Be Glad the ‘Mad Men’ Season Is Over!
Maybe we need some time apart from Don
The breathlessly anticipated Mad Men Season Four finale-extravaganza has finally aired, and as soon as America’s equally breathless postmortem has finished (“Seriously? Megan?” “I LOVE KEN COSGROVE,” “Betty Draper is another Hitler”), our nine-month period of national mourning will commence, until that stifling August night when the newborn Season Five emerges from Matthew Weiner’s ever-fertile, meticulously vintage-sourced womb. While this period of silent gestation may indeed be bleak, forcing us to focus our lonely, hungover Sunday nights on nothing more compelling than Boardwalk Empire, let’s try to look on the bright side: There are also a few very good reasons to be thankful for our collective leave of absence from the firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
1. A Break From Don Breaking Up With Smart Awesome Jewesses. I hate to get all Hubbell/Katie on this; I’m not Carrie Bradshaw. But the demises of Rachel Mencken (although that was really her decision) and Bobbie Barrett were hard enough. Now with the fall of the lovely Dr. Faye Miller, I’m feeling a little dejected. Do we always have to lose out to the uncomplicated shikses, even if the prize is a workaholic, alcoholic, deception-prone, serial womanizer? Can’t a nice Jewish girl get a break?
2. The End of Trend Pieces about Christina Hendricks’s “Curves.” Look, I am one of the few people on Earth who isn’t a Joan fan, but I imagine that even her most ardent defenders are tired of article after article that seem to treat the body of the woman who plays her as a strange and miraculous hybrid of Helen of Troy and Dottie the circus Fat Lady. How long before she gets so sick of having “voluptuous,” “Rubenesque,” and other “We think you’re kind of fat but we wouldn’t kick you out of bed” signifiers tacked on to her name that she loses 30 pounds and no one cares about her anymore? Wouldn’t it be nice if her dress size merited no attention at all?
3. No More Condscending Blog Posts/Internet Comments Proclaiming “Betty Draper Is a Child.” Betty Draper Francis is not a child. Betty Draper Francis is an adult, and the ugly truth is that most adults, except on very good days, often behave like children. If acting like an adult means owning up to your mistakes and/or taking responsibility for your own happiness, then nobody on Mad Men, with the possible exception of the inimitable Ken Cosgrove, would qualify. Also, all the people who mention Betty’s interaction with childhood items—dollhouses, Sally’s bedroom—forgets that Betty is the only major character on this show who ever has to interact at any length of time with actual children. Betty is spoiled, petty, vindictive, short-sighted, blinkered, and often a prize bitch. But that, in the world of this show, is what makes her a grown-up.
4. Maybe Now They Will Start Making Nice Purses Again That Can Fit Actual Things In Them. I have enjoyed all the latest Mad Men fashions from Paris as much as the next hopeless shopaholic. But I also have a Blackberry, a cosmetic bag, about 500 out-of-date dry cleaning slips, three paperbacks, a notebook, a variety of crumpled magazines, a fine dusting of loose tobacco and tampon lint, and an enormous wallet full of maxed-out charge cards that I must carry around with me at all times. We can’t all be the Queen of England.
5. Another Break, This From the Don Draper/Dick Whitman Tension. I don’t know about you, but to me the secret identity of Don Draper has always been the Original Sin of this show: Something that sounds exciting in a pitch meeting but is a struggle to keep going in the show itself. Mad Men has handled it as gracefully as possible, but did we really need a literal hobo/deserter/whoreson/almost-bigamist back story to drive home the point that people’s outsides do not always match how they feel inside? Would Don Draper really have been any less compelling a character if he was really Don Draper?
6. No More Invitations To Mad Men Dress-Up Viewing Parties. Dear Friends. I love you very much. But the last thing I want to do is put on Spanx, spike heels, and a full face of makeup to go watch TV on a Sunday night. I’ve already been doing that all weekend, thanks. Besides, I’m only going to have to watch it all over again as soon as I get home because none of you can stop talking through the whole damn thing anyway.
7. Now We Can Finally Give Boardwalk Empire the Attention It Deserves! Which is about the same amount as it’s already getting. I’m sorry. I know it’s very expensive and fancy. But I just am having a very hard time with that show.
8. There Is Again a Chance of Getting a Modicum of Work Done. Without approximately 700 different Mad Men recaps to read, write, parse, comment on, criticize, link to, and blog about, coastal workplace productivity is projected to rise at least 75 percent over the next nine months. Ladies and Gentlemen, this could be the economic recovery we’ve all been waiting for!