It’s good to be back. Mad Men’s final seven episodes kicked off Sunday night, and so far, everyone seems to be having a fun, sexy time in the ’70s, with their colorful suits, continued self-damaging love affairs, and of course, progressive facial hair.
Although Grantland’s excellent MM power rankings include a brief beard/mustache/sideburn/etc rundown this week, it’s really just an afterthought of the piece. Frankly, any MM power ranking should start and end with facial hair. In the later seasons, it’s all that’s mattered on the show. You know, besides the whole “no matter how much changes everything stays the same” situation.
That’s why I’ve put together a comprehensive list of not only the best facial hair in the show as it currently stands, but the emotional and/or situational reasons why. Sure, Roger and Ted have mustaches now. But to what end? What do these lip hats really mean when you dig deep? Let’s take a look.
10) Henry Francis
He didn’t show up in the midseason premiere, but you know he’s somewhere grumbling about how he can’t grow more than peach fuzz in his late 40s. Cheer up Henry. Betty likes you more when you smile.
9) Harry Crane
Harry’s definitely rocking aggressive, bushy sideburns in the ’70s, but he’s made a mistake by choosing to wear them with a perpetual scowl. Pete’s got you beat on that one, buddy. Even if Mad Men is the most depressing show on TV, you could have been the shining beacon of light. Opportunity missed.
8) Michael Ginsberg
Although he sported a phenomenal mustache in the first half of this final season, Ginsberg has lost ground in this race because he’s too busy growing back his nipple to be concerned with facial hair upkeep. That and regaining his sanity.
7) Bert Cooper
Even in the afterlife, Bert makes this list because that was always the kind of goatee that would live on long after its owner’s demise. Andrew Jarecki wishes he could have the Cooper goatee.
6) Ken Cosgrove
No facial hair for Ken, much like Henry, but come on. He has an eye patch, and in addition to showing us what’s underneath it in this week’s episode, he also got fired, had a chance at freedom and happiness, and then took a job that’ll make him even more miserable out of revenge. The commitment to self-loathing is just downright admirable.
5) Pete Campbell
Oh Pete. Fatter and balder than ever, but still clinging to those sideburns. He’s supposed to be filthy rich now, but apparently it’s going to take a while to get all of his money, so life is tough. California didn’t seem to work out for him, probably because the sideburns made his face too sweaty year round. Better to move back to New York and put them to good use warming the cheeks in winter.
4) Don Draper
He’s still clean-shaven, he still looks like he’s living in the ’50s, and yet he’s never looked better. And because we know what the possibility of a bearded Don looks like, he’s much higher on this list than fellow clean boys, Henry and Ken. It’s always about what could be in an ideal world on Mad Men, isn’t it?
3) Ted Chaough
Ted’s dropped his sad boy act to pick up a thick mustache and an affinity for women at Vogue parties. Clearly he still hates himself just like everyone else, but growing a mustache to hide the quivering of your top lip because you’re this close to cracking under the pressure of it all? Brilliant.
2) Roger Sterling
Roger, you son of a bitch. That’s it. That’s really it. The game done changed. We always knew you’d get a new style in before your second heart attack. Well played.
1) Stan Rizzo
We still have to ask: what’s this guy doing throwing away his flawless beard game at an ad agency? You’re too good for this world, Stan. Quit your job and make your masterpiece in a cabin in the woods somewhere. Just go.