Last night, little Sally Draper read “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” aloud to her grandfather on “Mad Men.” It’s roughly May 1963 in the world of the Drapers and their friends. The book could not have been more appropriate.
Perhaps Matthew Weiner was worried about his characters: the end is coming. Last week, Roger Sterling’s daughter chose November 22, 1963 for her wedding. It’s not going to be pretty. All I could think last week was, these poor people do not know what’s coming.
I wish for them that they could live in this oblivious bliss forever, smoking, cheating, drinking and living like John Cheever will never be supplanted by Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Wolfe. If only.
Last night, Sterling (the amazing John Slattery) actually performed in black face at his own party. Peggy tried marijuana. A young couple did the Charleston — this is many years after Elvis, but just one before the Beatles — and an ad man recalled his Princeton singing group days with a barbershop quartet number. This is a delicious moment in time, when no one is the wiser ab0ut anything.
But there are hints: Peggy, who last week slept with a stranger, is pushing into the real Sixties. She may leave the others behind.
Let’s hope 1963 is plotted out slowly. In November we get the assassination. Three months later the Beatles land in America. And then it’s all over. Off will come the gloves. Literally. I hope Weiner is savoring the moment while he can.
P.S. In case you don’t realize it, Bobby Morse is playing Cooper, the owner of the original ad agency. He was on Broadway in 1962, starring the antecedent to “Mad Men,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” It’s intentional, and very clever. Michelle Lee should be brought in as Joan’s mother. That would close the circle.