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

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mad Men: A Night To Remember

This episode of Mad Men shall henceforth be known as "that time Betty totally melted down," despite its official title. I've been hoping for a while now that she would finally let some of the air out of the repressed tension by confronting Don about his lies and I was granted this wish.

Meanwhile, Joan gets a taste of making a contribution to the business beyond her secretarial duties — and she likes it! I saw more of her fiance, who certainly has some strong beliefs about male-female roles. Finally, Peggy and her priest friend continue to bond as he works to gain her trust and talk about the deep secrets he knows she harbors (thanks to her lovely sister).

Betty Draper: Oh man, poor Betty! It started out with Jimmy blindsiding both Drapers in the previous episode, which made Betty throw up all over the new car. I was suspicious that Betty physically ridding her body of that nastiness would be the only expression of her shock upon learning of Don's infidelity, but thankfully I was wrong about that. I just wanted to scream or kick or cry for her last night. She confronts Don about his affair with Bobbie Barrett, spitting at him "You think you know me? Well, I know what kind of man you are." In return, Don continues to look her straight in the eye and deny, deny, deny. It's the kind of thing that makes a person feel completely insane and that's exactly what happens to Betty. She searches his clothes, his desk, looking for any sign that could confirm what she knows to be true. Later things get even sadder with Betty telling Don that she would "never do that" to him, and asking him, "Do you hate me?" Totally heartbreaking. I'm not at all sure where the Draper marriage goes from here.

Peggy Olson: Peggy is asked by the priest to create a poster for the church dance. Unfortunately, her mock-up does not allow enough "room for the holy ghost" and the church ladies are displeased. Was the priest flirting with Peggy? I sort of don' want to acknowledge this even though deep down I think it seems that way. At the office he pushes her to talk about what's goin' on and asks if she feels like she doesn't deserve God's love. Oh, and then Father Gill rocks out on the guitar.

Joan Holloway: Joan's storyline was totally unexpected and awesome. I love how naturally she helps out in the "TV department," openly sharing her insights about the scripts. But ugh, her fiance rubs me the wrong way. He expresses surprise that she likes to read, and tells her his impression of her role at the office: "You just walk around with people staring at you." Lovely. In the end, of course, a little nerdy guy takes Joan's spot even after she impressed clients, earning statements like, "I love what she says and I love the way she says it." She's obviously hurt and disappointed by being replaced, as was I. I really want her to keep using her real talents!

Some more thoughts:

The product integration department on this show outdid themselves. It's obvious Heineken is one of the show's sponsors, but in this episode the beer actually plays a real role. It was overt, but somehow not as obnoxious as some of the product placements in other shows.

Betty smashing the chair! Eerie and poignant. I think that's one of the creepiest moments of the show for me.

Also, how'd you like Betty's "trip around the world" menu? I know that women were expected to be good housewives and entertainers but I forget just how elaborate those requirements could be. Nowadays you can throw a dinner party for colleagues by ordering sushi, thank goodness.

For some reason the wasted lady at the Draper dinner party made me laugh. She walks straight into a wall!

Another funny moment is Father Gill hanging over the printer, marveling at its magical printing abilities.

I found this line from Betty really interesting: "How could you? She's so old." It's clear that this is all very confusing for her. She's given these requirements to fulfill: Be young, be beautiful, be a hostess with the mostest, raise the children, be perfect. And even when she accomplishes all that her husband still steps out on her with a not-so-perfect lady.

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