We are four episodes into season three of AMC's Mad Men, and the tone is darker than ever. Infuriating those who don't "get" Mad Men, is the increasingly languid pace, which is just a notch or two less fast than watching your grandparents play Monopoly.
But that's OK, because I am a Mad Men super fan, and it still works for me. I love the costumes, the 60's details, the quirky characters and the references to vintage advertising. However, I'm a bit frustrated with the relentless unhappiness that all the characters exhibit. Last season there was the occasional drunken joie de vive. This season, our heroes in the Sterling Cooper office even managed to make getting high on pot seem dour and humorless. Cheech and Chong, Harold and Kumar, avert your eyes! Peggy and the gang smoked a joint in the office and didn't even manage to come up with some good creative for Bacardi.
The "hidden lives" theme continues in season three. Everyone is in denial. Peggy is pretending to be fun so she can find a Manhattan room mate. Sal is pretending to be straight for his adoring wife. Although it's possible she might finally have a clue that he plays for the other team, after his enthusiastic pajama clad Ann Margaret impression in their bedroom. The entire Sterling Cooper team is pretending that they can make Ja'i Alai the next great American past time with a million dollar ad campaign. Only Don Draper sees the folly of that endeavor.
I wish Matt Weiner had not continued the relentless torture of Don and Betty's daughter this season. It's painful to watch through our 21st Century eyes, and makes me want to call child protective services. The one warm relationship for the series thus far this season (Grandpa and grand daughter) was smashed to smithereens when Betty's Dad died suddenly from a heart attack. Icecube parents Don and Betty ignored their daughter's anguish in this week's episode. Note to Mr. and Mrs. Draper. It's 1963. In six years, your daughter is going to run off to join the Manson family, where she can finally get some love.
If you're looking for love or at the very least some fun this season on Mad Men, your best bet is on their website where you can create your own avatar. Here's mine, urging the Sterling Cooper cast to wake up and smell the coffee.