In 2010 America, we all live in a world that is 90 % mad: The most fascinating show on TV’s sly commentary on our current mental health
BY PAUL KAIHLA — On October 1, 2010, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a survey of the most recent data on depression — and the results were, well, depressing. One in ten Americans suffered from that mental illness as the economy careened into the current recession.
But what surprised many researchers, especially at pioneering psych departments like that at Stanford University, is that the statistic was not higher. According to Stanford neuro-psych Viveka Ramel, about half of us in North America will suffer from a clinical disorder of some kind during our lifetime — and for a fifth of us, that diagnosis will be depression.
A brilliant reflection of our current economic and spiritual health, and how those macro forces course through our personal psycho-dynamics, is on display this fall on the AMC cable channel series, Mad Men. The show’s writers — some of the same people who brought you the hit HBO show, The Sopranos — frame their mise-en-scene in the emerging New York megapolitan of the 1960′s, riven by characters who are careerists on Madison Avenue.
Casting this story in the past gives us just enough comfort-zone to look at ourselves in our present-tense, and make no mistake: Mad Men is a commentary on *our* anxious, over-politicized and publicized times.