Mad Men: Keep me Hanging on the Telephone

12 May

Continuing this look at Mad Men’s final season through a variety of essay topics, soundtrack observations and style pieces (both personal and general costume design).

There is a new computer at the offices on Mad Men, but it occurred to me while watching “The Runaways” that because so many of the characters are in scattered locations there’s not much keeping everyone connected. Except for the telephone and so I present to you my look at this week’s episode in the guise of phones and those making the calls.

Mad Men 7.05 MeganLong distance relationships are hard and long before there was Skype; phone calls were the way to stay in touch beyond the written word. It’s not surprising to see a chunk of Megan/Don’s interactions over the phone this season and last time we saw them chatting things weren’t so swell:

Megan phone 7.02Megan sobbed into the mint green receiver unable to hide her resentment and rage tears at Don’s latest deception. Being on the phone means we can mask our feelings as the person on the other end can’t see those eye rolls or blah blah blah expressions and on this occasion Megan’s emotions poured out. It’s all good between Don and Megan again, well it’s mostly good except the gulf between them continues to grow and there’s new points of deceit. This time it’s coming from Megan after she was given a window of opportunity to dispatch Don’s kinda niece Stephanie back to where she came from with a check for $1000. Megan’s insecurities are showing and there’s a competitive streak with this beautiful blast from Don’s past and who he really is.

Mad Men 7.05 Stephanie Mad Men 7.05 Stephanie part 2Enter Stephanie and she goes from one grimy phone booth to another. This is a connection to Don’s Dick Whitman life and it’s the first time the name ‘Dick’ has been uttered this season. You can conceal a lot on the phone and Stephanie doesn’t rat Megan out for pretty much pushing her out of the door.

Mad Men 7.05 kitchen phonePost threesome morning after phone calls from a pregnant girl who is sorta your husband’s niece but not really, takes some of sexy sheen off the whole thing. Actually that’s the hangover sweats and I love that both Megan and Don kind of look like shit, well as shit as you can look when you look like them. Megan’s pink dressing gown is becoming quite the focal point and it takes on a different appearance for any situation; she looks so sad and Betty like when she’s sobbing into the phone (not that Betty would sob “I’m not stupid. I speak Italian”), Stephanie had a whole new glow in it, which in turn prompts Megan’s bratty reaction and here it signals booze and sex.

Mad Men 7.05 Megan and DonIs it rather extravagant to have two phones in an apartment this small?

Mad Men 7.05 AmyAmy is comfortable enough in Megan’s world to answer her phone with a bit or just whenever and the phone rings a lot. This is very much Megan’s apartment, so when someone from Don’s world enters it shifts the balance. As it does when Harry Crane showed up and I laughed so hard when I remembered how much Megan despises him. Harry does have his uses as he spills some rather important information to Don. Everyone in this firm is so divided with both the West/East Coast aspect and where loyalties lie. Harry might be a chump, but he’s also been very helpful on more than one occasion. This is a chance meeting that could only happen in person.

Mad Men 7.05 BettyBetty has to deal with more Sally drama as she broke her nose “sword fighting” and like her mother I don’t buy this BS story. Anytime Betty gets a call and pulls this face you know it’s because Sally fucked up somehow.

Mad Men 7.05 PeggyIn the most heartbreaking moment of “The Runaways” Ginsberg suffers a full on psychotic break that has been in part triggered by the new computer. Ginsberg once told Peggy the story of how he came to be and he turns to her once again with these new fears. After a semi-spiral where he ends up at her apartment he appears lucid when he comes to her office with a gift and a solution to the computer’s presence; he has cut off his nipple and all is clearly not well. Peggy’s reaction is one of horror and she manages to make it to the nearest phone, cradling it as she calls the necessary people with the computer looming large in the background. It looks like Ginsberg is heading to a psychiatric hospital and Peggy looks understandably heartbroken by this turn of events.

So yes phones are an important connection tool on Mad Men and yet they also help conceal a multitude of things, it’s why Don could spend so long lying to Megan about his job situation even if she assumed he was having an affair because he was never in the office. It’s why things get so fraught between the two offices as the conference calling technology is still super glitchy; phones are aiding communication and alienating in equal measure.

And if you want your very own 1960s phone there are plenty on eBay.

2 Responses to “Mad Men: Keep me Hanging on the Telephone”


  1. Out of the Box: Look of the Week | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 30, 2014

    […] the mint green phone which has played such a pivotal role in this long distance relationship and this is now coming to an end. Megan as always looks like no […]

  2. Mad Men Series Finale “Person to Person” – One Call at a Time | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 18, 2015

    […] phone plays a huge part in keeping Don tethered to who he was and still is; the last time I talked about how the telephone is deployed in an episode I focused on how this device helps with the […]

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