Here they are:
5. The pace
It’s no secret that TV shows and movies have been filled with fast-paced, action-ridden, and generally high-powered storylines for quite some time. I get it: shit happens, there are bad people in the world, there’s violence everywhere. But would it really kill us (haha) to just lay off of it a bit? Plus it’s not hard to figure out that when viewers at large get desensitized to such content, producers have to subsequently resort to more intense plots to get a reaction out of their audience. Too bad that it seems some of them have forgotten that stepping down a notch—or a few—could be one way to do it.
Enter Mad Men, which thankfully delivers a welcomed contrast from said frenzied chaos. Don’t get me wrong: that’s not to say the show isn’t drama-filled because, as any viewer would promptly discover, it most definitely is. It’s just so happens that this drama is delivered in a different way.
It’s slow-paced, which not only invites the viewer to vicariously slow down but also serves to underline that very era’s own mood. In some ways, it reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock movies where characters often seem a lot more relaxed in situations which would likely trigger instant flare-ups in many of today’s short-tempered societies. Similarly, it brings to mind Hitchcockian characters who commit crimes and yet maintain a kind of alarmingly remarkable sangfroid.
In any case, one of the upsides to a slow pace is that it inevitably makes any unexpected, scandalous scene stand out even more, especially if occurring amidst an unhealthy dose of nonchalance and possible approval of shocking behavior. The idea of the unacceptable having been ‘normalized’ is, in my book, just as attention-grabbing and scary as any explosion or violent shoot-out could be.
And while I realize that the pace may not be everyone’s cup of tea, in this case I’ll surprisingly have to agree with the—shall I say rare?—wise words of housewife Betty Francis:
4. The booze
Perhaps this one could be a kind of ‘cure’ for viewers averse to #5, because it only takes a few minutes into the show for a character to appear with either drink in hand or about to pour himself one. Many times I’ve watched the show with other people who’d almost instantly utter: “Do you see how much they’re drinking?!”— their faces wearing a shocked look of disapproval mixed with fascination. Ah, the days when one could have alcohol in their office… and likely have it be a faithful sidekick to the day’s workload.
And while I might feel semi-envious of the ‘good ol’ days’—just kidding; I am a woman after all!—I can deal. I’ll take it because as I sit there, I literally get my virtual buzz off of watching these slick-haired, entitled, yet hard-working—or is it hardly working?—Ad Execs. With said psychologically-induced ‘buzz’ going, what room is there left for anyone to care about the pace of things? Exactly.
3. The Women
I won’t lie: there aren’t very many women I particularly like in the show. But if I had to cast a vote, it would likely go to Joan Harris. For all her toughness and success, I somehow feel she’s taken some of the most undeserved beatings. Her jerky husband cared more about Vietnam than being with his family, leaving her to be a single working mother. What’s more, she sacrificed her morals to secure her future through a partnership. This is even sadder if you think about the fact that she might’ve earned her rightful place at SCDP without going through with asshole Pete’s trashy suggestion to ‘meet’ with gnarly-ass Herb. Plus, you gotta give the woman kudos for always: a) looking fabulous, and b) somehow maintaining her composure and being the voice of reason in tense situations.
Speaking of Pete Campbell. His way-too-good-for-him, beautiful and friendly wife Trudy would be a close second favorite; in fact I may even like her more than Joan. But that’s hard to confirm just yet, seeing as her character development has been limited thus far. With that said, the sixth season’s third episode revealed what’s arguably one of the show’s most memorable scenes, with Trudy finally putting philandering Pete in his place. If it’s any indication of things to come, she may well become the female character viewers love to, well, love.
2. Roger Sterling
If I thought there weren’t many female characters that I really like in the show, there are even less men who earn my vote. But white-haired, WWII veteran, acid-tripping Roger Sterling is one damn handsome and witty character! He always has a way of making light of a bleak situation by making funny remarks. Yet for all his general cheerfulness, we also got to see his deeper side in season 6’s debut, where his mother’s passing triggered a kind of existential, even tearful, crisis.
And while I’ll confess that I’d absolutely like for him and Joan to get back together, I’m also still confused as to why he didn’t exactly put his foot down during the whole Jaguar-Herb situation at the end of Season 5.
Decidedly, if there’s one thing that Mad Men consists of, it’s complex and flawed characters to say the least.
1. Don Draper
So, I might be in the minority here, but I’ve never been a Don Draper ‘fan.’ Granted the man is obviously easy on the eyes, he’s also a major liar and consistently unfaithful. I think the profession on his business card should read “cheater”. I haven’t kept track of the women he’s been with, but I recently stumbled on a number claiming it to be 16, and I’m thinking it’s correct. Now if you include Season 6, that would make the number 17/18 depending on how you look at it.
While it’s true that Don’s become successful despite his less-than-ideal past, he obviously did it at someone else’s expense. And I can’t help but wonder if part of said success is because he’s so damn good at lying. Even his self-created identity as an Ad man largely consists of twisting consumers’ perceptions. It’s like this guy can’t get away from deceiving others; either literally OR figuratively!
He’s also a hypocrite, since he can pretty much dish it out but refuses to take it. It’s ironic how the jerk always wants to do whatever he wants, yet can’t tolerate the idea of his wife (or wives) doing the same thing. So while he may have fooled viewers temporarily, it’s now on the table what’ll happen when Megan finds out that her ‘perfect’ Don has been cheating on her as well. (Because I damn well hope she will find out!)
So why is he my #1 reason? It’s simple really. From the very beginning, I’ve had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that he will—or rather, must—go down. There just isn’t any other way. (And I’m pretty sure it’s a law somewhere?!)
And I most definitely want to be there to watch it all unfold. Bonus points for Pete going down the crapper too. =)
^Said like a perpetually unsatisfied man!!