Mad Men adrift in a sea of great characters

I’ve just finished watching the finale of a pretty unsatisfying season 6 of Mad Men. I must say I am pretty disappointed overall by this season, as if I was led through a carnival only being allowed a couple of minutes on each ride, with no time to truly enjoy or savor them.

The problem with Mad Men is that it has too many great characters for such a small time slot (yes, an hour and a half would be more appropriate at this point) and it seems that the creative directors behind the show lack a cohesive vision. This season had so much going on that it is hard to feel an arc running through each of the episodes. Certainly Don Draper is going through his own personal Inferno, but there seems to be no cohesion to anything he’s doing. Maybe that’s the point, that he’s adrift, but it feels more like the writers are adrift. With so many plot lines and characters, I think they need to open the show up to a longer slot or tighten things down.

At times it seems as though I’m watching the dreams that characters in the show might be having and then waking up from, with surreal and strange elements that are so out of place that one can’t tell if the writers are putting us on. The dance routine and subsequent shooting of Ken Cosgrove come to mind.

And for the love of Godfrey, I wish they’d do more with Ginsberg. His arrival gave a spark to the show and a moral center (or hints of one) that was a perfect counterpoint to Draper’s hedonism and pain. And yet, they’ve done little with him this season, only teasing us with a sub-story where Ginsberg goes on a date. What happened on the date, and what became of it? Apparently, the writers don’t have the room in the slot to tell us, or don’t deem it worth wrapping up.

Perhaps the show is being crushed under the weight of its own success. It’s happened to shows before, but I hope that in future the writers can get it together. It’s not that the season lacked brilliant and exciting moments, it just seemed that they were thrown together in a pastiche that lacks the purpose of the early seasons.

And now that I’ve spent time writing this I must reflect upon the fact that it’s just a TV show.


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