Mad Men, Season 6

Ted Chaough: The Most Feminized of the Mad Men
Talking television.
June 11 2013 11:52 AM

Mad Men, Season 6

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Ted Chaough, the most feminized of the Mad Men.

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Jaimie Trueblood/AMC

Hanna, Paul,

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

You’re right, Hanna, that Don’s admiration for Arnold inspired him to do a mitzvah for the Rosen boy. Have we seen Don bro out like this before? I can’t remember him spending a ton of time with non-work pals in previous seasons. As Ted said: “I bet you don’t have a lot of friends, Don.”

Don does seem in genuine awe of Arnie’s skill and his contribution to humanity. In this season’s first episode, their easy banter and mutual affection struck me as a healthy step forward for Don—a friendship not about career advancement, or one-upmanship, or relentless boozing and womanizing. Alas, we soon discovered that Don is not the sort of buddy you want around. Sure, he’ll get you a free Leica. But he’ll also shtup your wife. That’s what friends are for?

I thought it was telling that Ted constructed his dance metaphor the way he did. He might have said, “What if every time Fred Astaire opened his arms to catch Ginger Rogers, she kicked him in the groin?” Instead, he cast himself in the female role. I suppose, compared to Don and Roger and the other pre-hippie paleo dudes surrounding him, Ted is a bit “feminized.” He’s hyper-aware of the feelings and concerns of his co-workers. He loves his wife and agonizes when he’s tempted to stray. His complete joy upon returning home to a scene of domestic bliss was an emotion alien to, say, Don, who would have dappled it with self-loathing and destructive impulses. As we move into the '70s, Ted is ready for jogging and est. Don is ready for suppressed rage and a triple bypass.

Well folks, two episodes left in Season 6. Place your bets, place your bets. I’m guessing we’ll get some major acting-out from Sally, which I am very much looking forward to. Will she scurry to Glen in her time of need? Smoke dope? Hook up with the Manson clan? Mad Men loves to zero in on the myriad ways our parents eff us up.

You were a sour little boy and now you’re a sour little man,

Seth