DISCUSSION TOPICS AND ESSAYS I WOULD ASSIGN IF I TAUGHT A CLASS ON MAD MEN ➕
- •Anton Chekhov once said "The task of a writer is not to solve the problem but to state the problem correctly." What aspect(s) of the human condition is Mad Men stating correctly?
- •"The flaw that makes the jewel:" first, identify anachronisms, missteps or things that just didn't work for you. Then, consider this:Theatre director Anne Bogart teaches her students to perceive everything one experiences at a performance as a deliberate choice by the director. For example, rather than judging something as a mistake or accident, regard it as though it were perfectly designed and crafted that way, and experience what that creates or suggests. Using this metric, identify and then defend those flaws, or controversial or unpopular choices by Matthew Weiner.
- •"Let's go someplace darker:" Identify specific examples of shifts throughout the seasons in writing style, tone, cinematography, sound design, etc. How do these support the changing moods and energies of the decade?
- •Pick one major character over one season. Close read their wardrobe over that season: how does it reveal emotions, motivation, connections to other characters? How are their costume changes indicative of how they've changed (or not)?
- •The second half of Season 7 has been full of repetitions and references to the series as a whole, but this is a phenomenon that has been woven into the series for several seasons. Find examples of these repetitions (i.e. contrast and compare Don's marriage to Betty v. his marriage to Megan; show how Bob Benson is Don Draper 2.0).
- •"I'd rather die hoping:" Joan says this to Bob Benson after he proposes a marriage of convenience. Don famously declares in the pilot that "Love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons." What does Mad Men believe about love? Or at least, per question 1 above: what is it about love it seeks to articulate precisely?
- •Matthew Weiner has said he frequently speaks to fans who tell him, "I am Don Draper." Which character do you most identify with and why? Articulate what the portrayal of this character has illuminated about your own life.
- •EXTRA CREDIT CREATIVE WRITING: Write a scene from the world of Mad Men we did not see, i.e. Roger and Jane's wedding. Must be canon. No slashfic.
- •MORE EXTRA CREDIT CREATIVE WRITING: Imagine you are a writer 50ish years from now. Consider in what industry or business you would set a show as the lens through which to view the social and technological changes of our current era. Briefly outline such a series.