Are We Mad About Mad Men?
It’s more important for Mad Men to get it right on race in those few instances that it does take on racial issues, than it is to have racial tension be a major theme in the show’s overall arc.
She’s right that to the extent that the show is about the social dynamic of the late ‘50s/early ‘60s, there’s been relatively little attention paid to racial issues on the show’s first two seasons—and the black characters have been fairly two-dimensional. She's also right that the show had a more interesting take on the dynamic between Don Draper and his Jewish paramour in season one than any black/white interaction. They definitely could have done more with the interracial dating plotline between Paul and Sheila.
Having said that, I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing. It’s more important that the show get it right on race in those few instances that it does take on racial issues, than it is to have racial tension be a major theme in the show’s overall arc.
For example, in season one, when the younger staff members at Sterling Cooper had late night party at the office and stole Peggy’s emergency cash out of her locker, she reported it and the result was that the black elevator operator—who had nothing to do with the theft—was fired. That outcome seemed pretty plausible for 1959/60 corporate America: Something’s missing? Must have been the black guy. White people don’t steal. Stop asking questions and just get rid of him.