This week’s Mad Men: The Arrangements

betty-gene-ep4

It’s only Episode 4, and already the jackets are coming out (Sally wearing one on her way to school, Don asking his secretary if he needs to take his coat). One more detail the Mad Men kids pay attention to, telling time through wardrobe. Oh, and if it’s already early fall, does that mean Kennedy’s assassination will occur mid-season rather than finale? I hope so for two reasons 1) if it happens at the end of the season it will be too much like last season ending on the Cuban Missile Crisis and 2) I think it would make this season much more interesting to really take the time to see how the President’s assassination affects everyone on Mad Men. Ok, on to discussing Sunday night’s episode, “The Arrangements.”

*************SPOILER ALERT so for the love of Don’s latest secretary, Allison, and the hope that she lasts for awhile, do not read further if you don’t want to know what happened in Episode 4 *********************

R.I.P. Grandpa Gene…we knew it was coming, but man, didn’t make it any easier. And just when Sally and her Grandpa were starting to bond, how great was that driving scene?–now her world is shattered. The preview for next week’s episode looks like Sally starts to act out. I think we are in for some serious character development this season with Sally dealing with death/reality, and with Don and Betty as parents dealing with a sensitive and strong-willed daughter.

Bye-Bye Patio, Hello Jai Alai…some interesting stuff happening with the Sterling Cooper accounts. The kids at Patio ended up not liking what they asked for, a TV commercial with an Ann-Margaret look-alike singing about the product a la the opening scene of “Bye-Bye Birdie.” Despite the ad being almost identical to it’s counterpart, no one could put their finger on it, but there was something “off” about the ad. Roger said it was because it wasn’t Ann-Margaret. Is this a little metaphor via diet soda? No matter what you do to it, call it, whatever, it will never measure up to the real thing? You could say that about most things: the true original of something is always more desirable than the imitation.

Moving from beverages to athletics, Pete Campbell talked his wealthy college pal, Horace, into going with Sterling Cooper to promote his dream of making the sport jai alai bigger than baseball. Since it’s 2009 as we are watching this, and jai alai hasn’t become bigger than baseball, we quickly realize that Pete’s friend, which he affectionately calls Ho-Ho,  has a lot of money to burn on an underwhelming product.  Don tries to take the high road and get Horace’s father involved, put a stop to the foolish investment. Horace’s father sees it as a necessary life lesson, let him fail. As Bert Cooper says in the meeting, “Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, that’s how I was raised.”

And that brings us to the theme of Episode 4, advice. Yes, this episode had a lot of advice getting thrown around…

…Don, not feeling as comfortable as his wealthy colleagues with watching one of their own fall flat on their face, told Horace he could do better, find something else to do with his fortune. Much to Pete’s relief (commission!) Horace ignored Don’s attempt to be more fatherly than even Horace’s own father.

…After Peggy’s ad for a roommate in Manhattan resulted in prank calls by her fellow Sterling Cooper staffers, Joan stepped in and told her to change her boring angle and be adventurous, that it’s about two young single women in the city. Peggy took her advice and changed the ad, and found a lovely and exciting roommate.

…Grandpa Gene tells Sally that she can be anything, despite what her mother says/does.

Those are the biggies, any more that I forgot?

One thing I want to point out…Don supporting Sal’s commercial, despite it not getting them the Patio account. Don knew it was good work, and he told Sal that he was now officially a commercial director. It was a nice moment between the two. And now we see Don has another alliance  with someone else who has a “a secret.” First Peggy, with her pregnancy and now Sal, who we know is secretly gay. Don, with his own bag of secrets, really has empathy for these individuals, he supports them and cares about them. He knows what its like to live two lives, bury a past, and be really passionate about work. They are all outsiders in a way, not privileged like Roger and Pete, they feel they have more to lose and have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously.

This season, Mad Men has taken a deeper look into class issues, something that I feel scripted television doesn’t really delve in to enough. It’s not polite to discuss money, right? But that’s one of the important elements about this show, it doesn’t strive to be polite, it wants to expose the issues, the hypocrisy, explore the human condition. Formalities and etiquette are what we use to keep things even on the surface, while ignoring the emotion and motivation that’s really going on underneath…I’ll save some of my further discussion for a night that AMC airs a repeat.

Looking ahead…next week is episode 5, “A Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency”…Don and Betty deal with Sally and her issue, and Betty has a weird dream.  Ohhhhhh, a dream, can’t wait to analyze that!

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Pat said,

    Loved when Betty told Sally to go watch tv when she was so upset. Her watching the news story about the protesters burning down a building to get someone to listen to them … an omen for?


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