The only reason I kept watching AMC’s Mad Men was because I hoped one of the main characters would die, preferably violently. From the gate, I hated every one of them, except for earnest Peggy Olson. But the rest of the gang at Sterling Cooper and their families? I wished for those shallow, hateful rat fuckers to die in a fire. An errant Lucky Strike and a synthetic office sofa couldn’t be put to better use than to exterminate these blowhard assholes and their tailored suits.
I couldn’t believe people actually watched Mad Men for any reason beyond the parade of clothing and precise recreations of mid-century modern living. When I’d only seen the first three episodes, I was annoyed and bored out of my skull with the show. The sets, props, and costuming were great, but…the characters were such vapid assholes. I couldn’t understand why anyone would care about a smacked ass like Don Draper. He sticks his tongue in every drink, his cock in every woman, and doesn’t bring home the birthday cake. What’s the news here? The man was a disappointment. His coworkers were no better. They were just a bunch of yammering, buzzword tossing idiots biding their time until the next skirt walked by. Further, the head skirt, Joan Holloway, was simply a condescending bitch wrapped in a captivating, candy-colored package.
Despite my disgust, I kept watching Mad Men. At first, I thought the show was just bad at the start and would pick up. I should mention that by the time I watched the first season on DVD (no Netflix at Castle Viant), the fifth season had aired. It wouldn’t have been on TV for so long if it truly sucked, right? Maybe. So I watched the entire first season and then hated myself for devoting so much time to a show about well-heeled scumbags who make money by selling shit to people who don’t need it. Perversely, I kept watching because I wanted to see something awful happen to every single main player. Except Peggy, because something awful did happen to her (Pete Campbell, that slimy snake rectum).
Suddenly, I borrowed the second season just to see who would get canned, hit by a bus, mugged-the horrible possibilities were endless! Come on, Betty, let’s see you get mauled by a wolf! If only Roger had gotten caught with a woman who was blessed with vaginal dentata! I rooted for utter devastation. And yet, as I started cheering for disaster, the characters actually developed into more believable people. While the first season was populated by one dimensional dipshits, those same dipshits were far more well-rounded by the end of Season Two. I went from hate watching Mad Men to actively enjoying the show. Don Draper is much more likable as a Dick than a Don. Joan has a fragile, girlish side. Peggy Olson is still spectacular! And sometimes she smokes the ganja.
I’m now patiently waiting for the local library to get my held copy of Season Five of Mad Men. I’m hooked, and I’m OK with my transition. However, I realized that much of what I now dislike about the show is about the era in which it is set. The sexism and racism are pervasive and appalling. I can’t really imagine what it would be like, as a child of the 80’s, to be a woman in the 60’s. I wonder if I’d have the strength to rebel against the status quo. I’d like to hope so, but there’s no sure answer. I’d like to think I’d be involved in the civil rights movement, but, again, I have might been a more indifferent person if I lived then. These middle class white characters relish their privilege and safety, and I might not actually have been any different from them were I alive then.
I’m now a true fan of the show. And going forward, I merely hope that Peggy Olson doesn’t become a dirtbag. Don’t let me down, Peggy.