Ah, finally a pinch of good news for The Great Depression ‘09: Mad Men is coming back! A third season (set to premiere this summer) may seem like a no-brainer to readers of Entertainment Weekly, where we’ve been gaga for the Madison Avenue smokers’ lounge since it debuted in 2007. But undying love doesn’t always keep a show on the air (Exhibit B: the just barely DirecTV-rescued Friday Night Lights), especially when there’s a contract dispute like the one between Mad Men producer Lionsgate and series creator Matthew Weiner (AMC head Charles Collier says he’s optimistic about Weiner eventually coming on board).
I have to admit, I was a little put off at the beginning of season 2. I think after the first season (which I watched one-after-the-other from my DVR) I was just so pumped for it to come back that I sort of forgot that Mad Men is about slowly seeping into every pore, not blasting you in the face with an icy splash. Episodes end with a subtlety that sometimes takes me a couple days to realize how devastating it actually was (Don sending away his admiring daughter then collapsing on the bathroom toilet, silently peering at the man he saw staring back at him from the door mirror). I think what really hooked me on season 2 was how Don finally got some comeuppance. Betty (whose cold detachment is a bit too one-dimensional, for my taste) finally booted her cheating bread-winner, ostracizing him to the solitude of a sterile hotel room. As we saw Don lying on top of a shiny bedspread, missing his home, his kids, his life, I felt like we were growing ever closer to a vulnerability that he spends every smoking/drinking/car seat-humping moment to hide. I love Don as much as any other man, woman, and child with a pulse, and I don’t enjoy it when he fails or hurts. But Mad Men is at its core about people struggling to deal with themselves and each other in a changing, unpredictable world, and it was satisfying in the second season to see some piper-paying after all the crap he’s pulled.
Plus, how about that intense scene between Peggy and Pete they left us with? And don’t even get me started on Joan – I could watch an hour of Joan walking around the office delivering mail. Let’s just hope they don’t waste any time addressing that nastiness with her fiance. I don’t like how that was left hanging. So how about it, PopWatchers? More Mad Men! YES! What did you love most about last season, and what do you want when it comes back?
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