Saturday, December 05, 2009

[TV] Men, Slightly Less Mad

Men, Slightly Less Mad: I'm still not sure how to characterize the just recently closed season of Mad Men. The most troubling aspect of it was how often they went to well of sneering at the backwards culture while reinforcing the '60s mythology. Really, how trite.

The second most troubling aspect was the hookups. Don taking up with the schoolteacher after having crossed paths with her only twice. Peggy behaving whorishly with Duck, out of the blue. Betsy lining up to leave Don to marry a man she barely knows. All these relationships were intriguing but superficial, then instantly became intimate.

On the other hand, the development of Don's character was excellent. He essentially became Conrad Hilton's bitch for a while. He got an ice water enema from Betsy's discovery of his past. And he finally had enough of getting jerked around by with Sterling Cooper. All this led to his coming to terms with the fact that he needed other people, and to keep the valuable relationships he required he had to be, if not weak, then at least somewhat sympathetic to the needs of others. This was all done in the very skilled, coherent dramatic fashion that we know the Mad Men writers are capable of.

However this may lead to a bigger problem for future seasons. (Let's assume they can restrain the Progressive chest-beating.) They are left with Don Draper as a more mature, wise and presumably happier man in many ways. But that could also make him a good deal less interesting as a character. If Don Draper has been solved by the end of season 3, then what's left for the show? I suppose we'll see.

Mad Med continues to hover in the doorway of my TV pantheon (Deadwood, Sopranos, The Wire) but never quite makes it across threshold. Too bad. I need four for a Mt. Rushmore. There's still a chance.