My Love/Hate Relationship with Season 5

 Posted by on May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am  Mad Men, Season 5
May 192012

Okay kids, you all know I love Mad Men.  Every season has brought me moments of joy, anger, and tears with its subtle storytelling and splendid acting.  But this season, I’ve been thrown for a loop, and sometimes I feel just as aimless as Sally after she witnessed that unfortunate act of fellatio.  So much has been thrown at us! Some wonderful, some god-awful, but I’m hoping that by the season finale, it will all make sense, just like it always does. Otherwise, I’ll be quoting Roger Sterling:  When will things get back to normal? (no, I don’t expect them to)  So here’s my middling take so far:

The Good

  • The whole cocktail party scene in A Little Kiss and Megan singing Zou Bisou Bisou.  Weiner wanted to recreate the atmosphere of a swinging party in a  Blake Edwards movie and totally succeeded!  All you needed was a cameo by Inspector Clouseau.
  • Far Away Places and  Lady Lazarus, both of these blew me away, as MM has done in the past.  Excellent episodes that reminded me why I loved it in the first place.
  • Megan’s Wardrobe — Betty who?  This girl can rock just about everything she wears, from the black angel dress in A Little Kiss to the regency red grandeur in At the Codfish Ball
  • Roger’s snide comebacks, sharper than ever.
  • Joan gives Greg his walking papers. (Yes!)
  • Betty attempting to be zippered into her blue brocade dress.
  • Don being fatherly to the groupie, and feeling his age.
  • Pete’s sad downward spiral
  • Sally’s rebellion
  • Peggy telling Don to shut up in the test kitchen.
  • Good to see more of Ken, and glad to see Michael progress.
  • Creative making the Devil look just like Don; he deserved that for such a sophomoric campaign.










And I want…These Shoes,

  This Apartment,

And Peggy’s Gravel Art!





The Bad  

  •  Too much Megan, not enough Joan, Lane, Trudy or Harry. Our appetites were whetted for them in the season opener, but we need more!
  • Shocking! Almost every episode has a WTH moment, which makes one wonder WHY??? Were some of these really necessary, or could they have been done with more subtlety?
  • Don’s cringe-worthy ad campaigns. The devil for Sno-Balls Don? Really?
  • Sales pitches in general.  Both of Peggy’s Heinz Bean pitches were tedious and almost unendurable. I know the pitch is the heart of advertising, but we haven’t had a heart-tugging pitch since the Kodak Carousel.

The Ugly

  • Bad acting in smaller roles.  I don’t know if Megan’s friend Julia was supposed to be that bad an actress when she ran her lines for Dark Shadows, but even after reading her lines, she scrunched up her face and acted like a middle-school diva.   And this years  Bobby just isn’t cutting it for me — I really miss little Jared Gilmore, who excels in Once Upon a Time.
  • Dark Shadows  I watched this episode several times, hoping I’d like it better, but I couldn’t.  It was just too uneven.
  • Don leaving Michael’s excellent work in the cab.
  • Pom-Pom Fringe! Oh, Betty.
  • Michael showed up for his first interview in jeans.  I know the show is trying to show the decline of NY, but this stretched the limits of believability.  I can’t believe they let him into the building like that.
  • That the door was unlocked when Sally walked in on Roger and Mrs. Calvet?  Oh c’mon!  This isn’t Desperate Housewives, you’d think the couple would find a more private venue for their tryst.  Again, suspension of disbelief is crumbling.  This could have been handled much better.

The Hoped-For:

  • More backstory on Joan and Michael.
  • That Sally runs away.
  • That Pete gets his head on straight.
  • That Jane can still enjoy her new apartment.
  • That we see Sal again, just to see where he’s at.

Anyone else have ambiguous feelings about this season?  Let’s vent now before the next episode comes up and makes all these complaints null!


  139 Responses to “My Love/Hate Relationship with Season 5”

  1. Great article! I think standing as their own the episodes this season have been very good.But we only have 4 more episodes left this season (can you believe it?) and I still don’t feel everything we have seen being tied together. That being said, I would not be surprised if tomorrow night’s episode is the one that ties everything together (a la episodes 5 or 6 in the past seasons) and the rest plays out in a beautiful way.

    • Thanks SterlingQ! I agree with everything you said — the time is running out, we’ll just have to wait. But this show is always like a pregnancy to me because you never fully know how it will come out until the end!

    • A poster wrote somewhere this episode was like Mad Men hitting a single between shortstop and 3rd base and moving the runners along, implying the bases are now loaded.

      I agree the next episode may be the payoff where someone hits a home run and opens the floodgates but conversely the batter could strike out and leave the bases loaded. And there are only two more episodes to go after that one before the final episode.

      Could MM load the bases again in episode 11 or episode 12 and still feel they can have “a big inning” or should the series drop the hammer tomorrow and let all hell break loose? I can hardly wait.

  2. The Good:

    Megan’s creativity to save the Heinz account including coming up with the original idea and responding quickly to Mrs. Geiger’s warning and informing Don that Raymond Geiger was about to wave sayonara to SCDP.

    The Bad:

    Beth Dawes: I can’t buy that she is a 1966 housewife with 2 kids (poor casting); her look and mannerisms are too modern and she looks too fresh and young.

    The Ugly:

    Too many derogatory Jewish references in episode 9

    The Hoped-For

    The producers abandon the story line that Megan wants to pursue acting as a full-time career.

    • i couldn’t agree more about the acting thing…i just find the whole premise so cheesy.

      • It has potential. I’m willing to see where the writers take the premise before making a decision.

  3. I want more good dialogue moments like in the earlier seasons – Seems like all the scenes are rushed. I agree way too much Megan – I am not attached to her and do not care what happens to her. I know she is important to Don’s story – but way too much time on her. I want to know about the already established characters – Joan, Lane, Roger, Peggy, Sally, Betty, etc. I like Michael and want to know more about him.

    One thing that has been difficult for me to accept is that Betty would let herself go to that extent – maybe 10 or 20 lbs – wihich would be troublesome for her and make her self concious and go to Weight Watchers- but it looks like they made her look like she had gained like 50 or 60 lbs. Just not buying it. I also can not believe that her taste in furnishing a home could change that much. Her home with Don was stylish and modern not old,like something from a set of Dark Shadows – please.

    Hopefully things will turn around in the last few eps – but quite frankly I find myself not really caring at this point – and not sure why.

    • Betty laid the background herself for being overweight when she told her psychiatrist in season one she was “pudgy” as a child.

      Realistically, I think the producers of Mad Men were forced to pursue this plot line due to JJ’s real-life pregnancy. Sometimes real life does interfere in fictional reality.

      As regards to her new home in Rye, couldn’t Henry or Pauline have had an impact on the furnishings and the decor? Perhaps their tastes are different from hers. Or could they have been there would when they moved in?

      As for not caring for season five, I watched the show in season one and stopped watching it till this season. And the main reason is the Megan character. I’m sorry. I can only take so much bitterness, unhappiness, dysfunctional behavior, mean-spiritedness etc. Real life is not like that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Megan provides MM a much needed commodity, an island of optimism in a sea of cynicism.

      • ITA with everything you said, Old Fashioned. This is not the Megan Show; it’s Mad Men. When posters love the show that MM is their comments are more even handed and interesting to read.

        And I’m surprised the moderators have let Techno’s comments go on as long as they have. So many of his posts have been so dismissive and disrespectful of other fans’ points of view. And have taken up so much space. I’ve wondered what a new poster just coming to this website thinks of them.

        • I agree Brooklyn Jan.

          I am relatively new to expressing myself here; however, I have been an avid reader of this site since early on. I avoid blogging as most of time it turns into a “spitting contest” between people with agendas that often times have nothing to do with the subject at hand.

          I have been extremely impressed by the level of discourse and courtesy that have been evident here over the years. It seems to me that that has changed to some degree over the last few weeks. I hope that I have not contributed to that; and, I hope that this can return to being a site that permits open, and sometimes, emotional discussion without attack. As DL has stated before…. attack leads to attack.

      • I have Netflix so I have watched all the episodes.

        Yes I do realize that many viewers of Mad Men love the dysfunctional relationships of the characters especially Don. But Don like everyone else has his good qualities and his bad qualities. And one of the greatest decisions he made in his life was to marry Megan.

        What I really love about the Don-Megan relationship is how Don deals with Megan in a much more positive, energetic and non-condescending manner than he did with Betty. There is just no way you could imagine Don chasing Betty all over the house like he did chasing Megan in Far Away Places or lying on the white carpet after having sex explaining to Megan why he didn’t want his colleagues in their apartment. Could you imagine Don holding onto Betty for dear life and burying his head in her waist after he thought he had lost her? Don is now a man who knows he needs the love of Megan every day of his life and the price he must pay for that is he must remain faithful to her or he will lose her love forever.

        Compare the Don of season 1 when he and Betty were still getting along to season 5. You can tell he is thrilled to be married to Megan but with Betty even their most intimate moments come nowhere close to matching the intensity of even the normal conversational moments between Don and Megan.

        Sure it’s NOT fair that Don pursues Megan with a great deal more passion and vigor and talks to her more honestly than he did Betty but it is a fact that Don and Megan have a great connection. Megan will always tell Don what is on her mind and vice versa. This is a couple who cannot hide their true emotions from each other. To say they are simply in love would be an understatement. They are deeply in love.

        I think that it is not only good but great the Mad Men writers have take the story line in this direction. I love the irony of Don being the man of fidelity with the other main male characters cheating on their wives.

        But the problem for many folks with Don being so much in love with Megan is they feel Don doesn’t deserve to be this happy. I agree, but Don took a leap of faith by proposing to Megan after hardly knowing her. So far he has been reaping huge dividends. And so has Megan. High risk invariably proceeds high reward.

        • No…. sorry but your comment is just wrong!

          I have yet to see a poster state that “they feel Don doesn’t deserve to be this happy”. All the criticisms I have read regarding Megan/Ms. Pare have dealt with not liking the character, not liking the actress or her performance, not liking the amount of time spent on the character, or that said amount of time has led to a lack of time for other characters in which the audience is more vested (rightly so since she did not appear before last season) than Megan.

          As Pat Moynihan used to say, “Your are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

          • When I said “he doesn’t deserve to be happy” I meant to say based on the evidence provided by the various episodes detailing what Don has said or done, many viewers may feel that the scriptwriters have short-changed the audience by putting Don in a position that is not realistic based on what they have seen for 4+ seasons by almost forgetting how “damaged” or toxic Don was in the past.

            In other words I am NOT drawing attention to or criticizing Don’s own efforts to improve and grow and be happier, but putting the writers themselves in the spotlight who crafted this season five story line to take Don in a completely different direction.

            And part of that story line is the appearance of Don being very happy in his marriage to Megan while Betty appears to be a very unhappy individual. And to boot Don doesn’t have to pay Betty any alimony or child support. This doesn’t seem fair. It’s like Don has gotten off scot-free for his past indiscretions and for all the pain he caused Betty in their marriage. I can see why a lot of people might not see that as right.

            • Well techno, we’ll just have to see what the last few episodes bring. We can only speculate so much, but I suspect we’ll have plenty to say when this season ends.

            • I think Don is paying child support. Betty said she didn’t want to ask for anything but I am quite sure Don is doing right by his kids; that matters to him.

            • Someone else must remember better than I, but didn’t the lawyer mention some type of payment (child support or alimony) when he told Don he needed to get Betty and Henry out of the house and sell it.

            • I got the impression from Henry in the last episode of season three that he advised Betty to not to be obligated in any way to Don any longer and he would take care of her and the kids.

              He said, “I’ll take care of them (children). And I’ll take care of you. I don’t want you owing him anything.”

              Prior to saying that Betty told the lawyer she wanted everything she was entitled to. It was then when Henry stepped in to stop her from pursuing this course of action.

              In addition Don let Betty (and Henry) stay in the Draper house rent-free while he still had to pay the mortgage and taxes on it. We got that from Fred, Don’s accountant. Perhaps that was the compromise worked out that allowed Don to not to have to formally pay child support. And Fred never mentioned the idea of Don paying child support either. You would think he would have brought it up in passing when he discussed the financial burden of the house.

              In addition Don may have agreed on the limited custody arrangements (only seeing kids every other weekend) to get out of paying child support.

              I thought it was interesting in Tomorrowland when Betty phoned Don at the office and told Don of both parents she spent “99% of the time with the children” and basically Don had no say whether she fired Carla or not and might put his Disneyland plans in jeopardy. At no time did Don bring up he was paying child support. He did act like he had no power or say in decisions involving the kids.

            • techno, I’ve seen all the same scenes you have. Henry definitely discouraged Betty from accepting child support. However, I don’t believe that is the end of it. He values his relationship with his kids and he values his self-image as a father. I don’t think he could be stopped from paying something for them and I don’t think Henry–who is pretty cheap–would say no when push came to shove. After all, he was willing to live in the man’s house.

              Don has no say in what happens with Carla whether he pays child support or not. Betty is the custodial parent and child support gives Don no legal rights.

              If you review the scene with the accountant, you’ll see that Don was charging rent and Henry was behind–hadn’t paid yet. Don didn’t want to confront him. Later, when Henry wanted Don’s things out of the garage, he mentioned taking it off the rent, indicating that the money situation had changed.

            • Amen times 3! she is a successful career woman now and her clothes seem right back to secretarial school

      • Well put, Old Fashioned!

      • Yes, Megan on island that’s not Manhattan is a splendid idea. Au revoir.

      • techno:

        You are commenting at the rate of many hundreds of words, and this is overwhelming to some other commenters. You have not violated any of our terms in most of your posts. I have edited or deleted a few of your posts when they were insulting to others. I will continue to allow you to post.

        Other people are finding your constant hammering at the same few points intrusive to the discussion. I will not allow their posts criticizing you to stay on the site, but I will not ban the commenters either, just remove the comments.

        You need to understand that once you’ve made a point it is often a good idea to shut up and let others have their say without coming back again and again to reiterate your point.

        You will find that often, people here disagree with my posts and I may comment once or twice. Then I STOP. There is an enormous difference between making a point and demanding that people read your point repeatedly. You must learn that difference.

        The simple fact that you post so much, and say the same things so often, is becoming disrespectful of posters despite the fact that your tone is almost always commendable.

        Please take this as an official warning.

        ALL COMMENTERS TAKE NOTE: Any further discussion of the pros/cons of techno, by techno or anyone except moderators, will be removed. This is not high school and he’s allowed at the cool kids’ lunch table.

    • FayeMac — I want more good, intense dialogue too — Remember “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to hire you”?
      And yes, techo, the ‘Hansen/Handsome’ thing was very pedestrian. Did someone let a writer from ‘Pan Am’ slip in?

      • Yes like the dinner scene with Don & Rachael or one where Peggy tells Pete about the baby. I even miss the school teacher detour Don took – and that was not my favorite at the time. Oh and the scene with Bobby and Peggy. Please give us something to relish the next day. Give us more like the exchange between Roger and Peggy this season.

        Thanks for this post – needed to vent.

    • I agree Faye Mack, Betty’s weight spiraling that much out of control struck me as off too. I also agree about the house. Initially I thought it might have even been the house Henry grew up in and she was stuck with ancient family heirlooms. Under any circumstances, it’s hard to imagine her not brightening that house up with paint and color. It truly is the house from the Addams Family. The Munster’s come to mind as well.

      Agree Therese, that unlocked door was silly and sloppy. Roger was also of the belief that Don’s award was going to put the agency in a position to pick up new business. He was actively trying to engage new clients. Would he really lost his head and his head, so completely?

      My favorite scene of the entire season was Roger and Jane lying on the floor in their matching pink turbans. It was funny, sad, raw, honest, beautifully shot, beautifully acted and moved the story forward.

      I wish there were more like them. I too would have been much happier with far less Megan. It no longer feels like an ensemble. It feels like The Dick Van Dyke show.

      • I totally understand the whole house issue with Betty. In my mind Betty is :”off”, out of her element. I assume the house was in Henry’s family, or at the very least his house before he and Betty married. Imagine having to make your mark on such a dark heavy place. She has lost more than decorating liberties in losing Don. Also the weight gain is a side effect of her not having control over anything. The scene where she let herself in the new apartment Don and Megan share was painful, but telling.

        • Completely heartbreaking to observe. I think besides Megan, she must have felt old.

          • And I’m sure the doctor referring to her as ‘middle aged’ didn’t help either. (she’s only in her 30’s, but that’s how it was then) I do think Betty is starting to look a little less heavy though. But I don’t think that she’ll look like the S5 promo pictures of her this year (in the fab spangly pink dress)

      • Remeber the chaise lounge she bougt after being out with Henry? her decorater did not know what to do with it! I understand new house. new style. Maybe she is trying to be different with her new man.

    • Stylish and modern.
      I seem to remember plaid wallpaper.

      • Yes, Betty had plaid wallpaper in her kitchen in Ossining and I loved it, maybe because my mother in law had the same in her kitchen. It seemed perfect for the period. I rather liked the house in Ossining, certainly much more than the Francis domicile in Rye. I don’t much care for Megan and Don’s Manhattan penthouse apartment, but I do think it’s right on target for the mid 1960s. I just wouldn’t be comfortable there.

  4. From an aesthetic point of view:

    The Good

    The Howard Johnson restaurant and parking lot in Far Away Places and the camera work showing Megan being abandoned in the parking lot by Don, driving away.

    The Bad

    Too many indoor scenes. I loved the visual energetic images of earlier seasons.

    The Ugly

    Calling Mr. Hanson, Mr. Handsome in Signal 30. That sounds like something written by a high school student and not a highly trained, paid professional writer.

    The Hoped-for

    More NYC architecture or settings appropriate in 1966; if NYC is becoming dirtier show the garbage piling up. Show a more grittier landscape.

    • I think it’s highly strange that your criticism of the line “Mr. Handsome” in Signal 30 is that it sounds juvenile. Perhaps it is the mark of a highly trained, paid, professional writer to leave no brush strokes considering that the line is spoken by a high schooler, to a high schooler, about a high schooler.

  5. the ugly: Sally’s witness of Roger and Megans mother, extremely distasteful.

    Introducing a new character like Megan into the show is hardly a departure from the MM we know and love. It is all of a continuum and it will be exciting to see what is to come like always.

    • Yes, I think they could have hinted at that without showing it, Poor Sally.

    • I agree completely. I never thought this type of scene would ever been shown on a TV program regardless if it were cable or not. I wonder how it made past the censors or are there any censors?

      • There are censors. The thing is, they didn’t show anything that isn’t allowed to be shown. It was very clear exactly what was happening, but they followed the rules of cable television.

  6. I do think the overabundance of Megan has given way to some fatigue on my end and other viewers…but I’ll be more than happy to jump on board the Megan train if we’re building to something satisfying with her.

    But yeah, defintiely need to see more of Joan, Peggy and Lane…but we’re nearing the end and at this point, I feel like anything substantial happening to them might feel thrown together.

    • I cannot believe that this is what we waited a year and half for. MW is a creative “genius”; he knows his audience and while it is “his” show, he has never shown contempt for the viewers or treated them as irrelevant.

      I keep thinking…. maybe it’s just wishful fantasy…. that he knew or greatly suspected the reaction he would create as he forced Megan down many of our throats. That it was intentional and that a big payoff is coming.

      It may be true, but as much as MW has invested in this show; I cannot believe that he just discovered Ms. Pare last season, creatively fell in love with her, and decided that she should become the central focus of a show (to the detriment of a number of previously well developed characters) more than halfway through its existence.

      • It is still an excellent show but I feel let down. Betty Peggy Joan Pete Roger everyone got short shrift so we could spend the entire season focusing on Megan.

        • So much has already been said about the focus on Megan that I won’t add a lot except to say I agree. Don, Joan, Peggy and Roger are the characters who involve me the most, also Betty from previous seasons. I’ve never gotten that involved with Megan — I’m not sure if it’s her character as written or the lack of skill of the actress portraying her, probably a bit of both. To me John Slattery as Roger is the perfect blend of actor and character. Even when he isn’t given much to do, he makes something of it.

      • I completely agree, Old Fashioned. I have waited and waited every week for MW to either do something substantial with the Megan character or to move past her to get back to the far more interesting characters we’ve had for four seasons. Neither happened. At this point, I think it’s too late to salvage a fully developed season.

        This season has begun some interesting arcs with Peggy, Ginsburg, Joan, and Betty but has not devoted enough screen time to develop them fully.

        I feel that almost nothing has been done with Don’s character this season except to show that he is a needy and controlling husband with Megan.

        Most of the season has been devoted to the two-dimensional and uninteresting character of Megan.

        There have been some good scenes — a few minutes here and there that were compelling. But the rest of the time I have felt that we were marking time.

        I got so frustrated that I went back and watched a big chunk of Season Three. That was a brilliant season. Watched The Fog last night — brilliant work by January Jones. I miss the well-written, thoughful, compelling Mad Men we used to get.

        • @Elizabeth: “This season has begun some interesting arcs with Peggy, Ginsburg, Joan, and Betty but has not devoted enough screen time to develop them fully.”

          This is the major problem…if they had taken a sliver of Megan’s screen time each episode and gave it to further pushing forward some of these character’s storylines, I feel we’d be in a better place.

        • Yes, everything you said Elizabeth.

        • Elizabeth,

          I agree that this season has focused way, way too much on Megan. But it may make sense to focus on Megan and build her up as “perfect” if the plan is to later reveal her as a Narcissist. I wrote #7 a while ago but it took while to post, it deals with that possibility.

        • So well said. I don’t outright dislike Megan. I find many of her actions and attitudes to be believable etc. I looked forward to seeing her folding dons life. What I did not expect to see is so much of her… At work, at home etc. Pete and don have some of the best chemistry on the show… I miss that. I miss Joan. And I’m not invested in Megan and for me her presence isn’t generating anything interesting. I have faith mw will take us there, although I have always sensed a disconnect over the way mw views Betty and how the audience generally receives her. I hope this isn’t the case w Megan.
          And… What we see w megan and don? Who says Betty and Don weren’t likewise as happy many yrs ago?

          • Omg typos.
            1) not Megan folding don. Influencing don.
            2) Peggy and don not Pete.

      • “I keep thinking…. maybe it’s just wishful fantasy…. that he knew or greatly suspected the reaction he would create as he forced Megan down many of our throats. That it was intentional and that a big payoff is coming.”

        I believe that too.

  7. This is what I previously posted in the “Lazarus” thread, it may be relevant to the Megan discussion.


    I’m really starting to wonder if Megan is a Narcissist. She’s what I’d call a highly socially skilled Narcissist. One who does not have to resort to smear campaigns and wild lying. But one who finds the insecurities of its prey, deepens those wounds, and then presents themselves as the solution so as to get the prey more dependent on them.

    What’s really bothered me is how Megan suggested that Don listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows” first on “Revolver.” Others more familiar w/the Beatles than I have noted that it’s the most “far out” song on the album, the one Don would have the most trouble “getting.” Don is already insecure about being out of touch w/youth culture. What disturbed me was in the beginning of the episode Don was running to Megan to get her advice on music rather than get a few Beatles albums himself. So Don is becoming dependent on Megan as a link to youth culture which is now pivotal to his job. And Megan, instead of choosing a song which would make Don less alienated from Beatles music and less fearful of the coming changes, chooses a song which will make Don feel more out of touch and insecure. And as result less self confident and more dependent on her.

    This reminded me of Betty in “Ladies Room.” I’ve long believed that Betty has full blown NPD, the writers are just veiling it until they are ready to reveal it in full. In LR, Don is visibly embarrassed by his farming trash roots when talking to Roger over dinner (the whole growing up on a farm because Don drops his “g’s”). And later that night Betty asks Don if he had a nanny and Don says of course not. So why would Betty even ask that? Betty saw Don’s insecurity that night at dinner and reinforced it because it benefits her. In “Waldorf Stories” we saw a Don who was still a yokel in around ’52. Betty might have been one of his links or “tutors” into upper middle class society. So Don has an insecurity about his background and Betty fill that insecurity. But every so often she has to deepen it so as to preserve her necessity.

    I see a parallel between Betty and Megan. In the ‘50s Betty was Don’s link to the current culture of his day (upper class white) and in the late ‘60s Megan is Don’s link to the current youth culture. And while both women help Don, they also feed into his insecurities and keep him dependant on them to some extent.

    Also, many viewers complain that Megan is portrayed as “perfect.” But that’s what Narcissists do when they’re trapping their prey, they present themselves as the vision of what the prey wants to see. It seems Betty did that with Don. In “Mountain King” Don describes Betty as “always happy” to Anna. But any viewer knows that Betty is one angry person. So perhaps Betty wanted Don (as per MW), then presented herself the way he wanted to see her ( the perfect ‘50s upper middle class housewife,), and once they were married for a couple years the mask dropped and Don turned to Midge.

    Joan basically tells Peggy that Megan is the same as Betty. If they’re both Narcissists, then Joan may be spot on a many more levels.

    Also, Megan’s comment about no one caring for Dick Whitman but that she cares for him would be typical of a N. Don is basically Dick Whitman. By saying no one cared for him except for her, Megan makes herself more the center of Don’s attention and reminds him of his insecurities. Similarly with the barb about Don’s mother, it reminds him that he’s “less than” and should be ashamed and grateful to have Megan.

    The surprise party would fit a N’s moves. Megan basically embarrasses Don under the guise of doing something nice for him, totally casebook. And the whole song could be a way of having all of Don’s friends see how youthful and fun she is and remind Don that he’s old and should be grateful to have her.

    Also, if Megan is a N who wants to use people to get what she wants, she did exactly that. She snagged a well off husband, kept a job she hated until it didn’t look like she married Don to support her acting career, and then quit her hated job and had Don support her acting career.

    The whole HoJo’s scene could also be typical of an N. Many other viewers more observant that I have noted that Megan could have just stayed at HoJo’s (they already had a room) and waited until the morning to deal with things. But if you cross a N by stranding them, you’ll regret it in spades. So Megan leaves, perhaps leaves her sunglasses in the parking lot to freak Don out, then doesn’t answer the phone all night. Basically reduces Don to the point on hysteria.

    There’s also the theme of repeating mistakes, as iterated by Jane’ psychiatrist. In S4, Don made some serious progress after “Summer Man” both emotionally and psychologically. And then in “Tomorrowland” he reverted back to old habits, he married someone he barely knew. He did that w/Betty and ended up w/a N. “Tomorrowland” ended with the whole “Groundhog Day” motif while Don was in bed w/Megan. So perhaps history is repeating itself w/Don.

    While Megan could be a Narcissist, she could also be something worse, a Sociopath. A Narcissist doesn’t have empathy and suppresses their conscience. A Sociopath has neither empathy nor a conscience at all. It’s been my observation that N’s charm a whole group of people while S’s focus in on one person, prey on their insecurities, alienates them from their friends, turns them on their friends, and then makes the victim a spokesperson for the S.

    Megan makes the comment that people at work don’t like her, wrongly characterizing them and making her sound like a victim. Which could alienate Don from them. Megan also says more or less that Peggy is difficult, which is again not true. But Don believes these things which create the argument w/Peggy. In the argument, Don is speaking as if Peggy has some great obligation to help Megan, which she doesn’t. But this is typical reasoning by the victims of Sociopaths and once they take the S’s side they will turn on their closest and dearest. Once a S has itself fully into the head of its victim, the victim is just a shadow of itself, a hollow defender of the S, unrecognizable to its former friends.

    Also, Ns and Ss are the consummate actors and Megan is an actress.

    Furthermore, here’s Megan’s portrait for S5.

    The blazing red, the color of the Phoenix, is hyper emphasized. If Megan is a Narcissist, then the title “Lady Lazarus” would be appropriate for an episode where more of her N traits are shown.


    So that’s about it. With “Dark Shadows” Megan’s blouse is the colors of the Phoenix.

    Also, Megan is teaching Sally how to fake cry, which is a trait of Narcissist as well as actors. Which makes one wonder if Megan was fake crying while leaving her job.

    • celina, you lengthy post is evidence that an analysis of Megan can be brilliant as well as detailed.

      My response will NOT be as lengthy.

      From wikipedia some traits and signs of a Narcissist:

      a) Problems in sustaining relationships

      b) Lack of psychological awareness

      c) Difficulty with empathy

      d) Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults

      e) Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt

      f) Haughty body language

      g) Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them

      h) Using other people without considering the cost of doing so

      i) Pretending to be more important than they really are

      j) Bragging and exaggerating their achievements

      k) Denial of remorse and gratitude

      Except for the insults how else is Megan a Narcissist? And why did Megan change directions and decide to become a full-time actress? It was NOT shame but GUILT, the guilt trip supplied by her father at the end of At The Codfish Ball.

  8. I’m kind of missing some of the star writers from years past, and I wonder if that accounts for some of the un-eveness of this year. I miss Maria and Andre Jacquemetton, Lisa Albert, and I know it’s been a few seasons but Robin Veith. These kind of seemed like the superstars, and now they seem to just produce rather than do actual writing on the eps.

    And I feel bad saying it, but the two worst eps so far, to me, are Tea Leaves and Dark Shadows, both written or co-written by Erin Levy. Just saying. If I see her name now on an ep I kind of groan.

    Matt Weiner is still amazing. I don’t think he could write something sub-par, but obviously he can’t write them all.

    • I absolutely agree, especially concerning Erin Levy and Robin Veith. I don’t find it a coincidence that more subtle writing regarding (as well as a sympathetic take on) Betty disappeared once Veith left, and Levy was seemingly put in charge of Betty-focused episodes.

      • I remember in the DVD commentary a lot of things unique to Betty came from Robin’s life and what she saw as a child. So, yeah, I think her influence on that character, in particular, is missed.

    • MyPeopleAreNordic, that’s such a good point. I have noticed that some of the episodes are far better written than others, and of course that likely has much to do with who the main writers of each episode are. I’m surprised this hasn’t been discussed much on this site. I have thought several times that it would be interesting to go through all the episodes and look at who wrote each one and then look at how well-written each one was. Seeing patterns in such match-ups might help us to account for some of the weaknesses in various seasons, as well as inconsistencies in certain characters’ behavior.

      Of course, I haven’t taken the time to do this! It would be pretty time consuming to rewatch all the episodes to do this assessment. I know there are short plot summaries available on line, but that’s not always enough to help me remember the writing quality in an episode.

      Anyway, someone should do this for their PH.D. dissertation in film as literature. 😉

  9. You know, now I really can’t wait for tomorrow night’s episode and to see how this season will wrap up. I’ve read at least one of the actors on show say that it’s the best season yet, we’ll just have to see. ‘

    Another good if not Great moment: Don listening to Tomorrow Never Knows. Loved it. Totally worth the quarter mil.

  10. Almost any scene with Roger in it this season have been show stoppers and stealers! He, along with Ginzo, have provided almost all the side splitting moments.

    I had a pair of shoes just like Peggy’s green ones, but in red and slingbacks. My super favorite pair of shoes of all time.

    I’ve missed Peggy’s super wardrobe this season. Women, even those super career focused, didn’t take to dressing unfemininely until later in the game, at least that I remember, so I don’t know why they’ve taken this tack with Peggy. It has seemed like the major share of the clothing budget was spent on Megan, just like the major share of screen time.

    And Don, phooey, he’s become the most boring character on the show. Don’t really care at this point why or what this is driving toward. The DD character has totally lost me as a fan. Even at his most boorish, meanest, narrcissistic, he was still super compelling as a character. Now he’s just nasty imo.

    • BJ, I totally agree with you about Peggy’s wardrobe — it’s mostly a catholic schoolgirl aesthetic, sometimes crossed with girl scout scarves. Now, in the promo pictures for this season, Peggy wore a stunning sleeveless chartreuse dress, and another gorgeous pink and brown striped sleeveless, but they’re yet to be seen! I know that the seasonal promo shots don’t always have the same fashion (come to think of it, we didn’t see Joan’s spectacular green wiggle dress either!) but I am still holding out that we may see a touch of fabulosity on Peggy before the season is over. I kind a agree on the clothing budged for Megan, but we’ve see a couple of great dress on Joan.

      I want Peggy’s shoes in all different colors — maybe some manufacturer will pick up the design!
      And you see Peggy’s gravel art there? I know I must have seen those exact two panels somewhere
      in my childhood, wish I could remember where. I’m checking eBay, maybe I’ll just make a facsimile.
      Yeah, Don has lost some of his bite, although it was frightening when he chased Meg around their apartment and his frightening murder dream. A tiny part of me wants him to stray, but just a tiny part. We’ll just have to wait and see.

      For the rest of you, don’t give up hope yet. All relationships have their ups and downs! Every episode can’t be “The Suitcase” or “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”.

    • Agreed about Roger. To me he has been the one bright spot among the major characters this year. I would say both Pete and Betty have held steady — Betty’s been quite good (like Roger) but she has had very limited screen time, so I can only give her a passing grade.

      Huge drop-off for Don, big drop-off for Joan, slight drop-off for Peggy, and Megan is a complete snooze.

      Of the minor characters, a tip of the hat to Jane Sterling. She’s been quite good. Almost makes me wish we had gotten to know her better when she and Roger had been married. Oh, and Grandma Francis always brings it with her weird nastiness.

      Of the walk-ons, Megan’s mom was quite good. In fact, I would say she has been Megan’s biggest contribution to the show in her nearly two years on it.

      All in all, the weakest year (thus far) of the first four. But still the best written show there is.

      • Yes, Megan’s mother and father were much more interesting than she is! I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them.

      • Yes, Jane! I love her this year. I guess the reason we didn’t see more of her was that Peyton List wasn’t always available, but Jane is just killing it this year.

  11. Tsk, tsk. All those Megan haters. They remind of the the Susannophobes from Season 3–fact! And they remind me of the fans who hang on to characters past their write-off date. First Rachel, then Sal, then Faye Miller. What’s next, bring back Kinsey? Carla? Kurt and Smitty? Dale? Duck? Crab Colson? Yes, the good old days.

    I love the Megan storyline and what Jessica Pare brings to the character, an avatar of change. If there’s one story in Mad Men, it’s that lives go on. People change…and they don’t. Or to put it in familiar terms, “One day, you’re there, and then, all of a sudden there’s less of you.” Keep changing!

    • Well said!

    • Not liking the character Megan — or particularly liking the actress Jessica Pare’s portrayal of her — or the Megan story line — does not make one a “Megan hater” imo.

      And I for one have no need or desire to bring back any of the characters you mentioned from earlier seasons. They all had their day and were gone when their story arc ended, or MM had no more desire to have them in the story.

      None of these previous characters, though, dominated the story on MM — or screen time — in the way the Megan character has. And that seems to be the biggest complaint of the MM fans you call “Megan haters.”

      • I am banning all conversation about whether or not someone is a “Megan hater.” It’s not productive, and it made a wreck of this blog in the past with the pro- and anti-Suzanne factions.

    • Yes…. the defenses of Ms. Pare and the character she portrays seem very personal. Just because many of us have not taken to the character and/or JP’s portrayal of her, does not equate to hate.

      However, while change is inevitable and the show would be unrealistic without significant change; no other new character including Lane (and Jared Harris has major billing) has been provided anywhere near the screen time of Megan. It is simply a fact.

      It is as though the writers are attempting to build the same history between Megan and the audience that it took 4 seasons to build with the other main characters (excluding DD). Unfortunately, if “getting us caught up with her” is the idea…. they have done a poor job. We knew more about Paul Kinsey and Sal Romano than we do about Megan.

      I think, when and hopefully if, we are shown the true Megan it is going to “blow our socks off”. One can only hope!

      • “It is as though the writers are attempting to build the same history between Megan and the audience that it took 4 seasons to build with the other main characters (excluding DD). Unfortunately, if “getting us caught up with her” is the idea…. they have done a poor job. We knew more about Paul Kinsey and Sal Romano than we do about Megan.”

        Well said — this is exactly my complaint. It’s just poor writing/poor planning of the season.

        I don’t need to like a character to be interested in him/her. I don’t like Don or Betty (at least, I dislike them as much as I like them), but I am very interested in them, because the writers did the work to create them as fully realized characters. As I said, I don’t need to like the character, but I do need to feel that I am being shown an actual person.

  12. Therese, I watched the episode and loved it. I think Megan is a wonderful character, way too smart and nice for the rest of those narcissists. I’ll tune in again tomorrow night, though, because I want to see the new copy writer let Don have it. I mean, leaving his presentation in the cab? Really?

    • Yup, that really ticked me off! I thought that ‘Dark Shadows’ had both good and bad parts in it, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. I hope Michael lets Don have it too!
      And I love Megan too (as I stated in a previous post) but I do think she’s slightly overused. Although if you compare her screen time asd Don’s wife to Betty’s time in the same position, it’s probably the same. I’m sure there’s a reason for her great exposure, and I still suspect that there’s a cloud over her. I was a bit suspicious of her when she was teaching Sally to stage-cry; and I wondered if all of her tears on this show were real. When she told her co-workers that she was leaving SCDP, it struck me as just a bit forced. That said, I do like how she’s brought vitality into Don’s life and how she is truly her own woman.

      • I know I may sound like I would like to see Megan for the entire 45 minutes, but even I would like to see more of Joan. Why did the writers of MM suddenly drop her like a hot potato after she threw Greg out? I would have been interested how she is navigating as a single parent in 1966.

        And I would love to find out more about Stan Rizzo. I would love if one episode followed him around off hours to see what he is like away from work and where his interests lie.

        • That’s true. We know next to nothing about Stan Rizzo. I wonder what interesting bits of backstory will be revealed.

        • YES! More Stan!!! His change from last season’s sexist, nasty, let’s get nekkid ways has been fairly abrupt (though it did start when Peggy called him on it and then grew when Joey was fired). I’d love to learn of him. He’s obviously got some artistic/literary references (though NO ONE got the pig Snowball from Animal Farm??? Really???).

          Or maybe I just like barrel-chested art directors with a penchant for snug fitting Banlon shirts???

          • More Stan is right!He deserves a bit more focus.I think what has been shown of him this season has been great,and I love the camaraderie he has developed with Peggy.There is definetly more to him than meets the eye,and its time we see it.

            I will also echo the opinions of having more focus on Joan, Lane, and other supporting characters like Stan and even Harry. Also, more Betty, even though Weiner stated beforehand she wouldnt be on alot this season.2 episodes isnt enough for me.

            I do think Peggy has been featured alot though.Pete has too, so I have no complaints in that department.

            Absolutely above anything else,LESS MEGAN.In fact if it was up to me I would have no Megan at all-

          • “Try reading the rest of that poem sometime, you boob.” We need more Stan and Michael scenes, stat!

          • I wonder if some of us are conflating more Stan scenes to more Stan in less clothes scenes? Just me? Well, all rightey then.

          • Linda, bathtub fabric queen, when I say I want to see more of him I mean that in more ways than one ; )

          • I think Peggy firing Joey caused a huge change. Who you are around can impact who you are. There are some people who bring out the worst in others. Joey brought out the worst in Stan. Remove Joey from the picture, and Stan becomes a more likable individual. I don’t think Stan ever expected Peggy to call him out and strip down right in front of him. It seems they put the mini-prank war of last season behind them, and now work quite well together.

        • Agreed about both Stan and Joan. It’s amazing how interesting they’ve made Stan with so little screen time to do it. After starting out as an obnoxious frat boy type, I feel like he’s really matured and become a good colleague to Peggy.

          And Joan — I love her so much. In my opinion she’s the most underused “main” character on Mad Men. I would happily watch a whole spin-off on Joan.

          In fact, there’s a good parlor game — which Mad Men characters should get their own spin offs, and what would the spin-offs be about?

          My picks for spin off characters are Joan, Sal Romano, and Rachel Menken.

  13. I can’t remember where I read this but didn’t Jon Hamm say before the start of this season that the season would be about the relationship of Don and Joan? I could’ve swore I read him saying this…if so…they’d better hurry up!

    • I remember this too, it’s not just you!

    • Patience is a virtue.

      Tonight’s episode, “Christmas Waltz” is all about people getting what they want, perhaps even the viewers! 🙂

      I’m betting we will see Joan and Don together tonight — with Megan at acting classes, Don needs someone on his arm to accompany him to business functions, especially during the holiday season.

      Who could be a better “work couple” than Don and Joan? We saw that Don and Peggy as husband and wife in the test kitchen didn’t work, even when scripted. Watching and Don and Joan would be such a wonderful gift.

      • A Christmas in May present for all of us. Wouldn’t that be nice!

      • OMG, that would be too good to be true.

        And a hilarious reversal of expectations — all season people have been expecting Joan and Roger to get together! It would be too funny if Don and Joan ended up together. What a power couple that would be! They could rule New York!

  14. It is Matthew Weiner who in Inside Mad Men in the premiere episode labeled Megan as representative of the generation gap. And the generation gap was all about the impossibility of reconciling the ideas and attitudes of the past with the present. In 1966, Megan would have felt the disdain of those wedded to the past. In 2012, it is no different on this site.

    For the reason Megan does represent the generation gap in the late 1960’s I see her character staying on the show beyond season five.

  15. For me, season five has been Mad Men on steroids.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the trip. I don’t care where Matt & Co. take us, I like the ride.

    Anyone else think Lane might date Dawn? Regardless, I bet they both will be featured somehow, by the end of this season.

    Peggy’s evolution, Betty’s devolution, Don’s equilibrium, Joan’s breaking through…..all make sense to me.

    • Frankly, Matt Weiner needed a main character to take Mad Men into the latter half of the 1960’s. It didn’t have to be Megan. It could have been a feminist type like Joyce. Or it could have been a young man like Abe who is dedicated to seeing advertising serve the public interest more.

      Matt Weiner didn’t have to give Don a very young second wife. But that is the route he chose to go down. Why? Two reasons: To give Don a bridge to the young and to keep him relevant: the creative genius which he is and to exploit the domestic plot line between Don and Betty. MW killed two birds with one stone by having Don hook up with Megan.

      A Don-Faye matchup imho wouldn’t have produced the same results. Don would be undergoing extensive psychotherapy and Faye would keep telling Don he needs to be like everyone else. Don would be estranged from his kids. Would the viewers of MM really enjoy watching DD pour his soul out to a shrink every week and watch Sally constantly beat up on Don because of Faye? Sorry, that’s not my cup of tea.

  16. Myself, I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t get at least one line of dialogue from Freddy Rumsen/Joel Murray. He’s still with SCDP isn’t he?

    • I don’t think Freddy is with SCDP anymore. In the premiere, they mentioned that Ponds went to Y&R, and I assumed Freddy took it with him.

  17. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here, although I like the bean ballet and I don’t think it’s impossible that two highly inebriated people would sneak off to an unoccupied ballroom to do their thing (or do I mean his thing?), without caring who might walk in. Both Roger and Marie are drunks, remember.

    I don’t hate Megan, but I don’t find her story line anywhere near as compelling as the relatively-little-exposed ones of Joan and Dawn and Peggy. I probably should care because she’s Don’s wife, but it looks like she has everything so well controlled that there’s not a whole lot of drama there, not yet. Though I wonder if there’s going to be a “Megan has an abortion” or “Don and Megan experiment with open marriage or swinging” story line. If Don’s happy, and Megan’s happy, and there’s nothing much at stake there, fine. Let’s put more focus on characters who do have major stuff going on.

  18. For me it is rather a Quite Like/Meh season for now. And God knows I wanted to LOVE this season. The premiere was solid, and I was sure it would build from that. There were some very good episodes. The surprising thing was that soon it became clear that the less interesting parts involved Don and Megan. The most compelling by far were, unexpectedly, about Pete; Peggy had her moments, as well as Roger and, surprisingly, Jane. Betty was, as always, great, but we have seen much too little of her.

    I am sorry that the writers felt that Don could not walk and chew at the same time, meaning be happily married and work at making successful the company he took the huge risk of building not too long ago. I expect that the show, in the last episodes of the season, will turn its attention to how SCDP is financially doing, how Peggy is feeling in this agency, and how Michael is fitting in. I am afraid that any resolution will feel rushed, because the writers felt that they needed to hammer on how really really happy Don and Megan were. I suspect that it is because the proposal in the S4 finale was so ludicrous and unjustified. At that time they were apparently mainly focused on surprising the audience; in order to really surprise viewers, they actually under-plotted the Don-Megan connection. (Things might have felt different if Don was having affairs simultaneously with both Faye and Megan, and in the end chose the latter).

    In S5, the writers had to retrospectively justify the S4 ending. Having seen the reaction to the S4 finale, they might have also become enthralled by the idea of surprising the viewers (you know what? Contrary to what critics say, D & M are deeply in love! Really! Really!) The result is that almost half of the season, as of now, is about the relationship, although not about building Megan as a consistent character (Maria von Trapp; but sultry; with an M&S kink; who is her own woman; who wants to make a career in SCDP; who is a great copywriter; uh, sorry … who wants to become an actress, or at least, to take acting lessons; blah blah). Meanwhile, Don is doing nothing but staring at her. OK.

    I am not happy that the ratings are down. In all previous seasons, they were up. Now they are at the same level as the lowest ratings of S4. From what I read, MW and JH are contracted for S6, and S7 is only an option if the ratings in S5 and S6 are not only good, but up as compared to previous seasons. Clearly, the Megan Show, as some have called it, is not attracting new viewers (I would not have kept watching past episode 4 if I had only began with S5). I hope that, if the writers know that there is a good chance that S6 is really the last, they would really try their best to advance all characters’ stories, rather than artificially propel only that of one inconsistent character.

    • It seems like the pattern for MM has always been, premiere gets the biggest ratings, then it keeps dropping until the finale, when it goes back up again. And the S5 premiere was a long-awaited, much-hyped event. These ratings are still higher than for the first three seasons.

    • Bling, I have been deeply dissatisfied with the bulk of Season 5, and my dissatisfaction has stemmed largely from the problems you explained so articulately in your second and third paragraphs.

      But despite my dissatisfaction with this season, I would be terribly sad if there was no Season 7! I hope that doesn’t happen.

  19. I don’t think “the bad” includes too much Megan. The character of Megan is integral to the overall story arc, not just for season five, but for the entire series and as such we need to get to know her, and quickly.

    Megan helps characterize Don Draper. We see Don’s growth (or lack thereof) through this relationship. We also get a bird’s eye view of the mid-to-late sixties. In this 1966, season-five year, we need a character who can bring us — through her eyes, her sensibility, her background, her choices, her responses — a sense of the huge social and cultural sea change. Dawn could serve that purpose as well, but the writers have chosen to use Megan and I’d bet it’s because she gives us access to Don’s home life as a father and husband at this point in the series and the sixties. This is important to our overall knowledge of Don and his storyline, and it will play out going forward.

    “Too much Megan” is really, imo, “who is Don Draper?” extended. It’s really not about her. It’s about Don, who remains front-and-center through his marriage and work. Megan has been a great connector from purely a story standpoint.

  20. There is a lot of talk that a ‘happy Don’ is a boring Don, and after recently re-watching The Suitcase the other day, I feel like that never had to be the case. When we get to the end of The Suitcase, and Don the next morning is cleaned up, and coming up with the Samsonite pitch/sketch, and grabs Peggy’s hand in gratitude, I felt such elation for him and excitement for him. That Don, at that moment, seemed to be in catharsis and re-energized and I loved it. He had connected with another human being, and I felt so much for him and wanted to him to continue connecting and growing.

    Seeing him now, I feel none of that pride or excitement for him. Probably because I suspect he didn’t really solve any of his problems and is just at a middling level of contentment, but there goes another problem. Is he? Because every Inside Mad Men has Matthew Weiner talking about how perfect Megan is for him and how much Don loves her.

    My fear is, we’re creating this complex relationship between him and Megan, and in the end it’s not there. It’s simply, “She’s amazing and had the power to completely change a man, and Don is one hundred percent enthralled and in love with this chick and that was enough to make him a good man.’ And….that is not exciting, because she doesn’t seem that complex, and/or complex enough to handle a man of that nature. The person who can resolve Don needs to have some big time demons to understand Don Draper, and if someone sunny and fun enters into the mix and can turn that mess around…well, does that happen?

    • Well, no matter how the relationship between Don and Megan plays out, it’s part of the story arc and it’s not over until the end of season 7.

      I think Megan has depth and nuance and offers lots of visual and cultural interest in context and juxtaposed against Don especially. She’s just young and idealistic as well as pragmatic.

      I think Don has to resolve himself. Megan can be perfect for him, but if he doesn’t choose to become “a good man,” then he won’t. That’s the story I’m watching.

      • If that is the story to be told, at the expense of other, more compelling characters, I choose to not participate. It was a lovely 4 seasons. It really, and truly was.

        • It may be that (sadly) this wonderful show has run its course. Someone mentioned up thread that it is a shame that just minutes of each episode weren’t shaved off of the interminable Megan/Don situation to focus on each of the other characters and I completely agree with this. If so, we still could have had a good view of Megan/Don adjusting to one another, Megan career preferences, her parents, but without spending so much time on it that we had no time to get to know Michael, flesh out Stan, and of course Joan, Peggy, Pete, Roger, etc.

        • I concur tilden. I have purchased each season on BluRay soon after its release. Unless this season ends with a series of amazing episodes, I’ll be waiting for Season 5 to be in the discount bin; and would only purchase it to complete the series.

          I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but I have this feeling that come June 10th, I’m going to be saying I wish the contract talks had broken down and this show would have gone off on top.

        • Yes, until Tomorrowland, when the writers seemed to throw out the entire universe they had spent four seasons building.

  21. Leaving Ginzo’s work in the cab was juvenile and beneath Don, no doubt. Ginzo has no filters,but I still find it hard to swallow that he would have treated Don so condescendingly in their pitch discussion. He expressed surprise that Don still had it in him after something like not writing for so long. Really? He is very Jr. At SCDP…
    Then to confront him in full fury about not including his work for the client to choose? cathartic for us, but I’m still having a hard time imagining how would have occurred.

  22. Up until this season, excluding Tomorrowland, I’ve felt that MM was a work of art. Where we got underneath the characters skin and began to really understand them and thus maybe get some insight into the human condition. It reminded me of some great classic novel.

    Now this season, especially since the last episode, I’ve been depressed about the show. Everything seems shallow and rather pointless. The Megan “arc” is yawn-worthy. It is so obvious that MW just got enthralled with JP and wanted to push her to the forefront. She is just not interesting.

    It’s probably too late to salvage the season. Maybe the writers will come up with a shocker that will get our attention. But it will seem, and be, contrived.

    I would still be intrigued by seeing something more about Lane, Pete, Stan, Dawn, etc. but it most likely will not be enough.

    Sorry, but MM has turned from a work of art into a good soap opera.

    • I wonder if some of the issue in the soap opera arena is how much stuff seems to be getting recycled? I’m not talking about things that refer us back to an earlier event or interaction, but stuff that either seems to be lifted from earlier season almost verbatim or with just slight changes?

      How many more discombobulated pregnancies can a show reference in fewer than 5 complete seasons?

      How many more times are the viewers going to see Don, staring wide eyed and say in a dreamy tone to a younger, independent, sexually free women that he idolizes/is infatuated with/ in love with “who are you?”?

      The soapy-tendencies have been there all along– the lens placed on marriages and other interpersonal relationships. But I think they’ve lost some of the stuff that made MM so unique early on: the place in time in which it is set. The occasional orientation by dropping Speck or smog doesn’t make up for the loss of racial or sexual workplace dynamics or technical differences that made the era so different from ours. When that time and space specificity is lost and personal relationships dominate, the soapiness is bound to take over.

      • One soapy tendancy that has reared its ugly head is the “getting pregnant from one sexual encounter”. We’ve had Roger and Joanie, unless I’m mistaken Peggy and Pete, although they were married…didn’t Bets supposedly become pregnant during her separation from Don when they made the trip to Philly (Don was relegated to sleeping on the floor). Beth being with child from her one time with Pete would be a bit of a reach.

  23. My biggest complaint about S5 deals mainly with the newest Mrs. Donald Draper (Megan). The show has a ‘Megan’s Anatomy’ feel to me, where she is now the primary (or one of the more primary) characters who drive the show (get the most focus/screen time) compared to other characters. I’d like to see MM as an ensemble show but I don’t think that’s possible every week, with so many rich and interesting characters, so a trade off makes sense (give us Peggy, then take a break and give Joan/Pete/Roger, etc, but come back to Peggy at some point). There are some character story lines that have been practically dropped since they landed because Megan gets so much screen time (for example, what exactly is Joan up to with single motherhood now that Greg is out of the picture? Did he ever try to come back? Is mother still helping her? What does Kevin even look like, we haven’t seen him in several episodes?) There’s no trade off with the characters when one character (other than Don Draper) is constantly shoved into focus.

    • I want to see more of Joan with Kevin and her mother. The mother seemed like she could have been a very interesting character. The episode with Pete and Beth would have interested me more if there had been a few scenes with Trudy. Why doesn’t Pete want to go home? Last season he really Fdid seem happy about being a father and he didn’t need to move to the Burbs. The 70s elements haven’t worked for me so far: acid trips and chanting need to be told, not shown. Both are interesting to whomever does them but not to others. I am in the less Megan camp, would rather see Betty who is much more interesting. I think we are seeing some changes in Betty–think that discussion goes in the recap. More Stan! More Peggy Too much Harry Crane. He is consistently clueless and whiny and doesn’t change much. Cosgrove is interesting to me because he is clearly dedicated to his job but also has a life apart from SCDP. Don and Megan are boring and predictable. They didn’t really know eachother. She took interest in his life and even participated in it–he isn’t interested in her acting and never thought about it as part of her personality. Don likes novelty, he doesn’t have his arm candy at work anymore and he also doesn’t have a stay at home wife which I think he thought would happen with Megan. Maybe Dr. Faye will show up and remind him

  24. I wish there was more Betty. I know she’s one of the most hated characters on TV, but I’ve always felt sympathy for her. Don’s home life and the marriage dynamic of the time has always been my favorite storyline of the show. Megan just bores me to tears.

  25. My second complaint is centered around Betty Draper, who I feel has gotten a bum rap the past two seasons. She is a deeply flawed women, gas-lit by an uncaring husband for years, forced to accept a life that she wasn’t prepared for because society told her to, an essentially very lonely person. Since her divorce from Don, Betty has a become a vindictive caricature of herself. Many of the layers seem to be missing because all viewers are seeing is an angry Betty who is still unhappy and lashing out that everyone (from understanding husband Henry to young kids Sally and Bobby). There are reasons that Betty became this flawed person, but we don’t get to look into them the way we used to, all we often see is the nastiness (which would make it very easy to dislike Betty as a character).

    I’d like to see this character get more screen time (two episodes thus far, which I know is due in part to JJ’s pregnancy, but hopefully that will change as the season develops), and a little more characterization and depth rather than just random action (i.e. blurting out about Anna Draper in anger after seeing a love note between Don and Megan).

    • Aurora, I just read a Times article linked in the latest Basket of Kisses that I think you may enjoy. I did, the writer is so “on” about the writers (mis)handling of the Betty character, especially the last few seasons, as you say also. Tried to link it but it wouldn’t link, this is it below:.

      TIME’s James Poniewozik has sympathy for Betty Francis.

  26. This folks is the fundemental flaw. MW & Co. have spent 4 seasons developing characters that were complex and very human. Like them, hate them, or most of the time ambivalent about them… the audience had become deeply vested in these characters.

    Now we are 3/4 of the way through Season 5 and most of these characters have been on screen so little, that we have barely been able to keep up with what is going on in their lives let alone see any significant development of their characters.

    Joanie’s a single mom…. what’s that like for her in 1966. Did Greg just fall of the face of the earth when she kicked him out?

    What about Lane? and more interestingly….. What about Joanie and Lane?

    Ken Cosgrove is an interesting character…. do something with him.

    Finally, Ballerina has been relegated to the back bench. What about her relationships with Abe, Stan, Don, and her mother? I’m beginning to wonder if there is more to Elisabeth Moss not being available for group events and promotion for the show than ” She’s out of the country doing a movie/play.”

    • Another one that’s curious about Cosgrove! I think people underestimate Kenny because he is so nice and so cheerful. How he got that way interests me. That is an interesting take on Peggy/Elisabeth Moss, it makes a lot of sense. This show which made her a star was on hiatus for over a year. Seems strange that she didn’t clear her schedule to promote it.

      • It’s his show, but if MW kills Margaret Olsen the reaction will rival when Dickens killed Little Nell.

        I’m not certain I would want to continue to watch.

  27. I love the idea of this post! This is a great way to sort of “clear the emotional energy” as we settle in for the final episodes of the season.

    I’ve had mixed reactions to this season, wishing for more attention to my favorite characters and storylines. I could give a laundry list of my thoughts, but most have already been expressed above.

    I’ve wondered if my reaction to the good/meh/mediocre is not unlike what it would be like for met to experience the year 1966. I yearn for the characters and themes that represented the early ’60s. In comparison, I don’t really get what’s so great about the new youth culture that it has to supplant the old, and I don’t like seeing the older characters failing and losing their mojo. But, this is life, and this is change. I have to deal with it!

    Oh, and also, Dear Mad Men: Please let Peggy have nice things. Thanks, Me.

  28. I feel bad being negative about my favorite show of all time, so I will say I think “Far Away Places” holds up so well to repeated viewings. The tone of that episode is just incredible – odd, foreboding, unsettling. Really, a highlight episode of ANY season for me.

    There is an article on Vulture that went up today where Matthew Weiner talks about Megan and says that this season of her and Don is really a depiction of what it’s like to be in the “first year of marriage.” So, I guess if we wanted an over-arching theme for Season 5, perhaps it’s the “first year of marriage” season…for Don. I don’t know, I’m grasping at straws.

    I’m just hoping that season 5 is a tough season for ANY show to write because it’s a very in-between place for a show to be. When it’s the final season or two you can really start to pull out the big guns and point your characters towards where their final TV resting place will be, but at Season 5 it’s just too early to do that. So in a way they have to be middling.

    • I have a hard time reconciling Don’s abandonment of Megan in Far Away Places and Megan’s comment in Lady Lazarus that Don is everything she hoped for in a husband.

      • I do too. In that Vulture piece, MW said he was trying to show first year of marriage this season. The thing I came up with is that first year with few fights, they are able to forget or put aside even that horrible episode. If they had years of reoccurences of such incidents, they would likely not be able to make such positive comments anymore. But for now they can ignore the bad and still be optimistic newlywedders.

      • Me, too. That comment by Megan rang completely false for me. He’s everything you hoped he would be? Really? “Far Away Places” was a great episode — because it was deeply traumatizing! I still get very upset every time I think of Don leaving Megan in the parking lot and Don chasing Megan around the apartment with a physical stance and a look in his eye like a predator after his prey. How could a man who is capable of that behavior be everything a fiance hoped he would be? Bizarre. That line was one of the pieces of writing that really bothered me this season — it seemed as if whoever wrote that line hadn’t seen “Far Away Places.” Where is the character consistency?

      • Also, if that’s MW’s idea of a normal first year of marriage, I’m sure glad I’m not married to him!

  29. Therese, I agree with much of what you liked and didn’t like. Very well put-together piece.

  30. Didn’t Don set up an account as well in case something happens to him for the kids and Betty …after she covered for him when detectives interviewed her? I’m pretty sure that happened.

  31. My vote for “the ugly” goes to “it is what it is”!

  32. […] all know Bert’s Mark Rothko and Midge’s money-for-heroin art, but, as I mentioned in a previous post, there are two pieces of art in Peggy’s apartment that intrigued me from the moment I first […]

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