Sunday, May 20, 2012

What Do I Think About Mad Men?

Just a note: I wrote this piece before the dark side of things was emerging with the episodes beginning on the evening of May 20...and since!

This season's been an interesting turn for Mad Men fans — though it was a tortuous wait.  It’s such a tremendously good show.  But it’s going in so many directions I haven’t been able to figure out how I feel about it because I'm still getting used to where the characters are going or that we don’t see all the characters all the time.

There are lots of disconcerting things going on.

Surprisingly, Betty is battling with her weight.  She (and we) have been introduced to Weight Watchers and the leader has put the concept of emotional eating on the table.  Today — with Weight Watchers now a national institution — weight loss is a flat-out societal issue but the difference is that in the 60s the solution was to tell women to focus on their family as a way of fulfilling one’s needs. We now know that doesn't quite work.

Michael Ginsberg, a talented copywriter, has been brought on board bringing into their WASP-ish world a Jewish presence that also brings to the fore unspoken prejudices and spoken ones — voiced by Roger in a comic and cutting in-house diatribe when plotting to entice Manischewitz to come on over to Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce.

Megan has decided to leave Don’s world — not because she can’t cut it (again, surprisingly, she’s actually good at what he does) but because she decides to follow her passion.  But unlike her fellow actors, Megan's in a position of privilege which is NOT the norm for all those struggling in the profession.  While her situation is far from normal, it is plausible as there are always those very few who either come from families in the business (Drew Barrymore) and/or families of wealth (Sigourney Weaver).  These individuals work hard at honing their craft but unlike most, Megan has Don's resources behind her and that uncomfortably sets her apart.

And there are things going on that show our cast of characters growing up in many ways...

Like an animal marking its territory, Roger taints ex-wife Jane’s new apartment with a sexual reminder of him, but afterwards when he sees her pain, he seems to recognize his hurtfulness.

When Henry admits that perhaps he's misjudged his professional possibilities, Betty tells him that whatever he's worried about, they'll face it and figure it out together.  Telling him she'll be his partner, is showing him (and us) that she's being real in this relationship.

And when Megan and Don have a fight, they both end up saying they’re sorry.

Still it's not all grown-up.  

Betty tells Sally a piece of Don’s secret past hoping it will shock Megan and disrupt the marriage; Don purposely leaves Ginsberg’s idea for a pitch in the cab because he doesn't want his own idea trumped by this young upstart or judged by the client as less creative. Both Betty and Don are insecure about their younger rivals and are striking out in devious ways attempting to hurt their competition. 

Pretty childish to me.  

Who knows what's next?

I think I'll keep watching.

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