We’re now at about the halfway point of Mad Men’s fifth season, so there’s just time to pause, refill your tumbler full of bourbon, light up another Lucky Strike, and look back… and realise that the only thing swinging in the 60s were people’s moods.
Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is married to living department store mannequin Megan (Jessica Paré), but it’s not all kisses and ass-grabbing around the office, oh no. Their relationship’s had some bumpy patches, including her embarrassing him at his birthday with a trouser-arousing performance of ‘Zou Bisou Bisou’ in the season opener, then an argument at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant that led to Don pulling the old ‘I’m driving away whether you’re in the car or not’ routine.
And the marital strife doesn’t end there!
Don’s ex-wife Betty is trying to eat herself out of suburban misery, and has piled on so much depression weight that she looks like she’s played by John Travolta rather than January Jones. Meanwhile moth-eaten old teddy bear Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) is feeling the seven year itch; ogling a picture of a busty gal that he took from the wallet of an obese gambler and, in a surprising moment of British sexual bravado that made the audience spit out their scotch, kissing Joan. I say, old boy!
When he’s not bribing employees with the cash he’s got lying around in his suits (current total given away so far: $1500), Roger Sterling is sauntering around the office being a slick bastard, but even he isn’t immune to marital strife.
Episode 6, Far Away Places, saw him partaking in LSD in a trip that led him to realise he had to divorce his Barbie doll wife Jane. His isn’t the only marriage to end: Joan (Christina Hendricks), fresh with child, welcomed her husband Greg back from Vietnam only to find that he had enlisted for another year. Furious, she gave him his marching orders. Perhaps he’ll pull a Don Draper and turn up years later claiming to be someone else.
At the offices of SterlingCooperDraperPrice, Peggy’s working on the Heinz Beans account, and having trouble nailing a killer slogan. No matter how many viewers shout ‘BEANZ MEANZ HEINZ!!!’ at the screen week after week, she can’t hear because she’s stuck in the ‘60s, and so keeps coming up with balletic beans and canned nostalgia.
And how could we forget the walking smirk Pete Campbell? After doing much to redeem his character in Season 4, he’s now slipped back to his old ways, even cheating on his wife with a prostitute. If he were any oilier BP would have to hold a press conference. Behaving in a manner best described as ‘dickish’, Pete threw a hissy fit and demanded a bigger office, then engaged in fisticuffs with Lane in the conference room, in what was one of the least-manly, but most entertaining, fights seen on TV.
Being an arse around the office is a reflection of how unhappy he is at home with wife Trudy (Community‘s Alison Brie) and his new baby – and also the fact that he can’t fix a leaky tap but Don can, which may be some Freudian representation of penis envy and emasculation, or just a commentary on the plumbing skills of the ‘60s man. That’s the beauty of Mad Men, you can read into it what you like.
Everyone started the season by realising how unhappily married they are, and now we’re starting to see institutions crumbling. Some have fallen apart completely, some will fall apart, and some will continue to decay in secret, hidden by false smiles and double scotches.
It all makes you worry that, come the end of the season, some people are maybe going to end up in one another’s arms. Please Don, please, please don’t end up back in the wobbly embrace of Betty…
What do you think of Season 5 so far? Let us know below…
Watch the Season 5 trailer…