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Tag Archives: Vincent Kartheiser

Out of the Box: Look of the Week – Best of 2015 Part 2

31 Dec

We have written about a lot of outfits both on and off screen this year and the 2015 Best Of series turns its attention toward our Look of the Week column, which has featured a whole host of red carpet appearances, magazine covers/editorial styling and many other sartorially infused events. And this is the second part of our “Out of the Box” rundown showcasing our favorites from a very stylish year (head here for Part 1).

Best ‘For Your Consideration’ Ad 

Gina RodriguezSomehow Gina Rodriguez did not get nominated for an Emmy this year, which based on her performance and this incredible ‘For Your Consideration’ ad blows my mind. Ladysuit excellence.

Best Twirl 

LupitaAnother fantastic year for Lupita Nyong’o on the red carpet and in fashion magazines with this Gucci dress twirl at Cannes giving plenty of 2014 Oscar flashbacks. Plus it proves that if you wear pleats there will always be the urge to whirl. Now for someone to cast her in a lead role please.

Best Peplum 

Tatiana MaslanyIt is well documented that I have jumpsuit issues (more on myself than anyone else) and adding peplum opens up a whole world of potential concerns, but this Roksanda number (a brand we heart) is beating the odds and it might help that Tatiana Maslany is the one wearing it. The red pumps do clash with the colored waistband, but this is totally working for me.

Best White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

Gillian JacobsMixing 70s cool with Old Hollywood glam in Peter Pilotto at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is Gillian Jacobs showing exactly why she is an “Out of the Box” regular.

Best Ladies on a Ladysuit

Mae Whitman and Mamie GummerOr rather Mae Whitman wears the “Boob Suit” by Rachel Antonoff at a Refinery 29 event and I adore the irreverence of the ensemble. Whitman is killing it with her red lipstick choice and Mamie Gummer’s coat skirts bathrobe territory without stepping on the Dude’s toes. Excellent boots and jeans pairing.

Best Floral

Aubrey Plaza2015 is the year we said goodbye to TV Ate My Wardrobe style icon April Ludgate, but there is still plenty of Aubrey Plaza sartorial brilliance including this color blast floral Suno mini dress at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Best Stripes

Kirsten DunstChevron striped Gucci for Kirsten Dunst and it is 70s inspired without feeling like it is from Peggy Blumquist’s wardrobe. Another platonic ideal of an outfit.

Best Sheer

Naomie HarrisThis year has been awash with a lot of bad sheer; turning a good outfit into a scrolldown nightmare. However, there are always exceptions to the rule such as this Valentino starry eyed number and Naomie Harris crushed the Spectre promo tour.

Best Magazine Cover Part 2

Fashion was all about the 70s and I don’t think I need to mention again how much I adore the looks from this decade, but this WSJ Carey Mulligan cover/editorial is pretty much the dream. Also more Valentino with this jacket and across the two Out of the Box Best of 2015 posts they are the most featured brand. Good work, Valentino!

Best Black and White

Kiernan Shipka InterviewAnother year of Kiernan Shipka dressing much better than me and it is hard to believe she only turned 16 last month. This Interview shot captures her fashion cool without a) dressing her older than her age and b) putting her in something she wouldn’t actually wear.

Most on Point Dress Part 2

Gwendoline ChristieThis is still the photo on my phone lockscreen and I can’t get enough of Gwendoline Christie in her Captain Phasma infused Giles Deacon dress for the ‘Force 4 Fashion’ Bloomingdales charity event.

Best Sundance Cool

Jessica WilliamsJessica Williams is still our favorite Daily Show correspondent and she is also slaying on the Sundance portrait front showing off the vital boots/tights/thick socks combination.

Most Precarious Walk 

Keri Russell heelsLess weather appropriate is Keri Russell in a very snowy/icy New York on her way to The Today Show back in January. I could barely walk in these Alaïa sandals in the best weather conditions and it would very much be a Bambi on ice situation. The rest of the outfit is terrific including the rose covered Victoria Beckham skirt and there are strong coat feelings going on right now. If only it was currently cold enough to wear outerwear like this.

Best Couple

Diane Kruger and Joshua JacksonPushing recent tabloid rumors aside it has been another really strong year for Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson on the red carpet. This is another occasion of Kruger as the Magical Fashion Unicorn as I’m not sure there are many who could pull off this cutout vintage Roland Mouret ensemble and Joshua Jackson scrubs up nicely at the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. Let’s hope there is more of this in 2016.

Best TCA Pairing

Mad Men TCAPete and Peggy feeeeeelings are happening because of this winter TCA Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser moment. I’m so glad the final season of Mad Men addressed their relationship in this manner. Plus more red pumps <3.

Best ‘Could be Related’ 

Liv Tyler and Margaret QualleyIt might be the matching luscious brunette locks and similar attire, but Liv Tyler and Margaret Qualley gave off a related to each other vibe at the season 2 premiere of The Leftovers. Now that would be a season 3 twist.

Happy New Year! And here’s to many more sartorial highs in 2016.

[Source]

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Emmy Nomination Acting Wish List

16 Jul

Happy Emmy nomination day! In a few hours time the title of this can probably be changed to Emmy Nomination Snub Rage List and before they are announced I wanted to make a note of the performances I would love to see recognized this year. Some of these are pretty much locks and will make the cut later, while others have an outside chance and there are of course the complete pipe dream entries.

There are sure to be some that I have missed and so this list doesn’t end up turning into thesis length I’m going to narrow it down to choosing from five shows. The slight loophole (because this list is mine) is I can pick more than one person from the same show.

First up drama!

The Americans 3.10Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell (The Americans)

Many words have been dedicated to The Americans here at TV Ate My Wardrobe and a good third of those are related to the outstanding performances Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell give on a weekly basis. The real tension of this show goes far beyond wigs and spy missions; it Philip and Elizabeth’s complicated relationship that takes The Americans to the next level. Realistically I’m not sure either of them will crack into their respective categories and just in case they don’t I’ve got the perfect gif reaction lined up.

Cookie EmpireTaraji P. Henson (Empire)

There is a lot to love about Empire and at number one on pretty much everyone’s list is probably the same name – Cookie. Taraji P. Henson takes a larger than life character and imbues her with vulnerability and power (she shared her surprising inspiration for Cookie here). And when it comes to style there is no other character that wears patterns or hats quite this well. I will definitely be throwing my shoe at someone if she doesn’t get a nomination.

Carrie CoonCarrie Coon (The Leftovers) 

Nobody quite made me feel their character’s pain in the same way as Carrie Coon in The Leftovers from her scream of anguish (which I just rewatched and now my keyboard is soaked in tears) in the standout episode of the season “Guest” to her silent wail in the season finale. It isn’t just her despair that made this such a great performance, but also because she injected some much needed romantic fun into a show that at times leaned so far into the darkness. I for one was thrilled to have a couple to ship.

Mad Men 7.14 Pete and PeggyElisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)

I really want the whole cast of Mad Men to get recognized for their acting talents in the final season, but somehow Vincent Kartheiser has never been nominated for an Emmy. This is unlikely to change even if his reading of “The King ordered it” is pure Pete Campbell perfection. Elisabeth Moss made me cry (sofa confessions) and cheer so loud (roller skating, supreme office strut) which makes her my ultimate Mad Men nominee.

Orphan BlackTatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)

Even when the plot is a little bit all over the place you can guarantee that Tatiana Maslany will ground whatever craziness with whichever seestra she is playing. After three seasons it might be easy to take it from granted how she makes you forget that she is playing everyone, but I still find myself in awe every week. What makes her performance even more impressive is that when they introduced yet another clone (this time Krystal) there was an instant connection (Jordan Gavaris deserves a big shout-out here) and empathy toward her plight.

Now comedy!

The Comeback 2.08Lisa Kudrow (The Comeback)

Nothing would make me happier than seeing Lisa Kudrow repeating Valerie Cherish’s Emmy success and the return of The Comeback after 10 years could have soured the memory of the beloved ‘cancelled too soon’ show. Instead what it did was once again give a searing look at Hollywood including how it treats aging stars. The blowjob episode was devastating and hard to watch, which also makes it one of the most important moments on TV from the past year.

Broad City 2.08Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (Broad City)

Season 2 of Broad City took everything that was great about its first year and made it even better from Val, to new BFF and Whole Foods shopping partner Bingo Bronson, Kelly Ripa and Ilana’s mother. Abbi and Ilana detailed another crazy birthday night out and gave the perfect response to being told to smile. All that is left to say is Yas Kween(s)!

Jane the VirginGina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin)

A performance that can make me laugh and cry in equal measures with Gina Rodriguez delivering (no pun intended) in both areas. The world of Jane the Virgin can be kind of out there and the show moves at a pace to rival Orphan Black, but as with Tatiana Maslany this show has a lead that can ground the crazy and make you feel every bit of pain and joy that she does.

You're the WorstKether Donohue and Aya Cash (You’re the Worst)

Another show I would give all the awards to with BFFs Gretchen and Lindsay each clinging to some expectation of the life they should be living while embracing the one they think they shouldn’t. For Lindsay this is playing wife to a husband she doesn’t love while partying with Gretchen on the side and Gretchen attempts to ignore the very real feelings she has for Jimmy. Both Kether Donohue and Aya Cash are brilliant and I still have Lindsay’s haunting drunk rendition of “This Woman’s Work” playing on repeat in my head.

Inside Amy SchumerAmy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer)

The “Last Fuckable Day” sketch from the season opener is hilarious and sadly too fucking accurate; this is one example of how good Inside Amy Schumer has been this season a long with boy band parodies which ring true to the episode long take on 12 Angry MenNow there are magazine covers galore and her movie Trainwreck is out in the US this weekend and this really is the year of Amy Schumer.

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set

27 May

Reunions, reminders of how long ago a show left the air and plenty more behind the scenes action in this week’s TV Instagram selection.

 

Still feeling emotional about the end of Mad Men? Elisabeth Moss has you covered with this photo from her final day and it is fitting that her last scene is with Vincent Kartheiser after all their characters have been through together. This also gives me another reason to talk about how much I love Peggy’s costuming as this is a Top 3 ensemble.

 

Yes I love it when onscreen besties also hangout in real life, even more so when it is long after a show has ended and a Buffy reunion like this ticks all those boxes. Especially when they (accidentally) co-ordinate their denims.

 

I have conflicted Dawn feelings (okay they’re not that conflicted, but Georgina Sparks made me appreciate Michelle Trachtenberg in a whole new way), but this shot from “Once More with Feeling” is stunning. And how has it been 12 years since this show ended?! That is not okay.

 

The last ever episode of Late Show with David Letterman delivered another TV reunion.

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#Scandal fam elevator selfie. @latimes @envelope

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Continuing the “How many cast members can you fit in one elevator?” selfie series with Scandal. Not quite as crowded as the CW lovefest; might need to get a few more #TGIT representatives in here.

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summertime sadness #tbt

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This photo by Eliot Glazer is making me want to go to a dog wedding or at least rewatch “The Matrix” episode of Broad City.

 

At the moment I can’t stop listening to John Mulaney’s “Salt and Pepper Diner” story and while this might be a rather tenuous link I’m going with it.

 

Diane Kruger picks the perfect outfit for her Oxford University visit. Got a whole lot of hat/coat/bag envy right now.

 

True love is sharing prop pizza on the You’re the Worst set. Continuing the excellent sunglasses trend too.

 

The Jane the Virgin cast also like each other a lot.

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#bts for Legends trailer shoot! #flash #arrow

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Just in case you are getting Flash or Arrow withdrawals Caity Lotz has you covered.

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set

29 Apr

You’re the Worst doesn’t have a return date yet (*sigh*) however the cast are back on set and they are already gifting us with plenty of photos. More like you’re the best (I will see myself out). Also included in this week’s Instagram round-up is my new favorite show, an unexpected crossover idea, Mad Men feels and getting ready for wrestling.

 

Aya Cash calls it like she sees it when it comes to her co-stars dissatisfaction at this adorable photo. Yes I am still coveting Cash’s Alice + Olivia dress that she wore to the FX event.

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Worstie Sitings Complete! #youretheworst

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Worstie besties forever.

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#youretheworst

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Will Edgar still harbor his “This Woman’s Work” infused crush on Lindsay? All signs point to yes, especially if she is wearing this super cute strapless dress.

 

Adding to the forever always Peggy Olson worship is this photo courtesy of Elisabeth Moss from the set of Mad Men. Forever wincing at what Vincent Kartheiser went through to get the perfect Pete Campbell hairline.

 

Dramatic eye makeup for Yael Grobglas as she gets ready for Petra as The Cold Warrior on Jane the Virgin.

 

Without having seen a single episode I’m already calling the untitled Jenny Slate/Ari Graynor FX show from The Obvious Child team my new favorite. T-necks and leather jackets assemble.

 

This organized chaos desk scene looks very familiar and Jessica Williams audacious Effie Trinket inspired outfit is all part of a Daily Show bit skewering CNN’s coverage of the WHCD over Baltimore.

 

The Elementary team are pretty prolific Instagram users, but alas they have shot the final day of season 3 so this will be the last one from awhile (it hasn’t been renewed yet, but it seems likely it will).

 

I just really adore this photo/sentiment/Abbi’s outfit.

 

Crossover potential ahoy! The Scandal team would probably do pretty well in a zombie apocalypse situation particularly the B613 trained folk. It would not be so good for all the beautiful costumes which feature on the show. If they ever get to Washington DC on The Walking Dead they might need a fixer of a different kind.

Peggy Olson – Queen of the Sofa Confession on Mad Men

27 Apr

Couches are a vital part of the office furniture on Mad Men; just think of how many times we have seen Don Draper reclining on one. In this episode he does so contemplating how they can keep their independence (they can’t). Don’s reclining experience is not what interests me and it is Peggy Olson who springs to mind when I think of this location. From her early morning encounter with Pete back in season 1 when only a cleaner was in the office to the end of the second year as nuclear annihilation loomed. Pete confessed his love as the Cuba Missile Crisis peppered the unburdening of the soul with Peggy revealing how she “could of had you in my life forever if I wanted to” because she had his child. In “Time & Life” this story is revisited in a couple of ways and Peggy earns her Queen of the Sofa Confession title.

First between the parents who never were.

Mad Men 7.11 Peggy and PetePete is having a shit fit about the merger and after he storms out of the meeting the first thing he sees is a very awkward looking Peggy getting hugged by an over-excited child.

Mad Men 7.11 PeggyAutomatically conjuring up feelings of their big secret it jolts Pete into telling Peggy about the drama which has just unfolded. He thinks it is only fair and no one else is going to tell her. No matter how many arguments they have about work (such as the bickering match last week) they have this unspoken bond and one that is unknown to anyone else. Yes Don and now Stan know about Peggy’s baby secret, but she has never spilled who the father is. On another show this would have probably been worked in along with a final season reunion with their son, but Mad Men is not that show and this is probably all the closure we are going to get with this storyline. If that is the case then I am more than fine as it is dealt with so beautifully this week. There is much space between them so despite their strong connection the void is wide. Now take into account the couch confession at the end of season 2:

Mad Men 2.13 Pete and Peggy couchObviously a lot has changed as 1961 is very much sponsored by the color brown (so is 1970 but there’s a lot more color) plus they both look like babies themselves. Pete’s couch has grown substantially and so has the gap between them; this secret is there forever connection and destruction of what was. There is a tiny part of me that ships these two and of course Peggy deserves so much more than Pete and yet I can’t help how much I relish their scenes particularly when they allude in the vaguest terms to what occurred in the past.

Mad Men 7.11 Peggy and Stan part 1Adventures in Stan and Peggy inadvertently babysitting while at work include Peggy revealing all about the big McCann move to Stan while the girl they’re not watching accidentally staples her finger. Peggy and Stan have a high comfort level with telling each other how it is and despite their many disagreements they are close enough for Peggy to warn him about this merger. Lots of pointing of knees toward each other.

Mad Men 7.11 Peggy and StanAfter the bleeding finger/Peggy joining the list of characters who have uttered fuck this season moment (Sally and Megan being the other two so far) Stan and Peggy end up having a the kind of conversation which pretty much has me wanting to make PEGGY OLSON 4EVA tees/cushions/banners. What starts off as a discussion about what transpired with the girl and her mother moves into very personal territory as Stan finds out his assumptions about Peggy and her feelings about kids are way off base. Stan thinks Peggy is angry she has got to this certain time in her life without having kids and he compliments on everything she has achieved because she hasn’t had kids. It is like a precursor to the “Can a woman have it all?” discussion and Peggy tells him not to “do that.” Double standards feature heavily as Stan makes a joke regarding not having any kids that he knows of with Peggy countering “It wouldn’t matter if you did. You can walk away.” Stan’s claim of understanding because he had a mother who wasn’t great is not enough for him to understand his mother.

Of course this is nothing to do with Stan, his mother or the woman who yelled at Peggy and Stan is intuitive enough to pick up on this and the strong feelings of guilt Peggy is projecting. And Peggy is right that a woman should be able to move on the way a man can in the same situation. Peggy has managed to do this because it was kept so hush hush and because the circle of people who know about it is so small, but this doesn’t stop her thinking about this (remember in “The Suitcase” when she told Don that playgrounds made her think of her son, this line still devastates me now). Also gut-wrenching is Peggy’s answer to Stan’s “What did you do?”

“I’m here… and he’s with a family somewhere. I don’t know but it’s not because I don’t care. I don’t know because you’re not supposed to know or you can’t go on with your life.”

Peggy says she’s fine and my screen is very blurry right now as this scene is heartbreaking/stunning/soul crushing/life affirming/all of the above. Elisabeth Moss is so spectacular at revealing Peggy’s pain without tipping into hysterics and she is particularly good at holding her tears so we can see them but they don’t fall from her eyes. I’m not looking forward to the moment when Peggy Olson is not in my life.

And in other non-Peggy couch moments from this episode that are worth pointing out and another encounter that comes with a lot of feelings.

Mad Men 7.11 Roger and JoanRoger and Joan have both moved on (Roger is still seeing Megan’s mother Marie and Joan is with Richard) they also share the bond of a secret child and a whole lot of history.

Mad Men 7.11 Pete and TrudyA less than happy former couple waiting on a coach at a prospective school for their child is Pete and Trudy as they fail to hide their animosity with each other. All it takes is insults from another, a punch and my new favorite Pete Campbell line – “The King ordered it!”- for Trudy and Pete to go from these faces to a tender moment. Pete is in a rush to get back to the city because of everything that is going on, but there is time to listen to Trudy’s woes including how she hasn’t got many friends because their husbands hit on her. Her worries then turn to ten years time when the attention from everyone stops and actually this might be my favorite Pete line as he tells her “you’re ageless.” Pete Campbell the sweetheart. Catch it soon before he is gone forever.

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set

1 Apr

Mad Men returns this weekend and even though the show has been wrapped for sometime there’s a couple of treats from costume designer Janie Bryant and all round Mad Men queen Kiernan Shipka. Plus some cancellation sadness mixed in with show renewals and a tee I definitely need in my life.

 

The Variety Emmy Studio was a stylish affair and a very happy one for some reunited actors including Masters of Sex duo Lizzy Caplan and Allison Janney. This photo looks like the happiest place in the world.

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The last season of Mad Men starts 1 week from today.

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Kiernan Shipka has posted a bunch of old Mad Men photos to celebrate its return this weekend; this is both wonderful/super cute and also inadvertently makes me feel ancient. The adorable wins out over the age thing.

 

I love seeing sketch to screen shots and Janie Bryant’s work on Mad Men is always exquisite. Looking forward to all the costuming treats from the final episodes.

 

Vincent Kartheiser showing off some excellent photobomb skills at the Mad Men Black & Red Ball. 

 

The Looking cancellation sadness is still very strong and I don’t think this photo is helping much there.

 

Making things a little better is Lennon Parham’s Playing House season 2 table read offering.

 

Gillian Jacobs has gone all Three’s Company and she’s making it work.

 

Not everyone gets to do their homework in front of giant Lenin mural. The perks of working on The Americans (which also got renewed this week!).

 

Thanks Busy Philipps for making me aware of this Freaks and Geeks t-shirt and Passive Juice Motel.

Final Season of Mad Men Red Carpet Palooza

26 Mar

The final episodes of Mad Men are around the corner and while I’m still in denial that it is almost over poring over the red carpet celebration shots is pure joy. Last night AMC celebrated the show with a Black & Red ball, on Monday the cast were at the unveiling of a Mad Men sculpture at the Time & Life building and there was a special screening at The Museum of Modern Art last Sunday. A lot of sartorial highs from all three events with January Jones being the current cast member standout.

January JonesFirst up is January Jones wearing red and black Prabal Gurung at the Black & Red Ball. This is a really interesting dress with a variety of textures and embroidered detail. Jones tends to take risks playing with her look and I can’t wait to see what else she will be wearing on this huge promotional tour.

Kiernan Shipka black and red ballKiernan Shipka retains her style queen crown in a cute and elegant strapless tea length Miu Miu black dress and silver sandals.

Christina HendricksWearing a custom Zac Posen gown Christina Hendricks makes a dramatic statement at the Black & Red ball and while I’m not totally in love with this dress it has a huge impact.

Christina Hendricks minus skirtIt is special in another way as the ball skirt detaches and becomes this far more streamlined look. Two dresses in one! The skirt has a cape destiny if this shot of it being carried away is anything to go by.

Janie BryantCostume designer Janie Bryant sticks to the red of the ball in a beautiful frock of her own creation in collaboration with Black Halo. I cannot wait to see what final costume design treats she has in store for us.

jon hammI adore everything about Jon Hamm in this photo.

Vincent KartheiserMore beardy triumphs and this time from Vincent Kartheiser. Plus it looks like his hairline has mostly recovered from the Pete Campbell required shaving.

Mad Men castExcellent coat game from everyone at the statue unveiling at the Time & Life building in brr cold New York City on Monday. Individual awards for Jon Hamm’s socks, January Jones’ collar and Elizabeth Moss with weather inappropriate but beautiful shoes.

Mad Men ladiesRounding things off with the ladies looking lovely at MOMA with January Jones in a striking Preen dress and my favorite look from the promo tour so far. I prefer Christina Hendricks in ruby sequin Vivienne Westwood Couture to the Zac Posen twofer last night and Elisabeth Moss is more on the casual cool side in J. Mendel. They are very much their own women when it comes to their style choices and I don’t think we can be expecting matchy matchy ensembles with each other or something their character would wear.

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

16 Jan

It has been a red carpet heavy week (Golden Globes and Elle’s Women in Television) and we’ve got more fancy frocks on display at the Golden Globes after parties and the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. Plus the TCA winter press tour continues and we’ve got some fun shots featuring the casts of Mad Men and Community.

Diane KrugerDiane Kruger switched out of her silver slinky gown at the InStyle and Warner Bros. Golden Globes post-party; the shorter floral Giamba black and white dress is all the better to dance in. Joshua Jackson still looks just as handsome in the same tux he was wearing at the awards show.

Judith LightJudith Light! Also at the same post Globes party and fabulous as ever in a color that joins the ranks of the many stunning bold hues on display that night.

Mad Men TCAMoving onto the TCA press tour as the Mad Men cast talk about the final half of the final season (*sob*) and this photo of Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser has me shipping Pete and Peggy. That should not be a thing. Kartheiser’s beard is looking mighty fine as are Moss’ red pumps.

January Jones TCAMore from the Mad Men panel and because a super smiley Betty Draper is a rarity here is a delightful shot of January Jones. She also happens to be adding to my current leather jacket obsessionMad Men returns for the last time on April 5 with the appropriately titled “The End of an Era.”

Gillian Jacobs TCAMore TCA and Gillian Jacobs in a patterned Tanya Taylor delight from the SS15 collection. I would also not say no to Joel McHale’s super cute dragon sweatshirt.

Emily BluntRed dresses have dominated the awards circuit this week and Emily Blunt’s scarlet Pucci frock is a beautiful addition to the trend. At the Critic’s Choice awards Blunt won for Edge of Tomorrow which was my favorite big blockbuster of 2014 and her speech – at the bottom of the page – with bonus John Krasinski cameo encapsulates why.

Jenny SlateAnother lady and performance I am in awe of is Jenny Slate in Obvious Child so I am so happy to see her get recognized for this role while looking fantastic in Miu Miu. Slate gives an empowering speech to watch and feel good about.

 

Not Letting Go of the Bad Ex: How Don Draper Changed in Season 7 of Mad Men

2 Jul

Last year there was Don Draper fatigue here at TV Ate My Wardrobe and I was joined by Kerensa Cadenas to discuss Don Draper’s bad habits and tiresome antics. Kerensa is back to talk about the more optimistic first half of this final season of Mad Men as we take a look at this excellent run of episodes and how both Don and this season surprised us with its generally optimistic outlook. We also address how this season compares to the previous one and how our predictions matched up (I don’t think they did). In a similar vain we talk about the second half of the final season and where we would like to see these characters end up.

Mad Men 7.06 Burger ChefEmma: I had a quick look back at our last Mad Men discussion and boy was the end of season 6 bleak as Don bottomed out in the Hershey’s pitch going a bit to far into the old memory bank. Nope, no one wants to see a grown man cry over chocolate in 1968 (the same can probably be said for now). One thing we both said we wanted for the final season was to see Joan and Peggy running the show, now while that hasn’t happened entirely, “Waterloo” included a huge professional victory for Peggy and Joan is going to be getting a sizable amount from the deal Roger has struck, so they’re both doing rather well.

Now, before I get into specifics of either of their storylines (and I could basically spend this entire time talking about Peggy and I already have) I want to ask about your general overall feelings about this season. How are you finding Don now as I know we both had reservations about his super shitty behavior last season. Has this season panned out how you expected? Or are you like me and go into Mad Men with no preconceived notions or expectations?

Mad Men 7.07 Peggy and Don hotelKerensa: I think, as we could tell, from last season’s discussion, I was having a bit of a Mad Men burnout. I was frustrated with Don, his actions and his inability to change. And I try to go into a season without expectations but I totally went into this season with completely expecting that Don would be continuing the same old shit that we’ve become accustomed with. And I was totally wrong!

I don’t think Don is totally vindicated yet (which I’m sure we’ll discuss) but overall I enjoyed this season and especially these last two episodes more than I’ve enjoyed Mad Men in a while. And a lot of that does have to do with the character development that Don had–which was not what I expected from this season at all. I really thought I would get more of the same and I’m so glad I was wrong.

What did you think?

Mad Men 7.04 DonEmma: I should add a slight caveat to my no expectations proclamation as Don screwing around was something I fully expected to happen, especially with Megan out in LA. Instead we see Don turn down offers from Neve Campbell – please show keep casting from the 90s teen pool, Rayanne would be my next choice – and a woman in a bar who claims to know him. This is not the Don Draper we have seen in any of the previous seasons and I wonder just why he can suddenly keep it in his pants. He could be trying to make it work with Megan, but I actually think it has more to do with Sally walking in on him with Sylvia and exposing him for the man he is. There is one non-Megan dalliance, however Megan is also there as he responds to a threesome in the most lackluster way I think I have ever seen on TV going from “I’m tired” to “I guess.”

We’ve seen Don hit rock bottom on multiple occasions, this is a whole new subterranean level of shit as he’s been put on leave and is essentially living his life vicariously through Freddie Rumsen. Not that Freddie is the rock bottom signifier and he is the exact person who Don needs in his life. It’s a big surprise seeing Freddie in this role and it is something Mad Men excels at as there is such a wealth of supporting characters from the previous 6 seasons and I like the idea that any of them can pop up at any one time. The opening scene of the premiere is so jarring with Freddie in the pitching seat and yet I never clued in that he had become Don’s mouthpiece.

Freddie plays a pivotal role when Don acts like a big baby when he first goes back to SC&P and this is the episode where Don has been at his most loathsome and pathetic all season – there’s nothing quite like the sight of him emptying out his coke and pouring vodka in to replace it. Freddie has been in Don’s position and like anyone else who has been put on leave he never returned, Don is a special case and it’s when his dick swinging and inability to quit works in his favor. I’ve really enjoyed seeing Don both falter and walk into a room like he owns everything, finally he has some humility and yet the cocksure attitude is also an important attribute. We needed to see him truly fall to appreciate those often unsavory parts of his character.

The first half of this first half of season 7 (or 7a which is less of a mouthful) deals with bridge mending. On the surface everything is fine with Megan and their reunion at LAX is gorgeously shot and she looks amazing in the blue mini baby doll dress. It’s a marriage that has always been superficially fine, underneath it’s like they’re strangers. I do want to talk more about Don and Megan, but first I’d like to take a look at one of the fractured relationships and that’s with Sally.

Oh Sally, what to do with you and your supremely disaffected view on everything. Actually, to be honest Sally is well more adjusted and together than I was expecting and I figured there would be a lot more spiraling and teen rebellion. There’s smoking of course and holy shit is her stance the exact same as her mother, it’s uncanny and once again I would like to bestow all the plaudits on Kiernan Shipka – I would also like to see the Sally college spinoff that Molly Lambert suggested on Twitter. Other than that her greatest act of defiance has been shopping after the funeral (or during maybe) of her roommate’s mom, getting a nearly broken nose while ‘sword fighting’ which leads to some incredible Sally sass at her mother – “It’s a nose job, not an abortion” – and probably her biggest rebellious moment is smooching the nerdy kid instead of the stud. Her mother would not be happy with that last one, though I did worry they were heading towards a Betty going for the young guy story. Maybe Sean’s stripy pants (which are so Felix from Orphan Black) and moon landing bad mouthing put her off. Or she realized how gross it would be.

Wow that was a tangent and what I really wanted to discuss is the Don/Sally road trip that finally allowed Sally to rail against her father. Don finally showed his children where he came from at the end of season 6 and Sally is still justifiably angry at him for all those other secrets he kept. The anger and hurt in her voice as she spits out the word hairspray in reference to Sylvia is another astonishing delivery from Shipka and Sally’s rage at this shattering moment – I would say it took her innocence but seeing Roger getting a blowjob gets this unfortunate crowing glory – is what Don needs to hear to wake up to the asshole he has become. After the good, but not great season premiere this second episode delivered and Sally telling Don that she loves him at the end of the episode is one of the several scenes over this season that I suddenly found myself tearing up at. Before I dive too far down the Sally/Don rabbit hole, I want to ask what your thoughts are regarding this sequence of Don and Sally scenes?

Mad Men 7.02 Sally and DonKerensa: I think that after the last season–Sally’s come to see her father in a much different light. I think especially after seeing his childhood home, that it puts some of Don’s behavior in a context to her. I think Sally (and Kiernan’s always awesome performance) is at that point in teenager-dom where you being to recognize that your parents aren’t infallible which is always a cocktail of emotions–angst, respect, disbelief–and I think that’s where Sally is at with Don. Which I think echos in that final “I love you,” is that she appreciates that he’s opened up but does that change that much?

Mad Men 7.06 Megan and DonEmma: Yeah I think you’re very right and in a way Peggy’s experience with Don has echoed that of his daughter; realizing how fallible he is and how at times he can be downright awful. This season has been about Don proving to those closest to him that he isn’t a lost cause and he has certainly won me over. Contrition is important and it’s why his whiny baby drunk antics when he first went back to SC&P felt like an ‘uh oh’ moment. Luckily Don does have some capacity for change and Freddie Rumsen has been vital in Don coming to terms with his limitations and bull shit.

With Megan, the dissolution of their marriage seemed inevitable as no matter how hard either of them tried and how great they look together (and the shot of them on the balcony together is stunning). It’s all a facade and it always has been in a way; was the only time they were happy on screen when they were on their first trip to Hollywood and have they been trying to mimic that ever since? As a self-confessed Megan lover (and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way) I’m going to be sad if this is the last we see of her (in part because think of all the outfits we’re going to miss out on), but I’m also glad to see how they ended things. Not with shouting and screaming, instead with quiet resolution and acceptance this over. Or as Pete affirms that marriage is “a racket.”

We’ve barely seen Don interact with Betty all season, she refers to him as being like a bad ex-boyfriend and a fleeting memory and the strongest relationship he has with a woman is Peggy and to be honest I quite like it like this.

How do you feel about Don and Peggy this season?

Mad Men 7.06 Don and PeggyKerensa: I’m going to really miss Megan as well. I do kinda think that it will be the last time we see her though. I mean, what ties other than being Don’s wife does she really have with him now? She’s in LA, he’s in NYC. They don’t have kids. I’d be very happy to see her, but I think the resolution that their relationship came to felt perfect and in the changing scope of Don, felt adult.

I think your thoughts about the Peggy/Don relationship echoing the Sally/Don one are spot on. Don lashes out and Peggy and she to him because they know that deep down they are the two who truly understand one another. You can see that in the ways they both work, live and even love to a degree. I think that Don, especially during Peggy’s pregnancy, functioned as such a formative figure in shaping who she has ended up becoming. I think we can argue that at times that can be detrimental, but when you see her give her pitch to Burger Shack, it’s great to see that she’s beat the king.

Mad Men 7.07 hugEmma: I’m so glad we got to see Peggy get a win this big after how she started the season on her hands and knees crying in her apartment. When season 6 ended with that glorious pantsuit it seemed set for Peggy’s moment of triumph, but of course this isn’t that show and she still has many hoops to jump through. So to see someone like Lou in Don’s office rather than Peggy wasn’t a surprise and yet it was still disheartening.

Peggy hasn’t been completely innocent this season and I’m glad they haven’t shied away from how difficult and even awful she can be at times – the Valentine’s incident with Shirley is the best and most cringy example of this – she is Don Draper-esque in quite a lot of ways. Peggy pushes everyone away and her closest relationship is with a 10-year-old boy, which is incredibly depressing considering the child she gave up and just how alone she is. And yes I really want her to hook up with Stan still. We got that very cool scene of Joan joining Peggy for a drink and a Don bitching session and as always I want these two to rule the world.

What did you think about the power shift in the office first with Don’s absence and then with his return? Oh and Ginsberg’s breakdown – did you see that coming?

Mad Men 7.05 Peggy and GinsbergKerensa: I’m not totally surprised re: the power shift. Part of me obviously hoped that they would put Peggy in charge but of course Lou was brought in. And he’s the worst.

With Don’s return the skittishness of the office towards him made a lot of sense, especially for Peggy, cause I know I’d live in continual fear that Don would outshine me yet again which I felt a lot of her contempt stemmed from. But Peggy is really Don’s girl–so many of her actions echo his behaviors.

I actually wasn’t expecting Ginsberg’s breakdown. At first, I actually read it as he was trying to come out? But that SCENE, totally shocked me. It was very upsetting. Were you expecting it?

Mad Men 7.07 PeteEmma: The work place set up and power shift has been one of my favorite aspects this season even if the bi-coastal set up meant a whole lot less Pete Campbell as I love the weasel that he is. The conference calls and technology issues with this was fun as was seeing how well Pete took to the LA lifestyle as he always seemed like such an East Coast guy. Every outfit he wore in LA pretty much made me scream (with joy) as did his receding hairline and awful tan. Just how did he get a woman like Bonnie? (this of course also applies to Trudy and every other woman he has hooked up with, aside from hookers as the answer there is obvious)

Roger taking the death of Bert to step up and get his scheme on is magnificent as is how much disdain everyone has for Harry Crane and I was so happy that his path to power was cut down – even if he has good ideas and tipped Don off I can’t help but despise him.

My Twitter feed was full of a lot of “Holy shit, Ginsberg” before I saw the episode so I knew something was going to happen and as the episode progressed I figured he was going to trash the computer and cost SC&P a whole lot of money. Never did I expect what actually happened and my first reaction upon seeing the box was of course horror, but I also thought it was his ear at first because in terms of what people cut off that seems like the logical (if you can call it that) answer. It’s yet another occasion this season where Elisabeth Moss nails her reaction as she is terrified, shocked and heartbroken.

Hats off to Ben Feldman who has given Ginsberg this skittish energy since day one and didn’t play it as an “I’m so kooky” quirk or go way over the top with these moments of madness. I also got major character whiplash going from his performance in Mad Men to his one on Silicon Valley and even though it looks kinda terrible from the preview I will be watching A to Z purely for Cristin Milioti and Feldman. Like the lawnmower incident this is going to go down as one of those incredibly weird and fucked up Mad Men moments.

Last year we talked about how Betty got her groove back and this season Betty got the best line of the season – “I’m not stupid, I speak Italian” (closely followed by Sally’s “It’s a nose job, not an abortion”) – what did you think of Betty this year?

Mad Men 7.03 BettyKerensa: Ben Feldman has always been so great as Ginsberg and I’m totally looking forward to A to Z–even if it does look kinda terrible. He always played Ginsberg from a place of compassion when he, like you mentioned, could have gone the “I’m kooky” route.

Betty was Betty as always for me. Her trip with Bobby made me feel so bad for him. And I felt for her when she felt like she was being underestimated. But I would argue that her best line of the season was when she was looking back as Don as a “bad boyfriend” someone a “teen anthropologist would marry.” I feel like we didn’t get enough of her for me to fully form anything. What about you?

Mad Men 7.07 Sally as BettyEmma: The problem with the Betty storylines is that other than their shared children, the link to Don and the overarching story is tenuous and so it doesn’t always make sense to see what’s going on with Betty other than the fact that she’s a fascinating character. You’re right about that line, it is fantastic. The trip to the farm was heartbreaking because she really doesn’t understand anything when it comes to her own children; Bobby clearly adores her and yet she thinks the only one who still loves her is Gene. Bobby’s sandwich trade was a dumb move, but then again his mother’s relationship with food is a complicated one that he doesn’t understand. He probably thinks that cigarettes are her lunch now that she is thin again.

Betty’s standard position is envy – of her children, friends, neighbors, husband and ex – and while she can be unpleasant I never tire of seeing how she reacts to these situations. So with Francine (yay!) she sets out to show she’s a fantastic mom by going on a school trip she had absolutely no interest in previously, with Sally they bicker about everything and I was convinced she was going to go after Sean and his stripy pants just because Sally had shown an interest in him. Luckily Sally went for the more age appropriate Neil after he showed her the stars and went against the type of dude her dad is (which is not a surprise after the Sylvia incident last season).

For me, Betty’s crowning moment was standing up for herself against Henry – no she doesn’t want to go outside just because he does and yes she will give her opinions on Vietnam if she is asked. Betty had a habit of repressing everything when she was with Don in true WASP fashion and throwing up on her pretty dress was the way she showed her sadness and dissatisfaction. With Henry she’s not going to be a shrinking violet.

Have you got anything else to add about the first half of season 7? What would you like to see happen in the final 7 episodes?

Mad Men 7.06 Bob and KevinKerensa: I appreciate her standing up for herself with Henry as well which I think also speaks to the type of relationship that they have.

For the final 7, I want all the best things to happen for Peggy, Joan and Megan. I’d love to see the show actually explore what was happening with Stonewall and the beginnings of the LGBT rights movement but I don’t think that will happen. I’d love to see Don continue to grow but I don’t know if I think that will happen either, I really think he’s gonna backslide.

What are you hoping for?

Mad Men 7.05 SallyEmma: With the portrayal of the LGBT rights movement I wonder if the Bob Benson stuff in “The Strategy” is all we’re going to get when it comes to that. Hopefully Bob will be back for the final 7 for this reason and James Wolk reasons. His proposal to Joan was so ill-advised but I do understand where he was coming from and there’s no fairy tale ending for him in 1969 sadly, Joan still believes in love which is something I  didn’t necessarily expect considering how pragmatic she has become since having Kevin. Like you I want all the good things for the women of this show. I want to see Sally rule the world or at least get through school without a drug addiction; I have high hopes considering how well she is doing at the moment and how her rebellions have been pretty atypical of a teenager without veering into excess territory. Don’t fuck with Sally, Weiner.

This season ended on such a hopeful note that it’s making me feel somewhat optimistic for Don and I’m not sure if Matt Weiner is lulling us into a false sense of security with this. He is always teetering on the edge of oblivion and I have a friend who is convinced he will kill himself. I think this is maybe too nihilistic and I have hope that Don Draper will be alive at the end of the final episode. I’m not sure what state he will be in, but what I’m picturing is similar to how it started – a dude smoking and drinking alone.

I’d like to see some folks return, but I also don’t want it to turn into a blast from the past parade. Sal would be number one on that list, just to see where this character is now (and this also fits in with the LGTB rights movement) and yet I do understand why they might shy away from bringing back certain people just because they’re a fan favorite.

I’m also very excited to see more psychedelic styling and all things polyester from the end of this decade. It’s going to be pretty sad when this show is over and while I was ready to let Breaking Bad go because of how draining that show is to watch, I’m not sure I’m ready to say goodbye to these characters and for that reason I’m somewhat glad they split the two seasons up.

Kerensa:  Looking forward to what’s next–and I agree. Don’t fuck with Sally, Weiner!

Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is an Editor for Snakkle. She also writes for Women and HollywoodThe WeekThis 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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