The first charm of this show is that it does not indulge in caricature. The last time TV presumed to offer us a glimpse of the world of advertising, it lead us straight into the delirious world of Newton Minow and Sam Mendes
Mad Men gives as advertising as the dystopic industry that produces the "waste land" of American culture. Both the culture causing and the culture caused are supposed to be shallow, manipulative and craven. This is the US as given us by Mendes in American Beauty and more recently in Revolutionary Road. This is Pete Seegar's Little Boxes. This is brahmin scorn affected by John Kenneth Galbraith.
But Trust Me offers another view of advertising. Yes, it is "rounding" to suit the genre. These characters are not fully developed. Their emotions are a little bit predictable. Their flaws a little too much paint-by-number. But this is the way cable worked its revolution. It's does not do nuance in the round-about but in the straight away. It builds characters over several weeks and seasons.
And that's the thing. TV got better. Thanks to HBO, the cable revolt and the network response there are now several shows that raise the standard, including a diverse set of offerings: The Closer, Fringe, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Life on Mars, The Wire, Ugly Betty. Indeed, TV is getting good enough that it might triumph over the movies and if I were NetFlix I'd be nervous about the prevailing trend.
My point and I do have one: the "waste land" view of America is wrong. To support this argument, we may read into evidence the current TV Guide. It's can't have been a wasteland. Something grew. Out of commerce culture came.
Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1958. The Affluent Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Johnson, Steven. 2005. Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter. New York. Riverhead.
Minow, Newton. 1961. Television and the Public Interest. An address delivered 9 May 1961, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.
Thompson, Robert J. 1996. Television's Second Golden Age. New York: Continuum.