Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mad Men: Trapped in the closet

Spoilers for "Mad Men" episode eight coming up just as soon as I find a piece of chalk...

Poor Salvatore. Poor damn Salvatore.

There was simultaneously a lot going on in this episode (more Dick Whitman backstory, lots of character work) and not very much (what there was of the plot ended at the 15 minute mark), and I want to write about it all, but I really feel the need to start with Salvatore because... damn. I actually had to pause my review screener for a moment to shake some dust out of my eye, you know?

Just as episode four added major shadings to the previously two-dimensional Pete, so does episode eight transform Salvatore from chronological inside joke -- he's a big fat queen and nobody gets it! -- into a fully-realized, tragic character. And in a completely unexpected way, at that.

I had assumed that the storyline would end one of two ways: Salvatore completely misreads the guy, who turns out to be straight and none too happy at another man making a pass at him; or the guy is gay but too afraid to do anything with Salvatore the accomplished homosexual. I never for a second would have thought it would be the other way around, because Salvatore has been written (and played by Bryan Batt) with so much confidence and energy and life force that I just assumed he had some kind of rich sex life in whatever underground gay scene New York had at the time. The notion that he's too afraid to act on his feelings, that he's a 40-year-old (gay) virgin, never even occurred to me, and yet when Salvatore revealed that he wouldn't know what to do in bed, then ran off altogether, well... like I said, dust. As with the Pete episode, it completely changes the way I view a lot of his prior behavior without in any way contradicting it. Who would have thought that Salvatore might genuinely feel more comfortable flirting with the pretty phone operator (who apparently replaced Mel from "Conchords") than the handsome cosmetics salesman, if only because he knows the former will never go anywhere? Just a superb scene, and a character I'm really going to have my eye on in the future.

Meanwhile, Don smokes enough primo kush to give us an extended flashback to his childhood. If nothing else, this episode should put the "Don is a closeted Jew" theory to bed once and for all, unless you want to assume that the mother who made him a "whore child" was Jewish. (Given how seriously Christian Dick's stepmom was, by the way, "whore child" could mean anything from his mom being an actual whore to his dad knocking up his mistress to his dad knocking up some random girl before he even got married. Obviously, far more onions to peel here.)

The hobo (played by Paul "Father Phil" Schulze from Matt Weiner's old show), meanwhile, turns out to be an enormously influential figure in Don's life, far more than the old man from whom he only inherited his looks and smoking habit. The notion of being a traveling man, able to just walk away from a bad situation, has stuck with him. Don walked away from being Dick Whitman (and, more recently, from his own half-brother), walked away from his farm life and into first the military, then the hobo's hometown of New York. Throughout this series, when Dick's closely-guarded emotions come to a boil, his response is to flee, whether driving away from his daughter's birthday party or trying to fly Midge to Paris so he won't have to think about the validity of Mr. Cooper's Ayn Rand lecture. The episode's last shot asserts this again; Don's office is his ultimate retreat, a place that bears the mark of another man (and/or marks him as a liar like his father), and a place where he can get away from it all... at least until Pete or Roger or Kenny barges in to tell an off-color joke Don will be required to laugh at.

So is Don done with Midge? We've already established that he'll pay people off to get them out of his life, and that he's uncomfortable with her bohemian world, and that he suspects Rachel Menken is out there waiting for him. (Dumping Midge would also make Rachel more amenable; as I wrote a few weeks ago, I think she could deal with being The Other Woman, but not The Other Other Woman.)

The third of this week's storylines (if you can call any of them that) was its weakest, with Pete and Peggy hooking up again. After I said I was puzzled by Peggy's reaction to Pete's hunting fantasy last week, a bunch of you chimed in to say she was clearly turned on by it. I went back, watched again and could see what you were saying, even as I was repulsed by Pete's monologue. The problem, I think, is that Peggy, more than any character who's not Don, is written in a way that leaves the big motivational burden on the actor -- she's complicated and slightly mysterious, and there's no one she can deliver explanatory monologues to -- and I don't know that Elisabeth Moss is as up to that challenge as Jon Hamm clearly is. I know there's a way to reconcile Peggy's independent streak with her attraction to the oiliest, most juvenile man at Sterling/Cooper (smart women, foolish choices and all that), but I don't think Moss is bridging the gap between those two sides of her.

I also don't know how much she's being helped by Vincent Kartheiser, who often seems like he's trying too hard to disappear into this character from another era. He's very mannered, particularly in the way he talks, and while some of that can be written off as Pete the character trying too hard to assert himself as a man in front of people who don't respect him, I don't think that all of it can. So when you put these two actors in a scene together, it can be an uphill battle. Hopefully, Pete sniping that he doesn't like to see Peggy "like this" -- i.e. happy, successful and assertive -- may be enough to make her realize what a childish putz he is and move on, if only so we don't have to see this pairing of actors going forward.

On the plus side, we got to see Peggy's lipstick ad campaign work -- with some blunt force salesmanship from Don, in my second favorite scene of the episode after Salvatore's dinner -- without the predictable, "Melrose Place"-style twists where Pete or Joan sabotage her, take credit for her work, etc., etc. And the other two-thirds of the episode were superb. Even when nothing happens, everything is happening.

What did everybody else think?

49 comments:

holly said...

Yes. Good. Sorry, that's all I have, but I'm having a hard time with this show. I don't know why I keep watching, but I can't stop. I'll keep reading your reviews and see if I can figure it out.

Monique R. said...

I think Peggy is fascinating. And I think the heartbreaking reality of seeing her succeed in one part of her life and fail in the other... It broke my heart. I also am stunned by your constant suggestion that "nothing happened" and "no storyline"-- what are you watching? What is a plot? Some cranked up unbelievable mystery from CSI? I keep watching this because the people are fascinating and familiar and they keep being pushed around in their lives with incredible turns and twists. I see just as much storyline and plot here as any Sopranos ep. I just havent ever seen any of it before and I need to just go on the ride. No criticism of you, love your blog, just wondering what you're writing two pages about every week if there's no story.

Chris W said...

Did all hipsters sound as shallow and pedantic like the jack-offs in Midge's apartment? Damn, I never thought I'd be siding with a button-down business guy from the 60's, but they sure sound like empty goatees (if you can pardon a poorly turned phrase).

Is that indicative of that lifestyle back then or is the writing just too one-sided Don Draper's way?

Tom said...

Once more, a very shrewd assessment Alan. Your take on Salvatore is dead-on, and enhances my appreciation for the character and tonight's showcase for him. If I could add to your thoughts...I especially liked how the writers explained why Salvatore is so deeply in the closet via the fun exposition with the switchboard girls. He has an old-world Italian mother who calls him constantly at work! His world revolves around her! How cute! How...deeply sad. This is superior melodrama.

I would also add one more point to your summary of how the hobo shaped Don's character. The title of the episode is "The Hobo Code." The hobo explained to Don how entire households, with all of their complex subterranean blues, can be summarized in a single, simple graphic. Don has taken this skill and is using it to make his fortune.

I still have my doubts about the Peggy/Pete storyline. I was half expecting Peggy to be revealed as a shrewd careerist who quickly assessed the men at Sterling Cooper and latched onto the Pete as the ambitious weakling most likely to help her climb the ladder. Clearly, that is not the case.

Still -- the moment at PJ Clarke's, when Pete looks at Peggy in jealousy and says "I don't like to see you like this..." Damn. That was the best dramatization of late adolescent narcissistic assholeian hostility I've ever seen. I mean -- we've all been there, right? It's just that most of us where there sophomore year of college. The jury is still out on these two and their story.

Still -- a fine show. Thanks for making it even more enjoyable.

R.A. Porter said...

I was marveling over the verbal ballet Salvatore and Elliot were engaged in, sure all the while that both knew where it ended. I never saw Sal's painful exit coming. There whole exchange in the Roosevelt - the bar and restaurant scenes - was beautifully written and acted. Definitely the highlight of an episode that struck me strangely.

The feeling I had throughout was like when I was a kid and we'd lose power in school. Not a common occurrence, and completely disruptive. The normal rules of association and engagement are suspended, work stops and play commences, the Joans dance with the Pauls (or was it Henry...I don't recall?), and strange things happen. That's what happens when Sterling and Cooper are away.

As for Peggy and Pete, well, he's a creep and she's just strange. Glad she got credit for her copy and glad there were a couple of good writer jokes in her scene with the boys.

I'm wondering...was I the only one who wanted Don's surrogate father to draw an H in rays?

Andrew said...

Gotta disagree with you Alan. Peggy and Pete are my favorite part of the show. I'm not much for analysis, so I'll leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Nice bits for everyone:

As said above, Don's the hobo writ large and successful, selling back the glyphs he's read of people's lives and sell them back, as products. Funny how he can only go back when he's running away, or when he takes a spliff. Alcohol's too tied up with competitive drinking and weiner-sizing, to really let him cut loose from his false front.

Peggy's hasn't been slapped down, yet, but part of my hope about her is her naivete = fewer worries about breaking the work taboos.

Midge's really the little bourgeois at heart, eh? Didn't threaten to tear up that check worth 120 percent of Peggy's salary, to protest those dead kids in Biloxi? Even when Don wants to turn off his hobo powers, he can't help using that Polaroid as chalk, to mark him and Midge as Done.

As, as for Salvatore? Damn. That scene was hotter than the bunched-up shag at the top of the episode, all perfect lighting and deeply-thought and poised phrases, desire and snifters and two men ready to dance in the night light coming off Central Park... if only Sal could step out his family, history, and a world of hatred, to test it out.

It was his sadness that made me want to slap that [yes, slumming,] Negro chick silly -- yeah, it's fun to hang out with Village guys with good pot, but wasting a precarious freedom with trifling men is just as bad as never getting the chance to love whom you wish. What those beat kids had, in their own way, Salvatore would kill for. I only hope he lives long enough to get his piece of reefer, Miles on the stereo, and a good man, to spend an afternoon with.

[cgeye]

Anonymous said...

Alan,

Long time fan, all the way back from when you were at Penn (by way of the NYPD homepage).

Just a short question, though (to anyone, not just Alan): Which hobo code did the hobo mark the Whitman household with?

Thanks
Anon

Eires32 said...

Anon,
Appropriately, "a dishonest man lives here". Although either he figured it out during the night, or he is the fastest wooden fence whittler in the US of A

Anonymous said...

Anon/Eires, I figured a previous hobo had left the symbol there a while before -- it looked faded and was overgrown with weeds, which is probably why Don/Dick's hobo didn't see it and stay away.

By the way, "The Hobo Code" is the best TV show title ever.

Also, I agree about Peggy/Pete... it's an awkward pairing. He's a complete scum, and yes, the character of Peggy is very hard to read. It seems like they're trying to combine two or three symbolic characters into one person and it's just not quite working...

Alan Sepinwall said...

No criticism of you, love your blog, just wondering what you're writing two pages about every week if there's no story.

I'm writing about the characters. The "no plot" thing isn't a complaint, especially given how many network pilots I've watched for this fall that waste good characters in service of boring storylines.

"Mad Men" is a character piece, and an atmospheric, but it's not remotely as plotty as "Sopranos," even in some of that show's slacker seasons.

Camille said...

I am really confused by Peggy. "Samrt Women/Foolish Choices" is one thing, but to be so attracted by Pete and his sociopathic allure is altogether different. She just seems, to me, to be a total misfit.

She should ask Joan where to buy a vibrator and maybe that will take the edge off.

Anonymous said...

Chris W said...

Did all hipsters sound as shallow and pedantic like the jack-offs in Midge's apartment?


Did? Did? Try "do." And, yes.

Don is clearly finished with Midge, for a "whore child," he didn't try very hard to whisk her away for breakfast at Versailles.

Love your entire assessment, Alan.

Anonymous said...

As for Peggy, let's just state it plain:

Mr. Weiner kept SECRETARY in the DVD player for an indecently long time, when sketching out this girl. She's the female lead, in terms of screen time, and her story is part girl-on-the-go Doris Day, part Dorothy-Vallens in BLUE VELVET. What decent girl sleeps with the dorkiest ad man in the firm, the one with the least seniority, thus the smallest capability to keep her in decent mistress stylee, *two days before his wedding*, and goes out of her way, to keep his attention?

Yep. Kinky.

Though there wasn't a name for it, back then, except for a woman knowing her place, or what smutty mags said, as men took them home in brown paper bags, from the train station newsstand...

[cgeye]

Anthony Foglia said...

Oddly, Alan, the Peggy-Pete scene last week was the first one to make Peggy's attraction to Pete make sense. Yes, Peggy is (relatively) independent, but she's not a career woman, nor wants to be. (She lucked into writing copy for the lipstick contract.) She's the naive girl in the city. The idea of living alone with a man so virile he to hunt, drag, skin, and prepare a deer for her is so strange as to be fascinating.

(Ironically, if actually left to his own in the woods, Pete would likely starve.)

Good description of Kartheiser's acting. "He's trying to hard to disappear." Yeah. And he had the exact same problem on "Angel" which is why I said from the beginning it's him, not the character.

I doubt we've seen the last of Peggy and Pete, especially judging by that last scene.

No comments on Joan's reaction to Peggy's success? She looked... bitter? Jealous of the attention? Like a stern mother who was about to put the young girl in her place. ("Ladies do not write copy. We are for the men's convenience. That's all," I expected to hear.)

One small touch I liked, the clumsy beginner cha-chaing of Peggy and Joel Murray's character vs. the slightly seductive cha-chaing of Joan and Paul. Nice touch differentiating the kind, good-hearted characters from the more seductive ones. (i.e. Joan and Paul have slept around much more.)

arrabbiata said...

Another very satisfying episode, all the storylines having some interest. For me Don was the star, with both his brute force sales pitch and the flashback scenes at Midge's. I agree that Salvatore's dinner scene was very moving and surprising- I'm expecting the scene to go either of two directions, but Salvatore's hasty retreat was the secret option I hadn't even considered. As for Pete/Peggy, for me it had that repulsive yet fascinating quality, starting with their desperate but not particularly sexy hook up in the office and ending with Pete blowing her off on the dance floor. I'd like to see these two move on. Peggy is a bit of a mystery, but Pete is just vile.

As for the lack of story or plot- no problem when written and acted so well. A classic example is the "The Night of the Dead Living" episode from the first season of "Homicide". A squad room full of detectives spends the entire episode barely leaving their desks. Just people sweating and talking. But you won't see many better hours of television.

drake leLane said...

Don's sales pitch tactic was right out of Atlas Shrugged. If you don't appreciate my hard work, then I will take it away and we'll see how you do. A basic boiled-down essence of the 'individuals of mind' on strike plot from the book.

brian said...

It seems to me that the hipsters made a valid critique of advertising. I think the excellent line in there was "You create want".

drake leLane said...

It's an 'empty air' critique, at best. If they would've stopped at that, Don would probably argue 'the want was always there, I'm just giving you a name (and, as follows, price) for it.'

The fact that they're all sitting around getting stoned and doing the bunny-hop to Miles Davis' squarest recording is just as deflating as their inane commentary. It's a great album, but it was quite a change from his previous work, and I can imagine many a beatnik hipster going 'why is Miles doing classical music?' at first listen. And I believe this was a 'first listen' party, as the album had to have just come out given the time period. Davis and arranger Gil Evans just finished recording it in March of that year.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Drake, which album was it? I recognized the music and inherited all my dad's old jazz records (including a lot of Miles from that period) but can't put my finger on which one it is. Not "Kind of Blue," is it?

p. lukasiak said...

I'm rather surprised that you are surprised at Salvatore's lack of experience -- Sal's most salient characteristic was his lack of awareness of how "gay" he comes off --- this show is set in the early sixties in corporate America, and if Salvatore would have made more of an effort to hide his sexuality at the office if he was a practicing homosexual, rather than one who remain (essentially) in denial about his desires.

Anonymous said...

Salvatore is gay. Huh. Figured that out in the first episode. Oh, how tragic, how deep, how ... whatever. Interesting, though, how he's treated more sympathetically than most of the straight characters, who are viewed with a cynical, even hostile eye. It's becoming a pattern in drama today -- screwed up straight people, deeply sympathetic and even saintly gay characters (watch "Brothers & Sisters" for a prime example).

anon said...

Alan,

Just an observation: Salvatore is a 40 year Italian Catholic in 1960 who also lives with his mother. In 1960. The notion that, during an episode that even made a thudding "in the closet" joke right up front, you thought Salvatore had a rich sex life in NYC...well, that says something about how times of changed. And again, I don't mean this as a criticism at all.

And I thought Midge's true love was right. Don has the words. All of the hipster scenes (not just in this episode) feel like they're written to give Don great one liners ("How do you sleep?" "On a bed of money") and good short monologues ("The universe is indifferent"). As one of the partygoers noted -- in a winking attempt to defuse but not really address the criticism -- the women just sit around and watch the men fight. And Don always gets the last word. If that's all the show could think of to do with the Villagers, maybe it is a good thing Don and Midge broke it off.

And I'm with those who find Peggy's behavior towards Pete understandable at its core but deeply odd in its execution.

Anon

R.A. Porter said...

anonymous: you were *supposed* to figure out Salvatore was gay in the first episode. It was hidden in plain sight. The concern most of us had was that he was just being used for gags - oh look, the silly '60s people don't know he's gay. His coming out party last night (in which he climbed deeper into his closet) was the tragedy.

And if you think a 40-yar old who lives with his mother and is afraid to express love isn't screwed up, I feel bad for you.

drake leLane said...

It's Sketches of Spain, the one album in his discography that folks are hesitant to call even jazz. The song that they played ("Concierto De Aranjuez -Adagio") is an interpretation of a classical piece by Joaquin Rodrigo. Seeing them bunny-hop to that made me spit out my drink.

Alan Sepinwall said...

"Concierto De Aranjuez -Adagio"

Thank you! They played that particular piece on an episode of "Homicide," and a friend of mine put it on a homemade "Homicide" soundtrack CD he made a while back. I don't think my dad actually owned "Sketches of Spain," no doubt for the reasons you mention; he was a jazz purist.

Anonymous said...

Alan & Friends: I just got here from a link at James Poniewozik's blog and I am immediately impressed. The post and comments are all terrific. I plan on returning often and, if I have something sufficiently smart to add to the conversation, joining in.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget in episode 1 Peggy tries to hit on Don and he rebuffs her. She tried for the top got knocked down and went for Pete. In the preview for episode 9 they talk about Peggy gaining some weight. Could there be a pregnancy in the near future? Pete is clearly looking to be validated by someone. Pete to his credit wants to make it on his own and his wife is forcing him to accept handouts. In Peggy he thought he had someone who could look up to him and now she is writing copy that he would like to be able to do. Now she is just another woman reminding him of his inadequacy. Don's stepmother might refer to Don's mother as a whore because it was her husband's first wife and she is jealous. What I am anxious to find out is who really was Lt. Donald Draper. The picture of Dick and his brother,Adam, showed him with sargeant stripes. The purple heart "Don" keeps in his office is clearly marked Lt. Donald Draper. He clearly did not just make the name up, he stole the identity AFTER the war. For a guy whose life is "only going forward" he clearly knows how to throw away money. So far he has given away $7,250, 5,000 to Adam and 2500 to Midge. This was an astronomical amount in 1960. Doesn't Betty wonder where all the money goes? Yet they still seem pretty well off. My guess is that Betty comes from very big bucks. I also find it interesting that Don though very chauvanistic is attracted to strong, independent women i.e.-Midge and Rachel.

Jon Delfin said...

Three thoughts.

Why do Pete and his wife talk in Mamet-speak?

When will we find out Peggy is pregnant?

Who's the new captioner? Kudos to you, sir or madam. Very classy, using the Hungarian spelling of Tokaj wine, which counters turning Idlewild Airport into Idyllwild (very poetic). I guess all of my e-whining has been heard by someone.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog & comments here, Alan. I do beg to differ with many of you about the Peggy/Pete sex scene, though. I found it incredibly hot, and the perversity of their relationship just adds fuel to the flames.

Anthony Foglia said...

Betty won't care about the $2500 Don gave Midge because she won't even learn of the bonus. Plus, she's obviously not the one doing the finances or else she wouldn't have so easily bought Don's excuse not to get a summer place on the shore after he gave his brother the $5000.

Don is attracted to strong independent women because a part of him wishes he were more free and independent and not in society's little box. That's why he ran away from Dick Whitman, why he wanted to run away to Paris with Midge. (Did he even have an excuse for Betty? Not that we heard.) Pete might have the dream of being a free, independent hunter in the woods, but Don not only feels it, but parts of him wants to do it.

Also, I don't think Peggy was throwing herself at Don in the first episode trying to snare him. She was doing what Joan had told her the job was. To be there for their boss. (I never understood why she invited Pete into her room that night though.)

Camille said...

Interesting that Peggy could be pregnant. In that first episode when she sleeps with Pete the same day she went on the pill, I thought someone needed to tell her that those things need a month to kick in. I'm sure Pete will step right up to the plate for that one.

I think my view of Peggy is colored by her hitting on Don in that first episode. Everything she does just seems so strange and awkward. Nothing about her seems normal to me. I really can't decide if it is the character or the actress. Now that I am really thinking about it, Peggy is the only major charecter that we have no background on, which makes her more of a mystery than Don.

BigTed said...

The interesting thing about this show is that each character exists both as an individual and as a way of illustrating the social mores of the era -- one that was surprisingly different from our own, yet right at the cusp of huge changes. Every scene is practically a lecture -- we're being told that this is what life might have been like in 1960 for a successful family man who craves freedom; a wife stuck in the suburbs; a smart, sexually active "office girl"; a frustrated social climber; a closeted gay man; a bohemian single woman; a Jewish woman, etc. That's extremely difficult to pull off if you want to make it a satisfying drama as well. But with some exceptions, Weiner has succeeded in doing this far better than I would have expected.

Wizard64 said...

Thanx for the insightful blogging re these characters. The link between Ayn Rand and "The Universe is indifferent" was telling of that era. It's the little things I like about the show, like a few episodes back when Don's neutrotic wife was reading from "The Bookhouse Books" to her children. I find Peggy one of the most interesting characters: her plainess, slightly dumpy and squareheaded body type, but intuitively bright and very sympathetic and empathetic and sexually agressive is riveting--she's sort of a 60's Ugly Betty maybe. I wonder how this same woman would evolve today---what would she be? Almost all the backstories are also pretty compelling. One thing: my wife who is over 20 years younger than me, has a hard time I think relating to this show. It would be interesting to figure out how the demopgraphics are doing for AMC.

Wizard64 said...

And, oh yeah, I remember Sketches in Spain like it was yesterday, playing in he background at the Student Union in Berkeley in the mid 60's. Still one of my favorite pieces. The contrast beween the faux bohemians and the hobo of Don's childhood was terrific. This show is like a Diebenkorn painting--much more is seen by standing back a little and just absorbing it.

Tom B said...

I finally caught up on this episode last night. I really look forward to it each week (but new Dad's sometime have to wait to watch their show's, thank you DVR). Anyway, as far as demographics I am 34 and have no problem relating to this show. The writing and acting is among the best on regular TV. Pete gets a lot of "ink" on this blog. I think his acting might be better than we all give him credit for considering he is so hated by everyone on here. He is a strange bird though. Don's "the world is indifferent" comment followed by the pothead's "why did you have to say that" (paraphrasing) was a great line IMO. Don is a stone cold buzz kill. But definitely a tormented and deep character. Didn't see the Salvatore quick exit coming at all. Which is good because most TV we see is so easy to predict and formulaic. Great point someone made about Peggy that she is the most mysterious character because we don't have her backstory. I guess that is why everyone on here is struggling to figure out her motivations with Pete.

Hey Alan how many more episodes do we have left?

Homertojeebus said...

I hope I didn't miss all of the action.
I, too, loooved the Sal scene, but my take on it is a little different. It seemed to me that it was at that table, at that moment, that Sal first realized he was gay, first gave it a name. The scene was heartbreaking nonetheless, but their was an innocence to Sal's reaction. Lots of people feel out of place and never really know why. Also, I grew up in the '70's, and among "regular people" even then, homosexuality was literally unthinkable. It's conceivable the thought never occurred to him.
Speaking of conceiving, as far as Peggy goes, I think her character is an example, too, of a person too innocent to know the limits to which she is supposed to keep. She's liberated by accident. It just doesn't occur to her NOT to screw Pete.
It's an interesting thesis, really, that the average person doesn't fight for innate freedoms, but rather that the freedom fights for them.
BTW, someone mentioned Don as chauvanistic. that's funny, because for that time, he wasn't at all. He was practically Alan Alda. A lot of people see this and think, "We've come so far!"
True, a lot has changed since then, but I don't think much ground has been covered. A lot of the "bondage" that people have been freed from has been sold back to them.

Niffer said...

As far as the viewer's age and relating to the show, I think I'm able to relate because the characters are contemporaries of my parents and grandparents. My parents were 18 in 1960 and just starting college. A little younger than Peggy, but not by much. My grandparents were 45, a little older than Don perhaps, and maybe a little younger than Roger. And they all smoked. And had cocktails before dinner. And they went to restaurants like the ones we see in the show.

I can relate to the show because I have a personal link to that time, albeit removed by 10-20 years, but because I can see bits of my family life I can relate in some way.

Anonymous said...

Knowing "Kind of Blue" quite well and "Sketches of Spain" not at all, I wondered if perhaps the licensing fees for the more famous work were out of reach.

Alan, any way you could use your big time TV Critic connections to find out for us?

- SR

Mark Netter said...

Did anyone else read the hobo code for a lying man as a hooked a.k.a. Jewish nose?

I could be wrong on this, but Weiner and co. do revel in revealing the anti-Semitism of the times.

Dani in NC said...

I was born in 1967, which makes me a child of the '70s and '80s. Still, I don't have a problem relating to the show. I can identify with some of the stuff going on with the kids (like bouncing around in the car without a seat belt) so that makes it easier to go along for the ride with the rest of it.

Pete must be doing something off-screen to draw Peggy in because I don't get it. He's not cute (all the other actors benefited from the '60s makeover except for him). He's not charming and he doesn't have any power or money. The only thing that would make the pairing logical would be if Pete was into some kinky stuff that he could do with Peggy but not his wife.

Christina Hendricks perfectly captured what I love about watching movies actually filmed in the 1960s. She barely moved her hips while doing the twist and the cha-cha, yet it was sexier than all the wild gyrating in today's music videos.

Kalman said...

At some point after getting the come on from the new phone operator inside the art department, I recall Sal said something to the fellows about his tie having been pushed on him by someone for weeks—and if had known it would get him so much attention, he would have listened to "her" earlier. I didn't catch the name, but it sure sounded like a wife or a girlfriend. This was the first I recall hearing him mentioning anything about this. Is it possible that Sal has a beard?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Kalman, Salvatore was referring to the salesgirl, who kept trying to sell him that tie because it would be catnip for the ladies.

blogward said...

Great blog, great comments. My take on Peggy is that she is a proto-feminist; she doesn't see why she shouldn't take part in the general shagfest that the guys - or at least Don and Roger - seem to be enjoying, and the ambitious but inadequate Pete is the natural next one in the pecking order. All the characters are carrying different kinds of misery, Peggy's is her low self-esteem. Interesting that admen of the time (on the AMC site) talk of what a gas it was then, yet Weiner is showing us people heading for major crises. (That's how I meta-interpret the credit sequence, btw).

cgeye said...

Speaking of coming out of the closet... certain of Ms. Rand's fans do, in the New York Times:

http://tinyurl.com/2uz48w

The Rush Blog said...

"It was his sadness that made me want to slap that [yes, slumming,] Negro chick silly -- yeah, it's fun to hang out with Village guys with good pot, but wasting a precarious freedom with trifling men is just as bad as never getting the chance to love whom you wish."


I'm a little confused by this comment. Why on earth does the "Negro" chick has to be slapped and not the others? And who still uses the word - "Negro" in 2007/2008? Good grief! No wonder this person had posted as Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Pete = Sadist.
Peggy = Masochist.

i believe that is their relationship in a bottle. although it seems that it may turn into something a little deeper. i find their pairing incredibly interesting/appealing.

Anonymous said...

Knowing "Kind of Blue" quite well and "Sketches of Spain" not at all, I wondered if perhaps the licensing fees for the more famous work were out of reach.

I think they used a song from Kind of Blue in an earlier episode... I think it was "Blue in Green" playing in the background at Midge's apartment in one of the early episodes of Season 1.

SamSchaefer21 said...

I know this is way after the fact, but the characters aren't actually bunny-hopping to Sketches of Spain. They've changed records by then (thank God).