Men in “Mad”: a look into the television series for viewers and nonviewers
By Morgan Lewis
Disclaimer: The following review contains spoilers.
Prior to Sunday April 7th, “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner’s description of the Season 6 premier was as lacking as Don Draper’s dialogue in “Doorway,” but the two hour, multi-dimensional episode makes your average “Mad Men” fanatic run around in excitement – just don’t slip on Don’s old-fashioned induced vomit while you’re at it.
Although Weiner couldn’t squeeze in some more Joan Holloway in the two hours he was given, the whole gang is back for this new season, along with a few notable additions. Among those is a surgeon, Dr. Arnold Rosen, who is a neighbor of the Drapers. Another new addition is Wharton graduate in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (advertising agency) accounts department named Bob Benson who cannot stop spewing out his resume in what seems to be a quite impressive elevator interview. And the last of Weiner’s key additions is a Juilliard reject, violin playing, cigarette smoking adolescent named Sandy whom the former Betty Draper–now Betty Francis–seems to care more for than anyone else in her life, including herself.
Nonetheless, Weiner picked up right where he left off. The premier is both comical and unexpected, which is as unsurprising as Roger Sterling’s visits to the therapist. Crying over the death of his shoe shiner, Giorgio, but not weeping over the passing of his mother? Roger clearly had problems, and LSD is not the solution. But hey, Mrs. Sterling was 91 years old. To make matters worse, Don’s competence in his advertising profession seems to continue to spiral downward as he pitched a ‘suicidal’ campaign to his Hawaiian resort-owning clients. The clients’ reactions are what one would have expected, as they were as shocked as the 10,000 volts that makes the difference between a sailor getting off the ship and a husband knocking on the door. And as Don is slowly declining, Peggy Olson is transforming into a Don Draper in his prime. She is becoming a spitting image of her former boss.
Don’t assume that Don’s losing of his mojo at work relates to what he does outside of it. The end of the two hour premier shows him sneaking into bed with Dr. Rosen’s wife, and he did so for the price of a camera hidden away in the booze closet at SCDP. All the while being married to his attractive TV star Megan Draper.
You may think that Don Draper is back; as a matter of fact, he never left.
Though everything mentioned above are all obvious observations for a regular viewer of “Mad Men,” what most stood out was the show’s nostalgia of the earlier seasons.
Don’s accidental switching of the lighter with the soldier in Hawaii reminds the viewer of Don’s continuous struggle with his identity and his trouble with the Dick Whitman to Don Draper transition; as the lingering lighter seems always find a way to get in Don’s face. It was also especially pleasing to see the Carousel slideshow make a cameo, for I couldn’t help myself but immediately YouTube the infamous ‘Carousel scene’ from the Season 1 finale. The show works in such a circular way, as it “travels around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.” And truly, everything in “Doorway” is a reminder of why we love Mad Men.