There’s been some good shit TV-wise this week.
American critic-proof shows Game of Thrones and Mad Men both posted their strongest episodes of their respective current seasons.
Their is real relish for the viewer in seeing Don return to his womanising ways in Mad Men. Their is real tragedy, though, for the character. This was highlighted this week when his latest flame, when asked what she prayed for after their mutual adultery, said for his happiness. The sadness in this line was heightened by the fact that based on what he has said to her this would involve a cessation of their affair. Who could be so selfless as to give up Don Draper so he could be happy? Anyone he has given the time to, seems to be the answer to this question.
Don’s return to acting on his libido has reversed his waning force in work, almost as though his newly marital monogamy was the cause for a creative impotence. Though has it had the results of the Don of old? This week we were shown both how Don can’t compete with his old self – or other competitors. Peggy with her new company was quoting old Don in her pitch to Heinz ketchup, “if you don’t like the conversation – change the conversation.”
In the end neither old Don, in the guise of Peggy, nor old Don could compete with their higher profile rival and Heinz ketchup garnished neither of their companies. The move did, though, cost Ken his beans account (at the time Beans didn’t mean Heinz so no-one cared that much).
Happily we got more of Joan this week; sadly it was not necessarily the strong Joan we all love. She was humiliated in the partners’ meeting by Harry who is annoyed that he isn’t a partner and Joan is (and that she had sacked his secretary for getting someone to clock out for her). Rather than just focus on his own prowess Harry chose to remind everyone how Joan’s partnership was achieved. At the point we either waiting for Joan to say something strong or Don or Roger to stand up for her we got nothing.
Joan was only able to show her strength and power in the way she always has in the office – the fear she installs in the secretarial pool. Despite the reversal of the decision to dismiss Harry’s secretary she was still able to strike fear into Dawn. Dawn, of course, has the disadvantage of being African American and this sees others take advantage of her. For the first time this week we got a glimpse into Dawn’s private live, outside of the time she slept on Peggy’s sofa. Hopefully we will get to see a bit more of Dawn as the racism and intolerance of the time hasn’t been broached too often from the side of the oppressed, aside from Sal’s repressed sexuality.
Where social realism stopped Joan thrashing down those acted against her, the reality of Game of Thrones is not confined by the politics of a late 1960s Manhattan advertising agency. It would be inaccurate to say GoT doesn’t see a patriarchal influence but there was nothing patriarchal about the climax of this week’s episode when Daenerys Targaryen did smite the guy who was trying to sell her an army of slaves. And it was fucking brilliant.