Mad Men Review: The Doorway, S6 E1

9 Apr

**SPOILERS** (duh)

Short Story:

The thing that struck me most was how much everyone had changed. These things have been simmering beneath the surface since season 1 (See: Midge, drugs, beatniks) but only now have they seem to fully exploded. The 60s as we think of them are here!

I like how we can really see all the different generations and how they are responding to this change in culture.

Don and Roger and Betty all of a sudden seem hopelessly out of date. I remember when Don visited Midge in S1 and everyone was doing drugs and there were cops outside, he was the only one who could leave the room because the cops would never bother him. He was the establishment and in that he held all the power and security.
Now that is working to his disadvantage. He doesn’t understand the world around him anymore. He’s not King. His wife has her own mind and she wants her own path. She’s fulfilled by her career, not only him. And doesn’t want to pretend she’s fulfilled by him like Betty was.  Same with Roger, who last season just wanted “everything to go back to normal”. But normal is over.

Then we have the people 15 years younger then Don like Megan and Peggy and Stan who are responding well to the changes and finding the changes to their advantage.They are too old to really be part of counter culture but young enough that they can change with the culture and get excited by it.

Then we have the younger generation, Sally and Sandy and those hippies who ARE the change that everyone else is so afraid of. They are the ones who are getting so swept up in it, living in slums, moving to California, just reacting against their parent’s lives. They are the baby boomers.

The theme for this season is apparently “wherever you go, there you are”. Mathew Weiner explains that the season is about if you can change yourself: “Are you capable of changing? What is the anxiety that creates? What are your options? Run? Fight back? Try and control the world? Are you capable of changing yourself?

Which to me seems to have been expressed by the beautiful monologue with which  Roger entertained his therapist.

“What are the events in life? Like, you see a door. The first time you come to it, you say, ‘Oh, what’s on the other side of the door?’ Then you open a few doors and then you say, ‘I think I want to go over a bridge this time. I’m tired of doors.’ Finally you go through one of these things, and you come out the other side, and you realize that’s all there are: doors! And windows and bridges and gates. And they all open the same way. And they all close behind you. Look, life is supposed to be a path, and you go along, and these things happen to you, and they’re supposed to change your direction, but it turns out that’s not true.  Turns out the experiences are nothing. They’re just pennies you pick up off the floor, stick in your pocket, and you’re just going in a straight line to you-know-where.” You open a door then close the door then you cross a bridge, but you realize what’s on the other side of the bridge is basically the same as what was behind the door. But then you realize it’s all meaningless, nothing is going to satisfy you in the way you want, then you die, so like, what’s the point?

Roger can sleep with as many 29 year olds as he wants, and Don can sleep with as many older Jewish women as he wants.  but ultimately none of that is going to fulfill them. They keep expecting, through these changes, to find something or someone or a love that will permanently satisfy and sustain them. But that’s not going to happen through this sort of behaviour. (A temporary bandage on a permanent wound, natch).

What’s love gotta do with it?

awkward

Speaking of love, Don’s little speech of Eros, the Greek term for a love that resembles lust and infatuation and very romantic love, really speaks as to why Don cannot stay away from affairs. He feels he needs that excitement, that spark in this life. But unfortunately, it never fulfills him in the way that he actually needs.

He needs to learn to find his happiness in the sort of life and love he has his wife (According to the Greeks to feel Eros for your wife is dangerous, better to feel a companionship sort of love) because he will NEVER find happiness through his affairs. And it seems he knows this. He says he doesn’t want to do it anymore. But, can he change his behaviour? That’s the fundamental question of the season I guess.

He’s in this new marriage, he opened a new door, and yet, he finds himself the same on the other side.  Every affair he has, he thinks he’s finding a new bridge to walk across. But everytime the affair ends and it’s kind of pointless because none of he affairs has changed who he is. And if none of these experience change him, do any of the affairs even really matter? DOES ANYTHING MATTER? Call Sartre and Beauvoir because there is a LOT of existentialism happening right now.

HOWEVER, If Don’s journey resembles Dante’s then Don can find his way back on the true path through love. I found this Sparknotes Guide to Dante’s Inferno most helpful.

 

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Don

  • Obsessed with death
  • Why didn’t he speak for the first like 10 min of the show? I was wondering if they would do an episode of him entirely silent. That would be cool
  • Don loves his wife.
  • Don is having a bromance! With a character who is such a better person than him. And a Jew! We all know Don has a thing for Jewish woman but it’s nice to see this extends to men.
  • Okay Don is sleeping with his best friends wife. BUT he feels shitty about it and not like it’s his gd given right to commit adultery because that’s what the establishment does. Progress!
  • Is it awkward that he is married to a brunette but sleeping with a brunette? I thought it would be cool if they had him sleeping with a blondeImage

Megan

  • The most uncomplicated character on Mad Men
  • Was sad without work. Now has work. Now is happy. Refreshing
  • She looks really good in a bikini! Also in all clothes. And dresses. And I want her hair. And her makeup. She just looks so youthful even though she is actually 32 in real life (and is playing a 26 or 27 year old on the show). I feel like I could wear a lot of  she wears today and still be fashionable.

Peggy

  • The new Don, aka kicking ass at work
  • Her boyfriend does not look good with all that hair
  • Can she please marry stan? Who looks like a lumberjack, but whatever

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Sterling

  • I love Roger’s existential crisis. He is really confronting the meaningless of life since he took LSD
  • His mother’s house was BEAUTIFUL. And all those Victorian era ladies. It reminded me of Downton Abbey
  • I like how he went upstairs and slammed his door like a little boy. Everyone reverts to a teenager in their parent’s house
  • Roger, why haven’t you learned that the way through happiness is not up the skirt of a 29 year old?

The women Sterling has disappointed

  • Sterling should had never divorced Mona. Clearly, Jane didn’t satisfy him so instead he just broke up his family, and for what purpose? He was happy enough with her, especially since he cheated on her all the time anyway.
  • Oh Margaret. The future IS in refrigeration! Also, sad you left that jar of Jordan Water. Maybe if your father has been around more and been a better father you would have had a better connection.
  • Jane. You look beautiful as always. I cannot believe Sterling gave his mother’s ring to Jane instead of his own daughter. I wonder how Margaret feels about that.
  • Joan…why weren’t you at Roger’s funeral? Are you finally able to stay away? I kinda hope not since you guys would be awesome together I guess you don’t need his money to help raise your son though after your prostitution thing. So you would only go to him out of love. Which you obvs do, because who DOESN’T love sterling?

Betty Francis

  • WTF rape joke? I just don’t…understand
  • She was so motherly to Sandy. I love Sandy. She’s so spunky in her speech against the establishment. Betty did not seem to be too disturbed by how Sandy summed up her life.
  • Of course Betty would think up that lie so quickly to explain away Sandy not getting into Julliard. She’s very good at making people think everyone is okay; her image is everything.
  • Her husband is kinda great. They seem to have an okay home life but I’m still not sure if Betty really loves him? They just don’t seem that close.
  • Betty was more maternal towards Sandy then she usually is towards her own children. Although to be fair, if Sally ran away to the village I’m sure she would show her concern as well.

Sally Draper

  • Anorexic in training.
  •  Sassy teenager even though she is only, like 13.
  • Why does she have a 15 year old friend?

Bobby Draper

  • Will he finally turn into a real character?!

Symbolism I think I understand 

Authenticity

  • A lot of references to hair colour. Sterling and his whole “well she’s 29 so her hair should have darkened by now but it’s blonde”
  • That hippie telling Betty her hair was bottle blonde, when we know it is naturally blonde

Death

  • like 1000x death symbols including somebody dying, Don looking dead in a bed, someone almost dying, a heart surgeon etc.,

Symbols I don’t understand

  • The lighter. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Is it’s Don remembering who he was? That young hopeful soldier? Does it remind him of what he had to do to become Don Draper? (Aka reject his brother and his poor upbringing?)

Other things

  • The Kodak wheel. What a different set of pictures Don is looking at this time! He seemed really disconnected from those pictures when he was watching them. Megan was totes oblivious to this of course. DOESN’T SHE UNDERSTAND DON’S DARKNESS??

Also for an amazing in depth review by The Vulture.

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