A Few Questions: Mad Men: Season 3

And even as I write this, I’m already at Mad Men: Season 4, Episode 4.

But, still.


1. Was Conrad Hilton really such a nut job? Don’t get me wrong, I loved him (as a character; having worked for a “marketing communications” agency — we did so much more than ADS, people! — he seemed like a nightmare client) and I liked that he gave Don a hard time and kept him off balance. But I just wonder if the character was based on the actual Connie Hilton, or if he was fabricated.

2. Why is Betty Draper so very despicable in Season 3? She’s such a big baby! Is it the culture that infantilized suburban housewives, or is Betty Draper unique in her upbringing (i.e. “Daddy’s” girl) that makes her that way? Is it the way she treats her children? Is it the way that I know she would never leave Don without Henry waiting in the wings? Is it her whole me-centric bearing throughout the season?

Also: 2b. Why would you pick Christopher Stanley over Jon Hamm? I’m sorry, but Jon Hamm is my new marriage clause. Christopher Stanley is very, very meh. Unless, of course, you are Betty Draper and have daddy issues. And you discover your husband has been lying to you from day one.

3. Why don’t I hate Don Draper? I actually have been fascinated by this question since I started watching Mad Men. He is a lying, cheating bastard (okay, he couldn’t have helped that last part) who is totally eff’ed in the head — and I am utterly compelled by him. The bad boy motif? I don’t think so, only because he’s so… manly. The steel gaze, the square jaw. But he is such a complex mystery, oddly moral in his ways. The scene where he breaks down and tells Betty about his past — it was… moving. I just wanted to see her give him a hug, for God’s sake.

4. Watching Mad Men, with all the drinking and smoking, is torture when you’re pregnant. Torture, I tell you. (Okay, not a question.)

5. What happens(ed) to Sal? I love big, gay closeted Sal. What is up with showing him in a phone booth lying to his wife? The background seemed to intimate at hot gay action in a park somewhere. Am I missing something? Where is Sal?? (If you are ahead of me in Season 4, and know this, don’t tell me. If there is anything to tell. If there’s not, don’t tell me that either!)

What I Am: Watching, Reading

I know, day late, dollar short. I’m all discombobulated from a sick kid.

Mad Men
Season 1

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t watch a lot of television. I think it takes more organization than I’m capable of lately. You have to be in a certain place at a certain time; you have to know what channel a show is on; and, usually, you have to have watched previous seasons/shows to know what is going on.

But I had been hearing a lot of good things about Mad Men. One of my friends, who also watches Lost, lent me Season 1 on DVD, and I’ve started watching.

And I’m not sure if I’m going to continue.

I like the show a lot, but it troubles me. The acting is superb, everything about the settings is sexy, and the glimpse into an earlier time is facinating — and sometimes repulsive. The show captures the culture of Madison Avenue in the 1960s spot on. And maybe that’s part of the problem.

I’m only up to episode 6 of season 1. Episode 3, the birthday party at the Draper household, was one of the scariest things I have ever seen on television. Something about the suburban housewife culture, the portrayal of Don Draper as a man trapped inside a life he was trying to make for himself. The loneliness and isolation inherent in each character… it’s hard for me to witness.

The lack of a clear protagonist is difficult for me too. Don Draper is intriguing, but I always have a difficult time liking characters who cheat on their spouses; Pete Campbell, while slimy, becomes a little more sympathetic after we meet his parents, and his wife is a piece of work; the women are caricatures and difficult for me to empathize with. I’m not sure who I should be cheering for — if I should be cheering for anyone.

So, fans of Mad Men, talk me into continuing to watch the show. Should I just appreciate how well-done it is? As the show goes on, do we learn more about these characters that makes them more sympathetic — or less? Why do you watch it?



Also, I’ve been linking to this post from the artist formerly known as Pitt Girl (and now known by her real name, Ginny) all over the place. Please go read it. It’s so refreshing to read something that basically says: Pittsburgh, stop apologizing! You rock. (There’s a little bit in there about some G-20 thingie, too.)