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Vanessa Becknell

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My Harrowing Descent Into Mad Men-ness

Posted: 04/ 4/2012 10:19 am

This is the story of how I dared to spend an entire week in bed with Don Draper. Okay, maybe that's misleading. But whatever. I think I was probably the one person in America that had never seen Mad Men. Don't hate me! I'm but an innocent babe in the woods -- and my woods are full of zombies, dumb girls in black-face, and the occasional cooking competition show. Suffice to say, I need to branch out more.

Once I started, I have to admit there was a D'oh! moment where I wondered why I hadn't been watching this before -- especially given my love for all things classic Hollywood. It has done so well in capturing the tone, dialogue and pacing of films that came out in that era. To be totally honest, as I was watching it I was kind of surprised that it has reached the level of popularity it has. It's a smart, slowly-paced show that lets its characters build and grow in front of you -- I guess I figured most Americans weren't into that. We want sex, violence, blood and guts -- and other than the sex, Mad Men's kind of lacking in the rest. Knowing that such a smart show is so popular, restores a little faith in me for TV-viewing-humanity. Just a little. Toddlers and Tiaras is still on the air, so I can't give the viewing public all that much credit.

Can its hotness all be attributed to the pull of Don Draper? I'm not sure. He's a flawed protagonist, which isn't new, but I was surprised to see just how sexist and racist he was, given that many of my friends call him their hero. Doesn't mean I don't think he's an incredible character, and doesn't mean that Jon Hamm isn't one of the coolest, sexiest men on earth. I'm just saying Don Draper's kind of a dick. I guess we love him anyway.

Maybe it's the girl in me, but I find myself more drawn to Joan and Peggy as people I want to follow and tune-in for. Yeah, that probably is the girl in me. It's just really cool to see women in the '60s go through the difficulties of being in a man's world; I think they're awesome. But that's what makes this show so great: the writers love their characters here's a show where you know that the people behind it are interested in engaging us with development (Walking Dead writers could take a few notes here, just saying). There's no need to beat people over the head with their stars or with sensational plots -- the show just is. If that makes any sense at all. It might not. I seldom do. It's okay. I've made peace with it.

Since recaps and reviews of the premiere have already been done to death -- sorry for taking so long, I had four seasons to get through, jeez! -- let's just have some fun with this and shoot off some observations:

It seems that at the end of every season, the agency's in crisis, so Season 5 was no different. Nice to see that Lane Pryce is still in the picture -- I'm a big fan of Jared Harris, and he was pulling double duty by simultaneously reprising his role as David Robert Jones on Fringe (not sure how long that show's going to be around. So nice of Harris to throw them a bone and come back for a few episodes). I was a little scared I wouldn't see Pryce in the premiere -- totally want to know what he's going to do with the photo he stole from the wallet he found. What a Mr. Creepy Pants!

Seriously, what was Megan thinking with that sexy b-day party song? In front of your husband's employees? It was a cute dance; she's adorable (minus the teeth -- sorry, I can't help myself, every time she talks I think of Chiclets, and every time she kisses Don I mutter under my breath in my best Draper impersonation, "Where did this gum in my mouth come from?" I'm a mean person, I know), but the dance wasn't cool -- cute, but not cool.

And we're on to our what, third Bobby Draper? How many Bobbys are we going to get here? The new one's okay: cute kid, I guess. Maybe since it's not that big of a part, like Sally, it's not as important. But it's just a little odd to me that Kiernan Shipka's played Sally this whole time so she's aging like normal but Bobby seems to jump all over the place. Although I can't blame Jared Gilmore -- he's moved on to much greener pastures as one of the lead characters in Once Upon a Time. (It's fantastic and he's amazing on it.) His role on that show just shows me how wasted he was on Mad Men.

Okay just one more: I miss Salvatore! What's Bryan Batt been up to since then? He was such a great character and would have given the show more of an opportunity to address what it was like to be in the closet in the 60's -- totally wasted. Much like everyone at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (and Campbell... oh that Campbell!) I'm just glad that Vincent Kartheiser's acting abilities have grown from overblown, summer-stock-replacement to actually portraying someone possessing real emotions and thoughts. Sorry, he bugs me. But after this past week, a new TV obsession has been born!

 

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