Monday, August 9, 2010

Mad Men -- Episode 4:3

Someone -- either G.K. Chesterton or C.S. Lewis -- wrote that sin leads you into a series of rooms, each of which is smaller than the last. That seems to be what has happened to Don Draper, who has gone from a very nice house in the suburbs to a crummy apartment downtown, and who was accurately described last night as nothing more than a man in a room with a checkbook. Since we started following Don a few years ago, his career has flourished, but he has lost almost everything else he cared about.

His brother killed himself.
His wife divorced him.
Rachel Mencken married someone else.
And now we learn that he is going to lose his other wife and his only true friend -- the woman in California who made Don Draper possible. He will probably never see her again, and he couldn't even tell her the truth about her cancer -- because that would have required him to make a commitment of a kind that he finds impossible.

With less and less to live for, Don's influence on others is becoming even more baleful. He used to look down on Roger because Roger dumped his wife for a twenty-something, but this week Don himself tried to to seduce a college co-ed who was his best friend's niece. He did seduce Lane, drawing him into a drunken evening that probably spiked any chance of saving Lane's marriage and ended in prostitution.

Meanwhile, other characters are suffering for their own sins. Joanie wants to have a baby, but is worried about the effects of her two abortions. Peggy wants a relationship, but she has to pretend that she was a virgin before meeting Mark.

This episode was called "Good News," from the anecdote in which the co-ed talked about her roommate who found Jesus. The main characters in "Mad Men," of course, are all too shrewd to care about Jesus. But when you look at what a mess they've made of their lives, you would think they would be more humble.

P.S.: I thought it was a very nice piece of writing to show Joan's husband as the only good husband in this episode; and I also thought Christina Hendricks did a great job of showing Joan's assumption that her husband was incompetent, and then showing Joan's guilt when she realizes that she was judged him unfairly.


  1. Jeremiah 50:38--"A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols."

    I may be way off base here, but I suspect Matthew Weiner--opening his show with a dark figure tumbling helplessly against the cultural images of his day--is trying to write what it looks like to live in denial of God. All of your points are dead-on, and this show is fantastic.

  2. It was G.K. Chesterton, from his great story "The Sign of the Broken Sword." Here's the exact quote:

    "{T}here is this about such evil, that it opens door after door in hell, and always into smaller and smaller chambers. This is the real case against crime, that a man does not become wilder and wilder, but only meaner and meaner."

  3. I almost flipped back on the computer last night to HP SPECIAL REPORT that, in last night's episode, SC&P landed Burger Chef!