I was super stoked when Mad Men, the acclaimed AMC television series, hit Netflix streaming. As such, I’ve had my nose buried in the boob tube for a while. The show definitely creates its own aesthetic, set of mannerisms, and speech delivery, and once you watch a few episodes, you’ll know it anywhere.
However, recently, I’ve seen advertisements for two other period dramas, Pan Am and The Playboy Club, showing this fall on network TV (ABC and NBC respectively). I’m used to seeing TV try and rip off other shows (see also Ridiculousness with Rob Dyrdek, showing soon on MTV–ripoff Tosh.0 much, execs over there?), at least in concept. Which seems to be more of what The Playboy Club does, but at times it, and most of the time what Pan Am seems to do is rip off the style of Mad Men–the mannerisms, the speed and style of line-delivery, etc. And that’s kind of annoying.
Don’t get me wrong, Mad Men is a great show. But it’s great because it’s not a desire to relive the early 1960s in NYC; rather it attempts to use the positive and the negative from the period within its realm to create drama without overlooking or promoting negative attributes of the period. So rather than relish in or gloss over the sexism and racism that were pervasive in the day in which the drama is being created, the show seems to lay them at its viewers’ feet, bare-boned and without apology. But it is this style of honesty that makes Mad Men worth watching, and what I don’t see in the sneak previews for the other two shows. That both worries and irks me.
Now that I’ve raised my concerns, here’s the rant: Hey, network TV, quit ripping off good shows and other people’s good ideas. Maybe fire your creative departments and start over because it’s been obvious for years you can’t find much of anything that works, let alone is unique, innovative, and good. Maybe instead of hiring a bunch of people with business degrees and actuarial mathematicians who calculate the time it will take for America to become totally fed up with the crap you’re putting over the airwaves, you should instead hire someone who actually cares about the work they produce instead of the money it will make them. Because if all you’re focused on is dollar bills or what your viewer stats are, you’re never going to produce anything good. And you’re going to keep making me pay for cable. Thanks a lot.