My thoughts on MAD MEN so far this season… not that anyone asked.
I guess I should say SPOILER ALERT although for Godsakes it’s Thursday. Watch it already.
First off, this is one of the best seasons so far. Usually they take three or four weeks to leisurely just set things up. This year they were off like a shot and every episode is packed with surprising events, wonderful moments, and this week they added nudes.
Don Draper under pressure is compelling to watch. And thankfully we’re seeing him deal with new pressures. The “will I be discovered for who I really am?” stuff was great season one, and “do I want to go through life living a lie?” was fascinating seasons two and three, but “will I get so shitfaced I take off all my clothes, put a rubber glove on my head, and parade around Sterling-Cooper yelling ‘Hey I’m a squid!”? is much more fun.
They’re systematically taking away all of his support systems and isn’t it interesting to watch a golden boy go bad? It’s like the realization of all our high school fantasies! Usually Don is so savvy in handling people but now the old tricks aren’t working. It’s a new world now that Bobby Dylan has replaced Bobby Darin.
And I don’t know if it’s all the drinking, or just shifting attitudes but Don Draper, who used to be Fonzie in a suit, has suddenly become clueless when it comes to dealing with women. Giving his secretary her bonus in cash after sleeping with her and asking her to write her own recommendation when she quit – Jesus, those are Pottsy moves, not the Fonz.
On the other hand, it’s such a delight to think that in some cases even I know more about women than Don Draper!
The brilliance of the show is that you are enthralled with this character, damaged and at times even hateful, and you can’t wait to see what he does next.
If there’s a unified theme for the rest of the work gang its’ “Be careful what you wish for”. Peggy has her independence but is being pulled to settle down with Ralph Bellamy. Joan is unhappily married to a young mediocre doctor who enlisted in the army and is destined to become Viet Nam’s Frank Burns. He's pressuring her to start a family but here's how bad a doctor he is -- he still thinks a stork brings the babies. Meanwhile, she’s the Wendy to Don & Roger & Pete and all the other Lost Boys of the agency (or, considering how much they all hit the booze -- the Lost Weekend Boys).
Roger has his young trophy trollop but still lusts after Joan. I’d always like to see more of Roger but I assume his episodes are coming. He’s the most charming lush since Arthur.
Yes, Pete is a weasel but a first-class one. When he used his father’s death to help get him the American Airlines account you knew you were in the presence of smarmy greatness. He’s going to be father although something might still happen (depending on whether he ultimately wants a kid -- why do bad things or good things happen to bad people?). And I love his wife Trudy. Wouldn’t it be great though if it turns out the father is really Jeff from COMMUNITY?
I’m hoping we’ll see Sal return at some point. Maybe he can introduce Don to his new “friend” Truman Capote.
I’ve discussed my dislike for Betty. I don’t know what creepy Glenn saw in her. I see from the previews that she’s back next week. My fingers are crossed that poor little Sally didn’t use any wire hangers.
As always there is symbolism aplenty and subtext by the bushel, and of course I pick up on every little subtlety as I'm sure you do too, I mean, that goes without saying, right? But aside from that, MAD MEN continues to be the best drama on television. I'm most happy for series creator Matthew Weiner. All these stories for MAD MEN he wanted to do while on staff of THE NAKED TRUTH. Glad he finally got to do them.