Mad Men’s Deceptive (Critique Of) Creativity

Julie Robert


This article analyses Mad Men’s relationship to creativity. Considering popular, industry-specific and scholarly understandings, it uses close readings of the show and its narratological techniques to demonstrate how these potentially contradictory concepts and practices of creativity overlap in the show’s fourth season. The points at which these understandings collide become sources of tension between characters and are marked by narrative gaps that conceal deceptive creativity. The conflicts centre on three primary debates: a) the role of alcohol in the creative process, b) industry-specific norms of creativity, and c) the popular perception that creativity is about expression. Consequently, this article approaches questions about creativity using the show’s own partially elided debates and undermines widely-held romantic beliefs about the creative ‘type’ and the what exactly it means to sell creativity in a corporate setting.


creativity; alcohol; silence; industry; narrative ellipses

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