Show: Mad Men (AMC)
Fans of Mad Men would call the show introspective, while those who are less fond of the exploits of Don Draper and company would probably accuse the show of navel gazing. Though the Pop Culture team has come out in favor of the series on numerous occasions, we have to admit that there are times when you can watch a handful of episodes and come away with little more to summarize them than "Don's having problems" or "the firm is having trouble keeping up." The rarity of Earth shattering events makes it all the worse when you're spoiled on a big moment in the show.
Shocking events are rare on Mad Men and when they arrive they carry a heavy weight. Lane Pryce's (Jared Harris) suicide is a prime example. To say Pryce's suicide was expected isn't quite right. We had long watched Pryce chafe against the financial and social pressures in his life; no matter what he did it seemed like he never quite fit in. So, in that sense, it was reasonable to expect his demise. On the other hand, Mad Men is so often a show about the pain of people who refuse to change their behavior despite abounding internal and external pressures. Given where their lives have taken them, it isn't hard to imagine Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell, or Don Draper sticking the barrel of a gun in their mouth. We are surprised when the characters make brash decisions nonetheless because Mad Men lives in a world where so many characters are doomed to retread the same paths until they grind themselves into oblivion.