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Post 100 / Don Draper / Oh My God

July 24, 2010

The other day someone from the cable company called to try to sell me on the 3 in 1 deal, with phone, cable TV and Internet. “We’re all set with just the phone and Internet,” I explained. “We don’t need cable, but thanks.” I was as freakishly pleasant to the telemarketer as always, until she kept pushing.

“But I don’t understand,” she asked. “What do you do about television?”

So I said, in the questioning tone that people use when being really snotty to people who probably don’t have the inclination to read, “We read?”

Regardless of my penchant for the written word, I do love to watch TV when it is meted out in the correct doses. Like most people I know, I grew up watching incredible amounts of Loveboat, Happy Days, Bewitched, Hardy Boys, Fantasy Island, but as an adult I find it extremely depressing and time consuming to turn it on unless it’s for a very specific purpose. After all, watching CSI Miami at the gym would be nothing at all like a birthday if I could do it at home.

But I also beg to watch TV at night, especially since I have a child and am now too tired to have civilized conversations. We own Arrested Development, which we can watch forever and ever because it is the funniest and best with amazing characters, and really captures family lunacy well, though what they portray is of course over the top. And we watch 30 Rock online, and we get movies via Netflix sometimes.

And then, there is Mad Men.

Mad Men is the definition of an addiction, because I think about it far too much; I cannot wait to do it; and then I feel devastated the minute it’s over.

A few years ago I called a good friend one morning after going out for drinks the night before, and I was feeling really down. She pointed out that it was really only after drinking that I called her up and told her her how awful everything is. How astute, that a depressant could leave me feeling depressed! Speaking of drinking and depression and failing to make the connection, let’s head straight back to Mad Men, because we don’t have a whole lot of time to chat about it before the SEASON FOUR PREMIERE.

I have a Jon Hamm obsession but I like to think that it’s not like everyone else’s. What I really like is the goofy real life Jon Hamm who loves talking about farting and his dog and is smiley. The one who hosts SNL and mocks himself for having his last name being a homonym of “ham,” or who makes fun of Don Draper’s character. The version I like doesn’t comb his hair back.

This boyish person who doesn’t take himself too seriously is in high contrast to the haughty exhausted-looking lying and yet judgmental sexaholic with slicked back hair who I still can’t seem to get enough of. He’s a prime example of one of those self-obsessed withholding bastards who, in real life, you’re always trying to attribute some sort of mystery or depth to in order to justify the way he can make you feel when he casts his narcissistic gaze upon you.

“Tractor beams,” we call this gaze. Or shall I call it a glance, because it’s likely to be short lived, and to angle right off of you again and leave you with some sort of head injury.

And yet, Don Draper is both a national and a personal obsession.

But at the same time that I’m obsessed with the show — the outfits, the sexism, the lack of conscience, the completely ignoring your offspring, the crazy rack of Joan — I’m not totally sold. I really want it to have a sum greater than its parts, and whether it will is hard to know until the end. I, like many women including his fictional and beautiful and dumb wife, want to know both if Don Draper is really worth it as a human. However, the discerning television consumer in me also wants to know if he’s worth it as a character.

Enough thinking: let’s start drinking. Bring on the cocktails from 1964! I cannot wait to get together with friends and drink this one in tomorrow.

I’ll let you know if I still don’t think it’s worth getting cable.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April permalink
    July 25, 2010 9:31 am

    I once had to tell the person three times that we don’t have television before he said, in a dazed voice, ” wait…. You don’t HAVE a television?” he said he’d never heard of that. As if I had told him I’d gotten leprosy from an armadillo. (it’s possible, but hard to imagine the circumstances). Still, we manage to watch a whole lot of TV without owning one. I have so far resisted Mad Men, though maybe I’m just waiting for it to be over so I can go on a bender.

  2. Axuve Espinosa permalink
    July 25, 2010 3:59 pm

    Here, here for no cable! I do find that more and more people I know are getting rid of it.

    And yes! It is the DEFINITION OF AN OBSESSION!! Can’t wait for tonight.

  3. July 25, 2010 6:54 pm

    Mad Men is an addiction I’ve resisted so far. I’m trying for less TV, more reading. Wish me luck. It was so nice meeting you and Henry today.

  4. Audrey permalink
    July 26, 2010 2:40 pm

    OmG I love your writing! Every day while avoiding work–yes, another neighbor in the ‘Dit who works from home–I read you. So freakin’ funny, spot on and fabulous. I too love Mad Men. Sans cable. I hold off until the seasons are available through Netflix or borrowed from a friend, and then do the bender. Few months ago I did 3 seasons of Lost. Last night began season 3 of Don. Can’t wait for your next entry…

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