(Note: 7/2/12) I wrote this before the end of Season 5, and SCDP clients have picked up with Jaguar and possibly Firestone, but we still don’t see Connie Hilton anywhere)
It is interesting to note that the more commercial clientele that SCDP is attempting to acquire reflects the decay of NYC in the mid-late 60’s, and I’m sure that this is intentional. To think that just two seasons ago, Don was flirting with Conrad Hilton about hotel accounts, luxuriating in a grand Roman Hilton but now he’s excited about Howard Johnson’s? The divide in class and taste couldn’t be more clear. I can’t imagine why the orange and turquoise atmosphere of HoJo appealed to Don — maybe he thought it will give him the same colorful vibe that Disneyland gave him, when his love for Megan was bursting into full bloom. But it all ties in with the illusion of happy commercialism hiding the slow disintegration of society in the 60s.
There’s decay in Don and Megan’s relationship too. in Souvenir, Don buys Betty a beautiful gold charm of the Colosseum, in Far Away Places, he buys Megan a tacky orange backscratcher, which has ‘Howard Johnson’s’ stamped on it. This is one souvenir that Megan won’t want to keep, for the memory it recalls would be too painful.
Slow decay also eats away the Manhattan’s shiny, mid-century veneer and it will leave behind the stained, gritty concrete of the late 60’s and early 70’s. In Times Square, the grand old vaudeville houses will devolve into tacky, triple-X-Rated cinemas. Crime and litter will increase, and fashion, once so elegant and tailored only years before, will transform into meltable double-knit polyesters with garish designs. (Hello Betty!)
I keep remembering Faye’s words to Don last season: “You only like the beginnings of things.” I confess, I loved the beginning of MM, with its shiny, clean interiors and impeccable fashion, but as the 60s move forward, it will continue to age and soil, and no amount of bright illusion that SCDP creates will cover the truth of a slowly rotting society. I’ll miss that pretty illusion, but reality must intrude.