Tag Archives: Sally Draper

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: “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?

NYFW Fantasy Costuming: Sally Draper in Red Valentino Fall 2015

16 Feb

Mad Men is coming to an end (*sob*) but we have time for one final Fantasy Costuming; previously we took a look at spring season threads for Megan Draper and now our attention turns towards a favorite teen fashionista, Sally Draper. Some Fantasy Costuming pieces have included items that have ended up on the shows they were picked out for and this will definitely not be the case here as a) they are not vintage b) they are not designed by Janie Bryant and c) the show wrapped some time ago. However, the Red Valentino Fall 2015 RTW collection features a range of clothes that suit both the time period to an extent and previous costumes Sally has worn.

This is going to be split into three groupings to represent different aspects of the era and Sally’s personality; as always the Fantasy Costuming selections are inspired by the costume design from the show in question – Janie Bryant – and are in no way suggesting this character should wear a specific item mentioned. Click on the thumbnails for a more looks for Sally.

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This is very school uniform Sally Draper – well maybe not the shoes – and Red Valentino has many plaids, flannels and checks on offer for Fall in a variety of colors. The capelets are super cute and hint at a charming youthful influence with some added tie and furry embellishments. Sally might be getting a bit too old for this style or at least she might think she is, skip to the final grouping of outfits if you want rebellious teen Sally attire.

The white tights are worn with each look and suit the sweet and sugary nature of the playful items in this group from the Red Valentino collection. These are the kinds of dresses Betty would probably love to see her daughter in (although the hemline length may cause some Betty objections) so there might be some resistance, but I think Sally would look fabulous in all of these for any fancy pants occasion she might have to attend with her family. Alas there are no white go go boots. Plus some very fun daytime suggestions for fall days in the city.

Red Valentino blue dress

And now for something Betty would probably not approve of with mismatched patterns and clashing styles mixing a hippy vibe with a little bit of rocker. Throw in some leather, a snarky attitude and staying out late to perfect the teen rebellious streak, which Sally Draper was already demonstrating when we last saw her including a cheeky backyard smoke. Kiernan Shipka could definitely work all of these looks.

Red Valentino tiger coat

Look out for more NYFW Fantasy Costuming posts this week!

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: “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.

Mad Men 7.02 Sally and Don

“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.

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

21 Jun

This week we are moving away from award shows and pre-Emmy nomination roundtables, instead we are going to take a look at Mad Men and Hannibal. These are the two shows that have dominated the discourse over the past few weeks and feature casts that are stylish both on and off camera. As always there are no real rules to this weekly column and it is a snapshot of what I have been watching (and looking at online) and each pick is for a variety of reasons including; what it adds to the storyline, what it tells us about the characters involved or simply because it looks good. Spoilers for the Hannibal season finale ahead.

Winner: Mads Mikkelsen in GQ’s July Issue 

MadsHannibal Lecter is one of the best dressed characters on TV (even his killing attire looks tailored) so it isn’t surprising to see him in a GQ fashion spread. Hannibal’s costuming often mixes a variety of patterns with his suit, shirt and tie; it’s power clashing at its best and automatically makes him a commanding presence in any situation. After the season 1 finale Will Graham can finally see Hannibal for who he is, but Will is not in a position to be heard as he is in the one place he feared he would end up; the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Runner Up: Dr Alana Bloom and Will Graham on Hannibal “Savoureux”

Hannibal finale Hannibal finale Dr BloomDavid Slade directed the pilot and the third episode “Potage” and returns for the Hannibal finale. The shots above are almost completely devoid of color, save for the two figures who are bathed in darkness. This technique has been used throughout the season and in moments like this allows the viewer to focus on the dialogue and emotion of the scene as everything threatens to envelope Will Graham. Alana Bloom is one of my favorite characters on this show; in part because she is the only person who is truly looking out for Will and his well being, she also provides Will with a tether to the world. These factors also work against how this character is used; they’ve had to keep her away from Will (and not just in a romantic sense) so he can turn to Hannibal and the manipulation can continue.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller spoke to E!Online about Alana and her role next year “I think Alana will have a bigger role in season two. Because not only will she be representing Will psychiatrically in the trial, but struggling with her feelings for him romantically. She was falling for a guy that she knew to be unstable. She was keeping him at bay and now her worst fears have come true that not only is he unstable but apparently he’s capable of great violence. Her need to rescue him may be amplified.” Alana is the emotional center and Caroline Dhavernas’ performance in the finale showed this range from screaming in her car to trying to remain composed in the above scene. From a costuming perspective her red and white wraparound dress not only stands out from the darkness that threatens to consume them, but it also repeats this color combination that has been favored throughout the season.

Runner Up: Glen Bishop on Mad Men “The Quality of Mercy”

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Creepy Glen is no longer all that creepy, even if his army coat covered in Stop the War buttons reeks of a teenager attempting to be part of the counterculture while not indulging beyond smoking pot (though it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw Glen at an anti-war rally). The plaid shirt underneath shows that he’s not heading for the complete hippy route yet and at least he avoids the sandals of his friend Rolo. Glen loses his creepy edge thanks to defending Sally’s honor and losing out on a hook-up of his own in the process with the 1968 version of Britney Spears in the “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time” video. Sally was exaggerating how much Rolo was forcing himself on her and it looks like she has definitely picked up on her mother’s manipulation skillset and her smile during the fight showed this new side of Sally. After walking in on her father sleeping with Sylvia it isn’t surprising to see Sally develop an edge and the drinking and (supervised) smoking in this episode is probably just the start of a downward spiral.

Runner Up: Linda Cardellini at the Clinique Party

Linda Cardellini

While Sylvia has been a problematic character on this season on Mad Men and it’s easy to dislike the direction in which the show has taken Don Draper and his infidelity, I’m always glad to see Linda Cardellini on TV. I’m currently watching Freaks and Geeks for This Was TV and so it’s been strange to switch between a young Cardellini in a high school show set in the ’80s and as a mother of teenager in the ’60s on Mad Men. Despite any negative feelings towards Sylvia (and I have many) this red Carmen Marc Valvo dress that Cardellini wore to the Clinique Party is stunning. The contrast between the red flowers and black patterned mesh side panels gives a striking silhouette and pairing it with a simple pair of peep-toe black pumps really sets off the look.

Who is your look of the week?

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

14 Jun

It’s been a week of several award shows and more Emmy related roundtable discussions and some of these have already been covered here at TV Ate My Wardrobe and feature fantastic looks. As always there are no real rules to this weekly column and it is a snapshot of what I have been watching (and looking at online) and each pick is for a variety of reasons including; what it adds to the storyline, what it tells us about the characters involved or simply because it looks good.

Winner: Dr. du Maurier on Hannibal “Releves” 

photoThe costuming and set design on Hannibal has been consistently brilliant with the use of red and pink tones being particularly noticeable. In this scene with Gillian Anderson’s Dr. du Maurier Jack attempts to get information regarding her discussions with Hannibal, du Maurier gives Jack very little showing that her loyalty is with her colleague and patient. We know that du Maurier was attacked by a patient, a former patient of Hannibal’s who she claims swallowed his tongue and that’s why he didn’t kill her. Later on she discusses both the visit from Jack and the attack with Hannibal and it would seem like Hannibal was involved in the attacker swallowing his tongue (the who/why/how is still very unclear).

With this latter meeting du Maurier is wearing neutral colors and almost blends in with her surroundings, it’s a very different statement from the fuchsia pink blouse in the above shot where she clearly controls the conversation with Jack and has all the power in the scene. This is not the case with Hannibal and he has some hold over her, as he does with most people as he manipulates the situation to his advantage. Why does Hannibal do this? As Hannibal tells Abigail he does things because he is “curious what would happen”, Hannibal is an observer, but he also interferes to make things happen. It looks like Abigail isn’t long for this world.

Runner Up: Sally Draper and Julie on Mad Men “Favors”

MM_611_JT_0315_0444Sally Draper didn’t have a great week on Mad Men and her friend Julie could be blamed for Sally’s despair; Julie took the note that they had written about Mitchell and posted it under the Rosen’s door, but what followed isn’t Julie’s fault but Don’s as he can’t seem to keep it in his pants. The above shot is at the very awkward dinner as Julie and Megan are both oblivious to the real reason behind Sally’s anger at her father. While both girls think that they can handle themselves in the city and with boys they are still very much children and their costumes reflect this. Together these dresses clash in both pattern and color and their hairstyles are both childlike but very different; bows and headbands/up and down.

Throughout the episode we see that Julie and Sally don’t have all that much in common besides an interest in Mitchell; Sally thinks that being smart matters, whereas Julie believes she has the art of flirting down. By the end Sally has had the more adult experience, an unfortunate one where she finds out that her father isn’t the hero she thought he was. Don attempts to spin a tale to Sally but she is old enough to know when a lie is just that. We’ve seen Sally adopt the ’60s mini skirt style as favored by Megan so will she start acting out further in teenage rebellion when it comes to her clothes as a result of this incident?

Runner Up: Comedy Actors Hollywood Reporter Emmy Roundtable 

THR comedy actorsRegular visitors to TV Ate My Wardrobe know how much we enjoy a pre-Emmys roundtable and the comedy ones this year have been particularly entertaining. Matthew Perry. Jake Johnson, Adam Scott, Fred Armisen, Eric Stonestreet and Jim Parsons are the participants in the comedy actors panel (you can watch it here) and they have been styled as if they are on vacation – in the video some of them mention how the no socks aspect is not something they usually go with. Variations of blue and an array of pastel colors have been chosen for the composition and Fred Armisen’s green jacket is something I’d quite like for myself. The conversation covers a variety of topics about their current shows and past experiences, though the highlight is when it takes a surreal turn about the word “penal.”

What is your look of the week?

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

26 Apr

It’s “Look of the Week” time! Once again there has been a rich amount of different costumes across various shows this week. This is a snapshot of what I have been watching and each pick is for a variety of reasons including; what it adds to the storyline, what it tells us about the characters involved or simply because it looks good. I’m mixing it up with this edition as I’m including a look from the red carpet. Near misses included the Pat Benatar-like girl and her epically high waisted jeans on The Americans and Stan’s amazing fringe jacket (plus his beard) on Mad Men.

Winner: Elizabeth Jennings and Claudia/Grannie on The Americans “The Oath”

The Americans weddingThis is the second week that Elizabeth Jennings has been included on this list and thanks to the many costume changes and wigs that The Americans showcases this isn’t a surprise. In this scene Elizabeth and her handler Claudia (who she despises and doesn’t trust) are attending the wedding of “Clark” posing as his mother and sister. “Clark” is of course Philip Jennings and this wedding to Martha is just so he can manipulate her into getting more information on the FBI. It’s a real wedding involving a fake character and it turns out that his marriage to Elizabeth could be considered even more of a sham as they never actually had a wedding.

The scene begins in an amusing way thanks to all of these contradictions but this quickly turns into something sad; Elizabeth is finally realizing what her relationship with Philip means and it’s clear that Martha is going to get her heart broken (or something much worse will befall her). They really do look like they could be mother and sister in this scene in wedding attire that features a similar washed out color palette and those oh so amazing big glasses. Also how does all of Elizabeth’s incredible hair fit in that wig?

Runner Up: Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham in Hannibal “Potage” 

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So this is technically from last week, but I haven’t seen the newest episode yet and so I’m including this one instead (the rules of “Look of the Week” are flexible) and I really wanted to mention the costuming in Hannibal as it has been excellent so far. I also resisted the urge to include Will in his bedtime wear of t-shirt and boxers. Hannibal’s costuming is particularly intriguing as there has been a lot of power clashing; plaid jackets with patterned ties being a signature look. This demonstrates Hannibal’s sophistication and because his clothes look expensive it shows that he is good at his job as people probably pay a lot for his service. Whereas Will’s style is a more muted, it’s as if he wants to blend into the background. In the scene above he takes off his glasses (if anyone knows what brand they are can they let me know, thanks) to make himself seem more approachable perhaps, a hard task in this moment as he has just been referred to as “insane.” There’s a clear difference in how there two characters operate and their costuming is a constant reminder of this.

Runner Up: Kiernan Shipka at The Paley Center Mad Men Presentation 

Paley eventKiernan Shipka who plays Sally Draper has long been serving up red carpet hits (which as a statement sounds weird because she’s only 13 years old) over the past six seasons of Mad Men red carpet events. Shipka always wears age appropriate outfits on the red carpet and this can be something hard to navigate when you’re going from childhood to teendom in the public eye. This is a slightly more mature look for Shipka and her heels are adding inches as she gets older, but it’s still a fun outfit and is a perfect for a Mad Men event as it captures the essence of the 60s without looking like she’s come straight from set. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Sally on Mad Men this season as we got a glimpse of a brattier Sally in the premiere and I’m intrigued as to how Betty will deal with the perils of having a teenage daughter.

Who would you choose as your look of the week?

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