Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What I’ve Learned from Mad Men: We need someone to complete us, and it’s not Renee Zellweger from Jerry Maguire

Dennis punked on "Mad Men" during season six.  Dennis is a completest.  I sometimes buy the first then the third book in a series just to watch him stand in front of the book shelf and twitch because the second one is not there.  For him to bail on a series we have watched together for six seasons and say only, “Let me know if Don Draper gets hit by a bus in season 7.  I’ll start watching again for that.” Well, it’s kind of a thing. 

I understood to an extent.  Some of the characters were becoming insufferable, most hugely self-involved.  So when Asher and Eowyn decided that while nursing them at night I was no longer allowed to move my arms or fingers to turn the pages of books, I resorted to re-watching seasons one through six of "Mad Men" to see if D was right.  Could I care about these characters anymore?

Remember Donald Miller?  Changed the way I read the Bible?  Kind of awesome?  Yeah, he rocked my view of Mad Men and life in general!  See, I had recently finished Miller’s Searching For God Knows What where he presents the lifeboat theory.  Read the book because I will not do this justice without downright plagiarizing, but it boils down to this:
  • When God was in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, they were naked and probably really self-assured, not comparing themselves to others or what they should be doing, saying, looking like.  I mean, God was hanging out with them! 
  • Sin enters, and now we spend our lives constantly comparing ourselves to others, like we’re in a lifeboat and we have to fight to prove we’re worthy of staying in.  We’re insecure.  The one we need to feel complete security had to get away from us and our sin.
  • BUT, He sent atonement!   Christ died for us.  If we can remember that, live in that, embrace our relationship with Christ fully, we can be connected to God and love others the way we should.  No more comparing!  No more feeling not good enough!  God made you, sent His son to die for you.  What else do we need?!?

Such an unworthy recap.  Miller’s words paint a picture of romance and betrayal, loss and insecurity, satisfaction in Christ.  I’ve read the book twice and I will probably read it 17 more times before next year. 

So when I re-watched "Mad Men", here’s what I saw:  people HUGELY separated from God.  People who need others to love them, approve of them, acknowledge them.  People who sometimes try to act like they think a lot of themselves, but inside they are these broken, screwed up individuals, grasping for life in the lifeboat, fearing they are not good enough.

Peter Campbell, one of the most hard-to-like characters ever, straight out tells the Don Draper character he needs Don’s approval.  Watching it the first time I thought, “What a weird little guy.”  The second time, I almost cried.  Don seeks approval in the skirt of every woman he sees, but he’s still not happy.  All these people are alcoholics, womanizers, married to their jobs, unsure of their roles in life or all of the above.  They are incomplete.

On a bigger level, apply this to life.  When I feel loved and intimately connected to the Almighty Creator of the Universe, how does that change how I love others?  How does it change how I love myself?  If there is no reason for insecurity, if someone else’s success doesn’t threaten my confidence, if I have no reason to not believe in and look for the best in people, how would my life change?   Majorly, my friend.  Majorly.

So, yes, I am finishing "Mad Men", though I am sure the completion these individuals need is not going to be presented on a mainstream hit TV series.  I’m still curious to see how else they search, what lengths they go to, if they can heal in any way at all before this comes to an end.  And guess what?  I drug D into watching the parts of season six he previously missed, and he is now probably going to finish season seven with me.  Because it’s all about completion.

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