Mad Men

In the seventeen months between Mad Men’s 4th and 5th seasons, I have all but given up smoking and drinking and lost sixty-five pounds.  My daughter has played two seasons of softball, my other daughter has learned to read, and my son has learned to shit and piss in the toilet rather than his pants.  My wife has damn-near completed an ENTIRE GRADUATE DEGREE.

So bring it Mad Men, you glorious fuckers!

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At this point, I think most people have made up their minds whether or not they want to watch this show.  By season five, you’re on board or your not.  At least that’s how it used to be.  With streaming and DVD, you could conceivably catch up in two weeks if you wanted to, and were unemployed, and a month easy even if you are a busy bee.  I say go for it.  What else is there to do in the spring?

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Here are five observations from the recent two-hour premiere:

1. I love Megan, Don’s new wife.  Didn’t want to, but I see how necessary she is now. If this season is about change and the advent of outsiders (read: African-Americans and civil rights) then she provides the perfect gateway.  She reminds us, in an artful way, that we are watching people who are not very nice and deeply flawed.  You realize that you, a a watcher, have become an insider too.

Jessica Pare breaks into song in the season opener of ‘Mad Men.’2. Joan and her mom are so fucking mean to each other.  It’s awesome.

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3. The subplot involving Lane Price and the wallet in hour two was masterful, basically a William Trevor or V.S. Pritchett story squeezed into ten or fifteen minutes of airtime.

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4. There was a looseness and friskiness in this premiere that was welcome.  At times, the show ratchets up the tight-lipped, sardonic, early-’60s-Richard Yates-style tension to the point where it feels written and not like life.  The office banter, especially on Peggy’s team, is perfect–comfortable, catty, and real.

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OK, so FOUR observations, since I have to go dress my son and get to work, which is not-at-all like Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price.  Thank God.

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