Sunday, November 01, 2009

Mad Men, "The Grown-Ups": Watching too much television

Spoilers for the penultimate episode of "Mad Men" season three coming up just as soon as I take you to see "Singin' in the Rain"...
"The Kennedy assassination is very well-trod territory, and I just don't see myself adding (anything) new to that." -Matthew Weiner, at the end of season two
Weiner, like any artist, is allowed to change his mind, and so season three wound up not only including the Kennedy assassination, but confronting it head-on. But after seeing the finished product - the first episode of season three I've found truly disappointing - I can understand why he was initially reluctant to do it.

On the one hand, this is a series about the social change that came in the '60s, and so you can't not deal with Kennedy's death in some way. It would feel like either a cheat, or simply a glaring hole in the narrative. But on the other, Weiner was right that the assassination itself, and how people learned of and reacted to it, has been told so many times that there simply wasn't a lot that he (in a script co-written with Brett Johnson) could add to it.

With season one's episode about the Nixon vs. Kennedy election, or season two's Cuban Missile Crisis finale, the show took the approach of showing that even in the midst of a presidential election, or the potential end of the world, people were still caught up in the drama of their own lives. But even more than the Cuban Missile Crisis (which was an abstraction - the threat of something happening, rather than something actually happening), Kennedy's assassination was such an enormous event that it took over everyone's life for a little while. And many people spent those tumultuous days doing exactly what Pete and Trudy, and Betty, and the gang in the kitchen at the wedding - and characters in so many other JFK-era dramatizations - did, which was to sit in front of the television and try to process all of the bizarre, horrible things that were happening.

In the end, I don't know that Weiner had a choice, either about doing an episode about the assassination, or about showing the characters largely being passive, frustrated observers to it all.

But if it was necessary, it wasn't very satisfying to watch - watching a TV show about characters glued to their TV sets feels particularly slothful - and it felt even more unsatisfying coming on the heels of the astonishing second half of last week's "The Gypsy and the Hobo." "Mad Men" tends to go back and forth between telling larger stories of the '60s and smaller stories of the characters - and, at its best, stories that combine the two - and the shift from the important (to us) but (to the world at large) small moment where Betty learns the truth about Dick Whitman to the more sweeping yet (to our characters) remote story of JFK being killed was jarring. Since I realized when this season was set, and certainly since I saw the date of Margaret's wedding on the invitation(*), I've been waiting to see how "Mad Men" would deal with the assassination. But now that we're here, I find myself wishing they had pushed it off for a bit so we could have seen more of how Betty was dealing with this new information, and what the state of the Draper marriage was before Betty decided to end it.

(*) I'm not usually a good prognosticator, but I was pleased to see that I was right in assuming that Roger would stubbornly go through with the wedding, that it would be sparsely-attended, and that most of the guests would be miserable. Margaret's wailing, "It's all ruined!" reaction to the assassination was a nice reminder that not everyone was so devastated by the death itself.

Now, the fact that Betty's willing to walk away from Don (and into the arms of Henry Francis) should more or less tell you what the state of the marriage was. But we closed "The Gypsy and the Hobo" on a somewhat hopeful note: Betty hadn't asked Don to leave, wanted to go trick-or-treating with him and the kids, offered him the last bite of her sandwich, etc., while Don seemed relieved to have the burden of the secret lifted. Then the Drapers are largely invisible in this one at first (Don and Betty don't appear at all, alone or together for the first 10 minutes), and then they're dealing with reactions to Kennedy's death, and then Betty's eyeing Henry at the wedding. It's clear from their reactions to the kiss on the dance floor - Don looks hungrier for his wife than ever before, where Betty is lost in thought and a bit puzzled - that they're moving in different directions, but I think an opportunity was missed to show Betty going from Point A (interested in saving the marriage) to Point B (recognizing it as a lost cause).

Weiner apparently said in one of those "Inside Mad Men" features on AMC's website that Betty originally planned to move herself and the kids permanently to Philadelphia, and only went back to Don after the lawyer's advice was so depressing. In that light, Betty's emotional journey makes more sense - the Dick Whitman revelation was only a temporary blip in her desire to get the hell away from this man who's always been like a stranger to her - but in terms of what's been shown on the screen, rather than explained in an on-line footnote, I wanted more middle. I wanted to see how, if at all, Don and Betty's interaction changed after this news, to see how Betty viewed her husband now, how Don acted at home, etc., and aside from their brief moment in Gene's room in the middle of the night, there was no time for that with all the JFK drama unfolding.

And I wanted all of that because it feels like the relationship has now passed a point of no return, so we're never going to get a chance to see this in the future. Betty has now declared her desire to end the marriage twice, and while she took him back once, it would be tedious if the show kept breaking them up and putting them together again - especially since Betty only really took him back the last time because she was afraid to have the baby alone.

And that in turn raises a troubling question about what happens to Betty going forward. Betty has only ever figured into the story as she relates to Don, and we've seen this season with Joan and, especially, Sal, how easily characters who don't work at Sterling Cooper and/or don't have relationships with characters who work there can fall off the map. If Betty follows through on her plan to end the marriage, where does that leave her in the larger story? Will we have random, disconnected subplots about what Betty, Henry and the kids are up to? Or will the reality of Henry turn out to be so different from the fantasy of him that Betty will run screaming back to Don, and have Don (yawn) take her back?

I'm a little under the weather, so in the interests of both coherence and my health, I'm going straight to the bullet points to discuss everything else:

• Because Pete and Betty have so much in common as people (which I talked about at length in my review of season two's "The Inheritance"), their stories often tend to move in parallel. So in the same episode where Betty decides she's finally fed up with being Mrs. Don Draper, Pete has had enough of being at Sterling Cooper. I liked how Lane spelled out the difference between Ken and Pete's approaches, and how Pete - who always tries too hard at everything because he doesn't know how to be a real boy - doesn't understand why his approach is less appealing than Ken's. How do you suppose he'll react, though, to the idea of working with Duck should he find out that Duck is with Peggy?

• Whenever someone asks me if any character on this show is actually happy or well-adjusted, I always point to Kenny and his haircut (as Pete describes Mr. Cosgrove), but I guess the downside to that is that the writers don't have the time or interest in crafting stories about someone who isn't disappointed in his life or at any kind of personal or career cross-roads. Ken stories in the first two seasons were usually about how other characters reacted to him (Pete being jealous about the short story, Sal having a crush on him), and this year, we haven't even seen that much of our new Senior Vice President of Account Services.

• Carla Gallo makes her first appearance since the season's fourth episode as Peggy's roommate Karen, and it's clear from their conversation that the two are every bit the mismatched disaster they seemed back when Peggy was trying to sell herself as "fun" in their initial meeting. I liked Karen's confusion at learning that Duck was unmarried - "Oh. Then why are you with him?" - since to her (and, based on reactions to the first Peggy/Duck episode, to much of the audience) the relationship makes no sense if it's not a simple affair.

• And if I was Peggy, I would want to get as far away from Herman (Duck) Phillips as I possibly could. He's turned her into his new addiction - cajoling her to blow off Kurt and Smitty (his "a couple of homos" joke was half-right) for a nooner, inhaling cigarettes while waiting for her, and unplugging the TV so that news of Kennedy's shooting wouldn't get in the way of their sex. Fortunately, you could see alarm on Peggy's face when he put the TV back on - not only about the news itself, but about the realization that he tried to keep it from her until after he did his business.

• This week's episode was directed by Barbet Schroeder, probably best known for directing Jeremy Irons to an Oscar in "Reversal of Fortune" or, to lesser acclaim, sending Jennifer Jason Leigh after Bridget Fonda in "Single White Female" (another story of female roommates who probably shouldn't have been). I particularly liked the way he shot the moment where Betty emerges from the lady's room and sees both her husband her potential lover standing in front of her, as if both she and we aren't sure to whom she'll approach.

• I'll give Roger Sterling this: he may be selfish, and childish, and a boor, but the man gives a good speech. His introduction for Don at the 40th anniversary dinner was terrific, and his toast at the otherwise disastrous wedding reception was even better, finding a way to make the decision to go through with the ceremony seem noble, rather than stubborn.

• There was a lot of discussion after last week's episode about whether Roger, when dismissing Annabelle as The One, was thinking of Jane, or of Joan. I'm not sure it's either one - I think Roger's probably too cynical to believe in a greeting card concept like The One - and I still think he never would have been happy marrying Joan (she's too strong-willed and has too much baggage for him), but it was clear last week, and even more clear here, that she matters very much to him. She's the one he wants to talk to at the end of that awful day, not his drunken child bride (who, in one of the funnier lines of the episode, complains that she won't ever get to vote for Kennedy), nor his ex-wife (though it's clear from their phone call tag team on Margaret that they still can operate on the same wavelength from time to time), nor his drama queen daughter. And Joan still cares about him, too, just not enough to always indulge his neediness.

• While Walter Cronkite's reaction as he reports the official word of JFK's death is the most famous TV image from that day (and one of the most famous of all time), I thought it was a nice touch that the secretaries changed the channel in Harry's office from CBS to NBC, since Huntley/Brinkley were the more popular news team of the period.

• In his toast, Roger suggests that relative kids Margaret and Brooks are taking care of the adults, rather than the other way around, and while that's not really true (for Margaret, anyway), it was nice to see Sally immediately move to hug her mother upon news of the president's death. To a girl Sally's age, the death of a president isn't entirely real or relevant, but the pain of her mother was, and she reacted to that. Also, note how she (and, for that matter, Bobby) was painfully aware that her mother didn't in any way reaction to Don's presence in the kitchen on Monday morning?

• Don and Peggy, two peas in a pod: both wind up at the office because it's the only real home they have. And gold star to those of you who pointed out that the AquaNet commercial was supposed to evoke the Dallas motorcade, which the storyboard made very clear. Peggy's going to have a lot of rewriting to do over the next week.

Finally, I should warn you that this is the last episode of the season that I'm getting to see in advance. While AMC has sent out previous episodes for advance review to many critics, Weiner decided he wanted to keep the finale totally under wraps. So I'll be watching it live on Sunday night like the rest of you - and that, obviously, means that the review will not be posted right after the show ends on the East Coast the way it has all season. My plan is to do what I do for "Lost" finales, or for the later episodes of "The Sopranos" after David Chase also cut off the critics, and just stay up to write, but it may be a while. So don't lose any sleep waiting for it - and please don't send e-mails or post comments in other threads asking when the review will be done (or, worse, discussing the finale itself).

Keeping in mind the usual commenting rules (no spoilers, including talking about the previews, play nice with others, make an effort to read other people's comments so you're not asking the exact same question that's been answered six times already, etc.), what did everybody else think?


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Susan said...

Devin McCullen, Betty gave Henry the same smile when he showed up at the community meeting. It also seemed very genuine. When he was at her car later that night, he said she looked so happy and if he had anything to do with that, it would make him happy. It is as obvious to Henry that Betty is miserable as it was to the younger man at the stables (can't recall his name) who told her she was profoundly sad. I think Henry feels challenged to make her happy.

PanAm53 said...

No one mentioned Betty's emotional reaction to the Kennedy assassination vs. her complete lack of any emotion during Don's very emotional revelations about his past. Last week, I thought her lack of emotion to Don's pain was due to her WASP "keep a stiff upper lip" upbringing. I now know better.

I do not believe that Betty will marry her Prince Charming, Francis and live happily ever after. As others have said, I believe it was Francis' intention to convey that he wanted to marry Betty rather than just have a tawdry affair with her. Obviously, it would be a long time before Betty is free to marry. She needs to divorce Don first. I also do not trust Francis. I did not like the look on his face after Betty drove off after their meeting.

I also do not believe that Don will end up with Suzanne...she will either meet her demise or disappear.

I believe that Betty and Don will reconcile, and go on with their marriage.

RM said...

If Pete were to leave SC, why would clients leave with him? This question reflects my ignorance of the business world, I know. But my reasoning is that if you're a client that Pete has brought to SC, and the SC creatives are doing work you like, then why would you go with Pete when he left? He's not the one doing the work that you like. Someone like Duck on the other hand I can imagine having personal relationships with movers and shakers important enough for SC to not want to lose his rolodex. But Pete is just a cog in an Accounts machine. Where am I wrong?

Susan said...

PanAm, yeah I tend to think Betty and Don will stay married, too. I think her overreaction to the assassination was because she had pushed down all her emotions about Don and this was a safe way to vent.

RM, I don't think Pete's clients would follow him. Maybe Trudy thinks that or was just saying that to pump him up? Pete needs someone to really encourage him and prop him up and Trudy understands that.

nomenclature said...

Alan Sepinwall said...

" I think an opportunity was missed to show Betty going from Point A (interested in saving the marriage) to Point B (recognizing it as a lost cause)."

"but in terms of what's been shown on the screen, rather than explained in an on-line footnote, I wanted more middle."

"And I wanted all of that because it feels like the relationship has now passed a point of no return, so we're never going to get a chance to see this in the future."

I'm really glad you brought these things up. I have been feeling this way about nearly ALL the OTHER characters/storylines this season since the show has become The Don & Betty Show. All those missed opportunities to flesh out the Pete, Sal, Joan, English couple (what was their response to Kennedy?), Ken, his haircut etc etc.
(Ken is starting to feel like that person you pass at work everyday for two years and realize you don't know their name but the window to ask has closed where suddenly showing and interest in them is just beyond awkward. )

"but in terms of what's been shown on the screen, rather than explained in an on-line footnote, I wanted more middle."

are we really supposed to be extracting soooo much about these people and everything that has gone on between episodes from a few haiku-like lines and meaningful glances? It's becoming not as satisfying.

I'm starting to believe that the dislike / disbelief of the Suzanne Farrell sub plot was more that we saw her as an interloper(/screen-time hog). When I'd rather be seeing Sterling Coop folk.

"If Betty follows through on her plan to end the marriage, where does that leave her in the larger story? Will we have random, disconnected subplots about what Betty, Henry and the kids are up to? Or will the reality of Henry turn out to be so different from the fantasy of him that Betty will run screaming back to Don, and have Don (yawn) take her back? "

I really fear this also. I can see it now ...Henry/Betty kissing bye in morning --Sally rebels- talk about yawn. Stick to the one liners kid.

Okay, totally random thoughts (I are hungry). Hopefully you'll get the gist.

Anonymous said...

Did Betty ever really love Don? I always felt she married him for what he offered her, even it wasn't up to her father's level of acceptance on breeding. She was able to live with him as a cheater because she was pregnant and again because she'd lose everything after the baby's birth(Lose social status?) Now, Henry offers both status and economic safety.

I too can see something ocurring to prevent Henry & Betty getting married. Betty may blow the relationship with her issues. Don may find out about it and threaten to use it against Henry. Henry may find resistance from his daughter. Or something else may intervene.

It will be interesting to see how a potential divorce would affect Don's relationship with Connie and Sterling-Cooper, too.

I'm also curious to see what the sale of Sterling-Cooper might cause. A possible internal buy-out or the sale to Duck's employers.

Hope I didn't break any of the rules here. It's only my second time commenting.

I love the blog Alan and I'm constantly amazed by the imput from the posters on it.

Nathan Birnberg said...

"Julia said...

The Camelot myth did not begin until at least a year after Kennedy died. It was the result of an interview with Jackie - she revealed that her husband had loved the show "Camelot".

That is not my recollection. I took advantage of schoolk being let out early on Nov. 22, 1963,to go buy a book (a Chemistry textbook!), and inscribed it with a verse from "Camelot" that same weekend.

Anonymous said...

Alan said: "Pete - who always tries too hard at everything because he doesn't know how to be a real boy"

Hmm, don't you mean real man? Otherwise, I don't understand the comment.

Fair critique but not my sense at all - I liked the episode and thought the interspersed Kennedy footage was very effective. It created a mood which moved the drama forward. But then my expectations are lower since to me the series as a whole seems a well crafted soap opera - not that there's anything wrong with that!

Get better, Alan. Perhaps you'll like the episode better when you're on the mend :).

chris said...

The main question that needs to be answered is who or what killed Alan's enthusiasm for this episode. I for one don't buy into the single virus theory. What you need to ask is who benefits from Alan not loving this episode? Is it FX? HBO? The CIA? All three working in concert? I think the virus was clearly just a patsy for the real culprits.

PanAm53 said...

Alan Sepinwall said:

"If Betty follows through on her plan to end the marriage, where does that leave her in the larger story? Will we have random, disconnected subplots about what Betty, Henry and the kids are up to? Or will the reality of Henry turn out to be so different from the fantasy of him that Betty will run screaming back to Don, and have Don (yawn) take her back? "

That is precisely why I believe that Don and Betty will stay together. Betty will not run away and come running back to Don. The divorce will never happen, and Betty would not leave to be with another man prior to a divorce.

Hatfield said...

Haha, chris! Conspiracy theories always make me happy.

I forgot to point out how much I liked Henry's line in the car: "I'm not in love with the tragedy of this." However Betty feels, he's crushing hard, and I think many of us can relate to wanting someone you likely can't have.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hmm, don't you mean real man? Otherwise, I don't understand the comment.

It's a Pinocchio thing. Pete is still trying to learn how to be a real boy.

Get better, Alan. Perhaps you'll like the episode better when you're on the mend :).

My take on the episode had nothing to do with my health, as I watched it earlier in the week before I was in any way sick.

Tyroc said...

To anonymous a 4:35pm, the "real boy" comment is a Pinocchio reference. And a reference to one of Alan's previous posts about Pete.

And RM, I think you're correct that if Pete left Sterling Cooper his clients would not join him. But Trudy doesn't grasp that at the moment and has probably been told by her husband over and over how important he is to the company.

I liked the episode, even if it was depressing as all hell. While I thought last season's handling of the Cuban missle crisis was better done -- maybe because that seemed the possible end of the world and not quite the same as the loss of a beloved leader -- I still thought it was handled superbly. And I'm very glad it wasn't the season finale, as I had thought all along it would be.

Still found the "what are you going to do? Kill yourself?" line by Roger to be very odd. Yes, she was acting like a child and Roger the grown up (so fit into the theme of the title of the episode) but his comment was really odd I thought.

Anonymous said...

Am I alone in thinking the lack of a single frame of new footage in the promo for the season finale could mean that the jump in time happens now instead of next season? Otherwise I see no reason for them not to do the usual and cut together a promo that shows off new stuff without giving it enough context to mean anything on its own.

Rob Biesenbach said...

One small nit. When Betty leaped up while watching the Oswald assassination and immediately recognized he'd been shot, even before the broadcasters had said as much. I was thinking that would be a difficult thing to immediately grasp on the first viewing. Partly because it's so bizarre and unexpected and partly because it happened so fast and in a blur. But I understand for the show's dramatic purposes that it makes more sense that she gets it immediately. I did like that the scene conveyed that sense that the whole world had gone mad and was on the verge of collapse.

Regarding the "everything's going to be all right" assurances. I can't count the number of times I've said that during my lifetime to a girlfriend going through some kind of crisis or another. I never thought it was patronizing or paternalistic. That's what a partner is there for, right? To provide reassurance and support. And, ultimately, things almost always DO turn out all right.

I like the evolution in the relationship between Pete and his wife. Maybe it's not healthy. It seems very much a "you and me against the world" thing. But at least they were close and on equal terms finally.

Finally, it seems a lot of people are saying that Betty's leaving Don over the whole Dick Whitman revelation/lie. I got the sense that if anything, that only prolonged their relationship for a few weeks. It just temporarily stalled the basic trajectory of them coming apart over other issues -- Don's long record of philandering and lies and Betty's ... I don't know what. General ennui?

Unknown said...

In retrospect, Joan bashing Greg in the back of his head in the previous episode may have been foreshadowing. Young, handsome man hit in the back of the head. Joan represents Jackie. Perhaps Greg represented JFK?

Anonymous said...

I wasn't disappointed. I was born after the JFK assassination and this episode touched me and made that moment in history feel more real to me than it ever had been before.

I have to agree with this comment. This is the first fictional show I've seen that personally moved me regarding the3 Kennedy assassination. Sure, it took away from the story telling of the season, but I think it was an excellent portrayal of those fateful events.

Regarding the characters and their back stories (JFK was of course the main theme of this episode) I am growing to dislike Betty's character more and more. Over the course of the series we've been just waiting for Betty to end it once and for all with Don, i.e. divorce. I think the show would be more interesting if Weiner threw a curve ball and had Betty do a role reversal with Don, where Betty would be the one engaged in adultery. Just please not with Henry. That's one character I'd like to see written out of the show.

zzzdog said...

I was about Sally's age when Kennedy was killed and I still remember those strange days very, very clearly. For me, I thought the episode reverberated with the charged but disconnected and surreal kaleidoscope effect of the time. I remember all the children in my small private school being called into an assembly and the principal informing us in hushed, tragic tones that "our President has been assassinated" ... many of us didn't even know what the word assassinated meant and the way the adults around us seemed to have had the wind knocked out of them was frightening at a very deep level. I remember my parents being glued to the TV and my mother crying and I honestly couldn't understand how everyone was so upset and "absent" from life as we knew it because of the death of someone none of them knew. It was confusing and frightening and I know as a child that, "What is going on?" and "Is everything going to be okay?" feeling was pervasive throughout all those days.

I remember being at my grandmother's after Sunday dinner and seeing Lee Harvey Oswald shot down live on screen. I remember the gasps and confusion and my father telling my mother to take us out of the room. It was very shocking stuff and the 'grown ups' around me were all thrown off balance and the air was heavy with worry, confusion, and pain.

I thought this episode did a wonderful job of capturing that and I didn't find it boring to watch because for me, it touched a long buried chord of the pained confusion and injury that had everyone feeling off balance and unsure of themselves.

I had no trouble making the leap from the Betty of last week to the Betty of last night. She had finally seen the chill artifice of Don stripped away and she had empathy for it and that gave her pause along with the desire not to blow her materially safe world apart by ending the marriage. But this week after her understanding of the status quo and her sense of safety took such a pervasive hit, all that changed. Suddenly it felt clear her world wasn't really safe after all, so there really wasn't so much to lose. With the addition of Henry offering a different haven, the scales tipped.

Maybe because I remember it all so clearly, using the wedding as a frame for vignettes of the different character reactions had a real richness for me. Mad Men does such a spectacular job with the details and the atmosphere and all those posh party clothes and carefully coiffed and crafted facades, all still in place but lacking their previous luster, were the perfect foil for the disarray of self important status quo that had been the social underpinning of the Sterling Cooper retinue.

It was a quiet episode of smaller strokes, but I found it very powerful and absorbing.

Magenta said...

Anonymous at 11:58 said the JFK assassination “was the end of the innocence, the stark line of demarcation that started The Sixties" ... that kind of oversimplification. I guess for me it's in the same neighborhood as the more preachy, self-congratulatory, self-aware moments that seem to be the most criticized aspect of the show.

Julia said: JFK was much bigger after his death than he ever was while alive.

Hoping this doesn’t break the “no politics” rule, but I heartily agree with both of you. The country’s attitude toward JFK’s death did not stem from any universal appeal he had, but from the shock of that violence on the leader of the free world. I was not quite 3, so I don’t remember it at all, but my mother told me the assassination made her want to become an American citizen.

I imagined the show dealing with the assassination completely differently. I thought it would be the final, climactic moment of the season, demonstrating that the assassination slammed the door on an era and left the world with a huge question mark as to what will happen next. Sort of like the series finale of The Sopranos -- a black void, but making it a cliffhanger leading to Season 4. But now I understand why, although it felt somewhat unsatisfying, they had to deal with it the way they did. At its heart, Mad Men is not about history, but about the drama of people’s lives. So the assassination is an event in their lives, albeit a seminal one. And next week’s season finale will give a glimpse into how each of them will adjust to the new world that event brought about, raising the anticipation for how that will be fleshed out in Season 4.

I agree Beatlemania is excellent fodder for Sterling Cooper story lines, especially if they want to attract some hipper clientele.

I too wonder about Sal. He’s the only one we didn’t see in this episode at all. I would have loved to see his reaction. Bring back Sal!!

I’ll join the chorus of voices that wonder what Henry Francis was thinking when he asked Betty to marry him. Perhaps it’s just as simple as the age-old trick of promising anything to get her into bed, since nothing he’s done has worked so far.

@ Scott J: I also fear the same thing about Don, that he will think the reason Betty doesn’t love him is the fact that he’s Dick Whitman, not because he’s lied to her about so much for so long.

@Graeme, regarding Pete seeing “the affable Ken” after walking out of his meeting about Ken’s promotion: reminds me of what Don predicted to Pete last season. No matter how skilled he may become, he’ll never be truly successful “because no one will like you.” In all businesses, but especially in this one, success depends on more on likeability than anthing else.

@ Anonymous 12:26 am: No, you are not the only one who finds Roger’s ex-wife beautiful. My husband and I were fascinated by her. She’s totally together and confident -- that’s one of the things that makes her so attractive. And how cool that she’s John Slattery’s (Roger) real-life wife!

OldManDeac said...

The episode show Don as powerless and subordinate in ALL situations - Lane reject the replacement for Sal. Don could demand or pursuade, all he could do is run to Cooper to intercede. Plus, with being up with the baby, not being able to convince Betty that everything would be okay without her questioning him, him staying up with the kids, and his sulking in the bedroom after being told he was no longer loved - he was subordinate to Betty in each of those scenes.

jenae said...

This isn't my thought but is a good one:

The person we co-own our house with, who was in college when JFK got shot, said that you can see an immediate change in the women on the show after the two shootings. They have now seen how harsh the real world is and they start being more assertive, they have fewer illusions. He saw this with Betty and especially Trudy, who is suddenly speaking against the establishment and authority that is Sterling Cooper.

(With Pete in a black turtleneck and with her scowl of criticism for society, they looked like a couple of sudden beatniks watching TV on the couch together.)

jenae said...

imamarilyn wrote:

It is as obvious to Henry that Betty is miserable as it was to the younger man at the stables (can't recall his name) who told her she was profoundly sad. I think Henry feels challenged to make her happy.

Good idea about Henry feeling "challenged". (They say men like a challenge...)

Maybe that young man did have an insight into Betty, but would you agree that it was impertinent as hell of him to say so? (Another man using his insight for no greater purpose than to lure a woman into a sexual encounter that isn't really in her interest.)

I wrote a longer sum up of impressions, but after reading Alan more carefully, i think he saw some things i missed re; Roger and Duck. In any case it's elsewhere and i too am feeling under the weather, so will post my reaction to the big developments, for what it's worth, some time later.

Anonymous said...

I need to be reminded why you think Peggy knows Don better than anyone else on the planet. I know they've shared a couple of deep secrets (the car accident, the baby), but how does that translate to her "knowing" him better than anyone?

jenae said...


I thought Betty reacted so emotionally to the shooting, partially because events with Don were opening her up emotionally. But since her rejection of him, maybe not. Is Betty cold for having only mild empathy for Don, or has he just pushed her too far for her to care about his suffering?

Alan is right, we didn't get enough information about how the Drapers were feeling toward each other before the shooting changed things.

jenae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dc said...

I'm in agreement with those who are surprised about Alan's disappointment with the show. Not the best episode of the season -- for me, it's a tossup between last week and the black humor of "Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency" -- but still very well done, with lots of gravitas and what seems to me an astute reading of the initial impact the assassination must have had. Perhaps last week's episode was just a hard act to follow.

It seemed to me that the editing and pace of the first half was very fast, as if Weiner et al. were trying to set up as many distinctive instances of "where were you when..." as possible. But -- and here is where I thought the episode was brilliant -- the actual announcement of the crisis crept in, unnoticed, from the margins, kind of like... Lois getting on the John Deere.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world for the director to do a slow zoom on the CBS bulletin, Pete and Harry's yammering fading into the background as we're cued about what's in store. But the direction here is very subtle, and captures the situation pretty much as it would have been: office mates chattering on obliviously, until someone finally took notice of what was being said, the sound and visuals of the bulletin remaining pretty much at the margins of the scene.

That subtlety was terrific, and it reminded me of the lawnmower sequence from "Guy Walks Into...", where we just get the odd glimpse, here and there, of the lawmower starting up, Smitty coaxing the inebriated Lois onto the tractor, a close-up of Lois losing control... all the while, Peggy and Joan in the foreground, earnestly discussing Joan's retirement. The secret is how big events sneak up on the unwary onlooker, whether it's Harry and Pete, preoccupied with office politics, or Joan and Peggy, preoccupied with Joan's sad departure from SC.

It may seem callous to compare the black comedy of the "Guy" episode to the evident tragedy of "Grown-ups," but both episodes make plain that Sterling Cooper -- like all early -60s institutions -- was to become blindsided by events that it could not anticipate. Everything changes in a minute, whether that "everything" is a renegade lawnmower or a horrifying assassination.

MP said...

I too can see something ocurring to prevent Henry & Betty getting married.

Me too. And it'll probably occur in the next episode. I was wondering if Roger's comment about suicide in combination with teh references to pills at the Draper house was foreshadowing of something going horribly awry. Or maybe I'm overthinking things.

I also wonder whether Henry doesn't have some skeletons in his own closet to prevent a marriage. I'm not sure I fully trust that guy.

MP said...

@Imamarilyn: I wonder if that was the smile Don fell in love with, as he told Anna.

Anonymous said...

jenae here...

Stepping away from my computer, i notice a bad feeling thinking of Alan calling jane a child bride, when no one levels that insult at the equally young and immature margaret, or calls her groom a child-groom. Jane is being held to a higher standard 'cause she did this shocking thing of marrying an older man, though Margaret may be just as unready to choose a life-mate.

When I called Jane 'callow' last week, what i meant was that there is nothing about her that makes her ready for the complexity of being Roger's wife. (And she lacks Peggy's depth. The years from 20-26 or whatever Peggy is, involve a lot of growing up. But some 20 year olds--is she 21 now?--would already be more emotionally mature than Jane seems to be.)

She's in over her head. It may even being bring out the worst in her. (that i can relate to; i think i went thru that in the early days of my marriage: an extended family of powerful people was too daunting for me to deal with gracefully, plus trying to assert that you have your own personal power and valid judgment, despite being young. Roger thinks he can "forbid" Jane. She's right to rebel, but she does it all pretty gracelessly.

Mona is right "she's trying" but it's a train wreck and I'll just say, again, that wasn't a very unique storyline for the writers to cook up. From Antonionni's melodrama "Story of a Love Affair" (vicious young wife turns homocidal) thru countless other such (one in the New Yorker recently), that one scenrio gets told over and over, while in the real world outcomes are more varied and more interesting.

P.S. only had time to scim your comment Josh but I think i agree. Don alone in the bed room was terribly sad.

jenae said...

...*be bringing* out the worst in her.

Unknown said...

A rare misstep from Alan on this review. Maybe the illness is to blame. This was a strong episode.

Not one poster mentioning Barbet Schroeder? Having a legit film director did wonders for this episode. Though it's not quite the pinnacle of Mad Men that "Pine Barrens" was to The Sopranos, the influence of a director with film experience (Steve Buscemi in The Sopranos case), shows through bright and clear.

What this episode does is both reconfirm the things we know about these characters and forecast where they will be in the future/later '60s. Foreshadowing, people.

The key example is Pete & Trudy. The way Schroeder shoots them on the couch shows them literally morphing into that first generation of Kennedy-adoring upper crust liberals so full of petty self-righteousness that it seethes out of them with every breath. Campbell in the mock-turtleneck, priceless! My first reaction to Pete was to give him credit for showing some gumption for skipping the party, but as in Season 1 where he punched Ken for ragging on Peggy, his actions may be noble, but his intentions and motivations are every bit as selfish as usual (see his 'altruism' toward the German au pair).

Joan's return is thoroughly welcome here as well. Schroeder shoots her to look more Rosie the Riveter-like than ever as she displays an almost preternatural wisdom and calm, skewering the essence of Roger with the line about how he's lost because he's come across a moment he can't turn to his advantage through the cleverness of his usual sardonic wit. Her garb, hairstyle and even the way she's lighted all point to an older, mid-30s Joan whose development will be interesting to watch as we move later into the 1960s. I can see her amidst a protest rally or concert or something similar, but with her older woman's cynicism about the gleeful but naive flower children around her. Joan is all woman, not girl, and that's always been part of the point of her character. Keep in mind she's a full decade older than Peggy and that's a huge reason why she's where she is and Ms. Olson has an office.

Peggy and Don. Another great moment of non-fulfillment where they come at each other with cross purposes and almost NO information about where the other's head is at, and the audience is, once again, denied any real connection between them.

last mini-note: Margaret Sterling is obviously a spoiled brat, Pete's right about that, but there is some degree of sympathy for me for anyone who through the sheer instices of fate and bad fortune have an important life moment forever tarnished/ruined. A 21st (or any) birthday on 9/11, for example.


Susan said...

hi jenae, yes, impertinent would be a good way to describe it. I remembered his name: Arthur Case. He really seemed sweet on Betty, so I don't know if it was a way to have an encounter with her. It is a very accurate way to describe her.

MP, great memory! Yes, Don did tell Anna that.

Sean, I felt a connection between Don and Peggy when they were both at the office on the day of President Kennedy's funeral. I love Peggy's wry delivery. That line about her roommate having people over and her mother praying was classic Peggy Olson.

Memo2Self said...

I wish I wasn't momentarily distracted by "Herman" calling her "Pee Wee."

Tim Windsor said...

4:55 said:
Am I alone in thinking the lack of a single frame of new footage in the promo for the season finale could mean that the jump in time happens now instead of next season?

I hope this isn't seen as promo-discussion (as there wasn't one), and I agree.

The story arc of the linger 1950s is now done. It's time to jet forward at least a year to see how these events are affecting people.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a Christmas head-fake, only to reveal it's Christmas 1964 or 9165.

Hatfield said...

9165! I've alway wanted to see a Futurama/Mad Men crossover!

Anonymous said...

I think people are forgetting that Sally just lost her grandfather not too long ago. Remember when the police officer came to the door when Gene died? Betty's icy reaction in contrast to Sally's "Oh No!!!"...? How Sally (in that very adult-like script) reprimanded the grown-ups for laughing that evening?

Her comfort of her mother just demonstrated her ability to now empathize with loss. And I believe she would even feel sorry for her mom - despite Betty's painful flaws. She loves her mother. Only as she becomes an adult will she learn and grow to resent her.

I did a quick keyword search and didn't find this point being made. Hope I didn't miss it and I'm not being redundant.

Ruan said...

Regarding Betty and her response to Don; when he came home that first time, the day of the assassination, the FIRST thing he said to her was to "take a pill and go to bed". Don was just trying to do what he thought would keep her calm the most quickly but if I had been Betty I would have thought "DAMN!" -- not even a LITTLE consolation? And then to say everything would be okay when two days later it wasn't? I thought Jones' reaction to Oswald being shot was perfect. Even though I knew what was going to happen I still felt the way Betty things were unraveling and time was ending. I have no original thoughts to add to the 235 comments. I like a previous poster who mentioned that there's the back and forth of any relationship. I do not think Betty will leave Don for Henry but that she is looking to break free of her life and that is something we've seen since the beginning of the show.

I feel for actors like James Gandolfini and Jon Hamm...they create these incredibly iconic characters that are forever imprinted in our television culture. They emote and connect with an audience in the most intimate way. Jon Hamm's muscles and tendons deserve their own Emmy. I love this show.

Anonymous said...

I agree Beatlemania is excellent fodder for Sterling Cooper story lines, especially if they want to attract some hipper clientele.

Oh please. The Beatles weren't "hip" in the slightest at first. They were about as hip as a stuffed kitten. They were a feel good group in a completely non-threatening, soft, squishy way. A musical stuffed animal.

They got with Revolver, then Rubber Soul and Sgt Pepper and finally the White Album, their seriously hip masterpiece.

They were, however, unique and maybe the word you were looking for -- modern.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster who said
that Don taking the RX pills that
belonged to Betty was some kind of
foreshadowing,in fact, I thought that Don was going to off himself
or try to. to end the season and
maybe the series since we don't know if it's coming back.
Reagan was not the first divorced
POTUS, there was another one in the
I missed the gun on the wall in
Pete's office (loved the Chekov's
gun comment) but since a gun goes
off twice (Kennedy-Oswald)I guess it's not to worry about.
Betty's paramour doesn't love her,
he's a politician and a player and
makes his living knowing what people want to hear.But certainly
he was right, presidents can die
but life goes on.That's the beauty of our Constitution in the US.
Duck, like many stupid men, seems
to still believe that nonsense
about treating "a lady like a whore and whore like a lady", I hope
that Peggy's just using him.I'll
never forgive him for what he did
to Chauncy.
I worked retail and went to work
the day after the assasination,I wanted to be around people though I shed no tears, just felt bad for
Jackie and the kids.
People didn't seem overtly upset in a drugstore, however, I remember
being shocked at the Oswald
I don't get the big deal about people in front of the TV, as I remember it, a lot of photos showed people in front of the radio
during Pearl Harbor so it's a natural segue, IMO.
LOVE this site and Alan's comments
his attitude towards this episode
put me in mind of the time a teenager told me "I really don't
give a damn what you were doing the day Kennedy died!"
She was correct to chastise my generation, maybe it turned us all
into tragedy whores?

Anonymous said...


Andrew Jackson married her in 1791; and after two happy years they learned to their dismay that Robards had not obtained a divorce, only permission to file for one. Now he brought suit on grounds of adultery. After the divorce was granted, the Jacksons quietly remarried in 1794. They had made an honest mistake, as friends well understood, but whispers of adultery and bigamy followed Rachel as Jackson's career advanced in both politics and war. He was quick to take offense at, and ready to avenge, any slight to her.

jenskee said...

I am in the camp of those who really liked this episode, even though it wasn't as good as last week's. The thing that struck me about it was how Don was completely tone deaf to other people's reactions, which is the one thing he NEVER is--he has made his success on his ability to understand other people's feelings, even before they do. But this time, the loss of control has him panicking and he just can't stop trying to "fix" Betty long enough to listen to her. Maybe it is because he's been outed as Dick Whitman--but if Dick can't empathize, how on earth did he ever become Don?
I did feel lost at times with this one; maybe the disappointment of Don not getting it. I think, in spite of his reinvention, that he is clinging hard to the old-fashioned, and may well get left behind. We'll see!

cmyk said...

I was in eighth-grade English class when the principal announced, over the loudspeaker, the president had been shot. A boy I had a bit of a crush on reacted callously. I never cared about him after that.

… so I can understand Betty suddenly realizing she doesn't love Don. For three years we've watched him ignore her unhappiness. (I remember her smiling only twice). Maybe this event woke her up.

I liked the episode. Loved that we get to see who each character turns to in a crisis:

Roger: Joan (not his new wife)
Duck: his children (not his lover, Peggy)
Pete: his wife (is he falling in love with her?!)
Peggy: (not her mother, not her lover) her work
Don: (not his wife, not Peggy who offers) no one???

George said...

It's interesting about Pete. I've been wondering for a while who among the characters would be most likely to join the 60s drop-outs from America's culture of confidence and affluence. Didn;t think it might be Pete, but I can see it already. His getting passed over for the promotion seriously undermined the total personal investment of faith he had in "the establishment" and the Assassination crystallized that for him.

Betty I could see dropping out. Like Pete, Betty's deep feelings of ambiguity about the supposedly utopian society they live in were drawn out by the assassination, but she still hasn't got to the point of even being able to imagine an alternative future--that is, living independently as a woman who does not need a man.

Anyway, we'll see

dylanfan said...

My first reaction to the "Singing in the Rain" mention was Clockwork Orange. Can't help it ... love Gene Kelly but that was 1952, so sure Betty would have said that was her favorite movie but still, Malcolm McDowell owns that song now IMHO.

Wondering if (hopefully) there is some statistician out there in comment-land keeping track of the request for responses based on whether you lived it or not? Add me to the data base: I was 13 -- we were all called into the auditorium at school and the announcement was made. Like everybody has mentioned, I was glued to the tv news -- and actually still am almost non-stop even now. As soon as I saw the tack that the episode was taking, I knew the Jack Ruby footage was coming ...

Constantly amazed by this show and this blog. Thank you, Alan and all here for making the best show on tv even better.

PanAm53 said...

Betty's extreme emotional reaction to the Kennedy assassination was not appropriate to her character. It was probably meant to contrast with her lack of emotion during Don's revelation of his past life as Dick.

In my own experience at the time of the assassination, everyone I knew was stunned and shocked and glued to their TVs, but no one cried or exhibited overt emotions. I really do not think that Betty would have had such an emotional reaction to the assassination of a president who she did not support.

Anonymous said...

i did some checking; turns out nelson rockefeller basically lost to Goldwater in '64 because he simultaneously divorced his wife, took custody of his children and married a woman 20 years his junior - all to the chagrin and outrage of the general populace. In real time that happened in '61. I wonder if in Madmen world if the guvnah won't force force Henry to eat his promise of marrying Betty or choose between his post and Betty (thereby breakinh the spell). It is no secret that Betty's idealized notion of Henry and her dead father's unrequited aspirations for Betty (Gene said in a moment of lucidity in Philly: "If you only knew what was possible!") have left her pining not just for Don (this time) but all of the "other" (possibly unattainable) potentials lives she could have had. Of course, this is pretty much the doomed irony of everyone living in early 60s mainstream culture, which is one of the show's main tenets!!

Anyway, my theory is Henry is Red Herring in the end.

PanAm53 said...

I said it once and I'll say it again: Betty and Henry Francis are not going to happen.

PanAm53 said...

Alan Sepinwall said...

" I think an opportunity was missed to show Betty going from Point A (interested in saving the marriage) to Point B (recognizing it as a lost cause)."

Did we ever really know that Betty was really interested in saving the marriage? She might have just been biding her time until she could make her move.

underthesun said...

I just don't believe that Don and Betty will split up. If good TV is to mimic life then it seems that truth telling usually leads to reconciliation and is usually the way of breaking down barriers. God knows Don and Betty need them broken or they can't survive. I can't see Weiner taking that away from him, it would just be too cruel.

And am I the only one who likes Rodger? It doesn't matter that Joan is too strong, she is the one he loves the most clearly.

Scott J. said...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster who said
that Don taking the RX pills that
belonged to Betty was some kind of
foreshadowing,in fact, I thought that Don was going to off himself
or try to. to end the season and
maybe the series since we don't know if it's coming back.

We do know that it's coming back. AMC picked it up for a fourth season back in September.

PanAm53 said...

While some may think that my two previous posts are contradictory, they are not.

I think that Betty would love to escape to a life with Henry Francis, but Henry Francis will prove not to be the knight in shining armour that Betty thinks he is.

Anonymous said...

The interactions between Roger and Jane were very reminiscent of a father-daughter relationship - she throws a fit, stomps off to her room and locks the door. He talks to her like a father "Jane, Get in Here!"

PanAm53 said...

Underthesun said...
And am I the only one who likes Rodger?


Roger has the absolute best lines in the show. He is so cool! Mona and Roger make such a cool couple! Mona and Roger seem to be so much in sinc. They both seem to have the same attitude about their spoiled brat daughter. Whatever happened to their marriage? Why did Roger ever marry Jane, of all people?

jenae said...

Posting this, which I wrote earlier, with the caveat that I think Alan picked up on some shadings with Roger and Joan and especially Duck and Peggy that I missed:

Okay, so, though I still don’t think he had any ulterior motives, any idea of straying in the midst of his newly wed state, it does now indeed seem that Roger gets more emotional satisfaction from relating to Joan than to any other woman. On the phone you can see how wistful he is for how nice it would be to be with her, instead of comatose Jane. And…they’re both in bad, or lets at least say inadequate (Dr Greg is trying to make amends) marriages.

Of course Jane and Roger are an instant train wreck, the cliché I’ve been complaining about: mix beautiful very young girl with self-indulgent rich older guy and stir: instant bad marriage, with more than chances of divorce.

(In real life, I would say a couple can have ugly scenes like what Roger and Jane are having, then also have a side where they care and are trying, but the creators are only showing the tawdry devolution, so apparently that's what they want us to conclude: there's nothing good left. Why’s Weiner wax so poetic about them as a couple on the DVD of their hotel room scene? He must have known what he had planned for them.)

Something a lot less cliché is going on between Peggy and Duck, but we see little of it, except that Duck is so hot to fuck Peggy that he cuts himself off—and her too!—from the most important news story, so far, of their lifetimes. I was angry on Peggy’s behalf that she was in the dark thanks to him!

But anyway, he sure is eager to get her into bed and she looks subtly radiant and pleased afterwards “You didn’t seem distracted” so at least they’re having a good time together. The fact that their connection isn’t the usual cliché is illustrated by the fact that her roommate assumes that he’s marriage and she’s his mistress. Why would she be with him unless she’s getting other- woman material perks? Because they enjoy fucking each other is the answer her roommate can’t conceive of.

And Don and Betty. Shit. I was quite touched to see upper-class, demanding, perfectionist Betty seem to genuinely try to embrace life with a man she now knows is the son of a whore. (I still get no hint that his background bothers her, which is saying something given the world she comes from.)

It seemed they had a chance. Clearly Don wants to make it work. (He did say “not right now,” to Suzanne, but then he added “no” in a tone that sounded more decisive. I think he wanted to try to be good and save his marriage. --Desperately wants to save his marriage, in fact-- Even though he knows there’s an urge to cheat that he’s never been able to control.

(Again, I see this as sex and love addiction, the man who seeks a different love for the different sides of himself, can’t face sharing the full truth of himself with any one woman.)

So Don was committed to a new life with Betty. She seemed to genuinely want to make it work with him. But then Kennedy got shot and Don’s response was rather ham-fisted: kids, turn off the TV, don’t let the kids watch the news, take a sleeping pill Betty. (He did soften with the kids.) "It will all be okay", said the way a parent might reassure a child, when Betty wants rational information that will reassure her, which H. Francis seems to have. (Yes, a valid intuition as imamarilyn said, yes his vulnerability was more in evidence, but there was also a misguided attempt to reassure her with no rational back-up, and she's had enough of that.)

She can no longer accept Don’s word. She knows he’s always improvising; what does he know? Then there’s Francis at the wedding. Her feelings—of jealousy and lingering interest—flicker.

Then she sees Oswald get shot and it’s all over. Her nascent ability to trust Don is too new; it can’t survive this crisis. I think of it almost as a new neural pathway that didn’t have enough of a chance to establish itself. Their fledging new relationship got tested big time too quickly.

jenae said...

(I agree imamarilyn that his intuition told him all would be well and he was basically right. I think Don was merging his new vulnerability with his old “trust me I know the world” self and maybe neither side was working for Betty. She doesn’t want to by reassured like a child but she also doesn’t want to feel vulnerable.

She seems to think Francis has special access to accurate information. Because he’s a politician? Because he seems more at home in the mainstream world than alienated, outsider Don? Because he’s older? For whatever reason, in her unbearable uncertainty after LHO was shot, she went to Francis. Maybe the best explanation is that she was half way to moving to Philly and Don’s explanation only delayed her. She was briefly touched and tried to make it work, but too much water under the bridge. In a real crisis, he can't take comfort in his presence, he has betrayed her for too long.)

And she still has naïve ideas about love. So she felt nothing during one kiss, on a historically distracting, confusing day? So what? Does she expect to feel something with every kiss for the next forty years? She won’t find that with Don or Henry Francis or probably anybody. It’s an unrealistic expectation of what love should feel life.

We can sympathize (I’m still inclined to) by remembering everything she put up with from Don: the epic lie, the poorly concealed adultery (coming home smelling of adulterous sex; either she made that up to shock her therapist or it’s true in which case—jesus), being treated like a child, his disappearing acts (e.g. in the middle of the birthday party, gone for cake and never came back: a public humiliation; maybe that's why a year later she bellowed "You humiliated me!" for no apparent reason after the Danish beer incident), staying out all night with his mistress; it’s a lot.

Betty has the kind of instincts that make men value her. She was unwilling to be in a tawdry affair with Francis, so now he wants to marry her.

I know some find Betty very boring, but I think she has a coiled will that I can identify with. She will go to extremes, like having zipless sex* with that hot, Don-like alpha guy in bar (they lucked out and found a nice office, but she was setting herself up to fuck him in the bathroom! Lovely Betty with her white gloves, having sex in the john with a stranger. (!)

—She reminds me of something Lauren Bacall once said: “I have always preferred to prevail." When life seems to be handing her a shit sandwich, Betty doesn’t accept it, she asserts herself, she watches, she waits, she plans, maneuvers—and then she makes her move. I think she passionately doesn’t want to be a victim and wants to get her ideals met.

Along the way she has unreal expectations, less than abundant empathy, and seemingly the bare minimum of maternal instincts (or less than that?)—but her will to prevail and not be a doormat I find compelling to watch. And she isn’t saying: “You’re the son of a prostitute? Good lord!” her chief complain seems to be: “He’s been lying to me for years,” and that is a reasonable complaint.

But I no longer feel that this is a very nurturing fable for the audience. Watching Don go to work (for no other reason than that the bars are closed) while Betty refuses to look at him, you feel terribly sorry for those kids. I know a family that’s been going thru such cold-shouldering and conflict for years (less epic, no secret identities of chronic cheating) and those kids seem to be showing the strain. Fucking terrible situation.

(footnote to the bar scene:)*"zipless sex" as in “the zipless fuck,” an idea Erica Jong introduced in “Fear of Flying:” the thrill of having sudden sex with a complete stranger.

jenae said...

I know it's nearing 1 AM and I'm punchy when I see I've written:

Why’s Weiner wax so poetic...


...her roommate assumes that he’s marriage and she’s his mistress.

Of course I meant "Why did (Why'd) Weiner wax so poetic"

and Duck is not marriage (no one assumes he is), Peggy's roommate assumes Duck is MARRIED.

(There I disagree with Alan; I don't think that exchange is meant to highlight how wrong they are for each other--what would the roommate know about that?--but to show that as usual what Peggy is doing eludes the assumptions of her time.

Joan couldn't grasp why she would want to be a copy writer, her roommate can't grasp why she's sleeping with Duck. She's forging the new path; people don't get it. They judge her by the old categories, which don't apply to or fit Peggy.

jenae said...

RM: You aren't wrong or ignorant. Trudy is deluded to think that Pete could steal his clients. He obviously isn't hot enough to weild such power. That's why he was passed over.

AG said...

@George: Agreed re Pete -- I see him potentially on the brink of throwing himself wholeheartedly into the changes to come, though all the while feeling vaguely superior knowing that he is still, beneath the hippie grot, a Dyckman. But Betty? As invested in her traditional beauty, traditional upbringing, etc. as she is, how would that work? Interessting thought in any case.

@PanAm53: Roger's lines are amazing but no one can knock 'em down like Robert Morse. His "Absolutely" this week (when asked by Roger to keep an eye on DrinkyJane in the kitchen) put me on the floor. These Broadway babies are pure magpies re the scene-stealing; the younger actors in their scenes must alternate between delight and utter terror.

Wondering how Paul will react when he finds that the Dynamic Workaholic Duo has been at Aquanet while a nation grieved...

jenae said...

PanAm53, two things (1st Betty then Jane):

I don't think Betty is cold-blooded enough to pretend to accept Don's revelation and to try to save the marriage, while all the while scheming to reject him. I think sharing her sandwich, the offer of breakfast, the "no lets go to trick or treat together," it was all genuine.

I go back to the quote of January Jones that betty loves Don and he only loves the idea of Betty. I think we have to see Betty as a woman with very romantic ideals of marriage, who loved this man, and feels that she wasn't properly loved in return.

My husband sees a blank or emptiness in her gaze, but i think it's just that she hangs back and calculates, just like Don does. She doesn't pour herself out like Suzanne. She's wary. But i don't think she's so cruel as to fake don out by seeming to want to make it work with him while never having that intention.

(I have an image of Betty like a coiled spring made of steel. And the spring is under water; all you see is her placid surface, but this coiled spring of steely will is there. No action on the surface, but this incredible will underneath. Like a bass that lurks in rocky crevices unseen, but is a great predator, prized by fishermen, when it pounces on its prey. All that is conveyed in Betty's eyes, while she seems superficially "vacant.")

You asked: Why did Roger marry Jane? According to Weiner and the writer on the commentary track, when he saw that call girl pretending to be the wife of a client, he at first bought the little playful deception they were doing. Earlier he had been wistful when Mona talked of feeling elated at their wedding--trying to talk Margaret into having a wedding. Roger, per the creators, got a look on his face like: Yeah, that's what being in love is like, but we haven't been like that in a long time; I miss that. Then he sees this beautiful young woman (seemingly) married to an older man and it planted an idea.

Once he learns it was all a game, he tastes the fantasy by hiring the call girl himself and then paying for the extra liberty of being able to kiss her and take her to dinner. As the creators put it, that romance is more important to him than the sex. He wants to enact this fantasy he has: to be newly in love with a young woman.

It would seem that Jane just showed up and fit the fantasy.

Actually, I would now say that, though he never would have, Roger would have been better off marrying the prostitute (probably 25 or so), who was witty and worldly

--he'd have been beter of with her, who was the orginal basis of his fantasy, than with the very young Jane, who wants to be a sophisticated, mature-for-her-age young woman, but just doesn't have it in her.

jenae said...

not beter of

better off

(what’s the emotocon for bemused embarrassed sigh?)

'nite ;)

Greg said...

I thought this episode was actually quite riveting. I found there to be something Jackie-esque about all of the outfits the women in the show were wearing right up to the assassination, and then beyond with Truti's blue dress that she was going to be wearing to the wedding.

I think the clincher for me was when Betsy told Don that she didn't love him anymore. I have had that same conversation before in my life and it brought back a flood of emotion as I could feel Betsy's word echo what had once been said to me by someone close in the past. Like Don, you pretend it wasn't said and then the hesitation before entering the kitchen before leaving to work, not sure whether or not she had actually meant what she said in her distraught state the night before.

Pure Genius in my eyes. I say that with a broken heart still as you try and pretend the words were never spoken.

I can't wait for which way the show will go. I think all signs point to the demise of Donald Draper.

jenae said...


hi there,

You saw something I didn't with Arthur Case. I thought he had "I read Scott Fitzgerald" pretensions of special insight, and that he wanted to have an affair before his marriage, and that he came on to Betty so hard it made her hands shake fending him off with so much elegant politeness like she did.

(Was it normal back then to say "Scott" instead of "F. Scott"? It sounded odd and pretension to me, sort of manly namedropping: my buddy Scott. No doubt Hemmingway called him Scott, 'cause he knew him.)

Guess I just didn't like the guy. It really showed how men and women fence with each other; men take many liberties while a woman like Betty always wants to be elegant and polite.

--Except when the world may be ending and she gets elegantly raw in a back room of a bar. I love it that she did that! She has cajones.

jenae said...

Greg wrote: I say that with a broken heart still as you try and pretend the words were never spoken.

nicely put :)

MadMeme said...

underthesun said... seems that truth telling usually leads to reconciliation and is usually the way of breaking down barriers.

Ah, if only this were true... unfortunately, I think truth telling leads to the breaking down of relationships at least as often as it leads to the breaking down of barriers. It really depends on the people involved.

MW&Co. have been using historical events to reflect and/or create impetus for fictional events in the lives of the characters. With this in mind, it was imperative that Betty find out Don's secrets (the metaphorical death of the phony 'Camelot' that was their marriage) either immediately before or after Kennedy's assassination (and before was less contrived and unexpected). The idea that their marriage could survive this major earthquake to it's very foundation, given the emotional maturity and openness of the two people involved, seems dubious.

Considering this, and the slow, season-long build-up of Betty's relationship with Henry, I think there's a good chance that she'll run off with him.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I need to be reminded why you think Peggy knows Don better than anyone else on the planet. I know they've shared a couple of deep secrets (the car accident, the baby), but how does that translate to her "knowing" him better than anyone?

Because they understand each other on a fundamental level that no one else does. Anna Draper knows more facts about Don, and now maybe Betty does, but Peggy and Don are on the same creative wavelength. She simply gets Don, and is slowly but surely becoming the female version of him.

Alan Sepinwall said...

There I disagree with Alan; I don't think that exchange is meant to highlight how wrong they are for each other--what would the roommate know about that?--but to show that as usual what Peggy is doing eludes the assumptions of her time.

My point about the bad match is that Karen likes to go out and party and have lots of boys over and generally be sociable, and Peggy keeps explaining why she'd rather just eat at her desk.

Laura said...

Betty doesn't love Henry any more than she loves/loved Don--she knows, now, with Henry, she'll get someone completely devoted to her, something that Don could never be, even though now she knows his secrets.

Remember the neighborhood divorcee, the one who's son was obsessed with Betty? There is no way that Betty wants to end up like that--working at the counter of a jewelry store. And I think Henry knows that, too. They aren't going to date--divorce was too uncommon at that time. For someone like Betty, it had to be all or nothing. I do wonder if she'll get a surprise regarding Henry and his lifestyle if she takes the leap.

Don's Camelot has come crashing down as much as the myth of the Kennedys. What a freakin' letdown it must have been to end up with Lyndon Johnson as president. Before he had been unhappy with his life, but as Peggy said, he'd had everything, and so much of it--he just couldn't appreciate it. Now it is gone. So sad to see Don/Dick cradling baby Gene and then alone in his office. I hope he doesn't find out about Peggy and Duck. That will really be the nail in the coffin.

Despite being married, having a home, having children, Don always felt like he could run at any time, shed these things and start another life. But he didn't run soon enough, perhaps? Found out he couldn't really do it? Or once Dick was found out, he couldn't do it--and now it is slipping through his fingers.

As far as Joan and Roger go, I think in the end, they are each others' only friends. Roger had more of a friend/partner in Mona, but lost that in the divorce, and inherited another child by marrying Jane. He can speak to Joan as an equal. I don't know if they miss being lovers, perhaps, but each of these lonely people could use a friend, and that's what they have in each other.

Julia said...


My timing was a bit off - the myth started a week or so AFTER the assassination. It was not during the Kennedy Presidency.

Calling former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy "an iron-
willed and ferocious guardian of her husband's legacy," Joyce
Hoffman described the collaboration between Mrs. Kennedy and
journalist Theodore White that gave birth to the "Camelot
myth" in the weeks immediately following the president's
assassination, and what it has meant to our nation. Professor
of Journalism at Old Dominion University, Ms. Hoffman
discussed her recent book, "Theodore H. White & Journalism as
Illusion", at a U.Va. Miller Center forum Nov. 28.

Jacqueline Kennedy summoned the Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist to the family compound at Hyannisport only a week
after her husband's death. Teddy White had become a confidant
of the President during the 1960 campaign, and she implored
him to "rescue" Jack Kennedy from "the bitter old men who
write history."

As Mrs. Kennedy struggled to find what she considered an
appropriate "classical metaphor" for her husband's presidency,
Teddy White slowly abandoned his journalistic objectivity and
became a willing collaborator in the creation of a heroic
national myth, according to Ms. Hoffman. In the echoes of a
favorite Broadway musical of the time, Jacqueline Kennedy
found her heroic metaphor and cast the spell of Camelot over
the American people with the help of Mr. White.

As Ms. Hoffman noted, seldom would the collaboration of myth-
seeker and myth-maker ever be quite so unconditional. White's
essay, just 1,000 words long, became a defining document in
American's political and cultural life, she said.

Source (among many on-line):

Anonymous said...

I just realized that both the politician and Draper are men involved in careers where they manage expectations.
And lying comes easily to politicians (not statesman, as JFK
reminded us in Profiles In Courage but politicians)
I don't believe for one minute that
he wants to marry Betty, he just
realized what she wanted to hear
and told it to her.
Both guys comforted Betty with the
same words, but the politician gave
her the reasons why she shouldn't
worry and Don didn't because he
was hurting himself,not so much
that he didn't realize that his
kids needed reassurance-unlike
Betty who left them alone to watch
the horror unfolding on their TVs.
Here was a tragedy that he couldn't
figure out how to manage.
Betty is a cold,selfish person.
She had no words of comfort for
anyone,not even her own children,her treatment of her daughter when her daughter was so
devastated was disgusting.

Unknown said...

I disagree with most of you as I found this episode to be very good. It pulled me in as if I was experiencing the Kennedy assassination for the first time. The characters reactions reminded me of peoples reactions to 9/11. The world stopped and watched...and as they did life went on. Just like Don said towards the end of this weeks episode.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Don seems neutered. A small but winicing moment when he can't even hire a new art director.

Julia said...

You're right - the Beatles were actually "warm and cuddly" early on. In fact there was a Saturday morning Beatles cartoon show that featured their songs as part of the plots until songs like "Norwegian Wood" made that unfeasible. I just loved that song.

Betty doesn't yet know why Henry is divorced. Was he/is he promiscuous like Don?

Regarding Don's reaction to the JFK assassination and then wanting to tune out at work on the day of the funeral: how did Archie die? He wasn't old. Considering his rough ways, did he get in a bar fight and get himself shot? Is that why Don doesn't want his kids watching the TV coverage? Did he witness something as a child that causes this reaction? It seems very strange to me that he is so purposefully disconnected.

Perhaps it's the chaos caused by the assassination, emergency swearing in of the new President, shooting of the slayer live on TV, funeral, etc. is something he wants to shield his kids from. Sure seemed that his childhood was chaotic - he doesn't want that for his kids. I've heard it said that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Maybe he's thinking a divorce would be chaotic and he senses it coming.

Betty's statement to Don: "I don't love you." Don must have been in the midst of trying to merge Don & Dick after the secret was out. The person Betty has known isn't there any more. Maybe it was that Don persona that Betty loved and it's gone. That would be very unsettling. I'm hoping Betty finds out something that would make Henry not such a good bet before she burns her bridges with Don - who is really trying.

Julia said...

In my own experience at the time of the assassination, everyone I knew was stunned and shocked and glued to their TVs, but no one cried or exhibited overt emotions.

That was my experience, too. People at my Catholic university were stunned and grieved, but I don't remember any open crying. Lots of folks went to church, felt lost and newly vulnerable.

Jackie was actually the model of ideal behavior. Her calm demeanor and competance in putting together the funeral was greatly admired. A lot like Joan - she didn't get hysterical; she kept it together.

The killings got old, of course. MLKing, civil rights workers, Bobby Kennedy, the riot deaths, Kent State, and even the attempted assassination of Governor Wallace wore people down. It got sadder and sadder as the years went by. Kennedy's death was the start of it - I think it was the cumulative deaths that had the biggest lasting impact. No way Don could protect his kids from what was coming.

The emotional reaction to Diana's death was much in the future. Leaving flowers and momentos wasn't the thing to do yet in 1963 - that at least gives people today the opportunity to physically do something when tragedy strikes.

Anonymous said...


"Henry doesn't even know her favorite movie. I bet Don would know that. Don knows Betty and Betty knows Don. This Henry thing is still just fantasy. Maybe on both their parts, but I don't trust Henry and I don't trust his motives."

Possibly one of the most cheeseball lines of all time? It made me wonder how many times Henry has used that line to bed the depressed homemaker du jour?
I feel like this was a not-so-subtle hint by Weiner to us how little depth there is in this relationship. However the "proposal" did throw me for a bit of a loop. I always thought Henry was in this for more of a fling then anything else. I still feel like ultimately we are going to find out that there is very little substance behind Henry's "proposal."

Annie said...

When Betty said her favorite movie was Singin' in the Rain, I immediately thought of the resemblance between Gene Kelly and John Hamm. Not so much with the dancing, but they do have the same coloring, body type, and hair cut. I think it's a clue as to why Betty was attracted to Don in the first place--he reminded her of the leading man in her favorite movie (though I guess it could have been purely materialistic, b/c he gave her that gorgeous fur).

Jeff said...

Hi Julia. I saw that a couple of days ago you asked if the JFK assassination coverage is available somewhere. Here is a page that contains links to lots of wall-to-wall coverage from several different TV and radio networks during those 3-4 days:

There's also lots of stuff on YouTube.

Anonymous said...

Put me in the "thumbs-up" box for this episode. I re-watched the first half of the show last night, and I noticed a few things:

* The snake charmer's basket was in the shot behind Pete when he is told that he is not getting the job he coveted. When Price commends him for the way he accepts the decision, it is a callback to how SinJin reminded Price that one of his best qualities was how he accepted whatever the bosses decided for him.

* When Don tells the children that everything will be okay, we will be sad for a while and there will be a funeral on Monday, Bobby asks "will we be going to the funeral?" It must be on his mind since he didn't attend Grandpa's funeral.

* Margaret is losing weight and has to have her dresses re-sized, just like Jane, who has to have her wedding ring re-sized.

Julia said...


Thanks. I only got to see a small bit of TV coverage of the JFK assassination and funeral due to working in the hospital and the one small TV for an entire dorm in 1963. [In fact, I missed the whole Brady Bunch era]

One thing we take for granted today is seeing things live at a distance from the TV studio. Back in the day, you had to wait for the film to physically reach the studio and be edited. So - anchors were much more important.

Susan said...

Underthesun and PanAm, I love Roger, too! He's a great character. He and Joan have the best lines in Mad Men. We didn't see much of him early this season, and I've liked more of Roger lately.

This episode we saw some of what must have been good in his marriage to Mona. Even bad marriages have some good in them somewhere. We never have been told what made the Stirling marriage go south. We do know Roger was unhappy and said he didn't want to die with that woman. (Another great Roger line.) I tend to think his brush with death made him realize how unhappy he was and how short life is and he chose youth. Mona has been looking so chic this season. Quite a contrast to the matronly look she used to have.

Anonymous said...

First time post here:
Someone brilliantly mentioned the Fire and Ice Frost poem as a reference point for the Sterling Cooper heating issues.

Almost immediately after, someone posted separately about the company's accounts being divided half and half between Ken Cosgrove and Pete Campbell.

There's also the mention of half of the son in law's net worth disappearing on marriage.

Lots of role reversals seem to be occurring under bilateral symmetry, mirrored in the Don D/Dick W personality split.

The building heating system reminds me of the part in Paradise Lost when the souls are being ushered across from fire to ice and back again so they can't get used to one particular sort of punishment.

I'm sure there's more to consider here, but I'm not up for it at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any thoughts on what the look between Don and Roger at the wedding was about? Was it Roger who was jealous of Don's apparent worry-free life at that point? Or maybe a recognition that Don was there for him when he could have easily used the assasination as an excuse to not come? I'd like to think there was some healing in that moment, so we might get more interaction between the two in future seasons.

Alex Mullane said...

Perhaps it's because I have never really seen any films or TV that cover the Kennedy assasination, but I didn't find the episode disappointing at all. Maybe it's just because I'm less jaded about the subject matter.

One thing I did notice towards the end was a recurring visual motif of black and white. (I did a search, and nobody else seems to have bought it up - which either means I'm a genius, or seeing things that aren't there...)

* During Oswald's shooting one of his guards wears black, the other white.

* As Henry arrives to meet Betty in the car-park his white car parks up next to Betty's black one.

* The white of Don's shirt is visible under his black sweater during his confrontation with Betty.

Perhaps I'm falling into the trap of over-analysing this show, but those three instances definitely stood out for me. I'm of no mind to find any deep meaning in there, I just thought it was interesting and would let you all dismiss it or delve deeper into the idea. There may be other instances too, I don't have time to re-watch it just now.

Rob Biesenbach said...


Does anyone have any thoughts on what the look between Don and Roger at the wedding was about?

I noticed the look, too, but I saw absolutely nothing but enmity between the two of them. I think Roger was looking around, annoyed, swigging his drink, and happened to catch Don's eye. Maybe Roger was looking for something there (after all, of the two, he's seems less likely to hold a grudge for long), but he wasn't giving anything away. And Don gave him nothing in return. I think Don's look was simply, "I'm here out of duty, nothing more."

Julia said...

I've been watching the continuing NBC coverage at the link Jeff provided. It's really interesting for the state of television news technology as well as the subject matter of the JFK assassination.

All kinds of little gadgets and links are tried to get info live from Dallas with varying success.

Speaking of black and white: the NBC broadcast from HQ is in black and white; when a link is successfully made to the NBC affiliate in Ft Worth, it is in color. I guess the TX station had more money to work with?

Here's the YouTube link to NBC coverage derived from Jeff's link with loads more stuff on it.

Again, thanks Jeff.

Louis said...

I was born November 28, 1963. So the season finale will address the momentous occasion of my birth. Sorry for the spoiler!

Jeff said...

Julia, here are more links to coverage:

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on what seemed like an overwhelming and at times soapy soundtrack during the episode?

I like the music to be Tarantinoesque -- to fit in organically -- and not to be layed down on top of things.
And I look forward to the closing credits music.

But the music playing to "enhance" the feeling of a scene just bugged me.

Erika said...

The interesting thing for me about the episode was trying to figure out why the Kennedy assassination would be the catalyst that made Betty decide to leave her marriage. It seems like the only thing keeping her from doing that before was fear of the alternative. Then this terrible, earth-shattering thing happens, and everyone's upset, but life goes on. "It will be all right," or whatever the exact words Don and Henry used were. When she asks "How do you know that?" she's probably not just thinking about the direction of the country, but her own life. I'm not convinced she will run to Henry's arms, but she will do something to drastically change her situation.

Susan said...

Erika, I think the assassination gave Betty an excuse to let loose with her emotions, which are usually bottled up. I don't think it necessarily means she will leave the marriage or do anything else that is drastic. Just a feeling I have. Mad Men is always surprising me.

Anonymous said...

I was in 7th grade in '68. After the MLK and RFK killings, our English teacher had us write a long essay on courage. She said it was what keeps you going in spite of senseless, frightening tragedies.

Don't remember what I wrote (except it was about Ethel Kennedy in part) but I remember coming to some understanding about choices you can make in life to keep moving forward in a constructive fashion.

So which MM characters have the courage to keep moving forward. Certainly Peggy, Joan, Don, Anna and Mona. Not sure about Betty -- she seems to be working on it; Pete -- we'll see. Duck tries but he has to beat back the panic that overcomes him from time to time.

Paul -- no. Cosgrove, Sal and Roger -- I don't know.


bombaygirl said...

I thought that the reason Trudy changed her opinion on Cooper Sterling was because of the way Pete described the loss of Kennedy, and how he was thinking about Jackie losing the baby recently (tugs on Trudy's sympathies), and then how the office was so callous about their reaction (not sure exactly what he said here..) But you could just see Trudy's thought process on her face as she paused and changed her mind about going to the wedding. And then threw herself wholeheartedly into planning Pete's leaving SC.

Eyeball Wit said...

Alan, maybe you're reading a little too much into Peggy's "love" for Don? It's almost a "work spouse" kind of thing, but a little too one sided for even that because Don' doesn't really share.

FWIW, I watched Singing in the Rain recently, and was struck by how much Gene Kelly looks like Don.
Except that Gene is bubbly where Don is brooding.

julie torres said...

It's so exciting that people are still posting. Upon first viewing, I appreciated the episode but was a bit underwhelmed. I wasn't immediately sure how I felt about it. Just watched it again and completely loved it. Anyone else experience that?

Mike said...

I was 21 years old in 1963 and I think I paid attention to the JFK assassination and the other historical and cultural events of the 1960s.

The death of JFK was a big deal in large part because he was killed during the Cold War, a time of a national "us versus them" mentality. We did not know who LHO was and what enemy he represented, if any. The fact that Kennedy and his family were young, attractive, and charismatic exacerbated the shock and sorrow but were not the initial source of the emotional blow to the national psyche.

During the 60s we did not see events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, MLK's "I have a dream" speech, JFK's assassination, the Beatles, Woodstock, etc. as milestones fraught with historic significance. The verdict of history is always after the fact. Much like Don Draper, we just got up the next day, went to work, and got on with our lives.

Matt Weiner and the MM crew are doing an outstanding job of creating characters that reflect enduring human traits but whose attitudes and values are very similar to Americans that I knew during the 60s.

Karen said...

Well, I didn't find it disappointing at all.

I was around Bobby's age that day--well, a little younger, actually: the assassination was 5 days before my 5th birthday--and I, too, remember coming home and finding my mom crying, when I'd never seen her cry before. It turned my parents into different kind of humans than the infallible ones they'd been before, which is why Sally's careful observation of an unusual morning event was so telling.

Someone above said that it was difficult to feel Betty was justified in running away from Don to Henry, despite it being so understandable, just because she's so petulant. It's difficult to parse how much I dislike Betty. I feel like Don chose her because Dick believed that was the kind of wife that Don should have, even though Dick himself so clearly prefers independent and slightly bohemian brunettes. Betty is cool, beautiful, seemingly sophisticated--until you get to know her--a real Grace Kelly type in the middle of the '50s. I can't help feeling that it WOULD be better for Don/Dick to have her out of his life, confusing the issues for him.

I get that the assassination shook her up. I get that seeing Ruby shoot Oswald must have felt like a slouching-to-Bethlehem moment: the center no longer holds, there is no end to the insane shooting. I get that that makes her feel unmoored, and now that she knows Don is not who she thought him to be, he is no longer a safe harbor. But she seems to have no compassion for Don--or for Dick--at all. Not even after that lovely moment when he got up to look after Gene. She could have helped synthesize Don and Dick and finally had a real marriage to a real, knowable man into the bargain, but I'm not even convinced that that's what she wants. She wants to be cherished like a little girl. She wants to be pampered and taken to the movies to cheer up. Is that joyful giggle Henry and Singin' in the Rain got out of her the first time we've ever seen that unrestrained a smile?

I was a little confused by Harry Crane being presented as prescient and proactive--he didn't just "make up" his job, as Pete accused, but proposed it after surveying the competing agencies--when he's generally shown as a clueless screwup.

There were so many little grace notes in this episode that I can't find it in me to see it as disappointing.

Julia said...


You put into words something I was having trouble expressing. When talking to my kids recently about the 60s it was amazing that so much happened during that time and much of it was scarey and unsettling. Bur you're right - you don't know what is historically significant until you look at at it.

My second son was born in 1968. Recently there have been several books about what a significan year that was. I bought one for him for his 40th birthday last year and skimmed it before wrapping it. Holy moley, enough happened just in 1968 for an entire decade.

Like I alluded to before, it was "Norwegian Wood" that told me suddenly that the Beatles were way, way beyond Fabian and The Four Seasons. This was adult rock music - with such intricate but simple melodies. And this was before all the laying down of tracks in Sgt. Pepper.

I miss Ed Sullivan where you were exposed to arias from "Lucia di Lammermoor", Elvis, Chinese acrobats, dance sequences from "West Side Story" and the Beatles. Society wasn't broken up into narrow categories yet. We were all seeing the same people and events.

jenae said...

!! was writing this and it got erased!!

PanAm53, back to your question, Why did Roger marry Jane :

The call girl he hired and then with whom he created a romantic, fantasy evening, sex with the usually forbidden kissing (call girls normally don't kiss their johns; Roger paid double for the privilege) then he talked her into walking thru the rain to post-coital dinner in a fancy restaurant--all very romantic. She was charming and, after some professional resistance, went with his desire to enact a romantic evening

that call girl looked Very Much like Jane. So much so i had to scrutinize the credits to be sure they were two different people. When I saw Jane I thought Roger had gotten a job for the call girl at Sterling Cooper? Very close resemblance, though in retrospect i would say the prostitute was ~ 5 years older.

so the young woman who originally sparked Roger's fantasy of being in love with a young 2nd wife looked a great deal like Jane.

Speaking of which: I said before that the worldly, slightly older call girl would have been better suited to deal with the tension of stepping into the inevitably maligned, tricky role of Roger's new wife, whereas Jane is too naive, has too much entitlement; she lacks the skills to deal.

I assume Roger would never marry a call girl. That makes me think of class issues and i wonder what class background Jane has. She quotes her mother on how to host a party, and seems to think she knows how to function in Roger's world (Roger could do a lot better helping her navigate this very touchy situation), then Mona mentions Jane's maiden name. are we to understand that Jane has a family of note? (usually Americans in that era didn't go by 2 last names, as Mona refers to Jane by, unless, like Pete, they are showing off an important family name.)

Or is Mona pointing out the opposite, "When I married that man i was not only pretty but from a good family, with breeding; this new wife is from the great unwashed masses and has only her youth and prettiness to recommend her." That would not be an uncommon angry reaction for the jilted wife. Are we supposed to think of Jane as from a poor, middle class, or slightly upper class family? (I doubt she's out & out rich, or we would know that already. But maybe a well bred girl kinda slumming, as Betty did when she was modeling with the roommate that grew up to be a call girl, as her mother imagined all models are.)

And by the way: Betty was I'd calculate no more than 22, 23 at the most when she married Don, perhaps younger. Was she a child bride? I know, that phrase is supposed to be lobbed at Roger (to reflect badly on him) as a way of showing he made an immature choice, but it ends up stigmatizing Jane as a sort of less than human, 2 dimensional *thing*: his child bride.

Often in society when women are angry at men, or when society in general would like to condemn a man, the insult somehow ends up hitting the woman he's with instead. Especially the angry jilted wife will not only hate the new wife but start walking around generally resenting younger women who have nothing to do with her own marriage, rather than daring to tell her husband that she is enraged at him.

As a culture, we are more comfortable attacking women. Ex-wives vilify their replacements while never daring to voice their angry at the husbands who abandoned them, because maybe they still harbor dreams of getting back together. One way or another, no one dares to insult the man but we, in general, find it easier to speak ill of women (crazy sauce, cold bitch, child bride).

The grown-up husband who broke his vow gets off with little condemnation while the young woman who is he (perhaps ensnared) has to wear the stigma. Or when we do mock or criticize both parties, the insults we pin on the women are usually harsher, nastier.

jenae said...

That said, Mona is being restrained and reasonable. Except when she called her June (a slight undermining, dismissive move) back in Roger's office, she's taken no real pot shots at Jane. "She's trying" was an extremely mature thing to say.

Maybe Mona is that rare woman who can look at the situation squarely and say: "My husband broke his vow to me. I barely know this new woman he's with." She knows where to direct her anger, not at a 21 year old she barely knows, but at the man who walked out with no warning just when they were entering the home stretch as a couple, when she, at ~60, is at a disadvantage to recover.

jenae said...

By "kinda slumming" i meant that if jane is from a "good" family, taking a job as a secrretary might have been a little beneath her station, like when Betty offended her mother's standards by working as a model.

Weiner is not doing a good job of conveying his stated idea that jane isn't a gold digger; it seems relevant what her class background is. The "My mother always said" remark about hospitality and Mona calling her by three names makes me think we are being teased with the fact that we don't know what class, what kind of family (in class terms), Jane comes from.

Julia said...

The grown-up husband who broke his vow gets off with little condemnation while the young woman who is he (perhaps ensnared) has to wear the stigma. Or when we do mock or criticize both parties, the insults we pin on the women are usually harsher, nastier.

In the 60s men had most of the power and his social circle would almost always support him - it was the ex-wife who was set adrift.

Insults from women toward the new woman probably stem from the 1960s being a more religious time - "What God has joined together; let no one put asunder" and all that. And also a sense that women, as the underdogs of society, should stick together and support each other, not undermine each other. It's what made Joan Crawford the villain of the movie "The Women."

jenae said...

Hi Julia:
My point was actually that this still happens. (Even here.)

I have friends who know better but do it anyway. They express hatred of women who are younger and skinnier when they relax and their real feelings come out. I had to tell one friend that whether she's looking down on heavier women or expressing disdain for skinny models and other sexy young women who threaten her (we're both in our 40's)--I can't stand the hate speech.

(There's a great poem by Robert Haas called "Forty Something" that expresses female rage in a very daunting way.)

And when Alan calls Jane Roger's child bride, he probably intends it mostly as a criticism of Roger, but it de-humanizes Jane, imo, to refer to her that way, so in the end it's the woman who bears (bares?) the stigma.

Again, I'm impressed Mona isn't giving in to this trend, whereas the mere fear that she MIGHT lose her wayward boyfriend to a younger woman turned my friend into a full-on young woman hater until I pleaded with her to cool it and she agreed such talk isn't right.

A local feminist sex columnist in my area did something very similar recently. I see it all the time. People think anybody who threatens them must be the privileged bad guy and you can unload abuse on them with impunity. Women who see themselves as feminists express contempt for *certain* women, waving the badge of feminism all the while. (I'd called this corrupted feminism, maybe sloppy, contaminated feminism.)


Here's something interesting. I read a quote that reminds me of the show and something Matt Weiner said. It was a synopsis of a Rossalini film (called I think Italian Holiday); it said that Rossalini believed that in capitalist society men are more alienated and psychologically affected than women, and he was interested in how this effects relationships between men and women.

Seems Matt Weiner said something very similar about Mad Men (on one of those AMC, behind the scenes short documentaries): He said the male characters are uncertain about what they want and this affects the women in their lives. (He seemed to be implying that it makes the women suffer.)

Is that reverse sexism, kind of blaming the men? Or something true about men and women in society? It's interesting that Weiner and Rossalini seem to have similar view points.

jenae said...


Wow, I loved your story of being Sally's age during the assassination and how the show mirrored your experience.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what Betty does after she realizes Henry isn't going to be much different from Don once they start sleeping together.
My guess is she has a lot of growing up ahead of her.

Julia said...


A wife dumped for another woman for any reason is naturally going to be angry. If it's because she got old that just makes it more painful, because you can't do anything about getting old.

Men get plenty of castigation for dumping long-term wives who are the mothers of their children. Don doesn't think much of what Roger did. Nelson Rockefeller lost a chance to run for President because of what he did.

There was also the sense (not around much these days)that a married person is off limits. If the marriage isn't so good, the married person (whether man or woman)was expected to either work on the marriage or get divorced before involving a third person. There was even a civil cause of action called "alienation of affections" or "hearts balm" that allowed the wronged married person to sue the third party for interfering with the marriage bond. Marriage Petitioners often mentioned the third party as a co-respondent and they were called as witnesses in divorce trials. It wasn't pursued very often by states' attorneys, but there was even a criminal action available in many states.

That's all gone now in the era of "no-fault divorce". Whether right or wrong, to many people of my age, marriage today seems to be viewed like "going steady" used to be. An unhappy married person nowadays is considered "fair game". That was not the general attitude in 1963. It might have been winked at behind the scenes for guys just fooling around, but if it ended in a broken marriage, the public attitude was decidedly negative for straying men and straying women.

If Betty wants to end up with Henry without causing a scandal, she will have to get divorced first before she is seen with Henry in public.

Anonymous said...

Jane's maiden name is SIEGEL.


Very strange that Roger -- the restricted country club gent -- would marry a girl who is at least partly Jewish, or at least Jewish enough to have a Jewish last name.

Remember in S1 when they're looking for someone Jewish to attend the initial Menken's meeting? Bert asks, "Have we hired any Jews here?" and Roger says, "Not on MY watch." Part of their fear of the other agencies is that they are more modern -- they have JEWS in creative and even management. Oh MY.

That's what Mona's talking about. Siegel.

Jane got her salmon pink sweater at Klein's on 14th Street. Klein's was a cheap store where you bought fashion knock-offs. Not a place Mona would be caught dead in. It was the kind of place Joan might find something -- because she's clever enough to be a savvy shopper -- but everyone would think, since Joan was wearing it, that it came from Saks.

That's where Jane is coming from. She probably went to Hunter College, or one of the city colleges. A college a smart but not wealthy Jewish girl would have attended.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that Betty (in above photo) watching Osward assassination was wearing the same plain cloth bathrobe, had scrubbed-clean face with w/o makeup, and her hair pulled back, much as she appeared in Season 2, "A Night to Remember," I believe. She appears extremely vulnerable. And shortly after both occasions Betty confronts Don about their relationship. Not sure what that means.

Maura said...

Jenae said: I assume Roger would never marry a call girl. That makes me think of class issues and i wonder what class background Jane has. She quotes her mother on how to host a party, and seems to think she knows how to function in Roger's world (Roger could do a lot better helping her navigate this very touchy situation), then Mona mentions Jane's maiden name. are we to understand that Jane has a family of note? (usually Americans in that era didn't go by 2 last names, as Mona refers to Jane by, unless, like Pete, they are showing off an important family name.)

Or is Mona pointing out the opposite, "When I married that man i was not only pretty but from a good family, with breeding; this new wife is from the great unwashed masses and has only her youth and prettiness to recommend her."

I think it's your second idea. Mona used Jane's full married name as a dig at her being the second (trophy) wife, i.e., Jane can try to make herself sound like a sophisticated society wife by calling herself "Jane Siegel Sterling", but all she's done is stick Roger's name at the end of her own. She has nothing else to recommend her. (That's according to Mona. Although everything so far has pointed to Jane being a scheming social climber, I'm holding off on any judgment of her. MW has tackled other cliches and made them interesting, so I have faith that he'll eventually give Jane some substance.)

RE: married women using their maiden name as a middle name, I don't know how common it was back then, but my mother did it. Maybe she was ahead of her time?

MadMeme said...

Anonymous said...

Remember in S1 when they're looking for someone Jewish to attend the initial Menken's meeting? Bert asks, "Have we hired any Jews here?" and Roger says, "Not on MY watch." Part of their fear of the other agencies is that they are more modern -- they have JEWS in creative and even management. Oh MY.

You're remembering that scene incorrectly (it's in the Pilot). It was Roger and Don; Roger asks, "How do I put this... have we ever hired any Jews?" and Don jokes, "Not on MY watch", to which Roger replies, "That's very funny; it's not what I meant".

Also, they state quite clearly in the dialogue that, normally in those times, most Jewish ad men worked for Jewish advertising firms selling Jewish products to Jewish people -- not really the same thing as competing firms being more 'modern'.

Ain't No Sin said...

Trudy makes a comment about Pete "holding all the cards". Is this is reference to his relationships with his clients or does it have to do with his knowledge about Dick/Don's past?

MadMeme said...

jenae said...

She (Mona) knows where to direct her anger, not at a 21 year old she barely knows, but at the man who walked out with no warning just when they were entering the home stretch as a couple, when she, at ~60, is at a disadvantage to recover.

I think you're prematurely aging Mona. Talia Balsam (the actress who plays Mona) is 50, and I think she's supposed to be in her late 40's on Mad Men.

PanAm53 said...

Since Margaret is only 19, Mona is probably in her early 40s.

MadMeme said...

PanAm53 said...

Since Margaret is only 19, Mona is probably in her early 40s.

Perhaps mid 40's; Roger said (in 'The Gypsy and The Hobo'), "...I married Mona, joined the firm, and then I got shipped off to the Pacific... for the duration".

BTW, could Margaret actually be older than 18 if Roger was gone for the duration of the war?

PanAm53 said...

The surname "Siegel" can be German as well as Jewish. There really aren't any Jewish surnames, just as there aren't Catholic or Protestant surnames. German Jews have German surnames, Polish Jews have Polish surnames, etc.

PanAm53 said...

Mark Madel:

I did not realize that Roger had stated that he was in the Pacific "for the duration." My calculation that Margaret was now 19 was based on her being 16 in 1960. However, if Roger didn't return home until August 1945, the earliest Margaret could have been born would be May 1946, making her a bride at the age of 17 1/2.

Alan Sepinwall said...

"The duration" just means he was in the war from whenever he was drafted (or enlisted) until the war ended. Not everyone wound up in the service right after Pearl Harbor. It's entirely possible that Roger got Mona pregnant in 1943, that Margaret was born in 1944 and is 19 at the time of her wedding.

PanAm53 said...

Alan, thanks for clearing that up. I was fairly certain that Margaret was 16 in 1960, and 19 at the time of her wedding.

Anonymous said...

Besides wanting the same woman (albeit in different ways), Don and Henry also share a name: "Francis" is/was Donald Draper's middle name. I'm not sure what this is supposed to say about any similarities between the two characters, but I'm sure it's not an accident.

Julia said...

RE: married women using their maiden name as a middle name, I don't know how common it was back then, but my mother did it. Maybe she was ahead of her time?

My mother was born in 1917 and used her maiden name as her middle name when she married in 1941. I was born in 1944 and have used my nmaiden name as my middle name since my marriage in 1966. It's easy to lose track of a woman over the years when she marries - using your maiden name in the middle keeps the trail going.

Sometimes I have to correct people who want to hyphenate my two names. That will get me screwed up alphabetically. I don't know if women are still doing that, but it was a fad for awhile.

PanAm53 said...

Similar to Julia: My 93 year old mother has always used her maiden name as her middle name. To this day, she signs everything with first name, initial of maiden name, married name. My mother was widowed at a very young age, and was a professional woman at a time when it was rare. I never use a middle name or initial, however I use my maiden name as my middle name for any official documents (SS, passport, etc).

Julia said...


That makes sense. My mother was a college graduate. Her diplomas have her maiden name. It saved a lot of hassle to use the name on her diplomas for her middle name.
Some of my diplomas have my maiden name and others have my married name with my maiden name in the middle - so it saves me some hassles, too.

That's probably the bottom-line reason for your mom's use of maiden name.

Anyway, I think it's nice to not dump one's father's name.

PanAm53 said...

I also think that it is nice not to dump one's father's name. I am very proud of my father's very old Southern surname. His ancestors arrived in Virginia in 1633.

I also think that using your maiden name is a nice compromise to dumping your father's name and not taking your husband's name. I think it is good for a woman's sense of identity. That said, it was usual during pre liberation days for a wife to be addressed as Mrs. John Smith instead of Mary Smith.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't have been nearly as sarcastic or as much of a dig on Mona's part if Jane's maiden name were, say, Smith. "Jane SIEGEL Sterling" carries a pointed, nasty message. "Jane Smith Sterling" -- so what. Nothing there. Why mention it at all.

Also, Jewish women of that generation weren't likely to use both maiden and married surnames. That was not a Jewish thing to do (unless maybe your name was Rothschild).

I think that custom is one originally belonging to women of "good family" who wanted to publically hang on to their ancestry. Much like Pete likes to say his full name to emphasize he's a Dykeman.

Sure people named Siegel might be of German not Jewish ancestry. But in NYC in the 1960s -- EVERYONE would have assumed Jane was Jewish. Isn't that the point -- what people would have assumed?

Not what we know today.

I'm from NYC and I have never met a non-Jewish person named Siegel, BTW.

I don't know why MW would have bothered to name her Siegel is there wasn't some point to it. No way it's a random "German" name. Not when your name is WEINER. Another "random" German name?

Julia said...

"The duration" just means he was in the war from whenever he was drafted (or enlisted) until the war ended. Not everyone wound up in the service right after Pearl Harbor. It's entirely possible that Roger got Mona pregnant in 1943, that Margaret was born in 1944 and is 19 at the time of her wedding.

I just noticed that's my story. My dad went off to France 10 days after I was born in 1944. For him the duration also included a year in occupied Japan, too, and he didn't get home until 1946. Many of the guys in the ETO who had gone late, were shipped over to the Philippines and its environs to prepare for the invasion of the Japanese mainland. Good thing it didn't happen.

If Margaret was born in 1944, it's very likely that Roger was also in the Pacific until 1946.

It's also very likely that Margaret, as a war baby, got spoiled by her extended family on the home front who coddled and catered to her while her daddy was off to war. That would explain a lot.

My psychiatrist brother says there is even a "war baby" syndrome.

PanAm53 said...

To Anonymous:

I was a young adult in NYC in the 60s. I was born in Brooklyn and lived in Queens until I was 21, when I moved "out west" to New Jersey...West New York, NJ.

I agree that most people in NYC assumed that anyone with a German last name was Jewish. However, just because people assumed this, didn't make it so. That's the point...I think MW wants it to be assumed that Jane is Jewish. However, there were probably more German people with "Jewish names" than there were Jewish secretaries. Being a secretary was neither a fitting job for an upper class girl nor a Jewish girl.

Susan said...

Ain't No Sin, I don't think Trudy's comment had anything to do with Don. It seemed in context with her telling Pete his clients would all follow him. (Which would not happen, in my opinion.) I tend to think Pete did not share the Dick/Don story with Trudy. I know she saw the box in their closet, but I don't think she knows what it meant.

Anonymous said...

on Betty and Henry's relationship- I can't recall which episode it was, but the scene where it shows Betty writing Henry, then reading his letter- it made it seem like it was pretty intense and emotional between them- even though there wasn't any physical contact. Like an online relationship today. So the proposal isn't completely out of nowhere, like it appears (it was a little shocking to hear). Could we see some flashbacks in the final episode that give us some insight to what happened in the draper house between halloween and nov 22?

Anonymous said...

PamAm said:
Being a secretary was neither a fitting job for an upper class girl nor a Jewish girl.

PanAm, where is your sociological information from? We have different information about what is what.

In the 70s I worked in upscale book publishing in NYC where the female secretaries were newly minted Harvard, Princeton, Barnard, etc grads...some Jewish, some not.

And in the 40s and 50s my mother's best friend, a nice Jewish lady, was an executive secretary at NBC Studios. Her daughter still has a perfume bottle from Frank Sinatra, which he personally gave her as a thank-you for doing his typing sometimes (he gave her a BIG bottle of "Joy" by Jean Patou, one of the great classic floral perfumes).

In this case I don't think MW is trying to fake anyone out. Why give her what most NYers would take as a Jewish name if she's not supposed to be Jewish. It hasn't ever been mentioned (except by Mona) and then it was used just as I would have expected -- as an insult.

jenae said...

Greg: previously I quoted something you shared (a Don-like experience of lost love) and said, "nicely put." I came across that post while scanning around and wished I'd expressed myself in warmer terms: An important emotion, moving to read.

Seeing Don experience the rejection he's feared all along was quietly devastating. Thanks for sharing your own heartfelt experience.

jenae said...

2 things:

Wow, if Mona used Jane’s maiden name as some kind of anti-Semitic slur, then I take back every good thing I said about her.

Maura, you said: "Although everything so far has pointed to Jane being a scheming social climber,"

--exactly, everything but M. Weiner's statements points that way?!??--

"I'm holding off on any judgment of her. MW has tackled other cliches and made them interesting, so I have faith that he'll eventually give Jane some substance."

I wish I could agree, but with only one episode left...

Maybe me of little faith...

(Nice that you're "holding off on judgment.")

jenae said...

Mark Mandel--thanks for the dialogue correction!!

i do think there was a trend, starting with guys like, sorry i'll get this name wrong, julian connig, there was a trend of agencies with more jewish talent who were making new kinds of funny ads, like connig's "think small"

(mr. connig--sorry for bludgeoning the name--his daughter did a piece about him on This American Life.)

jenae said...

"the earliest Margaret could have been born would be May 1946, making her a bride at the age of 17 1/2."

Aha, so she, the girl with the *normal* marriage, is the real "child bride". (yes, i know, i get obsessed.)

jenae said...

Alan: oh, okay, 19. (Still young.)

jenae said...

I hope nothing I wrote gave you the idea that I disagree with what you say. I think I agree with all of it.

Like I’ve said (umpteen times), I've been personally on edge since Roger and Jane became a couple, as I'm tired of storylines like theirs reflecting badly on my own 15 year (soon to be 16 yr) in duration age-gap marriage.

(Doesn't matter to me which party is male or female. I thought Bobby, for example was, not gross as many viewers writing on-line called her, but quite cool, a confident sexy woman in her, what, mid 40's? Didn't bother me at all that she was older than Don, which I didn't even notice at first ‘til the dialogue called attention to it.)

I’m not at all pleased that Roger went off with Jane or that she went along with that. I'd just like to see Jane not get reduced to an inhuman stereotype: the child bride.

And I do tend to think that *today* we all as a culture are often harsher on women than men. Men are harsh in their judgments of women (and in using mocking terms like gold-digger or trophy wife, or bunny-boiler and home-wrecker for that matter), and women can be very harsh toward one another when they are really angry at men.

Re: the sacredness of marriage, as I expressed when discussing so-called home-wreckers, I think it is generally uncool to get involved with a married person. The more aggressive the pursuit, the more uncool it is.

When people have kids it's obvious, I hope it's obvious, that that's a sacred bond that shouldn't be dissolved or tampered with lightly. I don't have kids (I do have step children whom I love, and I enjoy, thru my spouse, an extended family with wonderful young kids) but I think of my marriage as just as worthy to fight for as the union of people with children. I'm all for “the new monogamy” I guess it would be called (valuing long-term, committed relationships as a pursuit of intimacy and fulfillment).

jenae said...

I think it sucks that Roger left Mona so precipitously when they are both at or nearing 60. He didn't struggle (now-a-days we would expect him to go to couples counseling)--he just left.

He says he was unhappy. Fine. He still owed it to his wife, his daughter, and his marriage to make a real effort to save the union.

My issue is that I get sick of seeing that tawdry story line (old guy lives his wife for a young girl) told over and over as the only possible way that an older person would end up with someone younger. Without the hotel room aspect, and with more (much more) of a pre-existing friendship and intellectual connection, my marriage started a bit like what's happening between Duck and Peggy. (Minus the addictive history Alan keeps rightly pointing out.) A passionate affair that unexpectedly evolved into a now long-standing marriage.

So, again, I think you and I would mostly agree on the different aspects of these controversies. Or at least I can say for sure I agree with what you say about the sanctity of marriage and the fact that it is to be expected that a dumped woman will be angry. I just think that the first logical target of her anger—and our disapproval as an audience—is her husband. If she knows for a fact that the other woman came on strongly to her husband with no regard for his marriage, then, yes, she would reasonably be angry at her too. But often the ex-wife and other-woman-now-new-wife have little accurate info about each other. What a jilted wife knows for sure is that her husband ran out on her. He's the best target for her anger. But women tend to vent their hatred most at their rival. *

And I think that all these characters should be treated as three-dimensional people. And I sense that the show is dropping the ball in that respect with Jane, turning her into yet another more or less vapid, selfish young wife. --(There are small flickers of complexity in her characterization, but they’re hardly noticeable and can’t stand up against the audience's built-in assumptions.)--

So Jane becomes if not exactly than damned close to the stereotypical callow, immature, and self-involved young wife (I've known 16 year olds with more poise than Jane is usually showing in her recent scenes, the show is making her very childish and putting little emphasis on anything she says that shows any maturity),

which is oh-so typical in the world of media, and even in much supposedly serious fiction.

* or, like my friend, even at IMAGINED rivals. she's cooled off since her "I need to shop around" beau is now stepping out with someone 4 years older than she, and heavier! so now I have to *urge* her not to look down on and bad-mouth the older, heavier woman. Fucking exhausting female competitiveness!)

jenae said...

The "you" I was addressing in the previous post was still Julia.

Tearing away now from all the fascinating controversies.

nite all.

PanAm53 said...


I have really gotten to like Mona lately, but I too take back my fondness for her if she used Jane's maiden name as an anti-Semitic slur.

I realize that it's not worth arguing over, but the week is coming to an end, time for the chicken poop...I really do not think that Jane is Jewish. Good grief! I can't believe I am emoting over such a trivial issue.

Anyway...from Judaism 101:

A lot of the surnames that sound Jewish to Americans are simply German names such as Klein, Gross or Grossman, Weiss or Weisman, Rosen, Schwartz or Schwartzman, Segal, Siegal or Sagal, and anything that contains berg, stein, man, thal or bluth. German surnames are very common among American Jews, and many people seem to have inferred the converse: if most Jews have German surnames, then most people with German surnames must be Jews. The reasoning is appealing on a gut-level but logically flawed. Consider this absurd but logically identical argument: most Jews have ten fingers, therefore most people with ten fingers must be Jews.

In the 60s, there was a large population of German Jews as well as a large population of German gentiles in NYC.

jenae said...

Or not...

(my goodnite to all, i mean)

Mark Mandel:

if Mona is in her late 40's, then how old is roger supposed to be? Didn't jane say 'mona and Margaret have been your life for forty years" and he eagerly corrected her, saying "thirty years".

I figure after his romance with Annabelle, he was, what, near thirty when he married mona, so now 60? was mona, like betty i think, always younger? (I think Betty's was early 20's, Don late 20's.) If Roger is 59, that would make Mona 10 years younger...?

(Speaking of Roger at 59, usually a man in a mid life crisis has more than just one symptom.
--Changes clothes, car, habits, acts generally reckless. Asks existential questions, which roger did after heart attack but then seemed to drop--

Not that I doubt Roger's new marriage was impulsive, just where were the other mid life crisis symptoms, if that was what it was. maybe he's just impulsive, mid-life or no? Or is this splitting hairs?)

Re: impulsive marriages, i think it is true that Henry and Betty are not so odd for that time, when people --we would now say rushed-- into marriage without knowing each other very well.

PanAm53--yeah, Mona's comment now reads totally different.

True about German / Jewish surnames: My husband's last name bit be taken to be Jewish but is really German (his dad was of Polish descent, living in Vienna) meanwhile he does define himself, very proudly, as Jewish, because his mother was :)

jenae said...

might be taken


PanAm53 said...

I know that I discussed High School in NYC in the early 60s in a previous post. At that time, there were three types of diplomas: Academic, Commercial and General.

A Jewish student would almost always be enrolled in the Academic (College Prep) Program. Also, in those days it would be unheard of for a college graduate to become a secretary. You didn't go to college to become a was a dead end job, something you did until you met Mr. Right. Peggy is a nice thought, but didn't happen.

I realize that things were different in the 70s. Women who wanted to advance in the publishing field often started as secretaries, or administrative assistants as they now like to call them. Mad Men 101: the 70s are not the 60s! Times have changed!

Julia said...

My mom with a college degree was an executive secretary [nka executive assistant] in the '40s. She worked for the top boss in all three places. This was in Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

Her best friend was a lawyer who couldn't get hired by a law firm and so spent her professional life clerking for a Federal judge.

Anonymous said...

jenae speaking...

PanAm53: What does "Peggy is a nice thought, but didn't happen," mean?

Are we assuming Jane went to college? Because she is--most here seem to conclude--Jewish, therefore high school college prep tract, then college?

(I noticed tonight my cat Mia reminds me of Jane. Maybe I should call her Mia Siegel ;)

Thanks to the Anonymous who alerted us all to this dramatic nuance in the relationship of Mona, Jane, and Roger, and identity of Jane.

Anonymous said...

jenae here
(sorry, too exhausted to start my google account and don't know how else to access my username)

Anon said: "Margaret is losing weight and has to have her dresses re-sized, just like Jane, who has to have her wedding ring re-sized."

yes! there's some parallel there.

I keep thinking Margaret is doing the socially acceptable, normal thing (in her marriage to what’s-his-name), while Jane has set off a shit storm for herself by marrying a married-to-another older man,

but underneath that apparent difference they are both very young women embarking on marriage when they aren't equipped to deal with life.

And the existence of each causes great stress to the other. They are mirroring each other in some way...(?)

As I said before, no one would call Margaret a child bride—a phrase that to me feels like an insult--but she *is* a very young woman who, now that she's married, could be a mother-to-be in no time, life's biggest decision, which she is not really mature enough to make, though, again, what she's doing is normal so no one would find fault with it. Even we today wouldn't cast aspersions, though we now recommending waiting for marriage and kids 'til one is older.

I tend to think that no mistake that we make in life has greater moral weight than having kids when one isn’t ready to be good parent.

I would say the Drapers made that mistake. They've set their kids up for probable heartbreak, and have exposed them for years to unspoken tensions. Betty as an individual is not ready or qualified to be a mother--maybe she never would be--and Don has some talent for parenting but he created such an unhealthy relationship with Betty that his kids couldn't help but suffer the consequences.

Susan said...

Anonymous/jenae, when Jane was hired as Don's secretary, Joan referred to Jane as a "college girl."

PanAm53 said...

Jenae: You can access your username by clicking on Name/URL instead of Anonymous. Then fill in Jenae as your name. URL is optional. I will sign in this post that way. The name will be black instead of the blue for your Google profile.

PanAm53 said...

To Jenae:

By "Peggy is a nice thought, but didn't happen," I meant that being a secretary at that time was a dead end job, not an entry level position that would offer advancement. Even if she had been college educated, she wouldn't have advanced like she did.

As one of the anonymous posters pointed out, it became different as early as the 70s. College educated woman would start their careers in entry level administrative assistant positions confident that they would advance in the business world.

In the 60s a woman who went into business would not have expectations of advancing further than a secretary.

In general, college educated women did not become secretaries. They didn't teach secretarial skills in college. You learned secretarial skills in high school or secretarial school.

Mad Men is portraying Jane as a girl just out of college. Where did she learn secretarial skills?

I believe that they are portraying Joan as being college educated as well. We don't know much about her background, so I couldn't begin to speculate about how she came to be a secretary. And while she did advance to the lead secretary position, she was overlooked for a permanent advertising position, even though she performed well in her temporary role.

Maura said...

jenae said: I keep thinking Margaret is doing the socially acceptable, normal thing (in her marriage to what’s-his-name), while Jane has set off a shit storm for herself by marrying a married-to-another older man

The operative words being "married-to-another". Roger is criticized for marrying a much younger woman, in addition to leaving his wife for her. Jane caused a shit storm for breaking up his marriage. That was after she unsuccessfully went after Don. The viewers know that she did those things with no compunction. She also messed with Joan, which is no way to endear yourself to most Mad Men fans. :)

That said, I think she's in way over her head. Her excessive drinking is probably due as much to unhappiness as it is to her youth, and her ignorance of social rules.

jenae (also) said: (Nice that you're "holding off on judgment.")

Oh, "judgment" was exactly the wrong word for me to use. I should have said "I'm not forming an opinion". My sincere apologies if I offended you.

PanAm said: Also, in those days it would be unheard of for a college graduate to become a secretary. You didn't go to college to become a was a dead end job, something you did until you met Mr. Right. Peggy is a nice thought, but didn't happen.

PanAm, it's my understanding that being a secretary was one of the few choices a female college graduate had.

As for Peggy, I agree it's really unusual, but that's kind of the point of her character. She's a trailblazer.

Susan said...

I thought even college-bound girls (who aspired to be nurses or teachers) of that era were encouraged to learn to type, as an office job was thought of something you could always fall back on. When Jane was Don's secretary, she told Joan she didn't need a mother because she was 20 years old. It would seem likely given her age that she had attended college, not graduated.

Maura, you are right about Peggy.

PanAm53 said...

In this country in the early 60s, education was still primarily focused on preparing the student to enter the work force. Only the sons and daughters of wealthier people would be able to afford the luxury of a liberal arts education.

There were few choices for women. Becoming a secretary or a nurse were two choices that did not require a college education. Secretarial skills were learned either in high school or secretarial school. Nursing was learned at a hospital school of nursing. Teaching was another option for women. You went to a state college to learn how to teach school.

For Jane and Joan to have had the benefit of a liberal arts college education that did not prepare them for a job would probably mean that they came from families that valued an education for education's sake and that they were wealthy enough to afford the luxury of such an education. However, I do wonder how college girl Jane acquired her secretarial skills.

PanAm53 said...


It is quite possible that Jane and Joan did take typing classes in high school, however they probably wouldn't have taken shorthand classes.

I don't know if typing classes were necessarily encouraged as a means for a job to fall back on, but typing skills do come in handy for typing up all your papers. Sitting at my keyboard, hunting and pecking with two fingers sure makes me wish that I had taken typing class.

berkowit28 said...

In the 1960s there were *many* women at university. We're not talking about the 1930s here. It's true enough that they would likely have "come from families that valued an education for education's sake", yes.

The parents of may of these women would probably have expected that they would marry a man who would look after them - that was still the norm, at least for the parents' generation, as we have seen. Betty came from such a family. And university was a good way to meet men, of course. The women were not necessarily there to train to earn a living, though in fact many of them could and would use their BA to teach afterwards or - as things turned out later in the sixties - enter the workforce in many ways. Jane could easily have been one of those. As PanAm says, since she was just 20 when she came to work at SC, she probably hadn't graduated or stayed to the end. University may not have suited her.

High schools offered courses in typing as well as "home economics". Girls would take these courses, as someone has said, to have a skill to fall back on. If Jane is Jewish, as is likely from her name, it would not be unusual for her to be coming from a background where the parents had come from a poor background themselves, were now doing somewhat better, did value edication for its own sake, helped their daughter get to college, but insisted she take a typing course at high school - and/or a crash course at a typing school after she dropped out of college, for that matter. There would be nothing too unusual about any of this.

berkowit28 said...

And if Jane *is* Jewish, I'm really looking forward to seeing Roger spending time with his new inlaws.

berkowit28 said...

I started at university in 1965, only four years or so after Jane would have started. In Arts degrees, close to 50% of the students were women, or at least not some miniscule proportion. I'd have to do research to find the actual percentage, but it was very far from tiny.

PanAm53 said...

berkowit28 said...
And if Jane *is* Jewish, I'm really looking forward to seeing Roger spending time with his new inlaws.

You and me both!

Also, as I said previously, secretaries needed to be skilled at shorthand, not just typing.

jenae said...

As the upheaval of the 60’s approaches the characters on the show, I seem to hear people speaking of these changes as all-good for women, suggesting that women who didn’t get with the changes are to be pitied.

Changes like Peggy’s opportunities were good, but some changes were not for the best for women. The sexual revolution was often a set-up for dreamy-eyed bohemian and hippy chics to be sexually exploited. This happened to my mother a number of times in the 60’s and 70’s.

Imamarilyn: Thanks for the "college girl" clarification! We did hear one thing that "made the Sterling marriage go south." Roger, in the barbershop, said Mona started judging people (he didn’t like that). Like I said then, probably the role of society wife molded her in that direction.

Now we have this new wrinkle / paradox: she looks great and is an impressively cagey mother, but her remark about Jane Siegel Sterling seems anti-Semitic. (Interesting that the dialogue Mark Mandel quoted shows Don being Anti-Semitic “Not on my watch,” while Roger approaches the subject tactfully.)

PanAm53 said...

I never meant to imply that only a small number of women were college educated. When I attended college between 1962 and 1966, I would not be surprised if well over half of the students were women.

My original premise was that it would be very unusual for a secretary to have been college educated. One learns secretarial skills in high school or secretarial school. A college educated man or woman usually majors in a subject specific to his or her career goals. I was only trying to rationalize how someone with a liberal arts education could wind up as a secretary.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Julia said...

My mother, born in 1917, was college educated. She was a skilled stenographer and typist, which are what was required for her jobs as executive assistant to company presidents. Her college degree sharpened her writing skills and organizational skills.
My mom used those skills the rest of her life as secretary of every organization she ever belonged to and in managing the family finances - she made a killing in the stock market over the years.

I was on the college track, but like 90% of the class of 1962 I also learned business skills with Latin and biology. I have my 2 yr typing pin (earned in 1 year because I played the piano), took business English, but I skipped the stenography - which would have been useful taking notes in college and law school. I earned money in college typing other people's term papers and theses. That was before word processing. It was still the era of carbon paper and not being able to make ANY mistakes - also figuring out how to do footnotes which was much more difficult than endnotes before word processing.

Out of a HS class of 85 girls about 10of us went to either university or nursing school. One went on to get a PhD and become a college professor - in math, not physics b/c it ws even harder to make your way as a woman in academic physics than math.

After doing very well on the college entrance exam, I was told that I should do one of the more difficult courses - medical technology or science education. I picked the bacteriology lab. Nothing about med school or law school. Deans would try to talk women out of taking a man's place - he would be a breadwinner and the woman was assumed to not stick with it when she had kids.

A college roommate was one of 2 girls in the engineering school at university. Everybody assumed she was a lesbian. Another college roommate later was one of 2 women in her first year of law school - she dropped out after one semester of intense harassment; the other girl had only been sent by her lawyer employers to do one year to learn how to do research. When I went to law school many years later in the 1980s, the women lawyers in the community my age told horror stories such as panties being flung about in the air during the class on rape. Women med students of the time were subjected to pornographic photos slipped in to slide shows in class.

By the way, Joan is not a secretary - she was the office manager. Big difference.

jenae said...

Julia: Horrible, sexist things for women to endure. Thanks for providing that context.

Julia said...

Changes like Peggy’s opportunities were good, but some changes were not for the best for women. The sexual revolution was often a set-up for dreamy-eyed bohemian and hippy chics to be sexually exploited. This happened to my mother a number of times in the 60’s and 70’s.

That reminds of the song from "Hair" sung by the pregnant girl that everybody shuns: she sings about how can people be so heartless - people who care about strangers and social injustice, the bleeding crowd, but she just needs a friend. Yes, women were badly used in the early days of hippiedom. It hurts to listen to some of the songs of the era praising women who will sleep with anybody and the guy can just move on. "Cripple Creek" is one I don't like too much. The woman in that song is described as "a drunkard's dream, if I ever saw one".

I was in Haight-Ashbury the summer everybody wore flowers in their hair. It was not all sunshine and moonbeams. Great music, though.

berkowit28 said...

PanAm, thanks for clearing up that misunderstanding. And yes, I had skipped over your earlier statement that a secretary needed shorthand, not just typing.

Still, as I should have said earlier, Jane might have taken a crash course at a *secretarial* school after dropping out of college. Or, going with Julia's recollection that [some] high schools also offered stenography, she might have learned it there after all.

Julia said...

Here's Jennifer Warnes in 1968 singing "Easy to be Hard (I Need a Friend)" from the original play of Hair. She's playing one of the hippy group in NYC who is pregnant, but nobody will help her. The 1979 movie made years later changed the story quite a bit. Jenae, I'll bet your mom knows this song.

By the way Jennifer Warnes was appearing in the LA stage production at the time of this clip - it was about 6 months after Hair opened on Broadway. Here she is appearing on the Smothers' Brothers TV show in LA. Later she sang with Joe Cocker and did quite well.

Julia said...

Besides skipping stenography, I stupidly skipped bookkeeping. That would also have been a great skill to have.

I probably should have mentioned that I went to a girls' high school in a very blue collar area with a lot of Irish and Eastern European immigrants. Our graduates were very much in demand as office workers. It was very smart of the school to have these courses considering the financial situation of most people's families. Not too many college loans yet nor communitiy colleges. There were only the expensive private colleges and cheaper big state schools necessitated the expense of a dorm; today there are local branches of state schools that make living cheaply at home for university possible.

A few of my friends who didn't expect to go to college unexpectedly won teachers' scholarships to state universities and became the first women in their families to go beyond high school. The scholarships included room and board. The good nuns had insisted that all the better students take the PSAT and ACT whether they were planning on college or not. All of these college girls would have taken the business courses before college.

berkowit28 said...

Jane, living in New York City, would have had the various CUNY colleges available, and could live at home. And someone mentioned Hunter College earlier.

jenae said...


Wow, as a pretty devoted Neil Young fan, I've certainly heard Cripple Creek but it's not a favorite so I never focused on it. Now I want to listen again (shudder).

(I'd hate to hear Neil singing something offensive. His current marriage is pretty inspiring, especially with his wife recently cutting her own record after backing him up—in many ways—for years.)

Thanks for expanding on that theme of tough times for women in the sexual revolution. :)

(My father dragged my mother to the summer of love SF scene shortly before I was born. She wanted to stay on the East coast with what she called the "hard core druggy scene." (Great mom.--speaking sarcastcially there, as in, "Right, stay with the heavy drug crowd, by all means"-- She was never addicted but both her husbands were.) Disdained to call herself a hippy; thought the CA scene was too sun shiney.

(Not sure she ever caught on to Hair, she was more into certain male singer songwriters like Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Young.)

bombaygirl said...

Alan, have you or any of your readers considered the Weiner may be using Ibsen's plays as a framework for Mad Men? If you have, sorry for the repeat.

berkowit28 said...

How many Ibsen plays? There are an awful lot. Are we just looking for superficial resemblances and occasional references ("Mountain King", piano student playing Peer Gynt), or do you really mean a
*framework*, as you say? Examples?

(And, no, no one has ever mentioned Ibsen. The floor's all yours.)

Julia said...

1970's Up on Cripple Creek is by The Band. I love the music.

From Wikipedia: the song tells the story of a [Colorado] miner who goes to Lake Charles, Louisiana to stay with a local girl who he knows will put him up for free while he blows his money on drinks. Although he admits to having some feelings for his "little Bessie", he uses her hospitality to drink himself to oblivion.

Then he heads off to yet another "mama", but thinks he might pay his Bessie another visit, too.

Chorus: Up on Cripple Creek she sends me
If I spring a leak she mends me
I don't have to speak she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

Last Verse: Now, there's a flood out in California
And up north it's freezing cold
And this living off the road
Is getting pretty old

So I guess I'll call up my big mama
Tell her I'll be rolling in
But you know, deep down, I'm kinda tempted
To go and see my Bessie again

Very elevating, sensitive, enlightened stuff. To me, this song epitemizes pre-feminism counter-culture. I had some friends who risked life and limb to march in Selma during Civil Rights days in the early 1960s. The men had them cook, clean and make coffee; nobody listened to what they had to say. Meaningful women's empowerment did not happen until later in the 1970s.

NOW was founded in 1966, but didn't really have any influence until the 70s. Ms Magazine first came out in 1972. Our Bodies, Ourselfes didn't come out until 1973.

It's true that women started complaining publicly in the 1960s, but (other than free sex) nothing really changed for women until the 1970s. Anyway, that's how I recall it.

Julia said...

One caveat. In the 60s the Equal Pay Act was passed. As a little joke, somebody slipped "sex" in along with the other criteria that couldn't be used to discriminate. It was pretty much ignored for a long time.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't all that unusual for women to move up from secretarial positions to positions of greater responsibility. My mother did, in the 50s. The problem was that once women had children there were strong incentives to leave the workplace. There was no system of childcare, no after-school programs for young children, etc. Plus women, my mother included, got cheated big-time on the pay. My mother was able to work part-time when we were young. Unusual, yes, but not unheard or.

jenae said...

Julia: I must be thinking of a different song, one Neil Young did with either Buffalo Springfield or CSN&Y. (It's on my best of dble CD.)

All this heyday of the 60's stuff is looming on the horizon of the show...

Re: what I said about both the men in my mom's life and addiction--my dad was a musician, so a brush with drugs, especially '65-'75, was sort of an occupational hazard. The next guy's problem was with alcohol. (She married him when I was in my 20's. They divorced years ago.)

He seemed cool, had been a roady (sp?) in the UK with some amazing bands, but, y'know, as Alan has been pointing out, addiction is no fun to deal with, or to have in your family. (Come to think of it, he was ~ 10 years younger than she, all her boyfriends after my dad seem to have been. Maybe she was a proto-Cougar--without the media stereotype slinky outfits ;)

Mad Men's look is so wonderfully early 60's, the styles feel so sleek and timeless. I don't think I would want to see our characters grow side burns and otherwise transform into the scruffier look of the mid and late 60's.

jenae said...

Maura: When I wrote "nice that you're holding off on judging" there was no sarcasm (at all). I meant it's nice! :)

(Will read your post more carefully asap; wanted to clarify that now :)

jenae said...

I think I'm the only person who didn't see Jane go after Don. Is it that thing where she got a little too personal about his stay in at Rosevelt that is where folks think she was going after him?

(This is not so much an interpretation question--not tryna defend Jane--more like "Was I fixing myself a sandwich and missed something?")

jenae said...

meant: "his stay at the Roosevelt"

Susan said...

jenae, she flirted mildly with him when she was his secretary. She wasn't what I would call aggressive. I recall a double entrendre when they were talking about giving blood she said she wouldn't faint but "she may cry afterward." She also grabbed him in a sexual way at her garden party. She was drunk then, so it could have been the alcohol.

jenae said...

imamarilyn: Yeah, the "grabbing in a sexual way" was right in front of Roger (while she was his new bride), so I think that was an embarrassing (funny) drunken moment. ("I'm a good person!" she says, as she grabs his crouch. ;)

Re the earlier flirting, did Jane do anything with Don that goes beyond the kind of suggestiveness there must have been between Joan & Roger leading up to their affair?

Seems like people accept Joan having an affair with married Roger, but when Jane acted toward Don as if she wanted to have AN AFAIR--that gets conflated with her ending up married to Roger, so she is seen as having tried to break up Don's marriage too. (Seems like that's what people are saying. Right?)

To risk being SO repetitive, I think aggressive home-wrecking is clearly wrong. In 1962 (last season) getting into JUST AN AFFAIR with a married man was kinda common. So long as, like Joan, the other woman has no intention of stealing him, then I think most of us would just shrug. Again, many love Joan (I think everybody loves Joan) and loved her with Roger.

(A great term I heard to describe Joan was "retro-sexual"! That amazing—startlingly amazing--body of hers' being a lost ideal of voluptuous gorgeousness, like something not just from another time but another world—aka out-a-this world.)

It's not clear to me that Jane did anything different than what Joan did, vis-a-vis married men. The rub is that she ended up married to Roger. But it seems to me that that’s because she got swept up in Roger's fantasy. She is quite young, and unlike, say, the bookish 17-year-old Abigail Adams who impressed her nine years older cousin John with her sophisticated reading, the show is developing Jane into someone not only young but fairly immature. I can totally see that she would be swept up in Roger's "I've been unhappy for years," "she's become so judgmental" story.

jenae said...

Since we're being shown such a naive characterization of Jane, we can easily think of her as falling for Roger's b.s. (B.s. in that his reasons don't justify breaking up his family so impulsively.)

I think the reason that we like Joan with Roger but people tend to dislike Jane for marrying Roger is because they ended up married, which again I think is more Roger's doing. (It seems hard to believe in light of recent episodes but, i’ll say again, Weiner has said in exactly these words "she's not a gold digger" of Jane, so if we believe that, then Roger's fantasy of a romantic 2nd marriage to a younger woman seems to be the impetus for the marriage, not an aggressive pursuit by Jane.) Now that they are married, it seems that all her actions are seen—even retroactively, it seems—in a harsher light (i.e. as compared to Joan) because, imo, we as a culture generally have very neg. stereotypes about a younger wife.

(A wife who's younger I think is likely to be assumed to have broken up a marriage, without anyone knowing the marital history of the man in the equation; whether he had never married—some men do make it to their 50's unmarried, or was long since divorced, a widower, whatever: people see the younger woman and assume that she broke up a marriage. If Peggy went out to dinner with Duck, many would assume she's his mistress and therefore a potential homewrecker or, if the absence of rings is overlooked, they'd assume she's his young wife who stole him from an older woman, though Duck was quite divorced--his wife seems fed up with him and his drinking—before he ever met Peggy.)

Now to be really redundant: Why did this show, that smashes, or rather wonderfully nuances, lots of stereotypes, gradually turn Jane into such a stereotype?

(A stereotype recycled ad nauseum: Movies like Bringing Down the House—low brow fun—and "Barbarians at the Gates"—a literate *film*—both end on a note where all the characters are redeemed and sing cumbiyay—except the young wife or young woman who dates older men. Like that's the one "type"* of person that we as a culture can't include in our cumbiyay (sp?), and get a special kick out of hating.)

Will Mad Men turn out to be no more original where this Jane character is concerned, or do they have a trick up their sleeve that's gonna come out in the finale? Is her Jewishness part of the twist to come?

* Jim Leaher said something interesting: His years in the marines taught him there are no "types" of people; “we're all individuals”.

jenae said...

sp is:


(thank you google)

JoeInVegas said...

Wonder if Jane is really Jewish.

1. Would SC hire her if she was?
2. Is she was wouldn’t someone had made some snarky remarks about “the jew Girl”? Seems like someone would have said something, before or after she married Roger.

Unknown said...

I think Mona's calling her, pointedly, "Jane Siegel Sterling" is the "someone saying something" that's come to light.

jenae said...

JoeInVegas: Mona’s comment does seem, given the times, like a minimum of over-all snarkiness re: jane’s hypothesized Jewishness. Here’s something else:

Remember in Mark Mandel’s quoted dialogue, Don, asked if any Jews have been hired, says “Not on my watch.” So it seems Don doesn’t like Jews. And he never seemed to like Jane. When she said "I hope you know I’m a discreet person,” he said “I don’t know you *at all*" with a very unfriendly, kind of “get away from me” look on his face.

Maybe Don was reacting negatively to Jane, as he knew her last name and knew or supposed that she’s Jewish.

jenae said...

Loretta said:

Kinsey's teasing Peggy about her nooner was much more comrade-like than we've seen him be with her...I definitely see more respect there than before...not his usual speaking down that he did with her.

True, that was a real nice moment.

Anonymous said...

RE: "Love American Style: "I don't love you anymore. I know that. I kissed you yesterday. I didn't feel a thing." (Poor Betty, she was actually serious in reducing love to the effect of a kiss.)"

While I agree it is ridiculous to reduce love (especially involving a marriage with 3 children) to the effect of one single kiss, that's Betty for you. Remember her "first kisses" speech to Sally? This was her first kiss with Dick Whitman, and she found it wanting.

Scott Hollifield said...

I don't believe Jane is intended to be Jewish, for the very reason that if she were, the show would be making more of a point out of it a la Rachel Menken. In this time period, on this show, a character wouldn't get to walk around as a minority like that without it being a fairly forefront issue.

I don't include Mona's "Jane Siegel Sterling" remark in that category, because Mona was saying it that way to stress Jane's nouveau pretensions. The core issue that Mona, and Margaret, and Don, and the rest of the sane world have with Jane is that she's an immature fluff whom Roger left his "lioness" of many years for. (Plus the added drama of Margaret feeling directly affronted by Jane's age, resulting in an instant if twisted kind of sibling rivalry.)

This is the basic crux of the story. Explicitly throwing some kind of Jewish factor into the whole thing would be upsetting the narrative applecart, I think, and doing so implicitly wouldn't make any sense.

Scott Hollifield said...

Also, Don's "Not on my watch" from season one was a bit of banter. He meant it in the same tone that he said that he would run down to the deli to grab a Jewish person, and that (in a different episode) he was still waiting for his shirts to be cleaned by the Chinamen placed in Pete's office.

At heart, I don't believe Don Draper could really be anti-Semitic or truly prejudiced because he's not like most of the other characters on this show. He believes that any person can shed their baggage and re-invent themselves. As Dick Whitman, he has a humble soul borne from his improverished and abusive upbringing. We've seen him striking up socially incorrect conversations with black waiters and tacitly tolerate Sal's homosexuality (until it appeared to get in the way of business). I feel pretty sure that this is something people are over-reading into the show which Weiner did not specifically intend.

JoeInVegas said...

I agree with Scott.

Also, Roger would have a big problem at the country club if Jane where Jewish.

I am thinking if it was one of those old style waspy clubs that Jane would not be allowed in as a guest and Roger and Jane would not be allowed to have their Derby party there.

Also thought it was pretty obvious why Roger married Jane: Why does any man dump his wife of 20+ years for a 20 year old hottie? Mid-life crisis...

Maura said...

jenae said: A wife who's younger I think is likely to be assumed to have broken up a marriage, without anyone knowing the marital history of the man in the equation; whether he had never married—some men do make it to their 50's unmarried, or was long since divorced, a widower, whatever: people see the younger woman and assume that she broke up a marriage. If Peggy went out to dinner with Duck, many would assume she's his mistress and therefore a potential homewrecker or, if the absence of rings is overlooked, they'd assume she's his young wife who stole him from an older woman, though Duck was quite divorced--his wife seems fed up with him and his drinking—before he ever met Peggy.

Now to be really redundant: Why did this show, that smashes, or rather wonderfully nuances, lots of stereotypes, gradually turn Jane into such a stereotype?

Jane has been shown to be petty and bitchy (her behavior towards Joan at the office earlier this season), and quite the little game player (when she was Don's secretary). And,the fact is, she did break up Roger's marriage*. But we've also seen that she's deeply unhappy. She got way more than she bargained for when she married Roger. Imagine being married to Roger. I'd drink heavily too.

*Roger let this happen as much as Jane did, and I'm willing to lay more responsibility at his feet. It's bizarre to think of Roger being the adult in any situation, but Jane, even with her advanced degree in game-playing, was still young and naive. Like Joan with Greg, Jane saw what looked good on paper. Roger is handsome, charming, witty, and successful. He's also a huge schmuck, but she didn't see that until it was too late.

And now for me to redundant: I hope we see more of Jane next season, and I think MW will show her as more than a shallow gold digger/homewrecker.

Maura: When I wrote "nice that you're holding off on judging" there was no sarcasm (at all). I meant it's nice! :)

Thank you for clarifying, janae. I read it as sincere at first, then started to overthink it.

jenae said...

Maura: :)

Scott & Joe: I take your points re: whether Jane is Jewish; we'll see. Hard to read Don re: Jewish people; he did fall for Rachel. (And I never caught on to why people thought he had disdain for her; a discussion that started before I got here.)

I found the poem I mentioned during our discussion of Suzanne, a confessional poem about a woman who gets involved over & over with married men. It’s lyrical and powerful, the ending especially.

jenae said...

Maura: It's true enough about Jane's "advanced degree." I watched the DVD's already knowing Jane ends up with R and was very interested to hear what MW thought of everything. I was surprised how borderline positive he was about jane and about her affair with Roger and the moment when she accepts his proposal. In a way I was relieved he was positive, ‘cause I was anxious re: “Is this gonna be another evil younger wife?”, but I also found his interpretation at odds with the events he himself was showing on the screen.

The nicest thing I could say about Jane in the early scenes is she's kinda frisky, but, yeah, she certainly messed with Joan, and while I don't doubt she needed her job, and was willing to "beg for it" as Weiner put it, why did he not comment on the fact that she knowingly trades on her looks to keep her job, and then confronts Joan in a way that totally undermines Joan, like: I'm pretty and Roger sided with me against you.

There was a different commentary track in which the female writer said "that must have broken Joan's heart." Jon Hamm focused on different ways women in that era try to find power, said jane, like the other women characters, was testing her power.

But, yeah, i don't like much of Jane's behavior; I'm surprised Weiner didn't seem to see how much he'd created a character who, once she's with Roger, will look like yet another evil (or thoroughly unlikable) younger wife character.

Anonymous said...

This column came out Wed and seems relevant to topics that have come up in connection with Mona, Jane, Roger, and season two’s Bobbie Barrett.

jenae said...

Maura wrote: "Roger is handsome, charming, witty, and successful."

["silver haired fox" to use Josh's term]

"He's also a huge schmuck"

Yup, Maura, that's a good description.

One aspect of Weiner's strangely positive take on Jane that I do agree with, I can see that with all his charming attributes, Jane would have been genuinely charmed by Roger.

I still don't see why people think she made a hard play at Don, as if she was bent on stealing a successful married man. Don't see evidence of that. (Seems she was, like Joan, open to having an affair with a married man.)

More like whereas Joan wanted to wait to find the cultural ideal: a successful man of her own age (Greg on paper), Jane went with the more deviant idea of a charming older man, and ended up with, as you put it, a schmuck,

being "forbidden" by Roger, while struggling with a very pissed stepdaughter without an engaged husband to collaborate with her.

That's why you don't marry a married man: If he was jerk enough to cheat on and dump his wife, he'll be a jerk to you too.

Jane didn't have the maturity and character to get that. (My stepdaughter had more emotional maturity at 16 than Jane's shown.) But I'll bet Roger told her a pretty story that made it all seem justified.

jenae said...

I wrote:

"That's why you don't marry a married man,"

then remembered, that's exactly what Lauren Becall did with Bogart, and with Bogart's hugely alcoholic 2nd wife (Bacall was third) it *did* seem basically justified in that instance.

I guess J. Lehrer is right; generalizations only go so far

jenae said...

if I can't consistently spell Lauren Bacall's name right, there is no hope for me...

blogward said...

I know what you mean about disappointing - the focus seemed to be all about Kennedy. But that's the point - the characters wouldn't not react. How many times have you watched a soap and said to yourself, "Don't they know there's a war/recession/moonshot/Brit invasion going on?" This is the secret of Mad Men - the fiction interacts with non-fiction TRUTHFULLY. Sometimes that unleashes a curve ball. Next it'll be MLK's death.

Two predictions for season 4:
1. Grey buy Sterling Cooper; Duck is Don's boss and TV becomes the focus of the business.
2. A year later: Betty is fussing mightily with hard-drinkin' Don over child access, and Henry's stepchildren hate him.

PanAm53 said...

Having just finished reviewing Season 1, I have come to the conclusion that Joan will commit suicide in the final episode of Season 3.

PanAm53 said...

I also predict that after the Season 3 finale, no one will be debating whether or not Jane is Jewish.

Julia said...

I'm looking forward to seeing (in season 4) the reactions of Roger, Mona and Margaret to Jane's having a baby. Judging from Roger's snarky comments to Don when Betty had her 3rd and Don was up all night at the hospital, Roger will be nowhere near the hospital.

Maura said...

Blogward said: Grey buy Sterling Cooper; Duck is Don's boss and TV becomes the focus of the business.

If Grey buys SC, I'm skeptical that Duck will be Don's boss. We don't even know what his position is at Grey. If he were so high up in the organization, would he be conducting business out of a hotel room? I doubt he would be dealing directly with clients at all. It seems to me that he would have underlings to handle client contact. At this point, his reputation precedes him, and his employers would keep him on a tight leash. He's bombed out too many times. He's lucky to have a job.

Whatever happens, they will have to ramp up televisions ad. Which means Harry will totally crash and burn, or continue to get promoted (and not even know it), despite his lack of imagination. That man has probably stumbled into every great thing he's ever had.

jenae said... if I can't consistently spell Lauren Bacall's name right, there is no hope for me...

Blame the keyboard. That's what I do.

berkowit28 said...

You can download a copy of Don Draper's contract from the AMC site here:

Apologies if this has been mentioned previously - I don't recall that it was. people have referred to terms (salary of $75,000) before, I guess from readibg it off the screen, but this is high resolution, like a real document (as a pdf).

It doesn't say anything about not competing in the event that he gives (3 months') notice, but actually it appears to be just the first page of a much longer contract, since there are references to "paragraph 11", yet only 3 clauses and no signatures appear on this page, so no doubt there's a non-competitive clause further along that we can't see. What we can see refers to the company having to give 6 months' notice and up to 12 months' compensation, or 2 years if one year would be "manifestly unreasonable", in the event they fired him. I wonder if that last bit would have to be tested in court or at least negotiated by lawyers.

jenae said...

:) again

jenae said...

I misspoke re: Bacall, she was Bogart's 4th wife. (He must have gotten married every 7-8 years?)
He had no kids until the children he had with Bacall, so no children were harmed in the making of his divorces. ;)

Maybe this seems unsympathetic to people with such problems, but I do think that when you're with someone with extreme problems (like alcoholism or mental illness), as my husband was at the time of his divorce 17 year before he met me, it's more excusable to leave. In all his subsequent relationships—his pattern was rather like Bogart's, a new relationship every 7 years or so—in all his subsequent relationships, he was the leavee, not the leave-er. It's not always the cliché of the man who dumps his wife for a younger woman.

jenae said...

PanAm53--Joan, suicide, really?

(I agree the Jewish question--was that a phrase from the Dreyfus era?--will be answered, probably.)

Julia--I don't picture Roger and Jane having children, even if their marriage did last, which doesn't seem likely. I think the marriage sprung from Roger's fantasy, and I don't think he'd want to bring kids into that. (If she wants and he says no and she submits, that'd be another cliché.)

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