In Praise of Roger Sterling

They never took you seriously because you never take yourself seriously. Bertram Cooper

I just finished season four of AMC’s Mad Men (I’m a busy bee, kids, and therefore a wee bit behind), and upon stumbling upon this most excellent Tumblr blog, a few thoughts in praise of Roger Sterling:

I want to be him.  Yes, it’s Donald Draper Dick Whitman’s show, and he is the spectacular mass of contradictions and foibles that get us to tune in to each precious episode, and not enough good can be said about Joan Harris either, but Roger Sterling:  He says whatever’s on his mind, and it’s usually what no one else will say (“I’ve got to go learn the names of a bunch of people before I fire ’em.”) and he ususally does after a martini at two o’clock in the afternoon.  He wears a dashing gray suit.  Hell, he beds Joannie Harris.

I suppose one could view Roger’s actions (especially this season) as juvenile, irresponsible, and plain self-destructive.  Exactly.

Okay, so we don’t get to be Roger Sterling in our real lives; there’s laundry and food shopping and the dogs have to go to the vet and work piles up and that’s life, ain’t it?  But therein lies the appeal (and in typing that thought it reminds how we brush certain actions aside; it was Roger Sterling who unforgivably wore blackface and sang a terrible tune).  But all this and he helms an episode and just like Mr. Jon Hamm he gets to guest with Liz Lemon (and yes, I know I just conflated the actor and the character).

Speaking of conflating:  John Slattery’s an old theater hand (one of the reasons he’s so good; he was one of the three original actors in one of my favorite underrated plays, Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain) and right before the launch of Mad Men I used to speak to him fairly regularly, in my favorite old coffee shop, early in the morning.   I’d be writing (or reading the paper) and he’d stop by for coffee and we’d chat baseball–  he being an avowed Boston Red Sox fan and my sympathies lying with the New York Metropolitans.  And he was just a very good regular joe.

So maybe I want to be Roger Sterling.  Or maybe I want to be John Slattery.

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