Roger Sterling: Liar

 Posted by on February 22, 2011 at 7:46 am  Characters
Feb 222011

Roger Sterling lies so much, and so passionately, that I wonder if he even recognizes that he’s lying.

Certainly, adulterers lie, and he has cheated on both his wives. But Don also cheats and lies, and Roger’s is particular to himself.

He said for years that he “discovered” Don, but in Waldorf Stories, we learn that’s a lie.

In Hands and Knees he tells Lee Garner, Jr. that he invited him to Margaret’s wedding and that Lee should blame his secretary for not getting the invitation. Some people have questioned whether that was really a lie, but it’s exactly the lie Roger tells, over and over.

That night he goes through his Rolodex, calling contacts. Now we see the deepest lie; he has not done any work at all; the partners are all right, later, about him not sitting on top of LGJ enough, and about him not finding any other business. Why go through the Rolodex now? Because he hasn’t done so before. And worse, he doesn’t know a “friend” has died, and must lie to the widow about having been out of town to cover for it.

When confronted by the partners about losing Lucky Strike, Roger says he joined SCDP out of “friendship,” which is a blatant lie, and truly the same lie he told Lee about the invitation: I’m your friend, I love you, I’m good to you, See what a good guy I am? That’s Roger’ lie, over and over, and it comes down to “Don’t blame me.” Roger is no one’s friend, as the widow must have known on the phone; friendship is the lie he uses to get by.

Finally, of course, he creates an elaborate web of false phone calls and travel to seal his lying ass-covering, and then whines to Joan about it.


  9 Responses to “Roger Sterling: Liar”

  1. Yes, he’s contemptible. Occasionally he is honest with himself, for instance in 313 when he said he acts like he’s been starting a business all his life, but actually he inherited it.

    To be fair, he probably doesn’t remember not hiring Don. He was too drunk that day to be sure he hadn’t welcomed the pushy salesman aboard, or he would have told him to get lost.

    And yes, he lied about coming aboard SCDP out of friendship. It was really because Bert scared him with the “in three years” bit, pointing earthward. And he liked the challenge, and sticking it to McCann and the Brits.

    1965 was bad for him, but in the last two eps he looks like he’s excited about new business, like landing Saran Wrap. He could be on his game again in s5.

  2. Tom B @ 1

    The strange thing about Season 4 was that it made me wonder if Roger ever was “on his game” or if that was all an illusion.

    In fact, many characters in Season 4 make me question who they really were back in Seasons 1-2 (Roger, Don, Midge, Betty, Joan, Bert).

    It feels like Season 1 was when we were still seeing a lot of people and things the ways we were “supposed” to to see them. The illusions.

    But was it all an illusion, or was there a real businessman behind all of Roger’s charming lies?

  3. Roger may not remember that he didn’t hire Don, but he knows perfectly well he didn’t “discover” him. With the opportunity to discover him right in front of him, he repeatedly rejected it.

  4. I’d say Roger has a very convenient memory. It would be interesting to look through “Sterling’s Gold” (not the one that we can find in Barnes & Noble, but the one that was really written by Roger Sterling) and see how much of it was true and how much was “exaggerated.”

    I’ve been watching Season 1 and Season 2 episodes again every once in a while, and it’s funny to see how much more of a contribution Roger seemed to make to the agency back then. Not that he was always working, but he did some stuff. He was a liaison between Don and Duck on youth in advertising issues, and he urged Don to get rid of accounts that presented conflicts (such as Mohawk Airlines). He seemed at times like he was helping to do damage control or assist in potentially bringing more revenue to the agency.

    Also, it was a bigger agency back then. Tons of staff, lots of offices = places for certain people to hide. Roger (and Bert) seem more conspicuous in the new offices, and as a result, I start questioning their value. (When it comes to entertainment value, they both always have plenty of that.)

  5. Roger Sterling is ‘Don-lite’ when it comes to lying.
    …and shall we say ‘cheating on the current wife’….

  6. Seems to me that almost all business relationships are lies. You are not ‘buddies’ with the clients. The big b.s. Businessman smile is coin of the realm. Getting to check to clear is all that matters. Integrity?(guffaw). What the hell’s that?! Lying is a sport, a way of life. Smoothness, dexterity, deft of feel for others are all tested. Roger is great at it, even better than Don. Don lies out of desperation(he can be shot for Korea), Roger does it with the easy manner and elegance of putting on yet another Brooks Brothers double vested. Roger is a great character, the epitome of the tired grey flannel decadence cliche. He is F U N.

  7. Right, Tilden (if that is your name).

    The secret of success is sincerity.

    Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.

  8. In SC, Roger had a support system at his beck and call. In SCDP, the leaner organization uncovered strengths and weaknesses. In SC, it was kind of amusing to see Roger brought down a notch (as with oysters and martinis). In SCDP, Roger’s stumblings were potentially tragic. In SC, Joan would have done whatever he asked. In SCDP, she defied him. In SC, Roger could still order Don around and remind him where he came from. In SCDP, Don is now a partner and can chew out Roger.

  9. Tom B, you hit the nail right on the head. Brenda has just made me realize how minimized Roger is now. The rich, snotty kid now writ small. Does he even have a purpose at the firm anymore? Methinks its time for his exit, his story thread has run out. Paging cardiac #3.

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