The Preview of the Season: TLN Takes on Mad Men.

TLN’s Mad Men Season Six Preview

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Jon Hamm as “Don Draper”

AMC’s Emmy-Winning, Original Series “Mad Men” kicks off it’s sixth season on April 7th. If you follow the show, then you are just as excited as I am to see how things start off. Director Matthew Weiner has previously stated that the season will be the show’s penultimate and that viewers can expect a plethora of story line activity and development (like we really needed any confirmation).

I’ll admit I never followed the show chronologically until this summer after the fifth season of Breaking Bad wrapped up. I was looking for a show to captivate me in the same way, and got a strong recommendation for Mad Men from many people. I spent almost all hours of the night for a better part of two weeks watching the show and was blown away. The show’s attention to detail is astounding, and the representation of the decades that the show follows, by all accounts, seem to be spot on. Infatuating storylines mixed with largess motifs propel the show into the stratosphere of cable television and firmly supplants AMC’s prowess for developing original series’.

As the season six premiere is upon us, I thought it best to pose potential questions and make some fairly bold predictions for the season. This isn’t sports, and predicting television shows seems almost harder (my last Breaking Bad prediction couldn’t have been further from the truth).

1). Don and Megan Split Up:

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Things aren’t as they appear in the Don-Megan sage.

I know this isn’t what most people want to hear, and honestly I don’t either. Megan (Jessica Pare’) is one of my genuinely favorite characters. She reels Don back from the abyss of alcoholism and depression after his divorce from Betty and drives him into a “happy” state ( a word rarely associated with Don). Towards the middle to the end of the season, we see plenty of instances where the marriage simply is too young or fragile in my mind to continue on. Don has control issues and rarely wants Megan to pursue her own acting career. Even though we begin to see a certain amount of acceptance at one point from Don, he is a controller at heart and won’t be able to sustain such a selfless viewpoint for long. It saddens me because Megan is actually so good for Don. She brings him back to even keel. The best relationships that form aren’t necessarily the ones where two people are actually compatible for each other, but rather how they fill the voids the other lacks (i.e, the balancing effect). Megan put a smile on Don’s face when he needed it most, otherwise, we might be reading Don Draper’s obituary as opposed to discussing the coming of a sixth season. The problem arises when Don has to let go, and allow Megan to leave SCDP to pursue her dream of being a famous actress. A man like Don with so much wealth, prestige, power, and control can’t stand the thought of his wife leaving his domain and venturing out. Yes, it’s sad, but also true, many men still act this way today.  At the very end of episode 13 “The Phantom”, a woman approaches Don, sitting alone at a bar. She gives him the classic “let’s do this look”, and then asks “Are you alone?” Cue the music, no response from Don. Is Don, at that moment truly alone? Has the lust and desire for Megan truly disintegrated at that moment? Will season six be a return to Don’s adulterous and womanizing ways?

2). Peggy Makes Some Kind of Return:

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The Master and the Apprentice.

It’s not like Mad Men to “ex” a character out of the show and leave them out for good. Take Paul Kinsey for example. He was left behind after Sterling Cooper became SCDP, yet returned by way of Harry Crane’s encounter with him after he joined the Krishna Conscious movement. I guess Sal Romano would be the exception, but the series isn’t over yet. The point is, Peggy made too much of an impact on the series not to be involved in some way. The fact that she meets Don in the movie theater by chance in the season finale, shows that she is still lingering on Don’s advice (seeing movies to clear the head). She’s also smoking, something she rarely did before hand. If we could for just a moment, comment on the meteoric rise of Peggy Olson, Don Draper’s secretary to Peggy Olson, chief copywriter with gobs of potential. Peggy represents the little egg that is weak and has to fight hard to hatch. Starting at nothing, and ending up with everything is how her role is best described (that theme is prevalent throughout the entire series). Sure, she got tons of breaks, but luck is a part of success, the harder you work, the luckier you get. All I’m saying is that, I could definitely see SCDP and CGC competing for the same, big account, that could perpetuate SCDP to the upper-echelon of advertising firms, and could also make Peggy’s career infamous if successful. This battle could be drawn out as the “master versus the apprentice” and could either make Peggy’s career, or reawaken Don’s hunger to dominate the ad game once again (keep in mind he went soft, no pun intended, after marrying Megan). It’s an attractive idea primarily due to the master-apprentice motif. The amount of history the two have makes this worth considering, and perhaps it could reunite Don and Peggy permanently.

 

3). What the Hell is Going on With Roger?

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Having fun there Roger? The glasses are a nice touch.

 

Roger (John Slattery) has been on a tear recently. To going to fry parties (tripping on acid), carrying wads of cash to bankroll the agency, divorcing his wife for no real reason, and still not being able to care for his and Joan’s son. All of these things happened. I still can’t get over his acid trip, as it remains one of the highlights of the show. Can I just say that Roger is the best character on the show hands down? Saying Don is just seems like a cop-out, despite how good Jon Hamm truly is (the guy needs to be cast in more productions), but Roger takes the cake. Every 5 minutes of Roger-screen time equals approximately one good Roger-joke. Some of my favorites?

                “I told him to be myself, that was pretty mean I guess”.

                “You know what my father used to say? “Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons, and eventually they hit you in the face.”

                “Roger: She died like she lived: Surrounded by people she answered phones for.

                “A wooden leg…They’re so cheap they can’t even afford a whole reporter”.

Roger has gone from unhappily married, to suddenly happy and dropping acid at his leisure, while still having his name on the door and stacks on stacks in the wallet. Not a bad gig, Roger. My brother and I discussed this over lunch, will Roger just die? I mean think about it, he’s had multiple heart attacks, drinks and smokes, and the guy just keeps going and stays in shape (Slattery is reportedly a health enthusiast). Please don’t go Roger, Mad Men would be a darker place without you. A bigger question remains, however. Is this the season where Roger and Joan finally get to be together? They have a son, they’re both in the midst of divorces. The stage seems prime for these two to link up permanently. Roger’s still completely in love with Joan, and while I wouldn’t say the feelings are fully reciprocated, Joan will eventually think “what if”, and most likely give it a shot. I sense that some serious events would have to precipitate this happening, however. Having Roger and Joan strike up a public romance while in the office would no-doubt cause a stir that would blow Don-Megan’s relationship out of the water. I’d like to see that.

4). Pete Goes Off the Deep End:

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The many confused faces of Pete Campbell beg the question of what’s next for the “Mad Men” star.

Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) started off as the most annoying character in the show, but has grown on me (reluctantly). He’s a hustler and stops at nothing to get what he wants, no matter how dirty the business gets. Side note, my favorite line of the show is when Lane (RIP) calls Pete a “grimy little pimp” in the episode “Signal 30” (pre-ass beating). Pete has tried so hard to live up to Don’s standards throughout the entire show. He climbs the corporate ladder as so many Americans do, thinking his problems will simply dissipate with a fatter paycheck. They don’t, and he struggles to find out who he truly is. Identity is the most overwhelming motif utilized in the series and Pete’s struggle to find his own is a captivating experience. The elevator scene in “Signal 30” juxtaposes Don (the happy, suddenly faithful husband) and Pete (the once faithful/happy husband turned adulterer/ office slugfest coordinator) wonderfully. Pete’s decision to constantly cheat on his wife Trudy (Alison Brie) is a monumental WTF moment for myself.  He has clearly lost his own way in life, and does not know where to turn. I sense season 6 to utilize the theme of “loss” so much clearer than other seasons. This season is all about, “ok we were here in the past, but how can we move completely forward and succeed”. Season 5 bred us perfectly for this. We saw new characters, new relationships, new business, and most importantly, we lost something. Life is all about responding to loss, so how will Pete realize that he has lost himself? I can’t imagine it will be good. As viewers, suicide was thrust upon us with Lane’s hanging, and I can see Pete heading down that direction, only this time, maybe Don Draper can come to the aid and rescue him from the abyss.

5). Fat Betty Stays Fat.

 

6). SCDP Becomes a Major Player:

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The Boys @ SCDP looking quite dapper as always. Will this be the year they make their voice heard?

 Last but not least, I believe that this season will see the agency grow tremendously in size. Not only has Don expressed his desire to expand the agency , but new business has been rolling in steady. I miss the early seasons a lot because of this. As Roger once said to Don, “What happened? The word no used to make you hard”.  “Domineering Don” scenes as I have grown to call them completely warped me into the show in the first place. I can do without all the womanizing and cheating, but Don’s presence as a powerful business-man attracted me to the show. I have a feeling this will return, and that Don’s booze-ridden, cry-fest over the divorce and his wavering feelings towards Megan will soon be over, and that Dapper Don’s ascension to the top of Madison Avenue’s advertising game is only a matter of time.

 

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