By Miz J
IS THAT A MIRAGE ON THE HORIZON?
I assure you, fellow Draper groupies, it is not a mirage, and Mad Men is about to return.
Sunday night marks the premiere of season six, and after a few exciting little teasers from AMC – namely, an illustrated poster by noted 60s ad artist Brian Sanders and a few slinky black and whites from a chi-chi cocktail party — it’s time to get back to the STORY.
Let’s top off our drinks and refresh our memories.
First, if Sanders’s poster is any indication, this season is the one where Don’s two identities begin to merge…or pull him apart. We see two Dons — one dressed in his familiar gray suit from previous seasons, walking right past the other Don, the man he’s become, a dapper if not insecure man dressed in a suave black suit, holding the hand of a woman. The former doesn’t even recognize himself as he walks toward the sunset. Our present-day Don Draper is walking with the ONE WAY sign — suggesting that this is the right direction. But the look on his face is one that’s riddled with doubt and second guesses.
It makes sense, given where last season left off.
First, there’s the dread that hangs over the SCDP office — the matter of Lane’s sudden and shocking suicide. Such an act of desperation, at a time when the agency was actually doing well, is a difficult act to reconcile for the partners, including the freshly appointed Joan Holloway.
And speaking of Miss Holloway, there’s that unfortunate incident of the indecent proposal from the Jaguar client, which she not only entertained but accepted — the very reason she’s now a partner. Is it possible to out-Draper Don Draper? Joan proved to us in under an hour that, yes, it is.
Then there’s Pete, the eternally fucked up accounts man. He’s basically assumed the role of old playboy Don while Don took a marriage hiatus with Megan, falling into bed a few times with his neighbor’s wife and with another woman even more mentally disturbed than himself. Pete has banged Peggy, a crazy lady and a neighbor; Don banged his client’s wife, his other client’s daughter, his kid’s teacher, at least three secretaries, a co-worker and a heroin addict. In terms of quantity, Don still wins; in terms of quality, eh, it might actually just be a tie. Seriously, Pete, it’s really not at the Draper level until you wake up in a hotel room with a concussion and no idea who you just had sex with. Remember this important mnemoic device: Draper’s dick does damage.
Which is why Betty is now (sort of) happily remarried to Henry, and still icing out the definitive daddy’s girl Sally, who’s about to become a pubescent hippie nightmare. More on that as season 6 unfolds, to be sure.
According to super-secretive series creator Matt Weiner, Don is still grappling with “the wreckage he left behind.” There’s his emotionally crippling childhood, still corrosive even though kept far from sunlight. Lane’s death reminds Don of Adam, his brother who also committed suicide out of desperation. And still unresolved is his dismissive treatment of Peggy, forcing his gifted protege to move on from SCDP.
All this while Don competes for his new wife’s attention. Megan aspires to be more than Don’s trophy wife; she has dreams of being an actress fueled by her father’s support. When Megan told Don that she didn’t want to be at his side selling Cool Whip and canned beans, Don was terrified. And after dozens of episodes filled with haughty, catty remarks from our emotionally calloused main character, he relents and pulls a few strings to get Megan a commercial. Ecstatic, the stars in Megan’s eyes don’t allow her to see how Don operates; she believes this is a step they are taking together. And as the director yells action and season 5 draws to a close, Don Draper sits down in a bar and — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — gets approached by a strange woman.
I won’t say that things will be “turbulent,” because I am so tired of hearing people attribute that cliched word to the 1960s. But I do implore you to hold on to your rocks glasses, everybody. Things are about get shaken up.
Miz J has an attitude. Deal with it. Check out her NSFW comedy podcast, I SAID IT, on iTunes or follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @askmizj