As my friend and comrade in TV overthinksmanship Cory Barker so aptly put it, "The world doesn’t really need three more 4,000 word opuses on Mad Men each week." So instead, Cory, Les Chappell and I will be joining forces, Voltron-like, to bring you one uber-opus each week in the form of a roundtable discussion. Each of our respective blogs will rotate hosting the full discussion. For now, you can check out our thoughts on the season five premiere, "A Little Kiss," over at Cory's HQ, TV Surveillance. A sample of my thoughts:
Yes folks, the message that time marches on is hammered home most powerfully at Megan’s surprise soiree, with its relatively youthful guest list and their retina-searing attire. Granted, it’s only a pale shadow of the aesthetic ignominy to come in the 1970s, but it’s also a far cry from the understated elegance of the gray-flannel-suit era which dominated only five or six years (and three or four seasons) earlier. Pete’s jacket alone wins fast-track membership in the Dickie Bennett’s Hair All-Stars.
Despite Pete’s refusing to discuss it at parties, more significant change is pushing in all around our SCDPers, although for now their focus is less on the tumult of the Civil Rights movement and more on the ordinary and eternal pressures of generational displacement. Megan’s party for Don – and much of their relationship throughout these first two hours – is as much an act of power as beneficence. Peggy’s shouldering even more of the creative load (if no more of the credit) at SCDP, where these days Don turns up just long enough to receive a birthday plant and ogle some birthday cleavage. Roger’s slide into irrelevance keeps gathering steam, to productive Pete’s endless and only partially assuaged vexation.
The youngsters* are ascendant, while their predecessors refuse to either evolve or clear the stage. The line that set off bells in my head was Don telling Megan: “More people think the way I do than the way you do.” If he was ever right about that, is he still? And is it possible for anyone, let alone people at the top of the food chain, to ever believe the converse?
The friction created by this ongoing transition – both interpersonal and sociological – is resonant and timeless. We all live through a period when the shifting tectonic plates of two generations finally collide. We’re in such a period right now, if you ask me, with the Boomers on the opposite side of the equation. That gives this season of Mad Men the potential to be particularly fascinating. The times, they are…um…wait, I had something for this.
*Peggy, Pete, et al. are a shade too old to qualify as Baby Boomers, technically, but in their views on topics like race and Vietnam they’re clearly representing that cohort against the Sterlings and Coopers of the world.
Check back here each Tuesday or Wednesday (ish) for excerpts and links to the full conversation.
Filed under: Mad Men