"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mad Men: Three Sundays

After the last episode of Mad Men, I have been thinking about that scene in the restaurant between Don and Bobbie (you know, That Scene) and what it means for Don's character. My feeling was that this was the beginning of Don becoming dangerously unhinged, and after this episode I'm even more convinced. I would not be shocked if he became increasingly violent as this season progresses.

But Don's not the only one whose world is unraveling; it seems that many people in the Sterling Cooper universe are reaching their own breaking points. With the slow and deliberate pace of Mad Men, I find myself becoming more and more on edge with each episode, as though watching a storm slowly gather, and waiting for lightning to strike.

Don Draper: I think Don's unraveling is two-fold. Firstly, men like Don and Roger Sterling are a dying breed, and as this dramatic decade rolls on, I think they will feel more and more obsolete. This is tough for men who pride themselves and have entire careers riding on the fact that they are in touch with what Americans want and need. Earlier episodes this season that hinted at Don's age and things like his not being charmed by Jacqueline Kennedy, support this point. Secondly, Don is having an increasingly difficult time reconciling his troubled, secret past and his present life. In this episode, he struggles mightily to not repeat the sins of his father, only to explode and shove Betty. More and more I'm seeing the scary side of Don.

Betty Draper: Poor Betty is clearly feeling trapped, and conflicted about this life that she thinks is supposed to make her happy. The scenes between Don and Betty are unsettling. Earlier episodes this season hinted at her sexual dissatisfaction with Don, testing the waters elsewhere to feel attractive and sexy. She has a lot of anger pent up, and her outbursts signal that she's becoming discontent and overwhelmed by raising their children, feeling like she's stuck at home all day and "outnumbered" by the kids.

Peggy Olson: Peggy's family hosts a young priest from their congregation and he quickly takes a shine to Peggy. Her sister can't help but be a little disgusted by all the praise heaped on Peggy — despite her recent transgressions. The constraints on women at the time aside (and I know we don't know the entire story yet), I am still weirded out by Peggy's odd state of denial. So, even though ratting Peggy out in confession to the priest was not very nice, I can sympathize with her sister's frustration.

Some more thoughts:

Scariest line of the night goes to Don: "You want me to bring home what I got at the office today? I'll put you through that window." Yikes.

Also someone should just sign Sally Draper up for AA meetings right now. After fixing her dad stiff drinks and getting wasted at the office, I think it's safe to say the girl's going to have issues. And by "issues" I mean hopping on that free love revolution train and heading to San Francisco, to Don's horror.

Pete's short shorts are amazing. I am still intrigued by him, and would like more Pete next episode.

Does anyone else find the kid playing Bobby Draper a little creepy? I know he's just a kid, but onscreen he just seems utterly lifeless.

I really enjoyed the scene between Roger Sterling and his daughter. Let the generation clashes begin as the daughter has her own ideas about what a wedding means to her. Then it swiftly turns sad as Roger's wife romantically reminisces about their wedding, followed a few scenes later by Roger's interactions with Vicky.

High-priced hookers are popping up quite a bit on Mad Men (remember Betty's old roommate, the "party girl"?). Do you think this was more common/classier than it is today? Perhaps more overt? At any rate, as much as I enjoy the life Roger injects into the series, he also strikes me as pathetic when it comes to the ladies. And I can't help thinking about his poor wife.

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