Sad that another season of Mad Men has come and gone? Wondering what you’re supposed to do with yourself while you await Season 6? Here are eight suggestions for keeping the Mad Men magic alive until the series returns next year.
1. Watch Mad Men again. Take it from someone who watched every episode of Mad Men at least twice this season: the shows stands up to and rewards repeat viewings. Another once around the series gives you the opportunity to remind yourself of dangling threads in our characters’ lives; for example, did you have to scratch your head for a minute in the Season 5 finale to remember who Adam was to Don Draper? It’s also great for catching the impressively nuanced performances, especially Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris and Jared Harris (no relation) as Lane Pryce. And all the black humor really sticks the landing the second time around. Seasons 1-4 are available on Netflix; all five seasons are available, in standard def or HD, for purchase on iTunes.
2. Read John Cheever. John Cheever was certainly one of the great short story writers of the 20th century, and Matthew Weiner has not been shy about acknowledging Mad Men‘s debt to Cheever. The Drapers live in Ossining, New York, which was where Cheever lived most of his adult life, and individual episodes of Mad Men frequently resemble Cheever stories in their portrayal of ennui and desperation in ’60s suburban America. If you really want to dig into the Mad Men universe, you should read The Stories of John Cheever, his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection. Read it from front to back, and when you get done, read it again. Did the man ever write a bad sentence? Scream if you find one.
3. Learn to smoke. Sure, there are lots of reasons to give up smoking and even more reasons to never start. But if you’ve watched all of Mad Men twice and read all of Cheever twice and still find yourself jonesing for a cigarette, surely you can find resources on the Internet that will help you learn to smoke. Of course, you can. Here’s a step-by-step guide that comes with some great advice, including, “smoking is considered to be very harmful for health. Therefore, before lighting your first cigarette, look through the effects it can cause to your health.” If you’re confused, never fear: this guide to smoking has handy pictures. Looking for a more literary guide? Tom Chiarella shares his adventures as a new smoker in Esquire.
4. Take the Mad Men Tour. I didn’t know this existed when I started this piece, but I figured it had to, and the Googles know all. There are, in fact, two tours: for $59, you can take the Daytime Tour, during which you will enjoy visits to “eight locations depicted on the show and… a snack from one of Pete Campbell’s favorite old-timer bakeries. At our last stop, you will kick back and enjoy a refreshing 60s style alcoholic beverage in true Mad Men style.” You can also “channel your inner Betty Draper” with the Mad Men Walking Tour. But if you want the real Mad Men experience, you have to sign up for the $150 Nighttime Tour, where you’ll “sip cocktails from three different establishments featured on the show.” And “you will never forget this night because everyone will get a package of vintage pictures of them and their dates enjoying the night.”
5. Dress like Mad Men. How do you dress for your Mad Men Tour? The Banana Republic Mad Men Collection is a couple of years old now, but it looks as if they keep adding to it. Fashion moves fast, and beautiful people wearing super-stylish retro clothes make for good TV. So maybe this stuff still has legs. If so, they’re probably still mostly straight–but I’m thinking we’ll be seeing more prominent bellbottoms in Season 6, and when we do, we’ll see what kind of commitment you have to dressing like Peggy Olson: you can just see the white bib overalls in her future.
6. Go to ad school. Always wanted to be an actual Mad Man but don’t have the chops? Tired of figuratively burly creative directors figuratively kicking figurative sand in your face? You, too, can learn how to do advertising! You have plenty of choices, but Advertising Age called AdHouse Advertising School “New York’s newest, smallest, and arguably hippest ad school.” Not in NYC? Check out the online program at Academy of Art University, but be forewarned: I can’t imagine ever telling an advertising professional that you have an MFA from Academy of Art University without getting figurative sand kicked in your face.
7. Purchase Mad Men products. Mugs, journals, t-shirts, coasters, magnets, tote bags, iPhone cases, shot glasses, ball caps, note cards, boxer shorts, etc.: you don’t ever have to be out of touch with your favorite show.
8. Take a walk and forget about it for a year. Seriously. Mad Men is great TV, maybe even great modern-day literature. But it’s so dark, so claustrophobic, that sometimes you just need to air out your head and remind yourself that it’s wonderful to be alive. So take a walk. Feel the sun on your face (god knows, you’re probably not getting any rain) and the earth under your feet. Go with someone you love and talk about your life or go alone and take in the world–really immerse yourself in it, the way you used to do when you were a kid. Turn off the TV and leave your smokes at home.
Cigarette photo by © 2005 by Tomasz Sienicki [user: tsca, mail: tomasz.sienicki at gmail.com] (Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki / Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.