Mad Men Season 2
Everything’s gone horribly wrong in the second season of Mad Men. Not that it was ever a rose garden but our principles’ lives are getting darker, twisted and just plain wrong. Scratch the surface of every dream and you find a nightmare. Peggy has a son now, though no one at Sterling Cooper must ever know and she never sees him. Don‘s infidelity has been found out and now he lives out of a hotel room and only sees his kids at weekends. Salvatore is still the gayest gay that ever gayed yet still buried in the deepest of marital closets. Can’t anyone be happy?
“Pete remains a gigantic gaping asshole but its credit to Vincent Kartheiser that there remains a sliver of sympathy for the old money cad.”
Also having a hard time of it is Pete Campbell whose father dies in a plane crash. He seems curiously unaffected though I suppose that’s to be expected of the devious blackmailing little shit. He tries unsuccessfully for a child with his beautiful but dumb wife. These are unforgiving times for childless couples, particularly with the fecundity of Harry Crane thrust in your face. What Pete doesn’t know, of course, is that he is already father to Peggy’s secret child. Pete remains a gigantic gaping asshole but it’s credit to Vincent Kartheiser that there remains a sliver of sympathy for the old money cad.
“In an age when you’re defined by your accessories a black girl on your arm says you’re a little bit unconventional, a little bit edgy and, in Paul’s case, a little bit of twat .”
Though that no money cad Paul Kinsey‘s worries are less pressing, revolving as they do around finding opportunities to show off his black girlfriend to his chums. In an age when you’re defined by your accessories a black girl on your arm says you’re a little bit unconventional, a little bit edgy and, in Paul’s case, a little bit of twat because, as Joan guesses in a heartbeat, he’s only dating her for the cool value.
That’s admen for you – no one lives authentically. Everybody lies, especially to themselves. Advertising is a lie, an industry peopled by liars lying. The impeccable swank of Don Draper papers over an emotionally butchered young man living in mortal fear of the truth. He’s not Don Draper – he’s Richard Whitman. Born a bastard from his abusive father’s fling with a whore; stealing a dead man’s identity like Principal Skinner in The Simpsons; secrets and lies are all Don Draper has ever known.
“The impeccable swank of Don Draper papers over an emotionally butchered young man living in mortal fear of the truth. He’s not Don Draper – he’s Richard Whitman. Secrets and lies are all Don Draper has ever known.”
But surely good old boy Freddy Rumsen is still trundling along OK? WRONG. Freddy’s drinking finally brings him down when he pisses his pants right before an important meeting. He gets shitcanned and Peggy gets promoted as a result. Poor Peggy finds this tough to take – Freddy was the first guy to ever believe in her copywriting skills. In Mad Men even joyous events have a bitter aftertaste.
So pity Draper’s wife, beautiful doomed Betty. You know Betty ain’t right when she persistently flirts with Glen Bishop, the mad 10 year-old boy who wants to fuck her. “I hate you! ” he shouts when he finally calls his errant mother to the house. “I know” says Betty sadly. You can’t be surprised, girl. 10 years old and he’s already learning the harsh lesson of mixed messages from women. Of course, if that was the 10-year-old Aerial Telly he would have hit that in no time, knowing how to read women practically from birth. Motherfucker, you don’t want to know the women Aerial Telly made sex offenders out of. 1
Mad Men remains beautiful to look at and not just because of recently crowned TV Pie of the Year Christina Hendricks. From the gorgeous opening sequence with the silhouetted ad exec hurtling 9/11 jumper style to his doom past the images of early 60s Americana through to the double-breasted suits, fedoras and pleated skirts it’s a show designed with a rare aesthetic sensibility and an obsessive attention to detail.
Mad Men is about the gap between surface and reality. It’s a parable about what happens when lying becomes your life. Everyone is losing control just when they need to be in control most. Happiness is a myth, contentment is a lie and the American dream has an underside as cruel and disturbing as any Japanese arthouse horror flick. This is the Mad Men moral. You eat shit all your life and then you die alone. So fuck you.
The best thing about it: It looks just swell
The worst thing about it: Shots of Joan in her underwear are scarce
The verdict on Mad Men Season 2: New and improved.
Marks out of 10: 8
1 Something sounds off about this sentence but it’s true so fuck you
Imagined: 7th October 2008