Refilling the Water Cooler at ‘Mad Men’

Much as I’m enjoying the season of “Mad Men,” the most serious show on TV today, I’m getting a little annoyed by how each episode this season seems built around a single shocking moment.

If ad men are still gathering around the bar, “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner is seeking to create water cooler moments, when fans can’t help talking about the now-common jolt of the week: Betty’s gotten fat; Roger Sterling takes an acid trip. And this week: Roger Sterling hooks up with Don’s French Canadian mother in law.

The fact that Megan is around at all is one of the surprises of the season — she wasn’t pictured in any of the pre-season publicity. And things look chancy because of their growing number of spats, the occasional fare ups of workplace competition, as well as Don’s sudden neediness perhaps making less attractive than he was as alpha dog,

The moments of the past two episodes, both concerning Roger, were remarked upon to the detriment of the rest of the episodes.

Sunday’s was about parental approval – of Megan’s new, successful husband, or of Peggy’s choice of living together with her boyfriend. But you’d think it was all about an act of oral sex, performed in a hotel anteroom, to be discovered by an impressionable 12-year-old girl or a whole TV audience. Did they have to be so out in the open? And why make a child actress see such a thing (or be asked to react as if having seen something)?

Bummer night for Sally Draper.

The thing that annoyed me more about the episode, though, was when Joan uttered a phrase that I’m sure is not of the 60s, but more of recent years: “It is what it is.”

I hate that meaningless phrase and often follow it by stating its collarary: “It isn’t what it isn’t.”

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