Mad Men Season 5 Finale: Has Mad Men Shunned the Suburbs?

Our pop culture blogger has a bone to pick with Mad Men



Now that we've all had some time to digest the end of Mad Men’s fifth season — and don’t read on if you haven’t finished it (this is your official spoiler warning) — it’s time to get indignant about it. Specifically, indignant about the way the suburbs are treated in the show.

When Mad Men premiered, one of the thrills of watching it was knowing that it’s a local story. Don Draper had his flaws, sure, but he was ours — at least half the time: He had his life as an ad man in the city, but he came home to Ossining at night.

This season saw Don living in his Park Avenue apartment with Megan. That’s fair; you can’t keep your characters in one place forever. But Don’s breakup with the ’burbs seems to be a particularly bad one. It’s the kind where, even though you were together for a long time, you can’t remember one good thing about the relationship.

pete campbell mad men

Photograph by Jordin Althaus/AMC

Proof? When faced with dinner at Pete and Trudy’s house, he responds with a curt, “Saturday night in the suburbs — that’s when you really want to blow your brains out.”

Ouch, Mad Men. We used to have such fun together.

In this breakup, Don walks away with a hot, young, almost annoying hip wife; a cool apartment; and a shorter commute. What do we get?

Fat Betty, for starters. At the end of last season, she and Henry up and move the family to Rye. But after that, it seems the show has really backed away from showing the Francis clan’s life there. Gone are those antiquing trips in Tarrytown. We never got to see if little Bobby went to Playland or not.

While Betty’s life in the ’burbs is still a mystery to us, who are Mad Men’s great suburban representatives? Pete Campbell and Howard Dawes, two Metro-North commuting buddies that truly deserve each other. If you wanted evidence to support Don’s claims that the suburbs make you want to off yourself, you need not look much further than these two. It’s fitting that the last episode of the season has them getting into a fistfight and getting tossed off the train. In Harrison.

What did you think of this season? Should suburbanites be offended? Let me know in the comments.  

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Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY


Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.

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