Monday, July 26, 2010

Mad Men 4.1: Scrappy Upstarts, Slappy Prostitutes

Annnnnd, we're off to a rip-roaring start to the new season of Mad Men. I give this episode 2 out of 5 razor blades on the Depressing Scale (tm). On paper, perhaps, the episode is quite depressing, but there was so much humor mixed in, and I was so excited to see the gang after nearly a year's absence, that I was fairly giddy throughout.

The episode begins with a question. The central question, in fact, of the show's run: "Who is Don Draper?"

To answer it, let's look at the more depressing aspects of the season premiere. Since we last saw him, Don Draper lives in a hovel, yet still pays the mortgage and insurance on his and Betty's old house. Don Draper is irritable, and has no appetite. Don Draper pays prostitutes to slap him. Don Draper is decidedly alone on Thanksgiving. Don Draper gives really bad interviews to Ad Age Magazine. Don Draper's first "real" date (preacher's wife from True Blood! Speaking in the same accent!) since his divorce says, "The world is so dark right now," yet this episode is somehow not, because:

A) Ham! Fight!
B) Peggy has an underling -- and a fake fiance / protector
C) Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is pretending to have a second floor
D) Pete is as toadying as ever
F) Ham! Fight!

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