Like millions of people across the country, I was anxiously awaiting the highly-touted season premiere last night of Mad Men, the hit series on AMC about a group of Madison Avenue advertising executives, their families, and relationships.
As you may know, it’s set in the early ’60s and beautifully captures the styles and culture of the period—at least from the vantage point of a certain segment of society. The “hero”—if he can be called that — is Don Draper, a handsome, dapper chameleon. He’s charming, intelligent, and glib, with personal magnetism to spare. But if his internal moral compass has ever landed on true north, it was probably momentary and inadvertent.
At the end of last season, Don’s wife had filed for divorce after discovering, among other things, that he was not who he appeared to be—literally. At work, he and a small group of co-conspirators had decided to bolt their agency and start a new one.
The season opener brought the viewer up to date. Now in addition to martinis, he’s also consuming stress cocktails at work and in his personal life. He’s divorced, living in a furnished apartment, and paying for sex. He’s focused on getting more clients at work beyond the huge tobacco account that’s keeping the new firm afloat.
The episode was sumptuous to look at, compelling in its portrayal of characters who’ve come to intrigue the viewer and made one anxious for the rest of the season. But it also left me feeling hollow. What’s the point of all that talent if one’s personal life is a mess and if you’re alienated from your children? What’s the point of promoting cigarettes, two-piece swimsuits, and justifying the destruction of historic landmarks?
Frankly, I can’t wait to find out. I’m as hooked on the series as Don Draper would have liked for me to have been on Lucky Strikes!