The spark in Don Draper’s eyes has faded and unfortunately so has the buzz about the once great Mad Men. The beginning of the end was set in motion Sunday night with the premiere of the final season although I don’t really know if you can call it that, considering Mad Men won’t actually be off the air until 2015. AMC decided to split the final season Breaking Bad style, except, unlike Breaking Bad, the momentum seems all but drained from Mad Men, and from the looks of it, we’re eyeing down a slow crawl to the end.
The execs over at AMC now are probably pounding skulls over the decision to prolong the inevitable. According to the New York Times, Mad Men suffered a steep drop in viewership- 2.4 million-down over a million views from the year before. Just for comparison last week HBO’s Game of Thrones premiered to 6.6 viewers, and people actually pay for that.
Honestly, I don’t even know how it happened. It seemed like just yesterday Mad Men was the must see show on TV. Last season ended brilliantly, with multiple relationships dissolving and Don losing his job. But where has the gusto gone?
The episode picked up two months since last season. Don visits Megan in California, and it’s obvious she’s living the life of a young starlet, picking him up in an adorable little forest green convertible. However, the tension between them was palpable, and more and more Don seems like a sad old stick in the mud. Things with them were always awkward, but if there’s no passion during the rare visit in a bicoastal relationship, that’s a huge red flag. But since Don lost basically everything else in his life that matters, he’s probably going to cling to her for dear life. It will end badly, I guarantee it.
Peggy has to deal with a patronizing new boss who doesn’t value her ideas. The office seems so dead and empty now that most of the core cast has dispersed. Peggy now seems like the only creative one left, and unfortunately no one wants to listen to her ideas without the big boys there to back her up.
Pete Campbell is and will always be a scumbag. Who dresses like a mutant golfer in California? Probably a lot of people.
Dawn tries to seduce some guy trying to gain leverage at the company she now works for, and fails. You’re kidding me, right? Who on earth wouldn’t be seduced by Christina Hendricks? So what if he’s married. I get the feeling he’s up to something.
Sterling is fulfilling his dream of living in a constant drug-induced orgy. Power to him.
I think the big problem hindering Mad Men at this point is that by separating the core cast from one another, splitting the gang across two coasts, the story lines seem disconnected. We don’t have that domino effect anymore, where one character’s drama impacts everyone else. Now, it’s every man/woman for themselves, and I’m not sure if they can hold their own alone.
The most disappointing thing though (probably made worse by the fact that I watched it immediately after a mind-boggling epic episode of Game of Thrones) is that is was boring. I can’t think of a worse thing for a show to be in it’s final season. Even Dexter, which quite possibly had the worst final season of all time, was never boring, just completely asinine.
How sad it was that for me the most riveting part was the opening credits. Hearing the the familiar theme song reminded me of a time before the show had gone stale, a time where there was character development and plot twists, where you could taste the dawn of a new era in history told from the perspectives of our current cultures architects. Now, we’ve reached a point where the sixties have sold out, and it’s safe to say, so has Mad Men. Let’s just hope this show can end with at least a shred of it’s old dignity. I’m not going to lie though- it’s not looking good.