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Lions Roar : November 2018
Mad Men The characters are like hungry ghosts, says ROD MEADE SPERRY, endlessly consuming liquor, drugs—and each other. WHEN WE THINK OF Matthew Weiner’s game-changing AMC series Mad Men, what do we picture? Smoking, suits, and sex. (Not to mention sexism.) So when the finale aired, the idea of sixties ad-man Donald Draper having an aha! moment while meditating on retreat—leading, of course, to the creation of Coca-Cola’s famous “Hilltop” TV spot, with its multicultural What Would the Buddha Watch? Sit on the sofa. Eight channel surfers offer their Buddhist take on a favorite show. gathering of peaceniks singing “in perfect harmony” about sugar water—rang hollow, or at least shallow, for many. But go back and rewatch it all, as I just have, and you’ll see there’s dharma in the drama. Naked ambition is a key theme of Mad Men, but any and all success we see is shot through with dissatisfaction. These char- acters are hungry ghosts, endlessly consuming tobacco, liquor, and each other. Even Don’s torrid sixth-season affair with his neighbor is tinged with dukkha. When he asks her what she wants, there’s only one answer he expects: that she wants him. Instead, she says, “For you to find peace.” A quest for peace, along with weed, was increasingly in the air then, and Mad Men tries to capture all the ways folks LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2018 36