It's the final season of Mad Men, the only show I've ever followed from start to finish as it came out. I watched the first season on a laptop during Christmas holidays at the bach six years ago, mostly on a short bunk bed, with the heat of a wood fired stove coming through the wall. I remember seeing one episode, where the brother appears, outside under the stars in front of a brazier, with my own brother and uncle. Those episodes were addictive for their mystery and promise. I wanted to know Don Draper's secret, and see his past catch up with him. I watched each scene for clues to a mystery, expecting escalation. I wanted to know what happened next.
Pretty soon it turned out that we knew all there was to know about Don's past, and so the show changed. It became, for me (I'm sure lots of people have shows like this), a part-time parallel world running alongside my own, into which I would dip into every year or so. Like a durational theatre performance, events were no longer significant for their relationship to a beginning years before, or an ending years later. I watched some of those seasons mainly out of sense of duty, bored with the characters and frustrated with their inability to change. Then when something big happened, I wished I'd been paying more attention and seen the clues leading up to it, because I felt like I didn't really see it.
People didn't often die on Mad Men, (Game of Thrones' method of bluffing a narrative as a large cast wanders aimlessly), but simply disappeared and were never mentioned again. Years later I'd remember that in 2008/1960 a certain character used to be a series regular, like a certain person was a regular in my own life. I'd think about how people disappear, and of course I'd start to read my own like a series of seasons, with series regulars and surprises appearances, which is a recipe for melancholy. Man Men is almost wide, slow and meandering enough to seem like life, except that I can go back to an episode of Mad Men and find a person again, and they will be the same. Halfway between fiction and life, then. With way better looking people.
And now (2014/1969), since the show is seven episodes from ending, I've been watching it more closely, because endings bring (artificial?) weight to actions which would otherwise not be important. For the characters, though, its just another decade beginning.
I remember 2008, when I watched a show remember 1960, where the people were nostalgic. I remember the characters in my life and in the show, and I map the slow changes in each, and in remembering them I create a story. I remember the people I watched that episode with, wrapped in coarse blankets and duvets as manuka logs burned on the brazier, the sky full of bright stars, and I think how their lives have changed and complicated. Of course, the whole god-damned show is about nostalgia and the bond it creates between us and a product- not least the show itself. Well, I guess I get the last laugh. I got it all online for free.
I'm actually a big Game of Thrones fan, but I always find it funny when people talk about certain characters and their actions as if any of it makes sense. My favourite is all the discussion of how Little Finger is a 'shrewd master of the long game' and how people try and guess his 'strategy' as if it can be figured out or predicted, like chess. There is no net in this tennis match, guys. People will continue to die in random order, and the right people will be where they need to be when the wall falls and the dragons come. Really looking forward to that Mountain/ Viper fight though. It's going to be awesome.
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