Best-Of Advice

On being a joan

So, I’m pretty excited about Mad Men’s new season. Are you a Joan, do you want to be a Joan, or do you just fantasize about being with a Joan?

I don’t mind if you want to hurt my feelings by telling me what her image does to my existential reality or unestablished self-esteem, but she’s the imaginary woman I never knew I wanted to be.

 

I don’t have high hopes for this season of Mad Men. I’ll watch it. Of course I’ll watch it. I might even enjoy it, but let’s all be clear that the show jumped the shark after season three.

That’s what happens with all great serial shows — The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Nip/Tuck, Weeds, Californication — you name it, and I can point to how it was all down hill after season three. (What about The Wire, you say? Yeah, yeah. The Wire is essentially five sets of mini-series with a number of reoccurring characters. It’s the exception that proves the rule.)

When Weeds jumped the shark after season three, at least Jenji Kohan had the foresight to (literally) burn down the whole universe of the show, steal away the main characters, and create what is essentially a spinoff of the original.

Good for her. Matthew Weiner tried to pull off the same trick, but unfortunately, he didn’t go far enough. He stole away the main characters from Mad Men‘s original universe, but the new one he created was an exact replica with more modern furniture. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was no different than Sterling Cooper, and the show really started to sag.

I don’t expect Mad Men to get any more interesting than it’s already been, because the only place left for Weiner to take his band of merry narcissists is on a downward spiral. Don is finally divorced from an idiot. Joan is finally married to an idiot. What now? Guess things will have to start getting weird for no reason. That, or really boring.

As for whether I want to be a Joan, all I can say is fuck no. It’s not that I have anything against Christina Hendricks or the character she plays, but the whole idea of typing myself as a fictional personality is more than a little bit creepy.

This kind of shit used to happen all the time back in the Sex and the City days. Bitches couldn’t help but ask, “are you a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte, or a Miranda?”

“Fuck you,” I’d say.

“Oh, you must be a Samantha. I’m such a Carrie!”

“Of course you are,” at which point I’d excuse myself to the bathroom mirror to check that there wasn’t any blood leaking out of my ears.

Point is, everyone wants to be either a Carrie or a Charlotte. Everyone wants to be either a Joan or a Peggy. And if right now you’re saying to yourself, “Wait, wait! I’d rather be a Betty Draper or (god forbid) a Miranda,” then you’re double fucked. Not only are you missing my point, but you’re fantasizing about being a two-dimensional cunt.

I know I’m rambling at this point, but this shit bugs me. I hate hearing other women say they want to be like fictional characters on television. Real life role models are hard enough for me to condone, but tailoring your personality after some idealized bit of pop culture fiction is as shallow as it is dangerous.

This applies just as much to all you guys, by the way. Yes, you. The ones wearing fedoras and drinking rye whiskey cocktails like they were some kind of Don Draper starter kit. Stop it.

No, I’m not telling you what to wear or what to drink. I’m telling you to stop buying what television is really selling: your identity.

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