Since there’s a dearth of serious, intelligent movies right now (a common event), I’ll cast an eye on the serious, intelligent TV series Mad Men.
There is nothing mad about these men of Madison Avenue: they’re perfectly sane, and usually efficient. But they can be self-defeating. I’ve been re-watching the fourth season, in which Don Draper (Jon Hamm) loses to cancer the only friend who has ever truly known him and consequently feels defeated. In following episodes, though, we see the proclivity to be self-defeating that in Draper we are used to seeing.
Probably Don wins our sympathy in this season more than in the first three, but it is unfortunate that his religion is Coming Out On Top. This leads him to some puzzling behavior, as when he expresses a preference for charming Megan (Jessica Pare) over the woman with whom he is already in a relationship: the affable, highly supportive Faye (Cara Buono). Then again, Faye might deserve better than the two-timing Don, but what about Megan? ‘Tis hard for a woman to come out on top when Draper strives to do so, for all the blessed privilege that comes her way. (Ah, the unprecedented wealth of America!) Mad Men looks at privilege warily. After all, Don’s ex-wife Betty (January Jones) is very privileged, and she unjustly fires the black nanny and won’t even give her a good recommendation.
That’s almost mad!