Dr. Mister and I found episode 1 from the third Mad Men season for free on-line this weekend, and watched it together huddled up close to my computer screen. (Did you know that we’re so cheap, we squeak? It’s true.) I stand by my claim of last month that Mad Men goes out of its way to ensure that no one enjoys any sexual pleasure whatsoever. Spoiler alert: In this episode, Don and Sal are on a business trip to Baltimore, and both of them hook up–Don with a flight attendant, and Sal with a bellboy. (This appears to be Sal’s first sexual encounter with another man, and it’s very hot.) Guess what? Four seconds into it, the hotel fire alarm goes off, and everyone has to climb down the fire escape! This is the device by which Don gets a glimpse of the shirtless bellboy in Sal’s room, so Don knows Sal’s big secret.
The writers of Mad Men must all be in their 30s or early 40s–people who were teenagers and young adults ca. 1984-1996, from the time the HIV virus was discovered to the discovery of protease inhibitors. (These came out in Dr. Mister’s last year of residency, where he treated a large number of HIV-infected patients, and they totally changed the game practically overnight. They’re the biggest medical miracle of my lifetime, that’s for sure.) In any case, the legacy of growing up in the shadow of AIDS is pretty clear in the writing of Mad Men. The most severe anti-sex moralist would approve of all of the bad things that happen to characters on Mad Men when they pursue sexual pleasure. Those of you who have seen season 3: without any spoilers, can you tell me if this ever changes?
Roger Sterling has become my favorite character, loathsome as he is, because he’s the only one who looks like he’s having any fun.