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The best thing about 'Mad Men'
As the AMC drama's third season starts, fans insist it's the best show on TV. What's so great about it?
 

There's no question that Mad Men is a TV show with style, said said Roger Catlin in The Hartford Courant. But that's not really what created the tremendous buzz ahead of the just-launched third season of AMC's drama about Madison Avenue's 1960s heyday. "What makes it the best series on TV is its insight and storytelling restraint, its insistence to treat its audience as wise knowledgeable fans of story and character." (watch the Mad Men season 3 trailer)

The "meticulous set decor" in Mad Men, said Chantal Lamers in the San Francisco Chronicle, "is almost as captivating as the story line. By paying attention to every detail, the show's look takes viewers back to "early 1960s New York, when around-the-clock cocktails, tie-neck blouses, and tapered-leg furnishings were mainstream."

It's all very charming, said Ramin Setoodeh in Newsweek, but, judging from the season 3 premiere, some viewers will be turned off by the show's relentlessly "glacial pace." It's cool, but so little actually happens in the offices of Sterling Cooper, that you are left wondering whether "the story will ever kick into high gear." This is "television as an old-fashioned courtship: true love waits."

Mad Men is certainly "anthropological time travel," said Timothy Egan in The New York Times. It lets viewers visit "a world where doctors smoke, sexual harassment is a hoot, and it is never too early for an office drink because it’s always noon somewhere." Here an executive's daughter asks her father's colleague whether his African-American girlfriend is his maid, and a gay executive marries a woman rather than commiting career suicide by coming out. The wonderful thing about Mad Men is that it's a "a startling reminder of just how distant the near past really is."

 

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