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Tag Archives: Don Draper

Mad Men Series Finale “Person to Person” – One Call at a Time

18 May

Letting Don Draper go is hard to do and the last ever episode of Mad Men shows that even when Don is thousands of miles away and suffering a crisis the pull of those he cares about is still strong. Don has a pattern of fleeing, forever looking over his shoulder after all the mistakes he has made and yet he can never quite make a clean break as there is always something that brings him back. While we don’t see Don’s big New York return the transition from Don’s smile while meditating to the concept behind that Coke ad is enough to suggest Don does indeed make it back to his former life; the cycle forever goes on and on. Don might never quite be at peace with himself but he is edging closer to having a concept of home.

Mad Men 7.14 Don sittingThe 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 concealment of feelings. In “Person to Person” it does the opposite and it allows confessions aplenty from matters of the heart to those deep dark secrets these characters don’t want anyone to know. It also has the power to aid a breakup.

Mad Men 7.14 Sally phoneDon’s relationship with Sally has recently been mostly phone based; this makes sense because she’s at boarding school and he’s moving from state to state with no actual plan. Even without seeing her face, Don can sense that something is up with his daughter as she has no interest in his Utah adventures (although really this reaction is pretty accurate even without a personal trauma) and at first he asks if it is to do with a boy. Sally could have easily hung up without spilling her mother’s secret but deep down she knows her father should be told about Betty’s condition. Last week’s entire episode had me yelling at the screen for Sally to ring Don and tell him so he could come swooping home, but that was never going to happen. This isn’t how their story ends.

At first Don thinks her mother is just being a hypochondriac, then he hears the full severity of the diagnosis and it hits him hard. Sally’s voice cracks when she initially tells him and then she moves into the protective big sister role (that we see again later when she returns home and Bobby Draper’s attempts at looking after his heartbreaking) getting her father to take what she is saying about the future of her brothers seriously. This is where Sally cuts off emotionally and it doesn’t help that there’s another girl skulking about waiting to use the phone. Nothing is private when you have a communal situation like this. She drops the bombshell and ends the conversation with “I can’t talk right now” which is a pretty devastating last scene between these two characters. Costume observation – Sally has worn the necklace her father got her in every scene since that Valentine’s episode showing their bond despite his persistent absence.

Mad Men 7.14 BettyOn a couple of occasions in this finale we have back to back scenes involving calls that directly result from the previous one; Don immediately rings Betty after Sally has all but hung up on him. Don offers to come home and Betty is of course mad that no one can keep her secret. If only she knew that Bobby knows exactly what is going on   thanks to the not so quiet discussions she had with Henry when they were fighting about treatment. This is another case of revealing everything and experiencing this incredible connection thanks to wires and this plastic device. Of course Betty rejects Don’s suggestions of coming home (this isn’t his home) and having the boys live with him because she wants to keep things “as normal as possible and you not being here is part of that.” We can see how ill Betty looks and part of this is down to her attire and lack of makeup, plus her hair doesn’t have the same hairspray helmet rigidity as usual. Her nails are still perfect though. And here comes the kicker of an exchange.

Mad Men 7.14 Don phone to BettyDon calls her Birdie and this sets off all the tears for Don, Betty and I. So much has happened between this pair with so many bitter words, but they still have this immense ability to slay me with this very personal and intimate nickname.

Mad Men 7.14 Don phone to PeggyInstead of returning to his current home, Don instead moves further west and to the state he flees to in moments like this. When he mentions LA I figured we might see Megan, instead he goes to see Stephanie as a reminder of his Dick Whitman past (and funnily enough the last time I discussed the use of telephones was the last time we saw Stephanie as she painted a picture to Don that didn’t match her real circumstance). Through Stephanie, Don ends up at a hippy retreat in various seminars he clearly has nothing but disdain for. When he can’t escape (because Stephanie fled taking the car with her) he turns to an old friend making another important call home.

Mad Men 7.14 Peggy PhoneBefore Don can even say hello Peggy stands up to deliver her “Where the hell are you?” annoyance, he can’t see her stand but visually for us this shows us just how mad she is and then she softens sitting back down as she reassures him that he can come back. The mention of Coke is important for later and once again this account is dangled in front of him like an advertising pot of gold. Declarations such as Don’s “I can’t get out of here” isn’t just referring to his physical inability to leave as he is far too stuck in his head and the mistakes he has made, which he lists off to Peggy in a sad recap of misdemeanors from scandalizing his child to the really big secret of taking another man’s name.

Don and Peggy is the relationship at the heart of Mad Men and this conversation is so important because of the level of trust and understanding between the pair. Peggy has real concern for Don and Elisabeth Moss does this little inhale followed by a difficulty to say anything that is just so devastating 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 same way Sally cut Don off, he does the same to Peggy before he doubles over shaking looking like he is having a panic attack.

And now for the super swoony heart swells to a thousand times its normal size sequence.

Mad Men 7.14 Stan phoneAs soon as Peggy gets off the phone to Don the first person she calls is Stan and what starts as a conversation about Don turns into an apology swiftly moving into a declaration of love. In person these two always end up bickering with Peggy taking whatever positives Stan says twisting it into a criticism. On the phone they are perfect and Stan brings this up segueing into a confession and one I have long been waiting to hear. Peggy is all a fluster as she unpacks everything that has just been said while seemingly only just getting this is how she feels too.

What this delivers is a showcase of every amazing Elisabeth Moss facial expression, a hit parade if you will from a whole heap of confusion to the best smile I have ever seen. The hand on her heart gesture is something Stan can’t see and it comes with an abstract “and you’re here” but it is pretty much one of the greatest things this show has done. We don’t know exactly what point Stan leaves Peggy talking – I suspect it is before he hears her say “I think I’m in love you too” – and come sprinting to her office, but we hear him coming and it is magical. It has been a long time coming and yet it is also a huge surprise that they went there. Just look at that smile (and yet another amazing Peggy dress).

Mad Men 7.14 Peggy (stan)One other pairing almost became a thing as Joan asked Peggy to go into business with her, first setting up a lunch while adjusting the TV for Kevin while he watches Sesame Street. Ultimately Peggy decided to stay doing what she is doing because this is what she loves doing, but we did get one final fabulous and slightly contentious Peggy/Joan scene.

Mad Men 7.14 Joan and KevinGoing back a step and Joan’s relationship with Richard was all sunshine and let’s try everything until she realized that she isn’t ready to be on vacation forever. There is still work to be done with Ken reaching out to her for her expertise and while McCann could never appreciate her skills there are plenty who know what Joan is capable of, including herself. By answering the phone while she was having a discussion with Richard about their relationship it became abundantly clear they want very different things in life.

Mad Men 7.14 JoanAs Joan clutched the phone to her chest (while wearing the most fabulous leopard print robe) I definitely uttered “what an asshole” out loud.

But ending Joan’s story with Holloway Harris (got to have two names) made me so ridiculously happy.

Mad Men 7.14 Holloway HarrisCue all Broad City Yas Kween gifs please.

Stepping away from connections and revealing truths on the phone to highlight some other moments that made this a truly satisfying way to end Mad Men.  First up Pete, Peggy and the cactus.

Mad Men 7.14 Pete and PeggyPeggy pushes buttons and it isn’t a coincidence that pretty much all of her significant relationships have been just as heavy on admiration and antagonism. The first moment in the episode to get those misty eyes going came as Pete and Peggy said goodbye; in the same way Birdie has so much history between Don and Betty, “a thing like that” is so connected with Pete and so Peggy saying it back to him is loaded with so much meaning. For all that has gone on between them, there is ultimately warmth and respect. We’ve come a long way.

Mad Men 7.14 PeggyIn this shot Peggy is looking at Harry Crane how we all look at Harry Crane while wearing an incredible green and orange outfit that I need in my life.

Mad Men 7.14 Peggy (stripes)This ensemble is a harder one to pull off and yet I am still all in. Peggy’s costuming and style this season really reflects how far she has come.

Mad Men 7.14 StanThe highlight being her McCann entrance outfit, which is hanging on the back of her door. Nice Halloween decoration on her Roger Sterling (via Bert Cooper) gifted art.

Mad Men 7.14 DonDon staring out to the ocean he once waded out into and the cut from him meditating to the 1971 Coke commercial made me go from huh this Don ending is kind of unsatisfactory to HOLY SHIT THIS IS EXCELLENT. Don is going home after all. The cycle will probably continue, but at least he now has some semblance of self.

Mad Men, I’m going to miss you.

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How Betty Took Control Back on Mad Men

11 May

When Betty Draper visited a psychiatrist back in season one of Mad Men her doctor reported back to Don. When she gave birth in season three she was so out of it thanks to the cocktail of drugs her dreams were more vivid than the actual labor. Now in the penultimate episode Betty receives some devastating health related news and her doctor will only tell her what is wrong when her husband gets there. When Henry doesn’t trust this first diagnosis (he trusts it enough to snatch Betty’s cigarettes from her hands that once trembled long ago) and when they visit another doctor the men talk about her diagnosis and options as if she isn’t in the room.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty DraperThe camera stays on Betty with the men out of focus in the background; she is the object being discussed and while they do so without acknowledging her we cannot escape her face of concern. We linger with her as she registers the only real fear we see from her over the episode as she moves through the stages pretty quickly only briefly resting on denial and ending up with acceptance by the time we hear her sob inducing letter to Sally. I thought the Peggy/Stan chat was bad enough on tear stained cheek scale and yet this hits the upper echelon of crying; the heave sob.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty diagnosisHenry is proactive and he’s always been one for finding a solution or a better way; he offered her an escape from her awful marriage playing the role of savior, but this is one thing he can’t save her from no matter how many connections he has with the Rockefellers. The cancer is aggressive and has spread so the treatments will only prolong her life for nine months to a year. Betty’s refusal to embrace this chance baffles Henry so he breaks her confidence and goes to the one person he think can sway.

Now to a devastating scene in a string of devastating scenes and one which hit me in a personal way that I was not expecting; some backstory and when I was 15 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, thankfully they caught it early and she made a full recovery. There was something so familiar about the way Sally was told and her reaction, from the covering of the ears to not fully grasping the severity of the diagnosis while totally understanding it all at once.

Mad Men 7.13 Sally earsKiernan Shipka knocks it out of the park as she quickly moves between extreme emotions and I also want to single out Christopher Stanley’s performance particularly when Henry can’t hold in the tears any longer. The level of vulnerability from Henry is brand new and her eyes do this thing where she isn’t quite sure how to respond so she does the only thing she can and puts a reassuring hand on his back. My dad was torn to pieces in the same way and it’s hard to put into words quite how much this scene resonates with me. It also doesn’t help that my screen is pretty blurry as I type this and it is something I haven’t thought about in a long time.

Mad Men 7.13 Sally and HenryWhen Betty sees Sally as part of a surprise visit (she tells her brothers the very believable story that she did something bad at school again) the look she gives her is of pure disgust. Once again her choice has been taken away from her as Henry has gone against her wishes. Betty wrestles her control back by choosing to do nothing except carry on as if everything is fine.

A late night conversation with Sally underlines why Betty is behaving like this and it is tied to how she watched her own mother die – Betty’s relationship with her mother and the pressure she was put under goes a long way to explain why Betty is the way she is – and the last thing Betty wants is to see her daughter to go through the same life altering experience. Of course this is going to impact Sally in ways Betty can’t control; there’s no easy fix for pain like this, but she can have some influence on how this ends. Sally gets one final moment of snark in telling her mother that she is refusing treatment because she loves the tragedy and while this is far from a warm and fuzzy conversation it is as close to mother/daughter bonding as we’re going to get. Betty has offered advice to Sally on makeup and boys in fleeting moments but here she is passing on real words of wisdom telling her that she has fought for plenty in her life and how it is not a weakness to know when to move on. In fact this could be considered the least selfish thing Betty has done. She already looks like a ghostly vision in this nightdress.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty nightdressOne of the thematic threads running through “The Milk and Honey Route” is all about instincts and “how do you know when…?” Pete is all about looking at opportunity and ignoring his desire to always look for something better, Don uses his experience of forever running from who he is to pass on knowledge to someone he sees a lot of himself in and Betty knows when it is time to stop and live the rest of however short her life is the way she wants to.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty collegeThis means continuing with college (I am so bummed out that my potential Betty Draper therapist spinoff is even more unlikely now) and Henry’s initial question of why is met with “Why was I ever doing it?” And that’s all Henry needs to know that his wife is right; it’s going to be horrible but right here, right now this decision makes sense. When Betty looks at you like that you know she’s going to do what she wants.

It now feels very apparent that last week’s kitchen shoulder rub is the last Don and Betty scene and I am so glad it was one with such strong affection giving Jon Hamm and January Jones one last hurrah with each other. Betty and Don were terrible together, but like Pete, I find myself nostalgic and sentimental for how it was.

Mad Men 7.13 letterAnd now to the episode kicker and Betty’s final act of control and the letter she has given Sally includes all the instructions regarding her funeral details down to her outfit and hair (when brushing her hair earlier in the episode this felt like focusing on part of her body she can stop from breaking). Sally is not meant to open it until after she dies but I don’t think Betty expected her to pay attention to this wish. It is a mostly practical letter, but it is the closing sentiment which shows a final understanding of who her daughter is and shatters me into a million pieces.

“Sally, I always worried about you because you march to the beat of your own drum, but now I know that’s good. I know your life will be an adventure.”

Mad Men 7.13 Don DraperOne episode to go. Hold me.

 

Mad Men Music Monday: Space Oddity

4 May

Transitioning to a bigger firm was always going to be harder for some on Mad Men which is why they did everything they could to stop this from becoming a thing with no success in last week’s terrific outing. We’ve seen how seriously Joan and Peggy were taken in one of their meetings a few weeks ago and Joan’s desire to burn the place to the ground comes back in full force after she propositioned and treated like garbage.

Don has never been one for being tied down and the whole point of starting their own firm at the end of season 3 was to embrace a semblance of freedom. That has long gone and staring out of the window is far more satisfying than listening to another version of himself wax lyrical about dudes and beer. If these words were coming out of Jon Hamm’s mouth it might be different, but through this other guy the spell is broken.

Mad Men 7.12 DonHell, Peggy gets mistaken for a secretary and her new office is not ready so instead she is offered a place in the pool; a compromise she is not willing to take. All this is done via her secretary Marsha and she’s not even worth a phone call from anyone at McCann. Peggy gets the best deal of the episode in that she gets to hangout in the old office with a surprise companion. The moment where Peggy calls out asking out if anyone is there accompanied by creepy organ music is made all the funnier thanks to the person playing said music. It’s not just a soundtrack choice, but Roger putting off going over to his new office for as long as possible.

Mad Men 7.12 Peggy and RogerPeggy notes how this is the most Roger has ever paid attention to her and while she nails the reasons he wants her to stay there – so she can be his audience – these scenes are so much fun that I can only be thankful that they fucked up Peggy’s move. Roger talks in big terms when it comes to how much he feels for the company and while Peggy points out how miserable it was (let’s not forget one partner killed himself not all that far from where they sit) it was far from all bad. Roger has been the one in the past to tell Peggy how it is and that she should ask for things including not going over to McCann at 4 o’clock when she is drunk as they have already made her wait. Instead she stays drinking and now I have a new life goal:

Mad Men 7.12 PeggyMy track record with roller skates means I wouldn’t be able to secure my other life goal which is Peggy’s incredible McCann entrance.

Mad Men 7.12 Queen PeggyThis outfit, those sunglasses, that look; everything is perfection and it’s probably all going to go to shit in an instant. But at least we have this. Without Joan, Peggy’s accounts are going to get picked over and I just hope that Peggy’s career dreams won’t be left in the wreckage.

Peggy has been gifted with Bert Cooper’s ‘octopus pleasuring a woman’ painting by Roger and she proudly clutches it under her arm when making her big entrance. Bert Cooper makes an appearance in Don’s car as a sleep deprived hallucination and I’m glad to see him act as Don’s almost voice of reason while also pointing out that of course he did not read On the Road (I tried to read this book once, but it was very much not for me). Bert is the man who died watching the moon landing and spoke one of the lines of Mad Men – “she was an astronaut” – so it is fitting that he is in an episode that closes out with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”

Don has his own mission which is to find Diana and while I have no investment in this relationship in the slightest, there is another interaction that warms my heart. When Don’s attempt to take Sally back to school is unsuccessful because she got a ride with someone else he does get to share a genuinely warm moment with Betty. He gives her a shoulder rub which looks like it could lead to more, but doesn’t and there is no antagonism here.

Mad Men 7.12 Don and BettyBetty has followed her dream of enrolling in college to get a Masters in Psychology – repeating my dream of ‘Mad Woman: Therapist Betty Draper’ as a spinoff please – and she’s already started on the reading list. Don calls her Birdie and whenever he uses this affectionate nickname I melt and forget all the shit that has come between them.

Two more episodes to go! Here is Roger to play us out this week.

Mad Men 7.13 Roger

Mad Men Music Monday: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (With Bonus Side Eye)

20 Apr

Looking to the past and asking questions about the future is what advertising does by using nostalgia and desire for the things we had/want to shift products. Mad Men explores this notion throughout its seven seasons charting one decade and the two that bookend it. The 50s influence was clear to see at the start of the show from the style to the traditional Draper family setup.

Change has come in an explosive fashion throughout this ten year period and when a new decade begins there are plenty of questions/thinkpieces (even before this term was a thing) about what the future will look like, while examining the ten year period that has just occurred. The question of the future is something that looms over this episode which is kicked off by Roger giving Don the task of writing their Gettysburg Address for his work trip to the Bahamas.

Mad Men 7.10 magazinesThis is the most we have seen Don work in a while, but all he really does is ask other people how they see their future because he has no idea about his own. We see another divorced man celebrating the freedom of no plans, but without anything to look forward to, what is the point? Even the empty apartment which Don swears had some good times – all I can think of is arguments aplenty and Zou Bisou Bisou – is gone by the end of the episode and we are left with Don out in the hallway with no idea what the fuck he is going to do. Enter this week’s killer closing credits song choice with Roberta Flack singing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and even though Don’s sad face often has me rolling my eyes in exasperation on this occasion and with this song I feel for the dude.

You know who I feel more for? Yep, it’s Sally after she has to endure not one but two flirtatious encounters with her parents and her friends. The Glen/Betty relationship has always included this weird energy and Betty is incapable of not making something about her as she has this desire to be better than everyone, even her own kids.

Mad Men 7.10 Sally, Glen, BettyDon’s problem comes courtesy of his inability not to flirt if presented with the opportunity; on this occasion he claims he played along so not to embarrass Sally’s friend Sarah and even if this is the case it is still worthy of every moment of side eye and snark that Sally sends in the direction of her father. Before she gets on the bus she tells Don that he “can’t control himself” and that if anyone pays attention to either him or Betty then they just “ooze everywhere.” That imagery alone conjures up a whole lot and considering what Sally has walked in on the past it has a profound effect on how she views these interactions. Sally digs the knife in a little further by pointing out that she will hopefully be different to her parents, but Don flips this back on her by telling her “you are like your mother and me, you’re going to find that out.” Run, Sally, run!

Expectation versus reality comes into play throughout the episode and while advertising is fleeting – Don lightly scoffs at Peggy’s desire to create something with lasting value – it uses certain hopes/dreams to sell a product to us. No, this new vacuum cleaner won’t turn a house into a happy magical home, but they might use that idea to get you to buy one. So when Glen comes to see Sally, he’s really there to see Betty and he’s hoping to get something good out of his Vietnam predicament. Betty isn’t the reason Glen is going to fight in a war we have previously seen him want to protest (as Sally pointedly reminds him while also asking him “are you fucking stupid?”), but if he can re-establish his connection to Betty through this, then maybe there is a point. The same goes for Joan and Richard as his version of a post-divorce plan is ruined by Joan having a four-year old, something Joan inadvertently yells at Kevin about, but luckily her resentment is directed at the babysitter and then she feels like shit about it. Later on she snarks at Richard how she ditched her son for him.

There is a lot of disappointment oozing its way through the episode and a whole lot of side eye and angry face going on as demonstrated by this picture parade of brilliant reactions to dudes pissing off these ladies:

Mad Men 7.10 PeggyOh, Pete.

Mad Men 7.10 JoanOh, Richard.

Mad Men 7.10 SallyOh, Don.

And Sally isn’t the only one in Don’s firing line this week as Mathis takes Don’s ‘no apology’ advice after a horrific pitch meeting and ends up getting fired because he is no Don Draper. Mathis breaks the whole thing down saying how Don can get away with behaving like this because of how he looks and how the Lucky Strike story where he doesn’t give a shit about offending the clients is different in reality; it was only because Lee Garner Jr thought he was hot that earned him a valued seat in those meetings. Ahh, the handsome bubble. See expectation versus reality. You can dream big all you want but there will forever be obstacles in your way. Whatever magazines dare to envision for this new decade as hope springs forth will get mired down by what has come before it and the Vietnam War is not just going to go away because it is 1970. The past will haunt the present and while this allows us to dream for a better future, this won’t always be the case.

What do you see for the future?

Femininity, Menswear and Pattern on Mad Men

13 Apr

It’s May 1970 on Mad Men and the message is that some things change, some stay the same. Don’s penchant for brunettes in pain is one staple you can rely on and “New Business” opens with the exception to this rule. Yes Betty has been in pain, but she is never going to admit it and now she’s going to be studying psychology. Betty is smart remember (“I speak Italian“) and there’s part of me that would love her to be my therapist. No, really.

The tableau Don looks upon is the family he once had and he can’t go home as this family has moved on. So has Betty’s style as there is a softness here with frills and pattern.

Mad Men 7.09 Betty kitchen“New Business” showcases the women of Don Draper including Megan as she is in town to finalize their divorce and get the rest of her things from the apartment. Megan is as stylish as she has ever been doing Cali cool in a hoodie peasant blouse and flared jeans looking nothing like her more traditionally dressed mother and sister.

Mad Men 7.09 MeganFor her meeting with Harry, Megan dresses up in her “Welcome to LA” blue baby doll number prompting Harry to call her every man’s fantasy and that she looks like Ali MacGraw and Bridget Bardot had a baby. Harry does what Harry does and is the worst by hitting on her and then running to Don to call Megan crazy. Megan is incredibly fashion forward so it is strange to see her wearing something from a year ago, but it is obviously a look she feels confident in despite her lack of good acting fortune recently.

Mad Men 7.09 Megan and HarryPast and present collide for Don with elevator awkwardness and I don’t think Arnold would be cracking so many jokes if he knew what his wife Sylvia, had done with Don. Here we see sadness through the prism of the wealthy and the not so financially secure as Di has nowhere near the amount of money, but just as much pain. Di remarks to Don that he can’t know the amount of heartbreak and boy he should dish out the Dick Whitman routine. Don later gives Megan $1 million dollars and the feeling of ennui can’t be cure by money alone and there’s a whole lot of dissatisfaction running throughout this show.

Mad Men 7.09 awkward elevatorAnnie Hall before Annie Hall and celebrity photograph Pima Ryan sashays in with all her sexuality and confidence in a range of amazing tailored menswear. Pima seduces Stan after he is rude and abrupt when he first meets her and she tries her hand at Peggy delivering the super cheesy ‘I want to photograph you’ line. Mimi Rogers is incredible in this role as she plays Stan and Peggy sees through the hustle. On both occasions Peggy wears bold colors with strong patterns and while her style isn’t ever going to match the sartorial highs of her colleagues it is definitely improving. Peggy is still in control and showing her femininity at the same time.

Mad Men 7.09 Peggy and Pima

Mad Men 7.09 Pima and PeggyAnd because I can’t resist Pete Campbell in sportswear I will leave you with this beauty to round things off.

Mad Men 7.09 Pete and DonFrom these first two episodes alone I am so happy to see what Janie Bryant has already managed to do with the end of 60s fashion with a push into my favorite clothing decade.

Mad Men Music Monday: “Is That All There Is?”

6 Apr

Mad Men returns for its final episodes and the end credit music is asking the big question “Is That All There Is?” Peggy Lee’s half spoken track is also heard at the start of the episode in a scene which plays with the setting; is this a flashback to Don’s fur coat selling days? Is he in full seduction mode? Is he dreaming? The answer is none of the above; it is all an illusion and instead Cindy is in casting session with a couch full of dudes (some with new facial hair, oh hi Ted) all eager to take part in this decision.

“Let’s break out the booze and have a ball”

Mad Men 7.08 Sad DonThat’s what we should be doing with these last few episodes and everyone on screen is striving to make sense of what they have or what they want to have. Advertising is about wish fulfillment and these characters embody this idea albeit in a wonky fashion; Ken gets fired and instead of seeing it as a sign to write that novel he maybe dreamed of doing he instead takes another advertising position as big fuck you to the company that has shown him no loyalty. Joan is more than financially secure, but the original source of those funds can’t be forgotten when skeezy dudes don’t take her seriously and Peggy backs up this notion that it’s down to her appearance. So she goes shopping and pretends that she never worked at Bonwit Teller. And yes people will still go shopping even when department stores are being blown up with Joan proving Don right.

Peggy allows herself to dream a little suggesting an impulsive trip to Paris trip with Brian Krakow (!), but then she can’t find her passport and the hangover the next day leads to sourness towards what she deems is a ridiculous notion. But I can’t forget her post smooch smile as it was a joy to see. Groovy looking Stan is quick to point out this is what fun looks like and yet all Peggy can feel is the hangover shame.

Mad Men 7.08 PeggyDon seems to have it all, except for any real personal connections returning to an empty apartment and ringing his messaging service (oh hey a real life answer machine). And while he can still pull his old Don Draper moves there’s something so sad and hollow about it. From women in their underwear almost mirroring Megan cleaning long ago or a back alley hook-up which only takes place thanks to Roger’s $100 tip. Don repeatedly comes back to the diner trying to place the waitress and yes Elizabeth Reaser has more than a passing resemblance to Rosemarie DeWitt; so much so that at one point even I was questioning whether or not it was Midge. Seeing exes all over the place infiltrates Don’s dream world as he sees Rachel Katz (née Menken) modeling the fur as if she is in casting.

What this dream does is prompting a desire to reconnect, which doesn’t quite pay off as Rachel died the previous week and Don’s trip to her apartment doesn’t necessarily provide him with the closure he maybe desires. There was something about Rachel and in a way she was one of the ones that got away even if Don was the one who couldn’t commit. Instant seething at his name from Rachel’s sister Barbara with passive aggressive questions about his family (fair) while pointing out that Rachel had everything (I don’t know how true this is, but also totally understandable why she tells Don this). Barbara wants to know what Don is looking for by coming here and it isn’t surprising Don wants to know what happened to this woman he once loved. ‘The life not lived’ to echo Ken’s sentiment.

Is Don going to find out there is something more or that all there is?

Oh and one quick costuming bonus starting with how much do I want Peggy’s dress that looks like a pre-DVF wrap dress pattern dream?

Mad Men 7.08 Peggy and Joan dressIf you answered with anything less than a “crazy amount” then sadly you do not get today’s prize (today’s prize is a plate full of hot cross buns, may or may not be imaginary).

And Joan’s rage filled retail therapy includes a dress that looks a whole lot like Peggy’s hanging in the background, but there is no way Joan would ever contemplate mirroring Peggy’s style. Not in season 1 when she gave her the tour of Sterling Cooper and not now after that elevator argument that broke my heart. These two women are never going to be the BFFs I so crave them to be.

Mad Men 7.08 Joan shoppingI’m going to leave you with this and pretend they are going off on lunch time missions in a secret spy caper.

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Peggy Olson, Don Draper and the Shared Experience on Mad Men

26 May

Television has the ability to stir an emotional response in us and it’s one reason why so many of us write about it, whether on a blog like this one which talks equal parts style and plot, or with the plethora of excellent sites that produce astounding work on a daily basis. Mad Men has explored notions of shared experience and isolation for seven seasons now and as we reach the break this comes into focus through 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 leap (sorry I couldn’t resist).

Mad Men 7.07 hotel roomThe build up to the moon landing plays a significant role in this episode and it hinges on the excitement of a potentially grand achievement rather than the previous shared experience TV has delivered of death; the JFK assassination being the defining first televised moment like this. There are daily death notices as the Vietnam War ticks on in the background (according to a Gallop Poll in 1969 52% of Americans personally knew someone who had been killed/wounded in Vietnam) and there’s a general atmosphere of uncertainty hanging over the nation. The moon landing is a joyous moment anticipated by many; however fear and cynicism still hang in the air. Fear they might not make it and another tragedy will play out in front of the world (it will also impact their pitch if something horrible happens). The cynicism angle is voiced by the disaffected youth with Sean – the son of Betty’s friend – referencing how much this mission is costing and the problems back on Earth. Sally mimics this later to her father, but hope is not something you can put a price tag on (even if Sean has a point).

Everyone is doing the same thing as they sit with their family – or in the case of Pete, Peggy, Don and Harry their work family – glued to the screen together; cynics and believers as one. Let’s take a moment to marvel at Sean’s pants in this scene. They look like they come from Felix’s closet on Orphan Black.

Mad Men 7.07 the Francis FamilyDon rings the family Francis to experience this with his kids and it’s significant that we only see him interact with Sally because by this point that’s the only relationship we’ve seen cultivated. Though I would have loved to see his chat with Gene, just to see this kid talk and Bobby’s also become somewhat endearing thanks to his bad bartering and stress stomachaches. However, Sally’s sass complete with her scarily accurate Betty smoking posture is what we’re really here for. Plus she kisses the boy least expected and is doing her civic duty by being a lifeguard. For all my worries about Sally, I think she’s going to be ok in the end.

Mad Men 7.07 Peggy and DonLast week Anne Helen Petersen wrote a terrific and terrifyingly accurate essay entitled “What Peggy Olson has Taught me About Doing it My Way” and like both Petersen and Peggy, I am in this same age bracket (I turn 32 in September *shudder*). Both this essay and Peggy’s sentiments rang true (so much so that even thinking about that scene makes me teary) demonstrating how TV can be a shared experience on a whole other level. Watching Peggy struggle and flounder in her interactions with others this season (the Shirley/Valentine’s Day mix-up is the lowest Peggy got for me) has been hard because Peggy for me has always been the one I want to succeed the most.

In “Waterloo” we get our Peggy victory as she pushes past her insecurities and uses the huge event from the night before to forge an association going way beyond the “voice of moms.” It’s an incredible performance from Peggy as she taps into the hope from the night before and spins it in a way to sell burgers through togetherness. For Don to finally understand Peggy’s worth he had to be reduced to a position of nothing. By handing over the pitching reins Don is giving Peggy the one thing she has always desired; his approval and confidence in her abilities. So while she panics and laments the lack of liquor, this fear also gives her strength.

Don uses his personal life to inform his pitch and Peggy does the same as she discusses the 10-year-old at home. At no point does she refer to Julio as her son, even if he has become a surrogate of the child she has given up and Pete visibly flinches at this reference (their child would be slightly younger). Earlier in the episode when Julio tells Peggy he is moving, she weeps silently as she will lose one of the few real bonds she currently has (which is depressing in itself) and if anyone is starved of human contact on this show it is Peggy.

Mad Men 7.07 Peggy and Don hotelIgnoring Harry – which is on point – in the hotel room is a trio who have deep insight into each other thanks to the secrets they share. Family is a vague term that Pete doesn’t like; Pete’s real family is a closed off dysfunctional mess so it’s no wonder he’s not too fond of this concept. There is another family and this one has been just as complicated (if not more so), however they’ve also been a lot more accepting of his flaws and often undesirable personality traits.

Pete is the one with the most information as he knows about Don’s past and that he is the father of the baby Peggy gave up, Don knows about the baby, but not Pete’s involvement (I doubt he would be as favorable to Pete if he knew) and well, Peggy of course is aware of her baby secret and is in the dark about Dick Whitman. The connection between these three characters exists not just because of these secrets, but it certainly adds subtext and a bond that doesn’t exist with anyone else at SC&P as Bert was the only other person to know about Dick and now he’s dead. So long Bert and your no shoe wearing policy, I’m glad you got to see the moon landing even if I wish you weren’t such a horrific racist. Cool song and dance number too. Bravo.

Mad Men 7.07 BertYeah this happened. It was delightful and bonkers. Plus it fits in with Don seeing the ghosts of those who know about his past. This is the first time singing and dancing was part of it, but hey it is 1969 and everything is a little off-kilter.

Mad Men 7.07 hugBack to Peggy and she lands the account; there’s little fanfare as everyone is busy with multimillion dollar making (and Don Draper saving) business deals and saying farewell to Bert Cooper. There will be celebrations and these will come off camera as I’m sure time will have passed when we return next year, instead we get this moment instead and it feels just as good. Peggy did it and the relationship she has with Don is the closest either of them have. This might sound depressing, but remember where they both were at the end of last season. Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss continue to deliver exceptional performances revealing the pain and potential happiness these characters can achieve and both have a place on the ultimate glassy eyed Olympics team I am forging (see also Aaron Paul, Julianna Margulies and Caroline Dhavernas).

Don appears to have lost Megan for good this time as his suggestion of moving to LA was met with silence and then a sigh; it’s been a facade for a long time as they’ve essentially been playing husband and wife, rather than living it. Instead Don now has a confidant again – yes he has always had Roger, but their friendship is something else all together – and for Peggy it is important that she is no longer adrift either. Who knows what they can achieve together and like the moon landing there is now hope for a happy ending.

Mad Men Music Monday: “On a Carousel”

5 May

A carousel is a symbolic high point for Mad Men as Don channeled his inner turmoil in the season 1 finale to perform one of the pitches of his career. When he tried to recreate this by combining a personal anecdote with a product at the end of last year it had the opposite effect as he went too far; stories about family are a yes, stories of whorehouses are a big no. Don is back at work and he’s acting like a spoiled child and he’s no longer the superstar genius who everyone wants to work with. To people like Ken, who bought up the carousel pitch last week he still holds mysticism and charm, to Peggy and most of the partners he is a liability who might implode at any minute.

Mad Men 7.04 DonAfter a much needed pep talk from Freddie, who like Don has tried to find a solution at the bottom of a bottle, Don goes back to work with the right frame of mind. Freddie didn’t get the chance to make up for his pissing in the office misdemeanor, even though this was something that happened behind closed doors and his six months leave was a polite way of saying fired. Freddie has become Don’s mirror in a way and a lot of this final season is circling back on the first. It’s why the carousel is still an important image, despite that episode ending with personal sorrow as Don returned to an empty house.

This week closes with The Hollies singing “On a Carousel” and with the repetition of “up, down, up, down” it is a tad on the nose, but hey it’s the closing credit music so I’ll give it a pass. That is also an Olivia Pope combined with Alicia Florrick size wine glass on the single cover.

 

 

Mad Men Music Monday: “This Will Be Our Year”

21 Apr

“Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you.”

The first episode of Mad Men‘s seventh season ended with a punch to the gut for both Peggy and Don as one collapsed on the floor of her apartment in tears and the other sat outside on his freezing balcony in a catatonic like state. It’s Valentine’s Day, 1969 and there’s not a lot of joy in either of Peggy or Don’s life at the moment as the secrets they keep are eating them up inside. For Peggy, her relationship with Ted or really his departure to California and away from her is causing her way more sorrow than she would like to admit; a simple mix up over some red roses sends her spiraling. Peggy passes vague messages through secretaries only to take out her frustration and embarrassment on an innocent Shirley.

Mad Men 7.02 PeggyIn another part of town Don jokingly declares that he is looking for love and he finds it in an unlikely place as he has reconciliation with his daughter. There’s a lot that has been left unsaid between Sally and Don since she walked in on him with Sylvia and while it would seem he has divulged details of his upbringing – the truths he told at work are nothing she doesn’t know he reassures – the topic of his dalliances is different.

Kiernan Shipka gets a lot of red carpet props on here, but really it’s her role as Sally Draper that is everything as she conveys just how hard it was for her to come to Don’s building and practically spits out the word “hairspray.” Later on “spectacular” has the same level of snarky venom as Don inquires about her studies. There’s a wealth of resentment and her apathetic feelings towards her father and his lies is completely understandable.  Being a disaffected teen is nothing out of the ordinary, however this extra layer of disenchantment thanks to the lies adults tell hits Don right where it hurts.

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“Please stop. Stop Talking.”

Instead of avoiding the issue which is generally the Don Draper approach (unless he is backed into a corner), Don confronts this Sally thing head on and I’d be quite happy to spend an entire “Suitcase” type of episode with father and daughter hashing it out. It turns out they don’t need this long and while Don doesn’t get any magical enlightenment in how to fix his work problems, he does heal this wound and Sally’s last line (which opens this article) is enough to push me into misty eyed territory.

The song which closes out the episode after Sally has given Don an unexpected reaffirming declaration is The Zombies with “This Will be our Year.” So while this season has started with utter despair, this signals that there is still hope to be had.

 

New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down: Mad Men Season 6 Roundup

30 Jun

The season 6 finale of Mad Men aired last Sunday and once again I am joined by Kerensa Cadenas to discuss all that went down in the finale, the season as a whole and what our hopes are for the final year. Mad Men is a show that sparks a multitude of articles (including here on TV Ate My Wardrobe) and these discussion pieces have been the most fun as we lament the actions of Don and cheer on the likes of Peggy and Joan as they continue to navigate a world dominated by men. One of us feels more sympathy towards Don by the end of this episode, but it’s actually Ted who is on the receiving end of our Sally Draper-esque disdain. We also discuss why everyone suddenly wants to move to California and the all important new addition this year; the wonderful and mysterious Bob Benson.

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Emma: We have a lot to talk as so much has happened since our last Mad Men discussion post; crazy conspiracy theories never amounted to more than just chatter, Bob Benson has shown that could teach Don Draper a thing or two about leading a new life and Sally started to spiral after picking a terrible time to try and retrieve a love letter.

I’m going to start with Don as he was the subject of our first discussion as we had both become increasingly tired of his behavior and descent into assholeville. Since then Don has continued to be a tough character to route for but they did something in the finale that made me do a 180 on my season 6 Don Draper feelings – he told the truth. This wasn’t a forced confession like his one with Betty, but a moment of clarity where he let the veil drop and he revealed part of his true self. It doesn’t make up for all of his actions this year (particularly when it comes to his affair with Sylvia) and it doesn’t justify all of those flashbacks (really did we need that many to understand that he is damaged because of his whorehouse upbringing), in fact hearing Don talk about his experience gave a lot more insight into his feelings about that time in his life than the flashbacks did. I get that we needed to see the exterior of the whorehouse so the final scene would have a bigger impact, but I don’t think we needed every other flashback that we’ve endured this season.

It’s the 1960s so their version of an intervention is giving someone an non specified leave of absence and while Don has done many terrible things in the past and probably needs to take a break, it’s a shame that it was a moment of reflection and honesty that has his partners kicking him to the curb and like I said in my review at least Freddy Rumsen got a night out and not a Thanksgiving morning ambush. The look or lack of look that Joan gives is heartbreaking and while I can’t judge her too hard (she’s got Kevin to think about after all), it’s sad to see him out on an island by himself in all of this. To top it off he gets to see his likely replacement and old nemesis Duck. It’s surprising that Don takes it as easy and as well as he does but he is resilient and been through much worse. Instead of hitting the bottle he takes his kid on a tour of the places he grew up and like the brief moment on their California trip when he took them to Anna’s house he reveals part of who he is.

Unlike the partners at SC&P they don’t turn away from him and the look that Sally gives him is one of wonder as she finally gets to learn about her father and who he really is. Sally has already seen one part when she walked in on Sylvia and Don sleeping together – Don lied and this is what he does best. Last week she uttered possibly the most devastating line of the series as she smoked with her mother “My father never gave me anything,” though both of them spending the night in a variation of a drunk tank shows that he gave her something – a desire to get drunk into oblivion. I pretty sure I’ve said this a million time but it’s worth repeating – Kiernan Shipka is one very special actress and I’m spellbound whenever she is on screen, it’s hard to believe that she is only 13. All I want for her is to end up as an Elijah Wood child star example and that she stays free of any kind of Lindsay or Amanda Bynes post child star shenanigans.

Ted is has been positioned as Don’s antithesis – he is light where Don is dark, he is sober when Don is drunk, he’s reliable etc and the one person who has consistently beat the Ted is awesome drum is Peggy. Last week Peggy called Don a monster and while his actions have been pretty despicable, he’s never led her on in the same way Ted has done. Oh Ted you finally succumbed to temptation and desire, did the classic “I’ll leave my wife” and then did the standard switcheroo and is now running away to California. Don spent the whole time trying to convince Peggy that Ted wasn’t the white Knight, partly out of his own selfish needs but also out of protection in a way as I think that Don really cares about Peggy, he just doesn’t know how to express this kind of sentiment.

I have WAY more that I want to say about Peggy (and especially that AMAZING pantsuit and being in Don’s office at the end) but I want to throw it to you and see what you think about Don’s clarity and revelation in the pitch meeting. Has this finale changed your opinion on Don?

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Kerensa: The finale didn’t change my opinion about Don at all. I do think that Don did realize something in that pitch meeting perhaps about himself and perhaps about how he will treat his children going forward when he shows the three of them the home where he grew up.

But in another truly Don moment, he comes to clarity at a time where it’s completely self serving. It’s all about his emotional growth, his path with no regard to what talking about his growing up in whorehouse means for the business, the other partners even Hershey’s. Yes, maybe it’s a step in the right direction for Don emotionally but like with all his other actions it still doesn’t take anyone else into account. Like everything else he did in the whole episode, I’m especially thinking about his rash decision to go to California and then take it back without really thinking it through at all or how it would affect HIS WIFE MEGAN. And also that he didn’t even second guess taking the idea from our boy Stan–who would be a much better fit in California with that fringed jacket and all his joints.  I’m increasingly becoming convinced that Mad Men is about a bunch of scared boys who can never deal with the responsibility of their actions and have to runaway to deal.

With Don’s leave of absence, I’m guessing a lot of that is that how do they fire him if he’s a partner? But I think they had every right to do so. Don’s behavior all season in the context of his work has been sloppy to nonexistent. He’s at the bar more often than he’s at the office. I feel like we’ve had many scenes where Don will just come in bewildered “We have a meeting?” They had to do this. While I would say I don’t know if I saw Don as rock bottom as like say in “The Suitcase,” (think that’s right) it’s been an increasingly downward spiral that his luck, good looks and perceived sexual charisma (I say perceived here because that sweaty Don/Sylvia sex that Sally spied made Don completely vile to me) could only carry him so far before he fell entirely.

On the Sally front, I completely agree that last week’s line was beyond devastating. And it does seem like Sally has unfortunately inherited Don’s tendencies for self-destruction. However, I am going to disagree with you about the look that Sally gives Don. I thought it was a mix of pity and even disgust–and in that sense might end up understanding Don better than she realized. I do agree that Kiernan Shipka is completely brilliant–if she is able to stick with Miss Porter’s–I want a Sally at boarding school spinoff.

Ted. Ugh. I have a lot to say about Ted. But before we get to discuss more about Ted and specifically Peggy, I want to know what you think about what happened with Megan.

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Emma: I really want a Sally Miss Porter’s spinoff – it will be like Gossip Girl in the late 1960s (but better). Plus Sally already has the headband/manipulation skills to perfection.

Oh Megan, I’m glad that she finally stood up to Don and that they left it ambiguous as to whether she has left him. All season she’s been set adrift and suffered the same issues as Betty with trying to fit her into the overall story. I know some people resent the screen time Megan takes up (this is very much the opposite of how I feel) and my only criticism of her this season is how oblivious she has been. Maybe oblivious is the wrong word, she’s known that there has been something wrong all year but she’s been willing to ignore it and pretend that everything is ok. The California move would be perfect for her as an actress and now that she has quit her job I think she’ll make the move anyway, especially as LA seems far less unstable than the East Coast at the moment (of course that will all change Megan conspiracy theory alert). There’s an interview with Kevin Rahm who plays Ted over at Vulture and he mentions a Megan, Ted, Pete Three’s Company type spinoff – I totally want to see that.

The only tie that Megan has to New York is Don and it’s hard to see them having a bi-coastal relationship (though it’s not outside the realm of possibility). Megan deeply cares for Don’s children, even if she refers to them as damaged; it’s very telling that she is not part of the trip to the whorehouse (fun for all the family!). Don calling Betty “Birdie” is a sign of affection and this can’t be pleasant for Megan to hear – if only she knew what went on at the cabin – especially as she has been trying to break through his many walls all year and been met with nothing. When Don tells Megan that he loves her, I really believe that he does but Megan’s “Fuck the agency” is also her way of telling Don “Fuck you.” This line loses some of its dramatic impact thanks to AMC’s censorship and it will sound better when I get the DVD.

I’m hoping we get more Megan next season, but at this point (like all things when it comes to Mad Men speculation) it is unclear.

And then we will move on to our girl Peggy.

Sally Draper and Blair Waldorf

Kerensa: OMG in a Sally/Blair face-off, who do you think would ultimately reign? I don’t think I could even guess!

I agree entirely. I really hope Megan did leave him. And I agree with you on the oblivious criticism–Megan’s not stupid, she knew there was something wrong and never addressed it for whatever reason. I hope she makes the move to California as well (although I don’t want to lose her on the show) and I agree that I think it’s hard to see Megan and Don having a bi-coastal relationship.

I didn’t think about Megan’s absence on that trip to the whorehouse–but you are right, it is super telling. On that phone call, when Don calls Betty “Birdie,” you could just see the hurt on Megan’s face. It was heartbreaking. And yeah, maybe Don loves Megan, but I don’t think he’s really capable of loving anyone especially in the ways they need, you know? Ultimately, I think Megan’s much better off without him.

So, there’s so much to talk about with Peggy. You already mentioned Ted a bit–should we start there?

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Emma:  Now I want to see face-offs between different TV characters much like that show that puts different historical groups against each other (the internet tells me it was called Deadliest Warrior). For this one I think Sally might have the edge, mostly because of who her parents are, but it would be a close fight that’s for sure.

We’ve seen this pattern with Ted this season where he’ll kiss Peggy/tell her he loves her/sleeps with her and then the next day he pretends like it hasn’t happened. In the moment he’s super into the idea of being with Peggy, but in the cold light of day he remembers that he has a wife and kids. With Peggy it would be a HUGE scandal and while men like Don and Roger have ended up marrying their secretaries there’s never been anyone in the position that Peggy is and it would hurt them both professionally (this is why I think Peggy tells Ted to slow down).

So Ted panics and joins the “I want to run away to California” club because this is the only way he can see a way out, even if it’s the coward’s way out. Peggy is so right to yell at him and it really cuts through everything when she says “Aren’t you lucky to have decisions?!” Because everything that has happened with Peggy with Ted has been on his end and so has her return to the SCDP offices. Getting away from Don was such a defining moment for Peggy last year and the fact that she had to return is frustrating for her. At least she has her friendship with Stan and I’m glad that these two are still firm friends – while I’d be happy to see something more between them, their friendship is pretty great.

There were two big outfits for Peggy – the one that had everyone practically drooling and we’ve never seen Peggy rocking that much leg or cleavage. It’s not how we’re used to seeing Peggy in the office but it did what she wanted it to and she snagged Ted (for one night only). This was in response to the look Ted’s wife Nan gave Peggy; Nan’s got to know right? And she definitely smelt the Chanel No.5 on Ted when he got in.

The other amazing costume was the Pantsuit of Power (thanks Tom and Lorenzo for that name!) and Peggy in Don’s office at the end. Now this is a sight that was striking and welcome and I hope next season sees Peggy continuing to break that ceiling. This feels like the first time she’s worn pants in the office and she just seems so in control. I love it!

What did you think of Peggy and Ted in the finale?

I sense a Bob Benson discussion soon, because I think he could be the season 6 secret weapon.

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Kerensa: Fuck Ted.

I mean I knew he’d never leave Nan–like you said all season he’s done the dangling one thing or another in front of Peggy and then takes it back again. He’s just SUCH a coward. He’s defined everything between them so that “Aren’t you lucky to have decisions?” line was cutting but so perfect.

And of course they both played their games with one another–when Ted brings his family in–and Peggy in that AMAZING dress and her Chanel No. 5 line. But all season there’s been talk about how Ted is the anti-Don (which you’ve talked about right?) and I actually think that maybe Ted is worse. I think that much of Don’s self-loathing and alcohol problems come from knowing he’s not a good person. And he’ll be out rightly terrible to people in ways that I don’t think Ted would be. I’m not sure on this but has Don ever told any of his affairs that he’d leave his wife for them? Not that I can remember.

Ted is the guy whose cowardly, bullshit behavior is coated in a mock turtlenecked, nice guy veneer. He’ll tell Peggy he loves her, but then tell her he’s leaving her (even though he loves her) because it’s better for her this way. Which is true, but ultimately the person it’s better for is Ted. He can go back to his life after his tryst with Peggy, runaway to California with his family and never think about it again if he doesn’t want to.

While I know our girl Peggy is super resilient–I know I’d be hurt. And like you said, she’s stuck again with Don because of Ted. She gets to go to the agency where she worked with Ted at every day. He gets a clean slate and she gets the reminders.

God I sound bitter, don’t I.

But I do hope that next season Peggy is just crushing it and she can rub it in Ted’s face while wearing some incredible pantsuit.

So, what are your Bob Benson thoughts?

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Emma: I like that you are straight to the point with your Ted assessment because he’s done enough flip flopping this season to deserve this. As you said Don knows that he’s awful with women but Ted genuinely believes that he’s done the right thing.

I do think that next year we’ll see Peggy rise above it and even though her gender will make it hard for her I think she’ll be on top in the end.

Ah Bob Benson, where to start?! When Bob first appeared I was happy to see James Wolk after his string of cancelled shows but who knew he would become one of the most talked about aspects of this season?! And that he’d be the downfall of Pete? While we still know a little more about him and that he’s effectively Don Draper 2.0 he’s still a mysterious figure and his motives aren’t all that clear – does he just want a good and prosperous life or is there something more insidious at play?

I think the answer to this question is whether he knew what Manolo was up to (and whether Manolo did kill Pete’s mother – I’m leaning towards yes, so this season did have a murder after all) and from his reaction I don’t think he did. We’ve seen that Bob is good at lying but he’s also let that good old Bob Benson smile drop a few times with Pete and this didn’t feel like a moment of deception. What Bob did though was ensure that he was the most valuable account man for Chevy and he did that by exploiting his knowledge of Pete’s lack of driving skills. As I’ve said before I like Pete so I was sad to see him humiliated this way, but it proves that you don’t fuck with Bob Benson.

One issue I did have with this story is how quickly Pete backs down and ends up reluctantly on the California trip. Considering Ken got shot in the face, Pete got off really easy. His discussion with Trudy where she told him he was free was heartbreaking, Pete’s been forever trying to find the thing that satisfies him and it’s never been his family. This could be a defining moment for him or he’ll end up miserable with a tan in LA. Can any of them find happiness? Also Vincent Kartheiser wins the award for best line reading with his “Not Great, Bob!” I’m going to miss Pete and Bob sparring with each other.

There’s someone else who’s wary of Bob and what his intentions are and that’s Roger. It’s hilarious that Roger can’t even fathom the idea that Bob and Joan can be buddies so all of his warnings to Bob read as completely ridiculous. Their unconventional Thanksgiving dinner was made all the more wonderful with Bob’s mini apron.

Roger’s another tragic figure of his own making but his moment with Kevin is adorable. And also if my daughter turned out like Margaret then I’d be a little sad too, she’s really awful.

Are you happy with where Bob ended the season? Is he a good guy?

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Kerensa: Oh Bob! I love James Wolk–he’s on my ideal men list, so if he’s reading this, he should give me a call.

I don’t think we still know that much about Bob at all. And I don’t know if I’d say he’s Pete’s downfall–although he certainly helped. Much of what brought Pete down this season was an accumulation of seasons of what he’s done to himself.

Yeah, I still don’t really know what to make of the whole Manolo plot. It just feel so weird and soap opera-y? And will we ever get any conclusion with it? Also is it horrible that I don’t think I really care either way?

That Pete and Trudy scene was so so heartbreaking. It’s kinda like everyone on this show though, they always want what they can’t have and when they get it, realize it was never what they wanted in the first place.

Vincent Kartheiser should win something just for “Not Great, Bob!” Which a friend of mine told me is how he’s going to answer anyone when they ask him how he’s doing now.

I feel bad for Roger and then I don’t. His threatening Bob was laughable. And I don’t think Joan has any pretenses at all about anything happening between her and Bob. And Margaret is pretty awful.

Overall, I don’t know what to think about Bob still. But I do know that if we get James Wolk in short shorts again next season I’ll be so happy.

Anything else for you about this last episode? Predictions for the next season?

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Emma: As far as predictions go to be honest I have no idea and it’s this uncertainty that makes Mad Men such a fun show to watch/discuss, in terms of things I want it’s Peggy and Joan ruling things at SC&P and Megan happy in Hollywood. Oh and I want more Betty, which is something I never thought I would say but she’s been so fantastic this season.

Have you got any predictions/hopes for next year?

Kerensa: Agreed. I have no idea what’s going to happen either. I hope Sally doesn’t go down a self loathing spiral. Totally want Peggy and Joan running everything. And I want Megan to get super famous and like be sleeping with Warren Beatty or someone equally sexy and famous.

I hope Nan leaves Ted.

I also hope that even though Trudy and Pete aren’t together anymore that we still get to see her.  I think that’s all I’ve got for hopes basically.

I agree with wanting more Betty. I want to see her being the HBIC of all these political wives.

Emma: Thanks for joining me Kerensa and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these post-Mad Men chats. It’s a change of pace but join Kerensa and me for a look at Lisa Kudrow’s The Comeback as part of our summer rewind project.

Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is a staff writer for Women and Hollywood. She also writes for This Was TelevisionForever Young Adult, and Bitch magazine. She was the Research Editor for Tomorrow magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and read her ridiculous thoughts about teen television at her website.

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We rock a lot of polka dots

Tell Us a Story

stories about true things