Feb 7, 2011

Mad Men Season 2 (and why do I even like this show?)


I've now finished watching the second season of Mad Men (post about season 1 here), which continues to follow the adventures of our dear friend Donald Draper. I very much enjoyed season 2, but it's difficult to say whether I enjoyed it more than season 1, because it's been a while since I watched it. Yet, I dare say I did enjoy it a wee bit more. Maybe because returning back to the characters felt like seeing old friends again and I was more invested in what happened to them. And guess what, I even began to like Don Draper a bit! Haha, progress. I'll return to the topic later on.

I guess I could now say that Mad Men is one of my favourite shows. Sure, I'm not nearly as passionate about it as I've known to be about other shows I kind of like (Lost and Glee, if someone didn't get my drift), but it's a very good show and I've, if not loved, then at least very much liked the first two seasons, and there's no way I stop watching now.

What is it about about Mad Men that I like, then? That's a surprisingly tricky question, actually. With my other favourite shows the answer is clearer and more obvious: with Lost it's the suspense and the cliffhangers that always left you wanting more, and with Glee it's the simple fact that it always manages to make me happy. With Mad Men, then... It's far more difficult to put a finger on it. Sure, the writing is top-notch, but that can't be the main factor, because that alone seldom makes me like something.

The characters? Well, someone as character-oriented as me wouldn't watch a show with characters they don't like. The characters of Mad Men are skilfully structured and multidimensional, each holding a certain kind of mystery (some more than others). The moments when they bare they soul or actually give some explicit hints about what's going on inside their head are rare, and thus must be cherished. Most times the viewer just has to read between the lines. Which is kind of awesome, as too often the character's feelings are theatrically underlined to make sure that even the stupidest member of the audience understands that Mary is feeling a bit sad now.

So maybe it's the characters? Quite possibly, yes. Though it must be noted, that even though I have my favourite characters, I don't think I LIKE like any of them, as people, I mean, because, let's face it, they're all kind of shady and dark and twisted. So there are no kurthummels or desmondhumes (or georgeo'malleys... Have I mentioned I don't watch Grey's Anatomy anymore?) in Mad Men, but that's okay. That's not how they roll. The characters are not meant to be likable. (Luckily there are other shows for people like me, who need to fantasize about being friends with fictional characters. I'd hate to know a Donald Draper. I'd be intimidated to death by someone like him.)

I think this is a good time to look at the characters more closely. First, Don. Oh, Don Don Don... Is it really that hard to be faithful to your wife? Is it really that hard to resist the tempations behind every other corner? Or do you sleep around just because you can? Oh, Donny...Well, anyway, just as I said before, I liked the season 2 Don more than season 1 Don. Maybe because he began to show more signs of humanity. I mean, there's something wrong with his health, which means he must be only a human after all! Yay! And it was kind of refreshing to see him as the underdog for once, crawling before his wife after she found out the truth about his adventures (not the whole truth, though... Some of the beans are yet to be spilled). But yes, I also began to like the determined, confident, endlessly creative office-Don, who gets cocky, because, with that brain, he's entitled to.

If Don was my target of dislike in season 1, season 2 gave that role to his wife, Betty. I can't really say why. I wasn't really a fan of hers before, either, but this season she really began to annoy me. Maybe it's the role of the pretty little wife she's learned to play. I don't know. She just leaves me cold.

Moving on to favourites. Peggy was my season 1 favourite, and remained so throughout the second season, too. It's great to follow how she gradually ascends in the company and how she tries to gain the respect of her collegues, who mostly still see her only as a woman rather than an equal. And there's the business with Pete. All season, everytime the two of them were in the same room, I sensed (or imagined?) the tension between them, caused by all those unsaid things. All season I expected one of them to open their mouth. So you can imagine how satisfying the scene in the final episode felt to me. I'm not expecting the love story of the century (not in a show like Mad Men (in a Glee universe they'd totally get to together and have a million babies and live happily ever after (which is why I adore that show so much)), but I'm excited to see what happens next.

As for the rest of the characters, Joan is still the hottest, toughest babe on the block, Sterling is still a sad old man, but the old man Cooper is awesome with his socks and all. There's also some interesting stories and personalities arising from amidst of the men of the office, to whom I paid hardly any attention during the first season.

Now I'm actively looking for a cut-price season 3 box set... Though I'll soon give up and buy the full-priced one, because meanwhile I'm forced to watch the second season of True Blood, which I'm not very excited about right now. There's not nearly enough of unge herr Skarsgård.


Mikaela said...

I love love love Don Draper. He's an bit of an asshole really, but still, he's a mans man and so on, so you gotta like him..

Harri said...

I agree with you that I wouldn't like to be a friend with anyone from Mad Men (okey, Cooper would be cool and I would die for seeing that Rothko's painting live :D), but I still lovelovelove them all with/due to their downsides. And Betty, how is it possible that you don't adore her? She's just sooo adorable!

Whoever/whatever forced you to watch True Blood I'll thank it! There's a lot of interesting things going on at the second season, though I prefer 3rd season. Unge herr Skarsgård is cool, and you should not forget Peter Franzen's small role!

Eeva said...

Mikaela: I can't promise I will ever love love love him... but I'm slowly moving towards that direction.

Harri: 'Adorable' wouldn't be the first word I'd use to describe Betty... She has her moments, sure, but mostly she just comes across as very cold, to me at least. But I do enjoy admiring the insides of her wardrobe. ;)

I'm trying to get to the right mood for True Blood, because right now I'm just all Gleegleeglee, and a little MadMenMadMenMadMen, too. But I'd forgotten all about Franzen, that'll give me a reason to keep watching!

cinefiliaa said...

With Harri, obviously: Betty <3! Is <3! A <3! Goddess <3!
And a bad-behaving child in s woman's body but still so freakin' touching. There's just now way she could've turned like anything other in that gold cage she grew up in.

Ahem, I have a problem. I seem to understand her too much though we're TOTALLY different :O

Moving on: lovely writing~ Joan = still the hottest, Sterling still sad, oh yes. And Peggy, who in her right mind wouldn't bond with her?

She's our predecessor ^_~.

Eeva said...

I obviously have another kind of problem, since I don't seem to understand her at all! :D Maybe next season, we'll see you I dislike then...

And yes, Peggy, we sisters are all so very proud of her!