On a gut level, as a fan of the show, my enjoyment of Mad Men is determined by how the story treats its two protagonists: Don and Peggy. Do I care about Betty, Pete, Harry, Joan, and the rest of SC&P? Of course I do, but these characters are cyphers. They are made to represent characteristics of 1960s society, serving doubly as a representation of a certain personality type and a certain factor of corporate society. Continue reading
Mad Men’s sixth season was full of institutional shake-ups for SC&P. While this kept the series from getting too comfortable or stale, it also made the season feel unbalanced and plot heavy, trading the show’s trademark purposeful pacing and philosophical leanings for multiple character introductions and messy office politics. Season 7 seems to be following a similar pattern in terms of its mid-season office shake-up narrative, but this time it is more intensely grounded by its characters, namely Don’s, so that all the office swapping and building renovations seem to exist to inform the character’s mindset, provide obstacles and reflect the character’s situation within the narrative.
Yes! This is what I love about Mad Men. The show where the best scenes are almost always simply 2 people having a conversation. The show where a secretary changing offices can be a moment of genuine excitement and a radical narrative leap. The show where one of our favourite characters can act like a cruel and selfish person and still be recognisably herself.
The world has gone and changed on Mad Men. I’m just not referring to the 60s of the show which is creeping towards its end as Tricky Dick is inaugurated midway through the premiere; I’m referring to the television landscape that Mad Men inhabits.
I was a little late to this episode, due to an avalanche of uni assessments that I left as late as possible to start tackling. A few day after it aired (in the US), I saw on my Facebook newsfeed (not naming anyone……SUE!) ‘Ugh.. Don and Betty. Yuck. And why!?’. My first thought was, ‘cool, someone who watches Mad Men’. My second thought was ‘Wait…..What????!!!!!’. So my whole viewing experience came down to waiting for that moment. It was to the show’s credit that it didn’t really feel like a big deal, or even a major faux pas for Don, who I think we all gave up on seasons ago, in the fidelity department. And for whatever their relationship lacked, Don and Betty always valued their sex life.