For most people, March is about one thing: the NCAA March Madness tournament. Every year, millions (myself included) fill out tournament brackets in hopes that this will be the year that they guess all 63 games correctly. But this year, March Madness had absolutely nothing to do with college basketball. After months and months of waiting, the highly anticipated season 5 premiere of Mad Men aired on Sunday night, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Before I begin with the review, let me started with a warning. Not only will this review contain spoilers, but if you’ve never watched an episode of Mad Men before, this will probably make absolutely no sense.
The new season of Mad Men began pretty much right where season 4 left us, at a struggling yet still alive Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. While the company has managed to survive, we quickly learn a lot has happened since we last saw our favorite ad agency, Roger and Don are being forced to share a secretary, Pete and Joan are both new parents, Peggy is still dating her hippie journalist boyfriend and Don’s new wife, Megan, is now part of the creative team.
The premiere certainly set up several new and exciting storylines for us to follow this season, however all of the ingredients we fell in love with in the first few seasons were still there. There was plenty of drinking, plenty of smoking, and plenty of politically incorrect statements. But I still couldn’t help but feel like something was missing.
I spent all night trying to figure out what was missing from this seemingly perfect premiere. Finally, as the credits began to roll, it hit me. I had just watched 2 hours and 8 minutes of Mad Men, and none of the characters had cheated on their partners. Not Roger, not Lane, not Peggy, not Pete and most impressively of all, not even Don.
Despite the lack of adultery, there seemed to be an overall theme of unhappiness and disappointment with some of the main characters, especially Don, Roger and Lane.
Last time we saw Lane, he was ending his affair with a playboy bunny and moving his family back in England over the pond to New York. However, this didn’t stop him from nearly having phone sex with a complete stranger. Roger, on the other hand, was seen bickering with his wife throughout the episode, making it clearly obvious that the two simply don’t like each other anymore.
Perhaps the most shocking character to not cheat on his wife is Don Draper himself. In the season 4 finale, Don proposed to his secretary, Megan, on a trip to California. While the two were a seemingly perfect fit for all of 20 minutes, it became pretty clear that the honeymoon phase is long gone. Despite Peggy’s advice, Megan decides to throw a surprise party for Don for his 40th birthday, and after performing a very inappropriate rendition of Zou Bisou Bisou, he is clearly annoyed with his wife. There weren’t any hints at a new love interest for Don, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he moves on to the next girl in the next few episodes.
Overall, I found the premiere to be a great set-up episode for the upcoming season. There may not have been any exciting twists or turns in the first 120 minutes, but there are several storylines that I’m excited to see unfold. For example, the budding rivalry between Roger and Pete seems to be hitting a boiling point with Pete on the rise and Roger on the decline. I’m also excited to see a bit more of the evolution of Sally Draper’s character in her new home. But most of all, I’m interested to see how Don deals with his new wife. It’s pretty obvious that Megan knows about Don’s past as Dick Whitman, and we’ll see if that’s enough to keep Don an honest man.
But let’s be real. None of us watch Mad Men to see Don Draper be an honest man.