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"What is wrong with you people? You're all so cynical. You don't smile, you smirk." - Megan Draper
on June 30, 2012
While this wasn't my favorite season, it's still an easy five stars since it's in the top 3 of best shows currently on television. I know there have been a lot negative reactions towards this season, and I think maybe it's for a few reasons. Lots of people despise Megan. And others say that "nothing really happened". I don't really like Megan either, but I've come to accept her character. She is SUPPOSED to be annoying (or at least can easily be interpreted as so). We don't have to like her. As far as nothing happening, plenty of things happened, although I admit it was a little slow-paced, but I think it's building up for better seasons to come.
This season takes place between Memorial Day 1966 and Spring 1967. The season focuses on Don Draper and Megan's relationship and how distracting it is from his job, and most of the main characters are facing painful new beginnings and realize it's a "dog-eat-dog" world. The season starts out light (probably because of how dark season 4 was), but by the end of the season things are gloomier than ever. So never fear, Mad Men isn't going soft.
Don - one reason I enjoyed season 4 so much is that we had a break from Don being in a dramatic, serious relationship. He was just casually dating and we were able to see more of SCDP. Now he's married to Megan, and that opens up a lot more storylines. You'll either love or hate Megan. She shows signs of being very independent and mature, but then will surprise you by suddenly doing something very stupid and childish. The big question is: how long is it until Don cheats on her? I don't believe that Don will be in a monogamous relationship for the rest of his life. It's also interesting how it's reminiscent of the beginning of his relationship with Betty. Betty was a beautiful young model and Don swept her up. When Betty got older and he got bored, he lost interest. Megan is also a very young girl, an actress, and pretty (in Don's eyes). What's going to happen to his fidelity to Megan in a couple years? Or 10? Or even by the end of the season? When Don loses respect for someone, a lot of feelings for them deteriorate quickly.
Don also has to deal with Megan's Canadian parents, who have a very bizarre marriage and her father is not a total believer in Don. He thinks Megan took the easy way out by marrying a rich guy. Megan's mother is also incredibly insecure, which is a recurring theme throughout the season.
Betty - since January Jones is pregnant, they decided to put her in a fat suit to hide it, and turn that into a storyline. Perfect Betty has to deal with being overweight, which makes for some interesting television. Her appearances are very sparse, however, and you can go episodes without seeing her at all. There is a lot of pressure on Betty to compete with Megan, especially when her children are involved. As far as Sally goes, she goes through a lot of childhood development this season. Glen the creepy kid also makes a couple appearances, and their relationship is really open for interpretation. Kiernan Shipka is also a great young actress. We also get to see Henry Francis' mother a little bit, especially when she babysits Sally.
Pete - Pete is...well, Pete. But cockier than ever. He feels that all is owed to him, even as only a junior partner. He gets incredibly demanding this season and enters into some interesting affairs. Pete is honestly one of the most difficult characters for me to empathize with, especially this season. Almost every thing he does is just obnoxious, not to mention he is a total hypocrite. Vincent Kartheiser is great, however.
Peggy - as my favorite character, I liked what they did with her this season. She has to balance romance and work in a very sexist society, and makes some life changing decisions several times throughout the season. I love how strong Peggy is, and in these days she would easily be a partner already. Peggy also is Megan's boss...which is really quite inappropriate and causes a lot of awkwardness in the office.
Joan - remember that jerk she's married to? Yeah. They're still married when the season starts, unfortunately. Joan is strong though, and without spoiling anything, she makes some very questionable and life altering decisions this season regarding her romantic and work life. I think her and Peggy learn the most this season about how when it boils down to it, it's every wo/man for themselves.
Lane - bitter about not getting the greatest deal out of this partnership, Lane makes some...questionable business decisions this season. He becomes much more prevalent later in the season, and without spoiling much, he gets into a very....entertaining "discussion" with Pete. I think Jared Harris is amazing for this role.
Roger - talked into taking LSD with Jane, Roger has a very memorable and insightful trip. Although the acid trip was a little stereotypical, there's nothing funnier than watching Roger doing acid. The trip also has longer implications for him in the season. Additionally, Roger enters into a very odd romantic relationship with an unexpected character.
And it's not just the characters that will suck you in and keep you watching. The context of show is amazingly interesting. We get to see references to the Richard Speck murders, Charles Witman's shooting rampage, toxic clouds of smog over NYC, the Hare Krishnas, and the Rolling Stones. Also some interesting clients this season: Heinz, Jaguar, Mohawk Airlines, American Cancer Society, Manischewitz, Dow Chemical, and Virginia Slims.
You could watch this show for the amazingly intricate characters, the interesting portrayal of life in the 60s, or both. This show is highly entertaining, addictive, and one of the best on television today.