This year's 'Mad Men' fails to reach heights of earlier seasons

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJune 7, 2013 

20110309 Mad Men

"Mad Men" airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on AMC


In the past few weeks I've been trying to mask my disdain for this season of AMC's uber-popular period drama "Mad Men" and ignore its overwrought, melodramatic silliness, meaningless or just plain boring storylines, sloppy performances, and pretend this show will regain the momentum and quality of earlier seasons.

I'm done pretending.

This has been, without question, one of the most lackluster seasons of any highly anticipated show ever and it started with the show's sluggish two-hour premiere in April that featured, among other things, a most disturbing and bizarre exchange between Betty Draper Francis and her husband Henry about a young houseguest and the constant reminder that Don Draper is obsessed with death, mostly his own.

If only the season had gotten better from there.

Instead, we've been treated to ridiculous episodes like the one where the bigwigs of New York's advertising industry learns of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. during a black-tie event and everyone loses their mind. It wasn't so much the setting I found frustrating as the heavy-handed writing and acting, led by the formerly promising Jessica Pare, who has shown little of the qualities that made her a fan favorite last season.

It could be argued that the only good things about this season have been the coif and facial hair stylings of Peggy Olsen's boyfriend-turned-roadie for Stillwater, Abe Drexler, and a triumphant scene for Trudy Campbell in which she reads her husband Pete the riot act after discovering his affair with the neighbor's wife, telling him, "If you so much as open your fly to urinate, I will destroy you."

And then, of course, there's Roger Sterling, on whom the writers have bestowed the best jokes but no storylines of any real consequence.

What concerns me most about this show, a show I really do love and have enjoyed watching, is that it's starting to feel eerily similar to "Lost," which I adored for about three seasons before becoming confused and eventually uninterested.

It felt to me as though the writers of that show were simply making it up as they went along with seemingly little regard for the audience who had patiently devoted years to these characters.

And I'm beginning to feel that way about "Mad Men."

As we approach the show's seventh and final season, I'm not entirely convinced that creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner has a plan for these characters or knows how this series will end.

If he is anything like his mentor and "Sopranos" creator David Chase, "Mad Men" is likely to end in an ambiguous way that will enrage some viewers and leave others with more questions than answers about the fates of Don, Peggy, Roger, Betty, Sally and the rest.

However, the question remains, given this season's downward trajectory, will we still care?

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at



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