The Side Effects of Binge-Watching Mad Men

I’ve never participated in a marathon, but I think I can now claim to know how it feels, except for the whole being in shape part.

Yesterday, in preparation for the season six premier of Mad Men, which I had decided I wanted to watch live, I burned through nine episodes of season five in order to catch up. I have always been behind in the series and I wanted to be part of the cultural conversation of watching Mad Men live. Basically I didn’t want to have to stay away from Twitter for a few days while people spoiled what happened in each episode.

Since season five just recently came out on Netflix, I made the effort to burn through those last nine episodes (I had already seen the first three) and segway immediately into the season premier of season six, which I was unaware would be a two-hour premier.

I took this seriously. I felt like Jake and Elwood Blues on a mission from God. I missed intriguing sports games. I totally mailed in a fantasy baseball draft while watching (I’m not sure I drafted the required number of pitchers). I even did a poor job of communicating with friends trying to explain important life decisions they had made.

In total I watched over 10 straight hours of Mad Men.

That experience does not come without ramifications. There were a lot of feelings, urges and general side effects that came up during the 10-hour marathon. I’m here to provide you with some examples of the possible side effects in order for you to better prepare yourself in case you ever decide to binge-watch Mad Men.

You will get the urge to be a complete misogynistic womanizer.

This urge will go away when you realize how intimidated you are of talking to attractive women. If not, then it will go away when you realize that you are living in 2013 and not 1968 and the swift slap to the face/lawsuit you are hit with will bring you back to Earth.

-You will start to feel hungover by the fifth hour.

It doesn’t matter if you have been drinking or not. You can’t watch that much drinking and not start to feel slightly inenbriated for a few minutes followed by some sort of semblance of a hangover for the next few hours. Some may contend that it has something to do with staring at a TV screen for five to ten consecutive hours, but I think it’s the second hand viewing alcohol.

Side note: I’ve done some pretty stupid stuff over the years as a result of alcohol, but I think in every one of those instances I had less to drink than most members of Sterling-Draper-Campbell-Price have before 11:00 AM.

-You will mistakingly think that smoking cigarettes also make you look cool and forget how much you don’t like it/don’t look cool doing it.

Smoking cigarettes is not very enjoyable. It also makes me cough. A lot. I cough a lot when I smoke cigarettes and the smoke goes right into people’s faces causing them to hate me. Also, if you’re not used to smoking cigarettes you’ll actually have to concentrate on doing it. This means you can’t casually smoke a cigarette while passionately pitching an ad for Mohawk airlines. Believe me, the lady at Target will just tell you that Mohawk airlines doesn’t exist anymore and that “smoking’s not allowed in here.”

-You will want to take LSD.

The Beatles failed at making me want to take LSD. But Roger Sterling succeeded. He was so temporarily and artificially happy after tripping out. That’s what I want: fake happiness with misguided revelations.

Plus, when Roger does something he does it big. Let us not forget that a few seasons back he almost died of a heart attack after having sex with a much younger woman in his office well after work hours. If you’re a terrible person who is looking for a role model, Roger Sterling is probably that guy.

You will think that your female co-workers are all extremely interested in you romantically until you realize you are not as good looking as Don Draper.

This is pretty self explanatory. Gentlemen, if you’re reading this you might not be successful enough to have a secretary. If you are then she probably isn’t a beautiful, French, future soap opera actress. If she is then she is probably very uninterested in so many things about you. The odds are really stacked against you. Also, that other cute female co-worker that smiled at you in the hallway a couple weeks ago isn’t interested. She smiles at everyone.

At some point when Betty Francis is on the screen you will inevitably scream out “WHO CARES IF SHE’S FAT? SHE’S STILL BEAUTIFUL!”

This will catch you off guard since you have always thought she is one of the coldest, most mentally troubled characters you have ever seen in any series, movie or read about in a book.

You might have nightmares about Sally Draper’s friend/fling “Glen.”

Glen isn’t even in season five all that much, but he still creeps the hell out of me. If Glen and Sally ever get married they will find a way to become the most powerful and chillingly evil couple of all time.

You will think that every little idea that you have is a brillant concept that you feel the need to “pitch” to friends and family members.

We get it, a red, white and blue Nike swoosh would be cool, but Nike’s not going to pay you thousands of dollars to develop that.

You will think advertising is cool.

You will forget that good looking people getting wasted and having sex is not what advertising really is.

Advertising is Pandora ads.

You will start calling people by the Mad Men character they are most resembling with their behavior. 

Unlike Sex in the City, doing this with Mad Men can come across as extremely offensive and sexist. If a woman with a high ranking office job is extremely bossy/pushy with her employees I would not recommend telling her “You’re being such a Peggy right now.”

But if someone at a funeral is treating everyone else really poorly and acting like he or she is the only one who lost someone close to them, it might be appropriate to yell, “STOP IT! You’re being a total Roger!”

You will become frightened and nervous in well-lit rooms.

This is not just because you’ve watched 10 hours of television. It also has something to do with the fact that the lighting in most Mad Men episodes is kind of depressing at times. It might be some sort of theme that is symbolic of all the sneaking around, cheating, lying and general seediness going on in the show. Or they just didn’t have effective light bulbs in the sixties.

You will go through short stages of wondering “Do I like Pete Campbell? Maybe he’s not actually that bad” before slapping some sense into yourself and realizing “No, he’s Pete Campbell.”

This strange thought only came to me during my binge watching experience. Ultimately, I think Pete is the slimiest, most underhanded character on the show. But I have to admit, there were times yesterday when I felt like he was the only one that was consistently working hard throughout the series and he actually cares about other people more than Don or Roger do. He just happens to be really good at doing terrible things and being a total A-hole about it.

You will not be able to look at the “It’s not that complicated” AT&T commercials the same.

I know, right?

You will realize that literally no one in this show is happy.

Mad Men is an extremely depressing show when you take a second to stop being intrigued by it. Honestly, which character isn’t completely traumatized by his or her own demons or faults? Stan? Well, Stan is also probably housing small animals inside of his new beard so that’s bound to cause some sort of drama in ensuing episodes.


Feel free to watch multiple hours of Mad Men all at once, just understand that many of these side effects might very well occur.

-Jonny Auping

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