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22 Quotes From "Mad Men" That Get Deep

Mad Men (which aired from 2007 to 2015) is one of the seminal shows that defined and ushered in the ongoing “prestige” television era, alongside The Sopranos and Breaking Bad. A visually striking, expertly stylized, and intellectually complex period drama, the AMC series starts in 1960 and follows the employees of Sterling Cooper, an advertising firm on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. As the decade unfolds, the corporate world of advertising — and the rest of American society — grapples with and is changed by the rising counterculture and social movements of the era.

Although its nostalgic period details are painstaking and seductive, Mad Men’s long-lasting appeal is also due to the ability of the writers — a team helmed by show creator Matthew Weiner — to communicate universal and timeless truths. The show doesn't shy away from controversial social issues in American culture — both then and now. For many of the characters, change was a destabilizing  force that they had to learn to accept, or else get left behind. Don, Betty, Roger, Peggy, Joan, and the other unforgettably nuanced characters in the show — many of them unlikable by design — all faced serious challenges that allowed them to change and grow — and muse about the nature of life along the way. Mad Men was never about just advertising, and here are 22 quotes that show just how deep the show can get.

If they’ve tried to make you feel you’re different from them, you are. That’s a good way to be.
— Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks)

Make it simple, but significant.
— Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

Dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition. It’s the coal that fuels the fire.
— Trudy Campbell (Alison Brie)

People will show you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.
— Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

We're flawed because we want so much more. We're ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.
— Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She's an astronaut.
— Bert Cooper (Robert Morse)

At some point, we’ve all parked in the wrong garage.
— Roger Sterling (John Slattery)

For a lot of people, love isn’t just a slogan.
— Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff)

Young men love risk because they can’t imagine the consequences.
— Bert Cooper (Robert Morse)

One never knows how loyalty is born.
— Bert Cooper (Robert Morse)

You're painting a masterpiece, make sure to hide the brushstrokes.
— Betty Draper (January Jones)

You think you’re going to begin your life over and do it right, but what if you never get past the beginning again?
— Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser)

Because I want love. And I’d rather die hoping that happens than make some arrangement. And you should too.
— Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks)

Just think about it deeply, then forget it, and an idea will jump up in your face.
— Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

You know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.
— Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

You’re never gonna get that corner office until you start treating Don as an equal. And no one will tell you this, but you can’t be a man. Don’t even try. Be a woman. Powerful business when done correctly.
— Bobbie Barrett (Melinda McGraw)

If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.
— Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

That’s life. One minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary’s running you over with a lawn mower.
— Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks)

You’re going to have a lot of first kisses. You’re going to want it to be special, so you’ll remember. It’s where you go from being a stranger to knowing someone.
— Betty Draper (January Jones)

You want some respect? Go out and get it for yourself.
— Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

I know what I’m supposed to want, but it just never feels right or as important as anything in that office.
— Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss)

Change is neither good nor bad. It simply is.
— Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

Photo credit:  George Pimentel / Contributor/ Getty Images

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About the Author
Julia Rittenberg
Julia is a writer, theater and comics lover, and lifelong nerd in Brooklyn, NY.
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