Fresh off its third consecutive Emmy win for Best Drama, AMC's "Mad Men" heads toward the remainder of its fourth season with a whirlwind of momentum.
Now in spring 1965 - the show began in 1960 - our characters find themselves shadowed by the looming social and political changes that will define the second half of the decade.
Obviously one of the most influential events of the era was the United States' involvement in Vietnam, a topic that wormed its way into the show's narrative last season when Greg Harris - husband to office manager Joan Holloway - announced his entrance into the service. In this past week's episode, "The Summer Man," Greg leaves for basic training, making Joan - as well as the young men at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency - restless as talk of imminent warfare overwhelms the news.
But along with the prospect of the Vietnam War comes that of the women's rights movement, an idea that has seen a steady build-up throughout the show's previous three seasons. The character of Peggy Olson has been the embodiment of the shift toward acceptance of women in the workplace. Olson started in the pilot as Don Draper's secretary and is now a prized creative force at the newly formed ad agency.
For Draper himself, life has seen a steady downward spiral since the end of last season when then-wife Betty discovered that he was not who he claimed. As any loyal fan of the show will tell you, Draper's real name is Dick Whitman. He abandoned his original identity years ago in an effort to escape the Korean War and a troubled family life.
Meanwhile, Betty Draper - who fans often love to hate - has remarried politician Henry Francis, with whom she began an affair at the end of the third season. Seeing as she continues to pigeon-hole herself in the role of stereotypical housewife, one has to wonder if she will prove to be the feminist heroine so many female fans once depended on her to be.
As the second half of the 1960s catches up with our beloved "Mad Men" (and women) fans are left wondering who and what will change, if anything. Will Betty join the liberation wielding a copy of The Feminine Mystique? Will Joan find herself widowed in a matter of months? Only time will tell - and, given the show's track record, tell it well.