People don’t change.
Their circumstances may change.
They may gain new perspective based on experience.
They do resign themselves to their fate. That acceptance may look like change. It isn’t.
People do not – at their core – change.
Still, many want to believe. “Mad Men” had a little fun with that desire Sunday night during its penultimate episode.
Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) cut back on whining, but his sense of entitlement is as strong as ever.
He knows he has to make a choice. He can either hurt or help himself. It just took him a bit of time to realize that helping himself didn’t mean taking a scoop from every flavor carted past his table. It means picking and choosing what in the long run will keep you satiated and healthy. That’s right. It’s still all about him and his needs, especially his need to be superior.
He doesn’t want to cheat on his wife because his happiness and future upward mobility depends on her and his ability to appear stable and happy. The biggest benefit to him making the “right” choices is that he gets keep his famous superior side-eye.
The only reason we’re quick to ignore it, even forgive it (especially when he calls out his brother) because he’s doing for the “right” reasons. He hasn’t changed. He’s still a smug selfish prick, but we like him better because he grew up a little.
Betty Draper Francis
Betty Draper Francis (January Jones) breaks her rib. She goes to the emergency room. Enter a doctor, not her doctor or any man she has met before this day. He tells her he has some information about her body. She tells him to have at it. He refuses to tell her. Instead, he tells her to call her husband. Her husband needs to be present for this news. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is her body. Her freaking body!
Next scene, Betty sits in the foreground as her husband and doctor discuss her cancer diagnosis in the background. It’s a poignant scene, yet we’ve repeatedly witnessed this theme for Betty throughout the show.
Ever wonder why she is guarded, somewhat mean, angry and a little narcissistic? When you realize how little of her life is of her own determination, you feel a shift in sympathy for her character. Too bad it takes a deadly disease to enlighten the viewer.
Lord, this man man and his secrets. All of his charm and his secrets. We’ve loved Don Draper (Jon Hamm) for all of it. As time passes and he runs further away, his “charm” becomes less entertaining. He’s not a man in search of pleasure or some sort of bigger truth. He’s a coward. He only chased pleasure to flee pain. His lies are his only truth.
The characters we met so many season ago have matured, they have new circumstances and experience to a new perspectives.
They have not changed.
The only thing that has changed is the viewer’s mind.