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Mad Men Season 5

by on October 18, 2012
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If you’re a fan of Mad Men, you’re probably already planning on purchasing this DVD.

If you haven’t watched Mad Men, this is certainly nowhere to start. This review contains considerable spoilers of the previous seasons. New initiates should report to amazon, iTunes, Netflix, or anywhere the first season is available.

The promotional poster for the season shows Don Draper staring into a department store window at two mannequins, posed as a doting wife and a relaxing husband. Like the previous seasons, the poster previews the theme. What do we really want, and what do we do once we have it?

Season 5 begins a year after the perplexing and controversial ending to Season 4. Don is happily married to his new wife and former secretary, Megan, and the two live in a posh New York apartment. Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price, after narrowly avoiding failure in the previous season, has started to work its way up the status ladder of the New York ad agency game. Peggy Olson continues to rise beyond all expectations of a woman in her business. Pete Campbell has at last emulated the lifestyle he idolized at the start of the show. Things seem to be going well for our group, but there’s a distinct melancholy beneath it. They’ve attained dreams and done wonders, but do they own it?

Season 5 is about questioning happiness, questioning idyll existences. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this season is by far the darkest in the show’s history. The first three seasons relied largely on suburban unrest and infidelity, while season four played on loneliness and hardship in the face of a new world. Season 5 forces the characters into situations that question who they are at the core of their being. None make it through unscathed. Some don’t make it through at all.

The historical allusions made during Season 5 contribute to the mood. Richard Speck, the New York Smog, and the UT Austin shootings are all present. The season actually opens on the Civil Rights Movement, which while not a negative moment in history, still makes the changing world clear to our characters. None of them are truly in control of themselves or their world, and it’s going to change whether they like it or not.

For those who love the show, the Blu Ray set has a glorious plethora of extras. Most notable are the commentaries on every. single. episode. Although I haven’t made my way through each, it’s a level of commitment not seen in most season box sets. The other features are fairly standard fare.

Mad Men Season 5 is very worth owning. It’s a great season of a great show.