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Mad Men Music Monday: “I Know, They’re Playing it all the Time”

19 May

Just like that, Mad Men takes what could be considered a really obvious and cliched song choice and turn it into a moment that near on had me sobbing. It’s on the nose and yet like any classic/overplayed track, there is a reason why it has been played so much. In this scene it becomes about these two people who fear they have nothing and despite how out of sync they have become, they circle back to each other.

One of my recent complaints about relationships between men and women on TV is there is rarely a middle ground for friendship and there is always temptation to turn it into a “will they/won’t they.” Regular readers of this blog will also know how much I enjoy this storytelling device, but there are limits and I’m glad Mad Men understands these parameters when it comes to Don and Peggy.

Mad Men 7.06 Don and PeggyPeggy is struggling with the Burger Chef pitch and part of this is down to Don’s return as she’s now questioning her work against the Don Draper standard. There has also been a push/pull between these characters since he has come back to SC&P and conflict has always existed between them; it has just been magnified this year. Peggy’s confidence has been shaken and she’s been slipping all season and the promise of the plaid power pantsuit we saw her wearing at the end of last season feels like a distant memory. What transpires between Peggy and Don while they brainstorm in the same location as “The Suitcase” is another version of this episode and those conversations. This time Don isn’t screaming “That’s what the money is for” and instead he is actually actively helping Peggy with her problem.

Mad Men 7.06 My WayParallels exist between Peggy and Don from the secrets they harbor to the way they are both searching for a connection and the really special episodes of Mad Men are when they connect with each other. Pete thinks the word ‘family’ is vague, but so is the concept they are replicating and Peggy asks Don “Does this family exist anymore?” when the real question is whether it ever existed in the first place. Age and specific years are mentioned in “The Strategy” with Don and Peggy mentioning 1955 (a great year for Don) and 1965 (a great year for Peggy) and we are reminded of the first point of major upheaval on Mad Men with a newspaper from November, 1963. Peggy mentions that she just turned 30 and she kept it a secret; this age signifies her lack of achievements, despite her professional success story. From personal experience, I had the “shit, I’m turning 30” tremors and I can’t even imagine what it would have been like in 1969 with a whole other list of expectations focusing on family.

With Joan, Bob sites her age (nearly 40) as a reason to settle with him but she’s still after true love, no matter how fanciful and ridiculous that sounds. Bob mentions that GM expect a certain kind of executive and he is looking at things through the heartbreaking reality of this era. They would be the perfect family, except it would all be a lie.

Mad Men 7.06 Dancing“I worry about a lot of things, but I don’t worry about you.”

Offering Peggy a handkerchief is a kind gesture, offering her a hand and a dance is so much more and it’s one of the most intimate moments this show has produced. Peggy rests her head on Don’s chest, he kisses the top of her head and I sit here and get teary about how illuminating this exchange is. Elisabeth Moss and Jon Hamm are electrifying in these scenes and this could easily be an Emmy submission episode for either actor. For every awful and self-pitying Don Draper action, this makes me forget it all and by reinforcing this relationship gives me a reason to cheer for a Don success story instead of last year’s figure of loathing. Another show might have gone in for a kiss, this is not that show.

Peggy and Don to sing “My Way” at a karaoke bar in 15 years time, please.

 

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2 Responses to “Mad Men Music Monday: “I Know, They’re Playing it all the Time””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Peggy Olson, Don Draper and the Shared Experience on Mad Men | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 26, 2014

    […] Don and Peggy. It is significant they made such inroads on their formally fractured relationship last week, followed by a passing of the baton of sorts in “Waterloo” just as mankind took a giant […]

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

    […] good. This is their last dance together and while it is far from a physical interaction like the Sinatra aided moment it still packs a huge emotional punch seeing Don allowing himself to be this vulnerable. In the […]

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