Mad Men Thus Far


Mad Men continues to be one of the best shows on TV. I felt the latest season has been off to a pretty interesting start, with Matthew Weiner setting up characters and plotlines like dominoes.

The tension between Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell is especially interesting to see, with Roger seeming desperate to prove to everyone that he still matters, and Pete trying to one-up Roger and do the same. Roger has to be one of the show’s most likable characters — the consummate happy drunk — but there is a certain degree of patheticness to his character. Being drunk and sleeping around hardly leads to a fulfilling life and is probably something we shouldn’t admire unless we’re 16-years old either literally or at heart. At the same time though, it’s hard to not feel sorry for him as the old guy who was once on the top of the world now having to prove himself to kids. He’s a parable of sorts and a warning for Don Draper (which Don doesn’t seem to realise), and this is made all the more obvious when he points out that he hired and helped Pete out in the same way that Don hired and helped Peggy. Pete’s current attitude came as a shock to Roger, and there’s no reason to expect that Pete wasn’t as earnest as Peggy when he first started out and slowly but surely became more like Don and Roger. On the one hand, we’re meant to feel sorry for Roger (or at least realise that we do feel sorry for Roger) if only because of how much of a dirtbag Pete comes off as. On the other, we need to realise that Roger was handed the ad agency by his dad and, at least for the last couple of years, the only thing he has contributed to the team is how likable he is and how much he drinks and that Pete is perfectly justified in hating him.

When I heard that there would be fewer scenes with Betty (Draper) Francis due to January Jones’s pregnancy, I just about rejoiced because, especially recently, her scenes are just about unbearable. I mean, until she started doing things other than Mad Men, I think we all assumed that the reason why she could only portray a cold hard bitch was because that was all Matthew Weiner gave her. Other acting gigs proved that while she was good at that, it’s not particularly difficult and she really isn’t good at anything else. Betty’s fatsuit looks ridiculous and she is pretty much unlikable in just about every way.

Megan and Don Draper’s relationship is interesting, and not just for sexy French-Canadian singing and dancing. Episode 4 seemed to suggest that maybe Don is starting to realise he’s a little too old for Megan (who is 16 or so years his junior), while Megan is stuck — like Peggy was — trying to prove that she got her job and deserves it because of her own ability and not because she’s boning Don.

Most of the other side-characters are interesting and/or funny and, while not much has happened for them, you can definitely tell something is in the works. Harry Crane ditched his old office to placate Pete, and it seems that Peggy is starting to realise she’s becoming Mini-Don in the same way that Don is becoming Mini-Roger (and in the same way Pete is becoming Mini-DonRoger). With any luck, we’ll get much more of Christina Hendricks than we’ve had already. Lane Price’s recent and bizarre interaction has me a little stumped, so hopefully we’ll get some development on that front.

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