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Let's Get Drunk Watching: The Season Finale of Mad Men

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[Illustration: Robyn Lee]

I want to get this out in the open off the bat: I am not a Mad Men fan. I figured this is important because a Drinking Game Writer/Drinking Game Player relationship is one that needs to be built on a solid foundation of trust. And alcohol. But mostly trust.

And while we're being honest, Jon Hamm and Co. hardly need my approval with their fifteen Emmys to my paltry three.* And though widely regarded as one of the best shows on television by just about everybody that owns a television, Mad Men never really hit the mark for me.

If you couldn't tell from my Twitter handle, I am a fan of anti-heroic archetype. I'm drawn to characters like Walter White and Jax Teller, but for one reason or another I never connected with Don Draper. My theory is that I never saw any redeeming quality in Draper, and nothing about the show (not even Christina Hendricks) held my attention long enough to become invested in him or any of the other characters. If a character is going to eschew the straight-and-narrow I need to be able to empathize with their reasoning. Draper comes out of the gate with a nice suit, better scotch, a well-paying job, a good-looking wife and a better-looking girlfriend. So yeah, screw that guy.

*My "Emmys" consist of 3 girls I know named Emily. None of whom actually enjoy being called "Emmy."

The Necessary Details

But enough talk about me disguised as talk about Don Draper. Let's get into the details, shall we? Because personal sentiment aside, I know plenty of you are planning to get drunk and watch the Season 6 finale this Sunday regardless. Here's where things stand with some the main players:

Don Draper: Played by the iron-jawed Jon Hamm of Hamm & Buble fame. Draper's a partner at the newly-merged Sterling Cooper & Partners advertising firm and has been silently waging a war of the wills against rival-turned-coworker Ted Chaough, not to mention not-so-silenty carrying on an affair with his downstairs neighbor Syliva (played by a not-so-freaky-geeky-anymore Linda Cardellini).

Peggy Olson: That girl from your office that tries too hard to be nice to everyone and you just hope you're sick the day that vein in her forehead ruptures and she loses it. Peggy has really come in to her own recently, leaving Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce to work for competing agency Cutler, Gleason and Chauogh, though the aforementioned merger put her right back where she started. Peggy serves as the on-again/off-again foil to Draper, though this season she broke up with her scraggly live-in boyfriend after an out-of-left-field kiss with her boss Ted.

Pete Campbell: Played by a guy with a great first name, Pete Campbell is that guy from your office with the goatee that wears too much cologne and flirts with the receptionist (who makes puke faces behind his back). Smarmy, but slick and ambitious, and has spent most of this season in a downward spiral after splitting with his wife in the 'burbs and exploiting his mother's Altzheimer's.

Megan Draper: Don's sharp-cookie secretary-turned-second-wife, who left the advertising world behind to launch her acting career. She's had a quieter season this year after last year's infamous Zou Bisou Bisou incident, though her unhappiness with Distant Don is growing more pronounced. She is obviously unaware of Don's extracurricular activities with her friend and neighbor Sylvia.

Sally Draper: Don's adolescent daughter has grown up much too fast this season, particularly in the past few episodes, when she caught daddy in bed with Sylvia, spurring a particularly heavy-handed metaphor about innocence lost. Anyhow, Sally was last seen impressing the mean girls at her new boarding school with her alcohol and boy-related acumen, and smoking a cigarette with Betty. As puberty kicks in to full gear, I can only assume that Sally's heading toward a rough final season.

Bob Benson: Probably this season's most polarizing character, genial Bob Benson (played by James Wolk) just kind of showed up at the start of this season and never went away, ingratiating everyone he crossed with his boundless enthusiasm and doofy smile. But after making an ill-timed pass at Pete, we learn that there's more to Bob than meets the eye, and the penultimate episode of this season sets the stage for some veddy interesting plot twists next year.

Supplies You'll Need

Since my knowledge of the 1960s consists mostly of Brady Bunch reruns and the early work of the Motor City 5, I asked my Mad Men-watching for food and drink ideas. She suggested deviled eggs, but I'm not entirely convinced she's not just pushing her pro-deviled eggs agenda. She also suggested Beef Wellington—which to my surprise is not a professional wrestler—and Baked Alaska, which to my surprise is not slang for a stoned Sarah Palin.

Since drinks are my purview, my recommendations are (a personal favorite) the Old Fashioned, a nice peaty scotch, or (my dad's favorite) a Manhattan.

For the full effect, you should also be chaining smoking and paying women 60 cents on the dollar.

The Mad Men Drinking Game

As always this game is for entertainment purposes only. Alcohol mixes well with television, but not with driving. It'll make you a worse driver than January Jones, I mean Betty Draper.

Take a Sip

1 Sip: For every time someone lights up a cigarette. Two sips if they light up indoors. Three sips if they're smoking on an airplane. Ahh the good old days...
2 Sips: For every time someone lights up a joint and gets all Baked Alaska.
2 Sips: For every time someone gets good-gamed.
3 Sips: For every time someone drinks in the car or office. The two times you really need a drink, but now the government won't let you have it. Thanks, Comrade Obama.
4 Sips: For any time Peggy try to stab or kill someone/something.

Take a Swig

1 Swig:: For every time Pete Campbell's mother's memory slips while she berates him.
2 Swigs: For every new piece of information we learn about Bob Benon's nefarious motives.
2 Swigs: For every mention of a major historical event. Season 6 has already tackled the 1968 DNC and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy's assassinations, for example. Who said you can't learn anything from drinking games?
3 Swigs: For any time Betty displays her supernatural parenting skills.
3 Swigs: For every client the firm picks up that still exists.

Slam It

Slam Your Drink: If anyone becomes pregnant or divorced. Slam someone else's drink if it's both.
Slam Your Drink:For every time something terrible befalls poor Ken Cosgrove.
Slam Your Drink: If Peggy and Ted consumate their forbidden love.

Drink for the Duration Of:

Any scene involving an adult lying the fetal position.
Any scene in which Sally Draper smokes a cigarette.

Stop Drinking If:

Anyone enters into a healthy, loving relationship based on mutual admiration and respect.

Got any Draper-worthy ideas to add to the Mad Men drinking game? Share them in the comments section below. And a special thanks to the Serious Eats team for helping fill me in on the show. Give yourselves a pat on the backside.

About the Author: Vinny Mannering is a red-bearded raconteur with a penchant for sarcasm, ice hockey, and good beer. You can listen to him praise beer and loathe society on Twitter.

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