Mad Men’s series finale aired on Sunday, ending the stories of womanizing Don Draper, baby-faced Pete Campbell and advertising’s failed attempts at adapting to a decade marked by radical change. The finale was marketed as the end of an era, and that’s what it feels like.
But all good things must come to an end. To help you cope with the grief of Mad Men’s ending, the Gauntlet staff chose three TV shows well worth binge-watching this summer.
Agent Carter (ABC):
If the end of Mad Men left you with a hole in your heart that can only be filled by mid-20th century New York, Marvel’s Agent Carter might be your thing.
The show follows Peggy Carter, known to most fans from the Captain America movies, as she navigates post-war New York. Hayley Atwell excels in the titular role, providing a strong female lead in a genre that sorely needs more.
Agent Carter is great for those trying to explore the recent glut of comic-book inspired media. There are no tie-ins to other comics, so the show is accessible to people who aren’t Marvel nerds. Even though the show is easy to get into for superhero beginners, there’s still a fair share of in-jokes for die hard fans.
This show has enough intrigue to placate any action enthusiast. And the writers do well by Peggy Carter, making her most dangerous foe another woman and not creating a love interest for her right away.
By creating an interesting female role while staying true to the action that makes Marvel movies great, Agent Carter is one of the best superhero stories out there.
Broad City (Comedy Central):
Television sitcoms present idealizations of what 20-somethings do in their spare time. There are plenty of shows focusing on life, love, loss and quirky bars.
This image is usually devoid of life’s realities — Netflix, coupons, porn, one-night stands, apartment hunting and smoking the more-than-occasional joint.
Broad City, with its absurdist look at life in New York, understands that side of existence.
Created and written by Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, who star as fictionalized versions of themselves, Broad City is endlessly hilarious. With vital life-lessons like “Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons never expire” and “the vagina is nature’s pocket,” the show is both hilarious and relatable. It flips the script on what it means to be a woman on television and in comedy.
Broad City is feminist, funny and is changing the landscape of television for the better.
I also guarantee this is the only place you’ll find a quest for the perfect knockoff handbag, the mournful Jewish ceremony of sitting shiva and a bright green custom-made dildo in one half-hour episode.
Louis C.K. has complete creative control of his self-titled comedy series Louie — he writes, produces, directs and stars in every single episode of the show, using his freedom to create a surrealist comedy unlike anything else on TV today.
Each episode of Louie follows the comedian through a fictionalized version of his life. The episodes are broken into vignettes that deal with issues ranging from finding an old flame on Facebook to discovering his 10-year-old daughter watched A Clockwork Orange at a sleepover. The plots in Louie seem mundane, but Louis C.K. is able to capture poignancy in these situations.
This format also makes it easy to start watching Louie. Unlike most sitcoms, which follow strictly serialized arcs, plotlines in the show are contained within single episodes. It’s an ideal show to recommend to friends who don’t already watch it because they won’t need seasons of context to appreciate a brilliant episode.
It also doesn’t hurt that Louie takes a page out of Seinfeld’s book, meshing the storyline with hilarious stand-up comedy routines that relate thematically to the story and provide insight on the plot.
Louie performs a difficult balancing act. It’s funny without being juvenile, sentimental without being cheesy and cynical without being a drag. That’s why it’s the best comedy on television today.