Mad Men, Season 7, Part 1 (USA, 2014)

mad_men_season_7_posterCreated by: Matt Weiner. Fooled us! Of course—the “final season” is actually part 1 of the “final season.” They’re going to drag this out as long as they can, which is the prerogative of all successful American TV shows, and this current vogue of “quality television” is pretty good about calling it quits after 6 or 7 years, which is enough for me, frankly. But this whole “part 1″/”part 2” nonsense is disingenuous. Really, there’s a seventh season, which is this, and an eighth season, which is the next one. Breaking Bad did it, Sopranos did it, now everyone will do it I’m sure, because they can get away with it. And with those shows, they probably benefited a lot from having some extra time to develop a robust finale and tie up all the loose ends. With this show, I’ve been counting down to the finale since about Season 5. I feel like it’s just running out of steam, they haven’t done much to build any suspense about Don Draper’s mysterious past and his inscrutable character in a few seasons, and I don’t really care much about what goes on. This season felt mostly like it existed to make us reflect on how different everything is from when the show started, to notice Pete’s receding hairline, the garish late-60’s paisley patterns and widening shirt collars, the social unrest in the streets, the moon landing etc, to make us feel nostalgic for the status quo of the first season, for the early 60’s. Get it? See what they did there? Nostalgia for a past time. The 60’s. Get it? The 60’s. Get it? From the beginning, I was torn with this show; it walked a fine line between exploring something really deep and substantial, watching Americans chew through their own collective personality crisis, looking back from the 21st century at the single decade in the 20th century where the American Dream finally and irreversibly broke open and spilled its guts all over the pavement, and on the other hand, just wallowing in soap operatics (not to go into a whole thing, but I do consider it a detraction) and aesthetic fetishism over the wardrobe and hairstyles, and decadent, time-travelling rubbernecking, gawking out of our 21st century viewpoint at how technologically primitive and socially and politically backward everything was. Maybe I’m missing the whole point, maybe I’m not “getting it”, how these seemingly incongruous elements actually strengthen and inform each other. Maybe I’ll re-watch the whole thing together in a few years and I’ll feel like a dummy. Honestly, I don’t remember an awful lot from one season to the next. A lawnmower maiming a guy’s foot, the British guy hanging himself, Don and Roger getting drunk and walking up the stairs and Roger gets a heart attack…and then the ghost of Cooper doing a musical song and dance number that only Don can see. It’s a bit precious for me. People seemed to like it, but it was a bit of (and I hate this term) shark jumping to me. It’s the kind of bold move that indicates that a show is either boasting how well it’s got its shit together, how solid the whole plot is going to sew itself up that they can afford some shit as frivolous as this, or on the other hand, it indicates that the show is so awfully wayward and lost up its own ass that it doesn’t have the good sense to button it up when it comes to a weird idea like this. And frankly, I don’t have that much faith in this show to give it the benefit of the doubt. For me, the last 7 episodes could really go either way, 50/50, complete genius or total dud, or more likely, like the rest of the show, somewhere in the middle.

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2 responses to “Mad Men, Season 7, Part 1 (USA, 2014)

  1. Pingback: House of Cards, Season 1 (USA, 2013) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2014 | Offhand Reviews·

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