While we here at The Guide applaud Mr Ponderosa’s enthusiasm for Mad Men, a truly wonderful show now airing on SBS and SBS On Demand, we must point out that we strongly discourage the manic and sometimes dangerous ways he expresses that enthusiasm.
There are certain things I look forward to: A good bourbon, The Three Stooges pre-Shemp, smiles from my kids, role playing with the wife, and Mad Men. You see, Don Draper saved my life. Literally.
Funny story: I was streaming season one on my way to the factory. At some point, Draper was making love to a beautiful woman when suddenly he stopped, turned to the camera (me) and yelled “Frank, look out!”. I looked up at the road with a gasp and saw that I had veered into oncoming traffic. I quickly swerved back into my lane, narrowly missing a bus stop full of people.
You should know that this isn’t like me. I don’t usually watch TV in the car in the morning because I’m usually on the phone or heating up breakfast. But Mad Men’s incredible acting and superb story lines are incredibly hard to pull away from – and in this case, they clearly came together to deliver some sort of divine intervention.
The man upstairs was talking to me through a man sent to make me a real man. And I have found a joy that I never knew was possible. I even started writing a journal of my most intimate thoughts related to Mad Men, so even though season seven is its last, the show will never end. In my heart.
Here are a few excerpts from my journey with The Best Show of All Time.
Season 1: I'm throwing a Mad Men party and everyone's invited! (No cops, though.)
Instead of selfishly streaming each episode and keeping the magic to myself, I have decided to invite friends and family over for weekly screening parties. I feel this will bring us all closer together. The party starts promptly at “7 until ????”. I have filled all proper permits with the city in order to avoid fines for noise complaints.
Food from the era will be served: “Roger’s Deviled Eggs”, “Joan’s Jiggly Green Jello”, “Peggy’s Perky Coffee Cake (and Coffee)” and Lucky Strike cigarettes (unfiltered). We will also play “Pin the nose on Nixon” to celebrate Sterling Cooper’s involvement with the Nixon campaign, and I will be going around taking silly pictures to celebrate Don landing the Kodak account with his powerful “Power of nostalgia” pitch. A silly face is mandatory. Selfies don’t count, and if I see anyone looking at their smart phone I will confiscate the strange device that I don't understand because it's 1960.
Season 2: As it turns out, impersonating an alcoholic has a downside.
Okay, so there’s been somewhat of a fiasco in the middle of season two. This may have something to do with the way I acted towards one of our more politically correct guests. But in all fairness, the 60s were a different time and in my defence (as I announced at the beginning of the night) I was playing the role of Freddy Rumsen, a raging alcoholic who pees himself during a pitch meeting.
So for the lady who found my party on social media and called me a “loser”, it was soda not pee.
Season 3: This year, only those in full cosplay are allowed in.
Season three is all about change. Sterling Cooper has been sold to a British agency and Sal makes love to a bellboy at a hotel in Baltimore. To celebrate these winds of progressive change, I am wearing a Union Jack tie and made fish and chips. I didn’t know “chips” were French fries, so nachos will have to do. I also ordered a flight attendant costume online, which I hope will inspire my wife to wear for the episode where Don “befriends” a flight attendant. I’m not sure what size she is so I got an XXL.
I have to figure out a way to keep everyone from leaving right after the episode ends and skipping my “recap round table”.
Note: Buy smaller bottles of scotch next time. I’ve lost two of my guests to DUIs.
Season 4: The world isn’t ready for my new extreme smoking habit.
I’m chain smoking Lucky Strikes in my office and getting funny looks from my employees but I don’t care. It’s time to take my love for Mad Men out of the house and into the world. My screening parties are a bust. No one has shown up for weeks. My secretary Barbara, who insists she’s a “personal assistant” (whatever that means) is expecting twins and told me that second hand smoke kills.
I told her to go back to 1963 and tell someone who cares. She said that didn't make any sense. I told her my wife may have left me - I haven't seen her since the flight attendant costume fiasco. But whatever Barbara tells you, I promise I wasn't crying.
Season 5: Do I drink too much? You better believe I do.
I’ve been having money issues lately, which have caused me to think about my life. I get the feeling people are saying things about me behind my back, which is why I’ve lost clients. I can’t prove it, but I think it has something to do with my love for the Double D (Don Draper).
My wife says I’ve taken things “too far”; that I drink too much. Hello! Don Draper drinks too! And while Don has had his ups and downs, he’s still the Donster! My Count Drapeula! We all fall at some point, but like Don we always take two aspirin and get right back up again. Maybe not Lane the British guy. He kills himself due to his money troubles. But don’t be like Lane the British guy. Be more like Don.
Season 6: Hollywood here I come!
I’m writing this from La-La Land, Hollywood USA! My hostel overlooks a park, just like Don’s luxurious penthouse apartment that DD owns with Megan. It’s not super inviting at night, though. Homeless people seem to like using it as a toilet and one guy tried to sell me heroin. But the foliage is lovely during the day.
I take to dressing like Don all the time now, not just when I watch the shows at a local coffee shop (they love Mad Men here). I feel like I’ve found a little family at our little neighbourhood spot. These people really seem to get me.
Season 7: I've found my true calling.
You are looking at the newest barista at the local coffee shop! I work the night shift and tips aren’t great at night, but since I’m always here anyway it’s like getting paid to watch Mad Men! My new boss Baruk doesn’t like me too much though. He’s Armenian and I don’t think they get Mad Men there. He thinks I give off the “wrong vibes” by dressing the way I do.
I feel like Don after returning to the agency he helped build and facing Draconian work conditions. Resented by co-workers, unappreciated by your wife and kids, abandoned by your friends, beaten up by Batman who misunderstood your intentions in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
I’ll bounce back, though. Just like Don. Because we're both heroes. Forever.
Frank Ponderosa is not a real person. And yet, his passion for SBS programming is as real and alive as you or me.
Watch Mad Men season seven every Monday at 11pm (AEST) on SBS, or stream it on SBS On Demand.
Missed the latest episode? Watch it right here: