Random thoughts about Mad Men

Spoilers from around season 4 onward.

I’ve been marathoning Mad Men lately. Random thoughts:

  • I am totally going to compare pics of the main actors from the beginning and end of the show’s run to see if they have lip wrinkles from CONSTANTLY GODDAMN SMOKING on this show. Smokers often get vertical upper lip creases from puckering up all the time to suck on cigarettes.
  • I kind of feel like season 1 had more symbolism and interesting little touches to it than subsequent seasons did, but maybe I just went into Passive Viewer mode from too much marathoning, and missed a bunch of stuff.
  • I love how several of the male characters on the show think they want the dutiful Stepford Wife but are actually attracted to feisty independent chicks…and are totally oblivious to this dichotomy.
  • OMG I love Peggy.
  • OMG Joan’s character has so much more depth than I initially thought she did.
  • Most of the main characters undergo really subtle, awesomely executed character development over the course of the show that doesn’t feel forced or cheesy. I like that.
  • Before this I only knew Jon Hamm to be, well, a ham. An actor who’s great at doing really overblown characters in an absolutely deadpan way. But here I see that he’s a fucking amazing actor who can convey much more subtle emotions than I’d ever realized he was capable of. Actually, most of that character is subtle emotion. Don Draper buries most of his emotions pretty deep underground. On the rare occasions that he actually reacts to something strongly, it’s kind of a relief to me.
  • Large swaths of the first couple of seasons of the show made me feel really claustrophobic, actually. Everyone trapped in shitty marriages or shitty gender roles. Nobody being able to say the things they really wanted or needed to say. Gah.
  • There was so much cheating and near-cheating among married characters that, more than ever, I wanted to yell “OH JUST BE POLY ALREADY” at my tv screen.

And now, a much more specific observation/flight of fancy.

Somewhere in, I think, Season 4, we see Don fucking someone who I assume is a sex worker and it comes up that he likes to be slapped in the face during sex. Hard. I’ve watched the show to the end of Season 5 now and this has never come up again – so weird of the writers to introduce this weird new element and then apparently forget all about it. Unless they really are going somewhere with it but they’re taking a long while to get there.

But here is the character arc I now want to see in Season 6 (and I’m certain will not be happening):

As I said, in Season 4 (I think?) we see a scene with Don loving to be slapped. We never see him asking any other partner for this. Only a sex worker. So it’s fair to assume that he’s ashamed of his urges and thus won’t bring them up to any woman who matters to him.

A while after that, he falls for and subsequently marries Megan, one of the secretaries in the office. And a while after that, they have this incredibly weird fight, during which she’s ordering him around, saying humiliating things to him, and sexually teasing him, and both of them are quite clearly turned on by this and end up fucking.

And again the show kind of left that as a loose thread. I mean Don and Megan have had more fights since then, but not with that particular flavour; subsequent fights have made them look like drama llamas but that fight made them look kinky. And so what I wanted to see, after that fight, was them having similar fights on flimsier and flimsier pretexts, and then Megan eventually having the epiphany that the fights are just an excuse; what they’re both really after is Megan taunting Don, ordering him around, and hurting him. And after an initial hesitation caused by Don freaking out and going into denial for a bit, they gradually begin to explore that dynamic openly and with communication and consent, so that by the end of Season 6 he is – discreetly and behind closed doors – completely her bitch and we get to see lots of hot BDSM shit that doesn’t have any underlying anger, only playfulness and joy.

But yeah. Totally not gonna happen.

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