Ten ways to stay busy until Mad Men returns
Published: August 11, 2011
Saudade (Portuguese): the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love, something that is lost and may never return.
Iktsuarpok (Inuit): literally, “to go outside to check if anyone is coming”; used to describe the sensation of impatiently awaiting an anticipated friend.
There ought to be a word for nostalgia toward a place and time one never actually experienced. If there is, it probably isn’t English; the above Inuit and Portuguese words were the closest we could find to express our pining for the postponed fifth season of Mad Men – Sunday-night destination TV, Emmy magnet and masterpiece of faux-nostalgic melancholy.
Most of Mad Men’s devoted fans weren’t alive in 1961, yet the powerful subcurrent of repressed emotion and the slavish attention to period detail give the show such authority that it’s easy to feel you were there. Like all the best storytelling, Mad Men feels like memory. Don Draper’s self-hating charisma; Betty Draper’s thwarted, frozen femininity; Roger Sterling’s WASP antics, masking an end-of-the-party bitterness; Joan Holloway’s generous bosom and penny-counting soul; Peggy Olson’s voyage from blank slate to personhood; and that’s leaving out the rest of the gang at Sterling Cooper (Draper Pryce) – they and their milieu are so finely drawn that AMC’s no-budget long shot has gained, in four seasons, the kind of critical acclaim and committed audience not seen since The Wire.
Show creator Matthew Weiner’s well-documented battles with his writing staff, Lionsgate producers and AMC network execs led Season 5 negotiations up to the precipice. Weiner isn’t, as he threatened, going to take his ball and go play on another network, but the delay means fans will have to wait until March 2012 for their next fix, instead of the late-July/early-August premiere of the previous four seasons. Until then, we’ve devised a list of substitutes – Nicorette for your Lucky Strikes, if you will. Break out the chip ’n’ dip; it’s going to be a long seven months.
1 Watch (other) TV
The suffering broadcast networks could not have asked for better timing for Mad Men’s self-imposed hiatus: They’ve been pouring money into their own Draper clones, which will now have months to catch on before having to compete with the real thing. NBC still hasn’t set a start date for The Playboy Club , newbie creator Chad Hodge’s imagining of the magazine’s swinging heyday, but the show is already having predictable affiliate trouble (too racy for Iowa!), and its cast, devoid of any genuine stars (as Mad Men was, at first) could be a disadvantage in the kill-or-be-killed prime-time climate. ABC’s Pan Am , on the other hand, has everything going for it: a swinging-pilots premise that was already proven to work like gangbusters in Catch Me if You Can, a movie star (Christina Ricci) as its lead and a gleaming crew of Emmy-hoarders behind the camera, from ER producer and Pan Am creator Jack Orman to The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip executive producer Thomas Schlamme. And have you seen the promo? Thrilling!