I have not bothered recapping the last few episodes of Mad Men because (a) I’m lazy, and (b) the story arcs have been sub-standard.
As such, (a) + (b) = (c) I am lazy to recap sub-standard crap.
I understand that Mad Men holds itself to a different standard of story-telling. Matthew Weiner doesn’t do the cliff-hangers, the bottle episodes, the melodrama etc etc – all hallmarks of typical television dramas. However, it has to be said that skewering all the characters of your TV show can’t be considered good television either.
In seasons past, no matter what the crazy shit it was that they pulled, you always felt an illogical loyalty to whomever your favourite characters were. Whether it was Pete cheating on his wife, Don cheating on his wife, or Peggy cheating her way to the top, there was always a little voice in the back of my head going, “aww, but its not all his / her fault – they just have a shit deal.” Mad Men has achieved the impossible by rendering every character, no matter how minor, as an actual human being. And that, my fellow TV nerds, is what makes compelling television.
Now obviously, I’m not the type of viewer that watches Mad Men to analyze the significance of Megan Draper’s t-shirt (can we all just admit that the whole Sharon Tate murder thing was a complete red herring?) or the importance of Bob Benson’s coffee-drinking habits. I know that a bunch of viewers enjoy the intellectual workout that Mad Men offers – that’s where they get their kicks, and thats fine by me.
However, I’ve taken enough film and television studies courses at university to vow never to over-analyze, and thus ruin, my TV shows. Mad Men is genius – its smart, well-written, highly cerebral, but more than that, it was engaging as all hell. For those who thought Mad Men was just a bunch of pretentious tosh, I would always shoot back, “YOU ARE DAMNED FOOLS!”
The reason for that has always been because of one reason: YOU CARED FOR THE CHARACTERS. You cared about their lives, their journeys – it was like watching your best friends screw up week after week, and you sat there in blind support because you gave a damn about their futures.
That’s why it pained me this season to watch all the main characters slowly screw themselves over and over. The glittering glamour of the 60s is over, folks. Welcome to the muddy mess that is the 70s.
Nevertheless, I have decided to break my silence because this episode gave me a glimmering flicker of hope that its all going to be okay.
Douchebag Draper – As much as I harp on about how I hate Don Draper, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want him to find redemption. I’ve hated on him pretty hard this season, but I see why now. He’s like that childhood friend that I can’t quit – no matter how much he fucks up, no matter how much I rage about his bullshit, I still want him to dig himself out of that alcoholic, philandering hole and get his shit together. Matthew Weiner tore him down, and this episode was Don’s rock-bottom. Sally won’t speak to him, his partners as SC&P have ousted him, and Megan has seemingly left him. He is finally getting everything he deserves and it was all of his own making. Strangely enough, I felt no joy at his ruin. Instead, I felt an immense tug of hope well up inside me when he took Sally and his boys to see his childhood home. This was Don trying to face his past, and rebuild his present. Kudos, Jon Hamm – I can’t ever quit you.
20 pts (for recognising the vast failures of your life and trying to get your shit together)
Miss Peggy – Hey girl, you finally got it on with Teddy Chaough. I hope it was hot, because we can’t be having that infidelity crap hampering your meteoric rise in the advertising world.
What up, Don? Peggy is in the house. As much as I liked Ted, her whole arc with him has been a distraction from where she needs to go. Where I need her to go. And that is, the top of the heap. God love her for not being a coldly ambitious ice queen – Peggy is still a girl who wants to love and be loved, as much as she wants to be the ultimate advertising dragon-lady. But hon, like Ted says, him leaving for LA is going to be the best thing that’s happened to you.
10 pts (for her ridiculous get up to make Ted jealous, proving that she’s just like the rest of us silly girls) + 20 pts (for telling Ted to get the hell out) = 30 pts
Ted Chaough – Oh honey, NO. It’s not okay to cheat on your family. You’re better than Don. It’s also not okay to seem so overwhelmingly decent and earnest in your love confessions, and then change your mind on a girl.
– 30 pts (for cheating on the familia) – 20 pts (for “if I can’t have you, no one can”) + 5 pts (for going to LA after realising that YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT) = -45 pts
Sideburns Campbell – Oh dear, his receding hairline is receding even faster. That dastardly Manolo! Pete’s family life is becoming a bit too soap-operatic for my taste – Oh no! He cheats on his wife! Oh no! She kicks him out! Oh no! His mom has dementia! Oh no! His mom’s gay caretaker marries her on a cruise-liner, throws her overboard, and tries to steal her money! OH NOOOES! (Seriously, read that last line again to yourself and tell me that doesn’t sound like a plot line from The Bold and The Beautiful.) (No disrespect to B&B – the women of my family have been enjoying the crazy adventures of Brooke Logan-Chambers-Jones-Marone-Forrester for over two delightful decades now.) But like Don, Pete has very much hit bottom (maybe not rock-bottom, but bottom enough to realise his life sucks) and there is a glimmering hope at the end of the tunnel. Bonus – we got to see Trudy! I’ve missed you, Miss Alison Brie. Like she says, Pete is finally free of everything. May he make the best of it.
10 pts (for his hilarious freakouts over the phone) + 5 pts (for his poignant moment with Tammy) = 15 pts
Silver Fox – Roger is the great love of my Mad Men life. You can’t ever hate him. And more than that, you genuinely feel sorry for him despite his shenanigans. He is that perpetual lost boy who doesn’t know what happened to his life.
20 pts (for calling out his brat of a daughter, because she’s a BRAT) + 10 pts (for his effortless charm with little Kevin) = 30 pts
Bob Benson – LOL Bob wins at everything.
50 pts (for being in everyone’s face all the time)
WINNER: Bob Benson – for being completely, and utterly unflappable. He is Don of the 70s, but better.
See that rosy sepia tint? That’s me missing the 60s: