Monday, July 19, 2010

Huzzah! It's 'Mad Men' Week!

*Warning: Mild spoilers about Mad Men season 4 ahead*

I haven’t had this much anticipation about a TV show since I sat down to watch the series finale of Lost – which, I still can’t discuss rationally because I remain pretty steamed about it. Mad Men commences its fourth season on Sunday at 10 and there’s all manner of media attention being paid to this critical darling of a drama with the small but influential viewership.

The New York Times had a big Mad Men spread in the Arts section yesterday in which we learned a few tidbits about the new season, like when it takes place and where our favorite characters are in their lives: “. . . [I]t’s a year later, and the executives of Sterling Cooper Draper [Pryce] go on cattle calls to woo clients. Contracts melt away. The business is precarious and copywriters stoop to publicity stunts to gin up business.”

Most interesting to me was this tidbit about Betty’s new, married life with Henry Francis, “Henry, who has grown children from a previous marriage, promises Betty a better life – though this one comes with a scornful mother-in-law.”

Mother-in-law? Betty didn’t have to deal with any in-laws when she was married to Don. Given that her own parents are deceased, this’ll be fascinating to watch, as will this shocking detail about Don, who, the New York Times says, “finds himself along in a dark Greenwich Village apartment, shining his own shoes and going out on blind dates.”

The blindingly handsome Don needs blind dates? Wow. Apparently Miss Farrell wasn’t interested in picking up where they left off.

Meanwhile Salon ran a provocative piece which took a meta-look at the show’s place at this particular point in time and why it resonates so powerfully with some viewers. Citing the recession and an “American dream” that currently seems “less attainable than ever,” Heather Havrilesky wrote that given the current economic crisis:

“Somehow Mad Men captures this ultra-mediated, postmodern moment, underscoring the disconnect between the American dream and reality by distilling our deep-seated frustrations as a nation into painfully palpable vignettes. Even as the former denizens of Sterling Cooper unearth a groundswell of discontent beneath the skin-deep promises of adulthood, they keep struggling to concoct chirpy advertising messages that provide a creepily fantastical backdrop to this modern tragedy. Don (Jon Hamm) sighs deeply and unlocks the door to his lonely apartment, Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) whiles away her waking hours trading casual quips with co-workers, but happiness is still just a shiny kitchen floor or a sexy bikini or a cigarette away.

As the American dream is packaged for mass consumption, these isolated characters find themselves unnerved by its costs.”

What are your big hopes, storyline-wise, for season four?