Mad Men’s Legacy in the Quality Television Tradition

  • Gary R. Edgerton


Mad Men (AMC, 2007–2015) captured and expressed the zeitgeist in the late 2000s and early 2010s. In this preface, Edgerton describes and analyses how the series evolved from being that little program that nobody watched on an also-ran basic cable channel to the most celebrated scripted drama of its era. He contends that Mad Men is widely recognized in the popular, professional, and scholarly communities as a transformational series in the history and development of US television. Edgerton pays special attention to Mad Men’s industrial, aesthetic, and cultural legacy within the quality television tradition of the past half-century as well as its continuing influence and impact on subsequent programming today.


  1. 92Y: 92Y Talks Podcast (May 21, 2015), Matthew Weiner interviewed by Richard LaGravenese, 71:24 minutes.
  2. Alighieri, Dante, with a new translation by John Ciardi. 1954. The Inferno. New York: Mentor Books.Google Scholar
  3. Alston, Joshua. 2008. TV Ratings: Get “Bad”, Get “Mad”, and You’ll Get Glad. Newsweek (January 7): 95.Google Scholar
  4. Basic Cable Shows Get Emmy Nods. All Things Considered (National Public Radio) (July 17, 2008), Matthew Weiner interviewed by Michele Norris, 4:29 minutes.Google Scholar
  5. Becker, Anne. 2008. GM Charlie Collier Raises AMC’s Profile. Broadcasting & Cable (January 19).
  6. Brodesser-Akner, Claude. 2007. “Mad Men” Gives Wide Berth to Madison Avenue. Advertising Age (October 8): 1.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, Les. 1975. Fred Silverman Will Leave CBS-TV to Head ABC Program Division. New York Times (May 19): 46.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 1992. Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television. Detroit, MI: Gale Research.Google Scholar
  9. Brownfield, Paul. 2013. By the Numbers: Checking the 101 Best Written TV Series List. Written By (Magazine of the WGA West) (Summer): 30–37.Google Scholar
  10. Carr, David. 2010. Barely Keeping Up in TV’s New Golden Age. New York Times (March 10): B1.Google Scholar
  11. Chellas, Semi. 2014. Matthew Weiner, The Art of Screenwriting No. 4. The Paris Review (Spring).
  12. Chernin, Peter. 2006. Golden Oldies. Wall Street Journal (February 9): A12.Google Scholar
  13. Chozick, Amy. 2009. The Women Behind “Mad Men”. Wall Street Journal (August 7).
  14. Dasgupta, Sudeep. 2012. Policing the People: Television Studies and the Problem of “Quality.” NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies 1 (1): 35–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dunleavy, Trisha. 2017. Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Feuchtwang, Stephan. 2005. Mythic Moments in National and Other Family Histories. History Workshop Journal 59 (Spring): 179–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr, and Tise Vahimagi, eds. 1984. MTM: ‘Quality Television’. London: BFI Institute.Google Scholar
  18. Handy, Bruce. 2006. Don and Betty’s Paradise Lost. Vanity Fair (September): 268–283, 337–339.Google Scholar
  19. Jeffrey L. Bewkes: Home Box Office. Businessweek (January 14, 2002): 62.Google Scholar
  20. Keveney, Bill. 2009. Success Suits the ‘Mad Men’ Brand: Distinctive Drama About the ’60s Ad Game Reaches Out to Today’s Style, Culture. USA Today (August 14): 1D–2D.Google Scholar
  21. Koblin, John. 2015. How Many Scripted TV Shows in 2015? A Precise Number, and a Record. New York Times ( December 17): B2.Google Scholar
  22. Littleton, Cynthia. 2009. Weiner Wins Pay Raise. Daily Variety (January 19): 1.Google Scholar
  23. Lotz, Amanda D. 2018. We Now Disrupt This Broadcast: How Cable Transformed Television and the Internet Revolutionized It All. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. Mair, George. 1988. Inside HBO: The Billion Dollar War Between HBO, Hollywood, and the Home Video Revolution. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company.Google Scholar
  25. McCabe, Janet, and Kim Akass, eds. 2007. Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond. London: I.B. Taurus.Google Scholar
  26. McGrath, Charles. 1995. The Triumph of the Prime-Time Novel, New York Times Magazine (October 22): 52–59.Google Scholar
  27. Mittell, Jason. 2015. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  28. NPR (National Public Radio). Fresh Air (August 9, 2007), Matthew Weiner interviewed by Dave Davies, 51 minutes.Google Scholar
  29. PaleyFest ’08 (The Paley Center for Media’s 25th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood, CA) (March 27, 2008), Matthew Weiner and the Mad Men cast interviewed by Matt Rousch of TV Guide, 75:21 minutes.Google Scholar
  30. Papazian, ed. 1991. TV Dimensions ’97. New York: Media Dynamics.Google Scholar
  31. Poniewozik, James. 2007. The Ten Best TV Shows. Time (December 24): 75.Google Scholar
  32. Rich, Frank. 2009. “Mad Men” Crashes Woodstock’s Birthday. New York Times, Sunday Opinion (August 16): 8.Google Scholar
  33. Rose, Lacey, and Michael O’Connell. 2015. The Definitive Oral History: Mad Men’s Last Call: Even Don Draper Couldn’t Invent This Story. Hollywood Reporter (March 20): 44–51.Google Scholar
  34. Rosen, Lisa. 2009. It’s Good to Be “Mad”: The AMC Show Has Gone from Cool to Obscure to Cool and All Over the Place, With Celeb Fans, Iconic Status and Awards Galore. Los Angeles Times (June 3): S10.Google Scholar
  35. Shales, Tom. 1988. Dark, Potent China Beach: On ABC, A Drama Series About Women in Vietnam. Washington Post (April 26): B1.Google Scholar
  36. Sloane, Leonard Sloane. 1975. ABC on Its Way Out of the Cellar. New York Times (November 9): F1.Google Scholar
  37. Smoke and Sympathy: A Toast to Mad Men. Inside Media Series. The Paley Center for Media, Los Angeles, CA (October 10, 2007), Matthew Weiner and the Mad Men cast interviewed by Brian Lowry of Variety, 56:59 minutes.Google Scholar
  38. Stevens, Elizabeth Lesly. 1997. Call It Home Buzz Office: HBO’s Challenge—To Keep the High-Profile Programs Coming. Businessweek (December 8): 77.Google Scholar
  39. Swanson, Dorothy. 2000. The Story of Viewers for Quality Television: From Grass Roots to Prime Time. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Thompson, Robert J. 1996. Television’s Second Golden Age: From Hill Street to ER. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Tinker, Grant, and Bud Rukeyser. 1994. Tinker in Television: From General Sarnoff to General Electric. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  42. Townsley, Eleanor. 2001. The Sixties’ Trope. Theory, Culture & Society 18 (6): 99–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Weinman, Jamie J. 2007. How The Sopranos Shot Up TV. Maclean’s (April 9): 48–50.Google Scholar
  44. Young, Susan. 2008. How to Hook Highbrow Audiences: Peabody Honorees Used Smart Marketing Tactics. Variety (June 13).

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary R. Edgerton
    • 1
  1. 1.College of CommunicationButler UniversityIndianapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations