Mad Men: Roger Sterling Will Never Change His Life, And That’s Why We Love Him
In this week’s episode of Mad Men, “At The Codfish Ball,” psychadelic pioneer/OG badass Roger Sterling (John Slattery) announced that he had had another “life changing experience,” his third by my count. He marked this change with the drastically new behavior of drinking and womanizing. Hey Mad Men producers: I’m absolutely fine with Roger never changing, but can we stop making a running gag about it?
In the first season, Roger suffered a massive heart attack while with a woman who was not his wife; weak and disabled in the hospital, he laments to Don that he has lived constantly like he was “on shore leave,” before dissolving into tears when Mona (his wife) enters. He then celebrates his new gratitude for the small things by inducing another heart attack with a pastrami sandwich, and telling Joan that bedding her is his greatest accomplishment.
By the end of season 2, Roger divorces the wife he’d been so fond of after his heart attack, and marries former-secretary Jane Siegel. When people tell him this move is foolish, he usually responds with some variation of, “I had the revelation that I deserve to be happy.”
I guess Roger does come close to changing for a bit- he ignores the advances of an old girlfriend. But as his marriage to Jane disintegrates, he returns to old habits.
And then, in last week’s episode, Roger reveals to an alluring French-Canadian mother the secret of the universe that he learned while tripping acid: that we should have everything we want. And what he wants is a blow job. Shocking.
Like I said, watching Roger tear through life is great, but the “life-changing experiences” become less meaningful with each iteration. The writers may have even made a self-conscious jab at Roger’s faux profundity when Don made a crack about not needing to take LSD to make obvious observations. And in the long run, maybe all of the false starts will increase the impact when Roger finally gets together with Joan, showing that when two people are really meant for each other, it makes all the difference.
Let me conclude by saying: if there were a show called Roger And Sally Work The Room, I would watch the hell out of it. I was sad to see this awesome budding friendship (and lucrative spin off possibility) destroyed by an understandable but heavy-handed loss-of-innocence plot.
Did you see this week’s episode of Mad Men? What did you think?