I once heard someone describe Mad Men as the television equivalent of the “Great American Novel.” The “Great American Novel,” as a descriptor, carries with it sense of formality and scope. By definition, it is… well, defining.
What does it mean, then, when something like Mad Men has a far more expansive impact on the cultural landscape than your average contemporary novel? Are we really in, as some critics might claim, a golden age of television? Or does television just reach a broader audience than literature?