There is a show you’ve never heard of…that airs on a day you don’t know…on a cable channel you probably can’t find…that’s about some people you couldn’t care less about…that has almost certainly effected your daily life in a way you’ve noticed, but not correctly attributed to its influence.

The channel…AMC
The night…Sunday
The show…Mad Men

Its viewer ship is paltry, roughly 1.6 million weekly. That may seem like a lot but keep in mind iCarly can pull 7.9 million viewers. Heck, even a terrible reality show on during primetime on a major network will get over 3 million before it’s canceled. 1.6 is barely scraping by.

And yet it has become this lexical ziggurat of pop culture influence; by not kowtowing to the masses but by delivering a program so rich with minutia it can only be appreciated by a select few.

The rub…the select few who watch Mad Men with keen intensity, the few it does dazzle and woo on a weekly basis, are the precious minority who decide what the rest of us will consume, purchase, and crave.

How so?

An example.

You may want to purchase a new pair of pants. Sure you have the power to decide where you will buy those pants from, what size you will buy them in, and even their ultimate color. What you don’t have control over is what pants the store will offer for you to purchase. But guess who does?

The guy parked on his Eames lounge on Sunday night who happens to love the way Donald Draper’s 1960 suit pant is cut.

Who else is tuned in?

The guy who designs the car you drive.

The girl who decides what hairstyles every model will have and thusly you will desire.

And the other 1.6 million designers, artists, influencers, decision makers, and cool cats who create everything from the products you’ll find at your favorite neighborhood Target to the horn-rimmed glasses you slip over you ears to get a crisper view of America’s Got Talented Dancing Singing Stars (coming soon to ABC).

I’m not trying to make us as consumers seem like mindless slaves to the elitist whims of Nova watching art snobs, but the reality is, we only have so many options. Most of us lack the time (and know how) to create the things (like clothes) that will determine whether we lead the pack or gently blend in.

So just get comfortable with the fact that, yes, you can pick out your own pair of pants. But your choice was really made by a guy or gal watching a show you’ve never heard of…that airs on a day you don’t know…on a cable channel you probably can’t find…that’s about some people you couldn’t care less about.

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2 Reply to "How a show no one watches has changed your life."

  • Chris on August 11, 2009 at 6:25 PM

    Very good stuff dude. It makes me think about pre-destination, which is probably the most misunderstood theological concept...

    In my classes we used to talk about God giving us the "illusion of choice" when it came to free will and pre-destination. I.E. - I have the choice to pick up this pen or not. I picked it up. Did it seem like I made a choice? Yes.

    I sense that here... we're making choices but we're also not in a way.

    Very nice, keep up the good work.


    Anonymous on October 1, 2009 at 9:55 PM

    you never write in your blog anymore. don't you have anything to say?