Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mad Men, "The Arrangements": Teach your children well

Spoilers for "Mad Men" season three, episode four coming up just as soon as I get a prescription for unguents and salves...
"If you'd even known what was possible..." -Gene
There's a question most parents will ask themselves a thousand times before the baby is born, and a thousand thousand times after: How am I going to get this kid ready to live out in the world when I'm not around to take care of everything?

Parenthood is one of the dominant themes of "Mad Men," and in "The Arrangements," we see how several parents have answered that question - and how several of them realize they may have answered incorrectly.

Gene knows his days on this Earth are coming to an end sooner rather than later, and so he wants to make arrangements not only for his own funeral, but for his family's future. Realizing that he didn't do right by his daughter by sheltering her from most of life's problems - turning her into an arrested development case who neglects her own children's needs and views Gene's impending death only as a burden for herself - he decides it's not too late for something to be done with Sally and Bobby. You could read his decision to let Sally drive his beloved Lincoln as a sign of Gene's dementia, but he was more on than off this season, as if he'd been mustering his mental strength to pass some wisdom (like how to drive a car, and also the bravery to try it) to his grandkids while he still could.

Peggy decides it's time to move into Manhattan and discovers that her mother only wants Peggy to go so far in the world and no farther, and the demarcation point is roughly the East River. Mrs. Olson lays a vicious guilt trip on her daughter, and when that doesn't work, she warns her, "You'll get raped, you know that?" And she turns away from Peggy's attempt to kiss her goodbye; if the Olsons were Jewish instead of Catholic, she might have rended her garments, "Jazz Singer"-style, and declared "I have no daughter!"

At work, Pete (whose own father's idea of child-rearing seemed to revolve around belittlement) introduces Don to Horace "Ho-Ho" Cook Jr., an old college buddy with money to burn and a pathological need for someone to loan him a match. For all of Don's misdeeds, he has more of a moral center than most of his colleagues and feels uncomfortable about taking a million dollars of Horace's money for his misguided quest to turn jai alai into our new national pasttime. But a meeting with Horace Sr. doesn't go how anyone expects. Horace Sr., like Gene, realizes he sheltered his child too much - "We didn't know what kind of person we were making" - and has decided the best thing for the boy is to have his bubble burst, over and over, until Ho-Ho recognizes how the world really works, as opposed to how he wants it to work.

Flanked by Gene at home and the jai alai situation at Sterling Cooper, Don has cause to think back on his own upbringing - by a set of parents who didn't want him at all, and certainly didn't want him to do better in life than them - and to ponder what kind of father he is to his kids. He's automatically a better dad than Archie by virtue of not hitting Bobby and Sally, and he's good with them on those rare occasions when he's home and willing to engage with them. But he's also afraid to take the lead in terms of discipline and moral instruction - probably because he thinks it would make him a hypocrite and/or an awful role model - and therefore hangs back too long even when he sees other people treating his children differently than he would like. You can see that he's uncomfortable with Gene showing Bobby his WWI souvenirs, but it takes him a while to work up the nerve to vocally disagree with his father-in-law. And when Sally is upset to hear the adults laughing after Gene's death, you can see Don wants to comfort her, but he can't bring himself to undermine Betty when she scolds her. At episode's end, Don is caught in the middle, standing between the bed of the man who just died and the crib of the baby about to be born, not sure what kind of father he's going to be to this new addition.

And Sally? After having a month and a half or so to live and bond with her grandfather, she's again being ignored by parents who don't know what to do with her or how to respond to her needs. At the start of the episode, she's beaming as Grandpa Gene lets her drive the Lincoln and showers her with attention; at the end, she's left crying on the living room floor, with the TV as her only companion (and even the TV is showing grown-up things).

My one issue with the episode was Sally's outburst in the kitchen. I think the emotion of it was fine, but the presentation wasn't. Her rant seemed too articulate and/or on the nose, or maybe it's just that Kiernan Shipka is good with expressions but still learning how to handle a lot of dialogue (particularly dialogue that has to be delivered through angry tears).

And speaking of Shipka, I wonder how the show will deal with her in the coming seasons. They've already recast Bobby twice, but Shipka has been much more prominent as Sally. Matt Weiner has talked about how Sally is representative of the kids who are going to plunge into the counter-culture to rebel against neglectful parents. But to get to that point -- and to get to the 1970 endpoint Weiner has said he'd like to hit if he can -- we're going to have to start taking bigger jumps forward in time soon, and Shipka doesn't age that fast. Unless she has a major growth spurt between seasons, is she going to be left behind just like Sally?

Some other thoughts on "The Arrangements":

• I can't let the talk of parents trying (or not trying) to advance their children's fortune go without noting our latest Kennedy reference, when Ho-Ho explains that his father hates JFK because he used to deal with old Joe Kennedy, and Don in turn points out that John wound up with a better job than his old man. More often than not, both Don and "Mad Men" come down hard on the Kennedy clan and the realities of Camelot, but in that one moment, at least, Don acknowledged that family didn't do everything wrong.

• Sal's subplot wasn't related to the parenting theme - unless you want to blame his decision to stay in the closet and in a sham marriage on his fear of/respect for his very Catholic mother - but it was another great showcase for Bryan Batt. Kitty's line about something being wrong the past few months would date the start of the problem back to Sal's coitus interruptus with the Baltimore bellhop, and whether or not Sal has acted on his needs since then, he's sure been thinking about them more than he has in a long time. Kitty knows something's wrong, and is clearly disturbed to watch her husband so expertly ape Ann-Margret's "Bye Bye Birdie" performance, but she can't fathom the true nature of the problem. Like Joan's marriage, this will not end well.

• So what do you reckon so unnerved the Patio people about Sal's commercial? Was it, as Roger suggests (in his only line of the episode), that the number only works because Ann-Margret is so naturally sexy? Was it, as Peggy's smirk to Don suggests, that they realized (as she had argued in "Love Among the Ruins") you need to sell a woman's fantasy to women? Or do you think they could recognize, on some subconscious level, that the actress here had been directed by a man whose appreciation for the original had nothing to do with an attraction to Ann-Margret?

• Whatever issues the Patio men had about the ad, Don liked it enough to give Sal entree into a new, more promising career. But in the same episode, we get a reminder of just how much Joan is being wasted as office manager. Her spiel to Peggy about how to write a better roommate ad was a classic Don Draper-style pitch. She nailed the emotion behind the product (adventure) and described it so eloquently that you could tell Peggy was racing to jot down Joan's exact phrasing before she could forget it. Television department, copywriting, filling in as Don's secretary... every job you ask Joan to do, she nails. If she could think outside the box society has placed her in the way Peggy can, Joan would be running Sterling Cooper within five years.

• It's interesting to see the role reversal between Peggy's sister and her mother. Last season, Anita resented how Peggy got to skate away from the consequences of her actions, while their mother indulged her because she was worried about her mental health. Now (after taking Father Gill's advice to heart), Anita has made peace with the idea that Peggy is going to be one of "those girls" -- Peggy, her confidence rising every episode, points out, "I am one of those girls" -- while their mom now understands that Peggy isn't crazy and therefore resents her push for a different, geographically distant, and presumably promiscuous lifestyle. (Of course, we saw a few weeks ago that Peggy has no problem being promiscuous in an outer borough.)

• Peggy's prospective "fun" new roommate Karen was played by Carla Gallo, best known to me as the girl across the dorm hall in Fox's short-lived "Undeclared" (and for getting Jonah Hill's leg bloody in "Superbad"), but she's done a lot of other TV work, including "Bones" and "Carnivale."

• Bert Cooper's ant farm returns (as does Pryce's unctuous assistant, Mr. Hooker), only for the thing to be destroyed by Don's attempt to master jai alai. (Hooker, alas, survives.)

• I've read some complaints this season about the commercial breaks popping up seemingly at random. Watching the episodes on screeners, I have to admit that there often doesn't seem an obvious "act-out" moment to lead into an ad, but this episode had a hilarious one: After Don takes away the Prussian helmet, Gene shows Bobby a woman's fan, smiles, and says, "There was this girl..." Cut to black.

• The episode ends on June 11, 1963, made clear by the news report (on at both Anita's apartment and the Draper house) featuring snippets from President Kennedy's address on civil rights in the wake of sending the National Guard in to help integrate the University of Alabama (click the link to read/watch the whole thing), and then featuring a report on the death of The Burning Monk.

• A few secretarial matters this week: Lois has gone from switchboard to Don's desk, back to the switchboard and now to Paul's desk. (And was happy to participate in the Paul-scripted prank call to Peggy after Peggy made her cry in the season two premiere.) Meanwhile, Don's new secretary gets a name (Allison), and a bit of a personality, as she confesses to the chipmunks that she still hasn't learned to read Don's moods.

• Salt on ice cream? Is that just to make it melt in your mouth faster, or is the combination of salty and sweet appealing to some tastebuds?

• Finally, in case you somehow missed the news from earlier this week, AMC has renewed "Mad Men" for a fourth season. That's not really a surprise, but it's still nice to know that we'll definitely get to see it, whenever it happens to be set.

As the number of comments is now starting to surpass what I used to get even for the likes of "Lost" and "Battlestar," I want to again remind you about the commenting rules, specifically about not posting spoilers for upcoming episodes (and that includes talking about the previews for next week) and about making an effort to at least skim previous comments so you're not asking questions that were asked and answered earlier. But with that in mind...

What did everybody else think?


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Anonymous said...

The Olson-Catholicism thing has seemed weird to me all along, Olson being a Scandinavian name (whichever the country or origin) and most of the other Brooklyn characters we've seen (in the church, especially) being Irish. I assumed they named Peggy before they'd fleshed out her character.

Also, I had no idea there were lingering hostilities between Swedish- and Norwegian-Americans. Hilarious.

Dana C Constance said...

Notice that the new Sterling Cooper refused Madison Square Garden as a client but happily accepts the money to build up jai-lai.

I wouldn't be surprised if the whole office of S-C smelled of oranges on June 11th...

Anonymous said...

Given what we learned about Peggy being Norwegian, would her dislike of Ann-Margaret and the whole "Bye Bye Birdie" for the Patio ads stem from the fact that Ann-Margaret is also Swedish, or is she more open-minded about that...

Just a thought... sometimes people say they are cool to new ideas, but old ideas die hard.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else think Don fired Sal in this episode? Don sayssomething to the effect of " you'll know when I hire you again." I hope not, you wish the best for Sal, and changin' times work in his favor, but wonder if he will make it that long.

Regarding the Kitty and Sal bedroom scene: Kittys troubled facial expression was priceless: I think Kitty realized exactly what the problem was. Admitting it to herself will be the hard part. Really well acted on both parts

Julia said...

I'm a quarter Norwegian on my mother's side and she was a Catholic convert. Where are you getting your statistics? Nobody in my mom's family was Lutheran any more - they were mostly Prebysterian. They didn't even have a Lutheran church in town.

Not all Norwegian immigrants bunched together in Minnesota and Wisconsin. My mom was from a rural part of Kansas where there were other Norwegians, but not prdominantly so.

The same has got to be true of people in Brooklyn. Unless everbody you meet is Norwegian Lutheran, a person is very likely to marry a non-Norwegian.

"I Remember Mama" was written several generations ago.

Beav said...

This is impossible...I spend all of my down time reading posts today, and then when I come back there are another 50 to go through....

I'm only about 30, so I can't possibly remember what things were like in the '60s, but I think that back then, you would have to beat someone over the head with hard evidence to get someone to be convinced that someone else is homosexual (like Don on the fire escape). I think it would take a little more to trigger that revelation than acting a little femme-y before bed. I agree with whomever thought she suspects an affair with Not Ann Margaret.

Julia said...

The 1% Catholic Norwegian statistic must be from Norway, not the US.

We aren't in Norway any more.

My gggrandfather Severt Severtson came to the US with a paper from his Lutheran pastor in Kongsberg, Norway listing his church records that served as an introduction to whatever Lutheran church he joined in the New World. Lutheranism was the state religion - so everybody was Lutheran by law amd these records were considered official documents, like a passport.

That was 143 years ago and most of his descendants married non-Norwegians.

Not all the officially-Anglican English people who came to the US are still Episcopalian, either.

Christine said...

For what it's worth, it felt to me like the Ann-Margret imitator in the Patio commercial was trying too hard, taking flirtation over the line into near-leering at a couple of moments. But this is based on one viewing, so take w/a grain of salt...

I don't think Sal's gayness had anything to do with the ad failing. Like they said, the client wanted a frame-by-frame copy of the Bye Bye Birdie scene -- the sexual orientation of the director seems a non-issue.

The moment in this episode that totally wowed me is one that nobody seems to have mentioned: when Kitty comes on to Sal and he is fending her off, his face takes on this incredibly young, vulnerable, almost fearful look. In an instant he goes from being the sophisticated, urbane ad man to a teenage virgin who's in over his head. (I assume he's not literally a virgin; this is just a metaphor.)

Anonymous said...

You'll never want to eat chocolate ice cream plain once you shake some salt on it.

CarolMR said...

I apologize for bringing up the Peggy/Catholic thing, but here in Brooklyn everyone who watches the show (even the newspaper TV critics) thinks Peggy is Irish. I didn't recognize David Selby because I don't think I've seen him on TV since he was a regular on "Falcon Crest." Always liked him. He and his wife have been married for over 40 years. BTW, David Chase is 100% Italian-American AND both his parents were Protestant, as is he.

PanAm53 said...

I do not profess to be an expert in Swedish/Norwegian relations, but my take on this issue is that past hostilities between the countries has now come down to just being a friendly rivalry with jokes being made about the other country, much like the jokes in this country about Alabama. As a young adult in 1963, I recall that Swedish females were thought of as sexually liberated, unlike the more straight laced Norwegians. I believe that Peggy wanted to reassure her mother, who might not even be Norwegian, that her room mate to be was not a promiscuous Swede.

PanAm53 said...

As to that other burning issue from Mad Men Season 3 Episode 4...I will buy a carton of chocolate ice cream tomorrow on the way home from my periodondist appointment. When I arrive home, I will allow said ice cream to soften for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. I will then carefully scoop out an appropriate portion, sprinkle with kosher salt and indulge before making dinner. I believe this could be the start of something great! Or, in any event, a good way to salvage an otherwise crumby day. Bon Appetite!

PanAm53 said...

I also want to add that I agree with stellatex regarding naming Peggy before her character was fleshed out. With that in mind, the only explanation is that Peggy's Irish-Catholic mother married a Norwegian-Protestant man, and that the children were raised Catholic.

Julia said...


I think you're right about Swedish girls supposedly being looser than the Norse. There's a Swedish Bikini Team.

I doubt that there's a similar team in Norway.

That would explain why Peggy would care what her Irish mother thought about the Swedes when her presuably-Norwegian dad was deceased and not around to complain.

Besides if they live in Brooklyn amongst the Irish, it would not be too unusual for a Norwegian man to marry an Irish girl. Third and fourth generation immigrant offspring don't worry about that stuff any more.

Rob Biesenbach said...

To those who think Sal's wife's realization was out of the blue or sudden, consider this. First, the dinner last season when Sal had Cosgrove over. Sal's wife was very upset at how Sal ignored her all night and paid excessive attention to Cosgrove. She was perplexed and I think they even fought over it.

Second, the beginning of this very scene is all about the fact that it's apparently been several months since they've had sex. It's really been troubling her. She says he's so closed off, and won't share with her. She offers to do "anything" he wants her to do to make him want to sleep with her.

So she's clearly been troubled for a long time, wondering why her husband doesn't want her. People were aware of gays back then. The knew what it was and they knew people like Liberace were gay. But like people today, the person they'd least suspect is the one closest to them.

But when she saw Sal mince around as he did, it all clicked for her. And it was more than him being effeminate. While another man might have described the Ann Margret scene with lustful expression, coveting, envy, etc., Sal was all about embodying the actress. It was very clear that he did not want to be WITH her, he wanted to BE her.

That's what I gathered from a second viewing tonight. All the pieces came together for her.

PanAm53 said...

OK..I couldn't wait until tomorrow. I just put three squares of chocolate on a plate, sprinkled it with kosher salt, and ate it. I should probably add, said salted chocolate was accompanied by a very nice Reisling. is so good! Will the salt sprinkled chocolate ice cream be better? TBC Wednesday, 09/09/09.

Jennifer Boudinot said...

I loved that Peggy followed Joan's lead again (this time, directly), and I wonder if they are setting up the story that Peggy will realize Joan has bigger talents than being a secretary (when the men can't seem to).

Then again, I thought Don's father-in-law was going to be the one to figure out that something was up and out him as Dick!

Also, is it just me, or do the episodes seem more thematic this season than last? It seems like they are trying harder to make them more visibly about a particular subject and less rambling.

Anonymous said...

In The Sopranos, Carmine smells burning hair at the country club before he dies. Grandpa Gene smells oranges before he meets his conclusion.

dez said...

cgeye, I couldn't place him beyond the maddening sense of familiarity until the end credits, so don't beat yourself up too much

I couldn't place him until you mentioned who he was, so thank you, Hatfield! :-)

Alex said...

I'm with those who are sure that Kitty realized without a doubt that Sal's gay as he acted out his video. I was reminded of the scene in Battlestar Galactica when Tigh realizes his wife is a traitor; to me, it was clear just through her facial expressions that she had figured it out. Nice work by her.

Less confidently, I do think that what went wrong with the Patio commercial was that it lacked the sex, because Sal doesn't get that part.

Katie said...

Does anyone know the actor playing the young Patio exec? He looks familiar and kind of reminded me of Dr. Reed from Criminal Minds.


Hatfield said...

I was about to say something to dez about using my powers of actor recognition for good (message boards, this blog, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon) instead of evil (paparazzi, TMZ, etc.), but Katie's question has me stumped. How humbling!

Anonymous said...

I love how nobody (except Gene) worries about Betty smoking or drinking while pregnant, but Don admonishes her for eating the fresh healthy peach because "it's been in the car all day."

Also, Joan needs to leave SC and go to work for Vogue. SHE is "that girl".

Bmull said...

I took Gene's use of salt with the ice cream to forshadow his coming stroke. Also, he mentions that the ice cream has an unusual scent (can't recall to what he compares it). Both would indicate a coming brain-related issue.

The HBO series Six Feet Under dealt with main character Nate Fisher's brain tumor effects in a similar manner - he has strange, incongruous scent and taste sensations.

Just a thought, but that was my take. I figured Gene would have a stroke or something right there in that scene when he was eating ice cream with salt and smelling funny scents. Why else would Weiner make such overt mention of them?

Anonymous said...

I have to comment about the Patio meeting. There is no way that everyone (except Sal) would have waited to see the complete video until they were in the room with the client. Just not done - not matter how close to deadline you are. They would have prescreened it, realized it was a mistake, and would have rushed like crazy to come up with an alternative concept (usually complete with new story boards). Then, voila, presented the alternative once the client realized what they asked for didn't work. I have seen this happen in real life several times.

And it would have given us another classic opportunity to see Don the master at work. I am really disappointed that they gave this such short shrift and I find myself missing the "work" part of the show. Much as I love everything else!

PanAm53 said...

Kosher salt sprinkled chocolate ice cream update:

Quite good! Who would've known? That said, I think that the aforementioned kosher salt sprinked chocolate squares of last evening were just as good, if not a tad bit better.

berkowit28 said...

There was no sense that anyone at SC thought that the movie ad of Sal's was any sort of disaster. You're surely right that they had seen it earlier. We know that Peggy never thought much of the idea, but she'd had her say already. Others might or might not have had personal opinions about it, but it was their first house movie and they evidently deferred to Sal, the only one knowledgeable in the medium. They might not have been convinced by it, but he had done exactly what the client asked for, so it looks like everyone was content to let it go forward to the client, and no one called it out even if perhaps they didn't think much of it. Lack of acumen, sure The more fool they, from our point of view. But they just let it be, and let it go forward to the client. The whole point was that no one anticipated the clients' reactions, and just suppressed their own views if they (and who knows?) were negative. They couldn't have found it abhorrent, in any case.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure prenups were not the norm in 1962.

bakija said...

>>I was surprised to learn that Peggy's family is Norwegian. It doesn't make any sense for them to be Catholic. This is a major mistake by Weiner.>>

I tried to see if someone already responded to this, but might have missed it. I'm pretty certain that it has been previously established that Peggy's mom is Polish (and father Norwegan), and consequently, being Catholic makes perfect sense.

Larry Tate said...

I caught the vibe that Paxti is Ho-Ho's real obsession too.

After Don tells him "he could do better" Ho-Ho's sustained stare seemed to be convey that he's trying to figure out if Don is hitting on him.

And, as Dan commented above, the "balls in the face" comment was a bit juvenile, anybody who watched the Big Gay Vito plot unfold on the Sopranos probably got a bit of deja vu.

Hatfield said...

Peter D. Bakija, if that's true thanks for the info, but if you go back and read the comments a little closer, you'll see that her Norwegian origins--and how that would clash with her family being Catholic--has been the hot button issue of this week's comments. Well, that and salty ice cream

LA said...

>>Anonymous said...
Pretty sure prenups were not the norm in 1962

Actually, my grandfather and his second wife drew one up in the late 1950s. They were both middle-aged widows when they married, and they wanted to assure that their individual assets would go to their respective families.

So prenups weren't unheard of during that era.

B said...

Thinking of Sally as a 1970's hippie, I can't help but wish that in the future there could be a series of "look ins" on the cast. What would they be like by 1975? 1985? 1995?

What would Peggy be doing in 1980?

KarenX said...

If Gene was already going senile, and Gloria was even a quarter the manipulative monster Betty seems to think she is, then I don't see the subject of prenups coming up. I don't think there is one.

Thinking of Gene and his descendants makes me muse about what Betty will do with his comment that Don is a joker and that Betty could have done better. THAT sentiment will come back to haunt us way before Gloria and the will does.

Anonymous said...

It's been something to read all 234 comments, and I would like to add my two cents.

Regarding the postings saying Don did not know how to comfort Sally - I think it was evident from the look on his face that he understood her despair, but I also think that he felt he needed to be by Betty's side to console her because he thinks that is what a good husband would do (which is why the we see Betty asleep on top of the bed covers - obviously he comforted her to sleep). I think he really wanted to comfort Sally too, as evidenced by the fact that he got up and went to her room, but he is so clueless he doesn't realize he can do both.

And doesn't Joan just light up the screen when she is on???

bakija said...

Hatfield wrote:
>>Peter D. Bakija, if that's true thanks for the info, but if you go back and read the comments a little closer, you'll see that her Norwegian origins--and how that would clash with her family being Catholic--has been the hot button issue of this week's comments. Well, that and salty ice cream>>

Oh, sure (I read the first 100+ posts, and then skimmed the next 100 to see if anyone addressed this before I posted it). Which is why I was clearing it up. Apparently, if she was 100% Norwegian, it is highly unlikely she would be Catholic. But as I'm pretty sure it was established (in S1? S2? At some point) that she was Polish before it was established that she was Norwegian, you end up with Peggy having a Norwegian father (Mr. Olsen) and a Polish mother. And if her Catholic Polish mother said "We are Catholic, not Lutheran" to her husband, then you end up with a Catholic Peggy with a Norwegian last name.

I mean, it is possible I am misremembering that they established Peggy as Polish, in which case, I got nothing. But still, I'm pretty sure that (probably in season 1 when we first meet her family) they make a point of her being Polish (and now also Norwegian).

Maura said...

Peter D. Bakija said: And if her Catholic Polish mother said "We are Catholic, not Lutheran" to her husband, then you end up with a Catholic Peggy with a Norwegian last name.

I went to what seemed to be the most logical conclusion: mixed marriage. Raising the kids Catholic was pretty much a requirement back then (and might still be today. I'm a recovering Catholic, so I have no idea what those wacky papists are up to these days), if there was a mixed marriage and you wanted a Catholic wedding and a marriage that was blessed by the Church.

But I didn't think anything of it besides that,and I was surprised it became such a huge topic of discussion.

KarenX said...

I am moving into the sphere of just blabbing about stuff I don't really know about, but...

If Margaret "Peggy" Olson were Norwegian, wouldn't her last name be spelled "Olsen"? Isn't she just lying to her new Swedish roommate because she's lied about every other aspect of her personality, too? She has decided to be the person Karen the Swedish Travel Agent saw in the ad. When Peggy throws out at the last minute to her mother that the girl is Norwegian--another lie--I think it's just something to say, sort of in defense of herself. It makes it seem more like a girl with a history that Peggy knows instead of Peggy ducking the question about moving to Manhattan for a man.

Why Peggy would lie about Karen the Swedish Travel Agent being Norwegian? Who knows. Peggy does and says some odd things sometimes. Plus she is trying to identify herself as "that girl," which Karen the Roommate clearly is, and she's maybe just trying out identities. She doesn't always tell the truth to people.

Anonymous said...

I believe Peggy tells her mother that the roomie is Norwegian as a little call-back to the roomie saying she would be lying to her own mother about Peggy being Swedish. The fact that the comment fell completely flat with Peggy's mom seems to confirm that she herself is not Norwegian so she doesn't care. In other words, it was a mixed marriage. I had always assumed the mom was Irish.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading all the comments, so now I’d like to add a few words, even though I might not bring a lot of new elements…

On the sweet and salty taste debate: I’ve never tried chocolate ice cream with salt but I think that salt and sweet must be a nice association, quite common. In France for example, we have salted butter and a lot of people use it in pastries or eat it spread on bread with jam.

On the Norwegian – Catholic debate: I am with the ones not understanding how a Norwegian can be Catholic, I was quite surprised. I don’t recall Peggy mentioning Polish heritage and I have difficulties believing that a woman as devote as Peggy’s mother would have done a mixed wedding, doesn’t seem really Catholic to me, unless her father converted.

On the pre-nup debate: when was it ever mentioned that Gene and Gloria got married???

About the BBB add: I don’t think that it didn’t work because it was made by a gay man, I’m sure we can find a lot of examples of artwork done by gay men successfully aiming at straight masculine audiences. I can see two problems here, the add itself and the girl.
The add was a bad idea, you shouldn’t copy so much your reference, it looked like a parody. And of course the girl isn’t Ann Margaret but I also think that she looked too old (Peggy said that the whole thing was that Ann Margaret was acting as a woman and a girl) and too modern (especially her breast, too big for someone who’s trying to act as a girl and which didn’t look like shells, which weirdly seem to be the fashion at the time).

About the jai alai: I don’t know who had this idea but I think it’s a really brilliant one, I was very surprised to see this sport on a US TV show. I agree that HoHo must be attracted to Paxti’s beauty but his comment regarding his face is not that stupid, it’s a really dangerous sport, the ball goes really fast, you can lose an eye or something.

I wonder, do they have a French writer this season?
First the accordion and now jai alai (part of Basque Country is in France and the typical French “bĂ©ret” is Basque). By the way, I can’t get enough of Harry wearing his little red Basque ribbon. But what’s gonna be next? A raw milk cheese tasting? A tribute episode to Edith Piaf and Jean Cocteau, who died on October 11th 1963?
Anyway, if they need one expert on French culture, I’m in!!!
I hope the show will continue to surprise us this way and, contrary to some people here, I didn’t thought that this episode references were too obvious, which is not always the case.


dylanfan said...

I'm down with KarenX on the Swedish/Norwegian/Irish/Polish/Catholic/Lutheran thread -- Peggy definitely "doesn't always tell the truth to people."

Susan said...

Grandpa Gene has left Sally a powerful legacy. Living in their home for such a short time, he showed the little girl genuine love and actually talked with her and listened to her. She will never forget the man who told her she can do anything.

Her outburst was raw emotion and truth. She is pretty good at being seen and not heard, but occasionally she spouts off. Last season when Betty put her in the closet, she yelled something like, "Daddy left because you're stupid and mean." Even that was not too far from the truth.

rcocean said...


I love your blog, and you can delete this post if you want:

But can we please stop beating the Norwegian-Peggy-Catholic to death! Peggy's father or grandparents might be Norwegian. But hey its so fascinating, so lets discuss for another 50 posts. Or maybe we can talk about salt on ice cream.

Rant over. sorry.

cgeye said...

So, after that modest rant, what do you want to talk about?

I mean, after a week of comments, there must have been something new that no one else talked about that was on the tip of your tongue -- either that, or the rant was less work and more entertaining.

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