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Mad Men Season 4 Starts Tonight: Another Ibsen Play?

So, I’ve waited since last November for Mad Men to start again.  Withdrawal symptoms have been severe.  I saved some old episodes on my DVR and watch them whenever there’s nothing good on.  And, let’s face it, compared to Mad Men, nothing on TV actually comes close.  You can watch a Mad Men scene a zillion times and never see it the same way twice.  They’re densely packed with deep, chewy introspective goodness and symbolism.  Tonight is the beginning of season four and I am in Harrisburg visiting my Mom.

“Oooo, mum, Mad Men starts tonight!”

“Oh, I don’t get AMC with my cable package.”

pause

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

I had the foresight to set my DVR at home but I may get the shakes before tomorrow.  Luckily, episodes will be available from iTunes.  Am I willing to spring a couple bucks to satisfy my fix?  You bethcha.

For those of you not hooked yet, Mad Men is the works of Henrik Ibsen set in the Manhattan advertisement business of the 60’s  and features significant angst in the suburban enclave of Ossining- er, or wherever Betty moved to.

The relationships to the Ibsen masterpieces are pretty clear.  Don Draper is a Peer Gynt who is trying to find himself.  Betty Draper is Nora Tesman of Doll’s House, a deeply unhappy child-woman who is trying to break free of cultural norms for her sex, and failing miserably.  She also shares the role of Hedda Gabler with Joan Harris, a smart, accomplished woman who married a surgeon she doesn’t love because she thought she was getting to be an old maid.  She doesn’t get the dream all the magazines promised her.  Joan is also the Christina to Roger Sterling’s Eylert Lovborg, a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth, a talent for charming the clients and the inability to say no to any impulse.  Then there’s Peggy, Don’s gifted protege who breaks with convention and becomes a career woman.  Is she a female Peer Gynt?  One of Ibsen’s poorer and lonelier, working-girl heroines?  Or did Mad Men’s creator Matt Weiner throw in August Strindberg’s Miss Julie in reverse as the theme for Peggy and Pete’s bad romance?

Many of these stories hit a critical point in last season’s finale: Betty learned Don’s secret, his real identity, and left him for Henry Francis, a Republican political operative.  Joan Harris smacked her loser husband in the head with a vase, parked him in the military and went back to work.  Don, Roger, Pete, Peggy, Lane Pryce and Bert Cooper fired themselves from the old firm and started a new one from scratch in a hotel suite.  Don headed off to a new bachelor pad and freedom from Ice Princess Betty.

So, what happens next?   Will Betty leave her Doll’s House behind or has she traded one Barbie Dreamhouse for another?  Will Don find a new woman in green?  Will Roger and Joan be able to work together without combusting?  What about Peggy and Pete?  And how will the events of 1964 affect the characters?  Will Don’s morning cough develop into something more serious?  Anyone care to speculate?

Get your Mad on.

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18 Responses

  1. What play haven’t we covered yet? Enemy of the people? Ghosts? I’ve heard that Betty gets a new mother-in-law.

  2. I’m in the dark about this show. You say it’s on AMC?

    • yup, I’ve tried to watch it a few times, but I just don’t have the time to sit and do that. It’s visually very interesting and true to the time.

      • You’re missing the best thing on TV. I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore but there are a few things that are actually worth tuning in to see and Mad Men is one of the best.
        It’s deep. You have to look past the 60’s. That’s just the most current setting. The themes are universal and timeless.

        • I’m thinking that I may use my on demand feature and make a marathon of it some times this month. I’ll have more time now.

    • ??? Surely, you’re kidding.

      • Hey, you’re the one who told me to turn off the TV. I found a lot of other things to do.

        • The NEWS! Turn the NEWS off.
          Jeez, I feel so alone.

          • I just talked to my mom. She’s going to watch it after she finishes with PBS mystery.

          • I promise I’ll watch it on demand.

          • yeah, really, it’s on my list. I have to give a final at 8 am and I just wrote it. I’m reviewing it as we speak. I’m going to spend the first few weeks of August with a fully stocked refrigerator and bar off my feet and going between my papers I’m presented at conferences this year and fun stuff… really, I love the on demand thing. It lets me watch stuff when I want.

          • I love it, but don’t have TV. No cable because I was sickened by the political circus and didn’t like the monthly cost plus all of ads. I used to be able to get PBS with my converter box, but that tangle of wires (rabbit ears) got jumbled and I lost it. After PBS went gaga for Obama, I didn’t mind.

            I buy each season’s subscription in iTunes and download it every Monday. I watch it on my iPod while at the gym.
            I re-watch the entire season after one season ends.

            It is really the greatest episodic TV I can remember (although I have probably watched less TV than any American my age. When I was 13, I made a pack with myself–if there was any other thing to do besides watching TV, I’d do it.

        • Gulp. I’m the only Ibsen fan here, aren’t i?

          • I doubt it.

          • nope, I used to love to read him in late high school and early university … it’s just I feel guilty these days when I read something or watch TV that’s not related to getting published. Hopefully, I’ll be past it in a year or so.

  3. I’m totally going to watch this tonight. That episode about JFK? Could have been my childhood. Geez. Thinking about it in those terms — it would be interesting if they took it into the late 60’s through the 70’s and incorporated everything that happened.

    Ibsen. LOL! Ibsen and Cheever. See ya tomorrow.

    • I’m totally going to watch it AGAIN tonight! I scheduled my vacation just so that I would make it home in time to watch it even though it was DVR-ed.

  4. I made the mistake of buying a Sony DVR, and it wouldn’t record the show.

    That makes me REALLY Mad.

    Carolyn Kay
    MakeThemAccountable.com

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