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#MadMen

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The Unemployees

[Animisha and Maithri are driving down a narrow lane with houses on each side. Animisha is driving and Maithri is navigating. It’s daytime.]
Maithri: Keep towards the left.
Animisha: More than this?
M: Yeah, but not too-
[The sideview mirror scrapes the side of an auto rickshaw. The driver looks at them in anger and drives off.]
A: Where did he come from?!
M: Just stay in the centre lane.
A: And this guy on a bike is swaying.
M: Indicator.
A: We have to turn?!
M: [looks at Google Maps] Yeah, we have to go left.
A: Then why am I in the centre!
M: Because you narrowly avoided a fight with an auto driver.
A: It was his fault!
M: And it’s your car that’s scratched. I don’t even understand why we’re here.
A: I had to practise driving, and I had to show you this.
[She finds an empty spot and parks the car badly.]
M: Reverse and cut tighter into-
[Animisha has already gotten out of the car.]
A: Look.


[They’re at the park in a residential complex. All around are 30-storey buildings looming over.]
M: [exiting the car] What?
A: [taking out a cigarette from her purse and not looking up] At the seventh floor in the building to the left.
[A guy is awkwardly sticking half his torso out of a tiny window and lighting a cigarette. Maithri here’s the click of the lighter and turns around to see Animisha lighting her own cigarette.]
M: What is this?
A: Now the thirteenth floor on that building.
[Another guy in his mid 20s is smoking a cigarette and blowing the smoke precariously away from the window.]
M: Is this some kind of-
A: And now, at the penthouse of the building to the right.
[A woman with bright pink hair is standing on an extremely tiny ledge and smoking a joint.]
M: Whoa.
A: We’re ‘The Unemployees’.
M: You know them?
A: Nope. But at 11am on weekdays, all the unemployed people sneak a smoke break outside the bathroom window, or the bedroom ledge. It is late enough to realise that it’s another day without work, and early enough to still think that a smoke might help.
[Maithri takes the cigarette from Animisha and takes a drag.]
M: [coughs] This isn’t tobacco!
A:  You know I don’t smoke.
M: I thought maybe you started!
A: I haven’t started my job hunt, you think I’ll start smoking?!
M: I have… Ugh. I feel terrible.
A: Take another drag.



[They’re on the swings, holding the chains and bending backwards, looking at the trees and the buildings above.]

M: [softly] So I’m part of this now?
A: You got fired yesterday.
M: I quit yesterday.
A: Well, the first week is great. You’re still in a routine. Breakfast is still a valid meal during the day. And you make up your sleep deficit.
M: I can’t wait to sleep for more than five hours a night.
A: This is the only week you’ll be able to. Afterwards, stress leads to insomnia, and the next thing you know you’ve finished one season of a shitty comedy TV series in one night and you didn’t laugh once.
M: Hahah-
A:[cutting off the laughter] And then comes the purge. You start with deleting the news apps because everything is terrible and you’re helpless. Then YouTube and Spotify because people are making money off of ads and you’re still broke?!
M: Hey, I-
A: After that you delete all your social media accounts just to punish yourself, but you end up feeling free and liberated, and then feel guilty about it.
M: [looks at Animisha fearfully]
A: Then the loneliness comes. You’ve already started measuring time in TV series. For me, January was Mad Men.
M: Is that when you bought hair wax and started combing your hair like Don Draper?
A: [narrows her eyes like Don Draper] You try talking to other unemployed people but they’re either ‘between jobs’ or ‘freelancers’. I met five druggies at an afterparty who have been on a three year ‘sabbatical’.
M: …Friends?
A: They rolled the joint we smoked which looks like a cigarette, so yeah I’d say they’re my friends.
M: This sounds terrible.
A: It’s not all bad. You can masturbate any time, which is fun. But you’ll only do it to feel something that isn’t hunger.
M: [shakes her head with a dejected look on her face] I’m going to the jungle gym.



[They’re sitting at a bench right outside a school gate, eating ice cream. Children are running towards their school buses, or to their parents. Everyone is looking at them.]

M: That mom just crossed the road with her two kids because she didn’t want to pass by us.
A: Hahaha, I remember being that kid, and I’ll probably be that mom one day, too.
M: I would’ve never gotten three scoops, but I figured, I can go to the gym everyday now. I mean, at least for the first week…
A: Look, I’m sorry for being so grim at the park. I quit my job to write. It’s been six months and all I’ve done is gotten a bunch of twitter followers and written un-marketable youtube sketches.
M: I loved the links you sent me.
A: Everyone did! And still no one is willing to make them.
[Maithri notices all the kids in the bus parked in front of them are looking at them.]
M: I uhh-
A: I’m sorry, I’m being grim again, I jus-
M: No… Another mom just avoided us.
A: Haha! Classic.
M: I thought we were here to pick up your niece!
A: I’m an only child. We’re here to eat ice cream in front of these kids and teach them how to deal with temptation.
M: Oh my god!
[ She throws the remaining ice cream into the bin next to her and a little girl who had been looking at the ice cream for the last ten minutes begins to cry.]



[They’re in the car, on the same road as the first scene, but headed in the opposite direction, going home. Maithri is driving.]
A: Thanks for driving. It’s nap-time for me and I didn’t want to scratch the car again.
M: [stares ahead]
A: I’m sorry for being terrible.
M: You’re not terrible.
A: I feel terrible and I do terrible things and I can’t stop.
M: Just, stop.
A: I was unhappy at work, and I’m unhappy when I’m out of work. What if this is just who I am? Sad and terrible.
M: [sighs] I decided to quit my job when, last month, a thumb tack got stuck in the sole of my shoe, so I took it off to try and remove the tack.
A: Yeah those pins hurt more than Lego.
M: No, I put my foot on the carpet and realised, I had been sitting in the same cubicle for two years and I didn’t know what the carpet felt like.
A: What did it feel like?
M: It was bristly, but it doesn’t matter. I had stopped feeling things. A few days after that, I saw the newsstory about the refugees and I felt… nothing.
A: That story made me delete InShorts.
M: You know what I’ve been wanting to do?
A: What?
M: To pet something new. A new animal. I’ve pet cats and dogs, and your hamster before it ran away. And that was… two years ago.
[They both drive along in silence for a while]
A: One of the druggies I met that day has a pet snake.
M: So, we’re headed to Bandra?
A: How did you know he lives in Bandra?
M: I didn’t.

Can you imagine how Mad Men would have progressed and ended in the hands of a lesser writer and show runner?

Joan and Rodge would have shacked up and been incomprehensibly happy in a way there was no plot or character based precedent for

Don and Peggy probably would’ve banged

Trudy, Betty, Megan, and Sally all would have been written as paper-thin, demanding monsters in the most sexist way imaginable. 

Pete would have rapidly declined into being an out-and-out villain and then probably literally kill somebody or something ridiculous like that

Don would always come out on top, and have fantaaastic ideas that save the day and overcome his staggering personal flaws.

Bobby would have been closer to Don (and better written) than Sally. 

Peggy would have never progressed much or set out on her own. 

Roger would have been nothing but a one-liner dispensing machine.

Cooper would have been a ridiculous old-man stereotype. 

None of the secretaries or lesser writers would have had personalities at all. 

Megan would have been a conniving, vapid vamp.

Betty would have died like in season 2. 

Joyce would have died. 

Ginsberg would have been demonized and portrayed as scary and violent and he probably would have assaulted Peggy. 

like. Can you imagine if this were a conventional show.