‘Mad Men’ season 6 debate: Is too much Don (and not enough Roger) a bad thing?

Mad Men season 6“Mad Men,” where art thou? If you are compare season 6 thus far to almost everything on broadcast television, it’s stellar. Matthew Weiner is a genius, Jon Hamm is Emmy-worthy, and the set and costume design is impeccable. But then, if you compare the overall level of quality of the story this season to the first five seasons, or even other up-and-coming series like “Homeland” or “Orphan Black,” the difference is palpable. There’s something missing, and rather frustrating about what this show is becoming. It the inevitable feeling of exhaustion of a show that has been on for so long and doesn’t know what to do with it’s leading man anymore.

It’s possible that there is a creative slump for AMC’s defining drama (although “Walking Dead” is getting better and better), but we like to think there are some other factor in play with this beyond just a gradual comfort level to a series that once surprised and delighted us.

1. Too much Don … we said it – Season 6 has tried to mirror some of Draper’s struggles back in the show’s early years, and instead has felt like devolution and at times regurgitation. Don has an affair, and desperately clings to it in the middle of flashbacks to his past. What was interesting about last season was that there was a change in the character, and while this may be a realistic portrayal of a man like Don, it feels like so little has changed over six years. Plus, seeing so much of him, mixed with so little of other characters, becomes a tad soul-sucking.

2. Where’s Roger? – In the middle of seeing so much Don, other characters have been sacrificed. Roger’s weird LSD trips and romancing Megan’s mom made for something interesting, but he has been marginalized ever since the start of the season. Joan has been treated only a tiny bit better, and these two were foundation pieces that gave the show more light to balance out Don’s shade.

3. The pacing – There is subtle, and then there’s moving along at a snail’s pace. There have been changes this season in between the merger and Pete Campbell losing wife, but somehow, they have been handled in a way that feels at times almost like we are plodding along on a lazy Sunday afternoon where nothing important is happening. The best moments have come recently in Don’s interactions with Ted, so maybe we are on an upswing now.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that last season started off like a firecracker, and thus it was easier to ignore the mid-season lull. With season 6, there was no sense of excitement early on save for another affair (which is really not exciting anymore, it’s just the same old stuff.) Therefore, the wait for perhaps the defining episodes has become a little more tiresome.

Let’s hope that the season 6 version of “Commissions and Fares” is coming soon, and for now, you can watch a preview for Sunday night’s episode over here.

Photo: AMC

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!