This week’s Mad Men: Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency

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Let’s get a quick correction out of the way: to clarify the 1963 timeline, the show is now in July. I thought that due to all the coat-wearing an episode or two back that it was already fall.  However, they  mentioned 4th of July in last night’s episode. Possibly in Weiner’s constant attempt to be extremely accurate, the coats signified that spring/early summer in New York in 1963 was on the cooler side? Whatever the case may be, just wanted to update the timeline.

One other thing…I’m going to try a new format with the Mad Men posts. I’ll start them with a quick recap (aka bullet points) and then follow with more in-depth commentary/analysis.

********************SPOILER ALERT —so for the love of Mad Men’s Emmy wins last night (Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series/”Meditations in an Emergency”)!!!!! please don’t read any further if you don’t want to know what happened in Episode 6***********

RECAP:

  • Sally is freaked out over her new baby brother. He has the same name and room as her late grandfather, coping with life/death has her afraid of the dark.
  • PPL’s Director and Chairman of the Board crossed the Atlantic and crashed Sterling Cooper’s 4th of July holiday (“subtle” as Draper so eloquently put it), to reveal a re-org, with a young economic whiz, Guy MacKendrick now at the helm, and Lane to be shipped off to India.  Harry is the only employee in NY promoted, as head of the Media Department.
  • With the Brits in town everyone was on their best behavior, until Lois lost control of Ken’s John Deere lawnmower (courtesy of bringing in the new account) during a drunken reception in the office and ran over Guy’s foot (“just as he got it in the door,” ah Roger, with his never-miss wit!). This quickly changes everything. PPL decides that Guy can’t work now that he’s missing a foot, and they put Lane back in charge.
  • It was also Joan’s last day at Sterling Cooper, as she was leaving due to Greg’s anticipated appointment as Chief Resident. Unfortunately, he didn’t get it, and now Joan faces going back to work.

COMMENTARY:

Turning lights on and off, sitting in the dark, that seemed to be a theme in last night’s episode. The show opened with Sally sleeping with her light on, and Don promising her a nightlight if she cleaned her room—which later we see her lying wide-awake in the glow of the new nightlight. That same night, before PPL’s visit, we see Don in bed, in the dark, with a slight smile on his face, in anticipation of what tomorrow’s meeting will bring; and Joan, in her apartment, upon learning Greg’s unfortunate news, stands at the light before sadly turning it off.  For Sally, she’s afraid of the dark, what she can’t see; Don is in the dark about his future with Sterling Cooper, and for Joan–once illuminated with the prospect of being a devoted housewife for her doctor husband, she too is now  in the dark about her future.

With PPL’s visit, Don is once again passed over for a promotion, and immediately takes a meeting with hotelier Conrad Hilton, per Hilton’s out-of-nowhere request. Turns out, Conrad, or Connie as he prefers, was the bartender (or so we thought) that Don bonded with at Roger’s Kentucky Derby garden party. Connie asks Don for advertising advice, Don gives him a nugget and then asks for the account.  Don isn’t an accounts man, he’s creative–so just how will this play out? Roger’s name was left out of the re-org projector presentation, clearly the Brits don’t take him all that seriously, so will he get the credit for the Hilton account? After all, Connie was at Roger’s party, so there is a connection there.

Moving on to Betty/Sally/Baby Gene…I can not say enough about how impressed I am that Mad Men is delving into the painful and dysfunctional side of  sibling rivalry and birth-order issues. Most TV shows deal with this as people are adults, and recalling all the moments of what went wrong. With this show we are watching it happen, the beginning of all the issues everyone’s going to be screaming at each other about in 20 years. Sally, the oldest, coping with life/death, and the confusion Baby Gene is causing her. We see Bobby in the middle, and Betty tending to the newborn with affection, and trying to buy Sally’s security and approval with a gift, rather than directly approach her like Don does at the end.

This is a delicate thing Weiner and the writers are covering, childhood and the dynamics of families and so far they’ve done a brilliant job. I especially love that this all takes place (for the moment) in the late 50’s/early 60’s, a time so often romanticized about, where the reality is glossed over with images of Camelot, perfectly coiffed hair and convertible cars.

And finally, let’s talk about Joan. Sigh, poor Joan. She is so damn calming, she has me wanting to sit next to her on the couch and tell her all about it. So, Greg didn’t get the position, but he’s still a doctor. Of course, this throws a wrench in their dynamic, he’s probably going to feel like a failure, and it will affect his work/home life. And Joan now has to go back to work, which she doesn’t want to do. Will she go back to Sterling Cooper?  She did save Guy’s life with her quick thinking with his blood-gushing injury, so she could probably call in that favor if she wanted to…but there is that Joan-pride thing, she had the perfect opportunity to ask Don for her job back at the hospital, and she didn’t.

So many reasons to tune in next week! We are up to episode 7, “Seven Twenty Three.”  I looked up the date July 23 (7/23),  1963 and couldn’t find anything significant. Anyway, in the upcoming episode, Peggy receives an expensive gift, Betty gets involved with local politics, and Don contemplates his future.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Audrey said,

    I LOVE sally. She makes me feel so much better about my childhood awkwardness. And about trying to suffocate my baby brother! Plus, I swear, I had the same tutu.

    Questions: who is connie again? and wasn’t Conrad Hilton also just in the bar at the same time Don was? Like he was another guest at a different country club event? That confused me from the get-go.

    The foot! I couldn’t believe it. And come on, if Heather Mills could do DWTS with a prosthetic leg I’m sure the Brit could manage an account or two without one silly foot!

    Is it me or has Joan completely morphed into this wierd Stepford Wifey new person? It kinda freaks me out. Great post!


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