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GAMBLE: I think I’ve gone ‘Mad’

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MollyA handsome, classy, middle-aged man with a penchant for 11 a.m. cocktails and a knack for clever advertising changed my indifferent ways.

That is my first admission. Here are the rest: I’ve never read one sentence of a Harry Potter book, I’ve never seen any of the “Star Wars” movies and I have yet to watch an episode of “American Idol” from start to finish.

I swear I don’t live under a rock or consider myself a rebel who hates “the mainstream.” I just don’t understand cult followings. If a book, movie or TV show achieves cult status, then I suddenly don’t care about it. When millions of people already love something, it doesn’t need me. So, I take the apathetic route.

At least I did until Don Draper steered me in the other direction.

I only began watching “Mad Men” during season three after a reliable source said it was as good as “The Sopranos” and didn’t have nearly as much violence.

Soon the hour-long show was the highlight of my Sunday. I would invite friends over for viewing parties, except they weren’t the most social of gatherings. We’d sit in silence, completely absorbed in the matters of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency.

That’s when I knew I’d boarded the cult train.

Admission number five: I love it. Not because I can now contribute to “Mad Men” conversations, and not because of Jon Hamm’s devastatingly good looks (although they help). No, there’s more to my obsession than that.

There’s a weird excitement when you can’t quite pinpoint your feelings about certain people, or figure them out. The “Mad Men” writers know this, and use it to their advantage. There isn’t one character I feel comfortable loving, hating or trusting completely. Flaws flow in Sterling Cooper as freely as the scotch.

For example, when Don was inches away from smacking Betty in the season finale — well, I didn’t dig that too much. 

But only a few minutes later, he can’t stop hugging his son after explaining he’ll be moving out in advance of his pending divorce. I wanted to jump through my TV into the Draper living room and stop the sad.

Photo courtesy AMC

I keep coming back every Sunday, in the naïve hopes that I’ll finally figure one of them out. No such luck. Roger continues to be a nonchalant snob who tosses off hilarious one-liners. Betty is still a frigid Barbie but a victim of 1960s gender inequality. There’s no black and white — just a lot of gray tweed. The ambiguity is addictive.

Not to mention that in season three alone, the show handled such delicate topics as civil rights, sexism, homophobia, adultery, the Kennedy assassination and finally, divorce. Critics have praised the show for the impressively accurate recreation of 1960s America. With this in mind, I’m OK wearing a “Maddict” label. Watching doesn’t make me dumber.

Season three ended with one family collapsing and another just beginning. I can’t wait to see what sort of freak flag Betty’s new beau starts flying. That ought to be good. I’m looking forward to the brilliant ads that will come out of the Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce dream team.

Now this cult follower just needs to figure out what she’s going to do at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights until season four.

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