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The Mad ravings of NostraLOMus

October 8, 2010

Once around for the Big Guy

Here’s are some quickly assembled thoughts about my prognostication of Roger Sterling’s rapidly impending death (by suicide, I’m still thoroughly convinced) while I have some lunchtime minutes and internet access. Excuse the virtual mustard stains.

Why will Roger die?

Because The Writers have written him into his casket. He’s ill. He’s stressed. He’s irrelevant in his profession. He has lost most of his value in the traditional Capitalist structure. He’s lost Joan. He’s depressed. He’s a hedonist for whom the endless pleasures are ending. Symbolically, he’s the avatar of the past decades, the offspring of Gilded Age wealth. His times are descending, his time is over.

Why suicide?

Because every decent exploration of the human condition should examine suicide at some length. I agree with Camus that suicide is the most basic philosopical question and problem. Roger’s suicide would bring Don’s general existential angst into proper focus for him and let Don directly confront his fear of his own mortality. Also because suicide happens every day to everyday people and a sophisticated drama shouldn’t be afraid of depicting it involving a major character.

Why now?

Because the big meta-indicators seem so clear. Mad Men fans know the story of how John Slattery got the part. He came in to audition for Draper but was considered too old. Matt Weiner and crew talked him into playing Sterling. Roger Sterling was originally conceived as a guest character good for a few episodes and then probably dead, or written out. But because Slattery was so perfect in the role, they didn’t want to kill him off. MW bribed him to stay by giving him great lines to read. But the character as a critique of Traditional White Moneyed Male Privilege was still written with the inevitable down-hill arc into the later Sixties. Roger is obsolete. So to be nice to Slattery, thank him for exemplary service and to soothe his upcoming departure, MW planned to let him direct an episode earlier this season then let him direct another (this one) when the mis-scheduling of another director (so we are told) caused a vacancy. What a great gift to be allowed to direct one’s own swan song! (cue Camus’ allegorical laughter: ahahahahahahahaha!)

So I raise my glass and bid farewell to you Roger Sterling. Your cutting cynicism and unbridled hedonism will be missed, along with your biting black humor (and tone-deaf blackface). But John Slattery deservedly gets the last laugh.

Extra prognosticating credit — Roger dives out of Don’s office window. Remember, you read it here first.

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