip through Don’s search for fulfilment. Don indulges in a hotel when his baggage disappears while on a work trip to Los Angeles. He starts dating Joy, a young woman from a wealthy nomad social circle, played by Laura Ramsey. Joy questions Don, “Why would you deny yourself what you want?,” during their intense relationship. Perhaps this was a means for the show to probe Don’s refusal to experience true joy. Joy embodies everything Don aspires to be: she loves him without reservation and doesn’t demand that he make a commitment. The second season concludes on an intriguing cliffhanger. In the final episode, “Meditations in an Emergency,” Don’s wife Betty (January Jones) tells him she is expecting a child and asks, “Is Don ready for the responsibility?”
5. Season 5
After Don marries Megan at the conclusion of season 4, he realises he will never be able to commit to anybody for real. Season 5’s dark mood and frightening locations reflect Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s struggle to reinvent its corporate identity. Additionally, the main characters of the programme go through a lot of significant character growth. In “Far Away Places,” Roger admits that he is no longer a young guy. Peggy joins Cutler Gleason Chaough after leaving the company. Sally discovers that her father once wed Anna Draper, and Pete had an affair with Beth Dawes (Alexis Bledel) (Melinda Page Hamilton).
The passing of Lane Pryce is prominently featured in “Mad Men’s” Season 5 (Jared Harris). When Lane learns he could be sent back to England, he forges a check in Don’s name. Lane experiences a depressive episode after the other senior partners learn about his larceny. In the episode “Commissions & Fees,” Lane commits suicide. It is a tragic time, especially for Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks). Joan confided with Lane about going through a divorce from Greg (Samuel Page), her husband.
The “The Phantom” episode makes for a fantastic season 5 finale. Megan is given the chance to perform in a commercial. Don leaves the set while the song “You Only Live Twice” is playing after watching his wife work. Actually, Don leads two lives—one as Dick Whitman and the other as Don Draper.
4. Season 7
The final season of “Mad Men” aired in two parts subtitled “The Beginning” and “The End of an Era.” On its own merits, “The End of an Era” section of episodes includes enough stand-out moments to rank at the top of this list. While “The Beginning” is still good, it’s mostly setting up what’s to come. “The Beginning” focuses on Sterling Cooper & Partners becoming an independent subsidiary of the advertising agency network McCann Erickson. There is a touching scene at the end of “The Strategy” where Don, Pete, and Peggy share a meal together. It’s amazing to think about how much these characters have changed since their initial introductions. The next episode, “Waterloo,” incorporates a wonderful musical sequence that serves as a great send-off for Bert, who dies after watching the televised “Apollo 11” moon landing.
In “The End of an Era,” the show’s characters adjust to the new reality of the 1970s. The series finale, “Person to Person,” sets up new journeys for everyone. Pete rekindled his relationship with his wife, Trudy (Alison Brie). Joan begins an independent business. Peggy acknowledges her love for her co-worker, Stan Rizzo (Jay R. Ferguson), and Roger finds a relationship he can commit to with Megan’s mother, Marie Calvet (Julia Ormond). Duringthe ending of “Mad Men,”Don meditates with a hippie commune. He smiles, and the show implies that after this moment, he’ll go on to create the iconic 1971 Coca-Cola “Hilltop” ad.
3. Season 1
Some television shows struggle to craft an identity in their initial season, but”Mad Men” knew what it wanted to bein its first episode. In the “Mad Men” pilot, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” the show depicts its lead characters’ defining characteristics. Don is a serial womanizer hiding from his past: as a result, he’s unable to be completely honest with anyone. Pete is highly ambitious, but his overconfidence tends to get him into trouble. Peggy is determined to succeed despite the advertising industry’s constant sexism. She’s willing to silence her doubters.
Also, season 1 does a great job at incorporating historical events into its fictional storyline. The U.S. presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon serves as the backdrop for the show’s climactic penultimate episode, where Pete discovers Don has been lying about his identity. Don grew up under the name Dick Whitman, but took the last name Draper from his Lieutenant in the Korean War. It’s not Don’s only reminder of his past. His brother, Adam (Jay Paulson), reaches out to him. Don pays him off, asking him to never contact him again.
The season 1 finale, “The Wheel,” summarizes the show’s themes on family and consumerism with Don’s pitch to Kodak. Don dubs their new projector “The Carousel” and gives a moving speech about the importance of memory. Don incorporates images from his family’s collection within the photo reel. “It takes us to a place where we ache to go again,” he says.
2. Season 4
Season 4 started an exciting new era for the show. Not only had Sterling Cooper become the independent agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but Don officially separated from Betty. This season shows the perils of Don’s new independence. Although Don has many romantic entanglements, he ultimately marries Megan in the final episode, “Tomorrowland.” Don has been happy with Megan, and sees that she is great with children. However, the impromptu nature of Don’s proposal foreshadows another challenging breakup in his future.
Season 4 includesthe best episode of the series, “The Suitcase.”
Don is dreading a phone call from Anna’s niece, Stephanie (Caity Lotz). Anna is dying of cancer, and Don does not want to hear the confirmation of her death. He forces Peggy to stay at the office, and they connect. For the first time, Don begins to see Peggy as his equal. After receiving the call from Stephanie, Don breaks down in tears in front of Peggy. It is among the most moving moments in the entire series.
1. Season 3
Roger and Joan go through some significant character development in season 4. Roger loses the Lucky Strikes account, which puts the firm’s finances in serious danger. He struggles to admit his failure to the other partners. Although Roger fails to rekindle his relationship with Joan, she becomes pregnant with his child. Roger offers to pay for an abortion, but Joan decides to pass off the child as a legitimate offspring with her husband, Greg.
Season 3 shows “Mad Men” at its most exciting point. The world of advertising is incisive, leading to many fast and shocking workplace decisions. Season 3 saw the formation of a new firm, the arrival of a beloved character, the darkest joke in the history of “Mad Men,” and Don’s breakup with Betty.
Sterling Cooper struggles with financial concerns. McCann Erickson plans to purchase the British advertising agency Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe, which merged with Sterling Cooper at the end of season 2. PPL’s executive, Lane, grows fond of the Sterling Cooper employees during his time in America. In the season finale, “Shut the Door. Have A Seat,” Don, Bert, Roger, and Lane pull off an exciting scheme to create an independent agency. Lane added a fun new dynamic to the series. Jed Harris’ excellent performance is one of the season’s highlights.
Notably, season 3 took on tonal risks, including a disturbing moment in “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency” when the PPL executive Guy MacKendrick (Jamie Thomas King) gets injured during a workplace accident. Although the moment is played for laughs, Guy’s ruined career nags at Don.