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TODAY contributor

Explainer: 9 shows to watch until 'Mad Men' returns

  • Image: "Mad Men" cast

    If you’re one of the millions of viewers who are eagerly awaiting Don Draper’s triumphant yet tragic return to Sterling Cooper Draper Price on "Mad Men," sorry, you’re going to have to wait until early 2012.

    For those of you who haven’t caught onto the 1960s-themed AMC drama, it’s actually good news. You have plenty of time to catch up so you’ll be able to join in on those Monday morning work chats around the coffee maker regarding who Draper was last seen co-mingling with.

    But, for the rest of you out there, this is probably the worst news you’ve heard since you found out that SCDP lost the Lucky Strike account. Here are suggestions for some television shows that might be able to replace what you love about the "Mad"-ness in your life. It might not be as good as having a new season of "Mad Men" this summer, but at least it will hold you over until Betty Draper’s next neurotic breakdown.

  • 1. If you miss the intro

    Admit it: You’ve caught yourself humming that "Mad Men" theme song, “A Beautiful Mine” by RJD2, more than once. It’s part of the reason that you started watching the show in the first place. Once you saw that artsy black silhouette jumping from the top of a tall building as advertisements flash by, you knew you would be hooked.

    If you’re too depressed to watch the original intro since you know it’s going to lead to an episode you’ve already seen before, check out “The Simpsons’ ” version. Then, go back to sipping your old fashioned and scribbling those brilliant advertising ideas on a dirty cocktail napkin.

  • 2. If you miss nosy wives getting in everyone's business

    Betty Draper, meet your modern day match: Skylar White from AMC's "Breaking Bad."

    Both women are highly suspicious that their spouses are cheating on them — and both of them are right that their husbands are up to no good. Skylar and Betty are in a similar situation in that both have to deal with their reclusive husbands, whose behavior grows more erratic with time.

    Skylar knows that her husband, Walter, is lying to her face, but it takes her a while before she gets enough evidence to prove her theory. Until that time, she keeps him on his toes, creating some of the most tense scenes in the show. In Skylar’s case, however, it’s not another woman she has to worry about.

    Story: 6 'Mad Men' characters who could get fired
  • 3. If you miss Don Draper's way with women

    How does that dreamy Don Draper get all the women, be highly successful at his job and still manage to look that good? "Saturday Night Live" took a crack at the case and came up with, “Don Draper’s Guide to Picking up Women.” From what I gather, it has a lot to do with staying silent, speaking in confusing, non-descript phrases and smelling great.

    In fact, since Jon Hamm hosted the Oct. 30, 2010, episode, "SNL" has included a lot of "Mad Men"-themed skits. That same episode also features severalcameos from other "Mad Men" stars, so check it out to get your fix.

  • 4. If you miss watching a show set in the '60s

    "Mad Men" isn’t the only series that shows what life was like in America in the 1960s.

    "American Dreams" captured growing up in Philadelphia during the era. Though the show is focused more on the teenagers than it is about the adults’ antics, it does touch more on the cultural and important events that occurred during the time period, such as the race riots in 1964 and the Vietnam War protests. We think of it kind of like a "Mad Men" focused on teenage versions of the Draper kids’ lives.

    Although, knowing that little Sally and her siblings are being raised by the neurotic Betty Draper, we’re betting that they would have had more problems than the kids in "American Dreams," as hard as that is to believe. The show ended in 2005, but you can still catch get it on DVD.

  • 5. If you miss an awesome soundtrack

    The music of "Mad Men" shows that no matter what era a song is produced, if it is a good song, it will stand the test of time.

    If you’re all about the tunes on the show, you might just be hunkering for some good television music. "Glee" is all about the show-stopping tunes from Britney Spears to Journey. It might be too much signing and dancing for you, but "Mad Men" fans should feel right at home with the childish antics and overly dramatic situations these kids find themselves in.

  • 6. If you miss the relationship drama

    You can hardly keep straight who’s sipping from the same drink and who shared a cab home last episode — and that’s why you love "Mad Men." If you’re obsessed with relationship drama, "Grey’s Anatomy" might be the cure.

    Did Don shock you with his whirlwind proposal? Bah, Izzie and Denny from "Grey’s Anatomy" did it seasons ago. Are you obsessed with who Pete will finally choose: his wife or Peggy? Meredith wrestled with the same decision when she was dating McDreamy and McVet. Did Peggy’s surprise pregnancy shock you? A new baby also shocked — well, if you haven’t seen “Grey’s Anatomy,” we don’t want to spoil it for you. Just know that it has as many, if not more, relationship twists and turns than Don Draper could ever dream of having.

  • 7. If you miss the fab fashion

    The clothing in the 1960s was just so glamorous with its curve-hugging dresses and smart starched suits. You like, many others, probably like seeing what the characters are wearing and stealing their looks.

    "Project Runway" has all the innovative styles that designers today are coming up with, while being an overall entertaining reality television show. The color palate and style might be different from that of the 1960s, but you can draw inspiration from these much more modern looks and know you don’t look like a fool. Or at least feel like you don’t look like a fool. Check out seasons one through eight on DVD.

  • 8. If you miss Joan

    Bree Van de Kamp from "Desperate Housewives" was breaking hearts on television before "Mad Men" was even on the air. And she'll still be doing her thing on ABC as we await Don Draper's return.

    The redheaded bombshell has a crazy work ethic that rivals Joan’s. Bree’s also got a sharp tongue, quick wit and is always hesitant to admit her mistakes — which are also some of the reasons why Joan is my favorite character. Best of all, Bree’s got plenty of affairs to remember.

  • 9. If you miss the dysfunctional all-American family

    Looking for a show about a married couple and their children living the American Dream? "Married ... With Children" was one of the first to satirize the American family. While "Mad Men" takes a more somber approach, "Married" poked fun at stereotypical conventions. (Available on Netflix and DVD.)

    I’m sure no one will mistake the uncouth Al Bundy for the smooth Don Draper, but we can imagine little Sally Draper growing up to be Kelly Bundy, judging from the psychopathic behavior she’s already displaying.

    Michelle Castillo is raising her mint julep to you from New York City. She's a contributor at TIME.com, where she mainly covers technology and geek culture for Techland.

Discuss: What will you watch as you await the return of "Mad Men"?

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