Just before season 5 began, Josh and I powered through the first four seasons of Mad Men.
At first I couldn’t stomach much of it, then I tolerated it, and eventually I devoured it.
This season has lost me a bit. I just think they’ve lost the plot.
Friends that I know that watch the show watch for one (or a combination) of the following reasons- the 1960′s nostalgia, the ridiculously amazing clothes, the office camaraderie, the fascinating car-accident-like self destruction of Don, the sardonic wit of Sterling, and the empowerment of Peggy.
Lately, it seems as though they’ve lost these core reasons for their viewership and are floundering to make up for it. With boobs.
Sex has always been an integral piece of the show. The only reason I could stomach so much of it in so many forms is that it always seemed to contribute in some way to the character development or plot progression. Lately, sex hasn’t been a building block of who these people are or how their story is being shaped. It’s more of a distraction from the lack of direction. For example, since Megan’s become Don’s love interest, nearly every episode has featured her in her panties. Not with a purpose. Don is helping her zip the back of her dress as they get ready for dinner and chat. Just because she’s thin and hot, I’m assuming. Could we understand that they’re getting ready for a party without seeing her in her panties? Yes. Do they still manage to show her bending over in them? Of course. And Megan is only one character- I’m not even mentioning Jane spilling out of both ends of a bathrobe while holding a serious conversation or the prostitute posing and preening for Pete.
Beyond the bland and pointless sex- a seeming desperate plea for attention- I’ve lost interest in the characters. Each of the core reasons for watching that I mentioned above are waning. The nostalgia is less of a focus (particularly as Betty and the family are less central to the story). We’re inching into the late 60′s and away from all of the flattering fashion in favor of go-go boots and white eyeliner. The guys of the office have sort of disbanded and their interactions serve as less of a focal point. But the real disappointment is the shift in direction for Don.
I hated hated hated the things he did. But I watched with a sort of marvel. I longed for his redemption- one of my main reasons for watching. But now that he’s… come around, I guess? It’s sort of fallen flat. Because there was no real redemption. As far as I can tell, there was no struggle away from the grip of his vices. No epiphany, no turning point, no triumph. There’ve been several points in the series wherein I thought, “Yes! This is it! Don realizes he’s losing Betty, he’s totally gonna right the ship…. Oh. He’s sleeping with a 20 year old in California. Nevermind… WAIT! He doesn’t remember what happened last night! He’s realizing the control alcohol and sex have in his life! Whoops, just kidding, there he goes again…”
More recently, nothing really seems to have happened to flip that switch. He married Megan. That’s about all I can come up with. And, to be honest, that doesn’t sit well with me. Are we to believe that Don’s vices aren’t his personal issues but are wrapped up in the woman to whom he’s married? That’s what it seems when we’ve watched four seasons of blundering through his relationship with Betty but then he’s suddenly not just a great husband, but also a great father (“Take off that make-up, young lady!” Really? Up until this point, he’s never said more to Sally than, “Go watch TV.”) because he’s married to Megan. I don’t buy it. I don’t think that’s realistic. I don’t like the statement that makes about marriage. And I don’t think that does justice to the internal struggle we’ve witnessed in Don for several years.
So! I’m definitely no TV critic. What are your thoughts? Am I totally reading this wrong?