Sometimes, you need to be able to write a good essay in a short amount of time for a timed exam, such as the Advanced Placement exams in high school. At other times, you might find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of having to write an essay fast because you procrastinated or let it sneak up on you. Although an essay written at the last minute will almost never be as good as an essay you spent more time on, putting together a decent essay quickly is still feasible. With a little planning and a lot of hard work, you can write an essay that’s good (or good enough!) in just a short time.
Here, as with Don’s false identity and (literally) meretricious mother, Mad Men keeps telling you what to think instead of letting you think for yourself. As I watched the first season, the characters and their milieu were so unrelentingly repellent that I kept wondering whether the writers had been trying, unsuccessfully, for a kind of camp—for a tartly tongue-in-cheek send-up of Sixties attitudes. (I found myself wishing that the creators of Glee had gotten a stab at this material.) But the creators of Mad Men are in deadly earnest. It’s as if these forty- and thirty-somethings can’t quite believe how bad people were back then, and can’t resist the impulse to keep showing you.