Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems
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Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems (Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture #20)

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3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  222 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A look at the philosophical underpinnings of the hit TV show, "Mad Men"With its swirling cigarette smoke, martini lunches, skinny ties, and tight pencil skirts, Mad Men is unquestionably one of the most stylish, sexy, and irresistible shows on television. But the series becomes even more absorbing once you dig deeper into its portrayal of the changing social and political...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 13th 2010 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 2010)
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Steven Buechler
The book provides to be the perfect compainion to the series for the intellectual. It takes common works of philosophy and applies to the drama taking place. Most viewers may understand that the show looks at the values of the 1960s but by using the book, it enlightens the reader by comparing the actions of Don, Roger, Pete, Betty, Joan, Peggy, et al and compares them to the thoughts of Aristotle, Socrates, Emmanual Kant, Frederick Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Carol Gilligan and so on. Essays...more
Chris
If you had asked me a year ago which television show you should absolutely make time to watch, I would have immediately told you to start watching Mad Men. Deep, complicated, and made with great attention to detail, it is a show that rewards viewers. The characters reveal themselves over time, minor plot elements emerge as major turning points, and they give us 21st-century viewers a chance to look at the '60s in a whole new light. The show had had three outstanding seasons, and up until that po...more
Melinda Elizabeth
The essays become fairly repetitive in terms of examples used and it gives the feeling of reading the same essay over and over... if you were to flick through the book and read each essay by itself and leave the book for a while,you might appreciate the essays on a stand alone basis.

Having said that, there are plenty of thought provoking essays in the book that make it worth reading.
Loren
What do we mean when we say we "know" something? Isn't belief just a way to buy in?

If we can look back at the authenticity of the Mad Men show and cringe at their anachronistic missteps, what stupidity will we look back from this present time? Will it be the folly of organic foods or the necessity of permaculture? What about the truth of climate change or why we weren't more skeptical of what are considered exaggerated claims within the world of environmentalism? Or will we look back at our obs...more
Rachel
In short, this book is useful for the Mad Men enthusiast, particularly if one is interested in thinking through some big issues of the characters. However, the focus feels so much on Don--and to a lesser extent Roger--that I began to tire of the essays, as several quoted from the same scenes and basically discussed the same themes. (Granted Don is the lead character, but it honestly became repetitive.)

My biggest disappointment is how little gender or female characters were explored in this book...more
Melisa
I'm rewatching parts of Season 1 and 2 as I work on a synthesis writing assignment for my AP Lang students. I want to think about the reinvention of the self and if that is authentically possible, how it fits in with the evolution of the American Dream, and what the consequences might be. We're reading The Great Gatsby now, and will consider Jay Gatsby, Don Draper, possibly Peggy and/or Betty, and... anyone have any other suggestions? I'm on the hunt for a This American Life episode featuring a...more
Tiffany
"Mad Men and Philosophy" explores the issues and philosophical points of view surrounding this series in a way that avoids pretension and complicated terms. It's essentially a deeper look into both the characters and the social time period of the series. The book is broken up into three sections that explore different aspects of the series and philosophy. Each chapter is a philosopher (or group of philosophers) relating a particular philosophical doctrine to the series.

It can sometimes read lik...more
Tim Williams
It's maybe worth 4 but it just got to be repetitive, especially because different authors just had to rehash the set-up for Mad Men over and over. What this book needed was an editor that actually edited it down some. Remove where each individual does his own re-cap of the show and make the whole work together. I realize that other books in this series don't do that, but in this case it really would have helped.
Miguel
Mad Men, as a show, is hailed for its verisimilitude, texture, and depth. Philosophical exploration of Mad Men would then seem completely natural considering the issues addressed by the show and the relative realism with which they are addressed. The book itself is fantastic, exploring many essential philosophical concepts in really satisfying ways while using Mad Men as the jumping-off point. The book offers the reader some very digestible information on Galbraith, Nietzsche, and Rand to name a...more
Audrey
An ok read...I preferred some essays over others. As someone with very limited philosophical background, I thought some of the essays needed to be approached with more background than I possess. On the other hand, I found a few essays to be simplistic and unconvincing. Overall I enjoyed reading something different for a change and also had some of my questions from the show answered. I especially enjoyed the essays on artistic mimesis (ch 2) and Aristotelian friendships (ch 13). Footnotes were h...more
Andrea
I really enjoy books from the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, but as always – some essays are excellent and some are just so-so. My particular favorite in this collection was John Fritz’s look at Don, Pete and Peggy and the importance of having the right balance of remembering and forgetting. Pete remembers too much – every slight, every insult –and Peggy far too little – letting whole parts of her life fade from memory. Very interesting ideas here about the balance needed for true...more
Upom
A decent book for those who want to do more with "Mad Men" than just watch and gush pretentiously about critically acclaimed television. Through this book, your boasting is now backed academically. The book is filled with decent essays about various philosophical issues raised by the shows. Most were average essays touching on obvious issues, such as truth, sexism, and ethics. There were some real gems though; John Elia's essay was a really interesting look at the concept of integrity in the 20t...more
Hal
I had not watched the "Mad Men" as it aired over the past five years. Instead I ended up watching it as a compilation of the episodes and I got hooked. The popularity of the series speaks for itself, this book takes it one step further by taking a look at the many life events and drama shown in context of philosophical meaning.

An interesting approach that allows one to think and ponder all the myriad issues philosophy brings about. Never easy, for me anyway, I found the philosophical topics rais...more
Marci
You really need to know Mad Men to appreciate this intro to philosophy course using examples from the show.
Mike Schuh
Finished after the season six finale. Great analysis of characters and culture. Started to read while teaching Gatsby to draw parallels. Only problem is redundancy. Some of the essays repeated the same points and reused the same quotes. The editor could have did a better job of tailoring the essays. More essays on the supporting characters would be nice. The character analysis of Don, in multiple articles, stated the same ideas. Last part of book was bet as authors discussed racial and gender st...more
Sarah
The essay on the women of Mad Men is...boring. A sincere neglect of second-wave feminist theory and mostly plot synopsis, Aristotilian analysis and in no way critically engaged with other theories that even the first essay of the text sorts out.
I don't know what constraints the author was working under, but the women of mad men essay feels rushed and poorly written.
Am looking forward to reading the remainder of the book.
Melissa
I found this book at Ollies for $4 and picked it up since i adore Mad Men. It's an interesting read, but not exactly one you'd pick up for a "fun" time. More of it's a "thinking" book. Plus i have to admit after reading blogs for the last three years on this show some of the analysis seems too in depth and needed to be lightened up. Still if your looking a reference for a philosophy book this one is a pretty good one.
Katrina
I picked up this collection of essays from the library because I am a huge fan of the show Mad Men. I am not a huge fan of dissecting the philosophical theories of Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger and so forth (college philosophy course was enough, thank you!)even when it is put in relation to one of my favorite television shows. But I did find some of the essays interesting, the remaining I just skimmed.
Stewart
This book is a compilation of essays by different authors and thus provides a variety of perspectives. However, it tends to rehash certain ideas and it lacks continuity. Mad Men is a show worthy of discussion and this book provides some helpful analysis. The chapters discussing existentialism and advertising ethics are especially good.
Sainabou
I love the show Mad Men so I was excited to read this. I even used it to write a philosophy paper. Overall it was a good read it took a world that that you thought you knew and brings you in deeper. It looks at the charcter and why they behave the way that they do and the consequences of there action
The_tortie
Fairly easy to read book that discusses several important aspects of philosophy in the context of how Don, Pete, Peggy, Betty, Roger and the rest of the Sterling Cooper crew interact with each other, their clients, and the targets of their advertising. Lots to think about in each chapter.
Amatullah Richard
Interesting analysis of the tv show Mad Men. The various writers make some good points and really make you think about the interrelationships of the characters, character faults and strengths, and the many things that go unsaid. Great companion reading for fans of the show.
Joe
A nice side-read for higher-functioning Mad Men fans. I'd be interested to hear the opinion of Mad Men fans with a philosophy background. Some essays are easier to relate to than others, and the book is a bit outdated at this point (only references the first three seasons).
Steve Morey
As with all these collections it's a mixed bag. When the chapters focus on the series to explain the philosophy it's very good. When the chapters focus on the philosophy to explain the series not so much fun.

Overall good fun but for the Mad Men completists only.
David
Uneven (hey, it's a compilation of essays) but ultimately interesting breakdown of "Mad Men" in terms of philosophical ideas. If you're a "Mad Men" fan, leaf through the book and you're bound to find something worthwhile.
David
I have a love hate relationship with this series. They're always meandering essays without any definitive or particularly interesting arguments. Still they tend to be enjoyable and thought provoking. This is no different.
Stephanie
The book had some interesting thoughts on the characters, but I found it annoying that each chapter was written by different authors. That meant that the reader has to read some quotes over and over and over....
Monica
A good philosophy refresher course for anyone hooked on Mad Men. Some facts from the show seem to conflict with articles written in magazines but the main theories were sound.
Charity
Really no highlights and really no strong close reads of the show, felt shallow and very ahhh duh.
Beth
I had high hopes for this book and was sincerely disappointed.
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