Inarguably one of the best current television shows across the board, Mad Men has a vast draw. Both commercially successful and critically praised, the period drama captivates audiences by playing on older generations’ nostalgia for the past, and younger people’s romanticizing of a time they’ll never know. The show is so magnetic because there isn’t a facet of the story that goes unnoticed — from the subject matter and characters to set design and wardrobe, Mad Men swallows you whole. And after a long 17 months, the gang at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is back (9 p.m. Sunday on AMC).
Advertising is something Americans can universally relate to, whether you’re a blind consumer or critical cynic — there’s no escaping it. Such is Mad Men. No matter how often the show’s leading man, Don Draper (John Hamm) lies, cheats or gets drunk before noon, he symbolizes the epitome of cool. We can’t help but fall in love with Don (and many other characters), fully aware we’ll probably end up broken hearted. It’s like how we buy detergent, knowing our whites will never match the pressed linens on the package.
While one could go on at length about the implications of the characters, storylines and relationships in the show, one singular theme always arises — appearance is everything, yet nothing is ever how it seems. And while Mad Men might be a detailed portrayal of the past, it’s as true now as it ever was.
The highly anticipated fifth season will, like most seasons, likely account for the year-and-a-half that has passed (placing us in 1967). Did Don remarry or get back with Betty? Is Joan a mother? Will SCDP be able to turn a new leaf and survive without a cigarette account? Pour yourself an Old Fashioned, stock up on cigarettes and get comfy for the two-hour premiere!
Community (8 p.m., NBC) – Jeff reveals he’s been seeing a therapist and taking anti-anxiety meds, giving him a jolt of confidence the sends him into a self-centered tirade.
30 Rock (8:30 p.m., NBC) – Liz takes on the challenging task of mentoring new page, Hazel
Project Runway All Stars (Season finale, 9 p.m., Lifetime) – Michael, Austin and Mondo show their collections on the runway and a fashion king is crowned. Tommy Hilfiger joins the judging panel.
Awake (10 p.m., NBC) – Rex’s former babysitter appears in both of Michael’s realities — in one, she’s at a yacht-hopper, doing well for herself; in the other, she’s a mess and a murder suspect.
My Extreme Affliction (9 p.m., ABC) – Unlike the endless trash shows glorifying questionable addictions and ridiculous obsessions, this special edition of 20/20 (airing every Saturday in March) focuses on real people with amazing medical conditions.
Shameless (9 p.m., Showtime) – Monica struggles with depression and Karen goes into labor, all while the Gallaghers celebrate Thanksgiving.
Luck (Series finale, 9 p.m., HBO) – Ace’s grandson, whose actions sent Ace to prison, returns to the picture. The whole crew has high stakes on the Western Derby, and Gus and Walter’s horses finally face off. Despite being originally renewed for another season, this finale will be the show’s last — after a third horse death on set, execs have pulled the plug.
Eastbound and Down (10 p.m., HBO) – Kenny reunites with his mother (Lily Tomlin) in an attempt to be a more responsible dad. Drinking game suggestion: Take a shot whenever Stevie uses Kenny’s lingo (warning: simultaneous laughter could result in burning liquor in the nostrils).
Life’s Too Short (10:30 p.m., HBO) -– Warwick plans a star-studded housewarming party to show off to his guests but ends up hiring So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deely to appear when no other celebrities will.
New Girl (9 p.m., Fox) – Jess’ date with “Fancy Man” Russell (Dermot Mulroney) doesn’t go quite as planned, but things are looking up for the pair; Cece and Schmidt’s secret relationship is unveiled.
American Weed (10 p.m., Nat Geo) – Prop 300 passes, banning medical marijuana dispensaries in Fort Collins, but the Stanley brothers (seriously, how dreamy are they?) continue to fight for the sick people who rely on them.