August 18, 2009By Joe Diliberto Posted: Aug 18, 2009
MAD MEN opened its third season by diving headlong into Don Draper's past, revealing that he was the offspring of a prostitute who died in childbirth. Young Dick was unofficially adopted by a woman whose own children were stillborn. So, right from the beginning, Don/Dick's identity was in flux. But in the "present," there is no question about Don's professional role. He is the "face" of Sterling-Cooper — and its hatchet man. New financial officer Lane Pryce (played by an icy Jared Harris, last seen on FRINGE as the icy terrorist David Robert Jones) is the manipulator behind the scenes. He even installs Pete and Kenny as co-heads of accounts in order to make them battle. At home, Don is still having a hard time personifying the good father and loyal husband. In short order Don was dispatched on a sales call to Baltimore — and watching a randy stewardess disrobe in his hotel room. No big surprise there. The actual surprise was downstairs, in Sal's hotel room. Even the unflappable Don was shocked to see proof that the married Sal was dallying with a male bellhop. However, either Don was being truly cosmopolitan, or he realized that he has secrets of his own, because he made it clear to Sal that he had no intention of blowing the whistle. Hey, there's an advertising line for Charm City: What happens in Baltimore, stays in Baltimore. (Wonder if that's copyrighted…)
In contrast, lots of secrets came out on MAKE IT OR BREAK IT. In fact, everything hit the fan: the Carter/Lauren sex, the Marty/Ronnie affair, Payson's cortisone abuse. Even Lauren's mother was outed as a drug addict, and Chloe hooking up with deadbeat Joe was exposed. I never expected this sports-based show to be as soapy as it has turned out to be. Heck, I didn't expect it to be as much about gymnastics as it is. The rigors and repetition of practice are so much a part of real sports, but one almost never sees that on TV. Usually too much emphasis is placed on the Big Game from week to week. But on this show, the pressures of balancing a demanding practice schedule with a love life has dominated. (Now all we need is some mention of what kind of schooling these young girls are getting! I assume they are tutored....) To use a sports metaphor, MAKE IT… has made like an athlete with a great final kick and tapped emotional reserves to finish strong. These characters did not simply bare their secrets; they wrestled with them. (Okay, enough sports.) Kaylie, Lauren, Payson and Emily spent a long, dark night by a campfire hashing out their issues. And while the Kaylie/Lauren friendship is over, the quartet agreed to work together as teammates. So the decks have been cleared of all emotional baggage, paving the way for the next week's season finale, in which the girls compete at nationals. Y'know, the Big Game.