I can't really say that anything Sacha Zimmerman says in her diatribe against Mad Men is precisely wrong, but the tenor seems way off base to me. The show exhibits the flaw of not having any interesting stories. And this really is a serious flaw. Indeed, it's fatal. People will never look back on Mad Men as one of the peaks of human aesthetic achievement. That said, the show is acted decently enough and the storylines aren't stupid to the point of enragement, they're just dull. And it is, as Zimmerman says, gorgeously designed with a meticulous eye for detail.
At the end of the day, it's not as if there's some huge roster of better period dramas from the current issue of quality television. HBO and the BBC took a stab with Rome and now AMC's giving it a shot with Mad Men and both combine some real virtues with some significant flaws. Someday someone will do it better, and they'll probably look back on these shows as important precedents. In the meantime, it's not as if the Summer of 2007 is providing a bounty of alternative televised entertainment -- it seems like an eminently reasonable thing to keep on one's DVR.
Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.