June 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM ET
When it came time for this season’s Monday morning water-coolering of “Mad Men,” a common theme erupted nearly every week: “Don Draper is soooooo boring.”
Should we interpret the show’s opening of a man falling as Don’s descent into dullsville? The people who feel Don didn’t say enough, feel enough or do enough this season might think so.
But if you’re part of a very select minority, it’s fair to respond to that notion with a resounding, “COME ON.”
While the leading man has been one of few words and has spent many scenes scowling, sneering and often sweating, he’s been less than boring when you consider the sum of the parts.
Draper, having spent the bulk (if not all) of season five as doting husband to Megan, has finally gone back to his old ways -- cheating ways that is, bedding another woman countless times over the course of season six. But it’s not just any woman he’s taken up with: It’s his neighbor Sylvia Rosen (played so well by Linda Cardellini). Meeting any random woman and taking her back to her place? Boring. Having something resembling a relationship with your neighbor, whose husband is also a friend? Not boring at all.
And speaking of the “relationship” between Don and Sylvia, that pretty much hit the skids in another entirely not-boring way. Linda’s husband, Arnold, or Don’s wife, Megan, potentially busting either guilty party was a tension that hung over the entire affair, but in the end it was Sally (poor Sally!) who ended up walking in on Dad “comforting” their neighbor. Don’s relationship with Sally turns on a dime and changes probably forever. That’s not boring, and did we forget to mention? Neither is the fact that Don hooked up with Betty while they were both visiting Bobby at summer camp.
Most of these OMG moments did culminate in a sad Don Draper, or at a minimum, a very drunk one, and sure, that’s repetitive and tiresome at times. But in between, viewers also learned more of Don’s childhood this year. (So damaged! So relevant?) Fans witnessed seriously bad behavior (even for Don) at Roger’s mom’s funeral, and was it not fun to watch him make Ken completely flustered all season -- without really even doing much?
Yes, not doing much is what the “Don is boring” camp will settle on, but when the season finale airs Sunday, true fans of the show might do right to keep in mind what “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner has done all along each week: His episodes aren’t meant to be snapshots -- they’re all parts of one big story.
This season’s tale didn’t move along as quickly as others, but that doesn’t make it -- or the main character -- boring. Just more demanding.