‘Mad Men’ Uses the MLK Assassination to Look at How Its Characters React in the Face of a National Tragedy

The article below contains spoilers for “The Flood,” the April 28th, 2013 episode of “Mad Men.”
“Mad Men” chooses its intersections with history carefully. It’s a show that is set in the 1960s without aims to be explicitly about them, and so major events and cultural shifts tend to occur for the characters as they do for most people, on the periphery, noticed and talked about but not the central focus of lives more concerned with closer dramas. When a real incident does influence the series, it’s just as often not one of the era’s landmarks but a less familiar occurrence — the American Airlines Flight 1 crash, the Richard Speck murders, a solar eclipse. “The Flood,” directed by the show’s cinematographer Christopher Manley and written by Tom Smuts and Matthew Weiner, is an anomaly in that it was an episode not only centered around a defining historical moment — the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. — but was one primarily concerned with…

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