The much-anticipated Sixth Season of the AMC hit Mad Men premiered this Sunday to a record-setting audience, who were greatly surprised by the unexpected plot twist from creator Matthew Weiner. Season Five left us questioning the response of debonair, slick-haired, smooth-talking, rant-giving, identity-crisis-of-a-man Don Draper to the mysterious blonde at the bar: “Are you alone?” Will he? Won’t he? So he’s obviously going to bang her in some secret Manhattan apartment he has just for his naughty mistresses, right?
Well, the tides seem to have turned for our alcoholic adulterous anti-hero, as he settles into a quiet life in the country with wife Megan. The opening scene showed Draper nuzzling his dark-haired beauty, whispering sweet nothings in her ear, sporting an apron that read “Kiss the Cook” while cooking her a magnificent Sunday brunch. This dramatic jolt to the character trajectory did not stop with a happy marriage; Draper spent most of the episode smiling and treating people with respect, as did his non-competitive coworkers at SCDP advertising agency. What fans have called “the darkest episode yet” continued unsettlingly as Don ranted against the poison of cigarettes and tossed the pack in the trash, proudly gazing out the window empty-handed and triumphant. Even more unseemly, he stopped by to play with his kids on the weekends, giving responsible parenting a bit of the Don Draper touch.
The most shocking moment came towards the dramatic conclusion. Don, in a rather calm and shockingly uninteresting business meeting, offered his partner the usual whiskey on the rocks. Tensions built as the man considered, waved him off and stated, “You know, I think I’ve had enough today. I wouldn’t want to be drunk at work!” The theme cut in at just this moment, allowing a much-needed release after such a taut, spellbinding episode.
The premiere aired with incredibly high ratings in a new market: women aged 35 to 50, who have become enthralled with the new happy-go-lucky Draper. For this reason, discussions have arisen about the AMC series moving to the Lifetime Network for airing on Tuesday afternoons.