Spoiler Alert Thursday
Mad Men: “The Good News”
I’m not sure I get the title to this week’s Mad Men. Anna’s niece complains about her roommate, a Berkeley Jesus freak who keeps talking about “the good news.” Maybe it’s that the roommate, along with Anna’s niece, really are good news, the harbingers of the new era? In this episode, we see the onset of what we now think of as the “Sixties” — religious cults, hippies, love beads and drugs. But they’re not in New York — at least for now, they’re all in California.
In California, even when Don learns that Anna is dying, the world seems new and wholesome and healthy. It’s bright and warm; they hang out in Anna’s sunny living room and smoke pot; they go out to a club and watch youngsters dancing to surf music. Anna’s niece, fresh back from Berkeley, is smart and pretty. She unselfconsciously wears a bikini top with her shorts, and deftly — and compassionately — rejects Don, who, next to her confident youth, seems like a clumsy, lecherous old man.
In contrast to L.A., New York seems depressing and old. This impression is confirmed when Don returns to New York. Even when Don’s supposedly celebrating the New Year, the scenes are all dark, sad and markedly unhealthy seeming. They hang out in dark basement comedy clubs, they sleep with hookers, and everyone drinks too much.
Don has escaped New York for California once before. I suspect he’s too old though, to do it for good. If L.A., in this episode, represents the future, it’s a future that has already left Don behind.
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