It is only when I read a comprehensive analysis such as this one (recommended by Wallace Stroby on his blog today) that I realize just how many subtle references in Mad Men slip by me. Some of them are offered at the speed of light, like Betty Draper's choice of reading matter as she falls entirely apart (Ship of Fools by Katherine Porter).
What makes Mad Men great is the need for the viewer to intuit or decipher what Betty's up to. What any of them are up to. It's rarely spelled out because the characters all seem to act without discussion and in isolation. Such confiding is actually scorned, especially with men. Being a "real" man then was especially difficult.
I think people of my generation (baby boomers) are not used to watching television carefully enough to pick up rapid-fire allusions such as those tossed out of Mad Men, The Shield, The Wire. It requires a deep focus that we never had to extend to television. I used to read a book while watching TV, for Pete's sake. It was the book that required the attention.
Similarly I remember the struggle my parents' generation had with watching movies that were not chronological in their story-telling. They needed to learn a new language as I do now.
I need to learn how to watch TV again. I may pick up overt visual hints (product placement and that sort of referencing), but the more subtle visual and audio allusions are getting away from me. Do you notice this, baby boomers?