It’s the season premiere of Mad Men! I’m in my Brooks Brothers suit with a rye whiskey, an unlit Lucky, a dead man’s Purple Heart in my pocket — took some poking around the vintage stores for that one, let me tell you. After Mad Men caught on everyone wanted one, I guess. My wife is wearing a sharp form-fitting dress, and she’s wearing Peggy-style season-1 bangs, and as soon as the show starts we’ll turn off the lamp — the one where the lamp base is a ceramic cat with a long neck — and settle in for the first show in a year and a half.
That’s how you’re supposed to do it, right? Cosplay for web designers? Dress-up fun for adults who want to act like, well, adult adults. Perhaps. Not for me. Please. It’s like watching Twin Peaks with a bunch of people carrying logs or dressed in FBI black, telling each other they’d like a damn fine piece of pie. (Or “Eip fo eceip inef nmad a,” if you’re short and walking funny.) That sounded like hell, too.
When a show becomes an object of cultish adoration, and the fans assemble to worship together, there’s always that moment when it’s just . . . not as good as you expected. Or hoped. Or remembered. Something’s off; they’re straining to connect with the things they once did with ease. You realize you’re just there for the clichés: a Don Draper Line of Insight (TM), a Roger Sterling moment of nonchalant dissipation. Peggy being the Smartest Bestest Person in the Business, as well as an obtuse and humorless drip. Hey, maybe Sal will come back from the bushes. Maybe Betty will do something so unexpected she turns into an interesting character.
Maybe it’ll even be about advertising again. All right, be back in two hours.
Nothing happened. Nothing usually does; that’s life. This isn’t a complaint. The soap-opera elements of the show — divorce! infidelity! pregnancy! — aren’t the reasons people watch it. People watch it to see Roger Sterling breeze into the room and announce that the lobby is full of Negroes. Also the clothes.