By the office elevators, Don Draper encounters his old nemesis Duck Phillips, now a headhunter, accompanying a prospective Draper replacement. It’s an awkward moment, considering one of the last times these two sworn enemies saw each other was when Duck almost smashed in Don’s face (after Duck nearly defecated in Roger Sterling’s office). The other gentleman offers to press the elevator button, asking Don, “Going down?” And he is in every sense.
The Mad Men world of season one, 1960, is a far cry from season six, 1968. The hard drinking, chain smoking, and womanizing have caught up with Don and some of the others. And unless things change, the end of the show will not be pleasant.
During my vodka research, I read Carl Hamilton’s Absolut: Biography of a Bottle. There is a section on advertising that I found particularly relevant to the series:
The sixties passed. Ten years … It was as though a hurricane had blown right through the city, right up Madison Avenue. The creative souls were all making money fast, and a select few, like Mary Wells and Bill Bernbach, had become rich. With hindsight, Carole Anne [Fine] knew she’d been there at the zenith. She looked back at everyone who, just like herself, had been to the gala dinners, who had stood up and strutted triumphantly to the podium to give their acceptance speeches. So many of them were gone.
Some died of alcoholism. She had drunk some, too, but that was never her real problem. Some died of drug abuse, some of too much money, some of not enough. Some of them had been heart attacks. An entire creative team had gone white-water rafting and drowned. God knows what the rest of them died of, but they were dead. And the ones who were left didn’t learn any lessons. They kept right on doing what they had done all along.
Image courtesy of Michael Yarish / AMC