"If we were establishing a monument to Joan (not the worst idea ever), I’d demand it be two-fold. Half to honor whatever fantastical genetic engineering delivered her impossible physique. And the other half to her strength. There is an inexorable calm and mettle to Joan that makes me want to cry. I am petrified by her unflinching judgment and intoxicated by her ability to graciously deflect everything in which she does not wish to become entangled.
I am confused by her grace, so foreign to my brash, clumsy earnestness. By her ability to lead without recognition and keep afloat on the delicate crust of tactful, unceasingly appropriate professionalism that I’ve smashed through always, despite every attempt to be above gossip and provocation and injustice. How she manages the office and the men who pursue her and the women who begrudge her and the husband who fails her and does it all without stooping to tears but once.
For my part, I’ve almost never felt something I did not verbalize. Every emotion has gushed through me in loud roiling riptides and tsunamis. Erupting in howling wails at lovers and tears at work. In depthless anger and longing at parents and in wild, reckless joy at kindred spirits.
And anything I have not yelled, I have written and shared and over-shared. I own absolutely none of Don’s acumen for compartmentalization, none of Joan’s elegant ability to brush aside that which might be uncomfortable to hear. No share of Roger’s almost total irreverence, Anna Draper’s easy forgiveness, Sally’s preternatural calm.
As loudly and plainly as possible, I have presented my laments and talked through them laboriously. After all of which, you can assume: When I am devastated, you will know it. My comfort zone is the cacophony of modern desperation. When we are unhappy—incidentally or profoundly—there are an unbearable number of mediums to broadcast it and no expectation to hide it.
So this is the aspect of Mad Men that scares me most: the implication that every single character is so discreetly and quietly unhappy. Am I the only one that feels almost every last character is (to varying degrees and levels of awareness) desperately, wildly, deeply, paralyzingly unhappy? So unhappy they grapple and tear at and stampede and betray and smother each other in some savage effort to salvage their own lives.
Or maybe I am projecting. It’s impossible to tell if they’re happy, because they speak of the concept so infrequently it’s as though it has never even occurred to them. But I know I have never burned down a version of my life in which I was actually happy. Dumb and selfish and impulsive and impetuous as I have been in my youth, every single time I did the wrongest thing, it was not in an effort to hurt anyone else but solely to save myself (whether I realized it then or later).
And this crew? They are the most proficient of emotional arsonists.”
—Erica Cantoni, "I Won’t Have My Heart Broken" (Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine. June 2013)
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