I had a good chat with one of my good friends today. We were talking business and once finished with that she said, “Mad Men. I’m not feeling wowed.”
Honestly, I will admit that Season IV of Mad Men hasn’t been like any of the other seasons. Don has lost his charm for seduction. He’s, as Alison put it last night, “a drunk.” He has no stability in his life, and when he turns to women who are able to help him, e.g. Pheobe, his nurse neighbor, and Alison, his now ex-secretary, he can’t close the deal, or he does and then it gets all awkward and blows up in his face.
Henry and Betty obviously are on the rocks. The dog sounds like it’s on the way to the pound or about to be given away to a nice home out in the country where he can run and play. (There’s a step-family issue and a half there. Pets come with step-families and that’s just how it is. Deal with it.)
Henry’s mom thinks Betty is what she is, “a silly woman.” I think in the previews for next week she’s even now wanting Don dead.
Sally Draper, she probably will be burning her bra somewhere, is not bothered by weird Glenn and his vandalism of their house. And she’s still innocent enough to not know what it meant when Glen says Betty and Henry are “doing it.”
Peggy growing outward, Pete growing up
We see Peggy Olson coming out of a shell and trying risks; well, she’s always been a risk taker, but now it’s a little freer. Are we going to see her at some point hurling a bra somewhere in a ’60s protest? I doubt it, but it seems to me like she’d at least think about it. She knows now that at least Alison thought she’d done it with Don, and probably everyone else assumed that, too. And yet in light of her adventure, and daring will to stand on her desk and peer into Don’s office, she still had the dignity to go up to Pete and offer congratulations about the new Campbell baby.
Pete, the guy who once visibly detested the thought of having a little kid around, now is enthusiastic at the idea that it’s finally happened. (I remember Gov. Fob James getting up to congratulate me in 1996 when we found out DD Chandler was coming. It’s one of those great, great moments.)
Roger seems happy with Jane. Bert Cooper seems to be biding his time sitting on a couch in the reception area.
Joan is desperately trying to make something of her marriage to her doctor husband. Last week’s message with him sewing up her hand and him saying, “I may not be able to fix everything else, but I can fix this,” really spelled out the whole meaning of at least that episode: There are just a lot of things in life we cannot control. Take joy in what you can fix and quit sweating the rest.\
No, the only episode to me in Season IV that’s ended like any of the others was the first one, when Don had had enough of being beaten down by the first advertising magazine that he went and sat down with the Wall Street Journal. Last night’s ending of the old man asking about pears and his wife ignoring his questioning with a final, “we’ll discuss it inside,” still has me shaking my head a little. Was that to help remind him of what he’s not missing being back at the red-doored home with Betty?
In the Same Boat
But aside from having become an alcoholic or chasing women like Don, I can relate to how he is feeling. Apartment life isn’t life in your own home. Changes in work and cutting your teeth on new projects to get money coming in and the lights on is daunting. There’s no other way to say it. It can really drag you down. Not being around your kids, having your ex keep you from seeing a kid, them being taken far away so you’re not with them on a regular basis, that’s all real shit that happens, and it is painful.
Yes, many of you can say Don deserves it. And you’d be right, many of us wished Alison’s aim had been a little better with that paper weight last night.
But life without the things you have grown accustomed to is miserable. Don drinks. I eat too much. Don feels like he’s falling off that building and in many ways, there have been times when I wished that with all that’s been thrown at me, I’d just hit the ground and it’d be over with.
But you have to remember, Don Draper is a survivor. He’s overcome hard situations all his life and my guess is he’ll get back some of who he wants to be in the end, whether we have a season V or VI or beyond. Yes, this show is cast in the 60s, but the real, raw emotions and situations that happen are just as real today. And if you can’t relate to them, bless you. Because being able to relate to them just really, really sucks.