They’re ba-a-a-a-a-a-ck! And I’m glad of it.

mad-men-season-5I see after a hiatus of half-a-decade or so Mad Men is going to be invading our homes and compromising our free time once again.

And I, for one, am glad of that. While I haven’t actually missed it, it falls into the realm of running across an old girlfriend and thinking, “oh yeah, her. That was good.”

I like Mad Men possibly mostly because I was around in that era and remember it possibly only too well. Those glorious days when the Don Drapers of the world could smoke and martini-ize themselves into regular insensibility without tut-tutters or health fascists breathing down their necks and they would continue to misbehave until they died, or ended up sitting in an AA meeting exposing their ‘shame’ to a roomful of virtual strangers most of whom they wouldn’t have visited socially in the glory days of debauchery.

But, on the advent of MM XVIV (or whatever it is) I had a revelation this morning and that is why this morality tale (for that is what it is) continues to draw a rapt audience. I mean, there are virtually no violence, and no zombies whatsoever. Yet, MM has its public. Why?

I mean, aside from the fact it is stylish, nostalgic and invariably well acted and produced, there isn’t a car-chase in the mix and no grisly autopsies a la NCIS.

My conclusion: Mad Men succeeds because the characters are ‘all’ loathsome. The only exception to the loathsomeness would be unspeakably bodacious Joan Harris with a figure that just won’t quit and a charm that could make even the most upright married pastor forget he’d once repeated marriage vows. Yet, even dear even wetdream fodder Joan once whored herself out for the sake of the welfare of the firm. In her case I’ll just call it a lapse, just like the time she got knocked-up by caddish Roger Sterling.

The main character is, of course, dashingly cold and self-seeking Don Draper. Don, with the mysteries of his provenance, once married to ball-breaking ex-sorority-girl Betty, who defined cold snobbishness. Yes, Don screwed around relentlessly on Betty, and nobody could blame him for a second. At the end of it, though, Don is a world-class heel and will (in they eyes of moralists, at least) be deserving of whatever tragedies befall him in the remaining two seasons.

And now the rest:

Megan Draper: Don’s spouse #2 seems to have everything he didn’t have in Betty. She’s smart, attractive, talented, powerfully sexy and sexual. She’s also ambitious, like Don is. Will this link survive now that Don has a woman most men would kill for? I’ll suggest not. Don Draper in panties won’t do for him.

Joan Harris: Already considered, though the unreformed adolescent in me could continue about her interminably.

Pete Campbell: Philandering ambitious Pete is a little turd, pure and simple. He is Don Draper without the charm, looks or presence.

Roger Sterling: Alcoholic womanizing rogue. Roger is charming as the devil and you cannot help but like certain elements of him. But, I suspect lifestyle is soon to kick him to the curb.

Peggy Olson: Bright and ambitious, Peggy fought the glass-ceiling and succeeded in breaking through – to a degree. But in so doing she lost a fair amount of sympathy and whatever little charm she once had in order to embrace a ruthlessness that is probably essential on the Madison Ave. of the day. She is likely a symbol of the new breed and on her way to becoming a pioneering female CEO.

I plan to check in this evening.

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12 responses to “They’re ba-a-a-a-a-a-ck! And I’m glad of it.

  1. I love MM, but I’m still on season 1. Good to know there are lots more seasons to look forward too

  2. Just like you, I can’t wait to get back to Mad Men! It reminds me of the life I left behind when I embraced the “Age of Aquarius”

    • Somehow I think Mad Men has to be more interesting to those of us who lived through that time of no seatbelts and when people smoked and drank like there was no tomorrow.

  3. I’ve been looking SO forward to the return of Mad Men too! I’ve never analyzed exactly why I like it so much, but I think you may be onto something with your analysis. The show is almost entirely character-driven and the acting is so good – and let’s not forget the clever writing! Oooh – I can’t wait till tonight!

    • I’d be interested to know what you thought of episode one. I found it a bit muddy and confused, and slightly disappointing. Oh, and not enough Joan, of course.

  4. Finally! It’s about time they came back, I missed them so much. Though, I will admit I’m also a rabid fan of the Walking Dead (are the walking dead, the zombies or the leftover humans? It’s less and less clear). But yeah, I love me some zombie beheadings.

  5. I was lucky, a friend gave me copies of several seasons, so I had a feast watching it. Like you, I was around during those hedy days when execs drank and smoked themselves to death. I remember thos gawdawful commercials telling women how to ‘be’..
    The writing and acting are excellent.
    You are right, each character is a shit in their own way.

    • Don’t you find it amazing how some of us survived the era and some of those people never actually got cirrhosis or lung cancer? I do. And the role of women at the time — how soon we forget. There may be some awful things in the world today, but in some regards it’s much better.

  6. Aside from the terrific writing & acting, I have to admit MM is, for me, an exercise in unabashed nostalgia . . . . Less ambiguity (in gender roles and responsibilities). Causes worth getting excited about (civil rights), at least in their potential, if not their disappointing eventual outcome (Al Sharpton, O.J. Simpson, rap music). A More Organized Moment (tm; George Trow). The Acme of the American Empire (tm; J. Hoberman).

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