Nothing New Under the Billboard


With its clean, careful shots and enigmatic plot resolutions, Mad Men tends to inhabit a liminal narrative space, as if the same rules of decorum that govern its romanticized 60s society extend their authority to the show’s refined formal characteristics. This aversion to definitive conclusion is no accident: writing for Salon, Rebecca Makkai examines how the series recalls John Cheever’s iconic short fiction, which creator Matthew Weiner has listed as an influence:

I imagined all his stories to involve a businessman who got off the evening train drunk, stood in his yard peering in through the windows of his own house, and had some sort of sad revelation…[but instead,] in each story, a small world of alienation and humor and despair, a meditation on family or work, the city or the suburbs, travel or stasis, success or failure. Stories that resist neat epiphany.

Roxie Pell is a student at Wesleyan University, where she writes for Wesleying and The Argus and tweets hilarious nuggets of pure wisdom @jonathnfranzen. More from this author →