Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mad Men, "A Night to Remember": Make room for Danny

Spoilers for "Mad Men" season two, episode eight coming up just as soon as I take care of an agitator...

"There is no sin too great to bring to God. You can reconcile yourself with him and have a whole new start." -Father Gill

Confession is reportedly good for the soul, and it would be very good for several characters in "A Night to Remember" if they could bring themselves to do it. Father Gill wants Peggy to confess her sin of adultery (and whatever else happened with Pete Jr.) so she can get on with her life. Betty wants Don to fess up to the affair with Bobbie Barrett so they can have a chance of saving their marrage. Nobody wants Joan to confess anything, but she might have done herself a lot of good if she could have admitted, both to herself and to others, how much she had grown to love her fill-in job with the television department.

But all three refuse to fess up, and so Peggy's left alone and lost in the tub, Joan is sent back to her less exciting life playing lifeguard in the secretarial pool, and Don has to sleep at the office after Betty tells him not to come home.

Betty's explosion at Don has been a long time coming, at least as far back as her finding out about Don and her shrink. And the tension builds and builds through the early parts of the episode, as Betty runs herself and her horse ragged to vent some of her fury, then pathetically (and verrry slowwwwly) demolishes a rickety dining room chair (that was no doubt on the to-do list she gave to Don). But maybe the most brilliant part of Robin Veith and Mattthew Weiner's script is the misdirection they use at the dinner party. We've been waiting all episode for Betty to confront Don, and then all of a sudden Duck shows up unexpectedly at the party, surrounded by both drinks and drinkers, and so instead we hold our breath waiting for Duck to give in to peer pressure and swig a bottle of Heineken, and we temporarily forget the Betty/Don issue. Then Duck drops the proverbial straw onto the proverbial camel by chuckling over the inside joke with Don about Heineken and Betty finally has her excuse to unload on her cheating husband. (As often happens in marriage, fights about big things are usually started as fights about little things.)

If Betty's looking for honesty and contrition, she's married to the wrong man. (Well, she's married to the wrong man for all sorts of reasons, but we haven't got all week to list them.) Don will never confess his sins to Betty because he can't confess. It's not a choice; it's a pathology. He has sold himself so thoroughly on the lies he tells others that he believes them himself, which is why he always looks so thunderstruck when someone (his brother, Bert Cooper, Jimmy) reminds him of the truth. Don honestly thinks that he looks Betty in the eyes and says he loves her all the time. That's why he's so hurt and confused (and so brilliantly played, as always, by Jon Hamm) in that scene on the couch; Don really does love Betty (or has convinced himself he does), and he can't understand why she doesn't see that, even as he continually and casually does things to hurt her.

It's funny: Don hated his father so much that he patterned his life after the hobo, but he's just as deserving as the old man (if not moreso) of having the liar's mark placed on his fencepost.

Peggy, meanwhile, has started to fashion her life after Don's, and it's unclear how much of his pathology she shares. What exactly does she remember about Pete Jr.? Is she unwilling to confess to Father Gill, or is she unable? Is there a chance (as one commenter suggested a few weeks back) that Anita wasn't pregnant at the time of the hospital flashback, that this was Peggy's mind's way of explaining the existence of a baby she refused to believe she had? I don't know how much I buy into the theory, but you could tell that she wanted to tell Father Gill something before the copy machine turned off and the spell of its hum was broken.

(Question for the Catholics in the audience: is Father Gill violating the seal of confession for pushing Peggy to admit to something that Anita told him under the seal? Or is it appropriate for a priest to confront a parishoner who won't take communion? I know there was some rancor after "Three Sundays" over whether Gill had violated the seal when he gave Peggy the Easter egg "for the little one." Some people insisted he had, while others argued that we only felt that way because we knew what Anita told him, where to Peggy it could have easily seemed like he was giving her an egg for her nephew, who happened to be toddling around in front of them.)

Joan has steadfastly refused to follow Peggy's path into the "men's game" -- has repeatedly mocked Peggy about it, in fact -- but when placed in a position to temporarily step out of her traditional role, she discovers that she loves it. Yet she can't admit that to anyone, not even her doctor fiance, who seems like a nice enough guy but will make her absolutely miserable if this wedding actually happens. (She wants a life of adventure and excitement; he wants her watching TV, eating chocolate and combing the Long Island real estate section.) The success of the revamped television "department" is almost entirely Joan's doing, yet either Harry's too foolish to see that or simply can't imagine a scenario where Joan would want to take the permanent position, so he's more than happy to take Roger up on his offer to hire an outside man to do it. (Do you think Roger had any idea that Joan might like it and was doing this to stick it to her again, or could he also not imagine her wanting to continue?)

Christina Hendricks was so perfect in that moment where Harry unwittingly delivered the bad news, particularly when he asked Joan if she had the time right then to fill Danny in on the job. As Joan admits that, no, she's not busy right now, you can see her flashing back to her fiance's joke about how all she does all day is walk around and get stared at and wondering, "Is that really what I'm going to do with the rest of my life?" But Joan has been trained for far too long to play her role to the hilt, and that means swallowing her ambition and her tongue; unlike the similarly well-trained Betty, she hasn't reached her boiling point yet. She's strapped into her role a little too tightly, just like the bra-strap that left such a deep imprint on her shoulder.

Every episode of "Mad Men" is in some way a visual feast, with the fetishistic devotion to the costumes and hair and sets, but what made "A Night to Remember" so striking were the moments when the characters were out of their familiar costumes. Betty spends half the episode wearing the same increasingly wrinkled dress and ruffled hair, and when she confronts Don in the middle of the night, she's wearing a plain white robe, her face scrubbed of makeup. We see Joan dressed casually for the first time ever, in slacks and with bare feet, and the episode's closing montage features Joan and other characters stripping out of the armor that makes up their identity: Joan out of her dress, Peggy naked in the tub, and Father Gill removing his priestly vestments so he can play the guitar not as a priest, but as the man he reminded Peggy he was (and still is).

I'm still not sure how much of the character of Betty is being created by January Jones and how much by the hair, makeup and wardrobe people, but in this case, it didn't matter. Seeing Betty go from Grace Kelly to that drunken, disheveled mess told us all we needed to know about how badly Don has damaged her. By episode's end, she was looking put together again, but who knows when or if she or her marriage will be close to healed?

Some other thoughts on "A Night to Remember":

• Betty confronting Don about his adultery, and Don's reaction to that, makes it very clear that Betty did not do something similar during the 15-month gap. Nor did Betty's shrink dutifully report her suspicions to Don. There was still some kind of negotiation, based on Don's reluctance to step out early in the season and on Betty's comment in "The New Girl" about how Don promised to stop "disappearing" all the time.

• I got a kick out of how the interaction between Peggy (creative), Father Gill (accounts) and the CYO committee (the client) paralleled all the recent arguments between Don and Duck over how Duck was too willing to sell the clients' ideas to Don rather than vice versa.

• The song Father Gill is playing, by the way, is "Early in the Morning," off of folk supergroup Peter, Paul and Mary's self-titled debut album. Given the lyrics and Gill being established as a hipper-than-average priest, it seemed an appropriate choice.

• Even if you excuse Harry for missing Joan's value to the television operation, he does not come off well at all in this episode, displaying little foresight, understanding or even ambition about his new position. He wants the prestige and the higher salary, but he doesn't want to put in the work to really achieve that -- note that his big directive to Joan was his desire to leave the office by 5 every day -- and the most he takes out of Duck's lecture about the agitator/Agitator fiasco was that the Maytag people are "very sensitive to communism." Harry has in general been presented as more likable than Pete or Ken or Paul, but they all seem to be much better at their jobs.

• They're still underusing John Slattery, but his token priceless moment for the week was the amused look on his face as he introduced Crab to Duck and vice versa.

• Admit it: you all would love to watch a "Peggy Olson: Undercover Nun" spin-off.

• I don't exactly move in the same kind of 21st century social circles that the Drapers did in the early '60s, so I have never been to a dinner party remotely as formal as the one Betty throws, complete with mandatory performance by little Sally and Betty making the guests stand around the table while she goes into a detailed run-down of the themed menu. (Maybe she's been watching a lot of "Top Chef"?)

• I like that several of the cocktail napkins and other scribbled notes Betty found in Don's desk were recognizable as slogans Don cooked up earlier in the series, notably the Right Guard campaign he argued with Paul about way back in the series' second episode.

• For those wondering about the subject line, "Make Room for Daddy" was the sitcom that Bobby and Sally were watching when Jimmy's Utz ad came on the screen at the exact wrong moment for Betty. The sitcom was better (or at least longer) known as "The Danny Thomas Show," but "Make Room for Daddy" was its original title, and the one used when NBC was airing reruns from earlier seasons (which this almost certainly was, based on the age of Danny's son Rusty) in daily syndication from 1960-65.

What did everybody else think?

107 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know I've said before somewhere that the suburbs were a dramatic dead end. After this week, I stand corrected.

Anthony Foglia said...

"They're still underusing John Slattery, but his token priceless moment for the week was the amused look on his face as he introduced Crab to Duck and vice versa."

No, his priceless moment was standing in front of his own door waiting for Harry to open it. :-)

I was raised Catholic, but never devoutly enough to go to confession more than I had to--I think just once in 5th grade. I don't think Gill has crossed any lines, but he is awfully close. Everything he has said can still be read innocently. He came this closer with guilting Peggy into helping and asking her if she needed to confess, then he did last time, where the comment could have been about the nephew.

Nicole said...

How do you get this out so quickly?

Anyway, my heart was breaking for Joan because she did seem perfect for this job. Maybe she will ask Peggy for guidance a bit later on in a role reversal.

Father Gill's actions didn't seem too out of place even if he was treading close to the edge of breaking the seal. It wouldn't surprise me that a priest would want to know why someone was consistently not taking communion, especially after the comments made by Peggy's sister. In fact my own existence can be traced to the interference of a priest ordering my grandmother to have a second child, my mother. This happened a decade before Mad Men is set, but priests would still have to power to interfere in their parishioners lives, although since Father Gill is young and hip, he was being nice about it.

It was almost strange to see Betty and Don actually communicating about the affair, even if this has been built up for a long time. I do buy that Don thinks that he actually loves her, and he probably does, but Betty can only lie to herself for so long and she's obviously unable to pretend right now. Unfortunately, in addition to rightly punishing Don, she is destroying furniture and starting to give her daughter a body image complex. (The Piglet comment seemed to mean more than just the role).

When Betty smashed the chair, I was sure that you were going to use that as your jump line...

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"Seeing Betty go from Grace Kelly to that drunken, disheveled mess told us all we needed to know about how badly Don has damaged her."

Prior to this episode, I would have said there was no way to do a walk of shame without leaving your house or having sex. I now stand corrected.

HollyMartins said...

I'm having a hard time sympathizing with Betty this season, and especially tonight, but I don't know how much of that is deliberate on the show's part, and how much of it is just me. Clearly, she has plenty of very valid reasons to be furious at Don -- no doubt. And yet the way she's responded to all these real issues is so frustrating, whether it's her half-assed seduction attempts with other men, or coldness towards her son, or ineffectual destruction of a chair... Betty is right about many things, but she's not very likable. Which makes me want to cut Don a lot of slack he doesn't deserve.

Regardless, though -- they're terrifically complex characters. Not many shows leave this much room for debate and shades of gray.

Marlark said...

Awesome insights and extraordinarily written, Alan -- again. Thanks.

Is it just me, or does Father Gill look EXACTLY like Pete Campbell? At least at a quick glance, they seem related. Coincidence?

Kind of amusing the only shows the TV department was talking about were soap operas and this episode of Mad Men continue the emotional breakdown, a love affair, unwanted pregnancy...

Those poor kids. Those poor confused, shell-shocked kids. Bobby spooked by Duck, Sally spooked by Mommy laying in bed with a broken glass and last night's dress, and both kids watching Mommy break apart the furniture.

Paging Dr. Freud...

I want to see the 1977-based TV series, "Sally Draper -- Emotional Recluse."

Clare said...

The most memorable scene for me was Fr. Gill taking off his vestments and playing his guitar. The mid 60's in the Catholic church were all about liberation and reinvention (at least that's my interpretation and I was probably Sally's age at the time). When I saw Fr. Gill playing the guitar I felt that I was actually witnessing the first obvious manifestations of change from the 50's to the 60's.

The Drapers' marriage, Joan's career/marriage path, Peggy's repressed emotions--all of them seemed as if they were being pushed by a big societal force that was changing everything. Interesting to see how the characters are responding to that huge shift that happened the 60s. Along with all of the other Mad Men themes, I'm seeing how the explosion of sophisticated advertising at the time was a catalyst to the changes we experienced in the 60s.

Loved this episode.

M.A.Peel said...

Maytag people are "very sensitive to communism."

Thanks for noting this. I thought he said the Maytag people were sensitive to Calvinism, which I thought a little too deep for the proceedings.

No comment on the 1958 film of the same title? Surely Don will be rearranging the deck chairs for the rest of season as he's going down.

abc said...

"yet either Harry's too foolish to see that or simply can't imagine a scenario where Joan would want to take the permanent position, so he's more than happy to take Roger up on his offer to hire an outside man to do it."

I think the bottom line is they think of Joan as a secretary (or Office Manager, I guess) and they think only of Men for creative and professional roles. Peggy is a major exception to the office culture. I really felt for Joan in this episode. And bras suck.

osofine said...

Thanks for the shout out (albeit uncredited) to my earlier post, " Is there a chance (as one commenter suggested a few weeks back) that Anita wasn't pregnant at the time of the hospital flashback, that this was Peggy's mind's way of explaining the existence of a baby she refused to believe she had?". It is just a theory and you don't need to buy into it - we still don't have nearly enough information to understand that part of the story, much less any of the other loose ends (and there are so many loose ends- too many, IMO).

Anyone think that Joan's fiancé's remark about sitting "with a box of bon-bons sitting on your lap to soothe your cravings" was a reference to Joan being pregnant? She's ballooning in size each week - they even make it more clear by showing the massive dents in her shoulders from her now-too-small bra.

Also, I'm surprised that you didn't write more about the scene with Joan and her fiance. Was that Joan's apartment, his, or are they living together? This is the first time we've seen him, correct? He's very young and "still in training" - I wasn't sure whether he had nixed her "fascination with Glen Cove" because it's too far from where he's "training" or because it was too expensive? All in all, he was not man Joan had been describing.

I assume that you, Alan, get advance copies of the episodes, yes? Having just watched it, I need some more time to think about it.

-Samantha Fine

Steve Ely said...

Best episode yet.

Alap said...

yeah, i'm startled as hell every week by how quickly you're able to unpack each episode. i mean, under an hour after it airs? i'm still in "whoa that was good" mode at that point. it would take me at least a few hours to make an observation as astute as "she's strapped into her role a little too tightly, just like the bra-strap that left such a deep imprint on her shoulder."

Jape said...

Another theme in this episode was obsession (there are no throwaway lines in Mad Men, and when Peggy mentioned "Moby Dick"...) with Father Gill's obsession with saving Peggy and Betty's obsession with finding evidence of Don's affair.

Alas for Betty, even after going thru Don's clothes and drawers -- as she admitted to him -- she couldn't find any evidence. Yet how many of those advertising ideas scrawled on cocktail napkins were generated while Don lay naked next to Midge? In fact, Betty did find evidence (the Yatzee sheet from Midge's apartment) but was unable to recognized it as a smoking gun.

Daryl said...

I always enjoy reading your analysis of each episode, Alan, but it's funny that you mentioned the formality of the Drapers' dinner party. One thing that struck me was that I did not notice any coasters. When they all set down their glasses to head into the dining room, it appeared that they had placed them all directly on the coffee table. Perhaps that was supposed to signify something....

I really felt for Joan, too, in this episode. She has long been my favourite character. It's so obvious that she had enjoyed this little escape from her usual routine, so it's sad that Harry didn't ask HER if she had any interest in this position. Re: a possibly pregnancy, that makes total sense. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before. Samantha, I think you are right on the money!

Brava to Betty, by the way, for finally confronting Don. This episode, though, has made me hate Don Draper even more. Oh, it just turned my stomach to watch him lie to his wife like that. I'm wondering if this situation will drive her to have an affair with that horseriding guy....

Randy said...

Just when I think that I can't be surprised by this show anymore, EVERY WEEK this show leaves me completely gobsmacked. I was just on vacation for the last two weeks, so I watched "Maidenform" and "The Gold Violin" and this one, back to back to back. I'm surprised I can still form complete sentences.

To osofine: we saw Joan's fiance' briefly, during the Jackie O montage in the season premiere, but I too want to know more about their current living arrangement.

As great as those Roger moments were tonight, my favorite random moment of the episode has to be Pete's "Did we get Miracle Whip?" upon seeing Father Gill in the office.

Now I'm just trying to think of a way for me to successfully change my name to "The Amazing Agitator"...

Meg said...

ah great blog. Just stopped in and reading all the very astute comments is nice, since none of my friends watch the show!

The Joan pregnancy comments makes perfect sense, I also thought her curves were growing. However, I didn't think the bra strap was really a comment on that. That shot and scene was so beautiful, and to me, it signifies a. Joan having to strap herself in to her garments every day because they are so much a part of who she is (all the ad men commented on how pleased they were to see her in person). I don't think we'd ever find Peggy with as many girdles, slips or bra's as Joan and that is the crux of the matter. That is why Peggy is let into the boy's club (albeit only a little) and Joan isn't. Because Peggy simply put, isn't as good looking as Joan and right now, those two things are inseparable. Joan's clothes and undergarments hurt, because they are there to hold and shape her a certain way.

Also - maybe I'm the only one getting this vibe, but is there not some form of sexual chemistry between Father Gill and Peggy? I love the two of them when they are together and there is this sort of sense I feel that Father Gill is prodding Peggy for his own means and desires and not from that of a priest. He's stated repeatedly how it can get tiring being in the parish going from one home to the next, always being fed, it's like they are in on some sort of joke. I got the sense that Peggy almost felt betrayed when Father Gill didn't defend her at the CPO meeting. And then the guitar playing (another beautiful scene). The idea of a non-priest Father Gill. He's not defined by being a priest (and perhaps has non-priestly urges?). And the guitar playing is again, a signifying of how he's not like the others. He's an outsider just like Peggy.

Such an excellent episode overall. Truly awe inspiring television.

drake leLane said...

You could also view Joan's strap marks as a sign that perhaps she's started to outgrow the image she puts forth.

It's going to be hard for her to admit that the path that she's preached about is the wrong one for her. Perhaps Marilyn Monroe's upcoming death with jar her loose.

cgeye said...

[SFX: "It's a Man's World" intercut with beats from "It's hard out here for a pimp"]

Here's a shoutout to my peeps, Erica Martin, Radar O'Reilly, Jennifer Marlowe, and the incomparable RL lady who showed 'em how, Ms. Portia Blaisdell, all of them girls and boys behind the men, whose own lives we only got glimspes. Their stories still need telling.

[SFX: music stops]

To reach back to George Minafer and how he grew: This is the story of how Joan Holloway got her comeuppance.

I didn't want to see bitch-slapping, or a seriously humiliating event like the drivers license Xerox. All I wanted was for Joan to look at the other side of being an overseer. Doing a job you love, and doing a job you can grow into, rise in stature, have your own accomplishments instead of piggybacking on top or under the man who you make look good: That's what Freedom is, in this economy. Joan now knows, possibly again, what it feels like to do something that's her natural intellectual and emotional talent, then be told that's nice, dear, but let's see more of your ass and less of your mouth.

Of course Harry didn't say it that way: He's too nice, and timid, and generally he doesn't fight for parity with other ad agencies, which will doom him in this position if only because TV is the only growth industry worth a damn for ad placement, back then. But he knew Joan was Roger's to deploy and take back, and if Harry even thought of the idea himself to hire Joan, at $150/wk (which must be higher than what she's making as a sec), then Roger would have full leave to fire him, because every decision Harry's been allowed to make is on a near begging basis with SC. But Joan didn't even help Harry by making her case, or by doing the simplest thing to help her career: Stop making herself indispensable.

The reason she got all twisted about Jane is that on society's standards of fashionable hottness, Joan's close to a decade behind the times. Since she has nothing as a value on the job save her hottness, her emotional intelligence about the men, and her bitchiness toward the women (and toward low-caste men, like Harry's officemate), she's isolated herself from either building a team that could go on without her should she move up, or support her as her job got expanded to encompass work in the TV department. She seized the opportunity to try something new, and worked extra hours, to do it right, but she built no framework at SC to be anything more than what she is. And she was suprised at the end about how much she cared and how little she could do about her hurt and anger about having to teach some twerp what she finessed through her body *and* mind. (Note that the client came in to *watch* Joan present her ideas -- she automatically had what Bobbie advised Peggy to cultivate: the ability to keep a client riveted through use of her femininity.)

As for Roger the eevil mastermind, yeah, I can imagine him launching Big Red on Harry, her bossiness leading to her taking the job and liking it, and then having her pulled away from it because, let's face, do any of these clowns imagine a woman earning $150/wk at their firm? I mean, really, no woman needs that much pin money, especially when *she's about to get married*. Remember Roger thinks Red's not long for the job, anyway, so why would anyone offer her a better one, anywhere?

Like I said, Joan Holloway: Comeuppance.
But her wounds were everpresent, as seen by the heavy bra lines at the end of the day. I feel ya, sister.

As for Betty, it's about fucking time she said, "I got tired of you. I slumped." Yeah, Ms. Jones finally Brought It, after nearly two seasons encased in the perfect maquillage. It was like how Nimoy crafted Spock; in his first autobio, he described how Harry Belafonte barely moved throughout most of his concert, and then when he raised one arm? The crowd exploded. Without makeup, she gave us a face of Betty we'll not forget, after she pulls herself back together for the next round.

Betty did exactly what she had to do, in a proportionate fashion. If Don can't tell the truth, let him live in the house of lies, until *he* figures out he needs to see a shrink. Yes, that would kill that Magnificent Bastard, but from that Thanksgiving to this, he should have saw this coming. He oughta be grateful she didn't find out by getting a social disease, but when she saw Jimmy's commercial, who can say she didn't? As the MM Twitter crew prove daily, Language is a Virus, kids, so proper mental hygiene is key.

Is it wrong to wonder what Betty_Draper will Twitter tonight? If it's wrong, I don't wanna be right....

Mo Ryan said...

It's funny but I just realized that there were parallels (well, it's Mad Men, there always are) between the Harry/Joan story and the Don/Betty situation. the TV staff is supposed to prevent the wrong ad from coming on at the wrong time -- and that's exactly what happens to Betty. I know, they're not supposed to screen ads specifically for Betty Draper, but it just struck me as one of the many grace notes that the show provides. Another reason to watch each episode twice.

I thought Joan's apartment was the one we saw in Season 1, the site of her ill-fated date night with her roommate? Roommie's gone, I'm assuming. I doubt Joan's fiance moved in, I bet they were just having dinner together. And it's clear this is SO not the man for Joan. She's smart enough to know that, but to also know that - by the standards of the culture - she needs to get married soon or face a loss of status. Thank goodness I didn't live in the Sixties -- I didn't get married til I was a couple years older than Joan.

I loved the scene where Joan didn't want to give away what would happen on the soap -- maybe a little meta comment on Matt Weiner's dislike of advance plot points getting out before episodes air? I almost expected Joan to say, "spoiler alert!"

January Jones has stepped way up as an actress. Compared to the first few eps of Season 1, she's really grown a lot. Her broken party-doll look, her apathy about her own kids, her random destruction of furniture -- it's all been coming but it was all done well.

Peggy is so like Don in that she expects her work to get a great reception. But yeah, it was funny to see her not get the support that Don usually gives her -- or gets himself, from Roger. Her look basically said, "Don't you get how this *works*? I'm the genius and you *tell* everyone I'm the genius, and then I get to tell them their morons if they don't like my idea!" Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

"Betty is right about many things, but she's not very likable."

I totally agree with this. Her casual cruelty to the children really bugs me. Notice the way she says that Sally is playing Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh show. As a child who grew up chunky and was teased a lot I had a really bad reaction to that.

Anonymous said...

Peggy told her sister she brought some colored pencils over for the boys-so there is no delusion or denial about her kid, it seems.

pixelwax said...

I love this show.

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Incredible show. Again, thanks so much for your blog and your insights Alan. I value it/them greatly. Being on the West Coast I'm almost always reading your blog during the second show, plus I get to see so many great comments about Mad Men. There are so many incredible comments! I had been spending hours surfing for Mad Men content on Mondays but that had to stop. :( So, I'll take what I get late Sundays.

Re: honoring confession privacy
He's toeing the line. In one aspect, he's using his knowledge to flirt with Peggy. But in the more important aspect, he is concerned about Peggy professionally and trying his darnedest to coax a confession out of Peggy, releasing her from her burden.

"You know everything about me."

This is at least the second time Bets has said this and second time they used the shot from the top of the stairs where Don comes home to an empty house. Although it wasn't empty this time, so I had thought Betsy learned everything about Don.

She is gonna find out about Dick Whitman if not this season, then early next, right?

At the end, was that the office's lunch room or Don's temporary new digs?

"Did she? Okay, bye-bye."

-----------------

I love this show.

LA said...

Father Gill hasn't crossed the line. It would be normal for a priest to ask a parishioner why she doesn't take communion, and since you have to be "clean" to receive communion, it's not a stretch for him to assume she has a sin to confess.

Looks like Father Gill is going to be one of those young, hip, post-Vatican II priests who runs guitar mass, the only one I would attend as a girl in the late 60s/early 70s before I left the church for good.

Loved this episode.

LA said...

BTW, when Joan was home with her fiance, did anyone else notice she uses a higher-pitched, more "little girl" voice with him than the purr she throws around the office?

pixelwax said...

@pixelwax: Did you watch the end of the show the first time or just listen to the tune?

pixelwax, head hung lo: Listened to the tune.

Oh, crap, I've gotten sucked into Meth Lab or whatever it's called. Another late night... Last year I actually thought the meth RV lab show was called Mad Men and was wondering WTF given the hype I had heard? But I'm loving it now. Oh, 2007 was such an innocent time. :)

pixelwax said...

Breaking Bad!

Oh, and, yeah, it was the office. I'm going to bed. I've seen this one. And I'm not making sense.

cgeye said...

@la: I thought AMC had an audio problem, because Joan's voice sounded like Miss Hendricks was on helium.

Note Joan forgot to set the table, or get water for her fiance until he reminded her. Way to use those housewife skillz, and good to see her essential cluelessness and selflessness (viz. her ex-roommate, who probably got a cheery fucking call when Joan announced the engagement....) is still in place.

Yeah, I noticed the 'piglet' line, too. These parents may love their kids, and go through the motions of parenting, but they sure as hell don't like them as much as their teachers probably do. They'll be looking for approval from strangers the rest of their lives, with regrettable results....

One Q, though: How did working women *follow* soaps, when no recording medium was available? Did magazine digests serve? Were they enough?

And why the fuck did Don have to host a dinner for a mook from Rogers and Cowan? I thought PR guys were a different breed, and that SC was so overtaxed space- and project-wise that they couldn't take another specialty on. I mean, either they were recruiting Crab, or they were thinking of some joint venture to pursue. What do they have in mind?

cgeye said...

*selfishness*

Oy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Father Gil was a visitor while Peggy was in the hospital. If he were, his comments that seem so inappropriate, would take on a different light (if he already knew the whole story and was trying to get her to face reality).

Dave said...

Dear Alan - I'm so glad I found your blog - a thoughtful way to start the week.

I was a Catholic priest from the 80s to 2006, (i.e., not in the 60s), but, since the teaching is the same, I still think Fr. Gill is on dangerously thin ice regarding the seal of confession (if he hasn't already broken through). The seal's broken if you say anything or act upon any knowledge you gain from the confessional, no matter who or what it's about. His probing of Peggy made me really uncomfortable (even now) since, as far as I can tell, it's based on something he heard in the confessional.

I go back and forth about whether a priest would believe himself a good pastor by asking why a parishioner did not communicate. Small things might be involved in that - swallowing water while brushing your teeth or otherwise breaking the Eucharistic fast, or not getting to confession in time for some other issue, etc. - so not communicating would not be as unusual as it is today (where everyone tends to go). I tend to feel his interest in her goes beyond the pastoral. Given Father's furious strumming after hours, and his noticing what Peggy's doing during Mass (not easy if you're the celebrant in those days with your back to the people most of the time), I wonder if he's given in to something called "delectatio morosa." We were warned about excessive interest in other people's sins (especially sexual) by pushing for her to confess. I bet there's something going on within him regarding Peggy that we have yet to see.

Lizbeth said...

Somebody needs to get the gals of Mad Men a copy of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique." The book came out in February 1963, so I assume that's where this is all going...

So many people seem to hate Betty, but she merely represents the 1960s perfect housewife who lost her own identity to her kids and husband and resented them terribly for it. I think she may surprise people over the next couple of years.

I love that the wobbly chair represents the Draper marriage. Betty, finally fed up with the wobbly chair (that her husband will have no interest in fixing) finally realizes IT - i.e. her marriage-- is utterly broken.

Does she have the strength to break her marriage apart the way she did the chair? Or will she take Don back, and resume the facade of perfect happiness? Will she go on pretending her marriage is just a bit wobbly, but something that can be fixed with a little glue?

shawna said...

It struck me as strange that Joan lived with her fiance. Was it common for women to live with men before they were married during this time? I was born in the 80's and my parents STILL seem to think that isn't proper.

Britni said...

When Betty told Don not to come home, I thought he may end up at Peggy, with her coming to his rescue again, even though they are "even" at this point as far as we can tell.

I don't know why, but Warren's (the guy that share's Harry's office) obvious crush on Joan has stuck with me, especially after we got a glimpse into her relationship that she is clearly not happy in. Maybe she isn't meant to end up with a handsome doctor, but will instead end up with someone "below" her who absolutely adores her and worships the ground she walks on. We all know how she likes that.

The look on Peggy's face as Father Gill kept pushing made me think that she does remember what happened and has just pushed it into the back of her mind. The scene with her in the bathtub at the end makes me think that whatever Father Gill said broke the dam and next week, something big will happen. Similar to the way Betty reached her breaking point this week and everything that she held in for so long came out, I think that Peggy's turn is next (and then Joan's and then Don's? That's just wishful thinking on my part).

And hat tip to January Jones in this episode. When my ex cheated on me, I reacted in a very similar way, and I really felt for her as she slowly unraveled and became a drunken, pathetic, mess. I actually cried during the scene with Don on the couch and her in that white robe.

JustJoan said...

I'm having a hard time sympathizing with Betty this season, and especially tonight, but I don't know how much of that is deliberate on the show's part, and how much of it is just me... Betty is right about many things, but she's not very likable. Which makes me want to cut Don a lot of slack he doesn't deserve.

I am so there with you on this. To paraphrase Jane Austen in "Pride and Prejudice:" one character has all the actual virtual and one the appearance of it. Betty's reactions are not those I would find believable as a betrayed wife; they are those of a betrayed nutcase. The average or garden variety betrayed wife does not destroy innocent furniture or send her children early and (presumably) unfed to bed -- again -- while she lies sloshed and disheveled in bed. The scene with Don on the couch was so bizarre I almost convinced myself it was a dream, and yes, my sympathies are all, unjustly, with Don. He is wrong on so many levels, but he seems genuinely to love his children.

And this leads me to my final thought: Don has at least some knowledge of mental illness. He has sat at Peggy's mental hospital bedside. He is married to a disturbed woman who is alone for hours on end with his children, whose closest confidant IS a child. I can see the season ending in one of two ways: Betty sticks the Thanksgiving carving knife into Don, or Don commits Betty while carolers croon. Oy, Gevalt!

David said...

"...all of them seemed as if they were being pushed by a big societal force that was changing everything."

My feeling is just the opposite: We're not watching society change these characters; we're watching these characters change society.

Lizbeth said...

Justjoan...see I don't see Betty as disturbed. But I do see her going crazy because she lives with a man who constantly lies to her and betrays her. She doesn't know what is real and what is fake because Don has put her in a dollhouse and won't let her express true emotion.

Yes, Betty tears through the house like a madwoman -- but only because she is looking for proof of Don's lies. She knows in her heart that he is cheating, but she needs physical proof...which I find so sad, because it means she can no longer trust her own instincts.

Personally, I was ready to punch Don in the face when she confronted him. He just keeps telling her "I'm not doing anything..." and "whatever you think...is wrong." He treats her like an imbecile, a child, and as if she is crazy. When in fact, he is the one displaying anti-social behavior.

He is emotionally abusive to her in so many ways...yet people still love Don (why because he's handsome and smart and successful?). He has made Betty what she is...and yet people hate her...I find that odd.

Seriously, look up Anti-Social Personality and you have the definition of Don Draper. He is the one who is truly disturbed, not Betty. He may be a highly-functioning member of society, but make no mistake...there is something wrong with Don Draper.

Karen said...

I was struck by the similarities between Betty and Don: both are damaged people who are trying to create a perfect facade. Don is just a lot more skilled at it than Betty is. I'm not sure who we can believe when either of them talk about their marriage--does Don never say he loves her, or is that her perception? Does he often say it, or is that his perception? Both of them, hollow to their cores, are unreliable narrators.

But, as I say, Don is much more skilled at creating his own reality. All his responses to Betty in the face of her accusations were perfect in tone and content--hell, I would have believed him, if I didn't know better. Because, as another commenter has noted, Don seems to believe it pretty completely himself. And, truly, what DOES Betty have to go on, other than the poison pill that Jimmy planted in her ear? Don leaves no traces--he's skilled at that, too.

It's difficult to like either one of them, but I tend to like Don a lot more than Betty, if only because of how she treats her children (horrible mother!).

And her cluelessness over her perception of Don's "humiliation" of her with the Heineken account: she doesn't get how that actually reflected well on her. She would probably be flattered beyond works at Duck's suggestion that her menu be used in the advertising--she was being acknowledged as the consummate hostess and she saw herself only as a pawn of advertising. I wonder how she'd feel about that humiliation when she gets to lord it over her friends at the market once her party is being used as a paradigm of sophistication?

On other fronts: Harry is a bloody idiot. He has no clue about the nature of his job--even Joan was able to describe Broadcast Operations to the New Guy better than Harry had--and that was a marvellous grace note with his taking away from the Maytag/agitator kerfuffle only that Maytag was sensitive to Communism. It was striking how soon the new guy got hired after Roger learned that Joan was helping out--that seemed like a purely personal attack. (Which reminds me--did we see Don's secretary Jane this week?) I think Sterling-Cooper will learn that the network guys and the accounts don't like dealing with Danny as much as they liked dealing with Joan. And poor Joan--that final scene of her massaging her mortified flesh, cramped by the trappings that keep her just a girl around the office, that was heartbreaking.

Kate said...

The difference between Betty and Don in terms of creating realities is that he has POWER in his, at least to an extent. Betty only has power to a point--there was a reason we saw a divorcee last season, and Betty's fear of her. I don't like Betty, but how much of that is because her whole chosen reality is so antithetical to what I believe, to what most modern women believe? Don is horrible, but his created reality is so *seductive*, and he really mostly gets to do whatever he wants. No wonder we all like him better.

Joan will never, ever ever ask Peggy for advice. See above re:power. She also could be pregnant (they are definitely doing something different with her girdle this season), but dude, I can tell you, even modern bra straps can dig in like that. Even straps that aren't heavy with symbolism about the role into which she is being forced.

Peggy bringing colored pencils for the kids, most of whom are *definitely* her nephews, probably doesn't reflect much at all on the fate of or her relationship with her son. That is a totally normal *aunt* thing to do--I took it, combined with the conversation, as part of the set-up them were giving us to show us a normal visit between sisters, which is why the priest knew to drop by then to talk with Peggy. The priest who was new this season, by the way, and not around when Peggy would have been in the hospital.

Alan Sepinwall said...

At the end, was that the office's lunch room or Don's temporary new digs?

Office lunch room. The camera pulls back to show the secretarial bullpen area of the office, but because it's shrouded in darkness, I could see how it wouldn't be easy to recognize.

Dan Coyle said...

"I would never do this to you."

Damn, that line just landed in the scene like an atom bomb. Don, you fucking prick.

JustJoan said...

Lizbeth, I really do think Betty is way beyond distressed, or trapped in a role Don cast for her. Many people, including her on-screen shrink, have characterized her as both childish and childlike, but I think Karen has helped me locate my pain with respect to Betty: she's a lousy mother. I believe she is doing real damage to those kids on a myriad of levels. For all Don's grave flaws and practiced lies, he, as an abused child, at least loves his children. He may turn them into bartenders, but at least he pays attention to them. He touches them. He talks to them. Above all, he does not use them as surrogates or weapons in a war only adults should play. Betty appears to have come from an ordinary, two-parent home where she was loved and appreciated, yet she is every bit as damaged as Don.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Betty appears to have come from an ordinary, two-parent home where she was loved and appreciated, yet she is every bit as damaged as Don.

I don't know that I'd go that far about Betty's upbringing. Yes, she came from a traditional nuclear family, didn't have the "whore child" stigma, the violent father or the later situation of being raised by two resentful non-biological parents. But it was clear from a lot of Betty's dialogue last season that her recently-deceased mother was as abusive emotionally to her as Don's father was physically to him. She rides Sally about her weight because her own mother gave her such a complex about her appearance.

It doesn't make what Betty does with the kids right -- and it certainly doesn't excuse her taking out her frustrations with Don on poor little Bobby -- but she has her own childhood scars to deal with.

Juanita's Journal said...

It's amazing that despite the fact that Betty has finally confronted Don about his infidelity and his inability to be honest with her . . . yet a good number of fans are still more sympathetic toward him. Not only has Don Draper pulled the wool over the eyes of his family and colleagues over the years, but also over the eyes of many fans, as well.

I like Don a lot. He is very interesting. But when Betty finally confronted him and kicked him out of the house . . . all I could feel was that he finally got what he deserved.

Anonymous said...

Was I the only one reminded of Carmella's ultimate breakdown in the "White Caps" episode of the Sopranos? I don't think it speaks as much to the similarity between these two shows (which are numerous, to be sure), but to the fact that the scorned woman is one of the oldest stories in the world. Kudos, January Jones.

Bob in SA said...

Of all people, it's Duck who has Betty figured out--the most important thing in the world for her is to be the perfect hostess. Because of her insecurities and childishness, she will stay in a bad marriage until Don leaves her, which probably won't be until the kids are grown and have their own problems that neither one of them can deal with.

Jon said...

Prediction: The kids are going to be in their late teens by 1969...Sally will probably run off to Woodstock to participate in the Summer of Love.

Don, who was clearly most comfortable with the trappings of the late '50s/early '60s, will be unable to truly comprehend the groundswell of change that has happened all around and underneath him.

Maybe by the mid-'70s he'll reinvent himself into Archie Bunker?

sunnyb said...

Love this show and this blog. I am concerned about the future of MM, though. Have the ratings improved since the drop early in the season? Do we know if it will definitely be back next year? I'd hate not to get to see these characters continue to develop.

David said...

Alan hit all the right notes regarding Betty's upbringing. She probably had a ton of issues with her mother, and her post-death obsession with her mother is probably a product of guilt for harboring so much resentment toward her while she was still living.

121Arthur said...

I love this your posts and comments on Mad Men. It helps to work on that certain lingering feeling after the first viewing of MM.

I'm enjoying the period of its setting, that allows certain parallels in the changing of major social-political (and eventually, cultural) institutions. 3 or 4 exist specific to the time period, regarding politics, religion and art and culture: between before and after Vatican II, and before and after Kennedy, and before and after Pop Art, and old and new TV sitcoms. It's all hinging on 1962-64.

Rothko was the spirit of an authenticity, along with Abstract Expressionists, that would be subsumed by the so-called "vulgar" of Pop artists etc.. There's a major division and arguments underway then, amongst NYC critics, collectors and galleries.

Both the Catholic Church and the MM agency function like OLD corporate heirarchies: they aren't up to speed, regarding popular change, and what the new-spirit and world will bring.

Vatican II will be there for the Church.

And in the case of MM agency, well, we all know how corporates deal with "change".

MM's Ad agency specifically keeps missing the point - they bungle the whole approach towards seeing what the Nixon-Kennedy campaigns represent.

They don't understand the importance of the TV department. Even the Rothko...ad department execs, certainly designers, were going to keep some insight into the NYC hotter and more-monied collector scene, and art situation underway. Rothko is the art that is already verified - collectable. But Castelli and Sonnabend galleries would be heavily promoting these first years of Pop.

Finally, even on TV, to be honest, "Make Room for Daddy" is just great as a signal by title alone... but... this is the year of the new, modern TV sitcom of Dick van Dyke. The TV department just seems from another era even.

Again, it's all the old signs, the old guard, that keep showing up. And this from an agency, who works to represent / manufacture the everyday desires back to the consumer?

Of all the characters, only the priest picks up a guitar for the moment and appears able to be a spiritual human, rather than institutional fixture.

It just seems to accent these people are "squares" more or less. Not interested in the forward movement, or taking a route that involves such denial they aren't going to be able to recognize a future, until they "free themselves". That of course, will be the watchword of the 60s ethos kicking in ..

No one is ready for that in this world we are watching...

So in a way, the Priest is actually paired off with Don for Peggy - she has taken on Don's modus operandi, but at the expense of "confession", or release of any kind, and the father is afraid this will eat away at her soul, spiritually as well. On the other side, Don feels that if she didn't follow his modus operandi, she would never be free of the situation he found her paralyzed at in the hospital.

I think it would be great if Peggy will be the "successor" to Don, by other terms, that will find a way to engage the changes in Vatican II and along the lines of "confession" the Priest offers, and at the same time, the changes in regards to society that will allow her some access out of the double-bind position she is in at the office.

Don will transform again, I am sure of that, but I'm not optimistic about what that means.

virgil said...

I think Joan's relationship is not going to work out. Unless she's pregnant, as someone else suggested, which would account for he subtle but definite increase in her form. He seems to have no idea how strong she is, probably because she's hiding it. He also seems younger than her. If so, could it be that he doesn't know this?
This was the first episode where I liked Harry a little less, but it was also the first episode where I noticed that he gets a lot of flack from the bosses, to an extent that I don't see with the othe chipmunks. Because he stuck his neck out? Perhaps.

Also, I agree that Roger sterling's finest moment this episode was waiting in imperious amusement for Harry to open his door.

JustJoan said...

Alan, you are right. I forgot about Betty's mother issues, but did remember her stepmother issues. Hmmm.
I seem to be watching a different version of this show than many, many other women, if the TV Guide blog and comments is anything to go by. They're all out there applauding Betty's long overdue wake-up call to arms, and nary a peep of concern that she may be exhibiting a teensy bit of alarming behavior. Apparently drinking oneself into a stupor in front of children is just fine, not to mention leaving broken glass lying on the floor.
I want to be clear. I do not support Don's serial infidelities, his lying, his attempting to turn every legitimate accusation back against his wife. There is no defense for much of his bad behavior, nor should there be. I think Don has been at least 75% facade throughout all of his marriage, and from the looks and conversation of the women he does choose extracurricularly, Betty herself was chosen to reflect the life he believed he needed, not the companion he would have chosen for himself.
So Betty's marriage has existed an artificial environment from the get-go, a snow globe created from the individual and shared expectations of both partners. As much can be said of many marriages, in fact. But, and here's the big but: in my own apparently lone opinion, Better Draper is one very unstable young suburban matron. And I can see no good way out of this mess. For anyone.

cgeye said...

Is it too soon to mention the phrase "Gaslight"? I think not.

Anton Walbrook and Charles Boyer were very charming as they destroyed their wives in both versions, and I think a young Dick Whitman, becoming Don Draper, went to the revival house in NYC and took notes....

We know what things with long-term bad outcomes we're sold, by beautiful advertising. And yet we're still surprised we still want Don on the screen, after we see him point-blank ruin his wife's self-esteem, sanity and confidence? Don *is* advertising, people, made metastatic flesh. Gorgeous; feral; trapping; deadly.

If Don's so swell as a parent, howcum he never does anything with them alone? Why does Betty have to beg for early morning riding time? Why do they have two servants, for Pete's sake, to do all the things Don doesn't? Yeah, it comes down to 'why won't he clean', but it's more than that.

The picture of the perfect family always must be there for him, even though his children desperately needed his love and attention *18 months ago*, when their mom was going through a protracted mourning process that he could not comprehend. (That's when he was juggling two mistresses, remember?)

So spare me the crap about Don being a good dad -- good dads love their kids *and* know when something's wrong *and* they step in to help. He's only the picture of a good dad, so if you fault him for the lying, fault him for this too, and stop blaming Betty for having absolutely no support for either an independent emotional life or for physically raising a family mostly *by herself*.

Sheesh. I'm beginning to think Bobbie Barrett's a better parent, at a distance, because she knows she needs nannies and private schools and her parents, maybe, to help her raise her kids while earning enough money to get them the best in life. She might have a lot of regrets about a lack of closeness, but she doesn't tell herself lies about who she is and what she's done. But she's not so pretty, so we don't care to know that story, do we?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Why do they have two servants, for Pete's sake, to do all the things Don doesn't?

Not disputing the other things you say about Don being a bad dad, but who's the second servant? They have Carla the maid/nanny, and... am I missing someone else?

Anonymous said...

In the world presented in "Mad Men," where dissembling is not just a profession but a way of being, I've been waiting for someone whose fate I can care about. I'd all but given up hope, but maybe this Harry fellow might have what it takes not to make it. In general, I cannot understand the impulse to sacrifice to career, to power and ambition, even in the case of noble pursuits . . . but this? Who would want to excel at the sophistry of exploitation of human weakness for commerce? "I suck at getting people to do things they never would have thought they needed to do, in fact didn't need to do, and likely would be better off not doing. I even suck at helping the people who don't suck at it." I think that would be one of the few things someone in that line of work could proudly say. Harry seems to suck and doesn't care.

Harry, keep up not keeping up. Don't let me down.

dylanfan said...

It struck me a bit odd when Peggy's sister used the word, "malingerer," when talking about how her husband's co-workers felt about his back problem. Not that she felt differently -- just wondering if that was a word you would expect to hear her say at that time.

tck said...

Betty appears to be entrenched in deep, or at the very least chronic, depression and she is self-medicating through alcohol. The lack of interest in her kids, obsession with finding evidence of Don's affairs to convince herself she's not crazy and all the rest of her erratic behaviors are symptoms of a growing alcohol addiction. It will be interesting to see how it plays out being that this is a time when those topics were not talked about. Her strength to throw Don out is a bold move and may be a sign that she will be stronger than her addictions, but that remains to be seen.

Noelle said...

I loved the parallel between Don and his son Bobby's blatant lying. Don had the same wide eyed "who me" look that Bobby had when he broke the record player.

My heart broke for Joan, both when she was with her fiance (who doesn't know her at all) and when the TV job was taken away. She rivals Don with the ability to keep the mask on.

The cocktail napkins and stray notes Betty found just showed how much of "the job" Don is. Harry will never be great at what he does because he will never have that same passion. Sadly, if Joan really was given the chance, I get she'd give Don a run for his money.

Anonymous said...

justjoan - Run don't walk away from that TV Guide blog and comments. Pure drivel.

Betty's already becoming the blowsy drunk I always knew she was. I didn't think it would get this bad until she was at least in her mid- to late-30s.

Lizbeth said...

I truly think we're going to find out that Betty is suffering from the "Problem That Has No Name." Haven't any of you Mad Men fans read "The Feminine Mystique?"

Betty seems to be taken right off the pages of Betty Friedan's groundbreaking book. Like Betty, lots of women were depressed and seeing psychiatrists in the 1960s because they were stifled creatively and felt trapped by marriage and motherhood. They weren't necessarily "crazy." They were struggling with their identities and yes, self-medicating with booze.

I do not condone Betty's mothering, but I do sympathize with her because being a suburban mom isn't easy nowadays...I can't imagine how stressful it was in the 1950s-1960s when you were expected to be perfect and have no life outside the confines of your home...and you had to be obedient to a selfish husband like Don.

Interestingly, Betty Draper would probably reject the theories set forth by Betty Friedan. She'd probably be afraid of feminism. And yet, she most certainly is suffering the malaise of the "modern" suburban housewife.

Colette said...

I feel bad for Betty. She's obviously coming undone, after being years in denial. Even when she suspected him cheating, she never confronted him. She's been bottling this up for years, and now it's all coming out. I'd be a drunken mess too. I don't blame her for her reactions. Everybody says: "Well, if that happened to me, I would do this..." Would you? How do you really know how you would react?

And, with the whole "Piglet" comment, I'm pretty sure she was just saying Sally was playing the character from Winnie the Pooh. I don't think she's calling her daughter fat.

Karen said...

dylanfan: when I heard Anita use the term "malingerer" what hit me right away was how appropriate it was. That was the common word for soldiers who tried to get out of duty by faking illness (my mom always called it "goldbricking"). I thought it was a nice nod to the post-war times that Anita used that particular term.

Mo Ryan said...

Betty's clearly depressed. To see the state she was in -- I found it really sad and affecting. I don't excuse her being a bad mom, which she is right now. At least someone (Carla) is looking after the kids' basic needs. I can feel sorry for all parties -- for Betty, who's coming to grips with the truth of her hollow existence for the first time ever, and for the kids, who need at least one parent who is together and able to give them a lot of quality time and attention. They don't have that now.

cgeye, I agree with you regarding Don's parenting skills. On average, how much time does he spend with the kids on a weekday? a few minutes at breakfast and at dinner, if that -- if he's not out on the town or doing whatever it is he does all evening?

I think from what we've seen, Don is kind and caring toward his kids, generally speaking. He's not abusive or mean. But he's not terribly attentive either. The kids are something he deals with when he happens to be around. Which isn't all that much.

Agreed with those who said the treatment of the kids has been one of the harder things to watch. Betty's awful treatment of Bobby is heartbreaking, and let's not forget, BOTH these adults got drunk and forgot to feed the kids dinner one Sunday.

But hang on, the kids won't be in their late teens in 1969, will they? Isn't Sally about 8 and Bobby 5 or 6?

Anonymous said...

Anybody notice, at the very end, when Don takes the beer out of the office refridgerator, he's not wearing his wedding ring?

Jessica Hilda Colon-Holmers said...

I agree with everything you said, but I also feel like there is some underpinning of early feminist foresight in the episode. In fact, it has been bubbling to the surface all season.
For example, we see Joan in pants. To me, this was a symbol of her starting to see the inadequacies of womanhood in the 50s.
Betty is finally standing up for herself, and Peggy is becoming more and more vocal about her opinions.
Also, the final scenes with the women, showing their frustrations, broken down, tired.
Amazing.
The fact that her bra straps left such a deep and digging mark on Joan's shoulder leaves me to believe that there is some symbolism here. The weight of womanhood is on their shoulders. And they are all beginning to feel it. They are too smart not to.

Kalman said...

Can someone tell me who "Mitch" is? Harry said it was Mitch who was unhappy about him getting the promotion. I thought it might be Duck's real name, but the AMC site says it isn't (it's Herman).

Mo Ryan said...

Good point, Kalman. No idea who Mitch was/is.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I assume, based on the way both Harry and Roger discussed him, Mitch is the head of the media division (which the television department is a part of), and roughly equivalent on the corporate flowchart to Duck in accounts and Don (before he was made partner) in creative.

emeraldliz said...

Two things

1) Don't we see Don getting the smaller/out of place chair at the party? He briefly displays discomfort sitting down.

2) Since part of the shows focus is on clothes and how they define us, I just enjoy focusing on how normal everyday clothing becomes costumized and fetishized in the future. For me, all clothing is costume and people today put on their panties and bras and dresses just like they did then and for exactly the same reasons. I really appreciate Mad Men bringing that into perspective and in a way that, like everything, it just how it was.

cgeye said...

Mo,
I thought I heard someone talk about Betty having *two* people available, but I might have misheard.

What I didn't mishear during the fight was Don saying "Jimmy has a big mouth" Not "Jimmy's a liar", but "Jimmy has a big mouth".

Like he can't keep a secret, or something.

Not a denial, is it?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I've ever seen a bra line on my screen before. Usually actresses get naked and have zero marks on their bodies, whereas in reality you have an imprint of your undergarments left on your body. That said, a good bra today should not dig into your shoulders. I say this as a rather large cup size for my frame. My bra stays in place even when I take off the straps. If your bra straps dig into you, you're possibly wearing the wrong size and should go get properly fitted at a real bra store or department (NOT VS!).

When Betty said "you're lying!" to Don, she sounded exactly like she had when she scolded Bobby.

It's so interesting to see Betty not care about a drawer full of things scribbled on cocktail numbers, because for a lot of women that would be the first hard proof of cheating (names and numbers).

Joan's fake voice bugged the heck out of me. That's not our Joan.

sunnyb said...

Kalman - thanks for asking about Mitch. I assumed I had missed something obvious in the episode where Harry thought that 'Mitch' had ratted him out about the TV abortion show. When he was mentioned again last night I thought I was the only one who didn't know who he was. When I rewatch "A Night to Remember" tonight I'ms going to pause the credits to see who this guy is and then check the AMC site if needed.

purplejeep said...

what is inappropriate for Father Gill asking Peggy all those questions is: he did it at her place of work! At church or home, it would come across as a concerned man of the cloth. Bringing such personal questions into Peggy's work after he bullied her into doing the work is just bad.
My heart ached for the women this week-even Crab's wife and Peggy's sister. Most of all Joan-who now has to face the reality of she really wants to move up-into a job that she's perfect for.
I found it odd that the guys were such shits this week-Don, Harry (what a dumbass-in so many ways-not knowing when to leave Duck's office, being a lazy turd, not knowing to open the door for Roger-you name it!) Pete, who normally makes me want to punch the TV, with such a small role, wasn't so disgusting this week.

There's so much to take in each week-I could go on forever-

Thank you for the analysis-and to all for having a place to talk about the show.

lylee said...

Word to everything cgeye said. Don is NOT a good father any more than he is a good husband. And while I don't think Betty is the best mother in the world, I think she's trying her best. I've never seen any of the hate or hostility towards her children that others seem to see. - I see only chafing at the part she's been given to play. Sure, that means she may sometimes come across as self-involved, but the fact is she's in the middle of trying to discover what that "self" is, and her upbringing hasn't given her any tools for that.

Put me in the minority that sympathizes way more with Betty than with Don.

Very interested to see where the Joan storyline goes. I hope this isn't the last we see of her venturing into boys' territory. Though something tells me that if she does get any further, it's Peggy who will be the most hostile.

Alan, your blog is awesome. Look forward to next week!

Mo Ryan said...

If Mitch is such a big wheel at Sterling Coo, how come we haven't met him before? Or have we? Maybe he's been one of the guys in the bigger meetings and I just haven't noticed him.

Daryl said...

<< [M]y sympathies are all, unjustly, with Don. He is wrong on so many levels, but he seems genuinely to love his children. >> (JustJoan)

A loving father would never even ENTERTAIN the thought of leaving his children, as he had when he asked Rachel to run away with him. Don Draper is a thoroughly despicable man. I hope Betty discovers his true identity soon ... that way, she'd have something on him, and she could leave him and take the kids with her without any fear of reprisals. On the other hand, she's a really lousy mother, but I don't think she would ever abandon her children like Don would.

cgeye said...

And how did Harry get that sweet TV dept. setup by going over Mitch's head?

I mean, he went straight to Roger, who should be Mitch's boss, at least. If my flunky got the big idea to both land himself a promotion, a new department and a raise, well yeah, I'd be cheesed off at him permanently... especially since I'd wonder if he wanted my job.

Harry's playing a more dangerous game than Don is, job-wise....

lizkdc said...

In reading the critiques and defenses of both Drapers as parents, I find myself thinking in terms of jobs and roles.

Betty sees child-rearing primarily in terms of maternal competence (at least for now). Her role as mother is defined in providing the perfect conventional household, the routines, the meals, the lessons, and in demanding from the children the manners and deference she has been raised to believe are a necessity for surviving in her world.

The lack of intimacy, the seeming reserve, don't come across to me as some sort of mental illness, nor cruelty. She seems to be struggling hard to deliver maternal services as *she understands them*, in a period where everything from suburban isolation of the family from the community, to growing materialism, to rapid social change are exercising very distorting effects.

In addition to discovering how much of a fraud the romantic/companionate ideal of marriage is with Don.

Thus I say; give her a break peoples!

cgeye said...

AHA!
Courtesy of Robert_Draper on Twitter (yeah, yeah, I *know*), there's a second servant named Ethel that takes care of the kids that we probably haven't seen. The Twitter crew don't go far afield in terms of using characters that don't exist on the show, so I think the reference is valid.

Teachers wouldn't be on a first-name basis with a kid, and there's no such thing as day care for stay-at-home moms. So... I think the Drapers use two girls, at home. QED.

Whiskey said...

So glad I found this blog so I can indulge in this MM obsession I seem to have developed! My husband watches with me but he doesn't really dissect shows.

And it's a relief to see that I'm not the only one who remembers that Don was ready & eager to take off with Rachel and abandon his wife and children. That it was Rachel who was so galled at that request from Don that she realized then and there how cold and ruthless her lover was, and her illusions about him came crashing down. So, Don as a loving father? Not so much. And remember the disappearing act last season during the birthday party for one of the kids? He went to pick up the birthday cake and Betty wound up having to use someone's frozen Sarah Lee cake for the kids because Don came back in the middle of the night? Does anyone else remember one of the other dads saying "Don Draper, you've done it again!" as if this wasn't the first time he'd just taken off in the middle of a social gathering and disappeared? Don plays/interacts with the kids because they're there, like the dog. He rarely gives them a second thought when he's not with them. I thought other people would have noticed that contrast being drawn recently, between him and Bobbie on Memorial Day: they're both sluts, but she won't sacrifice spending time with her children for the sake of her affair, unlike Don who is perfectly willing to walk away from his children to go fuck one of his women (Midge = family portrait; Rachel = post-Roger's heart attack & then later for total walking away from his life; Bobbie = Memorial Day at the Country Club). As someone else pointed out, Don is the act of advertising in the flesh: slick image & packaging, the illusion of *the life you want to live*. When he tells Betty "I don't want to lose this" to me it was pathetically obvious, as it should have been to Betty herself, that he's talking about the trappings he's so carefully acquired for himself.

This is not to say I'm on Team Betty. But I do recognize what a product she is of her time, what a fine line she is negotiating between the societal norms & expectations of her time and whatever she may have hoped or longed for (a more Grace Kelly-like existence). She is not really that different in her mothering than my mother in law was. As someone pointed out, she grew up believing that her role was to provide an organized, orderly home for her children... there was none of that nurturing business in her job description. Remember when she said to Francine she didn't need to read a book to know how to raise her children? She had so many issues with her mother but she has no context in which she can see herself doing anything really different. I think she's upset and hurt not because Don slept with someone else, but because she sees herself as being made into a social laughingstock, first by Jimmy and then by Duck (even tho I really feel like Duck was trying to compliment her but in Betty's eyes it was interpreted as the opposite: she was trying to show herself off as sophisticated and Duck's comment lets her see how *predictable* she really is). Betty's not the only one dealing with a drinking problem, look at Petra running into the doorway and (apparently off-camera) falling off her chair. Those women had to be losing their minds, if they had any intellingence at all. I have to wonder if that line "I'm not sad, my people are Nordic" was something she heard her mother say, and maybe there's a history of depression in the family... Those of you whose parents were about that age at the time, feel free to ask them what it was like. My husband grew up wondering why his parents never got divorced, believing that marriage was for people who had given up hope of being happy, etc. The Draper children would be growing up with similar ideas after what they witness in that picture perfect Colonial in the burbs.

I have more to say about Joan, Peggy, Anita, Harry, Roger & Fr. Gill but I have to get to work, so I'll be back later, LOL!

cgeye said...

"My husband grew up wondering why his parents never got divorced, believing that marriage was for people who had given up hope of being happy, etc."

Whoa.
Chills.


Which is why I sympathize more with Betty than Don: Divorce would cripple her family economically, since she's married to a man who's not averse to running away with his savings. If he hides the basics from her, betcha he hides the cash, too. *He developed the campaign for a bank to have accounts in which men can hide money from wives*. Not a good candidate for an amicable financial settlement, ne?

Francine said...

Allan, I love your blog. I read and enjoyed all of the comments. My thoughts that I did not see in the comments:
*Betty knew exactly how to fix that outlet. Maybe foreshadowing that she does not need a man?
*Anita was kind to her sister Peggy. Remember Father Gill told her to do this during her confession?
*I loved Campbell! Randy commented on when Father Gill came into the office and Campbell said, "Look at this. Did we get Miracle Whip?" Also loved Don's body language, "What else?" and Campbell gets out of the office toot sweet after the "Housewives love green" scene. Where did he get that from? - the avocado appliances of the time?
*I thought it was brilliant direction that we see the destruction of the dining room chair from the kids' point of view - only one short close-up of Betty as she is calmly picking-up the mess. And, their shocked faces as they turn back to the tv. The automatic choice would have been for them to look at each other, but they did not. These kids are great actors.
*I liked Don's genuine smile as Bobby hid behind him when introduced to Duck. I did believe him when he said he loved Betty and the kids; as much as he is capable of doing so.
*Betty's dress reminded me of a "Twister" game. Remember that game? She twisted herself in knots looking for proof. I have done this, and think every woman has, but most won't admit it. I would have pried open that locked desk drawer - my sister thinks the box from Don's brother is in there.
*I loved the morning after the party when Betty looks like hell and the daughter says, "Mommy said the party was fun." Betty pushes her hair back, trying to make herself look better.
*When Sterling received those unsolicited comments about Harry's department, wouldn't they have gushed about Joan?
*Further insult to Joan that she is replaced by acne faced Danny, who wants to be called, "Dan". He wants to be sure Joan can help him, as though he knows he is in over his head.
*The last scene pulls away from Don in the work kitchen and did anyone else notice the crooked picture on the wall?

Anonymous said...

Great show, love the comments, love the blog (yes, I too follow some of the characters on Twitter who stay remarkably in character).

My only comment is that the entire scene with Betty and Don wouldn't happen! They are the epitome of my former in-laws, in essence, cocktails at 5:00, members (or soon to be) of the country club, even the house resembles the house my former husband was raised in.

The 60's were not a time when women confronted their husbands with "dalliances" that occurred outside the home; they would have done nothing, said nothing, and continued being 1) in the dark, and 2) in denial. It wasn't until the 70's, late 70's at that, that this confrontation would have taken place.

Like another commenter posted, Betty feels suspicion and pity for Helen, she's certainly not going to do something to put herself in the same position.

Mad Fan said...

Anonymous - you mean your ex-father-in-law was hiding a secret identity? Wow!

whiskey said...

ok, back for more... I think this now officially counts as some form of therapy for me! In trying to understand this world, the world of my parents & hubby's parents, maybe we can finally heal from so many of the wounds we have in common with the Sally & Bobby Drapers out there.

I agree & disagree with the Anon commenter who said this wouldn't happen in 1962, the Betty & Don fight. I agree because feelings just weren't discussed in general. That's why the subtext of this show is constantly "appearances ARE deceiving", and we're continuously faced with these people who are trying to be something they aren't or at the very least to get others to buy in to their make-believe. I *really* don't think that Betty says Don humiliated her by having an affair, I believe she's humiliated by his having an affair that became PUBLIC, with a woman Betty sees as "so old". I think as more of the story unfolds, it'll be clearer that Betty married dashingDon! to live a life of ease, sophistication, and glamour. Each of the characters is in stark contrast to others, and Betty is no exception... how many mothers of two maintain that lovely figure that Betty maintains? (in the days before women went to the gym regularly and all aspired to be MILFs) Betty's clothing --including everyday clothes -- is still very 50's-ish when you compare her to the other women we see of her social circle. She is humiliated because as I alluded before, instead of coming off as a worldly, sophisticated wife/mother/woman, she is shown up (by her purchase of the Heinekens) to be a commonplace/predictable any-housewife whose husband cheats on her with a woman that isn't even younger or prettier. !!! A wife back then wouldn't have yelled at her husband for having an affair (she would've suffered it in silence), but I'm pretty certain embarrassing her in front of company is a whole other story. Plus, Betsy's behavior is usually immature anyway -- she wouldn't have yelled at Don for not helping out with the kids since back then dads weren't expected to do that. She yells at him because he's not doing/giving her what she wants and she tends to react like a petulant child. Oh, and while I'm at it... I'm another who feels that when she said that Sally would be playing Piglet, she was more than a little amused. Weight is definitely an issue for her and we're bound ot see more of that as Sally gets a little older.

Anyway, on to the others in this ep, because there are so many gems. Joan: yes, she got her comeuppance for mocking Peggy. She got a taste of the boys' carrot and has to go home to massage her tortured flesh, empty-handed/no scripts. The comment the fiance made about her job being "walking around being stared at" didn't seem out of place to me because back then (and frankly still all too often today) that's what a woman was supposed to do, be eye candy. [let's pause for a moment and think back to Betty's role in life] And so far, Joan has used that to her advantage, to get what she wants. But she's "losing" her appeal, I think we're seeing her curvier as a sign that she's getting older and it's not so easy to maintain that girlish figure (trust me), even with the aid of flesh-torturing heavy-duty girdles. She's last-year's model to Jane/Peggy's next year's model. She's starting to see that her curves alone won't prevent her from becoming an afterthought. I have a mad girl-crush on CH and love the Joan character, as flawed as she is. I hope she gets a great arch and finds a way to join Peggy on the boys' side of the office. Oh, the bon-bons & cravings remark I took to be the fiance's promise of a life of ease for Joan. [how well did that turn out for Betsy?] I really don't think we'll get another surprise pregnancy on Mad Men, at least not this season. BTDT, let's move on.


Roger: such a delicious cad, I nearly fell out of my chair with the lingering anticipation of the smartass comment that was sure to follow "Duck, Crab. Crab, Duck" Yet what we got was that million dollar smirk. Perfect. And maybe, just maybe Roger is in a very indifferent way shutting doors for Joan. As far as he's concerned, she's leaving SC & him soon. Time for a new model ;-)

Fr. Gill: I don't find his pushing Peggy to confess inappropriate (I don't think he meant her to do it right there he was just trying to persuade her to get it done), tho I do think there's a sexual tension between them. And I'm not surprised he reminds so many of Pete. The men most interested in Peggy are moral opposites, go figure! I'm hoping we'll be seeing that develop in the coming eps.

Peggy & Anita: they're sisters which makes them eternal rivals as well as close friends. I loved that scene of brief intimacy between them, where Anita's able to unburden a bit to her little sister (about children, mother & husband, her responsibilities in life) before the priest comes in and they're once again competing for someone's attention. I'm glad to see her as an obvious counterpoint to Peggy and her choices. And in that scene we also saw another wife trapped & burdened by societal expectations. Yeah, I don't blame Peggy for having different goals.

Harry: *sigh* the Television Department is about to suffer due to his cluelessness and lack of ambition.

Does anyone else want to go raid the MM set and take home all that groovy furniture & decorations? Or am I the only one?

Meg said...

I agree with all those who said the Feminine Mystique will feature heavily in upcoming episodes, or in the very least, suffers from 'the problem without a name'. I find it strange how callous so many women are to her. She is not likable in a traditional sense or charismatic like Don. But her continual alienation from her children and those around her is so brilliantly done and it captures a sentiment that many mothers I'm sure have felt.

Society it seems to me (as a non-parent) has a real issue with the idea of a parent not liking being one, or resenting their children. We know that Betty used to live in the city, was a model, and lived an exciting life. Now, (seeing her friend who is still living that lifestyle, sans marriage problem and children) she is alone, isolated in the suburbs with a husband she sees, at best, occasionally. She's the one who ferries them to school and to dance and back. She looks after them day and night. Yes, she has help. And yes she has friends around her. But I think her (and I do think it's slightly disturbed) attitude towards her children (Sally's weight and her pure annoyance at her son) stems from all of this, and it's something that many women face. The only thing she has, just for herself, is her riding. That is her only time to be alone, to have a space no one encrouches on, which is why I imagine, she won't take Sally with her. I wasn't sure where they were going to go with Betty (ie perhaps an abusive storyline) but in the end, I think all her attitude towards her children, the booze (um, how does she self-medicate more than Don does? She may accidentally break a glass but she doesn't drive drunk) all stems from this suburban housewife complex.

And does no one else see the complete irony in that Don completely belittles her when she asserts herself or spars with him, and yet consistently goes after highly intelligent, assertive, and independent women? He doesn't want his wife to fit that role though that is the type of woman he loves (and perhaps from a paternal perspective, why he helps Peggy be like that)

Brian said...

I think you guys are being a bit too hard on Harry. It's not at all unreasonable to want to be able to leave the office at 5:00 on account of a pregnant wife -- in fact, it shows an admirable dedication to family over work that's rare in the Sterling Cooper environment. As for his not considering Joan for the script-reading job, I'm not sure that anyone would've done that in his place. Joan has been "queen bee" of the secretarial pool for a long time and, as Alan notes, has never displayed any inclination to do anything else. Add to this the fact that he was eager to fulfill the wishes of a boss (Roger) with whom he was on shaky ground, and it's clear that Harry is just doing what seems right for his own stability and for the survival of the television department. Sure, it would've been nice for Joan if Harry had a burst of maverick decision-making and offered the job to Joan against Roger's wishes, but that wouldn't be the prudent thing to do under the circumstances. I felt bad for Joan too, but let's not blame Harry--after all, she's a college grad and a smart cookie--and the object of all men's desires--so if she'd wanted a different kind of life, she probably could've had one. It may be too late for her now.

Chris said...

Mad Men is incredible. I find that coming here and reading the comments and insights after watching each ep is a wonderful companion activity...with many of the comments helping me to interpret the many shades of gray and subtle nuances of the show.

One thing that still eludes me - when Betty saw the Utz commercial, what was it about the commercial that set her off / triggered her immediate reaction to call Don?

drake leLane said...

what was it about the commercial that set her off?

I assume it was seeing and hearing Jimmy deliver the ad in much the same way that he delivered the news of Don's affair to her (minus the salty props, of course).

cty said...

brilliant, brilliant episode.
- my wife and i have wondered about January Jones. As Betty, she's had a difficult job to do: she's an actor, playing an actor. But like all the characters in MM, Betty is completely lacking in self-awareness and only dimly aware of the contradictions between what she (thinks she) wants - the house, the husband, the kids - and what she's got. think of all the layers there. Jones was tremendous, and completely credible here, as someone for whom the lightbulb, after buzzing and spitting, finally comes on - via an SC advertisement in which her husband played a huge role.
-- As ever, great comments here. esp. re clothes - clothes as armour, as irritant, as code. The party dress ends up rumpled and soiled, Don's suits are in a pile, Joan's bra strap chafes. And at the end, everyone is casting them off including the priest, and all are exposed (even Don, sans wedding ring - nice catch there). Pretty powerful. hell, i was about tingling.
-- There are always moments of little jokes. Crab's wife, in the bag before dinner, walking into the wall, everyone laughs. Me too.
-- One final thought. Weiner & Co. love that closing shot, pulling back slowly. And they love to close with Draper, alone. but doesn't that final image look like a mirror to the opening credits' final image - instead of closing in from behind on a stylized Draper, we are being pulled away from the real Draper right in front of us. And instead of a cig in his right hand, that's a Heineken bottle. beautiful shot start to finish, fantastic work from Hamm.
Off that image, Draper is headed on one hellacious bender.
Oh, and great blog. big thanks to Allan for the insights and everyone for the comments.

Girl Detective said...

Only on this blog, and with these commenters, would I read so many comments!

When Harry's office mate says to him he can't believe Harry can talk to Joan, I think this points to the core of Harry's character: myopic. He talks to Joan because he doesn't notice her sexually, as he doesn't notice how awesome she is at the script job.

My hope for the show is that Peggy is the anti-Don--her character will be the redemption of his. They both suffered shame and out of wedlock birth issues, yet I think he'll be left behind as she goes forward, with feminine mystique and Bobby's advice to become like Mary Wells.

I'm curious (just curious, not judging!) how many of the Betty haters are parents, because I know I found it a lot easier to criticize parents before I became one, and experienced the fatigue, their incredible needs, the screaming, the mess, the loss of self, and on and on. I'm a stay at home mom and suffered post partum depression; I can really relate to Betty, even as I see her obvious flaws as a person and a parent. I find that parenting is fleeting moments of joy with lots and lots of work, and it's often hard to remember the quality/quantity comparison. Like much of what Mad Men does, it's showing a real, thus often ugly, side to what looks pretty and ideal on the outside.

Maura said...

girl detective, I'm not a parent and I have a great amount of sympathy for Betty. Watching her disintegrate as her world falls apart is heart breaking to me. Is she hard on the kids? Yes. But I guarantee that more than a few kids saw their mothers drunk in the middle of the afternoon back then (as they no doubt do now. It's not a phenomenon that ended with the feminist movement), kids who also had distant fathers, kids who ended up raising themselves because their parents were so fucked up by the decisions they made without thought, since those were the decisions they were expected to make. It's something I would hate in a real, live, actual person, but in a fictional character, it's riveting, if painful, to watch.

As for whether Betty would actually confront Don about his infidelities back then, look at it from a structural point of view. Betty is a main character. The main characters are the one who experience the most conflict, and the ones who act most outside the norm. I wouldn't want Betty to be a stagnant character. I wasn't expecting this kind of a downfall for her, but I think it's fitting, considering the time and what's coming.

Also, just like the issue of whether she would have worn that bikini, if the writers decided she would confront Don, then she would. I don't find it out of character (she stood up to him a few times in season 1), and I don't think it matters whether her friends would have done it.

whiskey said...

I hope this discussion of the character of Betty won't devolve into a "Mommy Wars" debate. Here's the deal, from my POV: regardless of what a rat-bastard Don is, Betty is still shallow and selfish and would be that way even if Don was the most faithful & deserving husband. We've seen that over and over, and most recently had it shoved in our faces when she leaves the garbage behind after their bucolic picnic. That was not just something people did back then, that was something mindless, selfish people did and still do. Betty's whole existence is predicated upon being the object of desire: the men must desire her and the women should desire her life. All of you who are trying to defend Betty from a feminist POV, have you forgotten how she treated Helen Bishop? She slapped her at the supermarket (humiliating her publicly) and then went home and allowed Francine and the local posse of housewives to malign and ostracize the woman (even furthering her PUBLIC humiliation). And what exactly was the divorcee's sin? Remember Betty telling her shrink that she felt sorry for Helen Bishop because she was obviously jealous of Betty's life? Puhhleeze! What goes around, comes around. I'll go to the mat to defend Helen Bishop, Anita, Clara, Mona, Kitty, Joan & Peggy. But I have very little sympathy for the Bettys of this world, past or present. Truth be told, I think that's Weiner & co's objective, to show us these two characters that are SO gorgeous, their beauty is really irresistible but their inner personas are SO rotten/corrupt... garbage. Like supermarket fruit, LOL. Betty *chose* Don -- she was a model, it's been made clear on the show that she was always the pretty girl so she would've had her pick of suitors -- in order to live out her version of the Grace Kelly fantasy. And it backfired! Some have mentioned Marilyn Monroe's tragic death as an event that'll wake up Joan's character but I wonder if it'll wake Betty up as well. Marilyn had her choice of husbands and possible outcomes, yet no one could give her enough of the attention she craved and she wound up dead and alone. In fact, the more I think about it, Don should also see her as HIS cautionary tale. ;-)

And BTW, I am an educated stay-at-home mother of two in a remote suburb, not that I really think that matters when it comes to my opinion of Betty.

Moving on to Harry, I don't fault him for wanting to go home to be with his pregnant wife. As others have more eloquently pointed out, he's just clueless in general as to how to do his job ("the Maytag people are sensitive to Communism." heh) or even how to read people, which should be a basic skill for someone in advertising. I'm not saying he should've *known* that Joan wanted the job, since Joan probably didn't even realize that in a fully-formed, developed-thought/desire sort of way. But he definitely should've read his CLIENTS and how they responded to Joan and that should've prompted the thought that her presence at meetings would be valuable to his TV Dept.

lylee said...

"We've seen that over and over, and most recently had it shoved in our faces when she leaves the garbage behind after their bucolic picnic. That was not just something people did back then, that was something mindless, selfish people did and still do."

Uh...and where does that leave Don the beer-can-thrower?

Make no mistake, I think Betty does have a certain childlike quality and so far has not demonstrated the capacity for the kind of outside-the-box thinking that we've seen in others. But I still attribute a lot of that to the way she was raised (to be a "lady") and the lack of exposure to other ways of being and behaving. She's really struggled to conform to those standards, only to see they don't mean anything - they don't secure Don's devotion, and they don't bring her fulfillment.

And as for her parenting, I agree with lizkdc.

sunnyb said...

Love this blog. Whiskey - I agree w/ you completely re: both Betty and Harry. As a previous stay at home mom and now a full time worker I have issues w/ both of them.

Question for Sports Illustrated fans - the SI that Warren was reading in the office did not have a glossy picture on the cover. Were these not around in the 60's? (I was, but not an SI reader then)

Francine - great comments/observations. Did you notice that Peggy's hair seemed significantly shorter in the scene w/ the CYO committee? New 'do' coming up??

Anonymous said...

I don't think Betty has a lot of options as a woman at that time & from her socioeconomic class. She signed on for the wife/motherhood thing and Don's not holding up his end of the bargain. She managed to keep it together until after everyone had left the dinner party. Not to mention, as someone noted earlier, he's been Gaslighting her. It'll be interesting to see how the changes of the 60s play out with her.

Anonymous said...

First, Harry is most of the men in my office today! I honestly have not been able to figure out why they get promoted, or how they keep their jobs. That episode was SPOT ON. Furthermore, having grown up in a working class Catholic family, the Peggy family plotline reminds me of a woman I know, who after bearing 14 children was told she needed a hysterectomy. She went to her priest for permission before she'd agree to the surgery. Priests had A LOT of authority.

dylanfan said...

Did the comment with the link to the couleur cafe song get deleted? Just curious ... I was about to say how cool that site was but couldn't find it to quote.

While I'm here, did anyone mention the irony at the end when Don gets a Heineken out of the fridge at the office when the pitch was that Heineken is the beer that people drink at home?

cgeye said...

dylanfan,

or that this show has the most organic product placement ever?

Heineken didn't advertise this week, but it was a solid advertiser during the first few episodes of this season, as was Playtex, I think.

Then each advertiser gets a show focused on its product, however archaic, but still we've already given mindshare to those brands.

very clever AMC marketing geeks..

Girl Detective said...

What is the name and who is the actor who plays Joan's fiance? He looks young, but I swear I remember him from the soap Santa Barbara, over a decade ago.

Francine said...

*Wow! Thank you, Sunny b, for commenting on my comment. I appreciate that.
*No, I didn't notice Peggy's shorter hair. I have been waiting for the new 'do/feminine Peggy at the office, too, since she was given that advice.
*Great catch on that SI magazine: way to be "working," Warren.

Anonymous said...

Joan's fiance is played by Sam Page who was Casey on Shark. He cute, and they did well making him look "dated."

Pamela Jaye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamela Jaye said...

edited for horrendous typos that made sentences make no sense

Like Betty, lots of women were depressed ...because they were stifled creatively and felt trapped by marriage and motherhood. They weren't necessarily "crazy." They were struggling with their identities and yes, self-medicating with booze.

...but I do sympathize with her because being a suburban mom isn't easy nowadays...I can't imagine how stressful it was in the 1950s-1960s when you were expected to be perfect and have no life outside the confines of your home...and you had to be obedient to a selfish husband like Don.

Interestingly, Betty Draper ...most certainly is suffering the malaise of the "modern" suburban housewife.


I'd like to argue this point, as my mother *was* one of those suburban housewives.

She wasn't depressed (my father was) she wasn't alcoholic (she would be after my father died, nearlt 40 years later) she *did* have to be obedient to my father, who was very often verbally abusive to all of us.

But when he was not there, she watched her soaps, fed her family, did the laundry, rushed just before my father got home to make it look as if she'd cleaned all day, visited with the neighbors - especially the elderly ones (and ran errands for them - on foot, as she didn't drive, but the grocery store was just down the street) as well as those her own age, and *spent time* (not just "quality time") with her children.

I knew my mother - her favorite color, movie, book (she read a lot too - her library card number was famous at our local branch) singer, actress, flowers, perfume, other things i can't recall right now, as well as her values and beliefs (and the way she protected me from my father, or at least comforted me after).

She was taught that the best thing you could do was to help other people. I admired her in that (if not in that if you were unhappy you should cure it by helping others). She was brought up by nuns after being removed by the state from a crazy mother in a large Catholic family that only grew larger before she got back. (after marriage, she was.. if not Protestant, at least in no way Catholic)

She was into walking and taking vitamins (none of which helped my asthma - though i learned to take lots of pills at once (pantothenic acid is something you *never* want to chew))

My father worked two jobs, so that she could stay home and take care of us. Which she did a very good job of (even if the cleaning was an afterthought (and her cooking wasn't that great - I gained a lot of weight after I left home - perhaps the girls on 90210 have my mother as a cook - i was 105 when I left).

The only thing she didn't teach us was that, for her daughter, the world would not be the same.

I don't think my mother was unhappy as a housewife. I don't remember her aspiring to be anything else (or anything). And I really think she was part of the glue that made good neighborhoods, well- behaved children (who weren't automatons, but were just polite, responsible citizens) and kept the elderly from having to go to nursing homes.

There may still be women like this. I just think my mother's priorities were pretty darn good.

When i was 19, she went back to work, and had no time for us (my brother was 13). I missed her.

When I was 22, the family moved to another state and I did not.

When my father was dying she quit to care for him and didn't go back(though she thought of it). she ran around with her friends for a while and then stopped, and then she watched a lot of tv and read a lot, she drank too much, so that when she started having health issues that affected her balance, we didn't notice, thinking she was drunk.

(at this point i must stop to gripe about Lexie Grey saying she's an ACOA, when her childhood was perfect. just because her father is a drunk *now*, that does *not* put her in that class. ACOA is more developmental, i think. a way to survive learned in childhood. my father was not an alcholic then either - he just blew up like one (something Thatcher and Susan never did - but I bet Ellis did.)

Back to my point - my mother would have said that life is what you make it - and she did good (unlike Betty) cared less for appearances than for good manners and politeness and giving to others, and she made the world a better place, both then, and in children who grew up resposible and not adding to the burdens of others in society (unlike siblings of friends who've done drugs, committed thefts, ended up in jail or unmarried with children they could not support).

Of course, when she chose not to have a funeral (both my parents chose this), all the people who admired her and loved her for all the good she did for them, were upset that they could not gather to praise her, and were angry at *me* but...

Perhaps Betty does feel unfulfilled, but I don't see any aspirations toward any kind of "work" or even "charity" or volunteerism in her (unlike my mother). She only cares about how she looks to others. And more and more, she really does seem a spoiled (or at least needy and damaged) child.

And, as "needy and damaged" goes, Meredith Grey (while perhaps whiny) is a far better (fictional) person than she is - at least *she* always gathers her friends in support of whichever friend needs it most, making a family out of those who are not her blood, while Betty couldn't be bothered with those who *are.* (at least not till they grow up to people who will "shame her" in front of her friends (and btw, where *are* those friends? her neighbors have husbands who cheat too. is she too "image" oriented to even gripe to them?))

Maura said...

I'd like to argue this point, as my mother *was* one of those suburban housewives.

Pamela Jaye, I think it's fair to say that not all suburban housewives in the 1950s and '60s were like your mother. I mean, Betty Friedan didn't just make up all those women she wrote about. The women who wrote "I Want a Wife" and "Click: A Housewife's Moment of Truth weren't fictional characters. They were real, live, actual people.

Also, I don't think it matters that someone's real life personal experience is different from what we see on the screen. I understand that personal experience can color how someone feels about a fictional character, but that experience doesn't negate the validity of a character. If you don't like Betty, I get that. But that doesn't mean there's no truth to who Betty is.

Anonymous said...

WOW. One of the best episodes ever.
John Hamm,January Jones and
Christina Hendricks all deserve
kudos for superior performances.

I wonder where Joan's character is going to go. She was breaking my
heart as she struggled to say
nothing about having to show the
'new guy' the ropes of the job she
was doing so well.

The Drapers at home! Not much to
say that everyone else hasn't said.
I think Don's outburst in an
earlier episode about how he pays
the bills and puts clothes on
Betty's back was telling. He DOES
think he's a good husband and
father because he provides.

Man I love this show.

Wee Katie said...

I thought Father Gill looked a lot like Pete Campbell, too; although I can't stop thinking Colin Hanks also looks so much like his dad. It must be hard for him to date--every girl his age grew up watching Splash and the Money Pit and Big, and probably thinking Tom Hanks was the nicest, cutest man they'd never grow up to marry.

Anonymous said...

I think Father Gill does look a bit like Pete, only better looking and less weasely. And taller.
Colin Hanks seems to have inherited all of that easy charm of his dad and I love his work here.