Is Mad Men the New Saved by the Bell?

As we’ve watched the first two episodes of the fourth season of Mad Men, an odd thought struck us. This show bears a remarkable similarity to Saved by the Bell.

Of course, we’ve had this thought before and it hasn’t quite worked out: The Sopranos and Saved by the Bell? No dice. Breaking Bad and Saved by the Bell: The College Years? If only.

But somehow, the more we considered it, the more the Mad Men / Saved by the Bell thing seemed to work. Consider…

Don Draper > A.C. Slater

Dark-horse parvenus with mysterious pasts. Their talents—Slater on the wrestling mat and Draper in a pitch meeting—gain them access to a whole new world—for Don it’s Manhattan’s high society, for Slater, it’s Kelly Kapowski’s pants.

Roger Sterling > Zack Morris

They’re both sons of privilege who possess an ineffable charm. Both of them have a way with the ladies, and though they’re fine in small doses, we suspect that spending much time with either of them would make us want to smash their pretty little faces.

Joan Holloway > Jessie Spano

In possession of both a fierce intelligence and a gobsmackingly hot body, these women don’t take no shit from nobody. Elizabeth Berkley, who played Jessie, went on to take it all off in 1995’s infamous Showgirls. Is it too much to hope that Christina Hendricks does the same?

Peggy Olson > Screech Powers

Strange looking, prone to wacky ideas that often backfire. Unfortunately, Peggy has yet to build a robot to save Don from losing the big Gillette account.

Betty Draper > Lisa Turtle

Both are spoiled vacancies, obsessed with material possessions. Occasionally they hint at an awareness of a deeper, existential meaninglessness, but that doesn’t last long. Both shows would be better off without them.

Lois Sadler > Kelly Kapowski

A little ditzy, a whole lotta fun, and both of them consummate secretarial pool material. (Incidentally, Crista Flanagan, who plays Lois, can be seen on our August cover.)

Bertram Cooper > Mr. Belding

The eccentric disciplinarians of the bunch, their odd sartorial sense and wacky eccentricities often serve to lighten the mood.

Sure, there are gaps in the theory. Saved by the Bell never really had anyone like Pete Campbell, but then Saved by the Bell never really did pathological weirdoes all that well. Still, we’ll never be able to watch Mad Men in quite the same way ever again.