AMC’s Mad Men is a great show. As it winds down it’s final season, one thing strikes me: it can be an exhausting watch at times.

I think this is because every conversation between two characters on the show is so frought with ulterior motive and unspoken information. Characters never speak to each other, they talk past each other. If one character asks another a question, they don’t answer that question, they make an accusation or answer some other question from their own head that they’ve projected on the original. Everyone speaks exclusively in writerly half-thoughts that perfectly encapsulate their true feelings while saying the opposite.

Maybe that’s the point. Maybe Matt Weiner is showing that these characters (and therefore we in the audience as well) are narcissists. They all seem to project their own problems onto whoever they’re speaking with at a given moment, getting angry with everyone who doesn’t implicitly understand their own situation despite not having any way of knowing about it. They project. They accuse. They all seem to have a persecution complex. Maybe we all do, the show seems to be saying.

I’m interested to go back once the series is complete and re-watch the first few seasons to see if this was always the case, or if it has ramped up significantly in this final season since the stakes for the characters are (understandably) higher now.