No one's ever on your side, Betty.
May 6, 2013 10:15 AM   Subscribe

In Defense of Betty. "I’ve always thought that the whole point is that Betty is a victim of her time and circumstances, of the very narrow, constricted gender roles (remember the ill-fitting dress she’s holding up against herself as she contemplates being a political wife) that she and women like her were forced — expected, if that seems less loaded — to assume. Those roles were deforming, and, sure enough, they’ve deformed Betty."

"But that’s how it works, and that’s how you make a show about sexism: You show the deformities. Because otherwise, you’re selling it short; you’re not acknowledging the worst consequences of that era’s brand of sexism."

Pam Harris, Georgetown Law Professor, and Wall Street Journal Mad Men Blogger, on the Betty Draper Francis backlash (WSJ single link)
posted by sweetkid (2427 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this going to be this month's Mad Men thread?

Also, yes, Betty is all about frustrated purpose and how being squeezed in one direction causes weird blobs of emotion to pop out in other places.
One of the underlying themes of a couple of long-form cable shows (Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire) as I see it has been how abuse is perpetuated down generational lines.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:17 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thought this was going to be about Archie. Too bad.
posted by The Bellman at 10:19 AM on May 6, 2013 [24 favorites]


I thought this was going to be about Betty Rubble.
posted by Harpocrates at 10:21 AM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I thought it was going to be about Ugly Betty.

Context counts!
posted by ardgedee at 10:22 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've toyed with the idea that Betty is simply the character no one knows what to do with, yet can't be written out.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:22 AM on May 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


I was thinking Ford.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:27 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is great. I'm glad Harris called out the Slate TV Club folks for not noticing that when Betty holds up the "cute dress" it's for her old body and would not fit her now.
posted by purpleclover at 10:27 AM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I thought it was going to be about Her Majesty.
posted by ocschwar at 10:27 AM on May 6, 2013


Is this going to be this month's Mad Men thread?

Oh good, then I can mention my new favorite Twitter account, '80s Don Draper.

"We'll call them Members Only, but sell them to everyone."
posted by bondcliff at 10:28 AM on May 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


What Do Horses Mean To Mad Men's Betty Draper?
The horses are on your side!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:29 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Betty Boop, here.
posted by Melismata at 10:29 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Betty became the way they could make Don Draper into a character that people wanted to watch after seasons one and two. They took many of his reprehensible characteristics and the general feeling of being trapped on all sides that the first season really conveyed, and made Betty into the cause. Don is able to remain the hero and the show is able to remain watchable and not dismally depressing only because Betty's role on the show changed. She's the scapegoat.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 10:32 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Why are people defending this woman who "playfully" proposed a weirdo rape fantasy for her husband (in reference to the babysitter)? The woman whose response to her ex-husband on the day after Martin Luther King got killed is "You forgot again?" in that oh-so snide tone? The woman who warmed a little too closely up to a ten-year-old boy? The woman who acts as if her daughter is the competition? The fuck?

Betty is broken. And she's bound and determined to break everyone else in order to feel better about herself. WHICH SHE NEVER WILL.
posted by grubi at 10:32 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've always been fascinated by Betty. She is wildly unhappy, and bewildered by that unhappiness. From Betty's perspective, she did everything right: she kept herself pretty, married well, maintained a nice house - all the things that society told her to do, she did them. And where did it leave her? Miserable, unfulfilled, and lonely.

As a character, Betty is all about the toxic down side of the patriarchal bargain. And her unhappiness illustrates why feminism came into being, and why it's still important today.
posted by ErikaB at 10:34 AM on May 6, 2013 [65 favorites]


Nobody thought it was going to be about Betty Friedan?

I keed, I keed...
posted by Sara C. at 10:34 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think, whatever "Betty Draper" was originally supposed to represent/convey within the world of Mad Men was stunted, shifted, and re-cobbled together in light of a certain actresses limitations.
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:35 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why are people defending this woman who "playfully" proposed a weirdo rape fantasy for her husband (in reference to the babysitter)? The woman whose response to her ex-husband on the day after Martin Luther King got killed is "You forgot again?" in that oh-so snide tone? The woman who warmed a little too closely up to a ten-year-old boy? The woman who acts as if her daughter is the competition? The fuck?

Uhm because she clearly hates herself and lashes out in every direction so that it doesn't stick to her?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:36 AM on May 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I made this point about betty a while back, comparing her to Pete in that they have legit greivences most of the time but have awful ways of expressing it cause they don't know any better.

*goes back to holding two cups of coffee just outside the corner of your eye*
posted by The Whelk at 10:37 AM on May 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


Betty is simply the character no one knows what to do with, yet can't be written out.

I disagree, since any show can write any character out.

Lots of shows have "put characters on the bus".

Frankly, I thought that scene of her, Henry, and baby Gene on the plane was Betty's "getting on the bus" moment, and am surprised that the show has kept Don's (original) family in the picture as much as it has.

I'm pretty sure the reason we keep going back to Betty is a feminist one, for sure. Because they've had ample opportunity to put Betty on the bus (remember her cancer scare last year?), and they haven't done it.
posted by Sara C. at 10:38 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing about Pete is that (outside of his own terrible personal life) he's just about always right but says so in exactly the worst way.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


grubi - because discussing a character isn't the same thing as liking her or thinking her actions are good?
posted by Sara C. at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, the major force of unhappiness on this show is Getting What You Want.

Also, admitting you have human feelings.
posted by The Whelk at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, every time I sympathize with Pete, he does the stupidest, most self-destructive thing possible.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:41 AM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


the major force of unhappiness on this show is Getting What You Want

It was in the first season. I contend that they did away with that overtly critical eye on consumerism (because they have to appeal to advertisers, after all).
posted by outlandishmarxist at 10:41 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a wonderful article. I, too, find Betty very sympathetic, though I didn't the first time I viewed the series. I've thought a lot, actually, about the various reactions to the female characters on the show: largely hostile, except for toward Peggy.

It's the Smurfette principle at play via media analysis: there can only be one girl, who is defined by her difference from other girls, who often plays with the boys in the manner that boys do. All other women are whores (Joan) or Mary Sues (Megan) or bitches (Betty) or sluts (Sylvia) and need to get off my television, damn it.

I actually find each of these characters stunningly well-realized as people--Peggy is also thorny and flawed; she's not even a Smurfette by traditional standards (she wants a relationship and the traditional trappings of marriage, we're learning increasingly as the season rolls on--she just doesn't really know how to get what she wants).

Of course, all of Weiner's characters are flawed, and the men don't escape viewer judgment. But even as Pete is acknowledged as a rapist, as Don is called a tired womanizer, as Harry grows more conniving, the words used to describe them don't cut quite so deep. Maybe it's because the language we use about women is more weaponized. It causes greater harm, both in the series (public acknowledgement of Joan's choice to prostitute herself could very well destroy her, if wielded correctly) and in real life.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:41 AM on May 6, 2013 [36 favorites]


It's a chip n dip!
posted by shakespeherian at 10:41 AM on May 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I do think it's a pity Betty isn't featured more. Of course, the show is primarily a Don Draper story. But I find her to be quite interesting, much more tragic and stunted than Don. So hobbled, she doesn't even have the capability to dream, being wrapped up in roles in which she is poorly suited. Her current isolation as sequestered housewife is relief, and we see the prospect of being thrown into the public eye fills her with dread.

I find Megan more baffling in context of the show. I get the feeling she's there to get kicked in the teeth hard, sooner or later.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


whores (Joan)

FITE
posted by shakespeherian at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


A few weeks ago it hit me that Betty Draper is nearly exactly the same age as my own mother. And that helped me see her in a different light; they were both raised to be a certain way in the 1950's, and the late '60s and '70s brought about an enormous amount of change on both a macro and micro level. Because the box they were meant to fill in the late '50s, when they married, was pretty damn confining.
posted by ambrosia at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Frankly, I thought that scene of her, Henry, and baby Gene on the plane was Betty's "getting on the bus" moment

Really? I didn't think that at all. I think the show would have been really jarring if we had kids but no Betty and like a phantom offscreen Betty dropping them off. It's interesting to see Betty adapt to life with Henry, life in this new house, her daughter growing up (and becoming competition), Betty seeing herself in contrast with "hipper" women like Megan, etc.

I don't think they have done enough of the right things with her but I think it's a limitation of plot and writing, not January's acting skills. Another recent article I've read about January showed how much she understands Betty - I think she has an interesting take on the character and brings a lot to the way she plays her.
posted by sweetkid at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


@outlandishmarxist: really good point. I also think that Jaunary Jones's execrable acting helped force their hands in that regard. Hard to deepen or humanize a character when the actor can barely project humanity on screen. Making her into a cold robotic villain made the best dramatic use of her limited range even if the result made the show shallower in the way you're describing.
posted by AtDuskGreg at 10:43 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Betty has her reprehensible moments, but if she is "broken," it is because of her abusive ex-husband, her relationship with her parents, her self-esteem, society, and any number of other bits and pieces that have torn of the veneer of self-possessed perfect housewife away and left an angry, scared, patronized woman behind.

I think that hostility the author mentions is mirrored in the (to me) inexplicable hostility for Megan. And the hostility Breaking Bad audiences have for Skyler. An in some respects, the way Britta's character has been written in recent Community seasons. There's something to say about the way television audiences and writers piegonhole female characters, I think, but I'm not an erudite enough TV viewer to say it.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:43 AM on May 6, 2013 [24 favorites]


This is a good article. I'm glad she noted that brief flash of horror on Betty's face after considering the possibility of being a semi-public figure; it's stuck with me for a week. I've always been interested in Betty -- remember, she was an anthropology major before becoming a model, and I think that dichotomy of being both the watcher and the watched is fascinating. This season we've seen her (as a defense mechanism re: the so-called loss of her looks?) attempting to return to the former (see: her trip into the city in search of Sandy) but now, once again, she is being pushed into the latter.
posted by jeudi at 10:44 AM on May 6, 2013


Why are people defending this woman who "playfully" proposed a weirdo rape fantasy for her husband (in reference to the babysitter)?

Because Betty is a woman experiencing a sexual awakening for the first time and within the bounds of a healthy marriage discussion of rape fantasies are pretty normal, even if the language she used was awkward and even cringe-worthy.

The woman whose response to her ex-husband on the day after Martin Luther King got killed is "You forgot again?" in that oh-so snide tone?

Because he forgot because he was busy pining after his girlfriend, not because MLK was shot.

The woman who warmed a little too closely up to a ten-year-old boy?

Because Betty was, at that point, essentially a lonely child whose growth and ability to form grown-up relationships and friendships was stifled by her abusive husband.

The woman who acts as if her daughter is the competition? The fuck?

Because Betty was raised to derive all of her identity from the male gaze and she's so desperately insecure that yes, she would cruelly lash out at her daughter. Because she has nothing else. She's a tragic figure, not a villain.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:44 AM on May 6, 2013 [63 favorites]


she wants a relationship and the traditional trappings of marriage, we're learning increasingly as the season rolls on

I'm so worried that Peggy is going to have an affair with Ted, think this means they are Meant For Each Other, dump Abe, and then Ted will be all, "Uhhhh, that was just blowing off steam after a long week. It didn't, like, mean anything. You know?" And Peggy will be left holding the dead pet rabbit bag.
posted by Sara C. at 10:44 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hard to deepen or humanize a character when the actor can barely project humanity on screen.

This is how I feel. I find myself quickly bored with any scenes that she's in.

Block o' wood.
posted by Fleebnork at 10:45 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the show would have been really jarring if we had kids but no Betty and like a phantom offscreen Betty dropping them off.

FWIW I didn't wish that would happen, and now that we're in Season 6 I see that this is not what happened, and why the writers made that choice. But at the time, my assumption was that we would see a lot less of Betty and the kids.
posted by Sara C. at 10:46 AM on May 6, 2013


Betty is like the Worf of Mad Men.
posted by XMLicious at 10:46 AM on May 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


SOMEBODY MAKE THAT TUMBLR NOW
posted by The Whelk at 10:47 AM on May 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


(also, creepiest thing so far? Bob "I always bring two prostitutes so I can give one away!" Benson.
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 AM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


My wife and I already watch Mad Men. I would all but physically force her to watch it with Worf in the Betty role, that's how committed I am to this idea.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:49 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


inexplicable hostility for Megan

Too much screen time for too little characterization when there were other far more interesting things happening with other characters.
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 AM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, we are seeing a lot less of Betty now. I was recently rewatching Season 1 and there is so much more Betty. We also get so much more of her inner life, which I feel like they really veered off course from once she separated from Don.
posted by sweetkid at 10:50 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


THERE'S a Tumblr for you - Bob Benson popping up places. Kennedy assassination, Wannsee conference....
posted by Chrysostom at 10:50 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I've always found the majority of the Internet response to Betty more than a bit baffling. I often wonder if my TV is tuned into Bizarro Time Warner Cable or something.

'80s Don Draper ‏@80sDonDraper 3 May

Joan, J.R.'s been shot. You should go home.


Total coffeenose moment there.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:50 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


inexplicable hostility for Megan

Too much screen time for too little characterization when there were other far more interesting things happening with other characters


Agree, and also most of her storylines are about how she's so great at everything. She's the Joey Potter of Mad Men.
posted by sweetkid at 10:50 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


They took many of his reprehensible characteristics and the general feeling of being trapped on all sides that the first season really conveyed, and made Betty into the cause.

That's certainly how some viewers see her. But the show makes it clear that Betty is at least as trapped as Don. More so, really: she's confined to a very narrow range of socially acceptable roles.

Her entire life, starting in childhood, Betty's mother emphasized the importance of beauty and especially of weight control (Grandpa Gene tells Sally about Grandma dropping off chubby little Betty "in the city" and forcing her to walk home, which he found objectionably enough that he "put a stop to it") without showing the effort it takes. ("My mother always said, 'You’re painting a masterpiece, make sure to hide the brush strokes.'")

Yet, when youthful Betty tried to achieve some independence and success on the strength of that asset her mother prized so highly, Mama Hofstadt called her a whore for it. So her upbringing simultaneously indoctrinates her to think her beauty is her only important attribute and that she mustn't use it directly for financial gain, but only indirectly: by attracting a man who can take care of her, and by being the arm candy he needs to impress his colleagues.
posted by Elsa at 10:51 AM on May 6, 2013 [24 favorites]


SOMEBODY MAKE THAT TUMBLR NOW

Sorry, I already decided to have making a Lwaxana Troi twitter account be the creative focus of my day.

It's going to use #yolo a lot.
posted by Sara C. at 10:51 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]



Betty Boop, here.
posted by Melismata at 10:29 AM on May 6


Same here.

Betty Boop would really make sense here, given the line "Those roles were deforming, and, sure enough, they’ve deformed Betty." Go Google up a picture of the shape of Betty Boop's head. Definitely deformed.
posted by Sleeper at 10:52 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Betty Worf
posted by The Whelk at 10:52 AM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


But the show makes it clear that Betty is at least as trapped as Don. More so, really: she's confined to a very narrow range of socially acceptable roles.

It's almost like...

the opposite of Don Draper and his ability to run away and change his identity at will.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


Two recent articles about Betty Draper that sum up why I think she's the most important character on the show:

Without Betty, Mad Men would lose touch with the domestic sphere entirely, and this is the sphere where feminism had made the smallest gains. Viewers are startled by how vastly the workplace of Mad Men differs from the workplace of today, yet Betty’s world is eerily familiar, as the bulk of household work and childcare continues to fall at the feet of women. Women have entered the workforce en masse, yes, but the realm of the home remains thoroughly feminized, and Betty shows us the cost of that feminization, to both women and men.

However unlikeable she’s become, Betty’s character underscores the importance of feminism, then and now, by showing us its absence, and in doing so, she holds the nostalgia of Mad Men in check. She reveals, through her cold cruelty and sporadic bursts of rage, the steep price of the patriarchal dividend that we are all, men and women, continuing to pay. So, do I sympathize with Betty Draper? I do, yes: because there, but for the grace of feminism, go I.


* * *

There are certainly affluent married women in that era who could find great satisfaction through their children and husbands, but it’s abundantly evident that Betty doesn’t like children very much. She seems to get along with Sally better now that her daughter is older, but she simply does not relate to young children. Yes, Betty does dress like Donna Reed and yet, no, the two are not the same. There is no indication that Betty ever wanted children. The one pregnancy we’ve seen, she tentatively asks the doctor for an abortion, and then, sadly, concedes after the doctor accuses her of being concerned about losing her figure. I don’t think Betty ever willfully decided, “I’m going to be an awful mother.” I think she had children because everyone told her it was what she should do. And then she discovered she lacked the nurturing gene.

Her children do not make her glow with pride.

And yet, for all the coldness and distance, we do see moments when Betty is happy.

At one point, she wistfully tells Henry, “We all have skills we don’t use. I was an anthropology major at Bryn Mawr. Can you believe that?”

It’s the skills she rarely uses that seem to produce her few moments of joy.

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2013 [38 favorites]


Also, Bob
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not Betty Broderick? /leaves thread
posted by maggieb at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2013


A fantastic read, thanks. I've only watched the first season (and working my way through the rest is slow when there's so much other good TV on the air right now) but I can't seem to stop myself from consuming ever-increasing amounts of analysis about this show.
posted by Phire at 10:54 AM on May 6, 2013


It's almost like Don's freedom to reinvent himself is innately tied to his gender!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:54 AM on May 6, 2013 [48 favorites]


Betty is sort of vestigial at this point, though hopefully they will make her a bit more relevant.

She was part of the Draper Cheever/Suburban Enui stuff from the early episodes. when Don made the transition from Middle class nobody trying to prove himself with a house in Ossining she was no longer needed on the show

She was sort of a suburban brood mare, abandoned to her own devices by a disinterested Don Draper, who only cared about what she symbolized when they first met, that he could fuck a model. Once he got what he thought he should want, he didn't want it anymore. Don used her, and Megan, as accessories and proof to himself that he meant something.

One thing that is interesting about the show is how we really like the villians, Don Draper and Roger Sterling.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:55 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two recent articles about Betty Draper that sum up why I think she's the most important character on the show

--
It's almost like...

the opposite of Don Draper and his ability to run away and change his identity at will.

--
It's almost like Don's freedom to reinvent himself is innately tied to his gender!

I might have to take a few vacation days to stay on top of all this awesome.
posted by sweetkid at 10:56 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also think that January Jones' execrable acting helped force their hands in that regard. Hard to deepen or humanize a character when the actor can barely project humanity on screen. Making her into a cold robotic villain made the best dramatic use of her limited range even if the result made the show shallower in the way you're describing.

THIS states what I was trying to say, but so much better. (We need a catchy acronym or phrase for that.)
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:56 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]




Betty is so obsessed with the importance of beauty that after her minor car accident in S1, she ruminates about how it would be better for Sally to DIE than to have been disfigured in the accident. The dialogue, emphasis mine:
Betty Draper: What if she had gotten a scar? Something permanent?
Don Draper: I don't wanna play "what if".
Betty Draper: I'm just saying, if it had happened to Bobby it'd be ok because a boy with a scar is nothing, but a girl, it's so much worse.
Don Draper: Nothing happened.
Betty Draper: I keep thinking... not that I could have killed the kids, but... worse, Sally could have survived, and gone on living with this horrible scar on her face, and some long, lonely, miserable life...
the opposite of Don Draper and his ability to run away and change his identity at will.

It's almost like Don's freedom to reinvent himself is innately tied to his gender!

GO FIGURE, it's almost like, I dunno, men have some sort of... advantage? privilege? something like that.

And the closest Betty can get to reinventing herself is to marry a new guy (and didn't she luck out with Henry? I was sure he was a creep, but he seems genuinely kind and good for her) and coloring her hair.

When I think of Betty, I'm often imagining all her incarnations as a palimpsest, and beneath all of them is the faint ghost of that confident, self-assured Betty in Rome, sitting in the café gleaming in her up-do and her jewelry, smoking her cigarette and shrugging off those pick-up artists in fluent Italian.
posted by Elsa at 10:58 AM on May 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


Ugh people I have WORK TO DO ugh
posted by Sara C. at 11:01 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm so worried that Peggy is going to have an affair with Ted, think this means they are Meant For Each Other, dump Abe, and then Ted will be all, "Uhhhh, that was just blowing off steam after a long week. It didn't, like, mean anything. You know?" And Peggy will be left holding the bag.

Except she'll be rid of Abe, which is so much a bonus. And then she'll hook up with Bob Benson and oh god I think I just discovered fanfic.
posted by psoas at 11:01 AM on May 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


But the show makes it clear that Betty is at least as trapped as Don. More so, really: she's confined to a very narrow range of socially acceptable roles.

That's what I was saying. All the misery and claustrophobia in the first season was a product of how that society approaches men and women. When Betty and Don separated, they could turn that malaise into personal flaw.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 11:01 AM on May 6, 2013


It's almost like Don's freedom to reinvent himself is innately tied to his gender!

Yeah, ask poor Peggy Olson about that. She gets a fresh start and look what happens next. Also, Joan has had to wear horrible Jaguar guy around her neck like an albatross these past couple of episodes.

The men tend to get off scot free. (Pete excepted, apparently.)
posted by purpleclover at 11:02 AM on May 6, 2013


She was sort of a suburban brood mare, abandoned to her own devices by a disinterested Don Draper, who only cared about what she symbolized when they first met, that he could fuck a model. Once he got what he thought he should want, he didn't want it anymore. Don used her, and Megan, as accessories and proof to himself that he meant something.

One thing that is interesting about the show is how we really like the villians, Don Draper and Roger Sterling.


But we don't love Don anymore--or at least, if T&Lo and Sepinwall are any indications--the internet doesn't! And, oh, how I love it.

Weiner has said that this season's premiere could have taken place before the start of the series. Betty was once Megan--talented, well-educated, happy--and then Don's tired, tired, way of smashing a woman's self-worth with his cheating and gaslighting and abuse made her into the robot she was at the beginning of the show.

Only we didn't see that! We saw her as a frigid bitch, and Don as the put-upon dude who had to put up with her! But now we see the genesis, and the price. We are the other woman that he seduced with his charms; we were convinced that he and his wife had grown apart through no fault of his own and all of hers.

Now we're like Betty. We're old enough to know better. God, Don, can't you just pick up your kids [your life] and get your shit together for once?

Of course he can't. Which is why so many people are so sick of his bullshit, it seems.

Why they don't see what they share with Betty, well, I dunno. She'll always be his first [second] wife, I guess.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:02 AM on May 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


can't ...stop
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I find Megan more baffling in context of the show. I get the feeling she's there to get kicked in the teeth hard, sooner or later.

She already has been, several times, by Don.

One of the underlying themes of a couple of long-form cable shows (Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire) as I see it has been how abuse is perpetuated down generational lines.

Indeed. One of the saddest, most difficult, and yet enlightening things I've taken from reactions to the show has been how very much people want to believe in the narcissist (Don), up to and including his overt abuse of women, which is then unfailingly used against the abused women. Anyone who's ever wondered how abusers get away with it, and/or why the abused don't get out sooner: here you go. It's right here, in front of you, spelled out in detail in this show.
posted by fraula at 11:02 AM on May 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


I thought this thread was going to be about Apple Brown Betty.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:04 AM on May 6, 2013


See The Whelk I was thinking the other way round
posted by mod zero at 11:06 AM on May 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


Crocker here.
posted by surplus at 11:06 AM on May 6, 2013


I haven't seen January Jones in anything but Mad Men, but I do not assume that she comes off cold and distant because she is a shitty actress. There's a rage flowing just beneath the surface of the character, and Jones does a great job of giving us glimpses of that rage, of taking a little piece of that rage into every scene. And she can only express this rage in these awful ways like cruelty to her children, because of the trap that she finds herself in. In the context of the 1960s, Betty's treatment of her children is less an aberration than we would like it to be–she may seem monstrous by current standards, but hardly so in a time of widespread corporal punishment and psychological torment.

And on a more practical level, if January Jones wasn't giving the producers what they wanted, if she was just horrible, they'd have let her go and written around her. Maybe characters like Betty are all she can play—I don't know her work well enough to say—but she plays Betty to perfection.
posted by Mister_A at 11:07 AM on May 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


Grubi, I was mistaken about it being Betty Ford. It's a Mad Men reference, actually. I regret the confusion this seems to have caused you.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:07 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Megan is well on her way to getting crammed into Betty M. 2 by Don. And the thing about Megan is-- we never saw Don's relationship with Betty at this stage, so I don't know if this is different-- Don is sort of terrified of Megan in certain ways, and he doesn't understand her at all. She's of a different generation from him and takes a lot of things for granted that Don finds incredibly threatening.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:07 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


From the article: Over at Slate, for instance, they have Betty happily “try[ing] on cute dresses” while she urges her husband to “up his public profile.”

[...]

I saw Betty thinking of Henry, not herself, genuinely proud and supportive of him — right up until the moment when he reminded her that it necessarily would be about her, too, and that she would be entering the public eye with him. And then I saw a moment of true existential dread, as Betty thought about subjecting herself to that pitiless gaze.


Ugh, yes. I groaned out loud in sympathy with Betty as she stood there holding that too-small dress up against herself and imagined having to stand center-stage again. With Henry, she's apparently found some comfort and a sense --- new but growing --- of unconditional love and security, but suddenly she's about to be more publicly scrutinized than ever before. Betty could be heading straight for an eating disorder, or perhaps a diet-pill addiction.

When Betty and Don separated, they could turn that malaise into personal flaw.

Ah, I see. Yes, and the characters actively pursue that self-serving viewpoint. Heck, after Betty learned about Don's secret identity, he fled to Anna and --- though we don't know precisely what he tells Anna about the dissolution of their marriage --- Anna says [something like] "I'm sorry she broke your heart." "Broke your heart" is a long way from "needed to absorb the horror of living a lie that even makes her question her own children's true names."

I love/hate Betty and Don's occasional conversations. They play the same nasty, obstructive guessing games on the phone with each other: "Guess who's in my office" and "I just spent the afternoon with two men from the government" and on and on and on.
posted by Elsa at 11:09 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can you imagine what would have happened to her if she had Don's baby? We're seeing how tragedy--and to a lesser extent, choice--is going to shape the lives of women, giving them some hope for an exit. Megan probably won't be Betty. At least, I hope I hope--for her sake.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:10 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alyssa Rosenberg has written a lot about why Anti-Heroes wives tend to earn such hostility from viewers--Skyler White, Carmela Soprano, Lori Grimes, in addition to Betty Draper. The linked conversation in that piece is good, but there are spoilers depending on how caught up you are with Breaking Bad and Walking Dead.
posted by gladly at 11:12 AM on May 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


I also think that January Jones' execrable acting helped force their hands in that regard. Hard to deepen or humanize a character when the actor can barely project humanity on screen. Making her into a cold robotic villain made the best dramatic use of her limited range even if the result made the show shallower in the way you're describing.

We're watching very different shows. We can fight about whether January Jones has dramatic range, but her portrayal of Betty is just -- Jesus. The difference in how Betty carries herself normally, and how she carries herself in the scene in Rome, when she is beautiful and mysterious and gets to use her Italian? The scene where Betty tells Don she wants out of their marriage? Her goddamn heartbreak when she can open up to her daughter's therapist? When she walks through the hosue at the end of that one episode, so heartbroken and alone that she can't put words into it, and in the end, just goes and lies down in her daughter's bed?

There is tremendous, wonderful depth to the way that Jones plays Betty, and it is super, super, super-hard for me not to judge people who watch those scenes and then say that Betty is a "cold robotic villain".

The villain here isn't her. It's an awful, gross society and upbringing that teaches a woman is only valued for her looks.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:12 AM on May 6, 2013 [69 favorites]


I think Don is headed for the Roger Sterling treadmill, that and trying to fight your feelings of inadequacy by seducing the wife of anyone who makes you feel unimportant. I don't know why I'm so angry towards Roger and Don today, Don is certainly a victim as well, and they are both such lovable rogues.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:17 AM on May 6, 2013


I actually really like that Betty's still on the show and not doing well, because for all the travails Joan and Peggy and Megan are faced with, they're all professionally successful at something. By contrast, Betty's found herself in a situation where the one thing asked of her--childrearing--is something she hates. And she's unable to get out. And there are a lot more people who were in her situation than in J/P/M's, I'll bet.

But I really think this passage of the article misses the mark:

...his kids were just sitting there wondering why their father wasn’t there as promised, and then Betty – the nerve! — called Don, quite heedless of the fact that she was interrupting his drinking and his furtive phone calls about his mistress, and spoke harshly to him. What a shrew!

[...] Is it that Betty enjoys belittling Don and his new life because she’s so bitter and nasty, or is it that Betty is such a terrible mother that she just can’t wait to unload her kids?


Well, sure, Betty's a terrible mother. (And she's bitter, but for the most part justifiably so.) Don's terrible at a lot of interpersonal things, and he's a bad father, but she's pushing to have her kids be driven into a city that's erupting in riots just because that's what they'd previously scheduled? Whoa.
posted by psoas at 11:17 AM on May 6, 2013




Shabazz?
posted by fuse theorem at 11:22 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I often wonder how much vitriol directed at Betty is just cause we're not used to seeing realistic depictions of shittyish suburban parenting.
posted by The Whelk at 11:24 AM on May 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: It's almost like Don's freedom to reinvent himself is innately tied to his gender!

Of course being a man is necessary for doing what he did, but universal-male-reinvention is not an aspect of this show or of life in the 1960s. Men had and have a lot of systemic advantages, but "escaping poverty, despair and abuse by switching your identity with a dead man and building a successful life using your surprising creativity, charm, intelligence and personal sorrow to tap into the longing and existential dread of everyone around you” is typically not one of them.

Don is a rogue (or hobo, to stay true to the show's archetypes), and it's interesting how much is mask and how much he has become what he portrays. For all his many faults, what Don has done with his life is incredible. His "bullshit" is just that, awful, but it's not the same thing as Pete, or Roger, or Harry, etc. He's a different animal.
posted by spaltavian at 11:25 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


she's pushing to have her kids be driven into a city that's erupting in riots just because that's what they'd previously scheduled? Whoa.

Henry told her it would be ok, and Henry was right. I mean I had a friend driving into Boston the night they were still looking for the bomber, and I texted him and he was like..eh it'll be fine. He wasn't getting anywhere near Watertown. Don could have taken a different route that would have had him avoid uptown.

Also that scene was there to get the kids to the city for the next day's story, and also to highlight how little Don was thinking about his own kids, frantically trying to get a hold of Sylvia in New York and drinking.
posted by sweetkid at 11:26 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's kind of funny that in the title "No one's ever on your side, Betty," Betty could plausibly refer to several fictional/nonfictional Betties. Do not name your child Betty. You may as well name them Adolf.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 11:27 AM on May 6, 2013


So, not about the Flintstones then?
posted by PandaMomentum at 11:28 AM on May 6, 2013


Yeah I know all these jokes about which Betty it is are hilarious.
posted by sweetkid at 11:28 AM on May 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


Tell us some then!
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 11:30 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


And the hostility Breaking Bad audiences have for Skyler.

I think the reactions to Betty and Skyler come from completely different places. Betty's character may not be completely sympathetic, but we still enjoy watching her. Skyler annoying because, for all it's strengths, Breaking Bad is a terrible family drama. The family scenes are tense, tedious, depressing, and interminable. Contrast that to the fast-paced, exciting "gangster" plots that make up the better part of the show. We dislike Skyler because the scenes she's in are terrible.

I actually liked Betty a lot through the first couple seasons; I thought she was kind of adorable. She has this facade of good manners that was constantly being put to the test when she was forced into these awkward situations she was never meant to deal with. Season 3 changed my opinion of Betty, because that's when the writers turned her into a Bad Mom. I'm still bothered they did that to her. I thought her character started out as pretty nuanced, and Season 3 made her into sort of a straightforward villain. At this point I think they've kinda left her hanging, and I've found myself thinking on more than one occasion, "Why do we still care what happens to her?" And now we have this whole Henry Francis political subplot, and again, why do we care?

I mean, granted, it's not as bad as what Boardwalk Empire did with Michael Shannon's character -- it's almost as if they spun him off into his own mini-show -- but I'm really, really hoping they're keeping Betty around for a reason, and her story arc doesn't just serve as this sort of long-running shaggy dog story.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:31 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don's terrible at a lot of interpersonal things, and he's a bad father, but she's pushing to have her kids be driven into a city that's erupting in riots just because that's what they'd previously scheduled?

I'm not going to pretend that Betty's a good mother (I mean, how could I? She locked Sally in a closet and threatened to leave her there all night. She threatened to cut off Sally's fingers for masturbating at a sleepover), but she really might have thought it was okay in the city. Henry's been going to work, walking around the most potentially dangerous powder-keg neighborhoods, and he's probably been reassuring her that it's fine.

Betty even says as much to Don, a quick cutting "Well, of course, Henry thinks it's fine!," though Henry may have been just been uttering empty reassurances of his own safety and not thinking she'd send the kids into the city.

And overall, she's not wrong: we've seen Don forget or blow off his time with the kids over and over again --- even when he was still married to Betty, he walked out of Sally's birthday party and never returned, even though that meant leaving her without a cake, and he took off to California without notice or any word of when he might return.

Don's ruined plenty of Betty's (and Henry's) weekend plans by saddling them with the kids when they expected to be childless and she's right to be setting some boundaries about it, especially if Henry's going to be undertaking the more demanding role and schedule of a political candidate rather than a consultant. Don has to learn to honor his commitments and to respect someone else's schedule, or at the very least to call when he plans to blow something off so they can make other arrangements.

That doesn't excuse sending the kids into a potential riot zone, but a combination of the longlived pattern she has with Don, the belief that if it's okay for Henry it's okay for the kids, and her habitual self-centered fury overwhelming her parental judgment, I find it completely believable.
posted by Elsa at 11:33 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


'80s Don Draper @80sDonDraper 26 Apr
New Coke: Cure for the Common Coke

posted by mikepop at 11:34 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have sympathy for Betty, though she isn't someone I would care to know (but then I am not sure I'd care to know many of the Mad Men characters!). I find the misogynist women-blaming of Mad Men discussions upsetting: it's so common for people to be so much more critical of Don's women than they are of Don.

In Betty's case, people forget all she has been through in the last eight years: losing both parents, an unplanned pregnancy, and after ten years of marriage to a man who cheated on her incessantly, spent little time with her, and disappeared whenever he wanted and for up to six weeks at a stretch, finding out he was a deserter who lied to her about his identity. Then the end of her marriage and the beginning of a new one. Then a cancer scare.

Betty isn't dealing with it all particularly well, but no one would get over ten years of suppressed rage all that quickly, and then although she's intelligent she just doesn't have much depth.

I see a way forward for her. She needs to figure out a way to address the bitter disappointment she feels over her first marriage, to let go of the image of superficial perfection she has in her head, and to become better at relating to others. And then I think she'd enjoy her life, because she's in a good marriage and she would enjoy being a politician's wife, which would mean a lot of dressing up and appearing at functions and meeting interesting people. And she could take up some sort of charitable efforts, because with her intelligence and self-discipline and organizational abilities she could be really good at doing something worthwhile.

I don't know if she'll ever figure all that out, although she might do some of it.

Oh, and I hope they keep her in the story. I like the fact that we're actually seeing a housewife's story rather than just working women, and Sally, who is a great character played by the wonderful little Kiernan Shipka, benefits greatly from being shown in the context of her home.
posted by orange swan at 11:34 AM on May 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Men had and have a lot of systemic advantages, but "escaping poverty, despair and abuse by switching your identity with a dead man and building a successful life using your surprising creativity, charm, intelligence and personal sorrow to tap into the longing and existential dread of everyone around you” is typically not one of them.

"Creativity, charm, intelligence and personal sorrow" translating to "professional success and renumeration, as well as the ability to have sex with much younger, highly attractive partners without societal judgment", however, is.

One of the points of the show is that Don gets to try and reinvent himself as a brand new human in a brand city in a brand new job for him. Betty gets to reinvent herself by -- getting a fashionable hairdo at the hair salon while her husband is working, then playacting at romance with her husband. Don's ability to reinvent himself and tell his super-hot, sophisticated, much-younger wife everything and have her still love him, contrasted with Betty's continuing struggle to even accept that Henry Francis can still be attracted to her and want people to see and meet her if she gains weight?

To me, it's one of the central tragedies of the show, and totally bound up in the ways in which Don is privileged because he's a dude and Betty isn't.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:35 AM on May 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


We dislike Skyler because the scenes she's in are terrible.

I'm only into the second season of BB, so I say this provisionally, but there's definitely more than that: Skyler is the scold to the anti-hero. She's constantly reminding us that Walt is a bad person. He cooks meth, he initiates violence, he's hiding a massive secret from his family, and doing all of it self-righteously because his motives are good. We're hostile to Skyler because she's a buzzkill on our enjoyment of Walt as Tony Montana. She's annoying because she's right and we don't want her to be.
posted by fatbird at 11:37 AM on May 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


Alyssa Rosenberg has written a lot about why Anti-Heroes wives tend to earn such hostility from viewers--Skyler White, Carmela Soprano, Lori Grimes, in addition to Betty Draper.

I wish I could remember where I was first introduced to this term, but I've heard the term "Grisham Wife" used to describe this phenomenon. Basically, you have some premise where an ambitious young man gets in over his head (as in many John Grisham novels), and then you have the Grisham Wife character who tries to stop him from getting in over his head. And we don't like her because basically she's trying to stall the plot, and as viewers we want to see the plot progress. The Grisham Wife owes her existence to writers' inability to write good female characters. If they were to make the wife character more real, we'd sympathize with her more. And really, we should be on her side. She's actually right. She doesn't want the protagonist to screw up his life, and by extension, his whole family. I think that by writing one-dimensional Grisham Wife characters, writers undermine the potential emotional impact of their own movie or show. Imagine how much more emotionally rich these shows would be if we actually cared about the protagonists' families?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:38 AM on May 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


Can I just say, I love Metafilter for having this long, fascinating, and complex discussion about Betty Draper. Instead of what usually happens on the internet, which is some version of "BETTY SHREW BITCH FAT NOW HA HA."
posted by ErikaB at 11:38 AM on May 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


Breaking Bad is a terrible family drama. The family scenes are tense, tedious, depressing, and interminable.

In fairness, the relationship between Walt and Skyler is in fact tense, tedious, depressing, and interminable, so the fact that their scenes convey those qualities could be a feature or a bug.

And the hostility Breaking Bad audiences have for Skyler.

Without -- I hope -- giving away too much, I think that, for the most part, audiences this season have come around to sympathizing with Skyler.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 11:42 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that by writing one-dimensional Grisham Wife characters, writers undermine the potential emotional impact of their own movie or show. Imagine how much more emotionally rich these shows would be if we actually cared about the protagonists' families?

But I don't find any of these characters one-dimensional (well, except Lori Grimes, but that's because every goddam person on that show has half a dimension at best). Betty's one of my favorite characters on Mad Men. In every scene between Skyler and Walt, I'm totes on Skyler's side, and when she snowed the IRS for Ted it was one of the coolest things that's happened on Breaking Bad.

I have a real distaste for how the internet writ large tends to complain about the female leads on male-protagonist shows and then complain about the show's bare existence on female-protagonist shows. It's kinda gross, big-picture.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:43 AM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


joyceanmachine, well year, Don and men in general get to channel things into professional success that women don't, and Don and men in general get a lot more leeway with their personal relations. I never said anything to the contrary. The first thing I said was men had and have a lot of systemic advantages, it's the "escaping poverty, despair and abuse by switching your identity with a dead man and building a successful life" you truncated that's different.

Even though being a man let Don do what he did, Don is not an example of what every, many, or hardly any men can get away with. Don snuck into a class of men who prevent most men from doing so.
posted by spaltavian at 11:46 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree, with shakes, I'm always on Skyler's side. Walt has long since abandoned any real pretense about why he's doing what he's doing; he's pretty clearly getting off on it (I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS). Skyler has taken huge risks in order to keep things from becoming even worse, and must live under the long shadow of violence thanks to her husband.
posted by Mister_A at 11:47 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


In fairness, the relationship between Walt and Skyler is in fact tense, tedious, depressing, and interminable

Sure, but those scenes are not entertaining. They're painful. Unremittingly so. Does not make for an enjoyable viewing experience. And remember -- we ARE watching this show to be entertained. After Season 2, you could fast-forward through all the family scenes and have a much more enjoyable show.

(I recall the family scenes were a lot more relevant in the first couple seasons, when Walt was still trying to hide his secret from Skyler. Ever since then, it's been like, "Oh great, another awkward breakfast scene. I'm going into the other room to get a beer. Want one?")
posted by Afroblanco at 11:49 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I disagree, Afroblanco - for me, the family scenes are the central source of dramatic tension. Without Skyler and the kids, I don't really care too much about Walt because he's a narcissistic shitbag drug dealer. Having them attached gives the whole thing weight.
posted by Mister_A at 11:52 AM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Nothing is fun about watching someone follow the rules. People don't like Skyler because the show is Breaking Bad and that's what people came to see. She was a lot more interesting when she became part of the scheme.
posted by spaltavian at 11:58 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is tremendous, wonderful depth to the way that Jones plays Betty, and it is super, super, super-hard for me not to judge people who watch those scenes and then say that Betty is a "cold robotic villain".

Metafilter: it is super, super, super-hard for me not to judge people
posted by Fleebnork at 11:59 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean I never hear people bitching about Walt Jr being tedious or grating even though he's far more inconsequential plot wise than Skylar.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:02 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have said before that I feel like a Lonely Island of Grokking Betty.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:02 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean I never hear people bitching about Walt Jr being tedious or grating

You have right in this thread, with Afroblanco saying all the family scenes are tedious. Walt Jr is a lot more boring than Skyler, and I honestly could deal with less of him.
posted by spaltavian at 12:03 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen January Jones in anything but Mad Men, but I do not assume that she comes off cold and distant because she is a shitty actress.

The only other thing I've seen her in is Love, Actually, where her part isn't so much a role but a caricature. She accomplishes the task at hand, but that's really all there is to say about it.
posted by Sara C. at 12:09 PM on May 6, 2013


I actually think there is another gender issue with Skyler, and you see it with Margaret Schroeder in Boardwalk Empire as well. It's that oftentimes the only character that women get to play is that of spoilsport.

The trouble is that audiences tend to have a pretty specific response to certain narrative conventions, and one of them is that we tend to root for the main character, particularly if they have clearly articulated goals, even if those goals are reprehensible. This is in part because we're watching fiction, and so we can indulge in fantasies about a criminal lifestyle without it affecting the real world, and it is, in part, because we have been trained by a lifetime of watching narrative fiction to locate the protagonist and his (and its usually his) goals and want to see them accomplish them.

But a sexist trope is that women are somehow a civilizing influence, and so they are often thrown is as the unwelcome Jiminy Cricket to the show's protagonist, constantly rebuffing his wants and often shrewishly scolding him for pursuing a goal that the show actually needs him to pursue in order to have a show. I mean, if Skylar had talked her husband out of being a meth dealer at the start of Breaking Bad, it would have been called Never Breaking Bad, and wouldn't be on the air right now.

I think this essential structure forces women to be unpopular characters in shows, because it means they are actively working against the narrative thrust of the story -- that actually makes them a sort of antagonist, a complaining villain who doesn't just work against the goals of the hero (or antihero), but actually tries to undermine the audience's pleasure in the story. It's a terrible role to put women in, and yet we see them all the time, spoilsport after spoilsport after spoilsport. Sometimes it makes the characters seem to have multiple identities, as with Margaret Schroeder, who sometimes is a crusading suffragette who is capable of making her own dazzling power plays, and sometimes is a weak-willed Catholic whose superstition is going to ruin all the fun and causes her husband Treasure of the Sierra Madre moments of defeat.

When this pops up in film and television, I try not to hate the character, or the poor actress forced to play the role. I try to hate the writer.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:09 PM on May 6, 2013 [36 favorites]


Long story short everyone should have been watching Enlightened.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:13 PM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've always thought January Jones is an excellent actress, because everything about her "Betty" rings true to me. And I was born in 1952. I mean, some of my friends' mothers kind of WERE Betty in one way or another. Always pretty, always ready for company, yet also rattling around in too-big houses with nothing to do all day.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 12:13 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sure, but those scenes are not entertaining. They're painful. Unremittingly so. Does not make for an enjoyable viewing experience.

Being a fan of Breaking Bad is definitely an increasingly masochistic experience!

In defense of those family scenes, though, I think it's great how they've evolved over the course of the series. The Walt-Skyler relationship started out as a stereotypical "beleaguered husband / shrewish, ball-busting wife" situation, but became a lot more interesting once it stopped being about Walt trying to keep Skyler from finding out about his illicit activities, and became more about Skyler's own "breaking bad" and being drawn into Walt's world.

Their scenes have become much, much more agonizing and difficult to sit through -- there were moments in the past 8 episodes that were more wrenching and uncomfortable than any husband-wife conflict I've seen on TV (that includes The Sopranos' "Whitecaps"). Which I do find entertaining, albeit in a "wow, this show is actually making me lose my will to live, I am impressed" sort of way.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:15 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it that Betty enjoys belittling Don and his new life because she’s so bitter and nasty, or is it that Betty is such a terrible mother that she just can’t wait to unload her kids?

I think it's also that ITS YOUR WEEKEND GAH is such a trope of divorced parents. A realistic one, too.

I love my parents dearly, but you better believe that if all hell broke loose and it was HIS WEEKEND, my mom would have been making that phone call. Or my dad would have been pulling a version of what Pete tried to do, "The kids need their dad, and after all, IT'S MY WEEKEND."
posted by Sara C. at 12:16 PM on May 6, 2013


Being a fan of Breaking Bad is definitely an increasingly masochistic experience!

I'm liking this Breaking Bad discussion, if only to reassure me that bailing in season 1 when the corpse falls through the bathtub was a fine, fine decision.
posted by purpleclover at 12:18 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the Breaking Bad discussion would be better if people could at least contrast with Mad Men.
posted by sweetkid at 12:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of wishing the Breaking Bad fans would take their discussion somewhere else.
posted by orange swan at 12:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm glad Harris called out the Slate TV Club folks for not noticing that when Betty holds up the "cute dress" it's for her old body and would not fit her now.

Agreed, but that's kinda like calling somebody out for not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. How does anyone miss that?

After Sally, Betty is my favorite character and I'm very glad they haven't killed her off (yet).

What was also interesting to me about "The Flood" was my own realization of how good a father and a man Henry Francis is, and how bad a father and a man Don is.

Though somewhat misguided and backwards even for the time, Henry wants to do good things.

Don is all about "got mine fuck you."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:21 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Skyler annoying because, for all it's strengths, Breaking Bad is a terrible family drama. The family scenes are tense, tedious, depressing, and interminable. Contrast that to the fast-paced, exciting "gangster" plots that make up the better part of the show. We dislike Skyler because the scenes she's in are terrible.

But that's just a microcosm of this whole phenomenon.

The mom/wife actress SUX!

But it's not really her fault! It's because the scenes she's in are DUMB. GAH, why can't they be like the fast-paced dramatic drug dealer scenes?

It's just yet another side of the coin where women are denigrated for the act of being female. It's less pronounced on Mad Men, because the roles for women are a lot more nuanced. But even on Mad Men, I think it's absolutely true that the reason we hate Betty is because Betty doesn't get any of the Sexy New Modern trappings of the ad agency. Betty doesn't get to Come A Long Way, Baby. Betty doesn't get a xerox machine or a hip black secretary or a miniskirt. Betty is mom, imprisoned in a domestic sphere that is really not too different from the domestic sphere Skyler is imprisoned in.

And moms are SO BORING, amirite?
posted by Sara C. at 12:23 PM on May 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


I'm kind of wishing the Breaking Bad fans would take their discussion somewhere else.

I'm kind of wishing the Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and GOT fans would royal rumble and kill 80% of each other off so we could get some other decent TV programming these here days. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:24 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


(Also, while I actually like Skyler and adore Anna Gunn, I hate the name Skyler. And if you have to use that name, can't you spell it correctly? SCHUYLER. Geez. I don't ask for much. Can't I have Schuyler instead of the illiterate post-apocalyptic Skyler? It's almost as bad as KateLynn and Aeden.)
posted by Sara C. at 12:26 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, this isn't about how entrenched the patriarchy was in not just culture, but laidback California stoner culture in the 1990s that a recently unfrozen caveman would hardly have to adapt at all to fit right into the gender roles already expected for him and his peers?

Betty nugz people. One woeful sympathetic BETTY, BETTY NUGZ to you all.
posted by elr at 12:26 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's cool but this is a Mad Men thread and it's weird for people to a) discuss a different show and b) complain that Mad Men has fans that want to talk about the show.

Seriously, whole internet out there.
posted by sweetkid at 12:27 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wait, why is this necessarily a Mad Men thread? It doesn't seem like it should be out of bounds to talk about this character in relation to characters on other TV shows that are frequently held up in comparison to Mad Men, and how Betty's characterization relates (or not) to general trends in the characterization of women.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:31 PM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sara C. :And moms are SO BORING, amirite?

Yes. So am I. Domestic life is boring. I suspect you would not watch a show realistically depicting my life.

Episode 1: Spaltavian briefly forgets how to subtotal in a spreadsheet, but then remembers. His sister-in-law has an exam.

Episode 2: Spaltavian has trouble deciding if he's in the mood for beer or scotch. Drinks both. His wife is stuck in traffic.

Episode 3: Spaltavian reads the internet. His wife reads the internet.

The fact that women were not allowed out of the domestic sphere was sexist, being bored with depictions of said domesticity is not.
posted by spaltavian at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Like I said earlier, discussing Mad Men in relation to Breaking Bad seems fine to me, but just whole Breaking Bad comments about Skyler without any compare/contrast to Betty is derailly.
posted by sweetkid at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2013


I hate the name Skyler.

OH I KNOW. Everytime I hear that name, I think of a ten year old boy with a mullet and a sleeveless Def Leppard shirt riding in the back of a Suburu Brat.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


The trouble is that audiences tend to have a pretty specific response to certain narrative conventions, and one of them is that we tend to root for the main character, particularly if they have clearly articulated goals, even if those goals are reprehensible.

Yeah, really the worst thing a character can be in a drama is boring. We respond to a character with a goal, no matter what that goal is. We'll root for and rationalize our rooting for a guy who cheats on his wife over the faithful wife, and find reasons to hate the wife even though she acts out of misery and insecurity, because she doesn't generally articulate or act decisively upon those things that are making her miserable, and we hate passivity more than we hate immorality. (Pete would be an likable character -- well, almost -- on Mad Men if he had the strength of his convictions. His smarmy behavior is smarmy in large part because he doesn't own his actions the way the other men do.)

And, sorry to bring another show into this, but one thing I find really interesting about The Americans is that it is a show that puts (American) viewers in a position of rooting for characters most of us would otherwise (in the Reagan Era, anyway) consider reprehensible, by virtue of the fact that the show is about them, and they have a strong, identifiable goal.

I guess it explains how horrible people can enjoy so much support among the public. We're drawn to dynamism, no matter how it's aligned.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:34 PM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


BTW, anyone who watches Mad Men and Breaking Bad should check out Rectify. I watched the first three episodes yesterday and so far it's excellent.

Here's the Scene That Made Me Fall in Love With Rectify
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sara C. :And moms are SO BORING, amirite?

Yes. So am I. I suspect you would not watch a show realistically depicting my life.


But I don't think the options are only:

AWESOME SHOWS ABOUT KEWL ANTI-HERO DUDES

BORING STUPID SHOWS ABOUT LAME CHIX WHO ARE LIKE RESPONSIBLE MOMS & SHIT

And if those really are the only options we have on TV in 2013, we sure as fuck need a new crop of writers to come along and shake that up. Because that shit is stoooooopid.

(This thread is giving me soooooo many writing notes you guys can't even IMAGINE)
posted by Sara C. at 12:38 PM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Speaking of Lonely Islands - personally, my dislike of January Jones's acting came from her appearance as possibly the worst SNL host I've ever seen. I'm not saying ever week is a gem or anything, but they usually get *something* out of the host and she was even terrible in the Mad Men parody.
posted by maryr at 12:39 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Most of these controversies can be resolved by realizing that people generally aren't simple and unambiguous. Is Betty superficially thinking of herself, or proud of Henry? Does she enjoy the public eye, or does she dread it? Is she resentful and trying to get rid of her kids, or is she frustrated that Don isn't pulling his weight? She might be all of these things at the same time. Who really knows?

You can't know who the characters really are, because you don't know them well enough. If you watch a 2 minute scene and take what the character says in that moment as the definitive expression of Who They Are, you're making a lot of assumptions. Someone watching the same scene might interpret it as a passing thought, or a product of the circumstances.

It's not possible to resolve the disagreement, and it's about as interesting and meaningful as debating who would win in a fight, Superman or the Hulk.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:40 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


sweetkid -- sorry I was a little behind in the thread there. Though I maintain that the name Skyler is stupid.

The name Betty for the character and the time is absolutely perfect. She's not Beth or Liz, she's Betty.
posted by Sara C. at 12:40 PM on May 6, 2013


(Of course, January Jones also suffers from the comparison to Jon Hamm who is a pretty termendous comic actor.)
posted by maryr at 12:41 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't know who the characters really are, because you don't know them well enough. If you watch a 2 minute scene and take what the character says in that moment as the definitive expression of Who They Are, you're making a lot of assumptions.

The reason Mad Men is such a great show is because this is the case.

Because, seriously, on 99% of other shows, we are expected to completely know any character via a 2 minute scene.
posted by Sara C. at 12:43 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think a discussion about Betty and gender in Mad Men can logically lead to discussion of gender in other shows. I also think it is more of a derail to try to police this thread into only being a discussion of Mad Men; that's why we have flags and MetaTalk.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:44 PM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I just exchanged a bunch of emails with a friend of mine who has just started watching Mad Men and has...if not a positive opinion of Betty, than at least a more sympathetic attitude towards her. (Particularly in light of her relationship with Don and his manipulation and gaslighting.) Talking about Betty with LLM has led me to consider my own attitude towards Betty, who I never quite hated as much as the rest of the internet.

When I look at Betty, I think about my maternal grandmother, with whom I had a rather tumultuous relationship. My grandmother had a great gift for color and silhouette, which led her to go shopping pretty much every weekend. She was also not the most congenial person around, and we would frequently fight over matters large and small. I felt badly towards her when I was a teenager, and my pity expressed itself in a sneering, condescending attitude towards this angry, depressed woman who went to the mall like a teenager and made sure that we were all dressed well. As an adult I think about the thankless job at a credit union that she worked for most of her life, her contentious relationship with her husband, and how frustrated she must have felt at how her life turned out. And then I think about Betty, who's of the same generation as my grandmother, and things come into focus a bit more.

I also think Betty is so hated as a character because people want to tag along with Don Draper and live his fabulous-seeming life, at least as it's portrayed in the first two seasons. Most people don't think about the double life he leads, the guilt he must feel, and his alcoholism. They want the awesome apartment, the rotating cast of sexual partners, and the high-powered jobs, but they don't think of all the guilt that comes with Being Don Draper. To some extent, Betty represents an externalization of his responsibilities and guilt, and that combined with some of January Jones's affectations (the high, brittle voice, most notably) makes her the most disliked characters. And now the shallow ways in which people discuss the show on the internet hits me all over again.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:47 PM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Skyler annoying because, for all it's strengths, Breaking Bad is a terrible family drama. The family scenes are tense, tedious, depressing, and interminable.

The seething hatred can lead to some great scenes though. *takes extremely long drink of water*
posted by Drinky Die at 12:49 PM on May 6, 2013


We dislike Skyler because the scenes she's in are terrible.

Well, most of the Skyler scenes are indoors, where the directors framed the interior scenes to be claustrophobic and subtly out-of-balance, to help us identify with Walt's continual need to Break.
posted by surplus at 12:49 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if a certain amount of some fans' reaction is that Homemaker As Career isn't as much of a thing now as it was then. People call Betty stupid and shallow for caring about things like the wallpaper and her children's public behavior, who would never fault Don for being ambitious about his position at SCDP or caring about his professional reputation. Traditional homemakers are like traditional farmers: you don't really have the luxury of a line between your personal and professional life. Your home and family isn't JUST your home and family; it's also your product.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I remember a lot of people having an ultra-positive take on Betty in the first season or so. It's really in Season 4 that she becomes a shrill harpy that everyone HATES SO MUCH.

I think a lot of the hate comes out of the fact that people used to love her, and they watched the idyllic image of beautiful retro domesticity shattered before their eyes. Partially because the domestic sphere hasn't changed that much in 50 years* -- we see our own childhoods in the Draper kids' childhoods, and we see our own bad times and family secrets in the Drapers' dirty laundry.

*Seriously this is now my new lens to see the world through and I'm probably going to repeat it like a mantra for the next week or so.
posted by Sara C. at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thinking back at the first few seasons of the show, I can't imagine Betty being any other way than she is. She was raised to present an image of perfection, and not only did she need to appear perfect, she has to make that perfection appear effortless. And she finds herself married to an alcoholic, a serial philanderer, a man who has deserted in wartime and stolen another's identity. And we dislike her for being bitter? She dutifully filled the roles she was raised to fill, and they do not bring her joy. Hard to blame her.

1968 Betty is gradually unclenching- that she went to the Village looking for Sandy and held her own with the hippies in the squat, that showed some depth we hadn't been allowed to see when she was trying to be Betty Draper, the image of effortless perfection.
posted by ambrosia at 12:59 PM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Part of what's interesting to me about Betty is trying to figure out what she is. Okay, she's the product of a deeply fucked up system and her head is filled with strange ideas. She is what she's made to be. But she's also an individual. At what point does her bad behavior become her responsibility? Where do we draw the line between "victim of a fucked up society" and "asshole?" Not every woman who lived in those times was warped to be like that.

This makes us wonder: is Betty just plain nasty? Would she have been a selfish, closed-off jerkass even had she been born forty years later? The fun part? We can't tell. We might have a fighting chance if we could see more of Betty's peers for comparison. I can understand why we don't for practical reasons -- not enough episodes -- but I'd love to see it.

This is the same problem we have with real people, provided we pay attention. What's the line between who we are no matter what and who we are based upon circumstance? It'd be so much easier if we could just label people as "assholes" and "good folks" without having to understand context or consider the flexibility of personality. Goddamn context and human complexity, complicating everything.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not saying she's a monster or that she hasn't been ill-treated, but Betty has definitely squandered some of my sympathy when she fired housekeeper.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is all very interesting because I haven't read much criticism of Mad Men due to not having been a viewer until relatively recently.

To me, Betty is a product of the Old Guard of white, northeastern classism that is the backdrop the program is filmed against. A system that Dick infiltrated by becoming Don. She was raised to expect a certain lifestyle, and for the most part that's what she got.

Right up until she discovers Don's secret shoe-box. Then, partly because I think she didn't know what else to do—recall how judgmental she and the neighbor woman were of a divorcee moving into the neighborhood and how they worried she might drive property values down—and partly because of her deep seated self-loathing, she becomes a class traitor and Don's co-conspirator in perpetuating the hoax. They divorce, but for the sake of her children—and herself, of course—she keeps Don's secret. Not to mention she already had prepared a lifeboat for herself by developing a relationship with Henry Francis.

While the audience sees mostly the arguments and passive-aggressive bickering between Don and Betty, as we saw in the Season One finale, they had their good times as well. That scene also reveals why Betty and the children didn't "get on the bus." For all his many, many faults as a husband, a father, and a man, Don needs his family. You can see it in his eyes.

Which is the real reason I think many people are less sympathetic to Betty than circumstances would seem to dictate. While she play-acts at being a fawn lost in the woods, the audience sees her in her private moments to be calculating, manipulative, and cold-hearted. Whereas Don—aloof, philandering, and moody as he is—truly is lost in the proverbial woods and play-acts at being the epitome of the Old Guard northeastern white establishment. To me Don and Betty are two sides of the same coin.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


recall how judgmental she and the neighbor woman were of a divorcee moving into the neighborhood and how they worried she might drive property values down

Ugh, it is so astounding to me how anyone could think like this and not automatically realize how full of shit they are, even during the 1960s. I actually encountered someone seriously making this argument during my state's equal marriage fight—that if same-sex couples could get married, they'd be more likely to buy houses together, and that might bring property values down in neighborhoods, and that hence was a reason for the voters to have the government deny them marriage licenses.
posted by XMLicious at 1:17 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's hard not to think about Betty, Joan and Peggy as three contrasting characters who choose different means of getting ahead. Peggy walks up the door and opens it, shoving the doorman aside if necessary; Joan sleeps with the doorman so he'll do whatever she wants; Betty marries the guy who tips the doorman.

But the real contrast is in how far their character strategies are taking them. Peggy has made quite steady progress, until now she finds herself in Don's position and facing problems that are basically unrelated to her sex. Joan got stalled several times, but her strategy finally paid off and she's now a partner.

Betty, though, got the early payoff of a beautiful married life to a high powered ad man, and watched it all stop there. A big part of Betty's character is that she has no goals, and is reduced to wandering her life engaging in the mindless masochism of the bored.
posted by fatbird at 1:18 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think we are pre-disposed to dislike Skyler because at the very beginning of the series, we are introduced to her as the spouse that downplays Walt's illness. He looks like hell, he can't stop coughing and Skyler tells him to take some health food store version of a cough/cold remedy. Anyone watching the show the premise. We know this is a problem.
posted by readery at 1:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you don't like Skyler that's your problem, man. She's trying to keep her babbies from getting blowed up!
posted by Mister_A at 1:24 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's hard not to think about Betty, Joan and Peggy as three contrasting characters who choose different means of getting ahead. Peggy walks up the door and opens it, shoving the doorman aside if necessary; Joan sleeps with the doorman so he'll do whatever she wants; Betty marries the guy who tips the doorman.

So where does that put Megan? Marries the guy who tips the doorman and then convinces him to move to a single family home, no doorman to stand in her way? Marries the guy who tips the doorman and has no idea there ever was a doorman?
posted by Sara C. at 1:25 PM on May 6, 2013


Betty, Joan and Peggy as three contrasting characters who choose different means of getting ahead

But they didn't really choose, did they? Each was given "an" option.

P.S. I think Megan represents a different generation, so apples & oranges.
posted by MoxieProxy at 1:28 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Joan sleeps with the doorman so he'll do whatever she wants;

Huh, I don't think that's Joan at all. Her erstwhile relationship with Roger seemed pretty genuine (on her end at least, although she's also wise enough to Roger to keep him at arm's length); her fucking awful husband eventually got kicked to the curb, and not because he failed to become a doctor but because he was fucking awful; when she slept with Jaguar it was... extremely complicated.

Joan was totes aware of her position at the firm. Back pre-season one, she ruled the secretary's pool and had about as much power as a woman could have in a business, and then along comes Peggy, leapfrogging out of the pool and into 'real' work. The one time Joan was able to work creative, she got plunked back in her place as soon as they didn't need her anymore. She's aware that the world is changing and that she was born just a handful of years too early to have taken advantage of this change-- she could very easily see herself going down the Betty Draper road, doomed to live out the fantasies of a prefeminist world.

And Joan is smart: she's really running the books for the firm, even though a man has the position. She's keeping the place afloat and getting nothing for it. And when an opportunity finally comes for her-- remember, they don't even offer her the partnership to sleep with Jaguar, they just want her to do it. All of these men telling her that it's her choice whether she should get pimped out for the sake of a firm they've never allowed her to actually get a toehold in.

So she demands a partnership, and gets it, but she still has to do it on their terms. And they won't let her forget it-- Harry's outburst a few episodes back shows that even this advancement she's made will never be seen as a real advancement. She's never been allowed to do anything on her terms, even when she tries to wrest the terms into her favor as much as possible.

Joan isn't the person who sleeps with the doorman so he'll do whatever she wants, she's the person who sleeps with the doorman because he won't let her in the building otherwise, and when she does he calls her a whore.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:31 PM on May 6, 2013 [48 favorites]


Ugh, it is so astounding to me how anyone could think like this and not automatically realize how full of shit they are, even during the 1960s.

So my mom (a contemporary of Betty, as noted above) told me a story a few years ago that stunned me. Growing up, I'd had a playmate, a little boy my age I'll call Jay. He lived five or six houses down the street. As a small child I did not know this, but Jay's mother had been married, had a child, had an affair with another man, became pregnant (with Jay) from that relationship. Her first marriage ended, and she kept the house and married the man from the affair, and had another child with him.

So my mother relates that back in 1968, both she and Jay's mother are visibly pregnant at the same time, and Jay's mother is going door to door for some Junior League or Red Cross thing. Some totally appropriate activity for suburban housewife in 1968. And Jay's mother rings our doorbell, and my mom opens the door, and Jay's mom bursts into tears, because none of the other women on our street had opened the door to her when she rang the bell. Because they were shunning her for her shameful behavior.

Gobsmacked, I was, when I heard that story. Some things have changed.

Can I say how much I am looking forward to the next episode of Mad Men? I was born in the wee hours of June 7, 1968, my mother remembers being in labor and hearing the news about Bobby Kennedy having been shot. So curious to see what the show does with that.
posted by ambrosia at 1:32 PM on May 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


Well, they "chose" in the sense of life choices. Peggy theoretically could have tried to take the Secretary-To-Wife track. Joan could have turned down Roger in favor of someone who could actually marry her. Betty could have been like "fuck this I'm getting a job" when she started feeling crazy, and pursued something that wasn't as tied to being This Year's Model as modeling.

Nobody sat them down and said, "would you like to be a wife, a career-woman, or a sneaky tramp?" but they chose, nonetheless. You could argue that each of them could never made a different choice and could never have been anyone but the person they became. Which could be true, but doesn't invalidate their different paths based on choices.
posted by Sara C. at 1:34 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


P.S. I think Megan represents a different generation, so apples & oranges.

But Peggy and Megan are only a year apart or so in age. Also if Megan is supposed to be more modern than Peggy, she's not doing a good job of it, given that Peggy is cohabiting with a boyfriend and is copy chief at a major agency, paying her own bills, where Megan just married Don. She seems to be making money with her show, but she is really not coming a long way, baby. That's Peggy.
posted by sweetkid at 1:36 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Megan represents a different generation, so apples & oranges.

Why? Megan and Peggy are around the same age.
posted by Sara C. at 1:42 PM on May 6, 2013


Yeah but Megan is a member of The Youth Culture a lot more than Peggy, despite Peggy's flirtation with bohemians etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:43 PM on May 6, 2013


Yeah the really cool thing about Peggy is that she's sort of very quietly upsetting the apple cart. She is now "copy chief at a top 10 agency before age 30," an impressive feat for anyone.
posted by Mister_A at 1:44 PM on May 6, 2013


Shut up shakes Peggy 4eva
posted by Mister_A at 1:44 PM on May 6, 2013


You misread me if you think I'm not Team Peggy. Peggy would tear Megan into shreds. But Peggy's never coming home with Revolver.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:46 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah but so what? The comparisons started with how these women go about getting what they want in life, not if they wear the right clothes or listen to the right music for their generation.
posted by sweetkid at 1:51 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Peggy theoretically could have tried to take the Secretary-To-Wife track.

Remember the scene early on in S1, when Peggy tries to hit on Don? And he just shuts her down cold? And how she gets pregnant with Pete's kid, but puts the child up for adoption?

The gap in conventional physical attractiveness between Betty-as-Grace-Kelly, Joan-as-Marilyn-Monroe, and Megan-as-a-gorgeous-international-cosmpolitan-1960s-fox is one of the most interesting things in Mad Men. Don wouldn't have married either Betty or Megan if they weren't gorgeous trophies for their respective decades, and Joan wouldn't have ruled the office the way she did in S1 if she'd been dumpy or even 10 years older than she was. It's also interesting to think about Joan and Betty as contemporaries in both time and beauty, but with Joan as the working class/Marilyn Monroe style of beauty and Betty as the upper class/Grace Kelly style. Betty is the one who gets her alpha male early, without years of struggle, but when the dream turns sour, Joan is the one who has resources -- but still has to sleep with Jaguar.

Anyways, seeing Peggy navigate romance while marked, by the show, as being not-hot is one of the more interesting parts of Mad Men. I just wish more of her romantic partners weren't so incredibly obnoxious and there just to Make A Point.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:01 PM on May 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah but so what? The comparisons started with how these women go about getting what they want in life, not if they wear the right clothes or listen to the right music for their generation.

Sorry, I didn't actually see the genesis of this little thread (the P.S. I think Megan represents a different generation, so apples & oranges.) until you pointed it out just now, I was just responding to how Peggy & Megan's actual ages and their culturally representative ages are different animals. Disregard, I guess.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:07 PM on May 6, 2013


Peggy was born 36 years old anyway.
posted by The Whelk at 2:09 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


She is what she's made to be. But she's also an individual. At what point does her bad behavior become her responsibility? Where do we draw the line between "victim of a fucked up society" and "asshole?"

The same question holds true for most of the show's characters, and viewers' varying sympathies for individual characters is fascinating.

Think about how sympathetically some viewers view Don Draper, based largely on his charm and with. He's smart and talented and quick on his feet. But he's also abusive and imperious and irresponsible.

Think about some of the things he's done. Quite aside from his desertion and imposture, Don has:

- ejected clients and torpedoed the business without a prior word to his colleagues and partners
- cheated on his wives while shaming them for any display of flirtation
- deserted his daughter at her seventh birthday party (and presumably stole that lovely dog from some family --- where does a drunk guy get a dog after dark in the suburbs, anyhow?)
- left a lover tied to a bed in a beach house (I still haven't figured out if Bobbie Barrett could have wiggled out of those bonds before her daughter or son ---- or, worse, her furious husband --- found her)
- tried to persuade a lover to pick up and leave with him to start a new life elsewhere (abandoning his children, as Rachel points out)
- deserted his wife and children without a word while he jetted off to California
- fired his art director for refusing to sexually service a client
- threw a crumpled wad of bills in his copy-writer's face --- in front of her underlings! --- to shut up her very reasonable complaint that he was handing off the exciting outcome of her successful pitch in the clinch to another already-busy writer
- showed up drunk to a longtime colleague's mother's memorial service and vomited in the middle of the eulogy. Judging by their talk after the Hawaii pitch, Don didn't apologize or acknowledge this until Roger brought it up directly, because THIS NEVER HAPPENED
- called his new wife a whore for performing a fairly tame love scene that anyone would have known was an inevitable event if she was even remotely successful in her chosen career - meanwhile, he's banging the neighbor that they socialize with the most
- and most recently, he undercut the partners (who had just told him how damaging it is for him to unilaterally and fundamentally alter the nature of their agency on a whim) by making a barside handshake agreement with their direct competitor

Now, those appalling things (which are just a fraction of the appalling things Don Draper has done) make sense, both dramatically and psychologically. We see that Dick Whitman was raised without affection (except, apparently, from his younger brother) and with resentment, reminded over and over that he was "a whore-child." He grew up in grinding poverty with undemonstrative parents, so he has no good childhood model for affection or love. Then just as his own sexuality started to blossom, he moved to a brothel, which would shape a boy's understanding of sexual connection dramatically. He probably suffers from PTSD from the explosion and aftermath in Korea, and he appears to have a panic disorder that predisposes him to flight from conflict.

But yes, there is a point where we have to ask ourselves exactly what you ask about Betty: At what point does [his] bad behavior become [his] responsibility? Where do we draw the line between "victim of a fucked up [youth]" and "asshole?"

In my view, even considering the challenges of his background and personal history, Don Draper is, to use some of your terms, both a victim of his fucked-up history and an asshole.

But. He's Don Draper. He's a character created to have tremendous inner resources and talent and put into a setting where he has many possible avenues of success not available to Betty, so he's active and filled with agency --- elements that engage an audience and drive a narrative --- which predisposes us to sympathize with him even though he's appallingly badly behaved.

He even wins our affections over many of the other men because he's so damned charming and talented. Look at Pete Campbell. He's a weasel, he handles people clumsily, he's entitled and smug even when he fails. But he's often right on the money, especially about business. But he's so danged unpleasant --- and the show is making a real effort to make the handsome young Vincent Kartheiser look weedy and sad --- that most viewers resist identifying with him too completely.

An aside: I LOVED the part of S4 when Don shifts from drinking heavily to swimming in drink. You can practically smell him: stale cigarettes and old rye and flop sweat and occasionally the stinging high note of vomit. It also seemed like an incidental rebuke to the subset of viewers who had identified with the more glamorous aspects of the character and ignored what a mess --- and what cruel person --- Don can be. I had started to loathe Don as much as a empathized with him, and seeing that destructive nature inevitably turn inward made perfect dramatic sense to me.
posted by Elsa at 2:12 PM on May 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


GODDAMMIT I HAVE WORK TO DO, WILL YOU ALL PLEASE STOP BEING SO INSIGHTFUL AND INTERESTING.

Anyway, to address something that has cropped up a few times in this thread: I don't think anyone here believes that Betty is a good person.

I certainly don't. I understand her bad behavior, and I'm fascinated by it (and by what it divulges about her character). But I am certainly not excusing the bad things she has done.
posted by ErikaB at 2:13 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing that gets me when I try to talk to people in the reals about the show is that they get all BUT BETTY IS A BAD MOTHER when I try to talk about how I find her really interesting and dimensional and well played and a product of her times and also a really good depiction of a person suffering from chronic major depression, all of which makes her unpleasant a lot of the time but also much like the other characters. I mean, that's like supposed to shut the whole discussion down. It's kind of tedious to me. I'm like, so what? And then it's like SWEETKID DOESN'T CARE ABOUT BAD PARENTING BECAUSE BETTY IS A BAD MOTHER. Like, personal.

I do think Betty tries to be a good mother, at least she did in the first few seasons (the scene with her worrying Sally would get a scar and not marry and that's a fate worse than death actually shows her sort of warped way of feeling love and concern for her daughter). But more than that I don't think Mad Men is a show where you hate on the villains and cheer the heroes and I don't think those bright lines are really there. It's what makes the show interesting for me and frustrating when otherwise intelligent people are all BUT BUT BAD MOTHER.
posted by sweetkid at 2:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I certainly don't. I understand her bad behavior, and I'm fascinated by it (and by what it divulges about her character). But I am certainly not excusing the bad things she has done.

Yes! It makes perfect sense to me, in a truly horrible way, that someone with so few avenues for success and such cruel (and necessarily time-limited) expectations of perfection heaped upon her would be cruel and frustrated and bubbling with sublimated rage, and that she would exercise her rage on only the most powerless people around her. I don't like her, but I sympathize with her predicament and her anger, even as I wince at how she's expressed it.
posted by Elsa at 2:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


BUT BETTY IS A BAD MOTHER

Which is ironic, of course, because she's a far better mother than Don is a father.

Peggy would tear Megan into shreds.

I'll take that bet any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

It's hard not to think about Betty, Joan and Peggy as three contrasting characters who choose different means of getting ahead. Peggy walks up the door and opens it, shoving the doorman aside if necessary; Joan sleeps with the doorman so he'll do whatever she wants; Betty marries the guy who tips the doorman.

So where does that put Megan?


Megan is all 3. She is the antichrist, and I love her.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:24 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Peggy would tear Megan into shreds.

I'll take that bet any day of the week and twice on Sunday.


Point: Peggy slept with Pete and didn't burst into flames.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:27 PM on May 6, 2013


How is Megan the antichrist? I feel like that is giving her too much credit.
posted by sweetkid at 2:27 PM on May 6, 2013


I think that hostility the author mentions is mirrored in the (to me) inexplicable hostility for Megan.

Wow, to me this is completely obvious and easy to understand. Betty hates Megan because Megan is young Betty, but with more options, and it isn't fair.

Berry did everything right by the standards of the day: she was the perfect, pretty wife and the consummate hostess for her businessman husband.

Sure, she is a terrible mother by our standards, agreed, but she was just raising her daughter the way she was raised (what if Betty had been blessed with Megan's sophisticated, confident Mother?). I think she saw their son as Don's responsibility to raise, and he was never there. She did seem to honestly love baby Glenn, to the pointof annoying the other children--maybe her nurturing gene is there, but wears off once the kids are no longer at that 'cute' stage?

When Betty was hurting over her Mother's death, Don ignored her or treated her like a petulant child rather than appreciating her. He even had her therapist report to him.

And Betty could have reinvented herself, and she actually tried to--she tried going back into modeling, and they loved her, but jealous, insecure Don deliberately sabotaged her, without her knowing it, so that she felt like a personal failure, with that option closed to her.

Now here comes Megan, Don's new young, beautiful wife, and somehow she's managed to lock down a glamourous career too! She even gets public acclamation for her work, when she is supposed to be staying at hime raising babies. As far as Betty can see, Don lets Megan do whatever she wants, while she had to give up her dreams when they were married, and he cheatedmon her the whole time.

What really has to hurt Betty is that no one even shames Megan for being the second wife. Yes, Betty left Don, but to her, Megan and her type are Homewreckers, like Roger's new young wife was. They take away the first wife's rightful place, and leave her out in the cold with the kids, while they reap the material rewards.

All that nonsense about the neighborhood divorcee was not really concern over property values, by the way, but the wives feeling threatened by a woman who went against societal norms so blatantly. They had good reason to feel threatened, too, because they had so little agency in their own lives. The public shaming of the 'Homewrecker' and the 'Other Woman' was the only defense they had against their own husbands trading them in for newer models; no one wants to be that socially stigmatized other woman, which is why Betty only leaves Don when she has a new husband, with the same social standing, prepared to take her on.

And yes, January Jones is a terrible actress! I'm sorry, but I don't hate her because she's beautiful or a buzzkill for Don, I'm frustrated because she's so bad the writers have to work extra hard just to make her seem like a real person instead of some pretty cardboard cutout. They give her a cancer scare and obvious weight issues (which they do with a fat suit) because she is not skilled enough to show us how beaten down she is by failing with Don.

Betty could be so much better a character, though, if they hadn't turned her into the Bitter Shrew. It's a shame they couldn't find a better actress instead. I, too, wish they had written her out.

Watch January Jones in XMen First Class, or that Liam Neeson movie, Unknown. She looks absolutely gorgeous--I've always thought January Jones was beautiful--but she says all her lines as if she's reporting the weather. Even when she is supposed to be sexily flirtatious, she flubs the delivery, but it doesn't matter because she is so pretty! Bleah.

In that dreadful SNL episode, January Jones was actually dating the guy from SNL and still sucked in her scenes. She can't even get sexual chemistry right when she's actually experiencing it!

Clearly the staff picked up on her bad acting, too, because they built skits around it. She didn't even seem to realize one skit was conspicuously poking fun at her lack of depth: she and her date are staring up at the clouds, and every jibe is a comment akin to, "Good thing you're so easy on the eyes, since you have nothing else of any value to offer."
posted by misha at 2:29 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought the comment was about audiences' hostility toward Megan.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:32 PM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


And yes, January Jones is a terrible actress! I'm sorry, but I don't hate her because she's beautiful or a buzzkill for Don, I'm frustrated because she's so bad the writers have to work extra hard just to make her seem like a real person instead of some pretty cardboard cutout. They give her a cancer scare and obvious weight issues (which they do with a fat suit) because she is not skilled enough to show us how beaten down she is by failing with Don.

This is arguable. I think she's great as Betty. Also, the writers having to work extra hard just isn't true, it's just something invented by people who don't like January's acting.
posted by sweetkid at 2:32 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


(what if Betty had been blessed with Megan's sophisticated, confident Mother?)

I don't think Megan sees her mother as a blessing. And I think Marie and Betty's mom would probably agree on a lot of things. Betty's mom would be more WASP about her cutting remarks is all.
posted by sweetkid at 2:34 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that gets me when I try to talk to people in the reals about the show is that they get all BUT BETTY IS A BAD MOTHER when I try to talk about how I find her really interesting and dimensional and well played and a product of her times and also a really good depiction of a person suffering from chronic major depression, all of which makes her unpleasant a lot of the time but also much like the other characters.

Huh. I really have not seen this conflict that you're describing. Betty being a bad mother doesn't negate any of those things, and I don't think anyone's saying that it does.

My complaint is that, up until Season 3, Betty was a more-or-less neutral mother. Not the most progressive or attentive, but you could easily write off her failings as "a product of her times". In Season 3, she actively becomes a Bad Mother, and it makes her a lot less sympathetic. The change in character arc annoyed me, because up until that point I thought she was a lot more nuanced. Once she starts doing things like smacking around her daughter, it's a lot easier to see her as a villain. I hoped it would be a momentary change -- perhaps brought on by stress from the divorce -- but her mothering skills have continued to decline. Even the recent "moment of sweetness" where she tries to chase down the teenage runaway is tainted. I mean, she basically just gives up on finding the girl, and then we never find up what happens to her! How totally half-assed.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:36 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. I really have not seen this conflict that you're describing. Betty being a bad mother doesn't negate any of those things, and I don't think anyone's saying that it does.

I'm not talking about the thread, I'm talking about real life (though we did have some BUT BAD MOTHER in the thread, but only a little).

Sorry, "in the reals" is sweetkid lingo for real life, I guess.
posted by sweetkid at 2:39 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Remember the scene early on in S1, when Peggy tries to hit on Don? And he just shuts her down cold?

I keep thinking about this. I think about how, last season, Peggy was really excited when she thought Abe was going to propose. And this season, she got all verklempt when he suggested wanting babies with her--to the extent that she agreed to live in a terrible apartment in a terrible neighborhood, something that is actually the last thing she wanted.

We've all been assuming that Peggy didn't really want Don. That she didn't really want her baby. What if that's not true? What if she would have been happy with another life--with, say, Betty's life--but that those doors have been closed for her because of lack of physical attractiveness and the fact that she's really gifted at a job that rarely goes to women? So much of what she wants seems to be traditional. Joan convinced her she wanted to shack up--that it was so very modern, so very Peggy. But maybe all she ever wanted was to sleep with her attractive boss, to have a secure home and a marriage and babies.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:40 PM on May 6, 2013 [12 favorites]



We've all been assuming that Peggy didn't really want Don. That she didn't really want her baby. What if that's not true? What if she would have been happy with another life--with, say, Betty's life--but that those doors have been closed for her because of lack of physical attractiveness and the fact that she's really gifted at a job that rarely goes to women? So much of what she wants seems to be traditional.


Ummm. This is really smart and not something I had considered.
posted by sweetkid at 2:43 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


They give her a cancer scare and obvious weight issues (which they do with a fat suit) because she is not skilled enough to show us how beaten down she is by failing with Don.

Weiner put her in a fat suit because Jones got pregnant.

Jones might not be good at playing a variety of different characters, and from the SNL skits, she doesn't have Jon Hamm's sense of comedic timing, but whether she is good at playing Emma Frost or doing short skits in front of a live audience has nothing to do with whether she portrays a convincing, effective Betty. Like, seriously, I'd love to see some specific discussion of moments when people didn't like her acting as Betty or hard cites to people saying, "Well, we were going to do the scene X, but JJ sucks, so we had to do Y."

For my money, Jones kills it as a woman who is struggling against everything she has been told by society and upbringing without even realizing it.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:43 PM on May 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


For my money, Jones kills it as a woman who is struggling against everything she has been told by society and upbringing without even realizing it.

Agreed. I think her performances lately have been as nuanced and as skillful as Moss'.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:47 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Well, we were going to do the scene X, but JJ sucks, so we had to do Y."

yeah, it doesn't exist. Weiner loves her, and also see this interview which shows how much insight January has on her character. I really don't think there's a scenario in which the writers think she is a bad actress and that's influenced the show. As said earlier, they would have replaced her. She's beautiful but so are many actresses in Hollywood. They wanted her.

Also, if they thought she was bad, why would giving her a cancer scare be easier on her terrible acting skills? That's more emotions, more character development, a whole different experience for the character. It's in no way "easier."
posted by sweetkid at 2:47 PM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Joan isn't the person who sleeps with the doorman so he'll do whatever she wants, she's the person who sleeps with the doorman because he won't let her in the building otherwise, and when she does he calls her a whore.

Absolutely true, but that combines the choice with the consequences. I think the archetypes I listed are about the genesis of the characters. The characters are obviously fully fleshed out now. And yes, "choice" means something like "strategy, given the options".

I don't think Megan fits so easily into this little matrix because she came along afterwards, when the characters had exceeded their premises.
posted by fatbird at 2:48 PM on May 6, 2013


I also had a tough time with Peggy, after the whole baby-demial season, because I had trouble emphasizing with her character, but because she's a good actress, now I think I get where the writers are going with her.

The other women in the show rely on defined gender roles (Betty), or (in Trudy's case) social cache and money, or ruthless capability hidden underneath a traditionally feminine, and thus not as threatening, veneer (Joan and Megan) to get ahead.

But Peggy is basically One of the Guys. She doesn't flirt. She's direct. She has sex with no strings attached sometimes, just because she wants to and she enjoys the rush. She never even told Pete about the baby until months later, because it didn't fit into her 5 year career plan. She dresses for success, she networks. She's the Boss now.

Peggy even sucks at 'womenly' pursuits: she can't handle a baby, and doesn't know how to build up her copywriters with positive ego strokes or how to soothe them when they've screwed up.

Peggy, not Abe, is the 'husband' in their relationship. She's the breadwinner and the decision maker (and Abe, being the 'wife', sucks with power tools).
posted by misha at 2:50 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I don't get is --- the guy playing Pete is just the same level of limited acting as Jones, but people agree that he's very good at playing a very specific type of character very well, despite those limiations. But where Kartheiser is seen to have worth in the narrative despite his broader limitation as an actor outside of this specific role, Jones is pilloried for it.
posted by destronomics at 2:54 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


the guy playing Pete is just the same level of limited acting as Jones

Is he? I haven't seen him in anything else but haven't really heard this. Hasn't he been doing some theater off season?

He's great as Pete. I think January is perfect as Betty but can see how she wouldn't be as good elsewhere, but I think Kartheiser is a solid actor. He brings a lot to that character.
posted by sweetkid at 2:56 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that gets me when I try to talk to people in the reals about the show is that they get all BUT BETTY IS A BAD MOTHER when I try to talk about how I find her really interesting and dimensional and well played and a product of her times and also a really good depiction of a person suffering from chronic major depression, all of which makes her unpleasant a lot of the time but also much like the other characters.

I've seen a lot of that in in-person and online discussions, too, and in the first few seasons, it really opened my eyes to how mothers are portrayed in much of TV and film: that just being a not-great, not-delighted, not-unconditionally-loving mother is enough to define a character and prevent further discussion of her feelings or motivations or characteristics.

When I engage the BUT BAD MOTHER SO BAD THE END people in a discussion of Don's parenting, which is at best inconsistent and at worst riddled with inexplicable disappearances, they often say "But he loves those kids! He's so cute with them!"

And it's true, he really can be cute with them when he bothers to show up. (A playful "You need a shave," as deployed by Don to itty bitty Sally in response to her "Daddy! You need a shave!," is a frequent affectionate remark in our household.) But that's the thing: it's easier to be sweet and cute and playful when you are only showing up when it suits your whims, when you can stretch out a late evening at the office or an overnight with your bohemian girlfriend or a few weeks in California at the snap of your fingers, when you can count on your spouse to put the kids to bed and feed them three square meals while you think about just cutting and running and resuming life under another name.

It's true that Betty's parenting is often harsh and even cruel. But Don isn't even there a lot of the time, and when he is there, they can't count on him to stay or to be there next time.
posted by Elsa at 2:58 PM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


(A playful You need a shave," as deployed by Don to itty bitty Sally in response to her "Daddy! You need a shave!," is a frequent affectionate remark in our household.)

Omigod do you live in my house
posted by shakespeherian at 3:00 PM on May 6, 2013


YOU NEED A SHAVE!
posted by Elsa at 3:01 PM on May 6, 2013


I've seen a lot of that in in-person and online discussions, too, and in the first few seasons, it really opened my eyes to how mothers are portrayed in much of TV and film: that just being a not-great, not-delighted, not-unconditionally-loving mother is enough to define a character and prevent further discussion of her feelings or motivations or characteristics.

ugh, so much word to this. I was just talking about this with someone over the weekend and he said the BUT BAD MOTHER bit and honestly looked astonished that I wanted to keep talking.
posted by sweetkid at 3:01 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


@sweetkid

He was pretty awful in Angel, but again, notice the framing here. "He's good as Pete, he brings a lot to the character." While Jones' talent at bringing Betty to life is seen as something besides the point, something she has no active hand in bringing to the screen, she just is. Vincent is active in his talent, even if limited, but Jones is passive in her talent, like she somehow doesn't put in the work to bring her to life.

It's just. Really frustrating to see it framed that way.
posted by destronomics at 3:07 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


While Jones' talent at bringing Betty to life is seen as something besides the point, something she has no active hand in bringing to the screen, she just is.

I don't agree with this as all, and it isn't what I was saying. I've posted like five fairly passionate defenses of January's acting in this thread. I also posted an interview with January and said she had great insight into her character.

So.

"January is great as Betty, she brings a lot to the character."

Specifically, I think she does a lot of small things with her face, even when she isn't speaking. This is something that I think is hindered by the fat suit and I'd love to see her rid of it.
posted by sweetkid at 3:11 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't agree with this as all, and it isn't what I was saying. I've posted like five fairly passionate defenses of January's acting in this thread. I also posted an interview with January and said she had great insight into her character.

Sorry about that, a bit new to Metafilter, I didn't read as thoroughly as I should have. My mistake.

I will say I was sparking (even though you didn't mean it at all) to an overall thread I've seen in discussions of Betty's character elsewhere, if that makes any sense? That Jones is good as Betty, find, "but she's not really doing anything." Where the same sort of approach isn't used when talking about male, essentially, character actors. Does that make any sense?
posted by destronomics at 3:13 PM on May 6, 2013


Specifically, I think she does a lot of small things with her face, even when she isn't speaking.

The scene at the Ossinging house when Betty realizes she's kinda responsible for Don meeting Megan, her face did this amazing bit of micro-acting as you saw shock, anger, panic, shock again, etc play out on her "trying very hard to remain calm" expression
posted by The Whelk at 3:16 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know I'm late to say it, but Walter Jr. is an absolutely critical character in Breaking Bad.

Jr.'s disability, and likely dependence into adulthood, was the central motivation for Walter Sr. to "break bad" when first diagnosed with cancer. As Skyler and Jesse become to varying extents antagonists or burdens on Walter Sr., whom he must deceive and betray almost as if they were rival drug dealers, Walt Jr. remains alone as someone whom Walt Sr. can see himself as loving and caring for. (The baby is just a narrative non-entity...)

I have great hopes that Gilligan will do in his final season what Chase would not do in the final season of The Sopranos: create a real culminating crisis for Morally Compromised Dad Who Likes to Tell Himself It's All for the Children.
posted by MattD at 3:21 PM on May 6, 2013


Walt Jr. remains alone as someone whom Walt Sr. can see himself as loving and caring for.

That's what gets me -- I think the fact that Walt named his son after himself, and his son turned out to be crippled is a huge, huge, huge flashing sign Gilligan planted for the viewer in the very first episode that no matter what Walter tells himself or his family, it's not actually for anyone other than Walter White. He named his own kid after himself, the guy has wanted glory long before he thought he was going to die, or that he couldn't provide for his family. It was always been and always will be about his ego, no matter the excuses he tells himself or us.
posted by destronomics at 3:25 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Bellman: "Thought this was going to be about Archie. Too bad."

I thought this was going to be about Betty White.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:27 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone is on Betty White's side. Rightfully so.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:28 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think that Vincent Kartheiser has a very mannered way of speaking, which doesn't seem to sync up with how the rest of the cast speaks. I don't know if he's a bad actor or not, but I always notice that he seems to be in a different show. Then again, I love (by which I mean, hate) his character so much that I don't care.

I think January Jones does a fine job as Betty. It's possible that a better actress could do more, but she does what's needed and that's enough (it's not like there aren't enough other people around who are acting the hell out of their parts). It's also possible that she doesn't have any range and can only play this character. That's okay. There are plenty of good (and even great) actors and actresses who don't have much range.

The two real stand-outs to me are the actress who plays Sally and Christina Hendricks. The former because, hey, child actor with a minor part turns out to be good and the creators notice and give her stuff to do. The latter because she could easily have been nothing more than the office manager with large breasts (e.g. Loni Anderson in WKRP), but it turns out that she can actually do stuff.

Everyone else is great too, but these two are the big surprise for me.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:33 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We've all been assuming that Peggy didn't really want Don. That she didn't really want her baby. What if that's not true? What if she would have been happy with another life--with, say, Betty's life--but that those doors have been closed for her because of lack of physical attractiveness and the fact that she's really gifted at a job that rarely goes to women? So much of what she wants seems to be traditional.

I wonder how much of that is tension between competing desires, or tension between what she actually wants, what she has always been told she wants, and what society expects her to want.

Peggy want to be successful, which leaves the question: what does "successful" mean? Does it mean romancing her boss, as Joan insinuates in the pilot as she shows Peggy around? Does it mean being an efficient and helpful secretary and possibly rising to Joan's modest success? Does it mean snagging a husband and (again, as Joan insinuates in that introductory scene) a house in the suburbs to maintain? Does it mean breaking barriers and becoming a success in a male-dominated field?

Is "success" for Peggy a combination of those things? Or is her dilemma the one that Dr. Faye states so succinctly: "In a nutshell, it all comes down to what I want versus what is expected of me."

Early on, the show displays how different Peggy's feelings are from the secretaries around her. When she and Joan go to the ladies' room together, Peggy is disconcerted to see a woman crying at the sink. Later, crushed in romance herself, Peggy goes into the ladies' room to weep at the sink, but instead pulls herself together and walks out again. When we finally do see her go sob in the ladies' room, it's not directly about a man (though her break-up with Mark probably contributes to it) but after a fight with Don about their work relationship.

Duck describes her flatteringly as "a freewheeling career gal with great ideas. Now is your time." Even before that, while she's still unwittingly pregnant, Peggy exaggerates her own career and worldliness and inter-office social life to her blind date, talking about her potato chip account and her friend Joan who always orders brandy Alexanders. She wants to be seen as a freewheeling career gal. Is that because she wants to impress him with her acumen, because she wants to see herself that way, or --- heartbreaking if true --- because she knows she won't dazzle him with her looks and charm, so she wants to dazzle him with her success?

But as successful as Peggy appears to be now that she's out from under Don's heel, that success comes at a price. If she does want a family and a pleasant, comfortable home, how can she do that without damaging her career?

When Peggy and Abe decided to shack up, I was initially really happy for them, in part because if she does want a traditional home and kids, Abe might be able to shed his traditional gender role and stay home with the kids while she brought home the paycheck. (But only if he's come a long way baby since he scoffed at Peggy's complaint that she suffered obvious discrimination at work. "Ooookay, Peggy, we'll have a civil rights march for women," hahahahaha SHUT UP, ABE.)
posted by Elsa at 3:50 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think you all are overthinking Peggy. She started out the show fresh out of secretarial school, trying to find a place for herself in this scary, chaotic environment. Think of the visual language in all the Peggy scenes in the early seasons. It's all designed to make Peggy appear small, nervous and vulnerable. Her main motivation is not to blaze a new trail for women, her motivation is to get the hell out of her mother's house and away from her stifling religious/cultural influence. ("If you want company, get a cat. When that cat dies, you get another one.") I think what she eventually finds is that the system is stacked against her, but she's not willing to play along. And then comes all the trailblazing stuff. But really, she starts out the show as this quiet, mousy Catholic girl from Brooklyn who desperately wants to carve out a life for herself.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:02 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that Vincent Kartheiser has a very mannered way of speaking, which doesn't seem to sync up with how the rest of the cast speaks. I don't know if he's a bad actor or not, but I always notice that he seems to be in a different show.

His character is very old New York money -- he's related to the Dutch that settled New York. He has a clipped, mannered prep school accent. You don't hear the much anymore, but they were once important signifiers of class.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:04 PM on May 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


I don't think anyone here believes that Betty is a good person.

I do. Well, I don't believe she's a bad person, no more so than any other character on the show.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:04 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


But really, she starts out the show as this quiet, mousy Catholic girl from Brooklyn who desperately wants to carve out a life for herself.

What I love about this show is there are quite a few characters that would unreconizable to thier season one selves ( except for you Don, duh.)
posted by The Whelk at 4:07 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


His character is very old New York money -- he's related to the Dutch that settled New York. He has a clipped, mannered prep school accent. You don't hear the much anymore, but they were once important signifiers of class.

Absolutely, I know several men who could have been Pete's schoolmates, and his delivery rings very true.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:09 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't help wondering how much of the criticism leveled at January Jones and Vincent Kartheiser is rooted in some way in how unsympathetic their characters are. There is extraordinary acting talent on that show, and I cannot imagine Wiener keeping anyone on for six seasons if he wasn't pleased with their work. I'm not saying that Jones and Kartheiser are extraordinary (I'll save that for Kiernan Shipka) but I think all of them range from fine to great.

Also, both Betty and Pete are coming from very classist, WASPy rigid upbringings that profoundly impacted their identities. People may be seeing stiffness and attributing it to the actor rather than the character.
posted by ambrosia at 4:16 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


His character is very old New York money -- he's related to the Dutch that settled New York. He has a clipped, mannered prep school accent. You don't hear the much anymore, but they were once important signifiers of class.

I wondered about this. Pete sounds a great deal like my late father at his stodgiest. Dad had a similar family background: a once-moneyed New York City family (though nowhere near as as old-money or rich or socially elevated as the Dyckmans) that still placed importance on class and family connections and on the many ways one can convey that through voice and vocabulary.

Dad's speech was considerably and self-consciously looser and more casual most of the time, and he wasn't... y'know, a weaselly twerp... but at times I'm struck by how similar they sound, right down to expressions from their father's generations. ("OH HELLS BELLS, five-year-old Elsa, what did you spill now?")

What I love about this show is there are quite a few characters that would unreconizable to thier season one selves ( except for you Don, duh.)

I think the show really has a handle on how much people change and, conversely, how rare and difficult it is to change our fundamental approaches and mechanisms for getting through life. It's also great at shifting our perspective so that we see new aspects of people, or see old aspects more revealingly.

Last night when Ted Chaough focused only on his partner's health and brushed away Gleason's worries about Ted's investment, I turned to The Fella and said, "It always amazes me how the show sets me up to HATE a character, then a few seasons later makes me love him instead* without ever making their previous behavior inconsistent."

For example, I originally thought Ted was smarmy and opportunistic, full of empty promises. (When he tries to seduce Pete away at the maternity ward, he dangles the Alfa Romeo account in front of him. Pete counters, "I don't drive." Ted warmly assures him "I'll teach you!" I thought Ted was blowing smoke. Now I think he probably meant it sincerely.

I'm knocked out by how much I like the same guy I used to despise, and for the same reasons; it's just that I can see them more clearly now, and not through the lens of Don's natural mistrust. Ted treats Peggy with respect and affection, compliments her work openly, isn't afraid to say how much he likes and needs her in the office and pays her handsomely. My visceral hope is that she doesn't sleep with him, but I can't figure out why --- maybe I just like Abe as a character and don't want to risk her losing him.

*And vice versa. I'm lookin' at you, Harry Crane.
posted by Elsa at 4:23 PM on May 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Why are we assuming that just because Peggy isn't pretty enough for Don, and because her attempt to hit on Don (which was obviously only done because she was led to believe it was expected of her) fell flat, that she couldn't have made a different choice and done the wife and mom thing?

I mean, she had a (pathetic) dude who wanted to marry her in Season 4. If she really wanted marriage and a baby, that guy would have been perfectly OK.

Back in Season 1 before she put on weight (like you do, when you're pregnant), she turned a few heads. She could have gotten with either Paul or Ken easy, and again, being with someone like that would have been the goal for a smart girl from a working class outer borough background. You don't want to romance your direct supervisor, you want to shoot for one of the nice up-and-coming guys around your age who you don't report to directly. Even as late as the episode where she smokes weed with Paul, she could have gone off in more of a Megan direction, saying "I want to be a copywriter like you!" but meaning "I want to be whatever you think is cool so I can be with you!"

But time and time again Peggy shows that she wants more than that. Otherwise she wouldn't be doing what she's doing. A little of it is self sabotage, and the difference between what a character wants and what a character needs -- maybe Peggy wants marriage and children, but what she needs is to find herself -- but one of the premises of the show is that Peggy is different from other women, and wants more, or different, or something. The "basket of kisses" scene wouldn't make any sense otherwise.
posted by Sara C. at 4:28 PM on May 6, 2013


I'm now struck with the desire to rewrite a version of the traditional folk song Pretty Peggy-O to be about Peggy Olson.

Also there is a dire lack of quality Man Men/True Blood fic out there. For shame.
posted by The Whelk at 4:40 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Re Pete's speech, I also think the show has to carefully ration old timey dialogue. You want the characters to be relatable (and understood!), but you also want to make it feel realistic and remind viewers that it's a different time. My guess is that they incorporated a certain antiquated tone into the voice of specific characters. I'm not sure if they chose characters whose background makes them more likely to use such constructions, or if certain actors were better at delivering the antiquated dialogue.

It also might have to do with the characters, too. Pete was the series first antagonist. It makes sense to put the weird old fashioned expressions in his mouth, but have Don and Peggy -- who the audience is supposed to identify with -- sound more accessible.
posted by Sara C. at 4:50 PM on May 6, 2013


My visceral hope is that she doesn't sleep with him, but I can't figure out why

I share this hope, and I think it's because even though he is Nice and Strong, he is also Very Married. And her boss. Peggy does not need the drama of a fling with her married boss at this stage in her career. She might have done it in Season One, with her clumsy pass at Don that seems like such ancient history now, but I would like to think that Season Six Peggy has learned a few things that Season One Peggy didn't know.
posted by ambrosia at 4:55 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The reason I don't want them to sleep together is that the facts are thus:

She likes him. She's not just attracted to him. She doesn't just want him. She likes him.

He doesn't feel the same way. When they kissed, he was like, "oh uh nbd..."

If he were to sleep with her, there would be problems.

Personally, I'm hoping that our peek at the relationship between Ted and his art director/partner inspires Peggy and Stan to spin off into their own agency as the Chevy Vega goes down in flames circa 1973.

I will leave it to the shippers to decide whether they Fall In Luvvvvv in addition to that or what.
posted by Sara C. at 5:18 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Though I do think Peggy's desire to be with someone who appreciates her, who respects her as an equal, and who she has work in common with definitely points to Stan.
posted by Sara C. at 5:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


And yes, January Jones is a terrible actress! I'm sorry, but I don't hate her because she's beautiful or a buzzkill for Don, I'm frustrated because she's so bad the writers have to work extra hard just to make her seem like a real person instead of some pretty cardboard cutout. They give her a cancer scare and obvious weight issues (which they do with a fat suit) because she is not skilled enough to show us how beaten down she is by failing with Don.

I don't really agree.

First - (and I haven't been able to read the whole thread so apologies if this has been mentioned, but) the weight issues plot began because Jones was pregnant. They had a choice to go the "hide her stomach behind laundry baskets" route, or just write the weight into the story. True, it's a fat suit now, but it didn't start that way, and it wasn't a cover for her acting. (I'm just saying I think claiming the fat suit is somehow supposed to be a compensation for her acting is unfair.)

Now, about her acting. I'm not gonna say she's gonna win awards or anything, but I like her in this. She falls into a category of actors that I always feel confused by the reactions to. I feel like somehow I'm getting something from her performance that I guess others aren't, which is, I sense that there are things beneath her surface. Sure, her mannerisms on the show have a chill and a distance to them, a certain flatness to audible tone - but that's entirely appropriate and correct for the character to my mind. Betty is a character that bottles stuff up and lets it simmer inside while she puts on the perfect face for the public. Many of the "OMG she's a horrible actress" comments I've seen make me think that for whatever reason, other viewers aren't sensing her inner life the way I am. I've had this same thing with Keanu Reeves - he often gets slagged as a terrible actor, but to me, he's actually very good at playing the kinds of guys who do have deep inner emotions, they just lack the ability to express them well.

So, is this just some willingness on my part to fill in the blanks for them? I dunno, I suppose it could be. Or perhaps I'm just somehow tuning into different wavelengths in their performances.
posted by dnash at 5:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Remember folks: There is no "I" in Team Steggy.
There is, however, meat.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:25 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Salon, The Julie Taylor Test . . .

Enter the Julie Taylor Test, an easy way to identify bad TV acting: Ask yourself, is it possible to imagine the inner life of this character? If no, is it possible to imagine the inner life of the characters surrounding him or her? It was all too possible to imagine the inner lives of every character on “Friday Night Lights” but Julie. Ditto every character on “Mad Men” but Betty.
posted by MoxieProxy at 5:52 PM on May 6, 2013


I can't help wondering how much of the criticism leveled at January Jones and Vincent Kartheiser is rooted in some way in how unsympathetic their characters are.

I actually love Pete, precisely because he's such a weasel. He's trying to be Don Draper and isn't very good at it.

The only character on the show I don't really like is Megan, and that's because I just don't think she's that interesting. Betty has layers. They are alternating layers of failure and bitterness, but that's still depth
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:55 PM on May 6, 2013


Enter the Julie Taylor Test, an easy way to identify bad TV acting: Ask yourself, is it possible to imagine the inner life of this character? If no, is it possible to imagine the inner life of the characters surrounding him or her? It was all too possible to imagine the inner lives of every character on “Friday Night Lights” but Julie. Ditto every character on “Mad Men” but Betty.

Yeah, I saw this, but I really disagree that you can't imagine Betty's inner life. I can imagine it all the time. She even talks about it. At length. One of the interesting things about the show and its reception is that no one listens to Betty. Not within the world of the show, and not within much of the audience. She explains herself fairly often, or at least within the first few seasons of the show. But no one listens.
posted by sweetkid at 5:59 PM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wait - you can't imagine Betty's inner life? That's down to a poverty of imagination, not a failure on Ms. Jones's part.
posted by Mister_A at 5:59 PM on May 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Remember folks: There is no "I" in Team Steggy.
There is, however, meat.


And Peggy doesn't like vegetarian food. Reminds her of Lent.
posted by The Whelk at 5:59 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


sweetkid I am imagining your inner life brah.
posted by Mister_A at 6:00 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


yea I contain multitudes. It's a pain.
posted by sweetkid at 6:01 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I tried to contain a multitude but it resulted in a serious sprain.
posted by The Whelk at 6:03 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried to contain a multitude but it resulted in a serious sprain.

But you won the whore-off, and that's what counts!
posted by fatbird at 6:04 PM on May 6, 2013


Re Pete's speech, I also think the show has to carefully ration old timey dialogue.

I am from the other school of thought. At the time of the show, they would have taken Sally Draper to a speech therapist for her vocal fry, and I find it enormously distracting.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:06 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you want to really appreciate what January Jones is doing, watch her in X-Men: Babies before you go back to watching her as Betty Draper, so you can compare a 2D comic book performance to the 3D performance she brings to Betty Draper. She is positively oozing inner life.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:14 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If January Jones wasn't up to the task of playing Betty, they would write her out of the show.

I don't know why people aren't clear about this.

Actors get let go all the time. Series regular roles get diminished for reasons of "the casting turned out to not be so great" or "people don't respond to this character" or "this actor isn't up to the job" all the time.

I could see there being contractual issues, but the reason actors' contracts are structured the way they are is so that, if there are problems right out of the gate (and "January really is not up to the demands of the role" is a right out of the gate problem) they can serve out their contract and then be put on a bus. The fact that this hasn't happened with Betty's character, despite the fact that her role is somewhat superfluous now, despite the fact that audiences hate her, is a testament to the fact that January Jones is pulling it off.
posted by Sara C. at 6:44 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


It takes some chops to make an audience really hate a character.
posted by Mister_A at 6:47 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I saw this, but I really disagree that you can't imagine Betty's inner life. I can imagine it all the time.

And in fact we've been talking about Betty's inner life as we imagine it --- as the show and Jones portray it for us to imagine and flesh out --- for a lot of this thread. Clearly some viewers can't imagine her inner life in any complexity, but that doesn't mean it isn't imaginable or that the actor isn't portraying it.

I mean, I had trouble imagining Dr. Faye's inner life, but that's partly because she appeared to be so frank and forthright that I didn't have to, and when she wasn't being apparently frank and forthright, the subtext was woven right into the scene's meaning, as in the Ponds' focus group with the agency's secretaries --- for example, when Faye reassured the SCDP secretaries that they could relax and speak freely and enjoy a break unscrutinized even though she knew that creative was watching, taping, and transcribing every word.

I initially thought January Jones was a very limited actor*, though I now think a great deal of that impression was my own failure to understand the lack of affect Betty is projecting. I don't really have an opinion on her acting outside of "Mad Men," since the few things I've seen her in didn't seem to be showcases for acting as much as for action. (Don't get me wrong: I love when an action movie also showcases great acting and I now many of them do; I just haven't seen January Jones in any great roles other than Betty Draper.)

For me, her work on "Mad Men" --- much of it very nuanced and moving indeed --- only suffers from comparison to her incredibly masterful co-stars, including Hamm, Moss, and Hendricks, who are doing some of the most delicate acting I've ever seen. (Oof, Joan's face when she was scolding Don: even her cheeks are gleaming with rage. She's incandescent. I don't know how she does that, but Christina Hendricks is a remarkable actor.)

*That impression was helped along by a hilariously lackluster performance in Unknown. [SPOILER FOR Unknown] In an ending scene, she's trying to break through a wall to disarm the bomb sealed behind it. She slams into it with a blunt object, fails to smash through the plaster, and glares peevishly --- like Betty Draper might look at a scuff on her shoe --- before, y'know, being reduced to a fine red mist by the explosion. A glance of slight annoyance is not the look I expect to see just before you get blown to a million pieces by your own bomb. But maybe that's just poor direction, or maybe my impression of that moment was shaped by my then-current assessment of January Jones as a terrible actor.
posted by Elsa at 6:52 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Enter the Julie Taylor Test, an easy way to identify bad TV acting: Ask yourself, is it possible to imagine the inner life of this character? If no, is it possible to imagine the inner life of the characters surrounding him or her?

I think this is maybe a good test of film acting, but is actually a remarkably poor test of TV acting, since the conventions of most TV genres require characters whose inner lives are impossible to imagine.

Though I think the reverse is definitely true. If you can imagine the inner life of a TV character, the actor playing that character is amazing. Though even then, I think TV is too collaborative a medium to consider that a definitive test.

Frankly, I think 99.99999999% of TV viewers don't know enough about how TV is made to presume to say which (successful, working) actors are talented.
posted by Sara C. at 6:52 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


her incredibly masterful co-stars, including Hamm, Moss, and Hendricks, who are doing some of the most delicate acting I've ever seen.

And yet they all have their moments of suck. Someone once pointed out to me how Jon Hamm makes the same facial expressions anytime he plays "Dick" as opposed to "Don", and now I can't unsee it. It's really hacky. But you know, he's so good as Don, and playing two sides of the same man is really fucking hard. So I'm willing to overlook seeing the seams occasionally in favor of how otherwise brilliant he is.

Also, Christina Hendricks was awful on Firefly. Which goes to show how hard it is to definitively state whether someone is a Bad Actor or what.

Ultimately, every actor is a Bad Actor until a part like Don Draper comes along.
posted by Sara C. at 7:00 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is Pete a bad actor? I don't know, I liked him well enough on his previous TV show...
posted by pxe2000 at 7:01 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, Christina Hendricks was awful on Firefly. Which goes to show how hard it is to definitively state whether someone is a Bad Actor or what.

Whereas I liked her enough in "Firefly" to be really, really excited to see her show up on "Mad Men," which only illustrates that point again: not only can people not agree universally on who's a good or bad actor, but often people can't even agree on what constitutes a good or bad performance from a given actor.
posted by Elsa at 7:05 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Jon Hamm as Dick is pretty terrible. It's like he's saying in his head, "Young! Look young!" the whole time.

I think Christina Hendricks is kind of overhyped - sometimes I think she's not that good, but I realize I'm just reacting to the OMGAMAZINGJOAN haze everyone else seems to be in, and she is quite good on the show.
posted by sweetkid at 7:06 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am from the other school of thought. At the time of the show, they would have taken Sally Draper to a speech therapist for her vocal fry, and I find it enormously distracting.

I'm not talking about historical accuracy. In fact I'm talking about the opposite. The viewers need to understand the characters, not get taken out of the story, sympathize with the right people, hate the right people, etc.

Sally needs to sound at least a little bit like obnoxious teenagers sound now, so that she grates on us in exactly the right obnoxious teenager way, but then also reminds us of when we were obnoxious teenagers.

It's the same reason that the counterculture characters are pretty light on the "Groovy, Baby" lingo as compared to how such people actually talked. Because otherwise we would find them intolerable and change the channel immediately.

You can't write a show like Mad Men entirely in period dialect. Nobody would watch it.
posted by Sara C. at 7:07 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


not only can people not agree universally on who's a good or bad actor, but often people can't even agree on what constitutes a good or bad performance from a given actor.

I agree with all this, I definitely think it's fine if people think JJ is a bad actor, I just disagree. It's just when people are all "even the poor WRITERS think she's bad and they wrote x storyline because she is SO BAD WHAT CAN THEY DO there is only one thin blonde actress in all of Hollywood after all that I kinda eyeroll.
posted by sweetkid at 7:08 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


(ummmm sweetkid I think it might have been YOU who destroyed my vision of Jon Hamm's superior acting abilities, in fact.)
posted by Sara C. at 7:08 PM on May 6, 2013


yea when I saw you wrote about that I thought it might have been me Sara C.
posted by sweetkid at 7:09 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


At the time of the show, they would have taken Sally Draper to a speech therapist for her vocal fry, and I find it enormously distracting.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:06 PM on May 6 [+] [!]


I find this enormously fascinating, and I blame you for the fall down the rabbit-hole of speech therapy history that's soon to occur.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:13 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's just when people are all "even the poor WRITERS think she's bad and they wrote x storyline because she is SO BAD WHAT CAN THEY DO there is only one thin blonde actress in all of Hollywood after all that I kinda eyeroll.

Oh, yes, I'm right there with you on that. I have no assessment of Jones as an actor in general since I've only seen her on MM and Unknown; I just know that Betty is a deeply unlikeable character who nonetheless cuts right to my heart and provides endless fodder for speculation about her inner life, which is a great deal for any performance to offer.
posted by Elsa at 7:14 PM on May 6, 2013


Ultimately, every actor is a Bad Actor until a part like Don Draper comes along

Yeah, support your local starving writers, people [drops change in cup.]
posted by sweetkid at 7:14 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't write a show like Mad Men entirely in period dialect. Nobody would watch it.

I would. And, awful though it was, Passion of the Christ was actually performed in ancient Aramaic, and did just fine.

I understand that the period dialect takes you out of the show; for me, it's essential to the show working. These are, after all, realistic shows, and realism is based on convincing recreating the world of the show. Period details signify to me that we're watching a show from another era, and when shows get those details wrong, it takes me out of the scene, reminds me of the artificiality. (I'm not alone; people obsess over the period details of Mad Men, or, say, Downtown Abbey.)

It's probably a matter of preference, but it is important to recognize the difference between your own preference and what the audience, as a whole, needs.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:16 PM on May 6, 2013


At the time of the show, they would have taken Sally Draper to a speech therapist for her vocal fry, and I find it enormously distracting.

Not necessarily. I have a now 24-year-old niece who couldn't pronounce her Rs when she was a child (and whose first and last names both began with R, poor unlucky kid — I'm pretty sure that's at least partly why she was insisting we all call her Becky and not Rebecca by the time she was four), and she never got speech therapy because my brother and sister-in-law were told she would grow out of it. As she has.
posted by orange swan at 7:17 PM on May 6, 2013


Not necessarily.

Oh, sure, but it would have been seen as being a weird way of speaking back then, and I don't for a moment think Betty Draper would have let it go unmentioned.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:19 PM on May 6, 2013


. It's just when people are all "even the poor WRITERS think she's bad and they wrote x storyline because she is SO BAD WHAT CAN THEY DO there is only one thin blonde actress in all of Hollywood after all that I kinda eyeroll.

I learned my lesson with Anna Torv. "She's so wooden!" they said. "Can't emote, no presence!" they said. AND THEN RED UNIVERSE.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


January Jones is a great actress. I really hope she can still get work after MM wraps.
posted by evil otto at 7:25 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Passion of the Christ was actually performed in ancient Aramaic, and did just fine.

Yes, but for a feature, you just have to get people to buy tickets. They don't even necessarily have to show up. Let alone actually like it. Let alone stay in the theater for the full two hours. Let alone come back.

For a TV series (especially a one-hour dramatic serial), you have to have a massive number of people come back every week to follow your characters. To do that, they need to understand your characters. And, ideally, you want to keep luring in new viewers after the first few episodes, so you need to make it so that someone flipping channels can see a few minutes of the show and get roughly who everyone is.

If Mad Men stuck strictly to period-accurate speech, not only would it be basically impossible to achieve*, and not only would nobody but pedants like us give a shit, but it would actively turn viewers off of the show. Which is a death sentence.

*You can't just give a 14 year old girl a bit of direction like "Less vocal fry please, Kiernan! OK, Take 96, I guess...."
posted by Sara C. at 7:25 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


All right. I don't agree, I don't experience television or entertainment like you do, and I have experience directing children, but you are certainly welcome to your opinion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:29 PM on May 6, 2013


[SPOILERS for "Fringe," obviously]

I learned my lesson with Anna Torv. "She's so wooden!" they said. "Can't emote, no presence!" they said. AND THEN RED UNIVERSE.

That was such a bad moment for me. I had really been impressed with Olivia's calm, impassive demeanor, her resistance to breaking into broad socialized smiles at every small pleasantry, her flat, rugged shoes and sturdy jackets. It's so rare that we see any female character, even a law enforcement agent who runs around in taxing and dangerous situations, in practical clothing or eschewing girlish smiles and flirtations.

That really stung me. I loved Olivia's brusqueness, her simple unadorned competence, her resistance to traditionally indoctrinated feminine frills of behavior and gesture. I was smitten with the show from the get-go, largely because I loved seeing such a no-nonsense female lead.

And then, y'know, it was a long-con set-up so we could see the difference between her and Fauxlivia, between a girl who lost her mother at a young age and grew up stunted and smileless and a girl whose mother lived and taught her to be girlie. The show was suddenly telling me that this strong, tough woman I so admired and identified with was damaged in a way that a more playful, fluttery woman wasn't. I know the characterization is more complex than that, but that was my initial reading and it made me FURIOUS.
posted by Elsa at 7:30 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the complaints about January Jones' acting skills are way off-base. For the first couple seasons, Betty was my favorite female character on the show. Much of my enjoyment stemmed from seeing this rigidly well-mannered woman react to absurdly weird/bad situations that she clearly never anticipated. I relished her facial expressions; the hints of anxiety and buried emotion trying to poke through her nice, conventionally pretty, upper-middle-class 1950s housewife social persona. I don't know why, but I totally ate that up. Thought she was absolutely adorable. Betty Draper in the 1960s is Sad Alice In Wonderland, right down to the poofy dresses.

Was January Jones acting the part, or is that how she is in real life? Who the hell cares? She's perfect for the role, and I can't imagine anybody playing it better.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:31 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


ugh one of the worst things I've seen people say about January was that she is exactly like Betty so must be a bad mother to her real life son. Ick.
posted by sweetkid at 7:37 PM on May 6, 2013


I work in TV and am working toward a career as a TV writer. (Preparation for which includes DOING lots of unpaid practice TV writing.)

Figuring out the voice of a character is HUGE, and a big part of that, if the setting isn't the US in the present day, is deciding exactly how to approach dialect.

And, again, the goal is "suck em in and keep em coming back". That doesn't mean you can't ever pay attention to this stuff, and you should definitely use character voice to remind us that we're in an exotic setting, but you have to do it carefully.

It's also very rare for anyone to try to do it with children, because children can only work 4 hours a day as it is. You want to get 'em in and get 'em out without needless distractions like "it turns out your vocal patterns are slightly anachronistic in a way that most viewers don't understand or care about."

I think for a person directing children in after-school theatre or the like, the focus is a little different and you can ask them to try whatever you like. As a TV director, you would be fired on the spot for wasting time on this.
posted by Sara C. at 7:38 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I work in TV and am working toward a career as a TV writer. (Preparation for which includes DOING lots of unpaid practice TV writing.)

Yes. Very good. I see that you think that a difference of opinion is about comparing credentials. You are free to look mine up online. You also don't seem to think my opinion is valid, and that means I shall not be discussing this anymore with you.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:42 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've long thought this fan video montage was a really lovely look at Betty's inner life. It breaks my heart a little every time.
posted by sweetkid at 7:43 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I wanted to post this earlier but:

The scene at the Ossinging house when Betty realizes she's kinda responsible for Don meeting Megan, her face did this amazing bit of micro-acting as you saw shock, anger, panic, shock again, etc play out on her "trying very hard to remain calm" expression


This is that scene and while Jon Hamm is good in it, it's January's scene and if you think that's bad acting and the writers are exasperated with her, I mean...are we watching the same show?
posted by sweetkid at 7:53 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think your opinion is invalid, I just know your opinion isn't what TV writers and directors gear their choices to. Because I've been on the set of a TV show and watched this stuff go down.

Yes, there are some of us who are total geeks for period accuracy and really love thinking about whether someone would say "Do you have a pencil" vs. "Have you got a pencil" or the like (something Mad Men consistently gets wrong).

But the vast majority of viewers aren't period language geeks. And the people who are period language geeks are probably going to watch anyway, because they're period geeks and Mad Men is their bread and butter.

So you have to make choices about how the characters will speak. This comes down to the words you put on the page (where the writer has the most control), but also involves directing the cast (where the writer may have little or no control).

Usually the way I've seen it explained before from a writerly context is that you want to use word choice to convey this stuff, because that's the easiest way to control what the actors say. If you leave it to the director to coach the actor, god knows what the result will be.

Because of this, something like vocal fry would be low priority (you need to hire a very specialized dialect coach to work with the director and the actress to arrive at the "correct" "period" effect that might not achieve what you want), whereas figuring out how many times Stan and Ginsberg can get away with saying "man" in a single scene is much higher priority (either it's on the page or it's not).
posted by Sara C. at 7:54 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Elsa, felt the same way about Olivia at first (self-link, natch), but in the end I think the story was much more complex than comparing one good image of femininity and one bad, and I wonder if much of my knee-jerk reaction was an essentially sexist one (more smurfette principle; the only good girl is one who isn't girly, etc. etc.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:56 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey Tom and Lorenzo, I'd really appreciate if you didn't spoil GAME OF THRONES in your MAD MEN reviews. Warning for anyone who is behind on GOT and is thinking about reading their review of "For Immediate Release".
posted by crossoverman at 7:56 PM on May 6, 2013


Is it just me or do Tom & Lorenzo think Mad Men is "in a rut" or "lost the mojo" for the first half of every season?
posted by Sara C. at 8:04 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is Pete a bad actor? I don't know, I liked him well enough on his previous TV show...

I had trouble concentrating during any of Pete's scenes in the first season because I kept expecting him to break out with a punch line. (Aaaaaaaand Satan!)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:06 PM on May 6, 2013


I'm looking forward to reading that, PhoBWanKenobi; I think I'll save it to read tomorrow while I drink my coffee!

I wonder if much of my knee-jerk reaction was an essentially sexist one (more smurfette principle; the only good girl is one who isn't girly, etc. etc.)

I hear what you're saying and I think there's value to that question --- but my own reaction to Fauxlivia wasn't me devaluing traditional femininity, but my resentment at (what I perceived to be) the implication that Olivia's lack of traditionally feminine presentation was suddenly revealed to be the result of childhood damage.

I had so enjoyed watching Olivia, and the presentation of a gruff*, no-nonsense female character was such a welcome change! I loved watching her, and I missed her. And at the time --- now, I'm not sure a rewatch would bear this out --- I felt like the show was suddenly framing that personality as the sad consequence of losing her mother at a young age, as a regrettable piece of personal psychological baggage rather than simply an unproblematic facet of her personality.

*Just the fact that she can arguably be described as "gruff" is telling: is she any more gruff or brusque than, say, Horatio Cain or Seeley Booth or any of the male detectives from "Law & Order"?
posted by Elsa at 8:14 PM on May 6, 2013


It's almost like Don's freedom to reinvent himself is innately tied to his gender!

Didn't work for Lane...
posted by juiceCake at 8:15 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it just me or do Tom & Lorenzo think Mad Men is "in a rut" or "lost the mojo" for the first half of every season?

Yeah, I'm beginning to disagree with them a lot in their reviews - not so much in their Mad Style posts. I don't think the show is in a rut, nor do I think Weiner loves Don Draper so much that he can't see his faults. He can see them - he can see that Don hates himself, which drives him to drink and think he doesn't love his children. Drives him to women and to whores. I don't think the show wants us to think Don Draper is cool - not anymore. It's very clear the show wants us to acknowledge his alcoholism, where other characters are abstaining from drinking during the day now - just for one example.

Even the idea that this is the Mad Men that T&L have been missing is kind of ridiculous, because this sort of full out, plot chewing, caper episode happens once every three years. I think T&L are in a rut.
posted by crossoverman at 8:17 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised you guys read Fauxlivia as girly, because when she's on screen she's swaggering and strutting like a cowboy, like she might spit tobacco or adjust her crotch at any time. I think that's Torv trying to be dynamic. I think this feminine/masculine thing is mostly in your heads, but if I had to pick a more "masculine", powerful and self-confident Olivia, it would be the red one. Neither of them is girly.
posted by fleacircus at 8:21 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


t's January's scene and if you think that's bad acting and the writers are exasperated with her, I mean...are we watching the same show?

Oh god I love that scene. Betty's precise little makeup movements, the shared cup, the slight glimmer of hope that everything could go back to "normal" totally crushed in a single sentence, it's a wonderful depiction of a woman trying not to fall through the god-damned floor.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh god I love that scene. Betty's precise little makeup movements, the shared cup, the slight glimmer of hope that everything could go back to "normal" totally crushed in a single sentence, it's a wonderful depiction of a woman trying not to fall through the god-damned floor.

And the happy knowing look she gives as Don heads to the cabinet to retrieve a long-hidden bottle: happy because she knows him so well, because this is all so familiar and comfortable despite what they've suffered through. Yeah, it's crushing.
posted by Elsa at 8:24 PM on May 6, 2013


Oh god I love that scene. Betty's precise little makeup movements, the shared cup, the slight glimmer of hope that everything could go back to "normal" totally crushed in a single sentence, it's a wonderful depiction of a woman trying not to fall through the god-damned floor.

Yes, and the way she blurts out "BethanyVanNuys" all in a rush like you know that name has been pulsing in her head ever since that night at the restaurant when she saw them together.
posted by sweetkid at 8:25 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


And I never read Fauxlivia as "girly". She's King Shit Of Fuck Mountain, a ballsy, confident version of Olivia who doesn't have the deep reserves of grief and damage - and since I thought the thrust of the show was always empathy, Olive's more walled off attitude betrays a huge capacity for empathy tha Fauxlivia doesn't really have cause Fauxlivia is kinda .....way too impressed with herself.

Also Olivia is an X-Man and Fauxlivia is not. You get a bad childhood, you get superpowers. it works in the Marvel universe and it can work here.
posted by The Whelk at 8:27 PM on May 6, 2013


Dude sweetkid why do you keep referring to January Jones just as "January"?
posted by kenko at 8:33 PM on May 6, 2013


I think this feminine/masculine thing is mostly in your heads, but if I had to pick a more "masculine", powerful and self-confident Olivia, it would be the red one. Neither of them is girly.

I'm not suggesting that Olivia is masculine or manly, just that she's not adopting the mobile, softened type of body language and gesture that so many North American women (me included) are accustomed to presenting. She's not displaying the gestures of femininity that many of us do, that we're trained to present.

What I'm talking about is displayed in the differences in gesture and body language in this clip. I'm thinking particularly of Olivia's straight, unyielding posture as she loads boxes, her straight neck and direct gaze with open eyes, her squared shoulders, compared to Fauxlivia's contrapposto pose with popped hip and raised shoulder, her shifting of weight from side to side, her cocked head and little smile, the way she flickers her lashes over and over, the floating gestures of her hands as they hover above the boxes.

Fauxlivia is confident and powerful, sure, but that body language reads as distinctly feminine to me. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's not Olivia's body language, and I had really enjoyed the show's portrayal of Olivia precisely because it was so rare and refreshing to see.
posted by Elsa at 8:36 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because they are besties!

No, really because it's shorter and I think everyone in this particular thread knows who that refers to. It's not like there are a ton of actresses named January playing roles on TV right now.

Kind of like if this were a thread about Girl, Interrupted and someone started typing Angelina or Winona rather than explain each time that they were referring to the actresses Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder who portray characters in said film.
posted by Sara C. at 8:36 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude sweetkid why do you keep referring to January Jones just as "January"?

I don't know? I think someone said "Kiernan" earlier? Don't know why that's a big deal, she's the only January on the show or really anywhere.


No, really because it's shorter and I think everyone in this particular thread knows who that refers to.

Yeah
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 PM on May 6, 2013


"Clearly some viewers can't imagine her inner life in any complexity,"

I think a lot of viewers don't WANT to because portraying multidimensional mothers is rare and challenging. Everyone has a mother, so everyone has an opinion on how it ought to be done, and people's opinions of their own mothers tend to be very strong, whether it's love or hate. I think people a lot of people who want to reduce Betty "a bad mother" or "bad actress" aren't comfortable with the portrayal of a mother who's ambivalent about and not always very good at her her role as a mother, because for a lot of people it's easiest not to inquire too deeply into what their own mothers gave up to mother them, or the ways in which their own mothers failed.

I think she is also very hard to relate to for a lot of viewers because it is hard, today, to imagine how limited the choices and self-expression of such a privileged woman could be. I think a lot of people who hate Betty reflexively can't get past a woman with such vast resources (money, education) who feels so completely trapped. In a lot of ways, Betty is one of the last characters on the show to be trapped completely in a predetermined role where conforming to appearances matters quite a bit; she could almost be in a Jane Austen novel where class and gender and appearances are so profoundly limiting. The other characters are breaking free of those limits -- that's what so much of the show is about -- but the wealthy suburban housewife remained a life with clearly-defined and limited expectations and punishment for stepping outside those lines for far longer than many other roles did.

I actually think Mad Men's writers are very sensitive to the struggle that a lot of suburban housewives had in that era. My grandmother didn't work, even after her kids got a bit older and she was SOOOOOO BORRRRRRED at home, because a working wife was an admission that the husband was a failure as a provider. My grandmother was not easily cowed by social convention, but that one was intensely powerful. Betty is Feminine Mystiquing hardcore; I think people forget why that book was so revelatory ... and that it didn't free housewives immediately from convention!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:44 PM on May 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


Betty is Feminine Mystiquing hardcore

I read that book in high school. I think my main takeaway was "wow sexism was a thing" and thought it explained so much Anne Sexton - now that I know sexism IS STILL a thing I think I need to reread.
posted by sweetkid at 8:46 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised you guys read Fauxlivia as girly, because when she's on screen she's swaggering and strutting like a cowboy, like she might spit tobacco or adjust her crotch at any time. I think that's Torv trying to be dynamic. I think this feminine/masculine thing is mostly in your heads, but if I had to pick a more "masculine", powerful and self-confident Olivia, it would be the red one. Neither of them is girly.

I was being reductive in my summation of my feelings. I don't think it's actually a matter of girlyness actually, but more that Fauxlivia in some ways initially read to me as a post-feminist reaction to her earlier character, one who has an uncomplicated relationship with her physicality and work and relationships, without the damage or with the apparently competing urges about work and families.

In the end, I ended up thinking they were both fairly complex and neither so representative, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:49 PM on May 6, 2013


And I'm describing an immediate visceral and emotional reaction I had to seeing a character whose body language I admired and enjoyed watching suddenly being displayed as a foil for her less emotionally damaged alternate-universe counterpart, as if that straight, direct body language is directly related to being emotionally stunted rather than (as I said above) being simply an unproblematic personality trait. For me, that turned what had been a truly enjoyable and relatively novel aspect of the character into something very sour.

My "Fringe"-watching actually petered out sometime in that season or the next, so A) I don't know a ton about Fauxlivia's ongoing personality or plot; I mainly saw her presented as a contrast to Olivia, and B) I'm not reading much about her because I'd like to avoid spoiling the remainder of the show for myself in case I go back to it someday.
posted by Elsa at 8:58 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


p.s., PhoBWanKenobi, I would like us to rent a cottage for a week and sit up every night on our sleeping bags, eating popcorn and talking rabidly about TV and movies and books. When can we do that? really soon right right right?
posted by Elsa at 9:19 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes please, Elsa!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:26 PM on May 6, 2013


You guys just wish you were like me and Sara C.
posted by sweetkid at 9:29 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I JUST LIKE POPCORN AND SLEEPING BAGS.
posted by Elsa at 9:30 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


All are welcome in my cabin of feminist analysis.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:35 PM on May 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


You have a color war against the Marxist Analysis Cabin every summer.
posted by The Whelk at 9:37 PM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Fuck the Julie Taylor Test. I could imagine Julie Taylor's inner life just fine, it helps having been a teenage girl at one point in my goddamn life.

Do you think it's a fucking accident that all the people she lists are women?

Internalized misogyny is a hell of a drug, folks.
posted by destronomics at 9:41 PM on May 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


guyz im all out of favorites.
posted by device55 at 10:10 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm not sure why they picked on Julie Taylor. The FNL writers seemed to have no idea half the time what any of the characters were about; I don't think Julie was any less thought out than Landry or Matt or any of the other not-all-that-believable-characters, and I though Teegarden did fine with what she was given. Anyway, they all had to stand clear to let Connie Britton radiate out of that show like beams of warm light.

I don't think it's actually a matter of girlyness actually, but more that Fauxlivia in some ways initially read to me as a post-feminist reaction to her earlier character

Maybe you've seen so much Mad Men that now everything looks like a slow pitch to feminist analysis.
posted by fleacircus at 10:21 PM on May 6, 2013


mstokes650: "Everyone is on Betty White's side. Rightfully so."

Exactly. That's why it was confusing to me.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:30 PM on May 6, 2013


Frankly, I think 99.99999999% of TV viewers don't know enough about how TV is made to presume to say which (successful, working) actors are talented.

Wow, that's incredibly condescending.

it also makes no sense whatever to me. Actors perform for the audience. If someone has to know 'how TV is made' in order to appreciate a specific actor's work, I'd say that's a really strong indication that actor couldn't act his way out of a paper bag, not that 99.99999999% of the population doesn't recognize real talent when they see it.

Also, Christina Hendricks was awful on Firefly. Which goes to show how hard it is to definitively state whether someone is a Bad Actor or what.

Wow, I felt Christina Hendricks was the perfect Saffron. Please explain why you feel she was 'awful' in the role?

"Clearly some viewers can't imagine her inner life in any complexity,"

I think a lot of viewers don't WANT to because portraying multidimensional mothers is rare and challenging.


I wish January Jones were a better actress because the role, to me, has such strong potential, for just the reason you cite, "portraying multidimensional mothers is rare and challenging".

I know the writers put January Jones in the fat suit originally because the actress got pregnant, by the way. But actresses get pregnant all the time and carry it off with no problem; they stand behind counters or wear big coats or the crew closes in on their faces, etc.

January Jones, though, her whole identity as Betty is being the Pretty Girl. So they brought in the fat suit.

Significantly, they have continued with the fat suit well into this season's episodes. I feel this is because JJ is not skilled enough as an actress to show us that she is feeling deeply depressed and inadequate in her role as Mrs. Political Big Shot without the visual aids, like the obviously too-small dress, to hammer it home. She can do sharp and shrill, and she can do sweet and perky, but any deeper emotion is beyond her range.

I understand that some here like JJ in the role, and I'm cool with that. I'd really like it if you all didn't assume that, just because we disagree, those of us who think she is a bad actress are incapable of appreciating the nuance of the craft. Maybe it's because we do that we wish someone more talented had gotten such a juicy role.
posted by misha at 11:59 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phoebe/Elsa

I would like to join, but I worry i have not read enough....
posted by PinkMoose at 2:40 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. Just when I thought I was caught up on our Mad Men conversation.
posted by .kobayashi. at 3:51 AM on May 7, 2013


GAH thanks to the stupid greyhound I was on yesterday I couldn't post my timely comment about the treatment of women on TV back when it was relevant. Damn.

Viewers' perceptions of woman characters has a lot to do with the context of the shows they're in. I noticed that fans of Enlightened were way less "fuck that bitch" about Amy Jellicoe even though she was probably the most aggravating woman character on TV this season. She makes Hannah Horvath look self-aware. Yet the show portrayed her as a person clearly in conflict, and therefore ultimately relatable, and that staved off a surprising portion of the Internet Hate. Hannah and the other Girls receive a whole lot of criticism, but then the whole point of that show is portraying its protagonists as unlikable so that makes sense.

Bunny Ultramod said it above, but Breaking Bad is the story of a man's complete descent into darkness, and it achieves that descent by keeping us in Walt's head 24/7. Skyler is the only serious antagonist in the early series, at least from Walt's perspective; Tuco is scary and Hank is potentially threatening, but you know Tuco can't kill Walt because the show has to go on, and Hank is too nice a guy to seemingly see what's under his own nose. Skyler, meanwhile, is sharp and self-aware and generally a very competent human being in a whole lot of ways, so obviously she notices every little weirdness in Walt's behavior and tries to keep him sane. You know, like a good wife. But from Walt's point of view, this comes across as unbearably emasculating, because Walt refuses to admit that he needs to depend on anybody else in order to succeed – and the thesis of Breaking Bad at this point seems to be, well, he's right, he can live purely selfishly, but only at the cost of the whole world around him.

I can't blame viewers for hating Skyler early on. My roommate just rewatched early Breaking Bad with his boyfriend, and he says that Skyler still comes off as completely unsympathetic, even now that he knows what's in store for her and Walt. That's an intentional choice on the show's part, and it's a useful one: it blurs the line between right and wrong enough that there is no agreed-upon point whereupon Walt is clearly the Bad Guy. For some viewers, it happens immediately, for some it's Jane or Gale or the lily-of-the-valley, and I'm sure some people still think that Walt's only crimes have been self-defensive even as of the season 5 interim. That ambiguity is what makes Breaking Bad the greatest thing on TV imo, and Skyler plays a key part of that ambiguity.

Earlier somebody in the thread mentioned Britta on Community, which is a much more frustrating example of writing women for TV. Because the way I see it, Britta is the show's protagonist at the very start. Jeff is the antagonist – if he gets what he wants, the show's over. But what he wants is Britta, and Britta is a marvelous character. While she's not quite as good a person as she wants to be (and she admits this right in the second episode), she's witty, perceptive, and able to simultaneously help Jeff out of tough spots a dozen times while still not taking any of his shit. Every time Jeff tries a trick that he hopes will get him laid, Britta's a step ahead of him, smart enough to do exactly the thing that'll knock him back the most without breaking the study group apart. The entire season one arc is based on this: Jeff's gradually becoming invested in Greendale, cliffhanging on his kissing Trudy I mean Annie at the tail end of the season. An action which, if Jeff is still the same person he was at the start of the season, is completely unimportant, because he's already slept with Britta and is done with his long con. But twenty-five episodes in he's changed enough that the threat this poses to the community is a serious deal.

Season two retcons that plot arc in a single episode, because fan reaction to the paintball episode basically made Dan Harmon decide he wanted to do a different show than the one he'd intended. While I think this hurt the show later on down the line, the immediate damage it did was to Britta, whose plots are some of the weakest parts of seasons 2 and 3. Because when Britta's not at the center in the show in a dramatic way, as a character who's conflicted about not doing enough about the issues she cares about but who has ripping on Jeff as a way of letting out zingers, she's not funny. Her being superior to Jeff in their every showdown was what made her such a superior character. And Abed even notes this in season one: if Britta's not one up on Jeff, the group loses a key dynamic. Her blurting out that she loves Jeff is pretty much the end of her one-upping him ever. Dynamic lost.

So the writers had to change Britta, and they changed her by making her increasingly incompetent and oblivious as time went on. Community damaged all its characters pretty severely (Annie got less manic and type A, Shirley got more nutty, Troy lost pretty much his entire personality and became Don Glover The Abed Sidekick), but Britta was its best character, and she's the one that most got damaged. It's one of the worst things about later Community (and the new season, for its flaws, seems to be making an effort to restore her respectability somewhat, which I appreciate the hell out of).

Mad Men, on the other hand, does marvelously by its women, both by giving them fleshed-out personalities and by giving them plenty of time and perspective. I realized how skewed my perception of Betty was when my household rewatched season one recently: from the start she's pretty miserable, but also pretty strong in her distorted sense. She's too innocent to know what Don's doing behind her back, but she's smart enough to use her psychologist against him when she figures out what's up, she gets her time to shine in the episode where she's asked to be a model, and of course the gun and the birds.

I've seen her time with Henry as her attempting to assert herself for the first time, with a husband who won't respond furiously to her efforts. Does she humiliate herself a lot? Sure. But she's also learning, both how to be a better mother (slowly, but yes it's happening) and how to be her own person. I'm nervous about this upcoming campaign of Henry's, but I also have some hopes that Henry is a good enough person that this will end up being a victory for her. I can see a Mad Men whose final resolution involves Betty finally having figured herself out. There's hope. She's still pretty young. The show seems determined to say that people don't change, but it's also willing to say that people don't know who they are, and when they discover more about themselves they can take advantage of that and end up a bit less awfully than they began.

I get that people dislike Megan, but to me she's been one of the show's most fascinating characters, and a big part of it has to do with how fluid and responsive she is as a person. Time and again she acts in ways that surprise me, that run contrary to how I imagine Don's wife would behave. And to the commenters here who think that Megan's just a relic of older seasons and now she's just taking up space... I couldn't disagree with you more. This Sylvia thing is going to blow up, but not along the lines we think it will. Megan's reaction is going to be more unusual than I think most of us, myself included, are predicting.

I could be wrong, but think about the plotlines this show has been setting up and resolving. We get Pete and Trudy rapidly disintegrating, which incidentally has been wonderful to watch; why would Mad Men give us a second redundant plot involving a wife getting upset with her husband when there isn't even the work-life dynamic that Pete has with Trudy's father? Why would we get this time on Megan's rising fame, which is a direct consequence of Don's actions at the end of season five (and the actions which led to his pursuing a new affair, we're told)? Why the presence of Megan's (awesome) mother, with her sensibilities on adultery and her unwillingness to take shit from the men in her life? There's a whole lot of potential bubbling there, and it doesn't end how we expect it will.

To tie this in with the "Don can change and Betty can't" comment above, this is a part of the central identity theme of Mad Men. Don is not our protagonist because he's invented a wholesale life for himself: he's the lead because he's selling what he thinks people want without asking whether it's really what they're looking for. At no point does he stop to question who he really is or what he's looking for, except in the most superficial of ways. He doesn't even pity himself the way Walter White does: to him, this constant reinvention is simply what it means to be an adult. He's the madman here. And twice his desire for reinvention has (inadvertently, perhaps) driven men to suicide. I wouldn't be surprised if the show ends with him jumping, as the title credits would ominously suggest.

Betty is in many ways a direct result of that kind of psychosis. She has turned herself into the woman she was told she should be. And you know what? If Don really was who he said she was, she might have gone through with that her whole life. Maybe even his cheating on her wouldn't have been enough to sever their ties entirely. She is the trophy wife in many ways, not least of which because she truly believes (or believed) that this is what was right.

Now she's been put in a real crisis, and as a result she's been slowly figuring herself out. So maybe she works out what's been going so wrong all this time. Certainly Sally seems to have her head in a good place, so maybe Betty follows suit. It'll be curious to see how she develops over the course of this season. In any event her breaking apart from Don gives her a freedom that Don still does not have. Because for Don, this maintaining of identity is still utterly necessary.

Megan is the foil to Betty: she arrived at the show's exact midpoint, and went from nobody to wife over the course of the show's middle season. Since then she's spent a season deciding she wants out of the advertising world that is Don's life, and now half a season gradually becoming more famous. Soon she'll overshadow Don. So what happens when she finds out Don is cheating, and with a woman in his own building no less? (Exactly the sort of proxomity affair that Trudy flips a shit at Pete for carrying on, not at all foreshadowingly?)

Maybe she'll do what Trudy did to Pete, and slowly make Don's life a misery. Maybe she'll be much more vicious in her revenge, if her fame as an actress gives her enough leverage to really hurt Don in a way that matters. She knows he's Dick Whitman; what could she do with that information if she wanted to? How could she get under Don's skin?

Or maybe she goes the opposite direction, and shows Don the empathy and the understanding that he probably doesn't deserve. Maybe his having an affair on her isn't enough to tear the two of them apart. I might be a total rube for reading it this way, but Megan seems to genuinely care about Don, not just for his status but for his person. And Don is awful at reciprocating, and maybe this is enough to make Megan decide he just isn't worth it, but maybe a part of the show's arc is towards a forgiveness of fucked-up social identities and towards Don being given a chance to open up to a woman he's already opened up more to than he has to anybody else on the show.

Megan is an optimist, and Megan is headstrong enough to insist that she get what she wants, and Megan is able to call Don out for his heaps and heaps of bullshit without resenting him for it later. Megan sees the change in a way that the rest of the central cast really doesn't. Maybe she gets to be the inspiration for Don's finally escaping some of the haunts of his past. Or maybe she's the face of the new generation telling Don he's dead and done for. Or maybe both at once. In any event, she holds a unique position of power in the show, and I expect the show to take full advantage of it.

Betty is in the opposite position – she's virtually powerless. I hope the show ends with her finding something of herself, rather than with her suffering from the consequences of the universe she was born into. The things that make her appalling are things much beyond her control.

I get why fans hate Betty, and much like in Breaking Bad it's because she often opposes the reality Don wishes he was living in. But I have some hope that this show will do right by her. She's a tragic character, but she's out of the way of Don's hurricane, at least for the most part. With luck this Henry thing will lead to change of some good nature, instead of just leading onward to further misery.

(I won't say anything about Joan or Peggy, because each is so self-evidently a wonderful character that neither deserves a word of comment.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:35 AM on May 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


And nobody was good on Firefly because Firefly sucked.

:D :D :D :D :D
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:36 AM on May 7, 2013


I don't think the Peggy/Ted thing is going to escalate. I've stated in previous threads that Ted's thoughts and feelings about Peggy are much more crush-like than love-like. This episode backs this up: when Ted finally crosses over the line and kisses Peggy, and she kisses back, Ted does not think "AT LONG LAST OUR DESTINY OF LOVE WILL NO LONGER BE DENIED!" Instead it's more like "Whoa hold on, this is real now? Maybe not such a great idea." The spell of infatuation is broken. He may or may not be having relationship issues with his wife, but has his character ever been shown to cheat on her or even otherwise indicate casual interest in other women (aside from his Peggy infatuation)? As someone said above, he seems Very Married. Add in the fact that he's her boss and he now has this whole merger to deal with - I don't think he's going to be focusing so much on Peggy anymore.

Unfortunately for Peggy, the kiss puts her in the opposite place - giving her an outlet to fantasize about getting away from the aspects of her life she is currently unhappy with. But I also think this is a crush and she is not in love with Ted, even though she thinks he is "strong". He is the guy who quoted "something" by Emerson to who once and picturing a nice stable life with him is a nice contrast to the whirlwind her life has become. Last episode took place at the beginning of April. This episode is in later May. So in one month she has found out maybe Abe wants kids/deeper relationship, abandoned her plans to move the east side, purchased and moved to an apartment (and become a landlord!) in a part of the city she is not finding as fun and adventurous as Abe described.

Quite a month and enough to make anyone state they "hate change". But it's over the moment she sees Don in the office. Like Ted, she is now jolted out of fantasy land and has bigger things to worry about. She and Abe are probably still not going to make it, but it won't be because of Ted.
posted by mikepop at 5:47 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know the writers put January Jones in the fat suit originally because the actress got pregnant, by the way. But actresses get pregnant all the time and carry it off with no problem; they stand behind counters or wear big coats or the crew closes in on their faces, etc.

Those options suck. No, seriously, they're always contrived and obvious.

Whereas it's realistic that a woman like Betty would gain weight, then slowly lose it. Regardless of acting, it's infinitely better writing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:26 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi, I agree with you that ose options suck. I find the plot twist of Betty's weight gain both realistic and fascinating, because it means the character is either going to have to mature, become a better person and start loving herself for her intrinsic worth rather than her looks, or that she is going to implode.

I could see it going either way--Betty overdosing on diet pills in a desperate effort to slim down and be Perfect seems the most likely course, but I hope she grows instead. It would also be great for Sally to see her Mom transform herself that way.
posted by misha at 6:37 AM on May 7, 2013


I'm holding out hope for Betty. She's on the cusp of the "Me Decade" so maybe she will go out and find a way of living that brings her a measure of content.
posted by Mister_A at 7:16 AM on May 7, 2013


Betty overdosing on diet pills in a desperate effort to slim down and be Perfect seems the most likely course

I don't think we're going to see this on the show.
posted by sweetkid at 7:21 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel this is because JJ is not skilled enough as an actress to show us that she is feeling deeply depressed and inadequate in her role as Mrs. Political Big Shot without the visual aids

Some viewers might see it this way, but I promise if you watch any of the episodes with the voiceover commentary by the writers and actors, you will discover that Matthew Weiner adores January Jones. He is constantly calling attention to the depth and subtlety of her acting (e.g., "this is one of my favorite scenes, I love what January does with it," "Watch her face here, this is amazing," etc. etc.). I mean he's pretty effusive about all his actors. But there's no question that he has a very high opinion of the way Jones portrays Betty (I agree with him). No way is the fat suit some kind of concession to what the PTB see as inadequacies in her work.

One thing I like about Weiner is how he seems to have genuine affection for his characters. In the recent interview on Fresh Air, Terry Gross asked him how much she is supposed to hate Don Draper. And he responded that he doesn't want viewers to hate DD at all. That he sees Don as a deeply flawed, deeply damaged man that viewers should in some ways be able to identify with. I find this interesting, in part because Mad Men is similar in some ways to The Sopranos, but it seems like Weiner's perspective on his protagonist is very different from David Chase's on Tony Soprano. Chase took almost an antagonistic stance toward the audience, who refused to hate Tony; in response to that loyalty to the character, Chase just made Tony a bigger and bigger shit. And while it might be tempting to think Weiner is doing the same thing, he really is not. He likes his characters, fucked up as they are, and wants the viewers to like them too.

It seems like a lot of viewers don't really get this, and maybe it's a flaw in Weiner's work that it doesn't come through more clearly in the show. I think, for example, that a lot of Jessica Pare's poor reception as a major character was a result of viewers being far more cynical than Weiner was himself. People were so suspicious of Megan--she was an empty-headed golddigger, had no real talent, wasn't a team player, had a secret dark history, slept her way to the top, was a petulant child, wasn't as caring about kids as she played up to be, wasn't to be trusted, and so on. All this stuff was projected on Megan, when in fact Megan was just what she appeared to be: a kindhearted, young (yes, very young), vulnerable woman who was also beautiful and talented, had ambitions of her own, and genuinely cared about Don. In other words, someone who could be very very good for Don Draper, if Don would just stop blowing up everything good that comes his way.

Anyway. I like Rory Marinich's optimism up above and think it might be justified (at least a little, in part, I hope) by Weiner's warm feelings toward his own characters. Guess we'll see.
posted by torticat at 7:53 AM on May 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


Wow, it's gotten weird in here. One of the great things about Metafilter is that there'll be a discussion of, like, sausage making, and someone will show up and say, "I am a sausage-maker, and let me give you some inside scoop." I'm not sure why Sara C. using her actual experience observing TV shows get made gets a lot of crappy tone commentary.

I find the idea of Betty sending Sally to speech therapy hilarious and improbable.
posted by purpleclover at 8:01 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not noticing anything objectionable about the way Sara C. is responding here. In fact, a lot of the things she points out (especially about limited access to child actors; I didn't know the 4 hours a day thing) are very interesting, and it's all presented very respectfully.

The one thing she said that might be seen as even vaguely controversial is this...

Frankly, I think 99.99999999% of TV viewers don't know enough about how TV is made to presume to say which (successful, working) actors are talented.

...which is pretty much true. TV is a specialized medium, and unless you understand something of the interplay between writer-director-camera-actor and what a show's intent with a particular scene or character is, it's hard to tell who's really doing a good job up there, who's following directions very well, who's aiming for one thing but flubbing it, and who's doing an impressive amount with bad directions.

This is the same as any profession that requires specialized knowledge. The difference being, people don't assume expertise with plumbing or politics or science or... oh wait, they do all that too! Anyway, a viewer has EVERY right to say "this didn't come off well for me" or "this actor never communicates anything interesting to me", because yes, misha is right, ultimately acting is for the audience. But there's a difference between noting a failure to communicate and blaming the actor for their lack of talent. Many/all talented people take many awful roles, and likewise many actors of limited scope find directors who can make them work and briefly seem good. My go-to reference there is Lara Flynn Boyle in Twin Peaks, whose performance seemed subtle and nuanced when the episode director was David Lynch and awful at all other times. Lynch apparently just saw something in her that he could work with, and nobody else could.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:12 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wonder if Megan's experience with her parents may actual make her the ideal partner for Don.
posted by drezdn at 8:39 AM on May 7, 2013


It's just weird to keep insisting that Matt Weiner put January Jones in a fat suit because she doesn't know how to express the pathos of her character when they could have just fired her/written off her character if Weiner and the writers were unhappy with her work. I don't work in TV but even I know that hours of custom prosthetics and makeup are pretty expensive for a production (not just materials, but time is money). Also JJ mentions in the interview linked upthread that she was breastfeeding while shooting the initial (and fat-Betty-heaviest) scenes and that it was all very difficult. It's a shame to not her hard work and considerable skill in pulling all that off and not just looking like an uncomfortable mess everytime she appeared on screen.

Again, don't work in the industry but I think it's valid to say people don't understand it. This stuff is a LOT harder than it seems. For example, I was listening to the commentary track for the episode in Season 1 where Roger comes home with Don and they have that dinner where Roger hits on Betty and then Don is horrible to her for the rest of the episode. The actors said it took twelve hours to shoot the dinner and they were eating cake and drinking fake wine at 3 AM under hot lights.

To endure all that and still just be able to be present takes a lot of skill and determination and I think that's why people like Sara C. are saying it's hard to understand how much work goes into these things unless you're a part of the industry.

It's just one thing to be like, "I don't like JJ's acting" and another to say " I care about the show so much that I wish they had cast someone else" and "obviously the writers think she is a bad actor and that's why they created x and y storylines." It's just inventing things based on personal taste.
posted by sweetkid at 8:44 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


If someone has to know 'how TV is made' in order to appreciate a specific actor's work

That's not what I said, and not what I meant.

What I meant is that really and truly, most people don't know enough about how TV is made to judge someone as a BAD ACTOR.

It's really easy to watch the finished product and decide for completely whimsical reasons "ewwwww so and so is such a bad actor!"

But the reality is that, if the finished product is getting broadcast on TV at all, most likely the actor is perfectly good.

People don't just walk onto sound stages and just start spouting lines.

The casting process, especially for a TV show, and doubly so for a drama serial, is very involved. The writers and producers know the kind of show they want to make. They have outlines for the first several episodes by the time the pilot is produced. They know how big of a role any particular part is going to be. Shows are cast with this in mind.

This would be extremely true for Betty, who isn't even in the pilot (or maybe is for just a moment?). The writers would have known they needed someone strong in the role of Don's wife, and that this actor would have to be able to roll with the punches fresh, without the benefit of experimenting as part of the team during the pilot shoot. The producers would have had months after the show's pickup to cast Betty, and they would have done so with a whole season worth of story in hand. And since it's a cable series, where most of the work is in the can before it airs, they would have had PLENTY of time to cut or recast Betty if they weren't happy with January Jones' work.

Why waste money renting fat suits and hiring makeup artists when you can accomplish the same thing for free with a pen?
posted by Sara C. at 9:07 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


(and become a landlord!)

Where are you getting this?

My read of the episode was that Peggy had bought an apartment, not the building.

I'll admit I'm confused about the mechanics of that -- condos aren't a thing yet, and the way the apartment looks and the space is described it seems to be a brownstone, and those don't typically go co-op. In my experience, too, the people buying on the Upper West Side in the 60's were buying brownstones, not apartments.

Then again, I'm also confused about some aspects of the Drapers' and Rosens' apartments, and suspect that the writers just aren't terribly concerned with being 100% factual about the inner workings of Manhattan housing stock. Much to my pedantic dismay.
posted by Sara C. at 9:26 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


They should definitely, definitely move the entire production to New York for the last season. For the realism. Not so I can try to run into Jon Hamm at cafes. It's the realism.
posted by sweetkid at 9:31 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Where are you getting this?

Maybe I didn't hear correctly but in the initial apartment scene I thought she referred to "our tenant" upstairs. Maybe she was just referring to the upstairs tenant in general. I'll take another look at the scene tonight.
posted by mikepop at 9:32 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This might be a little deraily, but I thought history dorks, TV dorks, and folks who follow Tom & Lorenzo's Mad Style series might enjoy this:

Colorizing Laura Petrie

In one of the screenshots, she's wearing a dress that is a DEAD RINGER for one worn by Peggy in Sunday's episode of Mad Men.

Also, Laura Petrie was a TV mom! In the 60's! Living the Betty Draper dream! So it's topical!
posted by Sara C. at 9:34 AM on May 7, 2013


mikepop, I got "the tenant", not "our tenant", but I could be equally wrong.

It seems like if they own the building, it shouldn't be terribly hard to get rid of the junkie upstairs. Between Peggy's financial resources and administrative tenacity (evicting her) or Abe's big strong dudely-ness and friendship with the local hoodlums (scaring her away), they should be able to come up with something between the two of them.

The tone of the scene seemed much more "ugh neighbors we have no control over" and less "facing the ugly reality of displacing people as a gentrifier". But again, this is the beauty of Mad Men. And you're right that it would make more sense if Peggy had bought a house rather than an apartment.
posted by Sara C. at 9:37 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: "The casting process, especially for a TV show, and doubly so for a drama serial, is very involved. The writers and producers know the kind of show they want to make. They have outlines for the first several episodes by the time the pilot is produced. They know how big of a role any particular part is going to be. Shows are cast with this in mind. "

I take your point here, Sara C., but to an extent this makes me think of the joke about the economist who doesn't pick up a $5 bill, because if it existed, it would already have been picked up. Yes, casting is a long involved process, but surely, some people who are not so great actors get cast, right? Keanu Reeves is not your go to guy for your production of The Iceman Cometh.

My impression of Betty as we see her is she seems locked into a few different emotions. Whether that is how she was written or Jones's acting limitations is unknown to me. But her acting also came under fire in the X-Men movie, I think.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:38 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Keanu Reeves is not your go to guy for your production of The Iceman Cometh.

But nobody would cast him in that. Not because he is Untalented, but because he's not that kind of actor.

Which is another angle of what I mean when I say that, for the most part, it's hard for casual viewers to tell whether someone is a Bad Actor or not.

The goal of making a film or TV show is to cast the right actor for this part. You pretty much don't ever see the actors who were wrong for the part. While it's true that mistakes are sometimes made, there are so many steps from casting to releasing the finished film that those mistakes typically get corrected, or at least diminished, by the time you ever see the performance.

I'm not saying there is never a moment of hackting (see Jon Hamm playing Dick Whitman), or that sometimes an actor just doesn't give a great performance. But chances are if we're talking about a lead on a long-running critically acclaimed TV show, the cast is probably up to the job.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


mikepop, I got "the tenant", not "our tenant", but I could be equally wrong.

It would make more sense for them not to have tenant - I can't see it being germane to the story. My thought was that since they only just purchased the apartment they had to wait out a lease or that Abe wanted to be friendly with all the locals and not kick anyone out right away. But a more careful viewing will probably clear it up.
posted by mikepop at 10:07 AM on May 7, 2013


Colorizing Laura Petrie

Laura is very much like I imagine Betty might have been if her first marriage had been to a more genial, supportive man. She certainly had her brittle moments.

Related: Peggy is a Girl.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:14 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was my read, they don;t want to kick everyone out right away while they make improvements cause they're still tetchy on being middle-class gentrifiers
posted by The Whelk at 10:18 AM on May 7, 2013


The Laura Petrie thing also underscores my feeling that Peggy's hair is getting outdated again. She's due for another makeover, for sure.
posted by Sara C. at 10:20 AM on May 7, 2013


I rather liked her going brunette.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:23 AM on May 7, 2013


Wasn't Peggy always a brunette?
posted by Sara C. at 10:24 AM on May 7, 2013


Gah, vaporlock. Thinking of Betty's new do.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:28 AM on May 7, 2013


Colorizing Laura Petrie

oh I love that.
posted by sweetkid at 10:29 AM on May 7, 2013


Here's a little more about Betty's fat suit in this January Jones interview. According to Jones, she was only pregnant for the shooting of one episode (Season 5, ep. 2), but Weiner ran with the idea of Betty's physical transformation.

Jones talks a bit about her process (uh, such as it is) and acting on Mad Men in a quite nicely detailed way in this HitFix interview (sorry, mobile link). Whether you think Jones is great or terrible, you'll find tidbits to support your argument.
posted by purpleclover at 12:04 PM on May 7, 2013


Here's a little more about Betty's fat suit in this January Jones interview.

Yeah, I linked that upthread. I should have included it in the OP, I thought it was quite good.
posted by sweetkid at 12:11 PM on May 7, 2013


Oof, missed that, sweetkid. Sorry.
posted by purpleclover at 12:30 PM on May 7, 2013


Also, Laura Petrie was a TV mom! In the 60's! Living the Betty Draper dream! So it's topical!

A further aside about Laura Petrie's wardrobe — Mary Tyler Moore had to fight the show's producers to get them to let her wear pants on the show. MTM said it just wasn't realistic at all to have Laura wear dresses all the time when every young wife she knew including herself wore them around the house routinely.
posted by orange swan at 12:45 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Wore pants around the house routinely", that is.
posted by orange swan at 1:49 PM on May 7, 2013


my feeling that Peggy's hair is getting outdated again. She's due for another makeover

I was having that same thought during the most recent episode. In earlier seasons it seemed that Peggy took some style cues from Joan, and I wonder if she had stagnated a bit once she left SCDP. Now that Peggy and Joan will be back under one roof, it will be interesting to see if that influences Peggy's style. Also very interested to see how Peggy and Joan will get along- there had been hints of a possible alliance, and then Peggy left.
posted by ambrosia at 2:43 PM on May 7, 2013


I've been watching a lot of mid-late 60's TV (OK let's call it what it is, it's Star Trek), and I feel like the helmet head thing would have been passe for women under 30 by '67 or so. That said, Peggy always runs a year or two behind the times, style-wise.

I've never had the sense that Peggy took fashion cues from Joan, and she seems to have a circle of friends outside the SCDP landscape to take inspiration from. That said, I think her social circle skews leftist/counterculture, and for work she needs to project an air of unapproachability. She doesn't have the freedom to go full hippy like Stan does. But I think her hair can probably relax a little.

That said, getting another promotion could send her flying as far towards stodgy as she can get and still live on the UWS with her Times reporter boyfriend.
posted by Sara C. at 3:15 PM on May 7, 2013


Re: the landlord question, I just went back and re-watched the scene with Peggy and Abe in the apartment. I'm going to say they are landlords.

I can't make out if Peggy says our/the tenant because she kind of tightens her voice when she points up (and my TV says closed captioning isn't supported). But after she states the tenant is a junkie she says "I want her out" (not I wish she would move out, etc.) and her body language is saying "I know we had this discussion already but come ON already she is POOPING on the STAIRS what else does she have to do" (watch for a pleading look and her hand to raise slightly). Abe responds "We can't do that" (not how would we do that or we have no power over that, etc.) and his body language is slightly averting his eyes and turning his head because he knows Peggy is not exactly being irrational in wanting a stair-pooper out of the building, but he doesn't want to be an agent of gentrification. Then he very non-subtlely changes the subject, and Peggy goes along. The takeaway is that this is not the first time they've had this conversation.
posted by mikepop at 6:02 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought so too, mikepop. It's not 100% clear, but my read was that Peggy bought the building.
posted by donajo at 6:13 PM on May 7, 2013


OK, I'm buying it. She bought the building. It makes a lot more sense in terms of Manhattan real estate, neighborhood housing stock, etc. as well.

That said, why does she say later on, "I just bought an apartment"?
posted by Sara C. at 6:24 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not really that familiar with NYC real estate. What should she have said instead? "I just bought a brownstone"?
posted by donajo at 6:51 PM on May 7, 2013


Yes.

Or house, building, apartment building, etc.

"Bought an apartment" implies that one bought an apartment.

Which is why I assumed that Peggy only owns her apartment and doesn't have control over the junkie upstairs. Even though that actually doesn't make any sense, because in the 60's you couldn't really buy an apartment in a building like that.

But this is not something the vast majority of humans on earth know, and nor do they need to for the story to make sense, so whatever.
posted by Sara C. at 6:57 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought she bought just her apartment too FWIW. Because that is what is usually meant by "apartment."
posted by sweetkid at 7:17 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am enjoying the NYC real estate talk.
posted by box at 8:20 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am enjoying the NYC real estate talk.

That's good, cause we could go on for months.
posted by sweetkid at 8:39 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Surely you'll be outbid by then.
posted by maryr at 10:20 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


As an urban planner who is driven to apoplexy by the paralysis of municipal governments in building transit, I feel like the line in last week's episode about the 2nd Ave. subway was written by Weiner just for me.
posted by dry white toast at 12:14 AM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


That said, why does she say later on, "I just bought an apartment"?

Probably the real reason is as you say above - it's not really important to most watchers for the story to make sense.

If we wanted to fabricate some character reasoning, we could say that Peggy is quite conflicted about suddenly becoming a landlord so she's leaving that part out when telling people she's bought an apartment. Has she even told anyone the apartment is on the UWS yet? We could also say she ended up buying an apartment building because after seeing how much she could buy on the UWS with the money she had budgeted for buying the previous apartment. We could also speculate Abe pushed the idea a bit, since he already has romantic visions of the UWS and he sees a way he can contribute by fixing up the place and handling the landlord duties. Perhaps since Peggy was a bit leery of the UWS she figured buying an apartment would give her the most control of her immediate environment in the long run. There's also the investment angle, and the fact that you have rent from tenants going to your mortgage.

That's all speculation/backfill, though, and I'm not basing that on any particular scenes/dialogue. And it's only important to the story in how it relates to what happens when her and Abe split.

The next thing to speculate about is how many units are in the apartment. You can catch a glimpse of another apartment door when Peggy comes into her apartment so that's at least two units on the ground floor and assuming the floor above them has the same layout we have a minimum of four apartments. I can't see Peggy being talked into a building with more than eight apartments (or her budget supporting it).
posted by mikepop at 5:16 AM on May 8, 2013


New Mad Style is up.
posted by drezdn at 8:57 AM on May 8, 2013


New Mad Style is up.

They are way overplaying this blue and green theme. I'm starting to think there's very little there there.

Also T&Lo is starting to bug me a little overall with how much they argue with commenters on the blog. Like, chill, people. It's not personal.
posted by sweetkid at 9:26 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jane Bryan made a comment on how Megan dresses, not like a TV star, but how a young actress would think a TV star would look - she's dressing for the part she wants, not the one she has.
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 AM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, notice how Don and Ted's ties are slanting in opposite directions during the merger reveal, with the blocking, if you follow the lines of the ties down, they form a V, intersecting.

I thought that was neat.
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, notice how Don and Ted's ties are slanting in opposite directions during the merger reveal, with the blocking, if you follow the lines of the ties down, they form a V, intersecting.

Thus confirming the Chevy in question is a Vega?
posted by mikepop at 10:24 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I misread "Colorizing Laura Petrie" as "Colonizing Laura Petrie" and I was like "wow! yes! Laura Petrie is a really interesting character -- a woman who could very well be as creatively talented as her spouse and who sometimes pursues professional success and acclaim, who wears trousers and dances and paints -- yet who has perhaps been colonized by others' desires." *click*

(nevermind)

'80s Don Draper: "The hippos eat marble after marble, but are never satisfied. That's America."
posted by brainwane at 12:57 PM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


T&L: "We feel so sorry for [Peggy] right now. She didn’t even get an entire year away from him before he pulled her back in."

Rookie mistake! "The Other Woman" took place in January 1967. This episode took place in 1968. She was almost out for a year and a half. Which makes her getting pulled back in even worse.
posted by crossoverman at 1:50 PM on May 8, 2013


I'm really kind of not enjoying the T&Lo commentary this season. The arguing in the comments is awful, and I feel that a lot of it is just kind of . . . not as illuminating as it once was.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:59 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I really agree PhoBWanKenobi. I saw an interesting discussion over there about how Peaches is actually this very specific kind of 'client's wife' and she was reading the table and situation appropriately while telling her silly story (something I agree with - you can be provincial, boring and unintellectual but still socially savvy in certain situations) and T&Lo were like NO PEACHES IS AN IDIOT. NO.

Like wtf?
posted by sweetkid at 2:02 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I genuinely thought it would be revealed that she spoke French. That look she gave Marie at one point . . .
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:13 PM on May 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, well I think she got the gist of idiot.
posted by sweetkid at 2:18 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hey, if it hadn't been for Peaches, we might never have found out that Don Draper loves puppies.

I say Peaches should be Don's next mistress. We might then find out who he really is, you know, inside.
posted by orange swan at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah protip for people talking shit in a different language: Cognates are a thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:56 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm really kind of not enjoying the T&Lo commentary this season.

I guess by now I'm just not that surprised that Janie Bryant is doing an amazing job with costumes. I mean, it's nice that T&Lo do all the screencapping work to prove that this episode is a direct comment on "The Other Woman" - but that's none too surprising, when the dialogue literally comments on the episode and the plot machinations are reverberations from that episode.

But I still think Mad Style is very valuable. Their post-episode reviews are far less valuable, as I don't really agree with their overall view of the season to this point. And I think they're missing the point of Don's destructive behaviour by a long way. (Though, as always, I don't think you can really judge Mad Men until the season is over.)
posted by crossoverman at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2013


Why Chevy Execs Are Suddenly Watching Mad Men - interesting parallels between Mad Men and real life

Also, the new merged agency is one of the "Top 25". How many advertising agencies were there in the 60s?
posted by crossoverman at 3:37 PM on May 8, 2013


Tying in the latest topic with the original, I've only come back to TLo in the last season or two - I got majorly fed up with their incessant insistence that Betty and Peggy's clothing choices marked them as childish. Dudes, tons of grown-ass women wore full skirts, plaids, and collared blouses in the early-to-mid 1960's. The full-skirted shirtwaist dress was practically a housewife's uniform. Check out a couple of vintage JC Penney catalogs, whydoncha?

They've eased up on that in recent seasons.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:16 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are the comments on TLo pieces generally worth reading, presuming the hosts being argumentative is an anomaly? As a rule I skip the comments on all the recap places.
posted by rewil at 4:41 PM on May 8, 2013


I genuinely thought it would be revealed that she spoke French. That look she gave Marie at one point . . .

My husband said this very thing "I bet she speaks french!" - it would make perfect sense for her as, say, a certain type of southern finishing school belle.

What I'm really wondering about, though, is if the woman hired to play the "biggest, blackest prostitute you ever saw" knew this was how she would be described in the episode. For the impact she has on the rest of the episode/season, she really isn't any more than an extra. Was she surprised to find this? Did MW take special care in her casting?
posted by anastasiav at 5:20 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, it's nice that T&Lo do all the screencapping work to prove that this episode is a direct comment on "The Other Woman" - but that's none too surprising, when the dialogue literally comments on the episode and the plot machinations are reverberations from that episode.

The worst is when this is the case, and then they get annoyed at these things being out in the open and call it out as "on the nose." Despite the fact that, if Mad Men is "on the nose", what does that make all other TV ever? They clearly do not actually know what "on the nose" means.
posted by Sara C. at 6:06 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Re their commentariat -- it's not cringeworthy, but I got turned off by the chorus of "OMG in 1960-whatever you just DID NOT do what [Peggy, Megan, Trudy, and/or Joan] just did!" followed by claims that the show is "anachronistic". Uhhhh, no. Times are changing. Those characters are on the vanguard of those changes. Just because something wasn't socially acceptable at a certain time (especially in the 60's, for chrissakes) doesn't mean it was physically impossible to do.

I just felt a deep misunderstanding of what the show is about, combined with a sense of superiority over the writers' intent, that made me really "SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET" twitchy. So I stopped.

But if you're more leery of "I'd totally hit that" type stuff, yeah, you're fine.
posted by Sara C. at 6:18 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was just rewatching the "I Love Puppies" scene. Poor Peaches. Megan's busy trying to soothe Marie's seething hatred, so Peaches is stuck carrying the conversation with a very limited skillset, and has to resort to the equivalent of conversational plate-spinning to stave off the black hole of awkwardness. It's business dinner hell, which is "I Love Puppies" is so awesome.
I also love that dress Peaches is wearing because it resembles many I remember from photos of late-seventies wedding and baby showers held in wood-paneled church basements and rural VFW meeting halls, worn by grandmas who were maybe slightly too old to pull off that hemline.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:49 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


And when Peaches realized Marie was about to say something really off-color, possibly in English, or maybe throw up or something, she quickly pulled that "powder our noses move."

Her story was silly but I don't get what was SO HORRIBLE about her. I mean, she's married to that guy. I imagine you have to dull the senses to some degree.
posted by sweetkid at 6:52 PM on May 8, 2013


Peaches is also the only person at the table who actually wants to make dinner an enjoyable experience. I agree with T&Lo's assessment of her in the post as a "silly woman", but at least she's trying.

I mean keep in mind this is basically her job.

Which reminds me... remember the time Megan and Don tag team closed a deal at a dinner not unlike this one?
posted by Sara C. at 7:25 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, exactly. This is her job. And as for being a silly woman, sure, but she's married to Herb. They are Peaches and Herb. I mean it speaks for itself they're not on the same plane as Don/Megan.
posted by sweetkid at 7:27 PM on May 8, 2013


Peaches and Herb!
posted by misha at 7:49 PM on May 8, 2013


It's interesting to me, and maybe apropos to the original topic of this FPP, that Herb is the possibly the most ridiculous character ever on the show with the exception of that kid who made a whole portfolio of WV ripoffs with identical copy, and folks are fixating on the guy's wife as a frivolous moron.

I mean, look who she's married to.

(BTW watching the scene my first thought was "of COURSE that would be this guy's wife.")
posted by Sara C. at 7:51 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and someone upthread asked about the Biggest Blackest Prostitute Ever.

So, this is a thing that happens a lot on TV. Sometimes it's a character who has lines but is not named, and other times it happens with featured extras, as B.B.P.E.

(A featured extra is an actor who doesn't say anything and isn't named in the script, but who a speaking actor has some kind of interaction with -- B.B.P.E. is almost a textbook example.)

For featured extras, they absolutely wouldn't have access to the whole script and likely are not supplied with the pages for their scene, either. That said, you're hanging around on set all day with a bunch of equally bored people who do have copies of that day's scenes readily to hand and don't care if you see them. And, I mean, she's walking through an obvious brothel scene in her underwear. She knows what she's there to do (and might know the significance of her part in the larger drama), even if she doesn't know about a specific line in a later scene.

Also, for roles like that, the show uses a special Extras Casting director, who would cast for the role by looking for an "African-American hooker type". I have a struggling actor friend who does a lot of this type of work, and he often books jobs that are billed as "crazy homeless man" or "tweaker". There's no attempt to hide what you're going in for, and in my experience actors count this sort of thing as a point of pride.

Extras Casting is weird.
posted by Sara C. at 8:04 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel determined to prove you wrong, that there is a more ridiculous character than Herb on the show. I will go to the lab and report back when I have results.

But yeah, focusing on his wife is a big WTF
posted by sweetkid at 8:17 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


They are Peaches and Herb.

Reunited, and it feels so...awkward.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:21 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Herb is the possibly the most ridiculous character ever on the show

I'll always have a special fondness for Mrs. Blankenship's arc.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:27 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also T&Lo is starting to bug me a little overall with how much they argue with commenters on the blog. Like, chill, people. It's not personal.

Yeah it's weird. And if a commenter pushes back at all, they pretty much respond as if the commenter is the one introducing the antagonism. It's offputting, especially considering that 99% of the responses they get are "OMG YOU ARE SO BRILLIANT!" It's not like the commenters are raking them over the coals every week.

I still love TLo, but I agree with others above that I have found myself disagreeing a lot with their comments on Mad Men this year. Their reaction to Don's talk with Megan about how he doesn't feel like he loves his kids was pretty much "Yawn. Tell us something we don't know." Whereas... I felt that scene was both super-poignant and significant. Don's many failures are not news, but his few moments of self-awareness ARE, and so is the willingness to share a really deep fear with another person.
posted by torticat at 8:27 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


But Mrs. Blankenship wasn't ridiculous, she was just senile and extremely out of place.

Their reaction to Don's talk with Megan about how he doesn't feel like he loves his kids was pretty much "Yawn. Tell us something we don't know." Whereas... I felt that scene was both super-poignant and significant.

This is another area where I have to wonder if they have ever seen any other television show, ever. I mean, the protagonist of a critically acclaimed and extremely popular TV show basically says out loud to another person that he finds it difficult to love his kids. That happens pretty much... never. What exactly is yawn-worthy about that?

I guess I agree that the character arc of Don as a failure as a husband and father is old news, but I really don't think that's what that scene was about. It's not a man admitting yet another failure, it's a man saying one of the main things that -- even 45 years later -- you just don't say, to his wife*, after decades of silence on any emotional matter whatsoever. I mean, this is the guy who sat down with a reporter who wanted to interview him and basically said, "yeah I don't do introspection sorry."

*And keep in mind the contrast between his relationship with Megan, where he is somewhat free to say these things to her, and Betty. I mean, just play this scene in your head, but put it in Season 2, with the questions/accusations coming out of Betty's mouth rather than Megan's. I'm not sure Betty would still be alive if she had walked into their Ossining bedroom and accused Don of not being there for his kids because he's a drunk and a failure. When it comes from Megan, he breaks down and tells her the truth. This is part of why I don't think their marriage is exactly doomed.
posted by Sara C. at 8:36 PM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Are you forgetting that Mrs. Blankenship died in the office and had to be smuggled out?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:39 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And she was the QUEEN OF PERVERSION
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 PM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


TLo's weakness is that they are applying the same "let's rip the outfit" schadenfreude sensibility that made them popular (remember, this used to be a Project Runway-focused blog) to television criticism. That vibe doesn't always translate seamlessly from reality shows to scripted dramas. I also was turned off by their dismissive treatment of the drunken Draper "I don't love my kids" scene with Megan, but then again I was high on the Planet of the Apes reference, so I may not have seen that in the most objective light.

Re the Peaches Hate: It seems like it might be a variant of Betty hate. When it comes down to it, Peaches is a just a different type of woman who's surviving her marriage to a disgusting ogre in her own way. I wonder if Peaches inspires some dismissiveness because maybe we'd rather identify with the more modern woman model of the serious-drink-the-boys-under-the-table-like-Joan fierce woman or the sophisticated-worldly-no-illusions-Marie than the all-sunshine-girly-drink-drunk-traditional-silly-wife. Joan tried to play a similar deferential fluffy-wifey role (remember how much more girlish she was in her scenes at home with Dr. Greg Harris (née Rapist) in the earlier seasons?) and she ended up getting burned. Come to think of it, it's entirely possible that Joan's bestie, Not Heather Graham, could very well be a Peaches, too, when she was back home with her husband.

Maybe it's also a bit of the same intellectual hypocrisy of which I'm guilty every time I roll my eyes when I overhear the ladies at work discussing last night's episode of [INSERT AWFUL CBS DRAMA HERE] while I'm silently thinking to myself how sad it is that they cannot appreciate more sophisticated television art forms such as Mad Men or discuss social contract theory in the context of any particular episode of The Walking Dead, until I remind myself that spending hours and hours thinking about any TeeVee character is pretty ridiculous in the Big Picture so hey, self, get a check on that snobbish nonsense.

Now that I think about it, for as much flak as this show got in the early days about it's treatment of women, the men come off looking far worse. Look at the dearth of monogamous male characters in Mad Men besides Ken Cosgrove From Accounts. I'd have a hard time imagining Ginsneto cheating, but he's more married to his work at this stage. Stan would be too baked to bother cheating.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:43 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


She didn't do it on purpose.

Her use on the show was comedic, and yes, that storyline was ridiculous as all hell. But as a person, she seemed OK.

When I say Herb is possibly the most ridiculous person on the show, I mean as a person.

(The more I think about it, the more I settle on plagiarist guy as the Most Ridiculous, though. Ginsberg is also in the running.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:45 PM on May 8, 2013


'ARE YOU GOING TO THE TOILET?'
posted by shakespeherian at 8:48 PM on May 8, 2013


Bob Benson is pretty ridiculous. The bit with the two coffees in Ken's office was so slapsticky. I expected to hear a laugh track and BOINGGG! Or something.

And by slapsticky I mean awesome and actually pretty on-brand for the series.
posted by sweetkid at 8:48 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can I just say that I am absolutely FLOORED that T & Lo didn't draw a parallel between Megan's bathrobe in the scene before the dinner with her mom, and Betty's "sad marriage coat"?
posted by Sara C. at 8:48 PM on May 8, 2013


OK, yeah, Bob Benson is definitely on the shortlist of Most Ridiculous Mad Men character.
posted by Sara C. at 8:49 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Peaches hate is just us having Protagonist Identification issues, we're meant to identify with the characters we've spent so much time with, Don, Megan and Marie and not with the established boorish Herb and his vaudeville comedy wife. But as the scene goes on and gets more awkward, you understand why Marie is being why she is but you also notice that the character you're supposed to hate is trying hard, in her facile way, to make things better, the problem is it's an unequal fight, the bleak terrors of our mains vs. these strawmen outer borough buffoons. They didn't stand a chance.
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bob Benson is a Time Lord.
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also felt like Don had very little power in that scene in the kitchen. He always seems to retreat within himself when he is around "family things" because he doesn't understand family. But T&Lo said Megan was set apart from that scene because she was wearing black and blue/green is adultery.
posted by sweetkid at 8:50 PM on May 8, 2013


Dr. Greg Harris (née Rapist)

Oh dear, is that his preferred name? I've been sending their Christmas cards to Dr. and Mrs. Greg Rapist-Harris.
posted by donajo at 8:51 PM on May 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


(How likely is it that Peaches and Herb know Tony Soprano's parents? Livia Soprano would fucking eat Peaches for dessert with a glass of anisette.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:52 PM on May 8, 2013


Ugh even Peaches doesn't deserve Livia Soprano. OMG talk about bad mothers, Livia makes Betty look like Carol Brady.
posted by sweetkid at 8:53 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


So my uncomfort at the dinner is the unease in seeing a vastly unequal fight. The combined mental maze-like darkness of the knife-sharp Draper marriage with Marie as Mage Support against sunny, small town, small-time goons? That's not a fight, it's a murder.
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stan would be too baked to bother cheating.

Stan is from the "Gas, Grass, or Ass" school of relationships.

Then again, he could definitely be pretty loyal to his Old Lady, being a right-on and far-out type of cat.

I can't wait until we hear a character use the term "ball". I mean I'm almost 100% positive it's going to be Stan, but Ginsberg or Abe could surprise me yet. I think Harry is too stodgy to say that, but he could try to be more "with it" and embarrass himself a la the Stones concert.
posted by Sara C. at 8:56 PM on May 8, 2013




Yea but I like looking at the layers in the scene rather than laying down a verdict of PEACHES IS A DUMDUM. There was more going on there.
posted by sweetkid at 8:57 PM on May 8, 2013


What's weird is that "ball" came back, I heard it all the time in the mid 00s and then it vanished.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 PM on May 8, 2013


Really?

I only ever encounter it in verb form as a typo for "bawl".

Though the times I see said typo are my favorite times, ever. I really love assuming the person meant "fuck" instead of "cry".

I mean, there I was, shtupping my eyes out...

Oh, man, I was FUCKING after last night's episode of The Vampire Diaries...
posted by Sara C. at 9:00 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Harry is too stodgy to say that, but he could try to be more "with it" and embarrass himself a la the Stones concert.

This made me think you were saying Harry is going to go to Altamont. But that's a year and a half away.
posted by sweetkid at 9:01 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce + Holloway - Pryce

+ Campbell?
+ Crane? (no)

+ Cutler Gleason & Chaough - Gleason

+ Olson?

-------

Sterling Cooper Draper Holloway Cutler Chaough Campbell Olson

SC4DHO

--------

Your speculation requested.

Side note, someone on Twitter turned me on to @PeteCampbell_NY, which does a freakishly good job of copping Pete's voice and which corresponds a great deal with a large cross section of MM character Twitter accounts, many of which appear to also be very well voiced. Anyone got news or info regarding this Twitter cast? Is it unitary or fan-driven?
posted by mwhybark at 9:02 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Harry goes to Altamont and tries to "ball" a chick but instead gets elbowed in the face by a Hell's Angel.
posted by Sara C. at 9:03 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know but a few years ago all the twitter handles had a cocktail party and you could go and it was awesome and they had canapes and Trudy was very sweet and OMG I'm a nerd don't tell anyone
posted by sweetkid at 9:04 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm intrigued by Altamont since it's always billed as "the end of hippie culture" which always seemed fake and poseur to me anyway. And then there were all those "hippie chicks" in the 90s who wore apron shirts to outdoor music festivals and had bumper stickers that said "Mean People Suck"
posted by sweetkid at 9:06 PM on May 8, 2013


Considering our cast is on the opposite side of the social spectrum we have to think more "events that effected really rich white people on the east coast"
posted by The Whelk at 9:08 PM on May 8, 2013


My guess for the new agency is that they go with a completely different name that is not person based. That said, is there precedent for that in the advertising world? Literally every ad firm I can name is names or a bunch of random letters. (Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R, BBDO, Ogilvy, etc)

If they were a Hollywood talent agency, this would be the point where they'd go with a nondescript name like United Talent Agency, International Creative Management, Paradigm, Endeavour, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 9:08 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


+ Olson?

Seriously doubt it. Peggy's going to be copy chief, not head of creative. I don't think she makes partner.

(Plus, we had some heavy foreshadowing of awkwardness between Peggy & her Two Bosses. Making her partner would be a different dynamic completely.)
posted by torticat at 9:10 PM on May 8, 2013


Oh yeah! I almost forgot: Ted kissing Peggy echoes Megan's maid character being kissed in her show.
posted by mwhybark at 9:11 PM on May 8, 2013


Don will suggest they call it "Horizons"
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 PM on May 8, 2013



Considering our cast is on the opposite side of the social spectrum we have to think more "events that effected really rich white people on the east coast"


I know but hadn't you heard Harry goes to LA a lot he tells us all the time
posted by sweetkid at 9:12 PM on May 8, 2013



Oh yeah! I almost forgot: Ted kissing Peggy echoes Megan's maid character being kissed in her show.

how?
posted by sweetkid at 9:12 PM on May 8, 2013


all the twitter handles had a cocktail party and you could go and it was awesome

Is there a Storify or something? OMG I'm requesting links to years-old interactive Mad Men fanfic.
posted by mwhybark at 9:14 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


is there precedent for that in the advertising world? Literally every ad firm I can name is names or a bunch of random letters. (Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R, BBDO, Ogilvy, etc)

Yes (my company is not named after a person). A lot of old school companies are named after people though. Newer ones (internet age) are mostly not.
posted by sweetkid at 9:14 PM on May 8, 2013


If any character goes to fucking Altamont to be an obnoxious poseur, it's Harry.

He will run into Paul, who is the Hell's Angel who accidentally just elbowed him in the face. Paul will try to apologize to Harry for giving him a nosebleed, but it won't matter because the chick will be long gone, man.
posted by Sara C. at 9:14 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


how?

Employee inappropriately kissed by employer, maybe (or clearly) likes it.
posted by mwhybark at 9:15 PM on May 8, 2013


They will then do a hit of acid.

Harry will expect to have the proverbial "bad trip" but will feel nothing.
posted by Sara C. at 9:16 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hang on...Miss Blankenship dated Mr. Roboto?
*Head asplodes*
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:16 PM on May 8, 2013


As long as Sally does not go to Woodstock I mean I cannot stress this enough
posted by sweetkid at 9:17 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is there in 1969 for then 15? year old Sally to become entranced by?

(i actually have a Sally Is Monied 70s quasi-liberal who become a coke-hound Regan Republican in my head already)
posted by The Whelk at 9:19 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think that if Sally goes, it will not be in the guise of being a hippy. Or in some kind of groovy way where she has a warm fuzzy experience and finds herself.

I think she and a possibly older friend will hitch a ride, they will get separated, and Bad Shit will happen to Sally that turns her into a Republican forever.

Or Sally will secretly get tickets to Woodstock and hatch a big Plot to go, but will be caught at the last minute.

SALLY ANN DRAPER ARE THESE BIRTH CONTROL PILLS? WHERE DID YOU GET THESE?

*Angry phone call to Don/Megan Residence*
posted by Sara C. at 9:20 PM on May 8, 2013


I'm with you on that The Whelk. She is already becoming a mini Betty in ways.
posted by sweetkid at 9:20 PM on May 8, 2013


SALLY ANN DRAPER ARE THESE BIRTH CONTROL PILLS? WHERE DID YOU GET THESE?

You think? Betty is kind of inconsistent about Sally's female milestones:

- Makeup: Supportive
- First kiss: Supportive
-Masturbation: NONONO
- Period: Supportive
posted by sweetkid at 9:22 PM on May 8, 2013


But seriously they really cannot do 1969 on Mad Men without at least mentioning Woodstock and/or Altamont. Also the Manson murders. Maybe some high profile "27 Club" deaths like Jimi, Janis, and/or Brian Jones.

I don't think they necessarily will devote episodes to any of this stuff, but they pretty much have to be mentioned.

Just like I'm pretty sure they will skip the actual RFK assassination, but you can't not mention that.
posted by Sara C. at 9:23 PM on May 8, 2013


I don't think Betty is cool enough to take Sally to get on birth control.

I mean, my (much cooler) mother was not cool enough for that, in 1996.
posted by Sara C. at 9:24 PM on May 8, 2013


Yeah the last thing anyone wants is for the last season of the show to be just a Classic Rock station because jesus.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:24 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind too that Betty's main worry for Sally is that she will be "fast".

Well, that or disfigured in a horrible accident.
posted by Sara C. at 9:25 PM on May 8, 2013


Yes, Bob Benson must be a Time Lord. The TARDIS-blue suit is a dead giveaway. Yet another genius move by Jamie Bryant.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:29 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sally in 1975 at CBGB. I'm nearly sure we've discussed this; I believe the consensus was she'll prefer the Talking Heads over the Ramones on visits from Yale or possibly Brown, although, what, Bryn Mawr must be considered I guess. Where did Henry go to school?
posted by mwhybark at 9:30 PM on May 8, 2013


(Also if Betty is being "supportive" of Sally's makeup choices they both need a visit from fucking Mary Kay)
posted by Sara C. at 9:30 PM on May 8, 2013


No not her makeup now, when she was six and wanted to try
Betty's makeup
posted by sweetkid at 9:32 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think Sally is going to a Seven Sisters.

Though I guess it would be interesting if she were a lesbian.
posted by Sara C. at 9:33 PM on May 8, 2013


But imagine that acress's new resume!

New Rochelle Playhouse - Vagina Monologues - Ensemble
TV - Boardwalk Empire - Girl in Speakeasy
TV - Mad Men - THE BIGGEST BLACKEST PROSTITUTE EVER
Special Skills: Tap, Jazz, juggling ferrets

They should call the new agency Frank. Or Assholes Incorporated.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:38 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Idly looking for info on the "top 25" agencies in 1968 NYC I found this fascinating 1978 report (PDF) on minority employment in the city industry, which begins with an analysis of a 1967 survey showing about 5% aggregate black and hispanic representation.
posted by mwhybark at 9:38 PM on May 8, 2013


Are we doing an RFK Death Watch Pool yet? Will it be mentioned merely in passing or given more coverage? This next episode or not? Finale-worthy? Peggy's "I like Bobby Kennedy" remark WILL NOT GO UNMENTIONED!
posted by mynameisluka at 9:39 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sally goes to a Nice Seven Sisters College and maybe goes into the city for parties but it's not her thing, please, despite liking coke, everyone is too weird and dirty, she doesn't want to be like her Mom so she goes headfirst into fiance and trading, she has shoulder pads and eats sushi for lunch - she's stumping for Regan's pro-business policy and smug that she's not a victim like her mother or a hippie dupe like everyone else her age, shes a master of the universe, and has the pantsuits to prove it.
posted by The Whelk at 9:39 PM on May 8, 2013


Also if she goes to CBGB she might run into her ex stepmother, which, AWKWARD amirite?
posted by Sara C. at 9:41 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


But: argh, no agency names.
posted by mwhybark at 9:41 PM on May 8, 2013


OMG below 14th I don't have my passport.
posted by The Whelk at 9:42 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know why I'm fixated on this idea of Sally growing up to this well-educated, successful business lady yuppie ice queen who talks a lot about feminism and equality but is a staunch business Republican with lots of upper crust NYC biases and affectations.
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 PM on May 8, 2013


Like in trying not to be her mother, she kinda becomes her father.

Bobby is a yurt somewhere.
posted by The Whelk at 9:46 PM on May 8, 2013


Because Martha Stewart and Ina Garten* had to come from somewhere, I guess.

*Was she ever actually in finance, or just married to a finance dude? I make an effort not to know much about the lives of Food Network personalities aside from Sandra Lee.
posted by Sara C. at 9:46 PM on May 8, 2013


Bobby is a yurt somewhere.

That is not a typo.
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 PM on May 8, 2013


He is literally a yurt.

Gene has been left in the car since 1971.
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


(also, yes ahahaha Ina Garten is perfect, spend your retirement years with ONLY THE BEST stuff. Martha was a little too...WILL TO POWER there, she hired her own parents as servants, she was Joan Crawfording it up. I don't think Sally is an evil overlord, just a nice rich girl with odd parents.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 PM on May 8, 2013


It's too bad Sally isn't going to be old enough to help that jerkass found the company that would later be Urban Outfitters, Anthropolgie, and Free People.
posted by Sara C. at 9:51 PM on May 8, 2013


NYT dealbook on agency IPOs from 1962-1973, with a link to a paper on the IPOs (PDF, marked 'Draft - not for distribution).

argh! Still no names!
posted by mwhybark at 9:51 PM on May 8, 2013


Things I learned today:

Ina Garten's childhood is actually very similar to Sally Draper's.

Ina Garten was once a White House nuclear policy analyst.

Ina Garten spent four months backpacking through France in the 70's.

Ina Garten's husband, Jeffrey, is considered significant enough to have his own Wikipedia page.
posted by Sara C. at 9:58 PM on May 8, 2013


And oh yeah! the pic of Roger and Don at the bottom of the dealbook story reminded me that the Chevy location shot, with the cars, was made in a hallway of the Hollywood Biltmore (second post on page, image shows what I think is a reverse of the shot used in the show) in LA, the site for the first couple decades of Oscar ceremonies and previously used on the show as well. I strongly suspect the restaurant sequence with the loathesome Jaguar guy was shot at the Biltmore too; the twisted-finish pillars visible in both scenes match.
posted by mwhybark at 10:03 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Returning to thread to defend Ina Garten. She's no Betty.
posted by maggieb at 10:08 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Who said she was?)

I thought we were talking about how Sally would grow up to be a relatively "establishment" figure, readily accept her privileged background, etc. Ina Garten, as awesome as she may be, is the poster child for that sort of thing. The Baby Boomer who grew up to work for the Ford Administration. Patti Smith she ain't.
posted by Sara C. at 10:11 PM on May 8, 2013


Are we doing an RFK Death Watch Pool yet? Will it be mentioned merely in passing or given more coverage? This next episode or not? Finale-worthy? Peggy's "I like Bobby Kennedy" remark WILL NOT GO UNMENTIONED!

This past episode was set around three weeks before RFK's assassination. This season has been jumping about a month between each episode. And after the merger, I kinda of expect that Weiner will keep up the trend and it'll be mid-June next episode - rather than deal too much with the nitty gritty of how the two firms will merge. (After they formed SCDP, that was a season finale - so we skipped a lot of time between seasons while the new firm established itself.)

In fact, I think Peggy's over obvious mention of RFK means we'll miss it altogether. And she'll mention it in passing.
posted by crossoverman at 11:11 PM on May 8, 2013


I had this feeling that RFK and Ted were getting conflated in Peggy's paint-addled brain -- like, she certainly does love Kennedy, but the remark came out with unexpected passion because she couldn't talk about her crush. I've always liked Peggy's loyalty to the Kennedys, how she still had that enshrined photo up well into 1968. Wonder if she'll put it up after the move, or if this is the moment that she realizes it's been almost five years.

I have a wacky hope that there's a nod to The Prisoner next week (which should be set about the time it airs in the U.S.; we're coming into range). There are some resonances (Sixties spy camp, counterculture and establishment collapsing together, an air of panic and exhaustion) and some contrasts (Prisoner's sterility, its complete otherworldly weirdness) that might play interestingly off some of the characters. Not sure exactly what they'd do with it, but that's why I don't write the show.

(When The Prisoner wants to use a Beatles song, it gets it for free because the Beatles are fans. That's a very different kind of hardcore from Weiner paying $250,000 for one, although both are hardcore acts.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 11:51 PM on May 8, 2013


SALLY ANN DRAPER

It's actually "Sally Beth Draper".

posted by orange swan at 5:49 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, yeah, Bob Benson is definitely on the shortlist of Most Ridiculous Mad Men character.

Bob Benson is some kind of supremely evil figure. Mark my words. I seriously sometimes wonder if he represents death in some way, lurking around like that.
posted by anastasiav at 7:00 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bob is Loki, leaving Chaos behind him wherever he goes.
posted by misha at 7:04 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find myself hoping that there is no narrative role that Bob Benson's going to play. I want him to be the elaborate set-up to a miniscule little joke. Basically Dr. Lyle Evans retold as a shaggy dog story, or something like that.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:06 AM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


In ten years everyone will be working for him, or dead by his hand.
posted by The Whelk at 7:20 AM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bob Benson is the caretaker. He has always been the caretaker.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:23 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


No he's a soviet spy.

"Remember Sergi, Americans are happy all the time! always smiling! always helpful!"
posted by The Whelk at 7:31 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think Christina Hendricks is kind of overhyped - sometimes I think she's not that good, but I realize I'm just reacting to the OMGAMAZINGJOAN haze everyone else seems to be in, and she is quite good on the show.

I agree, except about Elisabeth Moss.
posted by jeather at 8:00 AM on May 9, 2013


Fisticuffs it is, then.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:01 AM on May 9, 2013




Fisticuffs it is, then.

Yeah, I know, I'm the only person anywhere who doesn't like Peggy (though it's mostly that I don't like Elisabeth Moss and it bleeds through to every character she plays).
posted by jeather at 8:27 AM on May 9, 2013


I can't help but think RFK's assassination is going to be the breaking point for Abe and Peggy. Abe sees society at this point as fundamentally broken and needing pretty much a revolution. And Peggy haslaid down her marker as wanting stability. She's profiting handsomely from the current world. And it's also giving him stability. They won't be able to reconcile that.

Also, boy, Peggy's mom must grow more fond of Abe with every passing day, huh? "that boy will use you and then leave." So now, on top of having sex with what she sees as no commitment, he gets full room and board on her daughter's hard work.
posted by dry white toast at 9:17 AM on May 9, 2013


I don't know what to make of Abe these days. I'm not sure if he really wants revolution or not, and my guess is that he's less radical in 1968 than he was a few years ago.

For one thing, he's got his hopes pinned on McCarthy. Revolutionaries who saw society as fundamentally broken in 1968 were not "Neat And Clean For Eugene". They were forming cells like the Weather Underground and bombing military recruitment centers. They were thinking violent overthrow, not "The next President is definitely going to stop the war."

Secondly, he's now a reporter for the New York Times, not the Village Voice as he was when we met him. The Times has never been a radical paper, and in the 60's it was not the liberal voice of NYC print media as it is today. Prior to the mid/late 70's, the left-leaning mainstream paper in New York was the Post, of all things (shocking but true).

And keep in mind that Abe just nailed a HUGE story. I don't know for sure, but it's very possible that Abe ended up front page, above the fold, the wet dream of reporters everywhere. It is now officially not in his interest for society to be overthrown, because society includes institutions like the New York Times, which cuts his paychecks.

In a lot of ways, he's following the same trajectory as Peggy is, but in a slightly different way.

Now, it's very possible that he could take a sharp left turn and become more cynically radicalized. I can see the events of the upcoming Democratic Convention being a turning point for him. Regardless of his politics and where life is going to take him over the next couple years, I think the next few months are going to be hard on Peggy and Abe as a couple and a lot of the political events are going to throw their differences into stark relief.

But if they break up, I don't think it's necessarily going to be because Abe wants to overthrow society and Peggy is fundamentally conservative. I think -- as is typical of every Peggy storyline ever -- it's going to be a lot more nuanced than that.
posted by Sara C. at 9:38 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think my "Sally Is Not Going To Woodstock" is "Abe Is Not As Wrong For Peggy As You Think".
posted by Sara C. at 9:57 AM on May 9, 2013


Secondly, he's now a reporter for the New York Times, not the Village Voice.

Thanks for calling my attention to that, Sara. I totally missed that point, and its a big deal.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:59 AM on May 9, 2013


He went "to a riot in a tux," so I say close reading bears the thesis out.
posted by mwhybark at 10:05 AM on May 9, 2013


A point in favor of Abe going apeshit Streetfighting Man, on the other hand, is that the Democratic Convention hasn't happened yet. A lot of optimistic leftists who had their hopes pinned on McCarthy went to a very dark place after the events of the next few months (the assassination of RFK, the failure of McCarthy to win the Democratic nomination, the Chicago Seven, the student protests across Europe in the summer of '68, Nixon winning the election, etc).

That said, the ones who started bombing shit were mostly college students, not up and coming reporters for mainstream newspapers. So I still think Abe is relatively safe.

(I really wish I hadn't gotten rid of my copy of Todd Gitlin's The Whole World Is Watching in the big cross-country move...)
posted by Sara C. at 10:10 AM on May 9, 2013


I also want to know if those hoodlums on the stoop that Abe is OK with are members of the Young Lords.

That said, I'm not sure the Young Lords were active in NYC yet in the spring of '68, or whether the West Side would have been part of their turf. But a lot of the stuff Abe is talking about in "For Immediate Release" sounds like their bread and butter.
posted by Sara C. at 10:14 AM on May 9, 2013


(BTW if anyone wants to know way too fucking much about the 60's New Left, you can feel free to memail me or come over for a glass of wine on my porch or something.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't help but think RFK's assassination is going to be the breaking point for Abe and Peggy.

A bit of a tangent, but I've been wondering the same thing. I recently read an interesting biography of "Maverick" actor Jack Kelly, and it seems like the emotional toll of the Kennedy/King/Kennedy assassinations and surrounding events was probably the nail in the coffin of his first marriage. They were very politically active, idealistic, were at the March on Washington and the whole nine yards, and it was just too much.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:36 AM on May 9, 2013


(BTW if anyone wants to know way too fucking much about the 60's New Left, you can feel free to memail me or come over for a glass of wine on my porch or something.)

BICOASTAL FAIL.
posted by sweetkid at 10:39 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I was still in New York I would take you on a bike ride past the house in the village that the Weather Underground blew up.
posted by Sara C. at 10:40 AM on May 9, 2013


Do you also know a lot about the Paris riots of '68?
posted by sweetkid at 10:41 AM on May 9, 2013


Nothing more than what is in the movie The Dreamers.
posted by Sara C. at 10:42 AM on May 9, 2013


Pfft. Friggin' undergrads ruin everything.
posted by maryr at 10:42 AM on May 9, 2013


Sara I was about to write and take you up on your porch offer but you're seemingly no longer on the Awesome Coast.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:52 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


How am I not in this thread yet? Hi!

I was over the moon about the cars theme in this episode. I also liked how it dovetailed nicely with the airplane themes...the Mustang, Detroit, manufacturing, the war...all great little connections floating around in the background. They showed how transportation is changing, without being overly explicit about it.

I've been wondering for days now about the new agency name. Just cannot wait to find out. My money is on an adjective or noun, not a surname mashup. That would be so outrageous and forward thinking for the time and Peggy could pull something like that out under the pressure. WHAT WILL SHE COME UP WITH???!?! gah
posted by iamkimiam at 10:52 AM on May 9, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about the cars in the last episode and ALL the cars ever, in any episode.

Especially the early season episode where Don goes into the Cadillac (?) dealership and buys a car basically because he can.

Also the episode in California where Don has the conversations with the hot rod kids.

Also the Honda episode, though that's a motorbike.

Also the WV lemon ad.
posted by Sara C. at 11:06 AM on May 9, 2013


Also Don let Glen drive the car.

Also Don and Bobbie's car crash.

Also Betty's car crash.

Also Bobby's "when I'm 40, you'll be dead" line to Don took place in a car.
posted by sweetkid at 11:11 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don Draper's garden of automobile metaphors!
posted by The Whelk at 11:15 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lane's murder Jaguar.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:19 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Betty puking in the car.
posted by mynameisluka at 11:27 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don abandons Megan at Howard Johnson by driving off in a huff.
posted by donajo at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2013


Lane finding the wallet in the taxi.
posted by sweetkid at 11:37 AM on May 9, 2013


Sally driving while Grandpa Gene works the pedals.

Grandpa Gene doesn't show up in the car to pick up Sally and Bobby.

Because he's dead.
posted by dyobmit at 11:40 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


We haven't seen much of Peggy in cars, have we? Aside from the priest driving her to the subway in S2.
posted by sweetkid at 11:42 AM on May 9, 2013


Sally driving while Grandpa Gene works the pedals.

Grandpa Gene doesn't show up in the car to pick up Sally and Bobby.


Also, re Grandpa Gene, Don keeps William's car and ships them back to Philly on the train in exchange for watching Gene.
posted by sweetkid at 11:43 AM on May 9, 2013


Peggy sat on Abe's lap in a crowded car coming home from the beach.
posted by dyobmit at 11:43 AM on May 9, 2013


Don picks up hitchhikers

Don drives alongside the jogging teacher

Peggy picks up Don after accident
posted by mikepop at 11:43 AM on May 9, 2013


Henry crushes Don's boxes with the car in the Draper house garage.
posted by dyobmit at 11:44 AM on May 9, 2013


I don't think those Peggy scenes are super meaningful though, in terms of "things happening in the car."
posted by sweetkid at 11:45 AM on May 9, 2013


I don't know if any of these scenes are meaningful, I was just personally feeling briefly like re-watching old episodes so many times with boxed wine was finally coming in handy.

Weiner said in an interview recently he likes using elevators for scenes, but it's also conveniently a useful trick for a show that doesn't have a huge budget. Maybe cars are the same?
posted by dyobmit at 11:52 AM on May 9, 2013


Is a riding lawnmower a car?
posted by bondcliff at 11:57 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was just personally feeling briefly like re-watching old episodes so many times with boxed wine was finally coming in handy.

Rewatching old episodes is always important and I encourage it heartily.

Boxed wine I dunno.

Yeah, elevators are definitely useful for themes in scenes, especially in New York where people spend lots of time in them.

Cars I always associated specifically with Don, since he's in some ways an emblem of the "reinvent yourself" "freedom of the open road" part of the "American Dream" but now I'm seeing connections to other characters, namely other Drapers and Lane.
posted by sweetkid at 11:57 AM on May 9, 2013


A lot of time on TV, when you want two characters to have a conversation (or some other important bit of business that isn't very cinematic), you put them in a car. Suddenly, they're doing something! There's stuff to look at! You can throw in other important bits of information, like what kind of car they drive, where they're going, what the landscape looks like, etc. It's a lot more dynamic than just having them standing in a room.

So I think some of these car moments fall into that category. Especially the Peggy ones, like sitting on Abe's lap or talking to the young priest in season 2. How do you put "Peggy hangs out with her friends and maybe likes a boy and has a little fun" onscreen without taking up a lot of time, but in a way that is visually interesting? They're a bunch of proto-hippies piling into the car after a day at the beach! And Peggy sits on a boy's lap!

Elevators can also be used in the same way, but a little less dynamic. Still, it gives you excuses to let characters who don't normally interact a reason to be around each other. It also gives you an excuse to lay down a bunch of information without needing to come up with business for people to be doing -- almost the opposite of why you might put a scene in a car.

But then a lot of the other car stuff uses cars in ways that are much more specific. I also think the elevator is also a big symbol, I mean remember the empty shaft?
posted by Sara C. at 12:21 PM on May 9, 2013


If we may turn our attention to puppies before the next episode...

Someone mentioned (I think in the previous thread) that the "I love puppies" line/delivery seemed out of character for Don. I'd like to posit that it shows a part of the character we only ever catch a small glimpse of: (Temporarily) Unburdened Don.

The Jaguar dinner is rapidly entering a death spiral. Peaches is dominating the conversation, Roger is MIA, Marie is openly insulting people to the point where it's obvious no matter what language you speak. At some point, Don realizes that it will be over with Jaguar by the night's end. Immediately he feels a great weight lifted. He hates working with Herb on a professional level. He hates Herb on a personal level. He hates how they got the account. He hates what Joan did. He might even tie the account back to Lane Pryce (who brought in the account) and hates being reminded of his death. The feeling is so euphoric he temporarily is free from all his other demons and jumps into the conversation, happily talking about puppies.

We saw another Jaguar-related glimpse of him like this just a few episodes earlier. As he deliberately throws the "regional Jaguar dealer resource reallocation" pitch, he gets more and more into it and goes well beyond what he needed to do. Maybe he's already thinking that it's the beginning of the end for Jaguar there.

A slightly more sloppy version of this can be viewed in the "Cure for the common breakfast" pitch scene where his temporary unburdening is unfortunately fueled only by a massive amount of alcohol.

Plus, he's just being truthful - don't forget he comes back to the abandoned birthday party with a puppy to make it all right (in his mind, because if he loves puppies everyone must love puppies).

Finally, "I love puppies!" is an obvious anagram of "Evil, I so pep up!" but that's probably just a coincidence.
posted by mikepop at 1:05 PM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


We saw another Jaguar-related glimpse of him like this just a few episodes earlier. As he deliberately throws the "regional Jaguar dealer resource reallocation" pitch, he gets more and more into it and goes well beyond what he needed to do. Maybe he's already thinking that it's the beginning of the end for Jaguar there.

I didn't read it this way at all. My take from watching that scene is that Don is being strategic. SCDP is strongarmed into arguing for Herb's idea (despite the fact that the Jaguar national people don't want it and it doesn't do anything for SCDP either), so they argue for it in a way that makes it clear what a stupid idea it is. Don takes it further than he absolutely has to, but that's kind of the point. He really wants to underline how short-sighted and counterproductive Herb's idea is.
posted by Sara C. at 1:13 PM on May 9, 2013


I agree he is being strategic to defuse Herb's suggestion, but at the same time I think as he gets going he is sincerely taking delight in doing so. I think he takes it farther than he needs to not necessarily to underline the point (it's clear he has the other Jaguar people convinced it is a horrible idea and going farther actually reduces his plausible deniability with Herb) but rather because he finds himself feeling greatly relieved as he goes along.
posted by mikepop at 1:23 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, for sure.
posted by Sara C. at 1:25 PM on May 9, 2013


I was the person who said it was out of character for him to say, "I love puppies," but I don't think he was feeling unburdened or happy when he said. He looked bored and distracted and the line seemed for comic effect entirely like in a sitcom. Though your alternative theory is interesting. I just don't see evidence for it, or for Don supposedly loving puppies himself. He brought the dog back after the birthday party, sure, but I think he was just being drunk, impulsive and selfish, knowing he was going to do something that would piss off Betty but make himself look awesome in the kids' eyes. I don't think it had anything to do with the dog itself.
posted by sweetkid at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2013


The bigger question is, what ever happened to that dog? It's been seasons since we've seen it.
posted by COBRA! at 1:44 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was in the vintage shop today going " no too...bob...stan...pete
.ugh ginsberg."
posted by The Whelk at 2:23 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The bigger question is, what ever happened to that dog? It's been seasons since we've seen it.

It's running the mean streets of NYC with Duck's dog.
posted by drezdn at 2:33 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Don was just entertaining himself, fucking with people. Cheap thrills at a dinner that is far off the rails and your wife has got more dress above the table than below it.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:33 PM on May 9, 2013


awww Duck's dog.
posted by sweetkid at 2:34 PM on May 9, 2013



I think Don was just entertaining himself, fucking with people.


How is that fucking with people?
posted by sweetkid at 2:34 PM on May 9, 2013


Bob is like the grandparents from Mulholland Drive, or maybe the Commendatore from Don Giovanni. The last scene of Mad Men will be Bob Benson dragging Don Draper into the gaping maw of Hell. I'm certain of it.
posted by invitapriore at 2:34 PM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


My guess was that he was flailing, trying to keep the conversation going because nobody else seemed willing to do it.

Again, I can't help but contrast it to the dinner last season where Megan and Don closed a deal with a client in perfect harmony.
posted by Sara C. at 2:46 PM on May 9, 2013


My guess was that he was flailing, trying to keep the conversation going because nobody else seemed willing to do it.

Yea, but that's what I found so out of character. It seemed like he was throwing Peaches a lifeline, and when does he ever do anything like that?

Again, I can't help but contrast it to the dinner last season where Megan and Don closed a deal with a client in perfect harmony.

Yea totally. But then Megan is perfect and good at everything, aintcha heard?

(I like how they had Sylvia actually say that ('you're good at everything, aren't you?' last episode).
posted by sweetkid at 2:53 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


And yet Megan was there for this dinner, just sitting there looking like a bale of tinsel.
posted by Sara C. at 2:57 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, I had such a different read on Don there. I don't think he was being helpful or nice at all. I feel like I recognize exactly what he's doing there. This is something I used to do a lot when I was younger and had a lot of angst and contempt for certain people. People who I thought I was superior to in a certain (horrible and unfair) way. If I was stuck with them at say, a dinner table, I would sit there with this inner dialogue running in my head, very similar to Marie's sentiments in French (but not in French). But because it's outright mean to say such things to people, and I was bored and probably a somewhat disturbed individual, I would see how far I could take things. Maybe show some interest and see what they do with it. Especially if I could play with that edge of how ambiguously in/sincere I could make my voice. "I love puppies" is one of the most patronizing, empty, fuck you statements you could say there, I think. Especially with that smirky smile. It's not sincere at all and the one person it could mean anything too will take it as genuine. Which would further prove the motivation behind the statement, that Peaches is a trifling fool (she's not, really...she's just in over her head with horrible people at a horrible dinner arrangement with her pig husband). Don knows he's being mean, and Megan probably does as well. It's signaling, even if only to himself. It's a bored cat toying with a half-dead baby mouse. I see Don almost laughing there as he says it. He's so much more clever than "I love puppies." He's a word man, a marketing genius...I love puppies is a pitch to amuse himself as he gets ready to jump off this sinking ship.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:58 PM on May 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


a bale of tinsel.

This phrase is fresh genius. What is its provenance?
posted by sweetkid at 2:59 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I might be a bit cynical.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:59 PM on May 9, 2013


Sara C's brain.
posted by Sara C. at 3:03 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


You might be right, iamkimiam, I just don't really see it. I'll have to think about it. I just don't see what's toying about saying that at that moment. It's what she wanted to hear. if anything I could see he was being mean to MARIE by encouraging Peaches to keep going about a topic that was clearly enraging Marie.

I do enjoy that we've spent so much time analyzing a phrase that is nothing but "I love puppies." I mean, that's it. That's the whole thing. Marvelous.
posted by sweetkid at 3:04 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm with iamkimiam. He's playing that game where you toe the line of just how much contempt you can show for someone, especially someone who you think is oblivious, while retaining plausible deniability as to whether you're being an asshole.
posted by invitapriore at 3:04 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sara C's brain

I am going to use it all the time all the time.
posted by sweetkid at 3:05 PM on May 9, 2013


I like that reading, invitapriore. I think that's also what's happening a moment later when it's him and Herb at the table, and Herb is like "I want this wordsmith car salesman kid to approve your work for us from now on" and Don takes out his business card writes something on it, and says "This is who's handling your account from now on."

He doesn't say, "Fuck this, Draper out." He's a smarmy dick about it. I don't know that it's out of character, or maybe just a smidge too precious, but it's of a piece with "I love puppies."

Speaking of, WTF do you guys think he wrote on the card? Bob Benson?
posted by Sara C. at 3:07 PM on May 9, 2013


Ken Cosgrove.
posted by drezdn at 3:08 PM on May 9, 2013


That's why Ken got a call from him the next day.
posted by drezdn at 3:09 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lyle Evans.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:10 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yea definitely Cosgrove.
posted by sweetkid at 3:10 PM on May 9, 2013


I want this wordsmith car salesman kid to approve your work for us from now on

That was one of the more realistic things that happens in advertising btw. That one burned, too close to home.
posted by sweetkid at 3:11 PM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah. Having worked in a web design shop I cringed at that one too.
posted by invitapriore at 3:14 PM on May 9, 2013


We've all been Peaches. It's like when you're rambling on to someone, getting carried away with a topic you really care about. And then they say "How very interesting!" If you think they're sincere, you might go on. If you think it's a polite social cue to STFU, you might change the subject. Maybe while imagining punching them in the face (depending on your ego and maturity level (or theirs in making the statement), even if you think they're right). Or excuse yourself to the bathroom, whatever.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:15 PM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah. Having worked in a web design shop I cringed at that one too.

Especially because you can't suavely fire the client and say don't sit down we're leaving to your short skirted spouse and then flounce out.

No, you have to do the thing.
posted by sweetkid at 3:18 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


We've all been Peaches. It's like when you're rambling on to someone, getting carried away with a topic you really care about.

Yeah, see, for me when this happens I am usually talking about Mad Men. Betty, specifically.
posted by sweetkid at 3:19 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, reminds me of what I call "the wife round" during hell projects when someone's wife becomes suddenly VERY INTERESTED in all the copy. (I run a small agency/am a copywriter.)
posted by mynameisluka at 3:20 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Betty.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:22 PM on May 9, 2013


Speaking of, WTF do you guys think he wrote on the card? Bob Benson?

For a weird second (because I couldn't help but read some of the discussion before I actually got to watch the episode) my mind went to Teddy Chaough, but I grant that that makes negative sense and Cosgrove seems like the most likely answer.
posted by invitapriore at 3:22 PM on May 9, 2013


I love Betty.

Me too and I can talk about it forever as you can see in this thread and every other Mad Men thread.
posted by sweetkid at 3:23 PM on May 9, 2013


Speaking of, WTF do you guys think he wrote on the card? Bob Benson?

I had thought Cosgrove, too, but it occurred to me reading this thread that maybe he took down the name Herb gave him. Chris Fawcett. "Kid's so good, give the account to him."
posted by torticat at 3:35 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a plan, we put Sarah C's brain in a jar....
posted by The Whelk at 3:51 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of cars, I can't wait for season seven's Chappaquiddick episode! Or maybe, given the dates, that can somehow be combined with the Apollo 11 lands on the moon story.

"We're all in Chappaquiddick, but some of us are looking at the stars."

Do it, Weiner!
posted by crossoverman at 4:28 PM on May 9, 2013


Yeah, reminds me of what I call "the wife round" during hell projects when someone's wife becomes suddenly VERY INTERESTED in all the copy. (I run a small agency/am a copywriter.)

Yeah, all those wives with their thoughts and opinions! The horror.

Man, it's tough business being a wife. You're denigrated for having thoughts and ideas and a brain, but if you don't, you're Peaches. OMG, what a ditz, etc.
posted by purpleclover at 4:36 PM on May 9, 2013


I would say the spousal round (for the record, I'm a woman), but somehow it always ends up being a nitpicky man's even nitpickier wife. The wife round is usually an indicator that the project has gone so far off the rails that people's families are getting involved.

I didn't think Peaches was a ditz as much as a miserable sidekick, working valiantly to smooth over a horrific social situation.
posted by mynameisluka at 4:56 PM on May 9, 2013


that maybe he took down the name Herb gave him

That was my take on it. Make it look like he was taking Herb seriously and writing down the name for reference, then just hand it right back to him.

This scene is all about his delight in getting rid of Herb. I don't think he's being mean to Peaches; he's just encouraging her to go on because he knows it's annoying Herb. Who's supposed to be steering this meeting? Herb doesn't want to be the one to start, Roger is a no-show, so it falls to Don. Instead, he's all for more puppy stories. Finally, it's Peaches who decides she's had enough of this and takes control by declaring she and the others are leaving the table so they can just get on with it already.

I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek earlier talking about Don bringing home the dog. I do not, in fact, think this was driven by his love of puppies. And as someone else asked, where is the all-night dog pound in Ossining?
posted by mikepop at 4:57 PM on May 9, 2013


Don Draper, puppy snatcher.
posted by The Whelk at 5:06 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you imagine what would have happened at that dinner if Roger had shown up?
posted by iamkimiam at 5:34 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think he's being mean to Peaches; he's just encouraging her to go on because he knows it's annoying Herb.

Ok, I'm with you on this.
posted by sweetkid at 5:40 PM on May 9, 2013


Yeah, I can see that angle, too. That's probably more Don's style as well...getting under Herb's skin and ensuring that he has the shittiest night possible, on all possible fronts.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:13 PM on May 9, 2013


Speaking of Roger, I don't think this was intentional but that moment where he bursts in the room as all the partners are discussing Don firing Jaguar reminded me of that scene from an earlier season, maybe when Burt Peterson was getting fired, where Roger also disrupts an unhappy meeting with inappropriate levity. I really love those moments.
posted by invitapriore at 9:20 PM on May 9, 2013


Of course, January Jones also suffers from the comparison to Jon Hamm who is a pretty termendous comic actor.)

Oh god. I remembered this yesterday and started laughing all over again. A man making weird noises shouldn't be that funny.
posted by mippy at 4:06 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I forgot that SNL has the guy from Portlandia in it...)
posted by mippy at 4:07 AM on May 10, 2013


I wonder if there's supposed to be a similarity between Ted and Megan. Don has moved into a life-altering agreement with both of them without thinking about the consequences.
posted by drezdn at 6:21 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a lot I don't understand about the whole merger business. Would all the other partners really just take the whole thing as such a fait accompli? We see people moving offices in previews so it look like it happens but are we going to see any of the negotiations/arguments/outrage or will we just be tuning in a few weeks later? If part of the argument for GM choosing a larger agency was an instant Detroit branch will C5SDH be establishing a presence there? Peggy is typing the memo on (or for?) May 17th. Robert F. Kennedy has less than three weeks to live. So possibly they will cram this next episode in before June 6th if they accelerate the merger process, or we'll pick up shortly afterwards.
posted by mikepop at 7:25 AM on May 10, 2013


I'd be willing to bet we pick up after. We've already had two assassination episodes.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:29 AM on May 10, 2013


That was my initial theory before the merger - maybe picking up at 4th of July. Not sure if they want to somehow cram this episode in before June 6th then jump farther ahead, or settle for jumping not so far ahead. Or maybe they'll just jump ahead a couple of months now - I don't know what's realistic when going from "Announce sudden merger" to "change offices". It could be they work in existing offices for a while after the merger until they get all the logistics sorted out.
posted by mikepop at 7:42 AM on May 10, 2013


I think Ted & Peggy & al. are moving to SCDP's location, not that both firms are moving to a new location.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:47 AM on May 10, 2013


I think Ted & Peggy & al. are moving to SCDP's location, not that both firms are moving to a new location.
posted by shakespeherian


Yeah, that's what the previews looked like, plus it's established that SCDP now has a bunch of space.
posted by COBRA! at 7:49 AM on May 10, 2013


Sorry, that's what I meant by change offices. Just Ted's firm probably taking over another floor in the current building. So it could be a quick process, even if they all have temp offices while they build out some new area.
posted by mikepop at 7:50 AM on May 10, 2013


There's a lot I don't understand about the whole merger business. Would all the other partners really just take the whole thing as such a fait accompli?

No. Also there really isn't that much of a reason they couldn't pitch in the work together without having to actually merge the two companies. They could have found a way to split the work and revenue, although those things get awkward. Still, it's done a fair amount.

I think it's a bit silly to be going in that direction. Also Don & Ted are lower on the letterhead in their respective agencies so it's still a bit strange they would think they could just make a decision like that, even if it played out well. I thought it was a bit rushed.

Just for pure story sake, I think Don and Ted going off on their own would be pretty neat, but then there would be the issue of what to do with everyone else at SCDP. I wouldn't like them off the show, but I don't think Don would gleefully bring Pete on board.
posted by sweetkid at 7:52 AM on May 10, 2013


Just Ted's firm probably taking over another floor in the current building.

Maybe this ends the speculation about why they were making such a big deal about their being another floor in the office earlier in the season?
posted by sweetkid at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2013


Wait...what is the name of the woman who appears to have taken Peggy's place in the SCDP copy room? I can't keep referring to her as Peggy's Mum.
posted by mippy at 7:57 AM on May 10, 2013


I don;t think she's ever given a name so I'm calling her Gloria. She looks like a Gloria.
posted by The Whelk at 8:10 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


She does look like a Gloria but she surely has a name. Possibly Shirley.
posted by sweetkid at 8:16 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don & Ted are lower on the letterhead in their respective agencies so it's still a bit strange they would think they could just make a decision like that

Well, we already know Ted needs money to buy Gleason out, and that Cutler is in charge of managing CDC's capital. So Ted can count on Cutler's support and doesn't need to take Gleason into consideration.

Don traveled to Detroit with Roger, who effectively control's Bert's vote and who is probably the senior capital partner in SCDP. Lane is dead and thus can't vote. So as long as Don and Roger agree, it's unlikely Bert will kick, and Joan's legitimate frustration with the speed of the decision won't change the outcome.

Which reminds me, is Pete a legit SCDP partner yet? I think he must be since he participates in the partners' meetings.
posted by mwhybark at 8:53 AM on May 10, 2013


They made Pete a partner in order to bring him to SCDP with his client book.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:55 AM on May 10, 2013


Don traveled to Detroit with Roger, who effectively control's Bert's vote and who is probably the senior capital partner in SCDP. Lane is dead and thus can't vote. So as long as Don and Roger agree, it's unlikely Bert will kick, and Joan's legitimate frustration with the speed of the decision won't change the outcome.

Yeah but again, there was no need to do this just to win the Chevy pitch and it was all a bit rushed, even if there's some backend justification to it. It just seemed like a very creaky mechanism to get Don and Peggy back together.

And yeah Pete's been a partner, he just didn't have as much money in as the others so didn't get Campbell added into the name salad.
posted by sweetkid at 8:56 AM on May 10, 2013


Yeah but again, there was no need to do this just to win the Chevy pitch and it was all a bit rushed, even if there's some backend justification to it. It just seemed like a very creaky mechanism to get Don and Peggy back together.


I'm holding out a little bit of hope that the next episode will address some of the partnery mechanics, but I'll probably be disappointed on that.
posted by COBRA! at 9:03 AM on May 10, 2013


Pete's a junior partner. He put in less money initially. (That's what confused me about Harry's temper tantrum a couple weeks ago. Partnerships aren't gold stars awarded to good boys and girls; typically you put in cash to become a partner. Is he waving around $100,000 or whatever and still can't get their attention? I don't think so.)
posted by purpleclover at 9:06 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Partnerships aren't gold stars awarded to good boys and girls; typically you put in cash to become a partner.

Wasn't Don made a junior partner of the original Sterling Cooper as a gold star? Not saying you're wrong in the real world, but I think I remember gold starism in the Mad Menverse.
posted by COBRA! at 9:08 AM on May 10, 2013


I think Harry understood he would need to put in money - it just wasn't discussed. Also, typically partners bring in business, which is why it makes more sense for Harry to be a partner than Joan. You don't need a finance person to be a partner, so the fact that she's doing Lane's job doesn't matter.
posted by sweetkid at 9:09 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't forget that Don and Ted decided to merge not just for the sake of Chevy (although they decided to use that to sell it to their partners), but because they both wanted to get out of the minor leagues for all of their business.

At the time of Lane's death, Roger, Bert, and Don are equal partners, while Lane and Pete are junior partners and Joan has her 5%. Does anyone know what would happen to Lane's share in SCDP? I assume the others would've had to buy him out (as Cutler and Chaough have to buy out Gleason), but would his shares be equally distributed across the other partners?

When they showed that Bert, Pete, and Joan were working on the IPO without getting buy-in from Roger and Don first, I figured that the three of them together must've owned enough of the company to move forward with the IPO without Don's consent. I wish that all of this would be clarified too, but I'm not holding out hope.
posted by donajo at 9:10 AM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do we know (or have good guesses) as to what Cooper's original role in Sterling Cooper was? We know that Sterling Sr. was the account guy--was Bert a creative? Seems unlikely. And in Harry's temper tantrum, he says that Bert used to be him. Was Bert in media (radio?) sales?
posted by donajo at 9:13 AM on May 10, 2013


And in Harry's temper tantrum, he says that Bert used to be him. Was Bert in media (radio?) sales?

Good catch. This might have been explained in previous seasons where there was more focus on Cooper (like when his sister would come have lunch with him) but I can't remember.
posted by sweetkid at 9:16 AM on May 10, 2013


There's a part of me that can't imagine advertising existing in Bert's day. Of course I know it did, but all I can think of is stuff like this and wonder that it took an entire company of people to make that happen.

With all the talk about 80's Don Draper, I kind of wonder what 20's Don Draper would be like.
posted by Sara C. at 9:49 AM on May 10, 2013


Hmm I might have to lose an afternoon looking that up.
posted by sweetkid at 9:50 AM on May 10, 2013


He invents "Halitosis" for Listerine.
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 AM on May 10, 2013


It would be so great if Bert Cooper had invented halitosis.
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"How'd you get your name on the side of a building, Mr. Cooper?"

"I invented bad breath."
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here are some car ads from the 20s that I can fully believe took a full team to produce and sell in.
posted by sweetkid at 9:55 AM on May 10, 2013


Only four oil changes a year, you say? COUNT ME IN
posted by Sara C. at 10:01 AM on May 10, 2013


Betty Draper modeling, 1953.

I think I could bill looking at this site as 'research.' Sure I can.
posted by sweetkid at 10:07 AM on May 10, 2013


VINTAGE HIPSTERS
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of advertising, did we ever find out why Megan was wearing those ballerina laceups in the last episode of last season when she was shooting a SHOE commercial? I wonder if T&Lo pointed it out.
posted by sweetkid at 10:15 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


No they didn't which is why they have become completely worthless these days.

I'm also frustrated that they didn't notice the resemblance between Megan's bathrobe in the last episode and Betty's Sad Marriage Coat from back in the day.

Stop obsessing about blue and green and let's talk about interesting stuff. Also that scene between Abe and Peggy where they're talking about the junkie neighbor doesn't even have that much blue and green in it. Abe is wearing denim and Peggy's jacket has a green stripe.

(My frustration also has a lot to do with the fact that whatever ad script they're running on their site does not like Chrome at all and it takes forever for me to scroll through and realize they didn't talk about any of the things I wanted to know.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:19 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


yea I just looked and all they were talking about was how Megan looked like a little girl.
posted by sweetkid at 10:20 AM on May 10, 2013


Regarding Lane, wasn't there some cleanup business involving Don doing something to cover the guy's embezzlement and still provide some sort of payday for Lane's family? I would assume that would have ended any actual Prycean stake in SCDP.

Surely somewhere there is a nerdly site with carefully retconned estimated ownership stakes for SCDP.

Let's see...

Sterling / Cooper, fifty fifty (or whatever) then bought out by the Brits, all interest out of original partner's hands

SCDP, presumably weighted to Roger and Bert by dint of available capital, let's estimate 30-30-20-20

SCD presume Lane's family is bought out and his share redistributed to SCD initially, 20/3= ~6.66, so 36-36-26

SCD (CH) presume Pete matches Joan in the current pre-CDC merger state, so 10/3= ~3.33, 33-33-23-5-5

Bert tells Joan her share is ~$1m at IPO open, so that pegs the total value at ~$20m

Figuring out CDC is gonna be total guesswork since we don't have script info on their books. My vague impression is that they are a bit smaller than SCDP and we should assume it's a three way split, altered to a two-way split before the merger. For the sake of easy math let's peg them at $10m, with C&C at $5m each.

so in the end we might have a $30m (presumably inflated) valuation, split up as follows:
Roger and Bert: 6.67m each, 22%
Don: 4.67m, 16%
Ted: 5m, 17%(!)
Cutler (do we have a first name?): 5m, 17%
Pete: 1m, 3%
Joan: 1m, 3%

Well well well! So of course this is obviously fanfic, but there are some dramatic possibilities here, especially if my guess about CDC bears out. There's a possibility that Ted would outweigh him in ownership stake, something I can't imagine Don permitting.

The other thing I'm curious about is if we know what the minimum voting partner stake is. I'm guessing 5%, so Joan and Pete's votes may be in jeopardy, although presumably that stake can be redifined in the merger paperwork.
posted by mwhybark at 10:28 AM on May 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


(bizarre, my iPad sees 33-33-23-5-5 as a phone number and styles it as a regular yellow MetaFilter link)
posted by mwhybark at 10:33 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thats right, we have MadMen spreadsheet fanfic. Feel proud everyone
posted by The Whelk at 10:38 AM on May 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


mwhybark, I applaud your efforts, but your initial figures are off. Don was a partner before the sellout to PPL. Lane and Pete are brought in as (equal) junior partners at the creation of SCDP. In "The Other Woman", after Don leaves the discussion of Joan's prostitution, Pete comments that the remaining partners comprise 75% of the business. So the split is presumably 25-25-25-12.5-12.5 .

If Joan's 5% came equally from all of the partners, then it goes to 24-24-24-11.5.-11.5-5.

After Lane's death, if his shares are equally distributed again, then at the beginning of season six, we're at Sterling (26.875) Cooper (26.875) Draper (26.875) Campbell (14.375) Harris (7.875).

... and then my math skills peter out.

(And I want to say that it's Jim Cutler, but I'm not sure why).
posted by donajo at 11:16 AM on May 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Aha, yes, Jim Cutler.
posted by donajo at 11:18 AM on May 10, 2013


donajo, well done!
posted by mwhybark at 11:23 AM on May 10, 2013


UPDATES based on pure-handwavy 10m for CDC and donajo's sterling due dilly work:

Roger, Bert, Don: 5.38m each, 18%
Ted and Jim: 5m each, 17%
Pete: 2.88m, 10%
Joan: 1m, 3%

Which is awfully neat, I would say. Stand down the drama engines, Ted's in Don's preferred pecking order.
posted by mwhybark at 11:32 AM on May 10, 2013


What drama engines?
posted by sweetkid at 11:36 AM on May 10, 2013


Cutler's glasses and Roger's glasses are my OTP. They need to get married and have a bunch of little monocles.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:40 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Joan's glasses remain scandalized, on the sidelines.
posted by The Whelk at 11:42 AM on May 10, 2013


Gloria/Shirley-the-copywriter's name is Margie Koch (played by Tracy Silver).
posted by gubo at 11:44 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


What drama engines?

My first guesstimate showed that Ted might have more shares than Don, which seemed like something that could en-engine drama. But the update says no.
posted by mwhybark at 11:46 AM on May 10, 2013


oh gotcha. Now I want to use en-engine more in conversation.
posted by sweetkid at 11:49 AM on May 10, 2013


Yeah but again, there was no need to do this just to win the Chevy pitch and it was all a bit rushed

Remember SCDP was on the verge of an IPO and then they lost Jaguar and Vicks in the same week. Not only was the IPO off the table, they just lost two major revenue streams. SCDP was in a really bad spot; I don't know if it threatened their survival, but the company was going to be far less valuable and in a very public way, given that there was probably some pre-offering hype going on. Every partner at SCDP had a huge financial incentive to complete the merger quickly.

At the same time, CGC was losing a partner who had to be bought out. Ted and Cutler didn't have the cash on hand to buy a third of the company; Gleason was clearly worried his death would cause CGC to collapse.

By merging, however, they not only get Chevy, the restore client and market confidence. They should be able to go forward with the IPO, and have enough cash on hand to buy out Gleason, and while cost savings, Chevy and new anticpaited business makes up for the lost of Jaguar and Vicks.

Without the merger, both companies were going to bleed to death in the medium term, if not outright collapse in the short term. The merge needed to happen before they were buried in debt and before they sustained severe brand damage.
posted by spaltavian at 12:29 PM on May 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the "going forward with IPO" makes sense but the "they were going to collapse without the merger" part doesn't make as much sense. I mean, these are imaginary agency finances and losing two accounts in one week under those conditions hardly plays out that way in the real world, but still SCDP might have had layoffs but wouldn't have bled to death or ruined things with existing clients.

I assumed they learned their lesson with Lucky Strike, that you can't have one account keeping your lights on.
posted by sweetkid at 1:07 PM on May 10, 2013


Margie? So she and Peggy are different nicknames for the same first name, like Betty and Beth?
posted by thesmallmachine at 1:53 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


BTW how odd is it that Peggy is a form of Margaret? Where is that through-line?
posted by The Whelk at 1:55 PM on May 10, 2013


Still don't understand where 'Bill' stole its B from in the race from 'William.'
posted by shakespeherian at 1:56 PM on May 10, 2013


Megan is also a form of Margaret
posted by sweetkid at 1:56 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


See also "Chip," from "Richard."
posted by invitapriore at 2:18 PM on May 10, 2013


Why is Peggy the nickname for Margaret?

English language diminutive types in general
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:29 PM on May 10, 2013


I've known two Chips and they were both Charleses. Then again, people are weird.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:15 PM on May 10, 2013


Oh shit, you're right, I just misremembered. That's a little less inscrutable of a derivation.
posted by invitapriore at 3:17 PM on May 10, 2013


I think the "going forward with IPO" makes sense but the "they were going to collapse without the merger" part doesn't make as much sense.

They need the capital from the IPO. CGC is done without that cash. As for SCDP:

I assumed they learned their lesson with Lucky Strike, that you can't have one account keeping your lights on.

Except this was two accounts, right on the heels of losing Heinz. Probably their biggest three accounts in the span of a couple of weeks. But then you have to think of the aftershocks, as "failed IPO" would probably make other clients nervous.

Yes, they could have had layoffs, but remember they were running lean already (there was a round of layoffs before). Losing staff right when they needed to grow quickly means they can't replace their losses. They could have survived, but this sounds exactly like bleeding to death to me.
posted by spaltavian at 3:27 PM on May 10, 2013


I think you have some good points, but I'd have to see if they explain this next week.
posted by sweetkid at 3:31 PM on May 10, 2013


Dick from Richard is in the same boat, though.

My god nicknames are stupid when you start thinking about them.
posted by Sara C. at 3:41 PM on May 10, 2013


yea "sweetkid" doesn't describe me at all.
posted by sweetkid at 6:13 PM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]




I think the last round of layoffs was behind them. They expanded to a second floor after all.

So does the merger happen on paper by having the SCDP partners buy Gleason's stake of CGC?

I miss having Lane around as the walking talking SCDP financial statement. He had a knack for explaining things clearly.

It's interesting to me that Draper and Sterling were the ones who pulled the merger together after being the two who were excluded from the IPO strategizing. Or do we think that Cooper had Roger's understood consent?
posted by dry white toast at 10:47 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


GUYS. The banker from last week was the Brain from Herman's Head.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:02 PM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also saw someone say it was Clarissa's dad, but I thought Trudy's dad was Clarissa's dad so I'm confused.

All I know is that Trudy's dad was a dad in an 80's or early 90's kid/family sitcom.
posted by Sara C. at 3:06 PM on May 11, 2013


Yeah I just checked and Tom "Trudy's Dad" Vogel is played by Joe O'Connor, who also played Clarissa's dad on Clarissa Explains It All. No idea what those other people were smoking.
posted by Sara C. at 3:10 PM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


GUYS. The banker from last week was the Brain from Herman's Head.

I think that's Weiner's trick for TV dorks like me who don't care much about the plot or characters but keep coming back to see if Don will fuck the twins from Double Trouble.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:54 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just FyI, this is traditionally the point in a Mad Men season where they have a werid/format breaking episode. So...let's see!
posted by The Whelk at 6:56 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Awesome. So it's the musical episode then?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:01 PM on May 12, 2013


Close door. CLOSE DOOR!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:02 PM on May 12, 2013


this rearranging office power play thing is too realistic I may have to turn this off.
posted by sweetkid at 7:04 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


aww Bert giving the mawwage speech
posted by sweetkid at 7:05 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is going on with Bert's pocket square? Has it always been that colorfully awesome?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:06 PM on May 12, 2013


Peggy Olson, Copy Chief and Landlady.
posted by donajo at 7:06 PM on May 12, 2013


Or Coffee Chief. Did Stan make that sign?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:07 PM on May 12, 2013


Fleischmann's, groovy.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:07 PM on May 12, 2013


I know people make fun of the Meredith character, but the actress is outstanding.
posted by sweetkid at 7:07 PM on May 12, 2013


haha, come in have a seat
posted by sweetkid at 7:11 PM on May 12, 2013


Is Burt Mel Cooley?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:12 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Berts are like Highlander. There can be only one.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:12 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, I see why Don likes her. She makes booty calls in ad copy form.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:14 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


No don't make me imagine Bob Benson having human emotions!
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wanna have a little rap session about margarine in general.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:14 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


"because I've read a book, Stan."
posted by The Whelk at 7:15 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]



Oh, I see why Don likes her. She makes booty calls in ad copy form.


haha, excellent.
posted by sweetkid at 7:16 PM on May 12, 2013


Hi, I'm Don Draper, I get off on women slapping me AND leaving them naked and helpless! I contain multitudes!
posted by The Whelk at 7:17 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okay, I want ten uses for Bob Benson on my desk, stat.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:18 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


A table?
posted by The Whelk at 7:18 PM on May 12, 2013


So, margarine, it's a poor subsitute for the real thing in a time of crisis, cue Sylvia's garbagemen strike of a marriage and adultery!
posted by The Whelk at 7:20 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don, your 10am whore is still on hold.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:21 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's our Don!
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:21 PM on May 12, 2013


"I have too much going on at the office" sounds so strange coming out of Don's mouth.
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 PM on May 12, 2013


Oh God, it's 50 Shades of Don.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:22 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow I think Sylvia is in the running for my least favorite character evar on this show.
posted by sweetkid at 7:23 PM on May 12, 2013


Yeah, I am not enamored of this Sylvia stuff.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:26 PM on May 12, 2013


Are Don and Ted going to make out?
posted by sweetkid at 7:27 PM on May 12, 2013


Sure, Ted, your Gilligan's Island theory is interesting, but have you tried booze?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:28 PM on May 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why does it feel all of the sudden like Don is Marien Ravenwood?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:31 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh Ted, you're going to have to up your tolerance if you're gonna work with Don.
posted by The Whelk at 7:31 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is the big leagues, son. We polish off a fifth before 10 am.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:32 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I said before, I want Don/Ted fics on my desk by 10.

Also, boo stop I don't want to admit Bob is a human being with thoughts and feelings.
posted by The Whelk at 7:32 PM on May 12, 2013


As I said before, I want Don/Ted fics on my desk by 10.

yeah, there was something...something about them there for a second. I mean. Wait what?
posted by sweetkid at 7:34 PM on May 12, 2013


Also Riger got to fire someone twice! And watching him and Hamlin get on like twins is amusing.
posted by The Whelk at 7:35 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You like that story?
posted by box at 7:36 PM on May 12, 2013


If Joannie has cancer I'm going to cry and cry and never stop
posted by The Whelk at 7:36 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was wondering if she's pregnant and having a miscarriage.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:37 PM on May 12, 2013


seriously that would not be cool. cancer I mean. Miscarriage either. Worried about Joan.
posted by sweetkid at 7:37 PM on May 12, 2013


Whoa Don whoa...

Not following you to this place.
posted by The Whelk at 7:38 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I see Don is moving back down the unsympathetic slope again.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:39 PM on May 12, 2013


All this Sylvia makes me miss Megan.
posted by sweetkid at 7:39 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, hungover Ted is cutest Ted.
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


For for god sakes Ted just kiss him.
posted by The Whelk at 7:40 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


More Gleason, less Sylvia.
posted by rewil at 7:40 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


St Patrick's Day scares the Dyckman clan, who knew.
posted by sweetkid at 7:42 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, we don't care about Pete's mom then?
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 PM on May 12, 2013


It makes me feel bad for Pete, though I don't know why. Feel bad for both of them. I cringe at these elderly decline storylines.
posted by sweetkid at 7:43 PM on May 12, 2013


I don't even care about Pete.
posted by box at 7:43 PM on May 12, 2013


It brings out those filthy Irish.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:44 PM on May 12, 2013


It's a Very Special Mother's Day episode with the Dyckmans.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:44 PM on May 12, 2013


I also don't care about Oreos.
posted by box at 7:45 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of in love with these new Oreo commercials.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:45 PM on May 12, 2013


The Don thing is pretty on the nose, he has no control over a chaotic business situation and is now maki a big fetish about control in his private life to gloriate in being needed and in charge.


Also this Oreo ad is surreal.
posted by The Whelk at 7:45 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Adorable vampires and squids eat Oreos, too.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:46 PM on May 12, 2013


Whoa Peggy, bring the naval uniform realness. This is astounding good bit of fashion.
posted by The Whelk at 7:47 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Clara's neck is seven feet long.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:49 PM on May 12, 2013


Is Ted wearing a bomber jacket? That's fantastic!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:49 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is so weird.
posted by sweetkid at 7:50 PM on May 12, 2013


Ted is the MAN!
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:50 PM on May 12, 2013


So Greg died in Nam? Did we know this?
posted by sweetkid at 7:51 PM on May 12, 2013


You say that now, but wait until Ted and Don are stranded on the island.
posted by box at 7:51 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]



Ted is the MAN!
posted by flyingsquirrel at 10:50 PM on May 12


eponysterical.
posted by sweetkid at 7:52 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's see, blonde all American optimistic fly boy and a heavy drinking dark haired rich genius.

Ted/Don is Steve/Tony.
posted by The Whelk at 7:53 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, Pete. You and your unerring ability to find yourself in a sympathetic position and piss it right away.
posted by rewil at 7:53 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, they found a critic that likes 'The Killing,' good for them.
posted by box at 7:53 PM on May 12, 2013


I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around Don reading Larry McMurtry.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:55 PM on May 12, 2013


50 Shades of Dumped.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:58 PM on May 12, 2013


Bob Benson eludes death!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:00 PM on May 12, 2013


BOB LIVES
posted by rewil at 8:00 PM on May 12, 2013


Sylvia out, Bob stays?? Love this episode.
posted by sweetkid at 8:01 PM on May 12, 2013


Wait, Bob's in? What'd I miss?
posted by box at 8:01 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let that be a lesson, Don: don't take a woman's reading material when you've trapped her in a hotel room.
posted by gladly at 8:01 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh no, Don has gone deaf!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:01 PM on May 12, 2013


Wow, Don never even muted Betty. Poor Megan.
posted by sweetkid at 8:02 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Holy FUCK!
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:02 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well. One Bob does.
posted by rewil at 8:03 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


ANOTHER GREAT EPISODE I CAN'T BREATHE
posted by sweetkid at 8:03 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wondered if they were going to fit Kennedy into this episode or the next. Damn. Great episode.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:04 PM on May 12, 2013


box: "Wait, Bob's in? What'd I miss?"
Joan saved him by telling them he was covering Ken's accounts.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:05 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just perfect how they used Pete's mom to give us the news about Bobby Kennedy. Fabulous.
posted by sweetkid at 8:07 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


So in our gender flip theatre, Bob is the ambitious underling with sights on a higher up.
posted by The Whelk at 8:07 PM on May 12, 2013


Alas, poor Margie. We only figured out your name just recently.

Where were Dawn and Phyllis?
posted by rewil at 8:08 PM on May 12, 2013


Dawn was offscreen, Peggy reported talking to her. Phyllis...probably gone.
posted by sweetkid at 8:09 PM on May 12, 2013


Peggy tells Joan she doesn't mind sharing an office as long as she doesn't have to share Phyllis. But not seeing her makes me think she's probably out. :/
posted by rewil at 8:12 PM on May 12, 2013


Bob's now busy regenerating into The Second Bob Benson (still not Ginger).
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:14 PM on May 12, 2013


He has Sonic Smug!
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bert's second firing is even better the second time around.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:15 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


love the rewatch.
posted by sweetkid at 8:18 PM on May 12, 2013


also, for our own anal retentive bean counting, yes Peggy bought that brownstone.
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Roger really enjoyed that Burt firing.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:21 PM on May 12, 2013


Asprinies
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved how this episode is basically about a Ted/Don wrestling match, and how that Ted/Don power shift happened. Ted goes from nursing a hangover and licking his wounds to holding Don's life in his hands.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:26 PM on May 12, 2013


COOOOOOONSTANT CRAAAAAAAVING
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 PM on May 12, 2013


can someone remind me the song that played over the end?
posted by sweetkid at 8:31 PM on May 12, 2013


Reach Out Of The Darkness by Friend & Lover.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:34 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Of The Darkness

PEGGY: This is like that nightmare where you're back in school but naked. I just bought a HOUSE I have GROWN UP PROBLEMS I don't need this first day callback to my first episode shit! No! fuck change! STASIS FOREVER. MY NAME IS PEGGY OLSON AND I WANT TO BE FROZEN IN CARBONITE.
posted by The Whelk at 8:34 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can we sign some sort of petition to have Roger direct all remaining episodes? The blurry shot of Don's pants/belt/crotch in the forground (facing the camera) as Megan watched the Kennedy news in the background (back to the camera) was brilliant.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:34 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


*sits on desk in meeting room*
posted by The Whelk at 8:35 PM on May 12, 2013


If Don's been reading McMurtry, the Ted/Don fanfic is going to need 100% more Brokeback Mountain references.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:36 PM on May 12, 2013


David Algonquin publishes a landmark GBLT short fiction story about two pilots in the Korean war.
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Stupid sexy Mathis.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:37 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The blurry shot of Don's pants/belt/crotch in the forground (facing the camera)

Wha? Totally missed this! So glad for rewatch! This is why I never work out Monday mornings.
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ted: I have to try to understand him! He's so mysterious and complex! This merge can work if we work together! *flounces on bed, stares at phone* When will he call?!

Don: (while ordering Sylvia to choke herself with the phone cord) hey I wonder if I can make Ted do this? I figure it'll take two, three drinks tops.
posted by The Whelk at 8:40 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I covet the SCDP "plus sign" coffee mug on the table during the margarine creative meeting more than I've ever coveted any mundane item on any TV show.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:40 PM on May 12, 2013


Can we sign some sort of petition to have Roger direct all remaining episodes? The blurry shot of Don's pants/belt/crotch in the forground (facing the camera) as Megan watched the Kennedy news in the background (back to the camera) was brilliant.

Also gorgeous? The shot of Don and Ted talking past one another about margarine.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:41 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]



Ted: I have to try to understand him! He's so mysterious and complex! This merge can work if we work together! *flounces on bed, stares at phone* When will he call?!

Don: (while ordering Sylvia to choke herself with the phone cord) hey I wonder if I can make Ted do this? I figure it'll take two, three drinks tops.


I SO want to watch this
posted by sweetkid at 8:42 PM on May 12, 2013


Ha, i was literally thinking - are they going to do a mirror framing of Ted an-aaaaand there it is. how French of you Mr. Slatterly.
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 PM on May 12, 2013


Welcome to Jean Genet dinner theatre starring Don Draper.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:43 PM on May 12, 2013


I wonder what will happen with Pete next week. He really seems to be getting dangerously unhinged.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 PM on May 12, 2013


This episode is on par with Lane's suicide as an episode that just knocked me out physically when I was done. Just...wow. Even with the crap Sylvia stuff, which does have a purpose I guess.
posted by sweetkid at 8:45 PM on May 12, 2013


Bob: Do you need a doctor? I always bring two so I can give one away.

JOAN: I was just thinking about how if I died Kevin would go to my Abominable Snowman of a mother or Greg's garbage fire parents so hey there young, strapping up and comer. I've never been on this side of this relationship.
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 PM on May 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Am I the only one who can't wait for Joan and Bob Branson to start having little red-headed, blazer-wearing babies?
posted by donajo at 8:46 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Now that Pete's stuck with his mother, caring for her will remind Pete that he's a human.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Benson!
posted by sweetkid at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


No! Pete isn't allowed to have human emotions! He is only allowed to suffer! No growing as a person!
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gah! I am forever shamed.
posted by donajo at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bob Benson really is Kenneth Ellen Parcell. He's immortal and he'll end up running the whole agency.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:48 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like how it took Bob one episode to go from odd free-floating phantasm to MOST ELIGIBLE BACHELOR status.
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, Harry was in this episode.

His sideburns make me sad on the inside.
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Admit it, you guys: Red-sneaker-wearing-oreo-eating vampires are adorable. Just like Bob Benson.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:50 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Have we ever seen Bob Benson in direct sunlight?

(still waiting on my True Blood/Mad Men fic you guys)
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of his coffees was always ready and waiting for the audience.
posted by rewil at 8:51 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The blues in Don's tie sort of match Peggy's naval blues.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:51 PM on May 12, 2013


He got Joanie out of the office by offering to annoy her to the door! And then he talked her way into the ER! What's not to love? (Stopping by her house to bring her two-year-old a football, that was a bit much).
posted by donajo at 8:51 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]



Bob: Do you need a doctor? I always bring two so I can give one away.



Whelk I am telling you you can keep being hilarious but I am going to run out of favorites.
posted by sweetkid at 8:52 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Joan's Mother: Not everything is part of a plan!

Bob: Every single time I've been onscreen I've been doing lots of pre-mediated planning!
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


He got Joanie out of the office by offering to annoy her to the door!

annoy! I could not figure out what that word was!
posted by sweetkid at 8:53 PM on May 12, 2013


Watch your "instruments", Don, HEY-O.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:54 PM on May 12, 2013


Also, Harry was in this episode.

And he and Pete are friends again. I'm guessing the whole original-SC crew is watching each other's backs during the merger.
posted by donajo at 8:55 PM on May 12, 2013


Dammit, Chrysostom, I can't unsee Clara's neck now. It's like watching a giraffe.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:57 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pete's Mom: Well here I am to remind you of the past and your burdens during this, a stressful time in your life, turns out you can't escape the past cause I can't remember the present! Funny that. Anyway, stand up straight, shoulders back, is that gum? What ever happened to that nice Gatsby boy? I'm going to say "prostitute" with 8 thousand syllables.

Pete: Oh god, it's like she's regressing and I'm regressing right back to childhood

Peggy: I KNOW. Why are our plots always in sync?

Stan: Bread is like .....the most important thing, the most...most important thing so what you put on it is also equally...important.
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


As usual, Pete is right and being ridiculous at the same time - you don't send two creatives in a single engine plane to save an account. You need an Account person.
posted by sweetkid at 8:57 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know who else should never fly in planes? Kennedys. Which is why this episode is extra freaky.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:59 PM on May 12, 2013


Don Draper is rich enough to spend oh, a couple thousand dollars on a dress from Saks just for his own person The Night Porter LARP.
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


As usual, Pete is right and being ridiculous at the same time - you don't send two creatives in a single engine plane to save an account. You need an Account person.

Where was Pete going to sit, anyway?
posted by donajo at 9:00 PM on May 12, 2013


Good point, no seat again for Pete.
posted by sweetkid at 9:01 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


On Don's instruments HEY-O.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:01 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's enough to make you give Clara a strange, self-important speech so you can watch the waves of "I am so freaking DONE with you" wash over her face!
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 PM on May 12, 2013


I had a dream that five Christina Hendricks tried to get me to drink Johnnie Walkers....
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:02 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Don Dumpin is whole new territory here: He has never been rejected by a woman for trying to turn her into a whore.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:04 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


She's not really a whore though in this game right?
posted by sweetkid at 9:05 PM on May 12, 2013


"They write people off all the time," says Megan. And then she's on mute. Interesting.
posted by sweetkid at 9:06 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sylvia: Well this was a fun break but you're creeping me out what with your bottomless well of despair thing and I get the idea you're kinda beyond saving and any fantasy I had of living with you and changing you has been dashed on the rocks of your pryschosexual fantasia and me leaving means I'm still better than you, cause I'm super Catholic and that's how we roll. Goodbye, enjoy your whirlwind of existential emptiness, and...keep the book.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 PM on May 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Well, hope your kid survives the riots and total anarchy in Paris!"
posted by Chrysostom at 9:08 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This could be nothing but Don's posture at the end of the episode was the same as when he went and sat on the bed in California when he went with Megan and the kids, and then clearly thought "screw it, I'm gonna be this other guy" and cannonballed into the pool and married Megan.
posted by sweetkid at 9:09 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also Greg isn't dead. He just would never raise his kid because he's too busy having his butt kissed in the army as an important doctor.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:12 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The dress, of course, was red.
posted by rewil at 9:13 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually think, what with the muting and all, this is the darkest we've ever seen Don. Seriously, he'd do awful things and then feel awful and suffer and we forgive (or at least, understand) him and his deep well of self-destructive loathing, there was always a feeling that Don wanted to change or at least knew, on some level, he was a shitbird. And in those moments he seemed to turn around, we cheered! Yes, get your life back together! You Can be better!

Don now seems uh ....I don't think he cares anymore. In the sense that he would always hate himself after or realize what he was doing was wrong - that internal critic is gone, the floodgates are open, do what don wills shall be the whole of the law, and the unchecked anarchy outside (they're just shooting everyone) is mirrored in Don's new lack of conceincse or regret or internal checks. Don the real nihilist, not the one he pretended to be.

CUE: A sunny optimistic reasonable moral and ethical man whom he now has to work with everyday.
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


More selling points of Bob Benson:
1. Coffee. So much Coffee
2. Nimble on office stairs
3. He's the perfect companion for Brothels, Emergency Room Visits, and any time when discretion is the operative word.
4. Can deliver Ted/Don's Fleischmann's margarine love child, but needs lots of toast.
5. Mom bait.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:17 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, he didn't even seem like he was feeling badly when he got in bed with Megan after all that with Sylvia.
posted by sweetkid at 9:18 PM on May 12, 2013


Nimble on office stairs

He needs a musical number stat.
posted by sweetkid at 9:18 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would be tickled pink if both Joan and Peggy ended up with stay-at-home husbands (Bob is a "consultant".)
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also yes, the Ted/Don wrestling match, Ted being beaten on Don's turf (Boozy afternoon creative meetings) and Don being humbled on Ted's (Flying ABOVE THE CLOUDS where it's ALWAYS SUNNY).
posted by The Whelk at 9:29 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


and not to put to fine a point on it but the show brought this up so it has always itself to blame, Everyone stuck in limbo and liminal and in-between states (Purgatory!), Don down in his own Inferno, and Ted flying above them, into the CLOUDS.
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don and Ted were in Purgatory in that bar in Detroit last week I am telling you.
posted by sweetkid at 9:33 PM on May 12, 2013


Hmmm, I look forward to Ted and Don climbing out of Hell on Satan's fur.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:47 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where the fuck is Dawn?
posted by mynameisluka at 9:48 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The more I think about this episode (instead of, you know, sleeping), the more I think that the whole margarine thing is really really important. It's such a symbol of artificiality and blandness and regressive 1950s suburbia and plastickyness... not to mention its origins as a non-spoiling staple for French soldiers! (Hellooo, Megan!) (BTW I loved the non-sequitur of Peggy knowing that historical tidbit for no reason.) Anyway, maybe I'm overthinking things, but really, I can't believe it's not butter.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 9:49 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]




The product's they're working on usually have thematic relevance so being told to work on a substitute for the real thing that no one really likes to begin with is pretty important, IMHO.

Also, Ted was right, the medical/Professor angle is how Margarine was marketed at the time.

Also in dairy-industry-heavy states and areas, sometimes margarine had to be dyed garish colors so people wouldn't confuse it with butter.
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quebec among them, as it happens.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:58 PM on May 12, 2013


I Can't Believe It's Not Megan!
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is Ted wearing a bomber jacket? That's fantastic!

Haven't seen the episode yet, but in either the first merger episode or the Ted kisses Peggy episode there is a shot in Ted's office which includes among the wall bricabrac a fullscale wooden propeller. That + Don's "Lieutenant" said military aviator to me, which I gather is borne out this evening.
posted by mwhybark at 10:12 PM on May 12, 2013


Thus cementing the Don as Iron Man and Ted as Captain America bond in my head

plus when I went to see the Avengers I was wearing my bomber jacket and in the last scene Steve was wearing an exact replica and I got seriously confused
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


maybe it's actually the same jacket because time travel and stark's tachyon generators instantiated a persistent handwave also known as an RDF or jobsian reality distortion field
posted by mwhybark at 10:31 PM on May 12, 2013


this may also explain why I have an authentic 1943 Army Officer Uniform in my closet, turns out it's cheaper to buy vintage than get recreations but not a lot of 46 Longs on the market
posted by The Whelk at 10:34 PM on May 12, 2013


SYLVIA: It's easy to give something up when you're ashamed.

This is actually the same speech she could have given when dumping Nick Andopolis.
posted by The Gooch at 10:44 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


...and another obvious point to make with reference to prior threads: remember the Roger doppelganger in Hawaii? Now Ted's exhibiting Roger character backstory elements. Did that kid's wedding prefigure the merger in some weird way?
posted by mwhybark at 12:19 AM on May 13, 2013


I feel like the backstage plan for this whole season is about getting increasingly strange pairs of characters into increasingly strange situations, like Mad Men Mad Libs: ___ and ____ in a ____. I don't know how they're going to top Ted and Don in a small plane, but I felt that way about Pete and Bob in a brothel, and Ted and Don beat that even before Ted's sunglasses came out.

It takes some kind of incredible skill to play out an apparent joke character like Bob for that long, and then suddenly bring him into this story with Joan and have it feel like a natural development, particularly since the scenes called for Joan to laugh off her own vulnerability and Bob to act with some subtlety and social grace -- but it worked. They brought these things out in each other. And they made visual sense standing in the same room, which I've honestly never thought of any of Joan's partners or pickups, even Roger. This relationship is going to be cynical and complicated, no doubt -- hell, it already is, and it's still at the gifted-football/I-saved-your-job point -- but I find the prospect bizarrely wonderful.

That scene reminded me of Don and Joan at the hospital the night of her going-away party, after the foot decapitation: a waiting room, a soda, an uncharacteristically casual moment. She was at the end of something then. I hope she's at the beginning of something now.
posted by thesmallmachine at 12:24 AM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Cutler had the right of it, Don the grifter can only go a few rounds before tiring himself out. Putting on a face is hard work, and charming people with that false face is even harder.

So he's stuck in a plane where he can't actually run away* (whether physically or even into a book), and he actually crumples - losing hand to Ted, and it cascades with Silvia (who probably already made up her mind to cut her losses, but his apparent neediness really showed in that moment).

So yeah, same themes as always, but they are failing him in faster cycles.

* After placing silvia in a hotel room, and dressing her in brothel red, where she is not allowed to run away.
posted by stratastar at 12:59 AM on May 13, 2013


four things i noticed, that i thot were interesting:

a) the saks box (vs bonwit tailor), the slightly out of fashion underwear, (garters vs no garters), and yet, Slyvia dumps Don, and Meagan picks up the peices. That scene with her in the slip, watching RFK get shot, while Don gets dressed...
b) the plane scene look like rock hudson/doris day rear projection
c) Pete exploiting the WASP fear of the Irish
d) Don and Slyvia trading back and forth a copy of McMurtry's Last Picture Show, which I found terribly poignant.
posted by PinkMoose at 1:21 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The product's they're working on usually have thematic relevance so being told to work on a substitute for the real thing that no one really likes to begin with is pretty important, IMHO.

I feel like Don is butter and Ted is margarine. And margarine was invented for the long-haul.
posted by crossoverman at 4:07 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


While Peggy's offhand knowledge of margarine history makes her seem widely-read in her era, if that happened in a meeting today it would look like she forgot about the meeting and only had time to read the first sentence of the "Margarine" entry on Wikipedia on her phone as she ran down the hall.
posted by mikepop at 5:04 AM on May 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


"I want to work for a really big, huge honkin' agency! Let's merge and then lay everybody off! Hey, wait a minute..."

How did Bert Cooper age 100 years overnight?

During Megan's mute scene, I was wondering if her middle name was Berenice.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:38 AM on May 13, 2013


I feel like Don is butter and Ted is margarine. And margarine was invented for the long-haul.

Or the opposite -- Ted is the real thing, whereas Don is an oily artificial fake. (Speaking of which, I miss Dick Whitman.)
posted by flyingsquirrel at 6:10 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't believe how much I like Ted Chaough. He always looked like such a dick when he was trying to compete with Don. But now that we see what he's actually like on his own turf and at work, it turns out that he's a pretty decent, genuine person who really cares about the people he works with and has a really effective modus operandi as a copywriter and as a boss. The aviator glasses and bomber jacket in the plane scene were hysterical (though it would have been even funnier to put them over a turtleneck), as was the terrified look on Don's face. But despite the apparent silliness of Ted's fly boy costuming, he actually did have matters under control; he can fly the damn plane, he has integrity, and you can safely trust him. The contrast between Ted and Don really points up who Don is. Don looks like The Man, but Ted, who isn't suave and doesn't look like a man in an ad for ad men, is the real deal, the one you can count on to show up for the 1 p.m. meeting and listen to your ideas and help you develop them. He shows Don up as the egocentric, selfish, irresponsible bully he really is.

The idea of being kept in a hotel room à la Sylvia was, well, hot. Seriously, as a game with someone I trusted I could... go for that. But with Don you know it's not just a game and he can't handle the stresses and hard work entailed in a relationship with a woman who expects her independence and equality to be respected, so... yikes.

Oh, Burt Peterson. You're the Charlie Brown of Mad Men. Don't even go near any version of a Sterling Cooper Draper agency again, because they're totally going to keep pulling the football manuevre on you.

I hope the Joan Harris/Bob Benson storyline goes somewhere good. It's time Joan got treated right. And I can't tell you how relieved I am that she didn't have cancer — I was waiting for that diagnosis with a sick dread.
posted by orange swan at 6:21 AM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I agree with most of what you're saying, orange swan, but I'm not quite so sure about "listen to your ideas and help you develop them." Ted DID listen, but the freeform rap session about margarine seemed to be a failure, really. At the end, Ted concedes, "we'll do it the standard way, do some research."

Ted is a much better person than Don, but I think Don has a spark of genius in him that Ted doesn't. It can be overwhelmed by his manifold demons, but when he's on, he makes stuff happen.

You probably need both of them to be a really successful agency.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:30 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like Ted's personality has been ret-conned a bit. In season 4, he was a bit of an ass, not this earnest, just-wants-to-work-hard straight-shooter that he is now. I mean, this is the guy that prank-called Don pretending to be Bobby Kennedy after the cigarettes letter. I like this Ted and think he makes a great foil for Don, but I'm not sure that it's the same Ted we've seen before.
posted by donajo at 6:36 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don may very well be the better copywriter, Chrysostom, while Ted is better at leading a team.

I think the pranking fits in with what we're seeing. Ted has a playful, goofy side. Remember him sitting on the floor of his office trying to get a TV program to come in when Peggy enters his office? Can you see Don doing that? He likes to joke, and he can take a joke. His dying friend and partner told him, "You're not interesting," and Ted doesn't bristle at that but says something like, "Don doesn't know that yet."
posted by orange swan at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2013


It's interesting, after watching the brainstorming session for Fleischmann's margarine, that the 1968 ads I could find on line were marketing the margarine with a diet angle - and sponsoring an aerobics book.

In 1969 Fleishmann's asked "Is swimming as good for you as Fleischmann's margarine?" and went on to proclaim Fleischmann's as "The premium margarine doctors name most" and "made from 100% corn oil." Ted Bates & Co., New York handled the ad. (and other books were sponsored/produced over the years, but 1969's was about cholesterol...) So, is this the product of the research?

So - look at the storylines that could inspire this, if the show stays true to life: It could have been about Fat Betty - but now it could be about Cholesterol control with advice from a heart doctor! Who's going to have a heart attack?

And the idea of heart health? Look at the lyrics to Friend and Lover, the song over the closing credits, as donajo led me to learn that Matthew Wiener would like us to:
I think it's so groovy now
That people are finally getting together
I thinks it's so wonderful and how
That people are finally getting together
Reach out in the darkness
Reach out in the darkness
Reach out in the darkness
And you may find a friend

I knew a man that I did not care for
And then one day this man gave me a call
We sat and talked about things on our mind
And now this man he is a friend of mine
Don't be afraid of love
Don't be afraid, don't be afraid to love
Everybody needs a little love
Everybody needs somebody
That they can be thinking of
Don't be afraid of love
Don't be afraid, don't be afraid to love
Everybody needs a little love
Everybody needs somebody
That they can be thinking of
It's tantalizing! All of these people finally getting together! Teams being formed with the merger! Don finally has a male friend, as we'd noticed with Dr. Rosen! But Don and Sylvia can't fall in love (then it wouldn't be so French!) and so, Don reach out of the darkness! Fly above the clouds and don't be afraid to love Ted. Even just as a friend. That would be so groovy.
posted by peagood at 6:55 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


They should continue Mad Men into the 70s except as a police series. *cue wah guitar* He's a hard-drinking, woman loving tough from the mean farms of Pennsylvania, he's a straight shooting by the book detective... Together they fight crime as "Draper and Chaough" Thursday nights on NBC.
posted by drezdn at 7:02 AM on May 13, 2013


I feel like Ted's personality has been ret-conned a bit. In season 4, he was a bit of an ass, not this earnest, just-wants-to-work-hard straight-shooter that he is now. I mean, this is the guy that prank-called Don pretending to be Bobby Kennedy after the cigarettes letter. I like this Ted and think he makes a great foil for Don, but I'm not sure that it's the same Ted we've seen before.

I totally agree with this. I don't think it's a case of us knowing him better, I think they made a significant change to the character. I like him, too, but it took me a while to get my head around the change.
posted by sweetkid at 7:08 AM on May 13, 2013


And my prediction for Don's fate: he'll wind up in jail or dead. My guess is that cigarette lighter of his wound up in the hands of that marine he met in Hawaii, and the guy's going to try to find a way to get it back to him via military connections, which means Don's desertion and identity switcheroo will be exposed. This isn't going to be pretty.
posted by orange swan at 7:28 AM on May 13, 2013


the guy's going to try to find a way to get it back to him via military connections, which means Don's desertion and identity switcheroo will be exposed. This isn't going to be pretty.

No, I think this storyline is pretty much dead at this point.
posted by sweetkid at 7:29 AM on May 13, 2013


Yeah, I'd be surprised to see any negative repercussions from Dick Whitman this season.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:36 AM on May 13, 2013


"My mother can go to hell and Ted Chaugh can fly her there!"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:40 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


As someone that has regular dealings with someone with dementia, I really liked this plot development. Pete comes from an incredibly disfunctional family ( the only one worse is Don). God, I have empathy for him. It would be hard enough to deal with if he had Trudy's help.

I like how this plays against Don's disconnect from all human connections except the sexual.

Also Ted's flyboy garb would have been very cool at the time. Aviator sunglasses were precisely that - WHAT PILOTS WORE. And WWII pilots were still relatively young and held in high esteem.
posted by readery at 7:50 AM on May 13, 2013


I agree, readery, Mama Campbell was very real and very sad. You can see both how she's used to controlling her world and how she very genuinely loves and cares for Pete. And he just doesn't have the capacity to deal.

I think Ted's acting very in-character. The advice he got from Gleason was all about how to best Don, his "enemy." A few years ago, maybe, he was just threatened by this old school guy who played the game better than him. But that game doesn't work any more. This is almost the 70s. The Sensitive New Age Guy is eventually going to be a thing, whereas the hard drinking man of mystery is just kind of over. The world doesn't exist for him anymore, just like Sylvia doesn't.

I thought her plotline was weaker than the office stuff, but a good way to illustrate Don's insecurities, and man, do I love her for saying no to that bullshit eventually. It's not that she doesn't trust him. It's that she has been using him all along, not the other way around.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:55 AM on May 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


As someone that has regular dealings with someone with dementia, I really liked this plot development. Pete comes from an incredibly disfunctional family ( the only one worse is Don). God, I have empathy for him. It would be hard enough to deal with if he had Trudy's help.

Yeah, I'm grateful that I don't have experience with dementia in someone close (not yet, perhaps) but this was a tough one. Pete's abrasiveness is upsetting but who knows how they would react in that situation. I have empathy for him. And as I said earlier, introducing Bobby's assassination through the fog of his mother's illness was brilliant. "I'm so confused, they're shooting everybody now" is both something someone who has a shaky grasp on reality with added paranoia might say, yet it's sort of actually true for 1968.
posted by sweetkid at 7:57 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aviator sunglasses were precisely that - WHAT PILOTS WORE.

My father flew single engine planes in the mid to late 70s before I was born, for recreation, and growing up I always remember he had aviator shades lying around. No bomber jackets though.
posted by sweetkid at 7:58 AM on May 13, 2013


Whoa I just realized that this whole episode was about decaying control--Mrs. Campbell, Don, Joan.

God, I love this show.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:59 AM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]




I know that opinions were split about whether Joan should have fired Scarlett (I thought it was fine; impulsive decisions with big consequences for underlings seems like a fine SCDP partner move), but I yelled at the TV when she was directing people into new offices. Oh, Joan, let Moira take care of it.

I did like how under Joan's direction Harry lost his office to Peggy, though.
posted by purpleclover at 8:22 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The TLo recap reminded me of one of my favorite Peggy/Ted parallels from this episode: Ted gives up his seat in the boardroom so Moira doesn't have to stand, and later Peggy stands and pulls drunk Ted into her chair in the creative room.

I'm starting to like the idea of Peggy/Ted, but he needs to leave his wife first.

I did like how under Joan's direction Harry lost his office to Peggy, though.

Peggy got Harry's old office, the one with the pillar in it, that had been Pete's office. Looks like Roger got Harry's office on the second floor. I'd have to rewatch to see where Harry ended up. It would be hilarious if Bert Cooper was left without an office again.
posted by donajo at 8:26 AM on May 13, 2013


Inspired by his time in Detroit, David Algonquin pens a novel about a police officer who, following a near fatal injury, has his body melded with that of a machine, becoming the law in a lawless city.
posted by drezdn at 8:27 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Peggy got Harry's old office, the one with the pillar in it, that had been Pete's office.

Oh, boo.
posted by purpleclover at 8:31 AM on May 13, 2013


Cutler's glasses and Roger's glasses are my OTP. They need to get married and have a bunch of little monocles.

Gross.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want Roger and Jim to start walking down the halls in unison, completing each other's sentences.
posted by The Whelk at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I woke up this morning still thinking of the rheumy, sad Don Draper eyes.
posted by mynameisluka at 8:36 AM on May 13, 2013


I woke up this morning still thinking of the rheumy, sad Don Draper eyes

In the elevator? That was the most unattractive I have ever seen Jon Hamm look. Damn. His thin set mouth. So strange.

I still don't really understand why he likes Sylvia so much, or got so attached.
posted by sweetkid at 8:40 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This episode is going to require another viewing (along with not skipping over the Oreo commercial apparently). Some initial thoughts about Sylvia/Don:

The look of panic and dread on Don's face in the elevator in the first scene was infectious. I'm sure we were all thinking "CLOSECLOSECLOSECLOSE" as he stabbed at the Close Door button. It's clear he is not looking forward to the changes in his relationship, such as it is, with Sylvia. He doesn't call her that morning and even plans to work all day in the office (or at least be in the office all day). It's only when she presses him and stresses how he is the only thing that she needs right now, etc. flips him to deciding to go all in. May as well lay down the rules and give her the uniform if she thinks she wants him.

And I loved how Sylvia wasn't just not into the idea, but just didn't seem to get the point of the idea. "What? Your shoes are right over there." Then she enjoys it for a bit but later is back to the practical side of things. What, we're not going to eat? Wait, why are you taking my book?

If Don hadn't seemed so affected by Sylvia's eventual rejection of the idea you might have thought he was trying to get her to break up with him once he realized she was now free to have a deeper relationship.

Roger's re-firing of Burt was a magnificent collection of rapid-fire one-liners.

The look on Ted's face as he is flying out of the clouds and saying "NOT NOW" to Don was hysterical. Then Don takes out his book to read as if it was any other flight. Later he probably asked what the movie would be and when the drinks cart would come around.
posted by mikepop at 8:42 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, from Twitter

"Dom Draper."
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also Bob, you say that you feel faint and your chest hurts, that's how you get to a bed quickly, not ... accidental furniture polish drinking (unless that was some kind of crazy mixed-up 60s doctor code or ...whatever.)
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 AM on May 13, 2013


So, is Ken Cosgrove going to be running GM out of Detroit, or is he just out there hiring and setting up the office? Sounds like he still has other accounts.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:58 AM on May 13, 2013


from the AV club comments: This merger is looking more and more like Matt Weiner's allegory for the Vietnam War: a few guys get the bright idea to fight a war in a way they perceive as different yet still traditional (the US general's approach/Don & Ted wanting to compete with the big firms) only to have the status quo of the way things work and their own inner dysfunction mire them in a quagmire that will ultimately ruin them all. But both the war in Southeast Asia and the war in advertising will be slow boils, overwhelming those involved when they least expect it.
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's funny how the merger started out as "1+1=Superagency!" and now it's like, "Oops, we don't have enough offices, guess we'll cut half the staff," so instead of being two little agencies, or one big agency, they're just one little agency with twice as many partners.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:21 AM on May 13, 2013


And twice as many clients.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:23 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: Given how much the show relies on scenes like this, I have to imagine that the audition for every important recurring role is "wordlessly convey a complex mix of emotions while riding in an elevator."
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don may very well be the better copywriter, Chrysostom, while Ted is better at leading a team.

Don Draper is a hack.

I still don't really understand why he likes Sylvia so much, or got so attached.

Linda Cardellini.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:36 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


they're just one little agency with twice as many partners.

WELCOME TO ADVERTISING.
posted by sweetkid at 9:37 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]



I still don't really understand why he likes Sylvia so much, or got so attached.

Linda Cardellini.


yeah, I know who she is, but no. I don't see any charisma or charm in her character, and the acting is really wooden to me. There's no there there, at all.
posted by sweetkid at 9:38 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't see any charisma or charm in her character, and the acting is really wooden to me. There's no there there, at all.

Hey, finally, back to Betty! Sometimes attraction is not that complicated.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:42 AM on May 13, 2013


Yeah, but see, I don't agree that Betty has no charisma, or charm, or that January Jones is a bad actor.

It's just my opinion that the Sylvia character is uninteresting, but regardless of that Don has a sort of outsized interest in her compared to all his other mistresses. It might just be that he's feeling especially lost in this moment compared to other points in this series, and clinging to something that feels special.
posted by sweetkid at 9:45 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sylvia just came off as super-plot device-y to me which is fine except she was supposed to be a major character and it's more like INSERT INTERCHANGEABLE BRUNETTE MISTRESS
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


yep.
posted by sweetkid at 9:46 AM on May 13, 2013


INSERT INTERCHANGEABLE BRUNETTE MISTRESS

I honestly think this is pretty much the point.

Sylvia is pretty interesting to me in that she care about things the men in her life tells her she should not. Her son. Arnold. Even Megan. And she refuses to forgo those loyalties, as we saw in this week's episode. Don wants her to exist for him. So does Arnold. But there's room in her heart for only one man-child, which is her actual child. I don't know. I suspect she's really gone, but the more I think about her the more I found her role in this episode pretty fascinating. She's not even Bobbie Barrett, playing the game along with Don, struggling to get on top. She doesn't have to struggle. She knows she calls the shots here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:48 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm confused by your comment PhoB. If she calls the shots, then she's not the interchangeable brunette mistress, is she? I feel like you're saying she has a pretty unique role here, and I agree, but somehow it just doesn't come off for me.
posted by sweetkid at 10:51 AM on May 13, 2013


I don't think she's supposed to be especially distinctive in the role Don (and the viewer) assumes she's playing in his life, but the more we know about her as an individual, the more she distinguishes herself.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:57 AM on May 13, 2013


ah, ok. That makes sense.
posted by sweetkid at 11:10 AM on May 13, 2013


Honestly I really think it's the degrading cyclical nature of the Don Draper narrative. Don is the same person he was in season 1, but even the housewives and mistresses have changed. Sylvia is much more a Trudy than a Midge or even a Rachel.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:13 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]




Oh and man, I'm glad that other people are starting to realize that Draper sucks at advertising. That hackneyed, nostalgic pitch for margarine was awful.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:26 AM on May 13, 2013





Oh and man, I'm glad that other people are starting to realize that Draper sucks at advertising. That hackneyed, nostalgic pitch for margarine was awful.


I think it was supposed to be a deliberate drop off from, say, the Kodak Carousel.
posted by sweetkid at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Deal With It
posted by The Whelk at 11:30 AM on May 13, 2013


Also, mohawk vs. NY thruway, airplanes vs. cars, Don's driving aviators vs. Ted's flying aviators. Ted flying looked a little bit like Don driving but so much cooler.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:33 AM on May 13, 2013


I think my favorite scene in the entire episode was the boardroom scene, when Pete comes in and sees there is nowhere to sit. All that macho posturing and jockeying for position, and even the secretaries are trying to figure out the pecking order amongst themselves.

But once it becomes clear it's Moira who will give up her seat, Ted offers her his own and then perches on the edge of a table (something a woman in a dress couldn't do without looking unprofessional and immodest) nonchalantly, winning the "Who's the Man" contest by not competing (and scoring a lot of points with all the women working in the office).

I enjoyed it on its own merits, but also because it reminded me of the Game of Thrones scene with the musical chairs, where Varys, Littlefinger, Cersie and Tyrion jockey for position.

Tyrion, of course, "won" that scene by sitting at a position of equal power with his father, while also making a mockery of the whole process (the heavy chair being dragged, squealing in protest, across the floor, drawing attention to the embarrassing black sheep of the family and forcing his father to wait for a change--we all know how Tywin enjoys making people wait for him).

But Varys also won by not winning. His subtlety is his strength; he is at his most powerful when he and his little birds fly under your radar and you forget they are even a threat. Same thing with Ted.

Don't underestimate the power of subtlety! Peggy pretty much called Don on that when she told him he needed to grow up and stop playing drinking games, like any of that mattered. It had to floor him when she suggested he had a lot to learn from Ted.

Don's looking more and more like a dinosaur these days.
posted by misha at 11:58 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Great, now I've got "Bob Benson The Friendly Ghost!" stuck in my head
posted by The Whelk at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2013


Sooooo, Don's little dom/sub show there, how much of that was to unconsciously or not, designed to push Sylvia away so she doesn't grow attached to him with her husband gone or try to spill the beans?
posted by The Whelk at 12:18 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


One thing that felt very anachronistic to me was the, "Put your head between your knees and kiss your ass goodbye," line.

I know there was a time when kids were told to duck and cover and hide under their desks, but the parody of that, with the "Kiss your ass good-bye" showed up on this poster in 1970, and I'm not sure people would already be saying it in an office in 1968, right around the time when Bobby Kennedy was killed.

Okay, admittedly It also felt anachronistic because people of my generation heard it in the movie Volcano. But still!
posted by misha at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2013


I feel like Ted's personality has been ret-conned a bit. In season 4, he was a bit of an ass, not this earnest, just-wants-to-work-hard straight-shooter that he is now.

Keep in mind Season 4 was years ago, in show time. It feels recent to us because most TV is about characters not ever changing. But Ted could definitely have been a cocky young hot-shot who mellowed out over the course of a few years.
posted by Sara C. at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeah that's true Sara C.
posted by sweetkid at 12:35 PM on May 13, 2013


Sara C.: "I feel like Ted's personality has been ret-conned a bit. In season 4, he was a bit of an ass, not this earnest, just-wants-to-work-hard straight-shooter that he is now.

Keep in mind Season 4 was years ago, in show time. It feels recent to us because most TV is about characters not ever changing. But Ted could definitely have been a cocky young hot-shot who mellowed out over the course of a few years.
"

I also think that in his early appearances, we were seeing him through Don's eyes. Now we've been exposed to Ted through Peggy's point of view (and she was very skeptical at first, too, so like her we weren't sure how seriously to take him or his job offer). Don saw Ted as an annoying gnat buzzing around his head, so that was all we were shown of him.

I agree that he's probably mellowed a bit with success in the meantime, too.
posted by Superplin at 12:45 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the Grantland review: Joan is really even more appealing when she drops the sex-kitten character, which she does increasingly often these days.

Yes. YES, so true.
posted by sweetkid at 12:50 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


misha: "One thing that felt very anachronistic to me was the, "Put your head between your knees and kiss your ass goodbye," line. "

My grandfather had WWII stories that included this line (which I think came from the crash position one took in an airplane going down?). Possibly he added it anachronistically. :)

Google n-grams shows it appearing in 1962 or so?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:52 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is anybody else really tired of the Godfather-esque scoring in all scenes with Sylvia?

We get it. She's Italian, and devout, and a sensual mishmash of sexy and shrewish and tragic. You don't have to literally play the Godfather score for us.

(Faye's father was in the actual mafia, and yet they never pulled half as many mawkish "ITALIAN LADY" cliches. I also don't recall any score call-backs to Fiddler on the Roof or Yentl in Rachel's scenes.)

That said, I for one am glad she largely called Don on his "it puts the lotion on its skin..." bullshit, and not in a coy way, or in a frigid way, or in an unsexy "I am a practical homemaker" way, but in an 'I'm sorry, but that won't be possible" way.

I kind of expected her to look up at him when he first asked her to crawl for his shoes and say, "What, is Megan too busy on her soap opera?"
posted by Sara C. at 1:15 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]



That said, I for one am glad she largely called Don on his "it puts the lotion on its skin..." bullshit, and not in a coy way, or in a frigid way, or in an unsexy "I am a practical homemaker" way, but in an 'I'm sorry, but that won't be possible" way.


...I guess. I mean she had to go home sometime. Like I said maybe it's just because the actor doesn't click for me, but I don't see Sylvia as that empowered or calling the shots, she just seems like a bored housewife married to a bland but sweet guy who gets attention from the opposite, a handsome asshole, and is turned on by it.
posted by sweetkid at 1:21 PM on May 13, 2013


Like I said maybe it's just because the actor doesn't click for me

See, the sheer fact that it's Linda Cardellini, whose specialty is conveying unease and anxiety in a thousand different ways by moving a single mouth-muscle, makes the character come off as empowered to me. Lindsay Weir was similarly often put into situations where she was completely out of her depth and didn't know how to respond, but ultimately she was more than willing to walk out of a situation she didn't want to be in. And that's how I've read Sylvia from the start: yeah, she's getting something out of this, and yeah, some things that Don does confuse her, but she's okay with liking what's happening while keeping an eye out for when things go sour, as just happened.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:26 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


That hackneyed, nostalgic pitch for margarine was awful.

It's also, like, ever hackneyed ad for any domestic product, ever. Like, seriously, I can actually think of an ad for Pilsbury from my childhood (80's/90's) that was exactly that, but instead of pancakes its Crescent Rolls or Cinnamon Rolls or Christmas Cookies.

I was also very confused by the Dorothea Lange reference. It felt off, to me, because Dorothea Lange took photos of farmers who looked like this. Probably not what Don was trying to convey.

I'm not sure if that's bad research on the part of the script department, or supposed to be an oddly morbid mental image a la the Hawaii pitch. When I think of Dorothea Lange and dairy farmers and margarine in the same sentence, I don't exactly think of nostalgic domesticity. I think of the Dust Bowl and people who have to eat margarine because the cow got smothered in a dust storm. That said, I know more about Dorothea Lange than the average bear. So maybe it's just me.
posted by Sara C. at 1:28 PM on May 13, 2013


Ted offers her his own and then perches on the edge of a table (something a woman in a dress couldn't do without looking unprofessional and immodest) nonchalantly, winning the "Who's the Man" contest by not competing (and scoring a lot of points with all the women working in the office).

He also looks cool and casual and modern, whereas Pete looks like a blowhard.

Seriously, I don't think Ted is supposed to be a decade younger than Pete, and yet he absolutely looks it.
posted by Sara C. at 1:30 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was also very confused by the Dorothea Lange reference. It felt off, to me, because Dorothea Lange took photos of farmers who looked like this. Probably not what Don was trying to convey.

I think it was supposed to be a terrible and even sort of offensive idea. Like Don is really off his game. Because yeah Dorothea Lange wtf.

people who have to eat margarine because the cow got smothered in a dust storm

HAHAHA. "How are we gonna tell the kids?"
posted by sweetkid at 1:31 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was also very confused by the Dorothea Lange reference. It felt off, to me, because Dorothea Lange took photos of farmers who looked like this. Probably not what Don was trying to convey.

If Don really wanted the Lange imagery, it could be a call back to his early childhood.
posted by drezdn at 1:38 PM on May 13, 2013


I thought of that, too, drezdn, but it's still not a fond memory you want to sell forward to other people. Especially since there were still plenty of people who remembered the depression at the time.
posted by sweetkid at 1:40 PM on May 13, 2013


To be clear re Sylvia, I don't think she necessarily came off as a balls-out feminist or anything, but it was refreshing to see her answer Don's command to get his shoes with, "WTF no not really".

I think mostly that's out of fear that the show was going to have her just go along with it, like, yeah, this is what sex is, and if a guy asks you to do something you think is weird, don't worry your pretty little head about it.

I liked that you could see the wheels turning at each request, and you could see her thinking it was a little bit sexy, but kind of fucked up, and wanting to play the game on her own terms (the book, the expectation that they'd go out), and then finally getting bored and taking her ball and going home.

Again, still don't actually LIKE the Sylvia storyline, but they handled this subplot a lot better than they could have.
posted by Sara C. at 1:41 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


sweetkid: "I thought of that, too, drezdn, but it's still not a fond memory you want to sell forward to other people. Especially since there were still plenty of people who remembered the depression at the time."

My impression was that he was riffing on memory, but had kind of forgotten the selling part of the equation. Note the contrast between Don's Dorothea Lange scenario, and the elements of prosperity Ted tosses in: cows, because even the dairy farmer's wife prefers margarine to butter, and bacon.
posted by Superplin at 1:42 PM on May 13, 2013


BTW people's cows absolutely did get smothered in dust storms. I read a book about the Dust Bowl recently, and that shit was DIRE.
posted by Sara C. at 1:43 PM on May 13, 2013


yea i know it was just a funny mental picture. Like when a kid turns in a blank piece of paper and the teacher is like "what did you draw?" and the kid says "a white sheep in a snowstorm."
posted by sweetkid at 1:44 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but I still don't think Don would think nostalgically about Dorothea Lange's photos, even if they hit home for him as a child of the Depression.

Or, I don't know, maybe he does, but I'm pretty sure a moment's thought would make anybody realize that most other people won't.

I'm fairly sure that it's either meant to be another shitty aspect of a shitty drunken pitch, or it's an oversight by the script department.

(Like maybe bad googling led the intern to assume that Dorothea Lange was someone famous for photographing farmers, which she sort of was, but not in that way, and nobody in the writer's room happened to know anything about the WPA at all, and it just slipped in.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:48 PM on May 13, 2013


I would be surprised if it were an accident. I think a lot of people know who she was?
posted by sweetkid at 1:50 PM on May 13, 2013


Yeah, I'm voting "shitty drunken pitch."
posted by Superplin at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2013


When I think of Dorothea Lange and dairy farmers and margarine in the same sentence, I don't exactly think of nostalgic domesticity.

When I think of dairy farmers and margarine in the same sentence, it is to remember my grandfather, the dairy farmer, who was Extremely Particular about buying the Right Kind Of Butter (Land O'Lakes, nothing else would do.) Bringing margarine into his house would have been akin to showing up at a rabbi's house with a side of bacon. I distinctly remember being shocked when visiting my grandmother, maybe ten years after my grandfather passed away, and seeing margarine on the table. It would not have happened while he was alive.

So yeah, even without the Dorothea Lange reference (wtf? maybe the writers meant Norman Rockwell and had a collective brain fart?) the dairy farmer pitch just fell flat for me. Badly.
posted by ambrosia at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2013


Yeah, no, I agree that enough people should know who Dorothea Lange is, and usually the show's attention to detail is great. I also think it's just a shitty part of a stupid pitch.

But whaaaa? Dorothea Lange? Really?
posted by Sara C. at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2013


As a defender of Don's more out there pitches, I thought the dairy farmer pitch was laaaaame.

If cause I see a farm, I think cows and then I think milk and butter and then why are we eating this Not Butter?
posted by The Whelk at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2013


ambrosia: "So yeah, even without the Dorothea Lange reference (wtf? maybe the writers meant Norman Rockwell and had a collective brain fart?) the dairy farmer pitch just fell flat for me. Badly."

I think this was deliberate. Very advertising-y, to suggest that despite the ready availability of fresh butter, the dairy farmer's wife is happy to serve Fleishmann's.

I was raised on this stuff. Seriously, my mother refused to buy butter, and also refused to buy any margarine other than Fleishmann's, because she was convinced it was the healthiest, highest quality option. She didn't see it as a compromise in any way.

So whatever ad campaign the company did in real life, it worked. At least on my mom.
posted by Superplin at 2:02 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh yes I agree, it was deliberate. Don is off his game, and it shows. Season Two Don would have ripped someone a new asshole for proposing something that hokey.
posted by ambrosia at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2013


OK given that we know how margarine was actually advertised in the 60's and beyond, who do we think comes up with the "Daddy might have been a dairy farmer, but I use margarine because it's lower in cholesterol" finished ad?

(My family, too, in the 80's and into the 90's, was a margarine household, and for "health" reasons. I don't recall us having any particular brand loyalty. To this day my mom uses Spray Butter and all kinds of godforsaken toast lubrication substances.)
posted by Sara C. at 2:05 PM on May 13, 2013


My family, too, in the 80's and into the 90's, was a margarine household

ugh, I think most families were, not realizing we were rocketing toward an unsalted grass-fed artisanal new millennium.
posted by sweetkid at 2:10 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The white toast triangles with margarine brought be straight back to breakfasts at my grandparents' house, by the way. Speaking of nostalgia.

(My grandfather grew up on a dairy farm, too!)

In seriousness, though, I think either this conversation, or that mawkish margarine brainstorm, or some conversation that someone in creative is going to have about Fleishmann's is dancing around the idea that, in the 60's up through maybe the 90's, people weren't nostalgic for stuff like growing up on a farm. Everything your parents did was icky, outmoded, and vaguely unwholesome. You wanted a house in the suburbs, diet soda, strip malls, and something low-fat to spread on your toast. You wanted better living through chemistry and a man on the moon. You didn't want anything that seemed like it came off a farm in the 1930's.

I did a project in middle school (1992, maybe '93) where I had to interview my grandmother about what her life was like when she was my age. It was one big horror story of living on a farm in the middle of nowhere and having to wear ugly unisex army boots* (hand-me-downs, natch) and work in the fields after school. Two generations later, people like me are excited about that kind of life and would love to raise our kids that way.

Needless to say I don't think a bucolic farm-inspired nostalgia fest is how SCDPCFCoaihwefdscowesd is going to sell margarine.

*I started wearing Doc Martens around that same age. Woman was HORRIFIED.
posted by Sara C. at 2:15 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


ugh, Margarine. Margarine and Margie and Peggy and Megan.
posted by sweetkid at 2:20 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sara C.: "I did a project in middle school (1992, maybe '93) where I had to interview my grandmother about what her life was like when she was my age. It was one big horror story of living on a farm in the middle of nowhere and having to wear ugly unisex army boots* (hand-me-downs, natch) and work in the fields after school. Two generations later, people like me are excited about that kind of life and would love to raise our kids that way."

Clearly I am a product of my time, because aside from the boots (I love my Doc Martens), nothing about that lifestyle appeals to me at all. Give me a downtown loft and a coffee shop with wifi and a good farmers' market, but keep me away from the actual farm.
posted by Superplin at 2:24 PM on May 13, 2013


Oh, yeah, I realized a couple years ago that while running my own artisanal dairy goat farm might sound really fun, there would probably be nowhere to get good Thai food. And so I remain a city girl.

But I definitely think there is at least an aesthetic nostalgia for the rural world in US culture today which not only wasn't present in the time depicted on Mad Men, but this artisanal nostalgia is a direct reaction of our generation to being raised on margarine and tang.

(Though I think the very first "back to the land" ideas are getting kicked around by hippies in San Francisco circa '68, so. It fascinates me how the modernity of the second half of the 20th century is being born and dying all at the same time.)
posted by Sara C. at 2:29 PM on May 13, 2013


I am of the artisanal-butter-used-to-have-Docs generation but have bad allergies so let others raise the goats and beets.
posted by sweetkid at 2:33 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Going back to this actual episode, did anybody else feel like Don was being left behind? Acting out his little sexual psychodramas in a hotel room while his company merges, his old rival leads his creative team, his mistress worries about her son in the middle of the Paris student uprising, and the whole country mourns not one but TWO important political figures that have just been assassinated?

I think Joan even says something earlier in the episode, about Don's office: "It's always the same in there, no matter how much it changes in here..."

In the summer of 1968 nobody has the luxury of holing up in the Sherry Netherland playing sex games. Except for Don, I guess.
posted by Sara C. at 2:42 PM on May 13, 2013


yes, but Don gets called out on that by Teddy, who I keep wanting to call Kevin because he looks like Blossom's older brother.
posted by sweetkid at 2:45 PM on May 13, 2013


Seriously, I don't think Ted is supposed to be a decade younger than Pete, and yet he absolutely looks it.

Seriously, isn't Ted a good few years older than Pete? But Pete was curdled into his Future Grumpy Old Man look and petulant little face prematurely, so he looks much older then his age would suggest. ( Bob is like what, 26? Hes still in collegic blazers and foofy schoolboy hair, which I tell you from personal experience, still makes a guy look half his age.)
posted by The Whelk at 2:53 PM on May 13, 2013


Sara C., I agree. The callbacks in these last two episodes, and this one in particular, are clearly meant to show how the world swirls and evolves chaotically around him, but Don remains the same. I thought this episode was like a fractal pattern, filled with past references that showed people in similar situations with very different dynamics to highlight how things have changed over time: Joan helping Peggy move into her office, Sylvia as Don's latest "ethnic" whore stand-in, another Kennedy death punctuated with Pete's "That was years ago," etc.

Don didn't even like it when they moved his desk to accommodate the photo shoot.

Pete looks and acts like a middle-aged curmudgeon, but as a slightly off-kilter photocopy of Don (or Don wannabe), he is forced kicking and screaming into change, and is better able to adapt. Roger went through his transformational epiphany, with a little help from Lucy. Don, on the other hand, has lots of seeming epiphanies, but they're as superficial and ephemeral as his ad campaigns. Nothing sticks.

This is unlikely to end well. (Not that that's a surprise to anyone.)
posted by Superplin at 3:16 PM on May 13, 2013


Sylvia as Don's latest "ethnic" whore stand-in

Was anyone else reminded of some Bobbie Barrett shenanigan or other with the whole hotel room scenario? Did they ever hole up in a hotel room? Or maybe take "long lunches" in one?

Didn't Don once tie Bobbie to a bed and wander off? Or was it the other way around?
posted by Sara C. at 3:22 PM on May 13, 2013


Yeah, the beach house, don tied her to the bed ( not GGG Don!) and wandered off.
posted by The Whelk at 3:24 PM on May 13, 2013


Didn't Don once tie Bobbie to a bed and wander off? Or was it the other way around?

Yep. Don seemed to want to "punish" Bobbie for saying that she'd heard all about his reputation, the same way he tried to "punish" Sylvia for talking about her husband.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:24 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is unlikely to end well.

I don't know, really?

In the actual real life 60s there were thousands if not millions of people left behind by the social changes in exactly the way Don is being. Those people mostly marched on, usually being treated as punchlines in the media. Archie Bunker comes to mind.

In 1990, Don's new secretary tries to teach him how to use the PC that appeared on his desk while he was on vacation. He pushes it to the side so that he can prop his feet up on the desk. Three weeks later it is relegated to a closet.

This is discovered a year later, when Don's office is being cleared out the Monday morning after his retirement party.
posted by Sara C. at 3:28 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing I was surprised by with the margarine rap session is that no one, not even Ginsberg, mentioned that margarine is kinda a pretty Jewish cultural thing. I mean, I grew up in a family that used exclusively margarine (despite the fact that my grandfather was a milkman) because my grandmother was concerned with keeping kosher. So Don's pitch, all built around the essential butter-ness of margarine, seems extra weird to me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:28 PM on May 13, 2013


It fascinates me that, after all Bob's sucking up to Pete, it's Joan who saves his job. Especially since, as far as I could tell, he was acting out of genuine caring and good will and not trying to ingratiate himself with her.
posted by Sara C. at 3:39 PM on May 13, 2013


In Inside Mad Men, Matt Weiner mentions that "Bob goes with Joan to the hospital, to be kind to her for whatever reason" (paraphrase). The "for whatever reason" makes me think there is a reason, and it isn't good.

But who knows. We always think this show is going to have an *EVIL* reveal but it's really just flawed people doing some good stuff and some bad stuff (and that's why I love it)
posted by sweetkid at 3:42 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


On a totally different note and back to margarine, it just occurred to me that Don's margarine pitch calls back to another scene with another character, a few seasons ago.

So remember the guy (whose name I forget, ugh) who first shepherded Peggy along the way to becoming a copywriter? And then later, he has an alcoholism-fueled breakdown and disappears for a while, somewhat paving the way for Peggy to come into her own?

Well there's an episode in the fourth season where he comes back and is set to work on a pitch for Pond's cold cream with Peggy.

Peggy is trying to figure out how to sell Pond's to younger women, since it mostly reminds people of their grandmother. And Guy just keeps throwing out the most antiquated ideas, ideas that would just never work, like Tallulah bankhead backstage after opening night. Peggy takes one look at him, tells him his ideas are too old-fashioned, and that he's off the gig.

That's what the "margarine on a farm" idea sounded like, to Ted.

(Even though it sounds halfway OK, if hackneyed, to us in 2013 because people are using "...on a farm" to sell everything nowadays.)
posted by Sara C. at 3:46 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, I grew up in a family that used exclusively margarine (despite the fact that my grandfather was a milkman) because my grandmother was concerned with keeping kosher. So Don's pitch, all built around the essential butter-ness of margarine, seems extra weird to me.

I ...have never heard of this. Can you expand?
posted by The Whelk at 3:47 PM on May 13, 2013



So remember the guy (whose name I forget, ugh) who first shepherded Peggy along the way to becoming a copywriter? And then later, he has an alcoholism-fueled breakdown and disappears for a while, somewhat paving the way for Peggy to come into her own?


Freddy Rumsen.
posted by sweetkid at 3:48 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I ...have never heard of this. Can you expand?

Margarine is neither dairy nor meat, therefore it can go on anything. Butter, you gotta keep that stuff separate.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:49 PM on May 13, 2013


I don't know. I kind of felt like Bob wouldn't have gone all the way to the hospital with her and waited in the emergency room and then taken it upon himself to lie her into a bed, AND THEN bring her kid a present, all for mercenary reasons.

I mean, sure, he might have thought "YEAH FINALLY THIS IS MY IN" when he first started helping Joan, but surely he must have had some legitimately caring feelings about it or he wouldn't have stayed with her.

Or maybe he really is that sociopathic.

I don't even bother with anything Weiner says because it never makes any sense to me. Though I suppose he knows what's ahead for these characters.
posted by Sara C. at 3:50 PM on May 13, 2013


I don't even bother with anything Weiner says because it never makes any sense to me. Though I suppose he knows what's ahead for these characters.

Yeah, I don't agree with his interpretations of like character motivations and themes and stuff, but it seemed weirdly like maybe a hint of something. Although yes, Bob doesn't seem that mercenary, and as I mentioned there isn't usually a big reveal of evil in a character. Also, I love Bob.
posted by sweetkid at 3:52 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just think it's an odd turn of phrase, "goes to the hospital with her for whatever reason." Like, as opposed to the reasons anybody might accompany someone to the hospital in a situation like this? That's not an act that people usually need Reasons to do.

Who was with Peggy when she "had food poisoning" at the end of Season 1?
posted by Sara C. at 3:54 PM on May 13, 2013


I mean, sure, he might have thought "YEAH FINALLY THIS IS MY IN" when he first started helping Joan, but surely he must have had some legitimately caring feelings about it or he wouldn't have stayed with her.

It could go either way, really. Probably a big helping of both.

The guy he was supposed to answer to just got fired. Bob was next on the chopping block, and he knew it.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:57 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


"goes to the hospital with her for whatever reason."

Is that the actual phrase though? I was paraphrasing and that's not my paraphrase. I'll have to relisten later.
posted by sweetkid at 3:58 PM on May 13, 2013


Relistened - "Bob Benson, for whatever reason, takes this as an opportunity to help her."
posted by sweetkid at 4:01 PM on May 13, 2013


I think that's what I heard as slightly ominous.
posted by sweetkid at 4:02 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


As much I've been enjoying this season, there hasn't been nearly enough Sally Draper. Not cool, Mad Men.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:03 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I ...have never heard of this. Can you expand?

Margarine is neither dairy nor meat, therefore it can go on anything. Butter, you gotta keep that stuff separate.


Yep. The laws of kashrut say you can't mix dairy and meat at a meal (because "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk") so Jews can't butter their bread and then eat a nice roast at the same meal. But margarine is safe. This is also why Jews keeping kosher often have two sets of dishes or even two kitchens.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:04 PM on May 13, 2013


You guys would be far less pro-Bob Benson if you saw the "friendzone" rant he posted on Facebook the other day.
posted by drezdn at 4:06 PM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hm. Why did my Irish and Italian Catholic family use margarine in the '80s? Fear of cholesterol, I guess. (The professor wins the day.)
posted by purpleclover at 4:09 PM on May 13, 2013


I had heard of the separate kitchen/meat not mixing with dairy but I didn't know it extended to butter in that way- this is what i get for growing up around shrimp eating reform Jews.

Yeah all marketing for Margarine was health based, it's better than butter, and in the 70s-80s-90s butter was seen as slightly worse then black tar heroin.
posted by The Whelk at 4:12 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Indian Hindu-Agnostic-Christian-I was-never-sure-where-they-were-going-with-religion-actually-nonvegetarian family in the 80s, we ate margarine too because butter = bad, heart health.
posted by sweetkid at 4:16 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yup, butter is dairy. Once you've shared a few Thanksgiving dinners with friends who keep kosher*, it isn't something you ever forget.

*love my friends, not doing that again.
posted by ambrosia at 4:16 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it so hilarious that the creative scooby gang (Ugh they have GOT to name their agency soon) is sitting on what would turn out to be a marketing goldmine, but they're like, "uhhhhhh, I enjoy toast...."

The even funnier thing is that it's like the opposite of the show's cigarette advertising dilemma that was the first major advertising storyline of the series. People are CLAMORING for a bunch of experts to tell them to buy this "healthy" product. The scooby gang just hasn't realized it yet.

Is this what it feels like to really enjoy a good Law & Order marathon?
posted by Sara C. at 4:20 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Indian Hindu-Agnostic-Christian-never-sure-where-they-were-going-with-religion-actually-nonvegetarian family in the 80s, we ate margarine too because butter = bad, heart health.

Ditto, Presbyterian. Legend has it, my family's conversion to margarine started with my great-grandfather, a dairy farmer (!) with a heart condition.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:21 PM on May 13, 2013


I'm pretty sure my dairy farmer side of the family (and eventually EVERYONE in my family) went margarine because they also happen to be a bunch of cheap motherfuckers.

But heart health, yes.

(Exactly how fucked was everyone's heart in the 60's that this was such a huge fucking deal? And are we butter-adopters headed back in that direction?)
posted by Sara C. at 4:22 PM on May 13, 2013


This is where we need Faye to do some serious market research and help the gang tap into the zeitgeist. With science!
posted by Superplin at 4:33 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


People in thier 40s in 1968 had grew up in a world where people smoked way way way more from a much younger age and ate the kind of huge heavy meals we would save for speical occasions every day. plus, the casual heavy drinking. Not so much a thing anymore. There was an FPP about menus from the 30s and such a while back and I think griphus wondered aloud " how did people not drop dead from heart attacks all the time" and then some came up with public health statistics to say " uuuuh they kinda did."
posted by The Whelk at 4:42 PM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Someone from CGC should call in Faye, only to be like "Oops, didn't know we shouldn't have done that" when she shows up at SCDCCCP.
posted by drezdn at 4:45 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm fascinated by the idea, both in the dialogue of the show and in discussions like this, that Don Draper is so complex. He's not, really. He can't ever be happy with what he has because what he has is a lie, and he can't escape that. The only time he's ever seemed content is when he was with Anna in LA.
posted by dry white toast at 6:09 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


While I think that's true, I disagree that there's nothing more to Don Draper than an inability to accept reality and be happy with it.
posted by Superplin at 6:40 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


A simple truth can illuminate a lot about a person and still say next to nothing about the whole of their being.

I think the difference between Mad Men and a show that doesn't suck is that Mad Men rarely is directly about Don's feelings about his feigned identity. It's not even often about any of the various issues, psychological or otherwise, that stem from that manufactured self. It has constructed Don to the point that his actions stem from a bunch of different impulses and feelings and connections to people, all of which are influenced by his past, but none of which owe themselves entirely to said past either. Which is the way people actually work and which is very hard to depict in writing, not in the least because it can be hard for a writer to admit they don't entirely know their own character. It takes some self-control to let a work of fiction escape you, like raising a child if you were able to stop your kid from growing past the exact day and age you want to keep 'em in.

Part of me wants to spiral from that into a little discourse on Don's creative process/personal life and how they interact and how that says interesting things about creative processes in general, and consequently how one of the more fascinating things about Don is how well-realized he is as a creative person, but out of respect for all of you and every living being I resisted the temptation.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:01 PM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, apropos of pretty much nothing (possibly inspired by forgetting Freddy Rumsen's name?), I decided to start watching Mad Men from the beginning.

Guys, the pilot is like a whole other PLANET. It is impossible to believe that this world and 1968 world are less than a decade apart.
posted by Sara C. at 7:11 PM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I did a rewatch recently too, and even though Ted looks very modern next to Pete and Don, the CGC offices reminded me of the old Sterling Cooper offices. All dark and stodgy in comparison to the airy look of SCDP.
posted by peppermind at 7:16 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been rewatching S1 and now S2 with my redheaded friend who hasn't seen the show at all yet. She was BLOWN AWAY when she saw "Shoot," with Betty shooting the birds. Can't wait to get her to S3.
posted by sweetkid at 7:16 PM on May 13, 2013


I've actually seen the first two seasons at least twice, and assorted episodes here and there. But all that rewatching happened before we got to the OFFICIALLY REALLY THE SIXTIES era of the show.
posted by Sara C. at 7:21 PM on May 13, 2013


yea I guess the sixties creeping in feels pretty subtle to me. In a good way, it's not flower headbands and drone music everywhere.
posted by sweetkid at 7:23 PM on May 13, 2013


Yeah, it was interesting when someone upthread pointed out how outdated the dress Don sends Sylvia from Saks is. It looked so timeless and pretty on, but that's true, it's definitely not timely in any way. I can't imagine Megan wearing that, or any of the other younger characters on the show.

It's so fascinating to see Don go from fucking a sexy beatnik in 1960 to pretending Camelot never ended in 1968.
posted by Sara C. at 7:35 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, it sucks to be that third switchboard operator in the pilot. You know, the one who didn't build an entire career out of a series of car insurance commercials? The one who isn't Kristen Schaal?

Poor kid.
posted by Sara C. at 7:49 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am going to rewatch the whole series after season six finishes. I want it all fresh in my head before season seven rolls around.
posted by crossoverman at 7:50 PM on May 13, 2013


Poor kid.

haha that's like the other season 1 American Idol host that wasn't Seacrest.
posted by sweetkid at 7:51 PM on May 13, 2013


Oh, if you're doing a rewatch from the very beginning, be sure to play a game of Count The Bobbys.

(I think Betty might have a thing where she keeps compulsively murdering her son and replacing him with another kid she's kidnapped, and everyone's just too horrified to bring it up.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:01 PM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Count the Bobbys is too depressing to play.
posted by sweetkid at 9:03 PM on May 13, 2013


I don't know if I have it in me to rewatch seasons 3 and 4. They were so bleak and intense. But man would it be nice to have a full history of Peggy's Thermos going into Season 7.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:03 PM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's been a new Bobby every season. I thought that was just, like, an understood convention of the show.

One interesting thing that I noticed in the pilot was the other secretaries.

Hildy is in the pilot, which is a little unusual because the pilot was shot in New York but the series is shot in Los Angeles. Which means either they cast Hildy in Los Angeles and flew her out to New York to say one line, or they liked that actress so much that they brought her out to LA to recur on the show.

(It's pretty normal to recast roles like that if the show gets picked up and ultimately shoots somewhere else.)

I also could have SWORN that the actress who later plays Alison was the knockoff bunny waitress at the bachelor party.
posted by Sara C. at 9:10 PM on May 13, 2013


You guys would be far less pro-Bob Benson if you saw the "friendzone" rant he posted on Facebook the other day.

on the plus side, he's no Fedora Guy.

margarine

in our family, it was cost, relative perceived health benefits, and reusable plastic food storage tubs, which is cost again I guess. We also subsisted purely on from-powder 100% skim milk only, cost and zero cholesterol, again. I didn't even know milk was good. When I finally figured it out, and told my mom how awful the instant stuff was and how terrible it had always tasted, she burst into tears.

Finally, regarding margarine and the episode's references to France, for reasons that are obvious I kept thinking of Last Tango in Paris. But the reference seems so confused, so glancing, that I don't know what to make of it, or even if there is anything there to be beurré about.
posted by mwhybark at 9:46 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and Bob = Kenneth = a Time Lord. Quite so.
posted by mwhybark at 9:48 PM on May 13, 2013


Sylvia is much more a Trudy than a Midge or even a Rachel.

I think Sylvia's almost an exact repeat of Rachel. Intelligent, beautiful, compassionate--both of them fill a bit of a maternal role for Don. Each of them breaks things off with him when it becomes clear that his fantasy idea of her is... not compatible with real life. In Rachel's case, that was when he suggested they leave everything and run away together; she reacted with horror to the idea of abandoning her business and her father (and to the idea of Don's leaving his children).

Don tells Sylvia "You exist here, only for my pleasure" (or wtte); he made the same assumption pretty much about Rachel, but in the end both women rejected that idea because they had an identity (and other obligations) of their own.

Are they the only two women we've seen dump Don?
posted by torticat at 10:36 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The idea of being kept in a hotel room à la Sylvia was, well, hot. Seriously, as a game with someone I trusted I could... go for that. But with Don you know it's not just a game and he can't handle the stresses and hard work entailed in a relationship with a woman who expects her independence and equality to be respected, so... yikes.

Sorry, I know the thread's moved on to margarine and rewatches and whatnot, but I wanted to reply to this... orange swan, I had almost exactly the opposite reaction to these scenes. I found the dom/sub stuff almost too disturbing to watch, and was hugely relieved, when Sylvia ended it, that Don did treat it like the "game" it was and accepted her decision to end it.

I think it was because of the IRL news about the abductions in Cleveland that I found those scenes so stressful to watch. Don's need for control has been a theme of the show, of course, but there's a line you don't want to see him cross. He already crossed it with Bobbie (and she got off on it at first, but not so much when he abandoned her tied to the bed).

I just felt like there was enormous tension in that episode with the viewer not knowing how much of a game this role playing actually was for Don, especially with the red dress, his mother-was-a-whore issues (and his step-mother too, as we just found out!), and so on. So... yeah, I totally agree he can't handle the work of being in a relationship with a woman who "expects her independence and equality to be respected," but I'm glad he at least still has the decency to let such a woman walk away.
posted by torticat at 11:09 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I totally agree he can't handle the work of being in a relationship with a woman who "expects her independence and equality to be respected," but I'm glad he at least still has the decency to let such a woman walk away.

I was so worried that he was going to cross a line, that when she told him it was over he'd threaten her or assault her. Don is slowly losing control over things he's always had control over. I can't see him going down without a fight - and I was worried last night would be the start of that.

I'm so glad it wasn't.
posted by crossoverman at 12:23 AM on May 14, 2013


Watching this season at the same time as Desperate Housewives (shut up, I do a lot of sewing) is really confusing. Both Lee the gay realtor and Martha Huber are in it and now I keep thinking that Ted Chaugh is Lee's dad and that Mama Holloway has a sister in prison for cutting off her own fingers.
posted by mippy at 3:25 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I woke up this morning still thinking of the rheumy, sad Don Draper eyes.

You mean his Dick Whitman face? Sara C recently had some comments on this that I'd love to hear elaborated on. About it being an actor's hack or something like that? I had the impression it had to do with being kind of a cheap/lazy trick. I'm uncritical enough that I'm still astounded every time John Hamm does that transformation--from suave, commanding, sardonic Don to bleak, scared, vulnerable Dick in an instant.

Or maybe, mynameisluka, you were just talking about his hungover face. :) Either way, Sara C, could you talk more about what it was you were describing as hackish (if I remember that correctly)?
posted by torticat at 3:48 AM on May 14, 2013


I, too, am looking forward to hearing Sara C's comment on that - but in the meantime, I have been enjoying the responses to "HELP! WHAT'S THE NAME OF THE NEW FIRM?" from the A.V. Club post linked to earlier.
posted by peagood at 4:17 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


When do they start throwing punctuation signs and ALL CAPS into ad firm names + & -- $^@$?
posted by stratastar at 5:50 AM on May 14, 2013


every time John Hamm does that

Ugh, Jon Hamm I mean. Normally not too worried about typos but John/Jon errors are a major pet peeve; they are kind of aesthetically offensive.
posted by torticat at 6:12 AM on May 14, 2013


Normally not too worried about typos but John/Jon errors are a major pet peeve; they are kind of aesthetically offensive.

"Now I know what you're thinking: 'I'm only endorsing JOHN HAM because Jon Hamm is my name.' Well, you're wrong. You're dead wrong. First of all, my last name has two 'M's' and second of all, my first name doesn't have an 'H.' Feel like a dummy yet? Because you should."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:22 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


LOL.
posted by torticat at 6:27 AM on May 14, 2013


This week's New Yorker Out Loud podcast is dedicated to Emily Nussbaum's piece on Mad Men.
posted by readery at 7:32 AM on May 14, 2013


Re the Dick Whitman hackery -- it has nothing to do with this new era of Don uglyface, as far as I'm concerned.

As Dick, he does this thing with his forehead and his shoulders, and he always does it the same way every time. Like "I'm Dick now so I'm going to scrunch up my brow all weird OK".

I don't think it's hack-ish to use any kind of gestures or mannerisms at all to evoke character. Just the particular way Jon Hamm does it as Dick. Because he always goes back to the same well. It's like if when he was Dick he was always wearing the same hat or something.
posted by Sara C. at 7:51 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it was interesting when someone upthread pointed out how outdated the dress Don sends Sylvia from Saks is. It looked so timeless and pretty on, but that's true, it's definitely not timely in any way. I can't imagine Megan wearing that, or any of the other younger characters on the show.

All of Sylvia's clothes look like they were from the early sixties, so Don picked out a dress that was very much her style and yes, I'll acknowledge the whole "whore red" thing, but it was also very much her colour. Sylvia certainly seemed to like it. It was also a perfect fit. Don Draper could shop for me any day. Take away my book, not so much.
posted by orange swan at 8:24 AM on May 14, 2013


As Dick, he does this thing with his forehead and his shoulders,

Hm. We might not be talking about the same thing. You can see the transformation I'm talking about at the end of Sunday's episode when he's talking with Sylvia. She says, "I think it's time to go home," and he says, "Not yet."
-"I think this is over."
-"It's over when I say it's over."
That's Don Draper as we're used to him, commanding and in control (he thinks). Over the next minute in that scene his face alters, so by the time he's begging ("Please"), he looks almost like a different person. He's still that person (I think of it as DW) later in the elevator.

Sara C, can you suggest a scene that illustrates your understanding of Hamm portraying Dick Whitman?
posted by torticat at 9:00 AM on May 14, 2013


Again, I'm not talking about actors' use of facial expression, gesture, or mannerism in general.

I didn't see anything in this week's episode that reminded me of the Patented Dick Whitman Forehead Scrunch, at all.

I don't really know what you're asking, or where we're going with this. I could look to previous episodes for a specific moment that he does what I'm talking about, but it's a work day and I don't have time to go to Netflix and watch whole episodes of the show to pick out a good scene for you.

The first time I noticed it is in the first season episode where we flash back to The Big Switch itself.
posted by Sara C. at 9:30 AM on May 14, 2013


The scenes in the hotel bedroom between Sylvia and Don were painful to watch, something that had never happened to me while watching a Mad Men episode. I kept thinking at any moment he could lose it and get overtly abusive. And something tells me this might be the direction this is going.

I never would've thought Don would be the kind of guy infamous for losing control and abusing women. But he did shove and shake Betty back then when he found out about Henry (and he has been kind-of-abusive towards Megan more than once, except she has mostly argued or fought back), and after this episode with Sylvia I can totally picture him going to jail for murdering one of his lovers. For talking back.

As to Don knowing how to pick clothes for Sylvia, well he did use to be a coats salesman...

Joan and Bob - I think it's too early to tell if Bob's just Trying Hard to Be a Nice Guy or has ulterior motives. But I think this is the happiest we've seen Joan in a long time! If he was just trying to befriend Important People who might protect him, I wouldn't even call that "ulterior motives", it's perfectly reasonable in a scenario like this.

And for what it's worth, to me, his helping Joan came across as pretty genuine. Faking niceness to this degree would only be justified if he had some SERIOUS plans for world domination. Which would make him pretty interesting.
posted by ipsative at 10:29 AM on May 14, 2013


I agree, Sara C. The rheumy look I was referring to wasn't the "Dick Whitman face" as much as the "Don Draper's soul and heart has been rode hard and hung up wet" look of utter defeat, loneliness, and existential angst.

I do notice how his face looks different when he's being his "real" self. It's kind of a more relaxed, "What, me worry?" type of look that occasionally steals over his face when he's at ease. In bed smoking cigarettes with Sylvia. The occasional flit when something amuses him at the office.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:30 AM on May 14, 2013


You mean his "I love puppies" face?

I know the one you mean, mynameisluka. He makes that face whenever he's trying hard not to cry. It's the same face he makes when Peggy quits (and, in fact, he kisses her hand, too, just like Sylvia's).

Disagree that Sylvia is very much like Rachel Menken at all. For one thing, Rachel Menken loved him.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:39 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that the hotel room scenes were hard to watch. What was even harder for me was that last scene where Megan is muted out.

It's funny, in the first few seasons I felt like, in contrast to the other men around him, Don had a basic respect for women and had the ability to see them as people, maybe even equals. With each proceeding season I feel less and less like that's the case. Which is pretty interesting when you contrast it with the fact that women are getting more and more power in Don's world.

When "respecting women" meant not just sleeping with your secretary because you can, Don was looking great! When "respecting women" means treating your wife like a human, Don is looking barely removed from a misogynist serial killer ("Hooors, wimmin is all hoors, I tell ya...").
posted by Sara C. at 11:05 AM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, yeah, there was an openness and generosity to Rachel that I don't think is present with Sylvia. Which might be what makes it so hard to like her or care about this storyline? If it was Rachel and her husband doctor-whats-his-name living downstairs, and Don and Rachel had resumed their affair*, I don't think Rachel would behave the way Sylvia does toward Megan. She probably WOULD have been the sympathetic "I feel ambiguous about motherhood vs. career" shoulder Megan wanted to cry on. For one thing.

*OMG would that not have been AMAZING? I actually think that would have been a great development for the season and a lot more interesting than the Sylvia thing. And it also solves this problem the series has of Don's revolving door of brunette mistresses.
posted by Sara C. at 11:09 AM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think generosity is a good way of putting it, even though I like Sylvia in her refusal to be pigeonholed the way the men in her life want her to be. It's like she's leveraging her power as a wife perfectly, in every case. Her power is a very traditional female sort of power. I just find that compelling, I guess--in a world where women are exploring other types of power, that this one has embraced older ones, and so well, and successfully. Maybe not happily, but . . . there are very few women on the show who have done that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:29 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: "It's funny, in the first few seasons I felt like, in contrast to the other men around him, Don had a basic respect for women and had the ability to see them as people, maybe even equals. With each proceeding season I feel less and less like that's the case. Which is pretty interesting when you contrast it with the fact that women are getting more and more power in Don's world. "

I think this is of a piece with the "Don is not getting the changes in the advertising world" theme. Don was a really forward thinking guy for March 1960. But he hasn't changed at all. Eight years later, the world has moved on, he's still in the same place, and is increasingly looking like a fossil.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:53 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Something just occurred to me.

So Don and Sylvia are "over".

But... Sylvia still lives in the building.

And even if their relationship is over, I don't know that all the feelings between them are resolved in a neat way.

It also sounds like Sylvia and Rosen's marriage isn't going so well.

Now what?

In a lot of ways, this is very much a shitting where you eat situation. It also seems like over the years Don has really slid into things like this more and more. In season 1 he had Midge, someone who didn't know anyone he knew, and who nobody could ever find out about. Also Rachel, where she was a work connection, but nobody needed to know that they were having an affair. In season 2 we get Bobbie, another work connection, but one that starts to get a little messy since said work connection also involves her husband. In season 3, he sleeps with his kid's teacher, which is potentially way too messy for Don (and I think he even points out the problems with this arrangement). In season 4, he starts to do this much more often, and with less awareness of the pitfalls, with both Allison and Faye. Now suddenly he's fucking a neighbor. A neighbor who is friends with his wife. The chickens don't have to go very far to roost.
posted by Sara C. at 12:14 PM on May 14, 2013


I think it's too early to tell if Bob's just Trying Hard to Be a Nice Guy or has ulterior motives.

God, I really would love a Bob reveal on the order of Peggy, You're Not Only Pregnant, You're Going Into Labor, but it's so weird to me to think that taking someone obviously in pain the the hospital is a morally compromisable action.

And while I was sort of curious about Sylvia, I'm kind of relieved she's going since she all but shunted Megan aside--and I know I'm in the minority, but I really want to see more Megan. Or even Betty. Or, honestly, when the hell is Sally coming back? (And here's a very Mad Men question: what's the longest span of episodes that a billed cast member has gone without an appearance?)
posted by psoas at 12:15 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's possible that Sylvia and Artie are going to move to Minnesota where he went to interview for the job.

But yeah, this is the messiest one yet.
posted by sweetkid at 12:15 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or, honestly, when the hell is Sally coming back?

She was in the previews for next week, but who knows how much screen time she'll have.
posted by COBRA! at 12:21 PM on May 14, 2013


Aha. Amazon Instant doesn't show the previews. (Or the Oreo commercial, +/-.)
posted by psoas at 1:38 PM on May 14, 2013


I don't really know what you're asking, or where we're going with this. I could look to previous episodes for a specific moment that he does what I'm talking about, but it's a work day and I don't have time to go to Netflix and watch whole episodes of the show to pick out a good scene for you.

Yikes! Apologies for asking a question on metafilter in the middle of a work day! Where I was "going with this" was I was curious to see what you were talking about because I find it interesting. I thought you might be able to, you know, call a scene to mind is all.

I've seen what you said (or something similar) noted elsewhere. There is a comment on Sepinwall's post just on this last episode that says:
"I was enthralled by Jon Hamm's ability to conjure up glazed-eyed-frightened-boy Dickie - like - the first few thousand times I saw it. Now it just looks like a parlor trick."

I'm interested in these observations and what different viewers are referring to, so I asked. As Ted didn't say, "there are no wrong answers."
posted by torticat at 1:58 PM on May 14, 2013


via the AV Club thread: You can hear one of the secretaries say "Sterling Cooper Draper Cutler Gleason Chaugh" just after Peggy is shown to Harry's old office.

I still hope that was transitional and they'll find something more streamlined. I don't wanna have to type out SCDCGC every time.
posted by crossoverman at 2:20 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Plus it writes Lane out of history. Come on, they didn't change McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak when that guy died.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:31 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


torticat, I'm home sick today and have some thoughts on Dick/Don and Jon's acting choices. I also think Jon Hamm's acting is sort of one-note when he's playing Dick (there are many examples: All the Korea scenes where Dick is interacting with the real Draper; the scene where Anna Draper confronts Don when he is still working at the car dealership; the scenes where Don first meets Roger and angles for the copywriter job; the scene where Don goes to visit Anna to tell her about Betty and several more I might not be thinking of. ) Whenever Jon Hamm is playing either Dick or the very early years of Don Draper, he does this scrunchy brow/awkward smile gangly armed schtick that I think is meant to read "young," "naive" or at least meant to stand out pretty strongly from the suave Don Draper we know in our present day. Infinitely less self assured. But like Sepinwall I'm not really impressed by it - I don't think I was ever "enthralled" in the first place. I think my attitude is usually "the heck is this?" I think JH is a tremendously gifted actor, it's just a blunder (to me) in either his choices or the direction of those scenes or whatever Matt Weiner is going for. I don't know. I feel similarly when Elizabeth Moss is doing a pitch as Peggy. She gets this glaze over her face and sort of speaks in a monotone, like she's reading off cue cards. It just doesn't work for me.

However, I don't agree that whenever Don Draper, the character, reverts back to Dick Whitman when he's feeling happy or real. I don't think the acting choices reflect that, to be sure, because I don't see gangly, eyebrow-jumpy Dick Whitman in those scenes. I don't think the show is trying to say that Don becomes Dick when he's happy or relaxed. He talks about his "real self" sometimes, like with Megan, but I don't think he means Dick Whitman. I think he's still trying to figure out what that is.
posted by sweetkid at 2:47 PM on May 14, 2013


Not to distract from your main point, sweetkid, but I agree that there are some strange decisions in Peggy's pitching style, and they've always bothered me. I imagine myself in those rooms being off-put by her flat, dispassionate tone, with its sense of recitation and its odd placating undertone. I can think of plenty of ways to explain it -- Peggy doesn't have a theatrical streak like Don or Ted; she's learned that a woman expressing a passionate opinion will read in the wrong way to some clients, even if that opinion is positive; she tends not to respect clients personally, and can't pretend that she does, even though she's fascinated by the challenges of their assignments. (I feel like Peggy will have to learn a whole new social language if she's going to rise to Don or Ted's status within the firm.)

So it makes sense, but nobody mentions it in-universe, and this is in a world where creative work gets critiqued constantly (and even Ted, who is full of praise for Peggy, doesn't hesitate to critique her leadership style when she needs it).
posted by thesmallmachine at 3:20 PM on May 14, 2013


Yeah, actually in present day advertising at least, the pitch really is sort of read out in a monotone, while the client is looking at a big presentation that includes TV, radio, digital banners, print, web stuff, etc and mostly looking to make sure the message connects over all those channels.

This is partially because creatives aren't actors, so even if they wrote the script they're not going to put the right picture in the client's mind of how that's going to work, and also because people are going a hundred miles a day in agency life and don't have time to build a speech of emotional depth about ketchup and cough drops. So in that sense Elizabeth Moss' drone is kind of apt.

BUT this is different, it's an actor giving a monologue on a TV show, not someone trying to sell in a tv script to a client in the middle of a workday, and in that sense Moss' delivery is off to me. I agree Peggy isn't as theatrical as Don by nature, but I do think that she is supposed to be delivering emotionally in those scenes and she's just kinda not.
posted by sweetkid at 3:40 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, she has this, "Webster's defines the word "ketchup" as..." style that I find sort of grating. It works for her character, who is a little humorless and wonkish isn't a show(wom)an at all. But it's not really fun to watch.
posted by Sara C. at 3:44 PM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


In conclusion, Peggy is a land of contrast.
posted by sweetkid at 3:45 PM on May 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah, she has this, "Webster's defines the word "ketchup" as..." style that I find sort of grating.

Yet it provides kind of an effective shock when she's doing the ketchup pitch and she says something along the lines of "Doesn't it make you angry that these catsup pretenders are trying to piggyback on Heinz? It makes me angry." That kind of emotion about that kind of product is ludicrous on its face, but she really sells it because it's so unexpected.
posted by psoas at 3:58 PM on May 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whenever Jon Hamm is playing either Dick or the very early years of Don Draper, he does this scrunchy brow/awkward smile gangly armed schtick that I think is meant to read "young," "naive"

Ah okay. I know what you're describing here. But yeah, I don't think we're all really talking about the same thing(s). I wasn't looking for examples of when Jon Hamm is explicitly playing Dick Whitman (or early Don), but rather the times current Don lets the facade fall and we see Dick Whitman/his "real self"/whatever you want to call it.

The commenter on Sepinwall (and I should clarify it was a reader comment, not Alan's opinion) said "glazed-eyed-frightened-boy Dickie," and called it a parlor trick, and I wrongly assumed that was the same thing Sara C had been talking about with the hacky acting.

I do think the Sepinwall reader is describing the same rheumy-eyes, trying-not-to-cry thing that mynameisluka and PhoBWanKenobi mentioned. But maybe no one else here associates that with "Dickie." I kinda do.
posted by torticat at 8:35 PM on May 14, 2013


I agree Peggy isn't as theatrical as Don by nature,

"Just try it already! Just TASTE IT!"

but I do think that she is supposed to be delivering emotionally in those scenes and she's just kinda not.

Yeah, I agree, and it undercut the impact a little when Don was eavesdropping on her and she was supposed to be stealing his tricks.
posted by torticat at 8:40 PM on May 14, 2013


The main tell is that Dick's eyebrows are about half an inch higher than Don's.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:39 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]




Weird, Whelk, I was going to post that exact bit from Mad Style when I had time. I disagree with it though. I'm not sure this was set up to mimic Don's situation. I think Pete lied to his mom to both protect her and to keep her from getting in more scrapes that were inconveniencing him. So sure, it was selfish but he was also trying to help her.

Don's thing was seedy enough in its own right. I don't think it needed a "seedier" mirror in Pete.
posted by sweetkid at 9:37 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


THANK GOD T&Lo finally got back to the business of actually talking about the actual clothes on the show and not just "here is some green and here is some blue OBVIOUSLY THIS IS ABOUT SOMETHING".
posted by Sara C. at 10:16 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


yea but they also spent a lot of time on LOOK BLUE AND YELLOW
posted by sweetkid at 10:17 AM on May 15, 2013


Yeah, if you want to hold up the two storylines as mirrors of each other, really it's Don's which is seedier and Pete's which is, in a way, kinder.

Is Pete harsher with his mother? Yes. Is she kept in his apartment somewhat against her will? I suppose. But he's trying to juggle caring for her (which she actually NEEDS, dementia is not a joke) with doing his job. Meanwhile Don is trying to focus on erasing the humanity of his mistress (which she rebels against) despite the demands that he actually show up and do his job.
posted by Sara C. at 10:19 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think that is a really good contrast between the two situations, Sara C. Perfectly said.
posted by sweetkid at 10:23 AM on May 15, 2013


I'm buying the blue and yellow thing. Especially since as far as I can tell they're not just spitballing "these are two colors that exist and thus SYMBOLISM", they're pointing out oppositions and relationships in the scenes via the costumes. Which is what they're supposed to be doing.

My assumption with the blue and green this whole season has just been that it's a ubiquitous color combination that was everywhere around that time. It's like if someone tried to point out the SYMBOLISM in mint and coral color combinations right now.

Blue and green don't seem to have any particular significance on the show. The blue and yellow in this particular episode obviously are being done on purpose. Maybe not to signify anything in particular, but definitely to play up the chaos and opposition at SCDPCGC (ugh), and I can also see their point about Sylvia and Dorothy being dressed similarly. Despite my disagreement about their characterization of the Dorothy scenes.
posted by Sara C. at 10:24 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also think the Pete/Dorothy scenes were perfectly acted. The way VK says, "It's Saint Patrick's Day" is so sad and funny and desperate all at once.

I don't think Don/Sylvia and Pete/Dorothy are shot all that similarly though? Don/Sylvia looks lamplit while Pete/Dorothy looks like natural light.
posted by sweetkid at 10:27 AM on May 15, 2013


No, they're not shot similarly at all.

Tom & Lorenzo might know about clothes, but they know nothing about TV/film conventions like what it means for two scenes to be "shot similarly" or for something to be "on the nose". I've decided to somewhat overlook this as long as they don't get too cocky about knowing what they're talking about.
posted by Sara C. at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the record, the bar in Hawaii and the bar in Detroit were "shot similarly".
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 AM on May 15, 2013


yes but it annoys me when people are wrong on the internet.

They were right about the oldiness of Sylvia's dress. And the Megan/Peggy color connection was interesting to think about. I can't wait to see more of what the consequences of Megan going on mute will be.
posted by sweetkid at 10:35 AM on May 15, 2013


Sara C. I think this is the second time, in our Mad Men discussions that you've referenced a rather specific meaning to "on the nose" as used within the context of TV/film (instead of general parlance). I generally take the phrase to mean "lacking in subtlety," but I'm not in the industry. I get the sense that, in the context that you're applying, it means something like that but with an added (or more precise) shade of meaning. Is that correct? If so, what is the additional meaning in this context?

[apologies if I'm misreading you here; I'm genuinely curious about this]
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:41 AM on May 15, 2013


I wonder if Dorothy and Sylvia's yellow floral dresses were shoutouts to "The Yellow Wallpaper."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:45 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's basically the gist of it, except that Tom & Lorenzo accuse wildly NOT on the nose things of being on the nose all the time. Basically any time anybody refers to anything thematic in dialogue, they are all ON THE NOSE!!11!1!!!!! when it's actually perfectly normal to have dialogue express theme. It's also almost never actually on the nose dialogue that they're pointing out.

On the nose dialogue would be something like

DON: I just feel so out of control lately.

SYLVIA: Me too. Let's just stay in this hotel room forever, OK?

DON: It's almost as if the events of 1968 are moving so fast that everybody feels out of sorts.

SYLVIA: I agree. By the way, feeling ashamed of our extramarital affair really turns me on.

DON: Want to give me a foot massage, then?

Not to mention, of course, that Mad Men is so fucking cryptic all the time that I think it's outrageous to take anything non-cryptic that anybody says as "on the nose". Mad Men is the least "on the nose" show on TV.
posted by Sara C. at 10:55 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I wonder if Dorothy and Sylvia's yellow floral dresses were shoutouts to "The Yellow Wallpaper."

Don't forget the yellow floral wallpaper in the hotel bathroom.
posted by purpleclover at 10:56 AM on May 15, 2013


Blue and green don't seem to have any particular significance on the show. The blue and yellow in this particular episode obviously are being done on purpose. Maybe not to signify anything in particular, but definitely to play up the chaos and opposition at SCDPCGC (ugh), and I can also see their point about Sylvia and Dorothy being dressed similarly.

Yea I agree that the blue and yellow was on purpose, probably also blue and green. I just don't think either color combination means much in a SYMBOLISM way, like blue/green = adultery. In the big partner/secretary meeting the blue/yellow seemed more of a way to tie all the characters together, rather than having them separated into the two separate former agencies.
posted by sweetkid at 10:56 AM on May 15, 2013


I don't think it's anything as simple as "The Blue Team" and "The Yellow Team". It's just used to create opposition.

In all the major scenes between two people (taking Sylvia's red dress out of the equation), one person is wearing blue and one person is wearing yellow*. In all the major scenes where there's a group, there's a mix of blue and yellow. As far as I can tell, the only scene where the characters "match" is the scene between Don and Peggy where she tells him "Move Forward".

*Even in the very first scene of Peggy and Ted, who get along and are definitely "on the same team", he's in yellow and she's in blue. So I don't think it's necessarily about conflict at all. It just adds a chaotic tone to the whole episode.
posted by Sara C. at 11:00 AM on May 15, 2013


FWIW I'm so much more interested in the use of costume to evoke a certain feeling than I am of the idea of bald symbolism between colors and specific story points.
posted by Sara C. at 11:02 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't figure out why they have high school kids read The Yellow Wallpaper. Having just read it again for the first time in 20 years, I'm sort of horrified. The show has to be referencing it, though.
posted by purpleclover at 11:13 AM on May 15, 2013


Word, Sara C. I don't think if I've just gotten tired of T&Lo's trick or if their analysis is so much less astute this season, trying to ferret out precise meanings from every color combo.

Mostly I think yellows, blues and greens were very much of the time.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:13 AM on May 15, 2013


Also I'm honestly a bit disappointed in what I can't help but see as them missing a few things. The significance of Ted's sunglasses when aviators had previously been a motif used in scenes when Don is commanding his surroundings. Sally in a bright column of jewel-tone blue in the Christmas scene, which was echoed in a paler blue on Henry (later in the season, Henry's close relationship with the kids becoming explicit with Bobby's fears about him). Instead we're getting the more obvious harping on the red=whores thing (I knew we'd see those same screenshots with this episode).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:20 AM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sara C.: Thanks for the clarification. It sounds as if, in the context of evaluating TV scripts, "on the nose" isn't simply about a relative lack of subtlety compared to the whole of a script (or of a very subtle show's complete run). Rather it's a term reserved for the overt telegraphing -- if not shouting -- of literal meaning. A phrase, concordance, or gesture that seems relatively clumsier in its expression of a larger theme than does the rest of a single script isn't necessarily "on the nose." Rather, that expression is reserved for the banally transparent. Is that right?

If that's so, I suspect that T&Lo are using it in the first sense (i.e. comparatively obvious when evaluated by Mad Men's own standards) instead of this more universally-portable second sense.
posted by .kobayashi. at 11:38 AM on May 15, 2013


Or, in other words, in the last thread I suggested that the use of Planet of the Apes seemed a bit clumsy & "on the nose" to me. I'd defend that claim, meant in the first of the senses described above. I'd back off from that claim, were we to apply the second standard.
posted by .kobayashi. at 11:41 AM on May 15, 2013


I don't think it's quite that dramatic, .kobayashi. I just *don't* think something like the use of Planet Of The Apes is actually on the nose.

Again, you can refer to theme without being on the nose.

I also don't think it's so much something that should be evaluated in comparison to however cryptic a show usually is. We NEED to be let in sometimes, especially on issues of theme. Otherwise there's no there there.

I also kind of question the throwing around of that term about a show that is as unbelievably subtle and nuanced as Mad Men is. So if the audience is EVER thrown a bone about anything at all, then it's "on the nose"? Because, like, we're picking up what they're putting down?

We're meant to pick up what they're putting down. That's the whole point of narrative.

I generally think that people who needle out certain aspects of any given Mad Men episode as "on the nose" are being obnoxious. It's the "I liked that band before it was cool" of TV viewership.
posted by Sara C. at 11:46 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also I'm honestly a bit disappointed in what I can't help but see as them missing a few things. The significance of Ted's sunglasses when aviators had previously been a motif used in scenes when Don is commanding his surroundings. Sally in a bright column of jewel-tone blue in the Christmas scene, which was echoed in a paler blue on Henry (later in the season, Henry's close relationship with the kids becoming explicit with Bobby's fears about him). Instead we're getting the more obvious harping on the red=whores thing (I knew we'd see those same screenshots with this episode).

Well, and these correspondences you note are so much more interesting because the color/style choices encourage you to frame one scene or situation in terms of another, which affords a lot more interpretive subtlety than the "red=whores" bit. Also, from an aesthetic standpoint, I think meanings that arise from the juxtaposition of elements within the story are a lot more compelling than meanings that are just imported wholesale from some external source.
posted by invitapriore at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sara C.: It's a fair point that the show needs some standard of accessibility, and one ought not dismiss any point of entry as "on the nose." I also agree that Mad Men is significantly less direct than any show on television. That is clearly evidenced by the reviewers who dissect and interpret its phrasings with dedication normally reserved for Talmudic scholars.

I do think that the choice of Planet of the Apes telegraphs the theme a little more directly than the show does when it is at its best. At the same time, I'm willing to concede that its interesting that the film had only just been generally released in the USA on 3 April 1968, and is therefore a defensible choice (even if it was first released in NYC a couple months earlier).

Its possible I'm drawing the line on the other side of Planet of the Apes because I find that movie itself to be so objectionably "on the nose" by any standard. I mean: the bit where Heston verbalizes his realization that he's still on Earth? When we can clearly see the remains of the Statue of Liberty in the background? Really? So it may well be my lingering perceptions of that film coloring my interpretation here.

Generally, though, I do agree with what you're suggesting. Thanks again for the clarification.
posted by .kobayashi. at 12:22 PM on May 15, 2013


By the way, what's up with Ginsberg's shirt? Is it just me or is it twenty zillion sizes too big? Is he wearing his father's clothes? Stan's? One would assume he makes good money -- his predecessors in 1960 wore suits. Can he not go out and buy a shirt that fits?
posted by Sara C. at 12:27 PM on May 15, 2013


T&Lo used to talk a lot about doing Mad Style character studies for the men, and I think they're desperately needed. Especially after the aesthetic transformation of the last few years.

I'd especially love to see a posts on Harry and Pete as well as something contrasting the look of a copywriter in 1960 with a copywriter in 1968.
posted by Sara C. at 12:29 PM on May 15, 2013


By the way, what's up with Ginsberg's shirt? Is it just me or is it twenty zillion sizes too big? Is he wearing his father's clothes? Stan's?

Isn't he always wearing big clothes?
posted by sweetkid at 12:36 PM on May 15, 2013


I've never really noticed. There was a still in the T&Lo post that caused my to finally see it.
posted by Sara C. at 12:46 PM on May 15, 2013


I'm so glad they mentioned Peggy's AGGRESSIVE blue suit. It's so completely detached from anything she has ever worn, all militaristic and pointy and clasps-y!
posted by The Whelk at 1:02 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Peggy's "Move Forward" in that scene was so slogany. I keep thinking about it.

Don often uses single things people say as catalysts for action - I wonder if this will be one of those times.

Then again it's Don.
posted by sweetkid at 1:04 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once in a while, T&L still notice things that are really impressive:

"Just remember: the last time these two were in a room together and one of them told the other to “Move forward,” it was when Peggy was in the Psych Ward. MASSIVE change in the dynamic."

I did NOT remember that. This is why I need to rewatch the whole series. Amazing.
posted by crossoverman at 1:47 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don Draper: What's wrong with you?
Peggy Olson: I don't know.
Don Draper: What do they want you to do?
Peggy Olson: I don't know.
Don Draper: Yes you do. Do it. Do whatever they say. [leans in and whispers] Peggy, listen to me, get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.


Yeah, he does say move forward to Peggy. Also, he says it to Adam, something like "I have a life, and it only moves in one direction--forward."

Such an interesting choice of a symbolic word on a show that all takes place in the past.
posted by sweetkid at 1:58 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, peeps, if, like me, you hadn't read The Yellow Wallpaper since you were a kid, it's worth reading to compare with this episode. (It was written in 1893 and is out of copyright.)
- Sylvia is a retro housewife, married to a physician, who seems to submit to being imprisoned in a single room, like the Yellow Wallpaper narrator. YW narrator is also married to a physician, who dictates her "treatment."
- Sylvia's out-of-style dress looks like yellow wallpaper. (Uh, subtle, dudes.)
- Don takes her novel. The YW narrator is forbidden from writing or reading.
- Sylvia is separated from her son, Mitchell. The YW narrator has had a baby, but she's not permitted to care for him (it's portrayed in the story that she doesn't have to because she has help.)
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote the story as a rebuttal to the care she got for postpartum psychosis from a Dr. S. Weir Mitchell.
- Linda Cardellini's character on Freaks and Geeks was named Lindsay Weir. (Okay, that's just a maybe meaningless noncoincidence.)
- However, the YW character never escapes her room-prison, instead descending into madness. Sylvia gets dressed and crisply declares that it's all over.

Is this Weiner responding to observations that the 1960s were chock full of sexism with a, "Well, you think it's bad now, but check out 75 years ago?" Or is he suggesting that Sylvia is still trapped and powerless, but in a different way? (Forbidden from helping Mitchell, unable to meaningfully contribute to the discussion of where they live, etc.)
posted by purpleclover at 2:02 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's so funny, because I remember the next bit - This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened. - because that is key to Don's character. But I'm glad to have been reminded of "Move forward".
posted by crossoverman at 2:03 PM on May 15, 2013



It's so funny, because I remember the next bit - This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened. - because that is key to Don's character. But I'm glad to have been reminded of "Move forward".


Yeah, I totally agree with this. The "it will shock you" bit really stuck with me. Definitely interesting that Peggy's move forward was a callback to that one.

Then again, there's something that's so much more powerful to the way she says it in isolation in last week's scene, and then just turns on her heel and leaves.
posted by sweetkid at 2:10 PM on May 15, 2013


Which is what makes the power dynamic shift so great - it is isolated. So much said with so few words. Peggy FTW!
posted by crossoverman at 2:13 PM on May 15, 2013


Did I watch something else?? This episode was so utterly ridiculous. Hamm-fisted as this shitty-ass pun. It didn't even seem like they were playing their own characters. It was so on-the-nose at times I felt like they should have been holding their scripts with metacommentary subtitles. And the dominance bedroom scenes...I thought DonJohn was going to bust up laughing at any second.

Examples of the over-the-top exposition:
I think the epitome of this was Joan's line to her mother, "It was just a cyst on my ovary." Her mother already knew! But you, dear watcher...
Also from that scene, "I wasn't planning on dropping in. [but I did anyway] The hospital wouldn't tell me anything because I'm not immediate family" [hint and wink wink, yes?]
The repeated setup of Pete's mother as unreliable narrator, suffering from dementia and his continual gaslighting of her. Of course she'd be all "Kennedy has been shot!" and Pete would be all "That happened years ago." And we'd be all, "oooohhh, I see what you did there."
"You can relax now, we're levelled off" [throws on aviator shades]
American Psycho-style show-down, but instead of business cards it's musical chairs and hey, who's got a surprise airplane?
Don and Sylvia in the elevator...Sylvia looking down, ashamed; Don looking up, waiting. Close-up on Sylvia; close-up on Don. (really, that scene should have had football style callouts with arrows and signs pointing out the directions to Heaven and Hell)
Sylvia's whole stupid dream.

I could go on. Basically, I didn't buy any of it. It was farcical and I couldn't suspend my disbelief to that way off place.

I've read the comments here and seen some reviews. I realize I'm alone on this, and that's ok. I hope I'm not ruining things for anyone else though...my apologies if so. I just couldn't not say anything. Because, damn.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My reaction was: 2/3 good, 1/3 Don & Sylvia.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:49 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope I'm not ruining things for anyone else though

Not really, no.
posted by sweetkid at 5:25 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope I'm not ruining things for anyone else

Well, certainly not retroactively. The rest of us seemed to enjoy it at the time and during these discussions. I hope we're not ruining it for you by enjoying the episode and discussing it as if we enjoyed the episode.
posted by crossoverman at 5:46 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I dunno, isn't that mix of over-the-top and subtle-downplayed just one of Mad Men's things?
posted by box at 7:08 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ted Chaough fanfic. because, you know, internet.
posted by mwhybark at 10:08 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The repeated setup of Pete's mother as unreliable narrator, suffering from dementia and his continual gaslighting of her. Of course she'd be all "Kennedy has been shot!" and Pete would be all "That happened years ago." And we'd be all, "oooohhh, I see what you did there."

Yeah, this. Her whole dementia seemed like it was just for that one exchange. Will we ever see her again, I wonder?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:26 PM on May 15, 2013


Sys Rq: "Yeah, this. Her whole dementia seemed like it was just for that one exchange. Will we ever see her again, I wonder?"

I disagree. I think she was there primarily to contribute to one of the main themes of the episode (well, the show, really), that change is painful but inevitable and you can't hang onto the past.

Move forward. Everyone who fails to do so is doomed.
posted by Superplin at 10:34 PM on May 15, 2013


change is painful but inevitable and you can't hang onto the past

And yet, here is everyone, crashing right into their past.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 PM on May 15, 2013


Will we ever see her again, I wonder?

It's pretty rare for Mad Men to drop a story like that.
posted by crossoverman at 11:06 PM on May 15, 2013


Sys Rq: "change is painful but inevitable and you can't hang onto the past

And yet, here is everyone, crashing right into their past.
"

They all have to confront their past, yes. Some are handling it better than others.
Take Roger, for example. Now there's a guy who knows how to savor a second chance.
posted by Superplin at 11:17 PM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It didn't even seem like they were playing their own characters. It was so on-the-nose at times I felt like they should have been holding their scripts with metacommentary subtitles.

Oh, I see you've seen a Mad Men episode. Everything short of having the actors look into directly the camera and say "think about it" is fair game. I find that turning the channel before the wink wink GET IT ending music choice helps. (And avoids their weird "next time" preview clips. ("Jesus Christ it's hot outside." "No!" "This is great stuff!" "Gosh darnit!" "Oh hell." "Yes!!" "Where on Earth did I put my keys!?" "You say that but you don't mean it." "I'm hungry." "I think I like this place." etc.))

Actually I've been enjoying the show again, and I liked the last episode. Stuff I've missed is happening again. They actually seem to be in an ad company making pitches and working and whatnot. The cripplingly portentous delving of Don Draper's Soul is contained for now. Roger is witty. It's fun again, so I can tolerate the bad stuff.

I didn't even flinch when some character said to Megan wonderingly, "You're so good at everything."
posted by fleacircus at 3:00 AM on May 16, 2013


Bit of shameless self-promotion here, but I wrote a piece on how to knit "Mad Style" for today's post on my blog. Unsurprisingly, knitting your own Mad Men homage projects is a thing. This show permeates everything.
posted by orange swan at 5:39 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ted Chaough fanfic. because, you know, internet.

Now I really need to see Ted's Dick van Dyke impression.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:53 AM on May 16, 2013


Oh man, fleacircus, the cryptic scenes from the next Mad Men is the best part!
posted by Chrysostom at 6:05 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's pretty rare for Mad Men to drop a story like that.

Then where the fuck is GLEN?!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:18 AM on May 16, 2013


At boarding school.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:18 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Instead we're getting the more obvious harping on the red=whores thing (I knew we'd see those same screenshots with this episode).

Well, perhaps that's because the show has been really overt about it this season.

Lots of angsting about how subtle or unsubtle the show is being in conveying it's themes. It's one thing to hold up a sign saying THIS IS WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON, but I don't think that's what's happening. Yes, there are clear prompts, but the big sign says THERE IS MORE GOING ON HERE. YOU SHOULD LOOK MORE CLOSELY. Viewers, including myself, sometimes need a way in.
posted by dry white toast at 9:35 AM on May 16, 2013


Then where the fuck is GLEN?!

I was just thinking that we haven't seen him since Sally got her period. But the obvious answer is A) Sally is mortally embarrassed about what happened the last time they saw each other, and B) we need more Sally first before we can have more Glen.
posted by dry white toast at 9:38 AM on May 16, 2013


THIS IS WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON, but I don't think that's what's happening.

I agree. I totally disagree with iamkimiam's description of the episode, of the actors almost laughing through scenes and the Kennedy thing being totally predictable. I mean, maybe I'm just super dense, but I found the Kennedy reveal super startling and dark, especially after weeks of the show mentioning him and the audience speculating about the reveal.

(I don't think I am super dense).
posted by sweetkid at 9:39 AM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Then where the fuck is GLEN?!>


I'm not a Glen fan, like at all, but I don't think this was a dropped storyline. He's at boarding school, the age difference between him and Sally is more apparent now, and also he's from Ossining and Sally doesn't live there anymore. It makes perfect sense that she and the show would move on from that relationship.
posted by sweetkid at 9:41 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Exactly, sweetkid. Given that Weiner has to reveal something every single viewer knows is coming, his options were limited to begin with. He pulled it off as well as he could have.
posted by dry white toast at 9:44 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and even if the characters haven't necessarily moved on from that relationship, I think it's fine to put on the back burner.

I went to boarding school and had friends scattered all over the place who either didn't live in my hometown or didn't go to my school, and who I would go months without seeing. It being the 90s we kept in touch via AIM, but I'm sure that Sally and Glen are talking on the phone or exchanging postcards or whatever.

I'm a big fan, on any TV series, of the idea that there are all these relational interactions going on in the background that we don't need to check in with every week.
posted by Sara C. at 9:50 AM on May 16, 2013


I'm sure that Sally and Glen are talking on the phone or exchanging postcards or whatever.

They might be, but Sally's current too cool for school attitude (which I enjoy and think is spot on for her age and upper middle classness) might have her leaving awkward nerdy Glen in her past.

I would be OK with it either way, but I'm not thrilled with the idea of more Glen screen time.
posted by sweetkid at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying I had it all figured out...the Kennedy reveal especially (I certainly wasn't expecting that). It's more that when these plot points come up they are so darned contrived that it's completely obvious in afterthought. Someone much smarter than me would see it coming, and I can imagine that would be doubly disappointing. For me, just the once was enough.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:59 AM on May 16, 2013


I think she was there primarily to contribute to one of the main themes of the episode (well, the show, really), that change is painful but inevitable and you can't hang onto the past.

With her dementia being non-total, there was practically no difference in affect between when she was lucid (talking about seeing RFK's death on TV) and when not (talking about Pete's father). What I got from it was more difficult to articulate; there's a distinction between dominance/submissiveness (what's going on in the foreground of much of the episode) and assuredness/humility (which aren't opposites but are treated that way by a lot of people, and was sorting out how different characters deal with change).
posted by psoas at 10:06 AM on May 16, 2013


sweetkid: "(I don't think I am super dense)."

No one ever does.

(I don't think you are, either)
posted by Chrysostom at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2013


Thanks, and yes, I've heard of Dunning–Kruger effect, but my point is more that I think appreciation of a television show is subjective - even if iamkimiam thinks all the smart people could totally have seen every plot point coming.
posted by sweetkid at 10:41 AM on May 16, 2013


I think the parallel between the disorientation of her dementia, and the disorientation caused by the events of the time is very apt and very well done. I don't think you can over-sell how chaotic 1968 was. I'd venture that most of the millenials watching the show don't really grasp its significance. So in this case, I think it's totally appropriate to hit the viewer over the head with the metaphor. I'd almost hope (veinly, I realize) that the show prompts more people who weren't around to learn about everything that was going on that year.

I, for one, have been fascinated by the cultural and political shifts in the 60s, and 1968 in particular, especially since America is very much still feeling the reverberations from the events of that year (I was born in '77). I was excited to see how Mad Men would convey the impact of those events, and so far I have not been disappointed.
posted by dry white toast at 10:49 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Uh, yes, everything I actually know about the '60s (and the Korean War, for that matter) I learned from Mad Men. (Why did history classes always basically end with WW2?)
posted by purpleclover at 10:53 AM on May 16, 2013


I, for one, have been fascinated by the cultural and political shifts in the 60s, and 1968 in particular, especially since America is very much still feeling the reverberations from the events of that year (I was born in '77

I was born in 1978, and it blows my mind that all this stuff happened only ten years before I was born. My parents came to the US from India in 1972 , only four years after this. I mean, by the time I learned about all the events of the sixties (I guess starting mid-80s in elementary school) it seemed a million miles away, yet it was more recent than the Challenger explosion is now.
posted by sweetkid at 10:56 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why did history classes always basically end with WW2?

Mine didn't. Ours went up through the first Gulf War (but I was in high school in the mid 90s so that was the most current major stuff).

I remember writing about the civil rights movement for my AP test.
posted by sweetkid at 10:58 AM on May 16, 2013


Oh, a good school, then. We got "Hippies ... Rosa Parks ... It's May, you guys. Go outside."
posted by purpleclover at 10:59 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had teachers who somehow got away with teaching us The People's History of the United States as our primary text in conservative Northern Virginia.
posted by sweetkid at 11:01 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a kid in the 80's I definitely understood that the 60's were the defining time for my parents' generation, but I only got the stereotyped and sanitized parts: flower power, long wavy hair, the Beatles. The fact that America was almost coming apart at the seems at the same time didn't really become apparent until university (important caveat: I'm Canadian, so the nitty gritty of civil rights was less of a priority in our curriculum).
posted by dry white toast at 11:05 AM on May 16, 2013


Here's my take on the series' "Megan is good at everything" meme. I don't think it has anything to do with Weiner and company trying to impress us with Megan's talents. Instead, it's a reaction to Megan's persona, which is built on the need to appear universally competent, and which tends to bring out strong reactions in other women. She is always modest when praised (either sincerely, or because she harbors self-doubt, or because she gets social perks from it, or because she doesn't care about the achievements in question because she's always moving on to a new ambition), but she has everything invested in immediate success at whatever she tries, which is why she went to pieces last season when she was failing as an actress.

Both of the women who we've heard call Megan "good at everything" have complicated, somewhat backhanded reasons for doing so. Peggy had an immensely difficult relationship with Megan while both were working for SCDP -- wanting to like her because Don does, resenting that she's been promoted because she's Don's wife, caught up in power struggles with Don, and above all envious of Megan's ease at moving through the world -- of her apparently natural social intelligence and air of competence. Peggy is talented, but she's had to work enormously hard to reach the position that Megan reached easily -- both professionally and in terms of having a persona that people automatically like and respect. When she says that Megan's "good at everything" and "one of those girls," the phrases carry all of that admiration and resentment.

(Also, on one level of that conversation, she and Joan are using Megan to debate whether "those girls" even exist. Joan has something of that idealized aura herself, and knows what it's cost her, and so she doesn't believe in "those girls." But she does believe in "the kinds of girls Don marries": very young natural performers who Don will leave as soon as he realizes that they're people. Joan's dismissal of Megan has the same weight within the scene as Peggy's praise of her, which besides everything else was tempered with the desire to counter Joan's cynicism -- Don had called Peggy "cynical and petty" earlier in that episode.)

As for Sylvia, it's harder for me to parse out what Sylvia thinks. We don't have the benefit of years of development, like we do with Peggy. But she doesn't seem to think much of Megan, or much about her, except in terms of her role in the affair. To me, her "good at everything" remark was mostly interesting because it was a totally empty small-talk compliment that probably stung Megan at a time when her marriage is failing and she's getting an award for an ad (the Heinz "mothers and children through the ages" ad, if I'm not mistaken) that reminds her and Don of that marriage's high point. The moment emphasizes the hollowness of the whole sad evening.
posted by thesmallmachine at 11:09 AM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


One more thing about Peggy: I think that, just as Megan's persona is built around being "good at everything," Peggy's is built on being "good." She values her self-image as a person who is optimistic and hardworking and un-cynical, which is why Don's remark about "the people [Megan] works with" being "cynical and petty" really hurt her (and was part of what drove her away from Don and towards Ted, who models a way of getting older and more successful without spiritually withering).

I see Peggy's development very much in those terms. On her first day she wants to become cynical and worldly, but when it starts to happen, she wants it less and less, and that's defined her ever since.

(Interestingly, both Peggy's early longing to be "worldly" and her later longing to be "good" are closely tied to the possibility of a workplace affair -- though her move on Don was kind of an abstract thing, "I'm an independent career girl and now I'm going to sleep with my handsome boss, yeah!" and her interest in Ted is more about Ted as an individual.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 11:33 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


most of the millenials watching the show don't really grasp its significance

I'm a huge 60's obsessive (see upthread or maybe the last thread about Abe's place in the New Left vs. being a writer at the Times), but one thing that hasn't hit home for me until this season of Mad Men is how this chaos would have resonated, emotionally.

Maybe it's from growing up in the time after this period and Watergate, but I find it hard to imagine a figure like MLK being assassinated and having major social events (like an awards dinner) completely break down, and the country breaking out in riots over it. Or RFK being assassinated and people openly weeping in front of the TV, unable to function normally.

I remember the day Gabrielle Giffords was shot, for instance. I went to a party that night like any Saturday night, and there was talk about it, but there was also drinking and debauchery and the usual party antics. There was no "we should all stay home because right wing gun nuts are going to be out in force", or even a "we shouldn't be partying at a time like this".

I get that, for MLK, this happened in a context where "race riots" were a constant possibility in a way that doesn't really happen anymore. And I get that RFK wasn't just a congress member from a random state, he was a frontrunner for the Democratic party nomination. But until this season of Mad Men I didn't so much understand what it felt like to live in 1968.
posted by Sara C. at 11:41 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


When she says that Megan's "good at everything" and "one of those girls," the phrases carry all of that admiration and resentment.

This type of discussion about Megan reminds me of the discussion in the media about why people hate Anne Hathaway. Maybe you've discussed Megan in this context before, and I apologize if you have! I think this was posted in MeFi some time ago, and back then it made me think of Megan as a type for other girls I know irl.

That bit in Dark Shadows (5x09) when Megan helps a friend rehearse her lines, and this friend (the readhead?) reacts to Megan's criticism of her acting with: "you're lucky, you have such a great apartment, great husband, you don't have to struggle like me". And Megan gets defensive, "I am [lucky]!" - to me it sounds like she is saying, don't even attempt to try to bring me down. If you're suffering, it has nothing to do with my luck. I'm helping you, etc.

It was an impressive moment for me, because she had such self-confidence even when rather unfairly criticized.

She is happy and determined, has such a strong sense of entitlement that she can tackle life with great elan. And this quality in contrast with Betty and her emotional baggage and insecurities made Megan seem like a pretty interesting foil for Don. One woman whose confidence he'll have trouble undermining. (But of course, it's season 6, here we are, and I'm not so sure he hasn't succeeded...).

I always wonder with these girls, are they like this because they've been pampered and coddled and nurtured in such a way that they felt they would never fail?* Because it seems like the type of high-functioning self-esteem I associate with good, nurturing parenting. Or it is just that they've never failed, because they get bailed out all the time, and can't really believe it could happen, the way little kids think they're immortal.

Because when Megan did seem to be failing as an actress, she couldn't deal with it and had to beg her husband to bail her out. Nobody bailed Peggy out. Yet there she is...

*In this context, Megan's parents make no sense to me. She should have been a LOT less confident with Marie as a mother. How did she manage to grow up so happy? Or maybe it was countered by the fact that she was a youngest child, that her older siblings may have done some of the raising, as is common in such large catholic famillies?

Sorry if this is rambly... hope it still makes sense.
posted by ipsative at 11:50 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


though her move on Don was kind of an abstract thing, "I'm an independent career girl and now I'm going to sleep with my handsome boss, yeah!"

I feel like I'm the only one who saw her "move" on Don happening because every single person she's interacted with on her first day of work has basically told her she was supposed to do that, or that she should expect there to be a sexual angle in the secretary/executive relationship, or even implied that Don's last secretary was let go for not fucking him.

I also think people's reaction to that moment in the pilot is an interesting contrast to the current Harry/Scarlett relationship, where folks are all OBVIOUSLY THEY'RE HAVING AN AFFAIR when they forget that a mere 8 years ago Peggy was basically told that fucking her boss would be part of the job description. My guess is that Harry and Scarlett's work relationship is much more like that old school "your secretary is your wife at the office" model than the Peggy and Don mentoring model.
posted by Sara C. at 11:50 AM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I find it hard to imagine a figure like MLK being assassinated and having major social events (like an awards dinner) completely break down, and the country breaking out in riots over it. Or RFK being assassinated and people openly weeping in front of the TV, unable to function normally.

The only thing I can remember from my lifetime (Which is only slightly longer than Sara C.'s) that affected people in any way close to this was 9/11. I remember not knowing what to do with myself and wandering over to MIT (I was in Boston at the time) to watch TV with the students.
posted by sweetkid at 11:54 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like I'm the only one who saw her "move" on Don happening because every single person she's interacted with on her first day of work has basically told her she was supposed to do that, or that she should expect there to be a sexual angle in the secretary/executive relationship

I haven't re-watched that episode in a long time, but that is how I remember parsing it.
posted by mikepop at 11:55 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Thanks, and yes, I've heard of Dunning–Kruger effect, but my point is more that I think appreciation of a television show is subjective - even if iamkimiam thinks all the smart people could totally have seen every plot point coming."

I agree with the sentiment about subjectivity. That second sentence is not what I said or think and is beside the point I was actually making. Unless I'm meant to read it as you kidding with me?
posted by iamkimiam at 11:57 AM on May 16, 2013


Doesn't she say she wants to be a copywriter as she's making moves on Don? I think that's why some people see it as her trying to advance her career. I'm kind of split because I never really get Megan's motives but I think it's accurate to say she was just doing what she thought was her job.
posted by sweetkid at 11:58 AM on May 16, 2013


9/11. I remember not knowing what to do with myself and wandering over to MIT (I was in Boston at the time) to watch TV with the students.

Yeah, I think this is a big reason it has been hard for me to contextualize the emotions involved in the late 60's upheaval.

I mean, 9/11 was A HUGE THING. Thousands of people died across multiple locations. It was an attack on our country by a hostile outside force, which was pretty much unimaginable in the context of the late 90s. I remember for weeks not feeling secure in my own skin at all, like the other shoe was going to drop and society was going to collapse any moment.

It's hard for me to attach that same "I have no idea what to do with myself or how life can go on" feeling to something more abstract, like an esteemed cultural figure being murdered.

(This is not in any way a criticism of the show, or of people in the 60's, or really of anyone/anything. It's just me riffing on how world events effect people emotionally.)
posted by Sara C. at 12:00 PM on May 16, 2013


Doesn't she say she wants to be a copywriter as she's making moves on Don?

No, she makes her one and only move on Don in the pilot, before the existence of female copywriters or her desire for more than just a secretary gig is even remotely close to being a thing.

Though I think it's the next episode or maybe episode 3 where she has lunch with Paul and he mentions female copywriters. It's a pretty long way from there to the lipstick market research session where the wheels start turning in a formal "Peggy Wants To Be A Copywriter" way.

It's Megan who blatantly makes a move on Don and has a whole "really what I want to do is be a copywriter" speech as a big performative MOMENT. Peggy just puts her trembly first-day hand on Don's hand, after thanking him for a good first day. And he's all, "Honey, I am not your BOYFRIEND, OK?" and that pretty much sets the tone for the whole rest of the series.
posted by Sara C. at 12:04 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's hard for me to attach that same "I have no idea what to do with myself or how life can go on" feeling to something more abstract, like an esteemed cultural figure being murdered.

Yeah, no I get what you mean. I don't mean that grief for the death of one important person is the same level as the death of thousands of mostly unknown people - but I can see how it would make people feel the world was really unstable, like things they thought they understood just don't make sense the same way - like Dorothy said, "I don't understand, they're shooting everyone now."

I agree, it's hard for me also to picture the death of someone causing such widespread fear and uncertainty, but if I imagine even a major threat happening at the White House or something like that (yes, even if it were Bush), that would be pretty scary.
posted by sweetkid at 12:06 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doesn't she say she wants to be a copywriter as she's making moves on Don?

No, she makes her one and only move on Don in the pilot, before the existence of female copywriters or her desire for more than just a secretary gig is even remotely close to being a thing.


Sorry, I meant Megan not Peggy.

This is what I said:


Doesn't she say she wants to be a copywriter as she's making moves on Don? I think that's why some people see it as her trying to advance her career. I'm kind of split because I never really get Megan's motives but I think it's accurate to say she was just doing what she thought was her job.
posted by sweetkid at 12:06 PM on May 16, 2013


Re Peggy/Megan confusion -- sorry, overextending myself on the internet while at work coordinating a Today Show segment and eavesdropping on a conference call.

if I imagine even a major threat happening at the White House or something like that (yes, even if it were Bush), that would be pretty scary.

I think this is where I get lost. MLK and RFK weren't the president. Like, I get how JFK's assassination shattered the country. It's (sadly) easy for me to imagine what would happen if a sitting president died in office, for ANY reason, foul play or otherwise. It's hard for me to imagine Howard Dean or Gloria Steinem being murdered and the country breaking out in chaos.

(Again, not that it wouldn't happen or that it was bad/wrong that people felt that way.)
posted by Sara C. at 12:26 PM on May 16, 2013


When she says that Megan's "good at everything" and "one of those girls," the phrases carry all of that admiration and resentment.
This type of discussion about Megan reminds me of the discussion in the media about why people hate Anne Hathaway.


This is an excellent analogy.
posted by donajo at 12:27 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think this is where I get lost. MLK and RFK weren't the president.

No I know. I don't know. I'm just trying to put it in the same scale. I mean we're about the same age so I don't really understand it either.
posted by sweetkid at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also Megan's critics seem oddly blind to her actual character flaws, vain, impulsive, kinda manipulative, naive, etc.
posted by The Whelk at 1:12 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think this is where I get lost. MLK and RFK weren't the president.

Aside from September 11th, which is a different thing (what happens now? are we under attack?), the closest in my lifetime would be the announcement of Princess Diana's death, and her subsequent funeral. I'm not in the UK, but I'm pretty sure things there came to a screeching halt. And I myself vividly remember sitting in front of the TV (because that's still how we got the news) and watching the footage, in a state of shocked confusion.

No, neither MLK nor RFK were the President, but they were certainly beloved leaders. I spent a good while trying to think of a leader that has the same stature today as MLK did, and none comes to mind.

Also, be aware that everyone understood what it meant that he had been killed. That it was an overtly political act. Certainly the Marathon Bombing had the same clock stopping effect, although the victims were not nearly as famous.
posted by anastasiav at 1:17 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Certainly the Marathon Bombing had the same clock stopping effect, although the victims were not nearly as famous.

This is kind of what I was thinking of. Also the whole chaos of that week (so recent) with the Texas explosion and the car chase and the suspect hiding in the boat. I didn't think the world was falling apart, exactly, but it was a mind blowing amount of chaos and violence in only one week.
posted by sweetkid at 1:21 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, neither MLK nor RFK were the President, but they were certainly beloved leaders. I spent a good while trying to think of a leader that has the same stature today as MLK did, and none comes to mind..

In June 2008 if either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had been assassinated while they were campaigning for the nomination, the country would have been in serious upheaval. I think RFK was as well known as both of them, and he might have been more beloved since JFK's assassination.
posted by gladly at 1:36 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


yeah I think that's a good comparison gladly. Or even McCain.
posted by sweetkid at 1:37 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, neither MLK nor RFK were the President, but they were certainly beloved leaders. I spent a good while trying to think of a leader that has the same stature today as MLK did, and none comes to mind.

I don't think the times and circumstances make such a person even possible anymore.

Obama in June 2008 would a close comparison to Bobby Kennedy in June 1968. Obama's circumstances were bigger (first black president to-be), but '68 was a more tumultuous year. The entire country was rioting. And on the heels of MLK ... imagine if even somebody like Cindy Sheehan was murdered in April 2004 and Medea Benjamin assassinated in June 2004. The scale is smaller (less followers), but even that scenario is almost unimaginable. Which is a good thing. I think.

Why Mad Men Got the Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination So Very Right
posted by mrgrimm at 2:00 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why Mad Men Got the Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination So Very Right

That article makes a pretty stunning error in timeline that one of the Vanity Fair commenters also points out: Pete's Chinese food delivery was after his fight with Harry not before. His failure to emotionally connect with the Chinese food delivery guy wasn't the reason he picked the fight with Harry.
posted by sweetkid at 2:10 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Re: criticism of Megan -- I agree with Whelk that her critics are often curiously blind to her flaws. I'd add that when they do see her flaws, they tend to assume that they're not intentional, that this complex and very human character is a failed attempt to create a perfectly lovable one. This is one place where the Anne Hathaway thing gets involved -- this set of dubious assumptions about what female figures in media are actually trying to be.
posted by thesmallmachine at 2:16 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think your ideas about Megan are interesting, thesmallmachine, and I've been thinking about them while posting about MLK in this thread and doing actual work at my jobby thing.

Every time I see Weiner talk about Megan, or anyone in the show talk about her, they don't talk about her as being flawed in any way, or putting on any kind of show to appear "good" -- it's that she IS good at everything.

For example, from this EW article:

Weiner notes that last season they spent a lot of time in the writers room trying to figure out who Megan really is and what drives her. “What’s interesting to me is that she’s an idealistic person. She’s artistically idealistic. And I love that she couldn’t be kept from that,

and

“I think he wanted her to be an amazing advertising wunderkind. He was fascinated by that and thrilled that there was this person who was as good as he was and as cognizant of the landscape and the world and had this kind of very natural understanding of it,” Hamm says.


Also, I remember from that last episode of Season 5, when everyone was wondering why Don's face changed to sadness when he was watching Megan's reel, Weiner was basically like, "he realized she's so great at this and a natural talent and he couldn't hold her back" when all I saw was Jessica Pare grinning and tucking her hair behind her ear.

I think he really loves the actress and didn't think much about the character and sort of made things up as he went along. I don't know that this is the case, but it seems that way to me.

However, just because Matt Weiner says something is the motivation or reason for something doesn't mean everyone has to agree with it, because art is about interpretation, and I disagree with him plenty of times, so I still think your interpretation is a valid one, even though I have trouble seeing it.

I do think I don't agree with the Anne Hathaway thing though. I think the "hatred" or whatever it is about Anne Hathaway is more because she is like a Peggy. She's clearly a striver and talked about her weight loss for the role in Les Mis and the work involved and how much she really wanted the Oscar. I think some of the articles about the hatred were talking about this, though I don't really feel like looking for them now. That people don't like hearing about celebrities talking about how hard they're working or how much they're trying and that's what's grating about her. Personally, I don't dislike Anne Hathaway at all and think she's very charming and interesting, but she's definitely NOT one of those, "oh, I just eat like hamburgers and fries and the weight falls off" or "I'm so silly I'm tripping on my dress at this big fancy people award show" (Jennifer Lawrence). She shows her work.

I think that's more Peggy than Megan, who's all "aw shucks! it was nothing!" about everything.
posted by sweetkid at 2:45 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, when Don got all sad watching her reel, I thought " oh god he's realizing she's not a very good actress." and then I spent a while thinking if it even matters if she's not a good actress cause like, performing for the camera and performing in person are very different things.
posted by The Whelk at 3:18 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


mrgrimm: "Why Mad Men Got the Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination So Very Right"

Mad Med love AND Sorkin bashing! Is it my birthday?
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:45 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


yeah I love me a good Sorkin bashing, too.
posted by sweetkid at 3:48 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every time I see Weiner talk about Megan, or anyone in the show talk about her, they don't talk about her as being flawed in any way

I...kind of don't see him wholly idealizing her in those quotes, though. The fact that she's idealistic and naturally talented at work aren't related to her other faults (vanity, naivete, manipulation, as mentioned above), which may not have been relevant to the discussion. And I have to wonder how much he left of Megan's persona up to Paré's interpretation. I feel like I'm getting the sense that she's built a character much like Obama's 2008 campaign: you really can read a lot of different things into it without too much difficulty.
posted by psoas at 4:10 PM on May 16, 2013


I remember the day Gabrielle Giffords was shot, for instance. I went to a party that night like any Saturday night, and there was talk about it, but there was also drinking and debauchery and the usual party antics.

I think a better analogy, still far back in time but at least more of us were around to experience it, was the assassination of John Lennon. There was no danger of riots but the country (and obviously other countries as well) was definitely in shock, people were crying at their televisions and radios. I'm sure a lot of parties were put on hold (but still probably a lot of drinking).

In June 2008 if either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama had been assassinated while they were campaigning for the nomination, the country would have been in serious upheaval.

I also think this is a reasonable comparison. There was the same kind of energy (and hope) around their campaigns.

It's also the one-two blow. Imagine John Lennon had not been killed in 1980 and instead had continued on as a peace/social justice advocate. He's traveling the country playing concerts/giving speeches and so on. Then in early 2008 he is assassinated. Then just two months later Clinton or Obama is assassinated. You can switch out maybe Jimmy Carter for Lennon if you want a less fictional scenario.
posted by mikepop at 4:16 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


And I have to wonder how much he left of Megan's persona up to Paré's interpretation.

This is nevereverever a good idea and frankly is so bad that I don't think the show could possibly have done such a thing.

Actors are... actors. They're not writers. When you have a new primary character who the show is going to be spending a lot of time with going forward, you can't just say, "OK, Jessica, just, like, do whatever I guess..." You have to WRITE HER INTO THE SHOW.

I mean I think there were huge character problems with Megan through a lot of Season 5, but even I don't think they just didn't bother coming up with anything and let the actress just figure it out on her own.
posted by Sara C. at 4:23 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a show that told Elizabeth Moss exactly how and when to skip down the hallway in a scene. I don't think they would let any of the actors just do whatever.
posted by sweetkid at 7:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The impact of the assassinations can really only be understood in the context of what was happening at the time. The two poles of the country were at a boiling point. Blacks had finally achieved legally what had been denied them for centuries, but we're still feeling shut out of society. And Congress was debating laws about housing that whites perceived as meaning that black families were going to "invade" their suburban enclaves. There was as much tension about this in the Northeast and Midwest as the South. If you lived in a decent sized city, this was happening where you lived. Not just somewhere else on the news. Every major city had seen Negro riots for years BEFORE 1968. And then there was Vietnam, which was tearing the Democratic Party apart. Remember how ubiquitous Vietnam was in the first few episodes of this season?

So basically, much of America was either angry or terrified or both.

MLK and RFK were seen as the best hopes for finding a way to cool everything down. Roger's line, "he could really talk. I thought that would solve everything", was dead on in capturing that sentiment.

What you're seeing on the faces of the characters is them being confronted with the reality that there isn't going to be white knight to solve everything. They are staring into the void, seeing hope extinguished.
posted by dry white toast at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, another important thing to keep in mind when watching the show from today's perspective: almost everything we detest about the modern Republican Party (both in their leaders and their base) was birthed during these few months (after being conceived by Goldwater in 1964).

Notice how when the characters discuss candidates, Nixon's name barely comes up? To say nothing of Hubert Humphrey. In a few months time, Nixon is going to trounce Humphrey in the general election. That's how quickly things are shifting.
posted by dry white toast at 9:04 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Indeed, you come across a lot of criticism that says the modern GOP is still stuck in 1969, fighting the same battles and still SO ANGRY about the changes we're seeing on the fringe here.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


that's a cool explanation dry white toast.
posted by sweetkid at 9:29 PM on May 16, 2013


dry white toast: "In a few months time, Nixon is going to trounce Humphrey in the general election."

Humphrey lost the popular vote by 0.7%, just over half a million votes. Nixon carried CA, OH, and IL by less than 3 points - if Humphrey had won those states he would have won the election outright. If he'd taken OH+IL or just CA it would have been thrown to the House, which the Democrats controlled, and Humphrey would have won.

It was a hugely consequential election, but it wasn't a trouncing.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:34 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Guys, I was just watching an old episode of Star Trek, and I realized that Joan Collins bears a strong resemblance to a certain daytime TV actress.

Megan Calvet is going to make one hell of a shoulder-pad wearing 80's prime-time soap star, y'all.
posted by Sara C. at 9:50 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I remember my Dad coming home the night John Lennon was shot. He and my Mom were just floored. They didn't go into mourning or anything, but it definitely had an impact on them emotionally.

The Challenger shuttle explosion was comparable for my generation, or at least for me. I'll never forget it. I remember where I was and how it all happened, every detail.

I was in college at the time, in Florida naturally, studying to be a teacher myself, so Christa McCauliffe being one of the first civilians to go up in the space shuttle was just about all we talked about. We felt validated. People respected teachers a bit more then, anyway, but still. It was a Big Deal.

I remember the shuttle launch had been delayed already a few times because of weather, and we were all so used to that by this time that we'd just roll our eyes, because it seemed like if the wind just blew the wrong way over at Canaveral they'd call off a launch. If anything, we all thought NASA was too careful. We'd sent men to the moon and they came back fine! Let the shuttle and the astronauts do their job, already!

You know, we took the shuttle for granted. They told us it was designed to be reusable, reliable, like tupperware. We didn't know about BPAs or any of that stuff then. We didn't know how the shuttle stuff worked, either, we just knew it did. We assumed the space program was going to last forever and frankly we had even been getting a little bored with it before they brought in Christa McCauliffe.

So, yay, first teacher in space! Let's do this thing already.

This launch, I cared about. And I was miffed, because, as luck would have it, I had a class during the launch window. You could see the shuttle take off right from the campus, but we were so blase' about it all. So many launches cancelled. They didn't even let us go outside when the countdown started any more.

So my boyfriend picked me up at the library after class, and when he said, "Did you hear about the shuttle?", I assumed there'd been yet another weather glitch keeping it on the launch pad. So I'm like, what, it got delayed again?! And he says, "It blew up."

I was so pissed at him for saying that. That's not funny! Why would you think that was funny? You know I was looking forward to seeing it this time, did it go up or not--and he cuts me off and says, "No. Really. The shuttle exploded."

And we went to his house--he lived by the university--and turned on the news. I didn't know anyone who had "Premium" TV, we sure didn't even have cable then, and there was no CNN, but it was all over ABC, NBC, and CBS. So I sit there, glued to the set, and I watch it happen.

There's the shuttle on the launchpad, like always, and all the smiley people in the park across the intercoastal waterway, looking out over the water, waiting for it to take off, like always. The countdown starts, and keeps going for a change. You can hear the glad murmur of the crowd when Challenger takes off. The relief. Finally, it's up!

There's that familiar arc, the white trail with the orange flame at the end--and then suddenly it all goes screwy. The trajectory got all spirally and weird, like a defective firecracker veering crazily across the sky, except it's daytime and the sun is shining. The happy faces of the people on the shore freeze in place, and the realization in their eyes turning into panic. An orange flare. Pieces of space stuff, flying apart in the sky. And then...nothing.

*Shudder*.

If we don't react to moments like that now, the way they did in the 60s, I think it's because we're less shielded than they were from these things. News is everywhere, 24 hours a day (such as it is), with running ticker tapes on the bottom of our screens, so we develop a filter to block it out, or it would be too much. It's different when it is actually is in your backyard. You can't block it out then. Boston folks experienced that after the marathon bombings. New York has felt like that a long time.
posted by misha at 10:18 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm just going to duck in to express amusement that the '68 shootings have been likened to Lennon's 1980 shooting but not to the failed asassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, an actual elected president, the same year.

I remember a LOT of people being sad about Lennon.

Ronnie didn't die, of course, but I can't say I recall any hullabaloo or real expressions of concern from anyone but media figures in that case, not counting the long-term post-shooting media career of James Brady. The President was shot, and in my memory at least, no-one cared, most emphatically not me. In hindsight, while my loathing for that idiot burns as brightly as it did at the time, it's a bit odd that I don't recall being shushed about it or instructed in, what, expressing sympathy when someone's hurt unexpectedly.

We live, and have since about 1968, in a different culture than the people on the show.
posted by mwhybark at 12:43 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Andy Rooney, of all people, wrote a good column about how strongly people were affected by Lennon's murder. It was a Big Deal.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:12 AM on May 17, 2013


The President was shot, and in my memory at least, no-one cared,

A big part of that, I think, was that it was absolutely immediately apparent that shooting Regan was not a political act.

Of course, Lennon's murder was not really a political act either, but he was greatly beloved; promise cut off, as it were.
posted by anastasiav at 6:58 AM on May 17, 2013


A couple of factors on Reagan, I think. His not dying is a big part of it - it wasn't even common knowledge at the time that he'd come quite close. He was very much disliked by many people. Not that JFK was universally beloved, but I think Reagan may have had the edge on vitriol. As said above, it was clearly just some crazy person who did it.

Most importantly, I think it's that we'd been through the 60s and a wave of assassinations, and it no longer seemed quite so shocking. The 50s innocence thing is oversold, but it had been a long time since a president had been murdered (despite some semi-blundering attempts).
posted by Chrysostom at 7:22 AM on May 17, 2013


I was seven when John Lennon was shot. When I heard my dad talking to someone about John Lennon's death, I interrupted to ask if John Lennon was related to Vladimir Lenin. I'd never heard of John Lennon, and had no idea who he was or how his name was spelled, but I knew who Vladimir Lenin was, and the names sounded exactly alike.

It still cracks me up that I was that kind of seven-year-old.
posted by orange swan at 7:44 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is even more of a derail, but the first season of The Americans, which just finished (and which I highly recommend) had an episode about the Reagan assassination attempt, but played it from the perspective of the outsiders (the Soviet spy couple that are the focus of the show) trying to understand what was going on. From the outside, it could easily have looked like a military coup. When TV is good, it's good.

And Chrysostom, you're right about Nixon's margin of victory. I got confused with the 1972 election against McGovern. Thanks for clarifying.
posted by dry white toast at 10:59 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Indeed, you come across a lot of criticism that says the modern GOP is still stuck in 1969, fighting the same battles and still SO ANGRY about the changes we're seeing on the fringe here.

Also, don't kid yourself, much of the internal warring amongst Democrats that has frustrated people on the left for so long is a result of the scars of this period. Just like all the other convulsions the show has taken us through, I'm curious to see how they fold in the Democratic Convention in Chicago.
posted by dry white toast at 11:07 AM on May 17, 2013


Just had a realization about how I designate some of the mothers of the main characters when I think of them.

Pete's mother is Mother Campbell. Megan's mother is Maman Calvet. Joan's mother is Mama Holloway. Henry's mother is Momma Francis.
posted by orange swan at 6:30 PM on May 17, 2013


I'm curious to see how they fold in the Democratic Convention in Chicago.

My guess is that it will be via Abe, and that if Peggy and Abe are going to break up in an episode of the show, it will either happen there or the show will put the bulk of the storytelling there and then we'll never see Abe again. (Sort of like Peggy's wannabe fiance and the birthday dinner she blew off -- I don't think we saw them break up, but the writing was on the wall after that episode.)

Similarly, I think that if the Democratic Convention is discussed through the lens of Abe, and they DON'T break up there, Abe and Peggy are probably in it for the log haul.
posted by Sara C. at 6:37 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Abe and Peggy are probably in it for the log haul.

The fearless return of Catherine Coulson to the small screen.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:42 PM on May 17, 2013


The link between Star Trek and David Lynch, what would David Lynch's Wrath Of Khan look like?
posted by The Whelk at 7:19 PM on May 17, 2013


Also in my scouring of my wardrobe I found I only have Pete Campell's office attire, but also Bob Benson, down to the tie patterns.
posted by The Whelk at 7:24 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pete's mother is Mother Campbell. Megan's mother is Maman Calvet. Joan's mother is Mama Holloway. Henry's mother is Momma Francis.

Peggy's mother is Ma Olsen.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:06 AM on May 18, 2013


Whew, you guys, I finally made it through the thread. Nearly killed me.

. . . About Betty. One thing that really surprised me was that they never did much with weakness in her hands. I was sure they were going to suggest she had a real, physical health problem that was being dismissed because doctors have a long history of dismissing legitimate complaints from women. The show even seemed to hint it might take us that direction with the horrible treatment Peggy got from the doctor when seeking birth control.

I have to disagree with all the January Jones haters too. I find Betty's story tragic, and JJ's portrayal perfect. She often acts as both child and bitter old hag, because she is so lost. Even with Henry, she seems to not know what she wants or even that she wants something more, because as so many have stated so much more eloquently, she thinks she should be happy as a house wife.

At least in my mind, the reason JJ's performance comes off as so cardboard to some people is because Betty is constantly trying to stifle some emotional turmoil. But there is a seething there, just below the surface that lashes out every once in a while.

I like the idea that Betty was Megan before Don ruined her. I really wonder if that is where they are taking Megan. Once having the world in the palm of her hand and yet hope and optimism slowly sapped from her as she tries to please an ever more demanding, distant Don.

I hope Betty finds peace. Maybe as the show wraps up, we'll cut from Don stepping of the building to Betty smiling as she stands at Henry's side because she loves it. Not the adoration, or being put on display, but being in a situation that offers her some power and realization of her own agency through supporting his activism. Perhaps not as fully realized or independent as we'd seen other woman in the show go, she's too damaged and the good house wife narrative is too well ingrained. But more so than the formed Mrs. Draper could have dreamed possible.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:27 AM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I need to start reading this thread 24/7 because I now I want to respond to two different threads of thought at once and my head kind of hurts. OK, 3, 2, 1, let's jam.
Also, I remember from that last episode of Season 5, when everyone was wondering why Don's face changed to sadness when he was watching Megan's reel, Weiner was basically like, "he realized she's so great at this and a natural talent and he couldn't hold her back" when all I saw was Jessica Pare grinning and tucking her hair behind her ear.

I think he really loves the actress and didn't think much about the character and sort of made things up as he went along. I don't know that this is the case, but it seems that way to me.
For some reason everything Matt Weiner says and thinks pisses me off, and a part of me suspects he's as responsible for all the worst aspects of Mad Men as he is for many of the best parts, but there was a shot of Megan in season 4 where Don's looking at her and she clearly CLEARLY represents The Future. The future of youth and of America and of advertising and probably of sexy secretaries too, and Don's kind of staring like he's looking at the American dream he's been dreaming of for years and only now realizing that it might come true.

And from the perspective of anybody slightly younger than Don Draper, it totally has. He has a smart, sexy wife who knows how to handle children, delights in throwing parties, performs seductive songs at said parties, and is comfortable with having sex that's got a certain kinkiness to it. And then at the end of the day she is more than willing to listen to Don open up his heart, even though that never happens. Seriously, this is a woman who won an award in advertising but left it to become an actress. In a soap. That is pretty much actually as close to the dream incarnate as you're gonna get.

But Don's still striving towards the ideal of the 50s, the nostalgia that seemingly infused that decade and still does today. The silent, handsome father we kind of saw in season 1, who comes home and is immediately the Authority in the household. His beautiful blonde wife caters to him, his children buzz around him till he swats them away, and then he goes to work and rises in status by being talented and productive. That's an older, sterner sort of American dream, the one where domestic life takes care of itself and work is rooted in individual merit, and anything that happens on the side stays on the side. (Well, nothing's technically supposed to happen in that dream because life is already perfect, but you cheat on your wife and keep it out of the glossy ad posters and it sort of curls up and goes away.)

One of the interesting things in this thread has been how people talk about Betty as suffering from Don's abuse, because it broadened my perspective on what exactly abuse entails. Betty didn't strike me as abused – she's just been trying to play from the same playbook that Don Draper is, where life really is as simple has having two perfect kids and one perfect husband and a satisfying amount of housewife gossip. Only that's not nearly enough to have a satisfying life, and a lot of Betty's problems stem from her seriously thinking that this life ought to be enough. After all, here's Don seemingly fitting into this life perfectly! And when he doesn't, like when he vanishes on Sally's birthday (or was it Gene's?), it's always in these strange and unexpected ways. We know Don's been cheating on Betty, but she doesn't, not throughout the whole first season, and the big reveal at the end there is that he's using her psychologist to spy on her. That this seemingly perfect life is just a birdcage that her husband's trapped her in to achieve his ideal world.

And then she realizes, not only has he been cheating on her, but he's not even Don Draper. Hope extinguished, like somebody upthread said about the MLK RFK thing. This wasn't a perfect marriage sullied by a few flaws, this was somebody creating an advertisement that hid the truth beneath a glossy veneer. And she bought into it, because she wanted that ad to be real, but her husband just used that to fuel his own (vastly advantageous) situation.

But even with that, I found "abuse" an interesting term, because Don struck me as just as determined to believe in his own bullshit as Betty was. He has much more power, because he knows at some level that this is all a lie, but he's still working hard to make things work the "right" way. Only his knowing is what makes him abusive, right? He understands that life is messy, and his response is essentially "Stop being such a pussy and get in line." He abandons his name, his brother, he's willing to drop everything at a hat to create a new ideal, and other people are mucking about with REALITY and complaining about how much it sucks. Well, newsflash, reality always does suck, so let's stick it away and pretend like it's not really there! We'll get satisfaction in brief affairs and alcohol and be okay with the fact that, as Don tells Rachel in the pilot (paraphrased), everybody's gonna die anyway.

The 60s becomes the decade of hope for change, and Megan really does symbolize that in a way. Because Megan's not living some fake imagined dream, this poster Don imagines her being in, she's working at doing what she wants and failing a bunch and now she's finally succeeding, for reasons that aren't quite Don's "work harder and harder and harder" ideals which are total crap anyway. And in the 60s, what Megan's doing is the dream, in a sense, because she's not just manufacturing an ideal, she's striving to make it an actual thing. But that's the opposite of Don wants, because Don's looking to escape himself, and ultimately in a world where Megan and other inspired youth are working hard to make the reality they want, Don either admits who he is to himself or he gets snuffed out. Because the 50s are finally going away.

This season is rife with imagery of the Dream failing – the two assassinations of MLK and RFK mainly – but I don't know if the message there is "change is hopeless" so much as "there's no easy way out". I'm not sure if that was a solid strong theme running through the actual 60s, but that's actually a theme that ties seriously to today, where the political landscape is so wretched that pretty much nobody thinks voting for the right man is enough. Change requires enormously hard work, and lots of failure, and people are miserable and upset a lot of the time, but ultimately when you harbor no illusions about the shittiness of the day you can actually address what it is instead of hiding from it. From the start Mad Men has been a show about a seriously ugly world, uglier even than ours is now, but hiding more convincingly under a veneer of "this is the way things ought to be" that's slowly coming apart. And Don's the guy clinging to the "ought to be" the hardest, because he's the guy for whom hopes and dreams least match up with reality.

Like I said last week-ish, I'm really curious how Don and Megan play out, not because of Don – we get it, you want to make people act THIS way but they really are THIS way – but because of Megan. I don't know how much of her wants her marriage to Don to hold up to this fake ideal, and how much of her is idealistic but willing to look the reality of the situation right in the face. I don't think she'll be shattered like Betty was to realize Don was cheating on her, but she'll be hurt, and she'll also be pissed off. Does she calm down afterwards and try to change Don, forcing him to finally get over his awful awful ways (ooooh, maybe SHE sends HIM to a psychologist), or does Matt Weiner's Symbol of the Sixties look at Don and say "I don't need you" and shove him out of a window?

Because Don Draper is certainly awful, in his behavior as a father, as a husband, as a boss, as a friend, even as an adulterer – as last week proved amply – but he comes from a place of serious mental anguish. Does it matter more that his past was terrible, or that his present self IS terrible? Does the wounded child find solace, or the crappy adult get what's coming to him?

This is something I wonder about Pete, too. Because Pete is the crude mimic of Don: he tries to get everything Don gets but he's vastly worse at getting it, probably because he doesn't quite grasp how deep the rabbit hole for Don is. Pete still reacts to the world emotionally, he still is wounded when it hurts him, whereas Don is past having any hope for anything but his manufactured dream whatsoever. So things go wrong for Pete in more spectacular ways than they do for Don, but he's more capable of responding to them and being hurt by them and growing from them (perhaps) than Don is. He's the brute that reveals how wretched Don's actions really are, because he's the one that gets caught doing them. Does he realize his own problem? Is he going to get to escape from that cycle of wants? Or is he as trapped as Don, even though one realizes it and the other doesn't?

It all hinges on Weiner's oft-stated sentiment that people don't fundamentally change, which is a sentiment that goes both ways. Does Weiner mean behaviors don't change, and that Pete and Don are stuck in this system forever until it washes its hands of both of them? Or does he mean that the wants and needs stay the same, in which case the problem with D & P is that they each refuse to acknowledge what they're looking for? Does Mad Men end on the grim note of once you're trapped, you're trapped, or does it end with the hope that maybe honesty and self-awareness is what lets people finally change?

Of course, it could also end on both notes at once.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:36 AM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was sure they were going to suggest she had a real, physical health problem that was being dismissed because doctors have a long history of dismissing legitimate complaints from women.

The main problem with pursuing this storyline is that it's not something that was really resolved or improved in the 60's at all. I guess Betty could luck out and get a new, more sympathetic doctor when she moved from Ossining to Rye, but that wouldn't be dramatically interesting.

The real revolution in doctors starting to take patients* more seriously and engaging with them on their level rather than as an authoritarian patriarch happened much later, in the 70's and probably really more into the 80's and 90's, directly on the backs of the broader social changes of the 60's.

Not to mention that I think that, in early episodes, Betty had probably gone about as far as medicine in the early 60's could go. I don't think there's some obvious well-known solution that her GP isn't hearing because she's just a silly little woman.

That said, the implication is that her hand tremors went away because of therapy, I guess? Which...?

Then again, season 2 opens with Betty taking horseback riding lessons, so maybe the psychiatrist suggested that as a combination of physical therapy and relaxing "me time" for Betty? That sounds shockingly modern for 1960 and the psychiatrist as presented on the show, but I do think it's an interesting choice and it feels somewhat related (season 1 Betty didn't get hobbies, period).

*I use "patients" here rather than women, because doctors are still dismissing women's health complaints even today. I think that things got better in general, and for women in the sense that some doctors came to see women's needs as patients as part of patients' needs in general. But this is definitely still an open issue today.
posted by Sara C. at 9:51 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know how much of her wants her marriage to Don to hold up to this fake ideal, and how much of her is idealistic but willing to look the reality of the situation right in the face.

I've been thinking about this a lot. And in fact, it's one of the ways I find the characterization of Megan and last season's focus on her and Don's relationship kind of odd. (Though maybe this was deliberate on the part of the writers?)

What did Megan come into this marriage wanting? What does she think marriage is? Who does she think Don is?

It's obvious that Megan and Don have a very different marriage than Betty and Don. And it's obvious that there couldn't have been that 50's style pretense of young virginal model citizens taking up the American Dream together in an idealistic way, as would likely have been the case for Don's first marriage.

But how does Megan see her relationship to Don? What does she think about infidelity? Does she see the two of them as equals, or as him as daddy/boss and herself as a slightly sexier version of the 50's ideal? How does his money come into it? Does she feel like their marriage as it stands in 1968 is a failure, or that this is just a rough patch because marriage is hard and it's a hard time and people are stressed out?

Some of this was touched on last season, but I'm still left with a huge hole in the part about Megan herself and what she thinks her marriage is about. With Betty it was pretty obvious that she believed in the Dream and shattered when it was revealed to be a fiction. With Megan, I don't know. In some ways I feel like she's experienced enough to know better. In others, she seems a lot more naive than Betty was.
posted by Sara C. at 10:03 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]



. . . About Betty. One thing that really surprised me was that they never did much with weakness in her hands. I was sure they were going to suggest she had a real, physical health problem that was being dismissed because doctors have a long history of dismissing legitimate complaints from women.


Anxiety is a real, physical health problem and a legitimate complaint. My impression from the situation was that Betty had anxiety triggered by her mother's death, and while the psychiatrist she went to was pretty far from ideal, at least from a modern perspective, she at least had an outlet for her thoughts, which can be very therapeutic.

That said, the implication is that her hand tremors went away because of therapy, I guess? Which...?

Yes, I think that's certainly possible.
posted by sweetkid at 10:50 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah Betty's anxiety attacks are pretty true to my own experiences in Seaosn 1 I:E the total locking up and unable to move away thing.
posted by The Whelk at 10:59 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


My elipses and question mark was more because it seemed like the show portrayed psychiatry as not very helpful to Betty, and potentially more anxiety-making since now there's this guy who repeats everything she says back to her husband. It didn't seem to be the story of someone who needed help, and got help, and solved a problem.

But then they dropped the mental health/shaky hands/anxiety subplot entirely for season 2.

So I guess we're left to assume that it resolved itself?
posted by Sara C. at 11:08 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think having an outlet for herself in horseback riding helped her lots.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:11 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I woke up this morning and thought "Mad Men Day!" and immediately hied on over to this thread.

We're getting to the part of the season where the dread mounts. Which is worse...what each episode has in store, or the fact that the season will soon be over?

I'm just glad to be experiencing it with all of you.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:19 AM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


For some reason everything Matt Weiner says and thinks pisses me off, and a part of me suspects he's as responsible for all the worst aspects of Mad Men as he is for many of the best parts, but there was a shot of Megan in season 4 where Don's looking at her and she clearly CLEARLY represents The Future.

There is no way Weiner would ever say something like "Megan represents the Future". Even if he's written her that way, it's not something he would say in the context of any discussion of the show. So that line about Don recognising her talent is a pretty neat way of deflecting the question - or only engaging with it on a very surface level, because I don't think he wants to tell the audience what to think.

I mean, I disagree with things he says about the show, too - but I don't really think we're getting all of what he thinks, because all of what he thinks is in the show. Not in soundbytes of interviews afterward. Maybe once season seven concludes he'll tag Megan as The Future, but not before.
posted by crossoverman at 2:12 PM on May 19, 2013


Yeah, it's possible that the reason his talking is so irritating is that he's very guarded. It's still irritating, though.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:10 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Weiner can also be wrong about the show, y'know.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:30 PM on May 19, 2013


Yes, I meant to say - he could also be wrong.
posted by crossoverman at 3:34 PM on May 19, 2013


Artists aren't always aware of all the meaning and implications of their own work. Elisabeth Moss said on one of the commentary tracks for the pilot episode that she thought Peggy loved Pete, and I was like, what? After one day? When he'd been such a pig towards her? My own theory is that he was just part of a brave new world that she was anxious to experience (she very much wanted to be "one of those girls"), and a solace for having put the moves on Don and been shot down, and then after that they had a connection that developed into something close to love because they saw each other every work day (and Pete may very well have been Peggy's first-ever partner) and of course there was the baby.
posted by orange swan at 5:18 PM on May 19, 2013


Actors have to find justifications for their characters' actions - and that doesn't necessarily have to be the objective truth of the situation. It has to be right for the performance - what the actor thinks the character is going through. I'm always fascinated by how actors justify these things to themselves, but I never tend to look to an actor to get an objective thought on the character. I think a writer or director should have a better sense of a characters' position in the narrative - but you can't know how an audience is going to react until they react.

Weiner and Kartheiser don't think Pete raped the au pair back in season two, but the line is pretty blurred and consent is not clear. And if the audience is confused about whether it was consensual or not, it doesn't matter what Weiner and Kartheiser intended. But for me Kartheiser probably thinks Pete didn't rape her - because Pete needs to believe that. Weiner may not have intended it, but it was ambiguous - thus different viewer reactions.
posted by crossoverman at 5:41 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Watching Mad Men on AMC means I catch the last five minutes of some really crappy movies.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:59 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Put that gun away, Jack!
posted by box at 7:01 PM on May 19, 2013


Ken Cosgrove lost a ton of weight?
posted by sweetkid at 7:04 PM on May 19, 2013


GE taking Ken Cosgrove from Accounts for a joyride in an Impala: It's a metaphor for the way they took America for a joyride AMIRITE?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:04 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, in the hospital.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:05 PM on May 19, 2013


Stalker Don is stalky.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:05 PM on May 19, 2013


He's feeling a lot of emotions.
posted by box at 7:07 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is not going to be a jaunty music episode, is it?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:07 PM on May 19, 2013


Hey, phones cost a lot of money back now!
posted by Chrysostom at 7:07 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


WHY does he like her so much I do not understand
posted by sweetkid at 7:07 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dick Whitman has tuberculosis!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:08 PM on May 19, 2013


He's our huckleberry!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:09 PM on May 19, 2013


OMG that Sally/Bobby exchange is SO me and my brother
posted by sweetkid at 7:09 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh no, Peggy's outfit NO.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:10 PM on May 19, 2013


Speed?!? ... butt speed?
posted by ChuraChura at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2013


SCDPCGCAmphetamines
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Weiner's been reading this thread, calling out the name thing directly.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:13 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't worry about it.
posted by box at 7:13 PM on May 19, 2013


So now it's not just the whore robe it's the whore cough?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:16 PM on May 19, 2013


Is it weird that Lincoln jumps from the 60s to the 2010s?
posted by box at 7:17 PM on May 19, 2013


True story: I'm watching this with a fever and cold. Already a little disoriented. Nice of Weiner to choose tonight to wrinkle my brain.
posted by dry white toast at 7:18 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Call Ginsberg: We're going to run with Whores: The Cure for the Common Cold Tuberculosis.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:18 PM on May 19, 2013


aw feel better dry white toast! Have plenty of tea...maybe with dry white toast.
posted by sweetkid at 7:20 PM on May 19, 2013


MetaFilter: You just flushed a toilet in my head.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:20 PM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


The timbre is important!
posted by box at 7:21 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I must have dropped some acid earlier.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:22 PM on May 19, 2013


It's a jaunty music episode without the jaunty music.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:22 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is anyone else seeing this ending with another John Deere incident?
posted by dry white toast at 7:22 PM on May 19, 2013


Callback to "the doorway" when Don talks about the one idea that will "open the door."
posted by sweetkid at 7:23 PM on May 19, 2013


Also, the whore is Don's mother.
posted by dry white toast at 7:24 PM on May 19, 2013


I feel like we took a left turn into Mametsville.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:26 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope this lady is not a one-shot.
posted by box at 7:26 PM on May 19, 2013


I do, I don't like her.
posted by sweetkid at 7:27 PM on May 19, 2013


WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:27 PM on May 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


This episode will end and it will all be a dream of Alex P. Keaton.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:28 PM on May 19, 2013


I feel like the whole agency is going to have a heart attack.
posted by sweetkid at 7:29 PM on May 19, 2013


Hey, I didn't say I liked her.
posted by box at 7:33 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If meth brings me Steggy, I'm okay with it.
posted by gladly at 7:34 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I get all my luxury car buying tips from Iggy Pop.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:34 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is why we can't have nice service entrances.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:35 PM on May 19, 2013


eeee STEGGY!!!
posted by sweetkid at 7:35 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


WE HAVE STEGGY!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:35 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


THIS IS SO RIGHT
posted by sweetkid at 7:35 PM on May 19, 2013


Oooooh!
posted by box at 7:36 PM on May 19, 2013


Thank you Wiener Claus!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:36 PM on May 19, 2013


OH GOD I HAD TO PAUSE THE DVR UNTIL MY HUSBAND CAME HOME AND WE ARE 15 MINUTES BEHIND!

*WILD FLAILING*
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:36 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


whhhat is going on
posted by sweetkid at 7:39 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


What the?
posted by box at 7:39 PM on May 19, 2013


OH she is looking for the WRONG DON DRAPER
posted by sweetkid at 7:40 PM on May 19, 2013


Guys, call 911. I think I had an aneurysm.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:40 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


What the flibbity fuck is happening in this episode?
posted by gladly at 7:40 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ooh, I like that spice rack.
posted by box at 7:40 PM on May 19, 2013


wait no that can't be right if she has a key.
posted by sweetkid at 7:41 PM on May 19, 2013


I'm a little addled, so everyone else is seeing a black woman giving Sally a hug right?
posted by dry white toast at 7:41 PM on May 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have absolutely no idea what is going on.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:41 PM on May 19, 2013


This is like that episode of 30 Rock when Liz took the tranquilizers and hallucinated Oprah.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:42 PM on May 19, 2013


Also, I'm beginning to lose hope that Bert Cooper will be part of the SCDPCGC drug parade.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:42 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I need some Oreo vampires to chill me out.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:43 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The archives!
posted by box at 7:45 PM on May 19, 2013


I really wish I had drugs guys or even some alcohol. Seems important to understanding the story
posted by sweetkid at 7:45 PM on May 19, 2013


It appears that the SCD archives are located in the Poor Man's Process.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:45 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, so maybe not Don's mother.
posted by dry white toast at 7:46 PM on May 19, 2013


You like my bosom.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:46 PM on May 19, 2013


You get a dexadrine! And you get a dexadrine! And you get a dexadrine!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:46 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


So Sylvia reminds him of this blond hooker from the past and that's why he likes her?
posted by sweetkid at 7:47 PM on May 19, 2013


jesus god this thread is killing me, how am i going to survive until this shows up on the torrents in half an hour, and by that i mean until west coast airtime of course
posted by palomar at 7:47 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sweetie, it's Bobby #4.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:47 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


WHO IS THIS PERSON?

OMG talk about "Magical Negro" this is so weird and wrong ish.
posted by sweetkid at 7:47 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bobby Draper FTW!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:48 PM on May 19, 2013


Okay, the line "Are we Negroes?" has me totally sold.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:48 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is scary
posted by sweetkid at 7:49 PM on May 19, 2013


Said it before and I'll say it again. What the?
posted by box at 7:49 PM on May 19, 2013


Don's paper reads: ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY
posted by Chrysostom at 7:49 PM on May 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think she's Bizarro Oprah. She's like the Krampus of Oprahs.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:50 PM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is the darkest timeline.
posted by dry white toast at 7:51 PM on May 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


What the hell's going to happen in the next ten minutes?
posted by box at 7:51 PM on May 19, 2013


This is what happens when The Whelk goes missing. SOMEBODY BRING BACK THE WHELK SO WE CAN GET OUT OF THE LABYRINTH.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:51 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, I wasn't expecting that.
posted by box at 7:52 PM on May 19, 2013


I think the Whelk played the drug doctor.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:52 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steggy Code Blue. STEGGY CODE BLUE.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:52 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Whelk's absence is indeed odd. Has anyone been looking at Twitter? It's all "what the--"
posted by sweetkid at 7:53 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


No way. That doctor was poorly dressed.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:54 PM on May 19, 2013


Is that Sylvia's maid? I'm trying to think of how she could have gotten into the building past the doorman...
posted by ChuraChura at 7:55 PM on May 19, 2013


donajo is on a vacation in New Mexico right now. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:55 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


A little Johnnie Walker will make sense of this thing.
posted by box at 7:56 PM on May 19, 2013


I'm glad someone from the T LOunge told me how to feel:

I feel like I'm on the drug that the characters are on in this episode...so, well done Mad Men.


(other than that, I just feel squicky.)
posted by peagood at 7:57 PM on May 19, 2013


She's off on the casting couch...OH SNAP BETTY DRAPER.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:58 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


How did she know the kids' names though?
posted by sweetkid at 7:58 PM on May 19, 2013


She's off on the casting couch...OH SNAP BETTY DRAPER.

Betty Draper Francis being RIGHT is what
posted by sweetkid at 7:59 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


She didn't, she got the info from Sally.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:59 PM on May 19, 2013


oh, right.
posted by sweetkid at 8:00 PM on May 19, 2013


I see we're back to that Blue and Yellow theme TLo mentioned.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:00 PM on May 19, 2013


Once again, Henry Francis is a decent guy.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:01 PM on May 19, 2013


Oh, Don, we don't know anything about you.
posted by box at 8:02 PM on May 19, 2013


Again. AGAIN!
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:03 PM on May 19, 2013


Betty's back to Thin Betty right? Hard to tell because she was holding Gene over her the whole time.
posted by sweetkid at 8:04 PM on May 19, 2013


I don't know how I feel about that episode.
posted by sweetkid at 8:04 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


It was extremely...something.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:06 PM on May 19, 2013


I know I can't watch the immediate playback. Wow. I need a break.
posted by readery at 8:06 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that tapdancing Ken is going to be the gif of the week. Beyond that, I have no idea about anything.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:07 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ken, Kenny, ken, KEN.

Cole!
posted by The Whelk at 8:09 PM on May 19, 2013


And it already exists. Well done, internet. You can take the rest of the night off.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:10 PM on May 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Can someone watch the replay with Dark Side of the Moon on. You know, just to see.
posted by dry white toast at 8:10 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


That episode was about Don hitting bottom. At least, I really hope it was. He's so fucked up this is starting to feel like S&M porn.
posted by dry white toast at 8:12 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


On what street corner?
posted by box at 8:14 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, Sally called Henry "Daddy."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:14 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am going to watch it again because I am 99% certain that Mr. Roark is going to walk in at any moment to teach me a valuable life lesson.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:14 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


In hindsight, the boob buttons on Peggy's peach striped shift were portents of the episode to come.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:16 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm just now watching this episode oh god oh god

TICKETS ARE NOW AVAILABLE TO DON DRAPER'S PERSONAL APOCALYPSE

I am available to Chevy.

LET ME SHOOT YOU FULL OF METH.
posted by The Whelk at 8:17 PM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Everyone wait while The Whelk catches up on all the joke points.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:18 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don's paper reads: ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY

ALL SOUP AND NO WHORES MAKES DON A COUGH COUGH
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:19 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don Draper's grapes of wrath childhood is now suddenly interesting.
posted by The Whelk at 8:20 PM on May 19, 2013


Sally has all the sassy, it is hers.

Also my book has a similarly sassy girl named Sally in roughly the same time erod so OMG.
posted by The Whelk at 8:21 PM on May 19, 2013


she IS thin Betty.
posted by sweetkid at 8:22 PM on May 19, 2013


Peggy's outfit I can't even

It's totally son I bought yu this car.


Oh god this episode is insane.
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Class secretiary!
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 PM on May 19, 2013


The boob buttons on Peggy's striped dress make her chest look like the Cheshire Cat. Now I cannot unsee it.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:25 PM on May 19, 2013



Oh god this episode is insane.


JUST WAIT
posted by sweetkid at 8:25 PM on May 19, 2013


Ken...Kenny..KEN Tap dance I just KENNY OMG
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 PM on May 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


So did Don schtup his whore-mother? "Who taught you that?" "My mother. No, my first girlfriend."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:26 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god everyone is hysterical and on drugs
posted by The Whelk at 8:27 PM on May 19, 2013


The Whelk will have FIFTEEN comments by Monday but we have to look him IN THE EYE.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:27 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don, ask a question
posted by The Whelk at 8:29 PM on May 19, 2013


Where do whores go?
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:29 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


SOUP
posted by The Whelk at 8:29 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


SHEVY
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:30 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don is having serial blackouts, this is like Lynch.
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 PM on May 19, 2013


Megan's outfit, oh God, SALLY.

You're on TV everyday!
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 PM on May 19, 2013


AH GOD BROOUGHS MOTIFS OH GOD
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


What are they watching on TV?
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:35 PM on May 19, 2013


They are watching The Prisinor, UK SO confirmed.
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 PM on May 19, 2013


McGoohan FTW.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:38 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ooh god this is now a serial killer noir thing oh god
posted by The Whelk at 8:39 PM on May 19, 2013


STEGGY OMG
posted by The Whelk at 8:40 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I have this black shift Peggy is wearing in my closet.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:41 PM on May 19, 2013


Peggy and Stan, BFFs FOREVER
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 PM on May 19, 2013


WTF
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 PM on May 19, 2013


WHO THE HELL IS IDA OH MY FUCKING GOD WAHT THE HELL IS GOING ON OH GOD SALLY
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think I have this black shift Peggy is wearing in my closet

Why is Peggy in your closet wearing dressy clothes?
posted by sweetkid at 8:46 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


i am tired and I need to go to bed, but:

What happened to Roger?
Where was Joan?
Where was Bob Benson?
posted by readery at 8:47 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Roger went to the hospital with someone. Ed?
posted by sweetkid at 8:47 PM on May 19, 2013


WELCOME TO MY VERY OWN PERSONAL ARMAGEDDON, CARE OF MR DON DRAPER
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 PM on May 19, 2013


Also this all took place over the weekend so it makes sense we didn't see everyone.
posted by sweetkid at 8:48 PM on May 19, 2013


Duh, Bob Benson was the black cat burglar woman.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:48 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


DON LOOTING STORAGE
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 PM on May 19, 2013


Do you like girls?
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don Draper, just gonna confuse sex and motherhood forever.
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


sweetkid: "Why is Peggy in your closet wearing dressy clothes?"

She is my spirit animal, who talked me off of a ledge when a former boss once told me at an interview "We've had many women work here as lawyers."
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:51 PM on May 19, 2013


Fuck shit I so scared by grandma Ida.
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]




Shut this door.
posted by The Whelk at 8:54 PM on May 19, 2013


What if they turn off the TV?
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 PM on May 19, 2013


You know you're in trouble when Don's dialogue sounds eerily similar to Rachel Zoe.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:55 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


STEGGY DENIED.
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 PM on May 19, 2013


Also, said SO said " he's self destructing, really, really publicly."

Also oh god what the fuck Ida aaaaaaaah thisepisodemoh god.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 PM on May 19, 2013


All that's to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:59 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Resolved: Next week we all watch with a bottle of Johnnie Walker and some Oreos.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:01 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don don don stop thinking about Sylvia oh god there are. Cops
posted by The Whelk at 9:01 PM on May 19, 2013


Oh man, Betty. I am with you.
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whorehouses are not very nurturing environments for impressionable young minds, are they?
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:03 PM on May 19, 2013


WELCOME TO MAD MEN THE SPECIAL TONIGHT IS DON DRAOERS PYSCHOSEXUAL TURMOIL, WOULD YOU LIKE SOME BEATING WITH YOUR MEAL YES
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I was Sally I'd go and join a farming commune like, in an instant.
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two questions:
Please tell me that the hippie girl who appears in Don's office isn't the girl he met backstage at the Rolling Stones' concert? She looked vaguely familiar, and I'm really hoping that's not it.

Was Stan's cousin Robbie, the guy who tagged along to Don's birthday bash at the start of season 5?
posted by peppermind at 9:04 PM on May 19, 2013


The hippie girl was Gleason's daughter. And I thought that, too, about the sailor at Don's birthday party.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:05 PM on May 19, 2013


SALLY OMG SALLY.

Don't infect her with your problems Don
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 PM on May 19, 2013


Sally: He loves puppies, you can go from there.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:06 PM on May 19, 2013


That was one...awful weekend.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 PM on May 19, 2013


Enjoy the headaches on Monday SUCKERS
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:08 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


STEGASAURUS SEX
posted by mynameisluka at 9:17 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


So...who was I Ching chick? Also, poor Dawn.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:19 PM on May 19, 2013


Again, I Ching girl was Gleason's daughter. This is clearly spelled out by the dialogue at the end between Cutler and Chaough.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:20 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whoops, preview fail, PhoB. I thought that was what I heard, but this episode is really not computing what with the synapse overload and all.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:21 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


CVHEY


no, actually, I got nothin
posted by mwhybark at 9:26 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Visible hed on copy board in creative room in one scene: LESS IS MORE


ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

heh

You see what happens when you try to run an agency without Tec Chaough?
posted by mwhybark at 9:37 PM on May 19, 2013


Gleason's daughter was pretty upbeat, with her father just passing away and all. Goes straight from the funeral to throwing the I Ching and fucking Stan.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:38 PM on May 19, 2013


Grandma Ida needs excavation, big time. All the pre-known info. Also, that green bag is deliberately clear in her shots. MeFi Jr. plot detectives, GO!
posted by mwhybark at 9:40 PM on May 19, 2013


Gleason's daughter was pretty upbeat

Maybe the Smoke Monster got to her.
posted by mwhybark at 9:41 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay. The buzz is fading and I am feeling dirtier and dirtier.

Whore-in-Law got paid $5 to do it with Dick?
Stan fucked a 14-year-old whose dad just died?
Peggy wistfully referred to her processing of emotion?
Don's rheumy eyes stared into the abyss of existence?

I feel tired and old now.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:43 PM on May 19, 2013


Well, that was a giant pile of WTF.
posted by palomar at 9:48 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


After all this blue/yellow talk, I kind of freaked out about Ted's green blazer just now.

TLo's insidious color obsession is getting to me.
posted by purpleclover at 9:55 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


EVERYTHING WAS FUCKED UP AND BULLSHIT AND CRAZY.

Mad Men! It's like life, nothing happens for weeks and then a single weekend makes EVERYTHING HAPPENS OMG ALL THE TIME.

I mean I seriously thought Grandma Ida was actually related to Don until like, the final scene. That showed unhinged this episode was what with the BLACKOUTS AND FLASHBACKS AND THE PEGGY OH GOD PEGGY- AND SALLY AND DON IS STALKING SYLVIA OH GOD WTF AHHH!

Once again, from Megan's POV, THIS IS THE FUCKING STRANGEST SHIT.

EVERYTHING IS UPSIDE DOWN AND BETTY IS THE BITCHY VOICE OF REASON CAUSE WHY NOT.

Seriously this entire episode was what's like to go on weird bender while Stuff Is Happening.
posted by The Whelk at 9:58 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Betty has yet to learn the first rule of being a candidate's wife: don't make news. Don't make a scene, keep your trap shut around other people.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:01 PM on May 19, 2013


I kinda think, once it sinks in, that being married to Don Draper the perfect farm-team prep for being married to a politician.
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I want to marry Ken Cosgrove. I want to live with him in Queens and bake him pies. He can write social justice Sci-Fi short stories in the den while I dust the plastic covering on the couch.
posted by The Whelk at 10:13 PM on May 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Soooooo ... are we willing to go as simple as:
Blue: The Past
Yellow: The Future?
posted by purpleclover at 10:16 PM on May 19, 2013


I am going to have to rewatch that episode, because I was kind of half-watching most of it while doing other stuff, and... didn't really manage to follow much of anything. Except that creepy-ass Grandma Ida stuff. I could tell right off the bat she was lying, but she was pretty good at her game.

They certainly managed to convey the confusion and weird time-jumpiness of whatever flavor of speed they were doing in the office. Maybe even better than Roger's LSD trip, except there it was more clearly delineated from other stuff happening. Which was maybe the point. Maybe 1968 was just like a giant case of everyone trying to cope with all the confusing, terrible, seemingly random shit happening all around them, and mostly failing or resorting to dysfunctional tools. I was barely a toddler at the time, so I had my own stuff going on and wasn't really paying much attention.
posted by Superplin at 10:21 PM on May 19, 2013


Kenny walks outta the house near the corner of 32nd Ave and 77th Street. His wife says to call a cab but he doesn't want to, Doc said it'd be better he put weight on it, he walks the blocks to the Jackson Hills subway stop. From there it's a good 30 mins to the Time Life building. He tries to sit, if he can find a seat. Kenny is mostly just thinking. Thinking about life, the universe, and everything. Thinking about the three short blocks from the subway to the office and how it's not that many steps, once you subtracts the steps up from the subway. Kenny thinks and leans on his hated cane. Kenny thinks:

"FUUUUUCK THIIIIIIS SHIIIIIIIIT."
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Harry Hamlin and John Slattery playing checkers.

METH RACE.

METH is aOK for heart conditions.

You're pretentious AND I LIKE THAT.

Don finally spelling out his unmoored, half baked inner thought process.

The board on Ted's desk with a terrible line "your first big step is a little one"
posted by stratastar at 10:30 PM on May 19, 2013


Meanwhile Peggy is having a confusing sexual adventure of her own and her DAD is like, GOING FUCKING CRAZY in the office talking about soup and seriously no, nothing makes sense anymore just kiss Stan and then watch him fuck Wendy sure it's fine it makes about as much sense as anything else.

Also, I am Sally Draper and not only am I HELD CAPTIVE by this crazy con-woman bugler thing but I believe it cause I actually have NO IDEA who my father is and quite frankly it's starting to BE A THING.

I'm Megan and WTF, COPS, KIDS, BETTY I LITERALLY JUST GOT OFF SET WHAT IS GOING ON. God, I'm still in makeup. Why is Betty here?

I'M DON DRAPER AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT DAY IT IS CAUSE NOT LANDING THIS CAMPAIGN IS LIKE WHEN I WAS SICK AND A WOMAN MY NOT-DAD EMPLOYED AS A PROSTITUTE KINDA FORCED HERSELF ON ME AND THEN I GOT BEATEN WITH A SPOON- whew! Good thing that doesn't inform my current character or situation at all I'm just going to sit down and why is my arm so numb who are you oh no please don't hit me again -
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 PM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


ALSO SHOOTING EVERYONE FULL OF SPEED IS JUST GREAT IDEA A GREAT GREET GREEET GEEET GREAT greaaat great greeeee - memory of my boardwalk empire childhood - great idea.
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 PM on May 19, 2013


I know you're all feeling the darkness here today, but there's no reason to WOOOOOO LET'S TEAR UP SOME MAGAZINES AND TRIP OUR BALLS OFF HEY GRANDMA IDA WHY IS YOUR PURSE CLANKING
posted by palomar at 11:18 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have received the Prisoner reference I craved! I AM HAPPY.

And the clip was pretty resonant. If I'm not mistaken, it's from the beginning of "Free For All" -- the episode where Number 6 is coerced into running for office. Like Don, he spends most of the episode heavily drugged, docile and staring, repeating the campaign speeches his captors have written. At one point, he begins to come down and throws a deranged tantrum, snarling for alcohol, before quickly being drugged again. The election is rigged in his favor, but its ultimate result is only a show of the forces arrayed against him. Psychedelia abounds and nothing makes temporal sense. A woman slaps Patrick McGoohan many times. THE PRISONER.

(Boo doo doo doo, doo doo doo, doo doo doooooo! Crude animation of bars closing over a cutout of a human face.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 12:57 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, the Prisoner clip is synched into the exact middle of the episode with military precision. Sally picks up the phone as 2 asks if 6 would "fancy a chat," and asks for Don to come home as 6 barks "the mountain must come to Muhammad." Megan's appearance in the doorway, right next to the screen, is synchronized with 2's entrance into 6's house.

I know I'm being kind of "Dark Side of the Moon"-ish with this -- I haven't even got to the part where the woman who slaps 6 at the end of "Free For All" is dark-haired and dressed as a maid, or the very prominent use of a looking-down-the-staircase shot in both episodes. Don't mean to present this as a big interpretive key. I know the clip is mostly there because it's timely and both Prisoner in general and "Free For All" in specific have some nice resonances for "The Crash." I'm just saying that those resonances are very nice, and someone has thought about them.
posted by thesmallmachine at 1:42 AM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm thinking back to the pilot of Six Feet Under when Claire is tripping and finds out her dad is dead - and she doesn't know how to act or react because she's drug-fucked but she has to try to deal with this real thing that is happening and...

THIS WAS THAT BUT IF EVERYONE WAS SHOT UP WITH SPEED AND HAD TO WORK ALL WEEKEND FOR CHEVY AND...

I don't know if I liked it, but I think I loved it.
posted by crossoverman at 4:46 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are we the only household that shouted out "Oh my god. you killed Kenny!"?
posted by anastasiav at 4:53 AM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


AV Club review lead in: "What the ever-loving merciful fuck?"
posted by Chrysostom at 5:31 AM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I sorta get the feeling Bobby was disappointed that the crazy lady wasn't his real Grandma.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:40 AM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Speaking of grandparents, does it seem like Ginsberg ages twenty years between episodes?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:42 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


AV Club review lead in: "What the ever-loving merciful fuck?"
posted by Chrysostom at 8:31 AM on May 20


All day long, I'm going to be grateful for confirmation that it wasn't just me being alternately skeeved and delighted during last night's episode, both here and everywhere else it crops up.

And "Lil’ Don and the Whorehouse Follies" would be an excellent band name.
posted by peagood at 6:20 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]




Ugh, whenever I think Don can't get more reprehensible, he just goes and does.
posted by moody cow at 7:07 AM on May 20, 2013


Wait, what did Don do that was exceptionally reprehensible this episode?
posted by drezdn at 7:13 AM on May 20, 2013


Also, whose heart stopped again?
posted by mwhybark at 7:18 AM on May 20, 2013


Also, just gonna say it.

Wendy ---> Peter Pan
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 AM on May 20, 2013


Betty has yet to learn the first rule of being a candidate's wife: don't make news. Don't make a scene, keep your trap shut around other people.

But then how could she blame Don for everything that is bad in her life?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:41 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the TLO recap:

There was a fantastically subtle moment when Peggy was listening to Stan and that baby-faced copywriter, whose name we still don’t know, rattling off, well, nothing but crap, really. Peggy dutifully took notes of their ramblings and when Ginsberg asked for her pen so he could take notes, he realized it was “unclicked” and she hadn’t been writing anything at all.

Ha! I totally missed this. I was watching this already disorienting episode with a headache and tired out from a lot of driving so a re-watch seems almost mandatory before I try to make any sense of anything.

And while I get the point of Sally not really knowing anything about Don's past and that this woman could con her under somewhat more normal circumstances (i.e. not getting caught looting the apartment in the middle of the night) I think Sally's on the ball enough that someone claiming to be looking for a serving platter in the middle of the night so they can whip up some fried chicken would have her calling the cops (or running and barricading herself with her brothers) immediately.
posted by mikepop at 7:41 AM on May 20, 2013


"HENRY IS RUNNING FOR OFFICE." Betty Draper-Francis is the Pete Campbell of Betty Drapers.
posted by drezdn at 7:44 AM on May 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Bob was in the background making sure everyone was hydrated.
posted by drezdn at 7:46 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I changed my mind - BOB was the drug doctor.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love how at first it seems like Stan is feeding Peggy a total line about his cousin but on rewatch there are all these moments where he's discussing mortality. Michael's line which "flushes a toilet in his head" is something like, "Hey dad, I need a car before I go die in Vietnam."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


KEN
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like we're seeing the backside to The Suitcase, sometimes locking yourself in the office doesn't produce moments of somber reflective creativity, sometimes you just get pages of gibberish and stab Stan in the arm.
posted by The Whelk at 8:02 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, at least Stan got laid?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:06 AM on May 20, 2013


My 16 year old looked at me this morning when I dropped her off at school and said "Last night might be some weird dream sequence, right? How do they move the plot forward after that?"

budding writer
posted by readery at 8:07 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Enigmatic Hippie Sex is, of course, the best sex.
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, at least Stan got laid?

They teased us with hope of Steggy!
posted by sweetkid at 8:09 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't toy with our hearts, show!
posted by The Whelk at 8:10 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the extended version of this episode that lives in my head we smash cut to Bob and Joan in a diner in the middle of the night.

Joan:
This is good pie.

Bob:
And damn fine coffee.

And we hold the shot of them chewing for a soild minute.
posted by The Whelk at 8:18 AM on May 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Previews were setting up some kind of Joan/Pete thing which is so CONFUSING.
posted by sweetkid at 8:21 AM on May 20, 2013


What's the deal with Don's interaction with Ted's secretary?
posted by drezdn at 8:32 AM on May 20, 2013


NO JOAN DON'T LET PETE TOUCH YOU HE IS A SLIMEBEAST
posted by palomar at 8:33 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't see Joan and Pete getting together! She knows he's a sleaze. Good grief, he pimped her out to Herb!

They teased us with hope of Steggy!

Am I the only one who really doesn't want to see Peggy and Stan get it on? While Stan's character has come to be one I enjoy and I like that they've gotten to the point of being friends, I don't find him attractive or admirable. Peggy can do better. And I laughed when she told him she didn't like beards — I hate that awful beard of his.
posted by orange swan at 8:33 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'M SO EXCITED!

I'M SO EXCITED!

I'M SO ... SCARED.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:38 AM on May 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay if I don't get a musical episode by the end of this series I'm going to be so hurt. Yer gonna pull Lynchian dream logic on me show, you'd better be prepared to back that shit up.
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a real beard, though, he gets points for that.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:52 AM on May 20, 2013


I feel like Sally always has to end up hanging around creepy old ladies. Like Ida and Ma Francis.
posted by sweetkid at 8:54 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


They teased us with hope of Steggy!

Am I the only one who really doesn't want to see Peggy and Stan get it on? While Stan's character has come to be one I enjoy and I like that they've gotten to the point of being friends, I don't find him attractive or admirable. Peggy can do better. And I laughed when she told him she didn't like beards — I hate that awful beard of his.


I think he seems like a good guy, and he actually seems like the character most like people I actually know in my real 2013 life - sarcastic hipster bearded creative guys. So I think that's part of it for me.

But I get it - I don't think everyone needs to be on the Steggy train. She probably could do better but won't - she has horrible taste in men generally (Abe is like, OK...). That's actually one of my favorite consistencies about her character.

I do think turning down Stan's advance was the best decision for both of them in that moment. That was a really sweet scene. Overall, Elizabeth Moss was really impressive in this episode. She was the funny voice of reason, empathetic mother figure, creative boss lady, in on the fun, everything when it was needed.
posted by sweetkid at 8:58 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]




Wow, yeah, what the oedipal loving merciful fuck?!

Death, Dr. FeelFood, heart attacks, thieves, pencils thrown into people's arms and feverish manic jibberish--must be Friday night at the ad agency!

Stalkery Don is bizarre. Except he isn't really Don. He has lots of feels.

When exactly did the coldly compartmentalizing Don Draper turn back into poor emo Dick Whitman in the whorehouse ad agency getting beaten by a soup spoon?

I love Ken. He is completely unappreciated in that office. He should marry Bob Benson and have perfectly preppy dancing kids.

I think Sally called Don "Daddy", not Henry, PhoB. she wanted to know when Don was picking them up for the weekend, but Betty had to take them because no one knew where Don was.

Can't believe anyone fell for scary grandma Ida. Hello, I have a purse full of silverware and I am cold reading you to get information. 'Is your Mom still a piece of work' will resonate with ANY teen girl! Good for Sally for being suspicious AND getting free eggs out of the deal.

Bobby is so used to The Crazy he just went along with the whole thing. Grandma's black? Cool. Can we watch TV now?

Stan is like Peggy's brother. Steggy is not going to happen. Peggy was upset when she saw Stan with the girl because she was so disappointed in him for acting like Don would, having meaningless sex rather than dealing with an actual problem. Before that, she saw him as her peer, liked and respected him. Now she will just pity him.

Prediction:

Ted's secretary is Don's daughter by the prostitute with a heart of gold who fed him soup. OR he thinks she is, but she turns out to be the little girl in the picture (the one tacked on to the prostitute's mirror that not-consumptive Dick Whitman saw).

OR, to get really twisted, Don is the baby in the pic, he screwed his Mother and Ted's secretary is their daughter.

Idea: Hey, this new combined agency has way too many letters in its name. Why don't we call the place Alphabet Soup?!
posted by misha at 9:14 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]



I love Ken. He is completely unappreciated in that office. He should marry Bob Benson and have perfectly preppy dancing kids.


*smashes champagne bottle christening the new ship KENSON*
posted by The Whelk at 9:19 AM on May 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pretty sure Stan got an Xacto knife to the arm.
posted by purpleclover at 9:20 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Prediction:

Ted's secretary is Don's daughter by the prostitute with a heart of gold who fed him soup. OR he thinks she is, but she turns out to be the little girl in the picture (the one tacked on to the prostitute's mirror that not-consumptive Dick Whitman saw).

OR, to get really twisted, Don is the baby in the pic, he screwed his Mother and Ted's secretary is their daughter.


I'm not sure if this is a joke or not, but I thought the "seen you before" stuff with Ted's secretary was just another reflection of how Don sees all women as the same or barely distinguishable.
posted by sweetkid at 9:20 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeah, I thought it was a pickup line. Like, he briefly considered seducing Ted's secretary to get back at Ted for his intimacy with Peggy but was too speedy to follow through.
posted by purpleclover at 9:23 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I thought it was like, "Have I slept with you yet?"
posted by Sys Rq at 9:23 AM on May 20, 2013


Ironically, the Mad Men writers were on speed when they wrote this episode.

Betty definitely had the moral high road.

Her hair's blonde again AND she lost the weight? Why was that not more of a process we, the audience, experienced with her? I think that uncertainty about her weight and her looks with Henry's candidacy was teased to death, and now she's back to old pretty Betty with no fanfare at all.

Anyone notice how, for Dick, blonde = maternal figure, while brunette = scolding, distant, withholding love and affection?
posted by misha at 9:24 AM on May 20, 2013


Anyone notice how, for Don, blonde = maternal figure, while brunette = scolding, distant, withholding love and affection?

Doesn't that sort of contradict the previous paragraph?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:25 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]




No, not at all, because in THIS episode, Betty is, surprisingly, the maternal voice of Righteous Indignation.

Everything is turning upside down now that Don is Dick Whitman.
posted by misha at 9:28 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I meant Dick, not Don, in my original comment. Typo fixed.
posted by misha at 9:30 AM on May 20, 2013


NO FAIR THAT'S CHEATING Yeah okay that makes sense
posted by Sys Rq at 9:31 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This constant plumbing of Don's past is so ... literal and boring. I would like this show even more if he was a cipher. I think I prefer Don Draper who is the way he is because he is a good-looking, smooth-talking white guy and it is 1959 and he could be. We could have the same gradual spiral into irrelevance with exactly zero whorehouse flashbacks.

Because here's the thing: Don behaves badly, but not significantly worse than any other man on the show. Roger, Pete, they all cheat. They all drink and act like fools and don't respect women. If Don acts this way out of childhood trauma, what makes the rest of them scoundrels and louts?

Ugh, I think I'm arguing that the patriarchy should be a more explicit villain.
posted by purpleclover at 9:52 AM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think that's an excellent comment through and through purpleclover.

I think I prefer Don Draper who is the way he is because he is a good-looking, smooth-talking white guy and it is 1959 and he could be. We could have the same gradual spiral into irrelevance with exactly zero whorehouse flashbacks.

Totally agree. I don't think they're going to bring back much Dick Whitman stuff, despite little things like the lighter tossed in here and there, so why do we still need to keep going back to the farmhouse/whorehouse/childhood? It was interesting at first but now definitely getting tired. And that kid doesn't look or act anything like Jon Hamm.
posted by sweetkid at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2013


Man, I think I am the only person who likes the flashbacks. And I really, really do. The kid's acting was perfectly Hamm-esque in the scene before he got laid, I thought.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'll give you that. He was at least approaching Hammliness in that scene. I think he's a good actor, they just don't fit together as past/present Don, for me.

It would be better if they included common mannerisms or expressions or something. Not too on the nose, but just something.
posted by sweetkid at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2013


Well, it's sort of the point that they're essentially two completely different people. The kid is Don before Don became Don, ergo not Don.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:31 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I disagree with that. We're looking to the past to see how Don became how/who he is, and I think it makes sense for there to be a link between the two characters/actors. I think it is there, but could be a bit stronger. Don't think the point is for them to be wholly different.
posted by sweetkid at 10:34 AM on May 20, 2013


It is, though. Isn't it? And we're waiting for the Big Switch.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 AM on May 20, 2013


what is?
posted by sweetkid at 10:41 AM on May 20, 2013


The point is.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:46 AM on May 20, 2013


I think I prefer Don Draper who is the way he is because he is a good-looking, smooth-talking white guy and it is 1959 and he could be. We could have the same gradual spiral into irrelevance with exactly zero whorehouse flashbacks.


I totally get this, but the whorehouse upbringing/desertion/identity theft are what differentiates Don Draper from Roger or Pete. Pete and Roger can chug along indefinitely, but Don has been compartmentalizing things for twenty-plus years, and I think we are seeing foreshadowing of Don hitting a breaking point psychologically, where he can't keep on doing what he's been doing. Sylvia calling things off has really knocked him off balance, and it's just going to get worse. He's been relying on "it will shock you how much this never happened" as his coping mechanism. But those things *did* happen, and they will out in the end.
posted by ambrosia at 10:47 AM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


and it's just going to get worse

I'm actually not sure I agree with that. Someone upthread mentioned this might have been Don "hitting bottom" and I find that I (sort of) agree. A few eps ago we had him talking about how much he loves his kids; here we have him telling Sally flat out that he's been working too much, and then actively taking steps to change that.

That, of course, leaves open the question of -- if he hits bottom, where does he go from there? I'm not sure a show about Don Draper, committed family man, would be quite the same.

Also, is this the last season, or isn't it?
posted by anastasiav at 10:50 AM on May 20, 2013


The point is

The point is the point? I'm trying to understand what you're saying here, but I disagree that the only way to look at the whorehouse/Dick Whitman past is that it is intentionally meant to show that Dick and Don are entirely different. If you disagree that's fine.
posted by sweetkid at 10:50 AM on May 20, 2013


Also, is this the last season, or isn't it?

No, one more after this.
posted by sweetkid at 10:51 AM on May 20, 2013


And then the spinoff, "The Life and Loves of Sally Draper."
posted by Chrysostom at 11:01 AM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bobby is starting to hold his own this season. "Are we Negroes" was hilarious and perfect timing. And then when Ida leaves he just nonchalantly turns on the TV.

Also, the suitcase conversation at the beginning of the episode with Sally.
"I already packed it, you just have to bring it down." "I have to do EVERYTHING"

Totally me and my brother. Except it wasn't till he was in his 30s that he would eventually do the thing, we would just usually keep arguing until I gave up and did it myself.
posted by sweetkid at 11:10 AM on May 20, 2013


In 20 years they can do "Mad Men: The Next Generation" set in the 80s.
posted by drezdn at 11:10 AM on May 20, 2013


NO NO NO
posted by sweetkid at 11:11 AM on May 20, 2013


Sally Draper, Successful Shoulder Pad Business Lady has a torrid affair with Pete and Peggy's kid who works for her at Serious Bidness Inc.
posted by The Whelk at 11:11 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I don't have time for this! We have to raise $1 million to restore the Statue of Liberty by next week!"
posted by Chrysostom at 11:14 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'll give you that. He was at least approaching Hammliness in that scene. I think he's a good actor, they just don't fit together as past/present Don, for me.

It would be better if they included common mannerisms or expressions or something. Not too on the nose, but just something.


I noticed one! Aimée asked Dick a question, like "Do you [I forget the rest]?" And instead of saying, "Yes," he said, "I do." That's a very Don thing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:16 AM on May 20, 2013


yea, I actually thought the 'I do' was the only really Donly thing I picked up in that scene. That's funny.

I think it was 'Do you like girls?'
posted by sweetkid at 11:17 AM on May 20, 2013


I think the thing I love most in this episode is that moment where Don comes bursting into the writers' room with a speed-fueled idea which he is convinced is brilliant, and Peggy calls him out by essentially saying something to the effect of "Do you have an actual idea?"
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:58 AM on May 20, 2013


Aimée?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:00 PM on May 20, 2013


The Vietnam Theory (Slate)
posted by anastasiav at 12:01 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


it's just going to get worse. He's been relying on "it will shock you how much this never happened" as his coping mechanism. But those things *did* happen, and they will out in the end.

Yep. You're right. I see it. I am definitely doing the thing Matt Weiner hates about tv-recap culture of picking a spot in the middle of the season and wishing for a bunch of changes even though I don't know where the season is going.

It would be sort of nifty if Don's horrific childhood is his secret superpower. In an age when men were supposed to be stoic, he was the most stoic. As we approach the groovy, emotional '70s, he's gonna get way, way in touch with his emotions. ("I'm feeling a lot of emotions." Indeed.)
posted by purpleclover at 12:02 PM on May 20, 2013


I love the Vietnam theory especially as it does two things the show loves to do 1) Flat out ignore the go-to tropes and scenes for stories set in this time period. and 2) Does that "talking about something through another thing while avoiding the thing you want to talk about altogether." the show loves to pull.
posted by The Whelk at 12:07 PM on May 20, 2013


I'm sure that tapdancing Ken is going to be the gif of the week.

Indeed.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:30 PM on May 20, 2013


Still don't understand why Don was so enamored with Sylvia in the first place, honestly.

So many mistresses that he has just unceremoniously dumped, and then he falls for and marries Megan. And he admonishes Pete about all the sleeping around and says that now that he's found this wonderful woman, he's done. As someone who found the constant parade of women and cheating annoying, I was ready for Don to grow up. Unlike a lot of viewers, I liked Megan the minute she DIDN'T yell at Don's kids for spilling their drinks, and I thought it was a surprisingly un-Donlike move to propose to her, in a good way. He was looking out for his kids, too, for once, and not just thinking about himself, even though he was also incredibly attracted to Megan. It seemed like a win/win move, that he made impulsively, but was actually smart and would pay off for his family in the long run.

And then, boom, next season, he's over Megan, and ready to fall for Sylvia.

He couldn't press that elevator button fast enough to close the door when Sylvia was yelling at her husband, and he seemed over her, but then he got all Fifty Shades of Don, wanting to control her--maybe that was the little kid Dick Whitman who got beaten by the spoon, wanting to be in charge of the situation and have all the power for once. Except he wants to have sex with Sylvia, still, so....ewww. Of course, for Don, sex is power, isn't it?

That whole Don as Dom and now Don as heartbroken little boy (and the really corny stethoscope scene, "it's broken") is just unintelligible and weird right now. Wiener is not at all making me like Don more, or making him more sympathetic, though I'm sure that's the reason for all the flashbacks.
posted by misha at 12:37 PM on May 20, 2013


I don't think the flashbacks are meant to evoke sympathy so much as understanding.