Like The Wire and The Sopranos, Mad Men will stick with me because of its explanations of relationships and human nature. Though we’ve watched these characters for a better part of a decade, it’s been amazing to see that, despite some growth, the majority of them have remained unchanged. Though I will probably go back and binge-watch the entire series on Netflix, it's disheartening to realize that there will never be another season of Mad Men. Will Don ever find real happiness? What will happen to Sally? Where will Joan’s company take her? There are so many questions that will remain unanswered.
I started watching Mad Men in 2009, two years after the show had already premiered. From the pilot episode, I was hooked. I became fascinated, not only with the characters, but with a time that helped shaped our country's history. I was amazed at the attention to detail, the policies and practices that were so ingrained into American culture during that time period. As the show moved through the '60s, it was fascinating to see characters break down and dismiss these systems in favor of new and progressive ideas.
Still, I suppose that’s the beauty of the series; the things we cannot know are what make it so real. If you are still reeling from the end of Mad Men like me, here are seven shows to fall in love with instead.
1. Masters of Sex
What's It About: Showtime's period drama, Masters of Sex, follows the lives of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who were pioneers for human sexuality. The show is based very loosely off of the lives of the real couple, but its real accomplishment is that it showcases just how much we've learned about sex, gender, and human sexuality since the 20th century.
Why You’ll Like It If You Liked Mad Men: If you loved Mad Men because it was a period piece, Masters will not disappoint. Set in the 1950's and '60s, the show really opens your eyes to the archaic beliefs held during that time period. The show stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, so it's certainly not short of talent. The third season of Masters of Sex premieres July 12th.
2. Call the Midwife
What's It About: This BBC period drama centers around the lives of a group of midwives living in London during the 1950's and '60s. The series follows Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), a newly certified, affluent midwife, who struggles to come to terms with her patients' desolate living conditions in East London.
Why You’ll Like It If You Liked Mad Men: Though the show centered around Don Draper's life, Mad Men was driven by Joan Harris, Peggy Olsen, and Betty Francis. It was the women of Men that had to confront the injustices of the time period. Call the Midwife is feminist television at its best. Season five of Call the Midwife premieres in 2016.
What's It About: This Starz original series chronicles the life of James "Ghost" St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), a big time NYC drug dealer who is struggling to become legitimate. As he fights to balance both his illicit activities and his legit nightclub, he realizes that he wants to leave the drug world behind for good.
Why You’ll Like It If You Liked Mad Men: Let's be honest: one of the main reasons that we all lived for Don Draper was because of his escapades with women. Though Ghost currently only has one mistress on Power, he may give Don a run for his money. The second season of Power premieres June 6th.
4. Peaky Blinders
What's It About: Set in England during the aftermath of World War I, Peaky Blinders is a gangster family epic led by boss Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). Shelby and his family struggle to maintain their hold on Birmingham while expanding their empire. This is especially troubling, because their activity has come to the attention of the police.
Why You’ll Like It If You Liked Mad Men: Like Jon Hamm in Mad Men, Peaky Blinders is dependent on Cillian Murphy's performance. It's also just fun to watch a morally compromised, privileged male become his own worst enemy. Season 1 and 2 of Peaky Blinders are currently available to stream on Netflix.
5. Halt & Catch Fire
What's It About: Another AMC gem, Halt & Catch Fire is a historical drama set in Silicon Valley during the 1980's computer revolution. The show follows a trio who hope to build a computer that will change the future. Unfortunately, they have to contend with a fictional IBM that continues to obliterate start-up companies.
Why You’ll Like It If You Liked Mad Men: Like Men, Halt & Catch Fire gets into the detail and nuances of the time period. If techy stuff is your thing, you'll certainly love this computer age drama. The second season of Halt & Catch Fire premieres May 31st.
6. The Sopranos
What's It About: I realize this is throwback series, but, if you haven't seen the Sopranos, stop everything you're doing and put it on now. The show follows the Soprano family and their patriarch Tony Soprano as he struggles to balance his criminal activity with his home life. The show has been called one of the best television series of all time, and it's an HBO classic.
Why You’ll Like It If You Liked Mad Men: Mad Men creator Matt Weiner has repeatedly said that The Sopranos' influence on Mad Men has been constant. Don and Tony are over the same tradition. Both men have trouble controlling their impulses, and they often behave badly because they are selfish. The Sopranos is available on HBO streaming services in its entirety.
7. The Americans
What's It About: This FX period drama is set during the Cold War and follows the Jennings, two Russian spies posing as a married American couple living in Washington D.C. Though their arranged marriage becomes increasingly intense and passionate, the escalation of the Cold War causes many issues.
Why You’ll Like It If You Liked Mad Men: Like Men, The Americans deals with human nature and relationships. Though it's a spy/thriller drama, it's made even more interesting because of the pivotal time during which the show is set. The fourth season of The Americans will premiere in 2016.