I Got You Babe
What on earth?! Earlier in the season, when Don slept with secretary #1, we talked about how he was so pathetically becoming the Roger he had ridiculed last season…and when he started up with Meghan, it felt like the same thing was happening all over again. I loved Roger’s response – who the hell is that?! And the knowing grin – this is what we guys do. But I’m still left wondering if there’s something different with Don and Meg? Or, if not something different about those two in relation to all the other men who marry their secretaries, at least something different between Don’s feelings for her and his feelings for secretary #1. I think what it comes down to is what a wife is supposed to be in this culture – Faye is a wife for our time, a companion, a partner (as we’ve mentioned a few times this season). But Don’s generation doesn’t want a partner – he/they want a mother for the kids, someone who fits in his life rather than disrupts it with her own. Meghan fits – and so it’s love. In fact, Meghan fits better than the original Mom (Betty) because she’s patient and sweet. And she lets Don be patient and sweet. It seems that’s what love is in that culture – the ability for someone to make you in to who you want to be. That’s why using Anna’s ring from the real Don was such a nice touch – it’s as if Don gets to start over again as Don…something he’s been yearning for all season.
Faye really hit it on the head when she said Don only likes the beginnings of things – that he’s always seeking the new. That – desire for the new – is the exact desire that Don is seeking to cultivate in the public through his ads…the myth that the new purchase, the new conquest, the new thing/mate/etc. will be the thing that brings happiness. It’s an interesting thesis Mad Men presents – that the cultivation of that feeling on the personal level for an (or many) advertising genius/es in a particular moment might be behind its ubiquity in modern day advertising today.
Don’s exchange with Peggy was sweet – for him, at least. I like that he recognized her concern and appreciate it. And there was something pathetic – in a sweet way – to the way he said Meg reminded him of Peg…she has her spark without having the fullness of her ambition. Even more than loving the exchange between Don and Peggy, though, I loved the one between Peggy and Joan. There has always been such tension between those two, but also always with the hint that they could be friends – it seems we finally broke through in that giggling moment. Perhaps we’ll see a budding friendship between them in the next season.
So all of our suspicions about Joanie were right. It’s amazing to see how much the narrative of the baby has integrated with her home life, even as it’s still a secret at work and, more significantly, from Roger. How Mr. Harris got all sweet all of a sudden, though, I don’t know. The two seemed more in sync, more sweet and loving with each other than we’ve ever seen them before (“yes, they’ve gotten bigger” – good, God, how is that even possible!). And as one who doesn’t want to overlook his rape of her last season, I’m hoping they’re not expecting us just to accept him again with wide open arms.
This has been a great season, but somehow I still feel like it didn’t deliver on all it promised. I was talking with a friend the other night about the show – we were trying to figure out the appeal. He pointed something out to me that I hadn’t thought of before – that Mad Men hasn’t caused our turning toward a love of style, old school ways and this early 1060s aesthetic, but that it’s one of the symptoms of a cause that already had us headed that way. I think he’s right, but I can’t figure out what the reasoning is. In part, I think as Mad men shows us the moment before the revolution really started (as we’ve discussed much this season), it marks a moment not only before everything changed, but the moment that made everything chang. And that makes me wonder if our desire – what draws us to it – isn’t so much a desire to return to the way things were, but rather if it’s about the desire for some catalyst for another revolution. If we can get our heads around what caused the upheaval of the late ’60s, maybe we can find that spark again. If this season’s been about anything, I wonder if it’s been about that. And if it has, then ending on our protagonist marrying his secretary is probably the bleakest image of all.
But maybe I’m just itching to get to the riots! Or at least, to get to Tomorrowland!
Check back later this week to read Kathryn’s response on this crazy finale!