Don Draper and the Artist from Oz

At time of writing, all across America, in lounge rooms and in bars, farewell parties/wakes are being held. By the time these words make it to blog we’ll know how it will end – whether it’s with a bang or a whimper? As the final episode makes its way down the digital pipelines of the nation and is devoured, goodbyes will have to be said to the characters that have become part of the social fabric of the land. Goodbye Dan Draper. Goodbye Joan Harris. Goodbye Roger Sterling. Goodbye Pete Campbell. Goodbye Peggy Olson. Goodbye….

don d

There are some shows that are so good we just don’t want to let go of them – shows that, like good wine, as they progress through the various seasons, the viewing public never looses its taste for them. In recent times, from the US we have seen that in small screen productions like ‘The Sopranos’, ‘West Wing’ and perhaps ‘Breaking Bad’. Internationally there’s the behemoth that is ‘GofT’. ‘Vikings’ and ‘Borgen’ are on my personal list. But I really have a problem with final seasons. I find it very difficult to bring myself to watch their terminal runs. I have a list of these – ‘Californication’, ‘Boardwalk Empire’, ‘True Blood’, ‘Weeds’ – it’s such a wrench to think there’s no more Hank, no more Nucky, no more Sookie and Bill, no more Nancy Botwin. Therefore they remain unviewed on my DVD shelf. But I reckon none of these will be as difficult to say adios to as Don and the crew. Don Draper, there is no doubt, is one of the great flawed characters ever created for any medium – as flaw is tipped on flaw as the show progresses through time from the late fifties into the seventies, so we become ever more in his square-jawed thrall. As well, Christina Henricks has sashayed into our lives, displaying all the glories of the fuller figured woman and bringing her ilk back into vogue. We have the icily detached January Jones as the first Mrs Draper and those of us who watched will never forget the second’s (Jessica Paré) serenading of her philandering hubby. It was a great ‘Mad Men’ moment to rival the day the ride-on mower was let loose in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

There’s an Aussie artist who doesn’t even particularly like ‘Mad Men’, but nonetheless is garnering fame because of the show. She reckons Don and his male colleagues in the advertising firm are all complete tools. But soon she, too, will be out of a job. For years she has been exhibiting on the Melbourne arts circuit with her architectural canvasses, described as a cross between Howard Arkley and Edward Hooper, as well as her portraiture. The latter have been lauded as, for the viewer, registering ‘… encounters beyond the frozen moment.’ (Robert Nelson). Track along to her website and see for yourselves.

penelope metcalf

On a recent trip to the Big Apple the Yarra City painter caught up with her good mate, US writer Heather Havrilesky over coffee and talk got around to the possibility of a joint project – one’s art, the other’s words. That sort of thing is possible these days, despite the duo living an ocean and continent apart. How on earth they managed to come up with their take on ‘Mad Men’. It’s a pen and ink comic strip surmising each episode of the seventh and terminating season? Perhaps, as the meeting wore on, they were partaking of something a tad stronger than coffee, but come up with that notion they did. Through the writer’s connections they eventually spruiked the plan to the folks at New Yorker magazine and they took it on for their web version. It’s popular, but of course its longevity has been limited. Will the pair move onto something else? They’ve already discussed ‘GofT’, but with its complexities of plot and myriad characters it’s unlikely they’ll proceed that way. Penelope Metcalf has declared that her own beloved ‘Parks and Recreation’ is out of bounds. We’ll stay tuned.

mad men metcaffe

They would feel, no doubt, as I do – nothing soars quiet like ‘Mad Men’ – like it or loathe it, one cannot discount its influence. It will leave a hole and it will be intriguing to see what, if anything, comes along to create the same long-standing buzz. If I cannot quite bring myself to watch the aforementioned’s last suites of episodes, how will I cope doing it for the show I love the most? It’s just so hard letting go.

Penelope Metcalf’s website =

Columnist Ruth Ritchie’s response to the demise of Mad Men =

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