The “Mad Men” Likeability Index: Has Don Really Left His Man-Whoring Ways Behind?

I’m guessing not, but a symbolic dream sequence strongly suggests otherwise.

Last night’s episode was a sham — a sham! Don’s TB-induced dream sequence? Was that really necessary? Part of the series’ appeal is its subtlety, the fact that the producers and writers don’t always spell everything out for us. Little things are done and said to make us wonder what characters are feeling or thinking, or why these people are such ass holes. It’s not normally written across the sky by an extremely noisy airplane: “DON HAS KILLED HIS INNER DEMON THAT MADE HIM CHEAT ON BETTY SO MUCH!” Which is what that silly dream sequence said and what could have been expressed in a much more subtle manner. We like this show because it assumes its audience has a certain amount of intelligence and willingness — desire, even — to think about what’s going on. We don’t need to watch Don dream about killing a woman he’s cheated with, symbolism in its most elementary form, as though we are in third grade and that happened just to teach us what symbolism is. Anyway, on to this week’s likeability index.

Don seems determined to put his cheating days behind him, which is great and becoming increasingly believable as the season goes on, but considering how much he’s cheated in the past he’s starting on like negative one million of the believability scale. I wonder if he’s told Megan about how much he cheated on Betty — conversations most couples who end up getting married tend to have. “Have you ever cheated on someone?” “Yes, you?” Etc. But transparency has never been a tool in Don’s personality supply kit, so I’m guessing not. And it doesn’t seem like asking about this would occur to Megan, partly because I don’t believe she’s perceptive enough for things to occur to her.

Anyway, one sign of Don’s tenuous commitment to Megan did emerge when they were in the kitchen at the office and he tells her he wants to be with her til the day he dies, “which could be the afternoon.” Ha ha, Don. This was a pretty funny joke about him being grossly sick but! It was dripping with truth about how any romantic relationship of Don’s can only last so long.

Ever notice how Megan is always late to work? Sauntering in saying, “sorry I’m late” in the most insincere way because she’s screwing the boss and she knows it doesn’t matter? Also, the way she got so upset with Don for bumping into some woman he screwed before her was understandable, but the way she handled it belied a vat of insecurity bubbling inside her, only becoming more heated as the scope of Don’s womanizing past comes into fuller and fuller view. She shouldn’t have married a guy before she knew all this about him and before she’s had the time to figure out if she can come to terms with it and let it go. Also, I know she’s French Canadian, but I was never a fan of people peppering their English with French words, so minus points for being obnoxious in that way.
Likeability score: 64%

Joan was so interesting last night! First, she tried to stop her douchey husband from telling her he cheated on her while he was at war because I guess she doesn’t care? Which she really can’t seeing as she had that affair with Roger and OH YEAH, that baby is his, not Craig’s, so even though that was strange I admire her for trying not to be a hypocrite. But then she gets so pissed at Craig for volunteering to go back to war for a year that she breaks up with him? Cheating and deciding to be away from her for a year are both break-up-worth offenses, I suppose. But it was interesting that that’s the thing she can’t deal with — being at home alone with a baby and her mother and no help from the kid’s “father.” Thank God she seized on the excuse to break up with him. While I don’t admire Joan for lying to another man about an affair that led to a baby, I do admire her for leaving a man who was a total dick. So many women in this world need to pull a Joan and break up with the men who treat them like shit.
Likeability score: 99%

I’M SO GLAD HE’S GONE WHAT A CREEP. Let’s list all the douchey things Greg did last night:
• Held the baby for two seconds when he came home before shooing it off with Joan’s mom.
• Asked for more beer. How much does he need? Drunky.
• Went out to drink with his friends when he has a new baby and a wife at home.
• Decided to volunteer to go back to war for a year without consulting his wife.
• Barely fought to keep Joan when she said she wanted out.
Likeability score: -80%

The way Peggy worked the money out of Roger was genius — “the work is $10 but the lie is extra.” Amazing. I also liked how, after she extracted $400 from him, she was genuinely excited. The money actually meant something to her, unlike Harry, who didn’t seem excited at all by getting $1,000 out of Roger. If Harry had gotten her bribe, he would have stayed there feeling sorry for himself for having to work.

Peggy also wins points for taking in Dawn when she can’t go home, saving her from sleeping on Don’s couch (ew). And for generally seeming like the most accepting person on this show, and probably the only one now with a black and gay friend, and for being self-aware about how it would look if she tried to hide her purse so that Dawn doesn’t rob her.
Likeability score: 98%

Dawn is the best new character so far this season. I expect good things from her since she is the kind of person who leaves a thank-you note for the girl who lets her crash on her couch instead of sleeping on Don’s encrusted-with-God-knows-what office couch.
Likability score: 93%

14. Michael the New Guy

He’s like another little Brad Goreski, with all those printed shirts and ties and stylistic flair and dramatic monologues. I like his eccentricity, even though he’s supposed to be annoying.
Likability score: 87%

He’s just Bribey McBriberson this season isn’t he? Oh well, I admire his nonchalance and sense of humor about the whole thing, though I did not like how he really thought he could dump all that work on Peggy for $10. Now can he dump his dumb wife and marry Joan so he can help her with the baby?
Likeability score: 78%

Basically a nonentity this episode, except to show up once looking smug like he always does.
Likeability score: 79%

The shot of him in the office wearing pantyhose on his head was awesome. As was his joke about finding the new guy after he’s left for the day by starting with “the world” and then eventually checking his apartment.
Likeability score: 89%

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