How old were you when you realized that your parents were people? Even as a kid, you can kind of intellectually understand that your parents had lives before you existed, and that as much as it feels like it, your parents don’t only live to serve at your beck and call. But understanding this idea emotionally, the idea that your parents aren’t just people, but imperfect people, people with biases and failings and resentments that exist in a completely different realm of your interaction with them, this idea isn’t something that you can understand as a child. Only when you hit your teenage do you even start to understand the things that make your parents (and by an extent, the adults around you) tick, and how what makes them tick relates back to who they are as people.
I bring this up, not only because it is Mother’s Day (or was when the show aired), but because the sole theme that ran through this week’s slightly lacking Mad Men episode, “Dark Shadows” was that of adults and children.
Has Don Draper done any actual advertising work this year? Aside from sexually harassing his wife in the office, Don has done very little actual pitching of ideas, and after stumbling on some of Ginsburg’s doodles for The Snoball — which seems to be some sort of slushie product made by Pepsi, not the pink frilly coconut cake thingy made by Hostess, as I originally thought — which are actually quite good (it’s very hard to go wrong with Hitler getting hit in the face), Don decides to stay late at the office on a weekend (Sally should know by now she never was going to get those pencils) and to try his hand in actually coming up with ideas, and is, to be generous, rusty.
In fact, Don is actually pretty terrible, a far cry from his Kodak Carosel days, and he knows it. Whatever easy-going cool that Don used to be able to tap into is gone (I mean, that sweater… yikes). No one can stay at the peak of their creative powers forever, but Don seems irreparably hopeless.