Monday, August 2, 2010
Mad Men Season 4, Episode 2
Well, lookit, there's Freddy Rumsen! And Freddy Rumsen has gone dry, but everyone else is drinking way too much!
Don has never made the mistake of sleeping with someone at work, and wow, is it a mistake - and he handles it in typical terrible Draper manner. His drinking has obviously increased, and he's starting to be unable to care for himself - the nurse across the hall has to step in, and then Alison, his secretary. He's looking destroyed, but he also looks like he's punishing himself. As he says, he doesn't hate Christmas, just this Christmas, and I think his incredible, incredible loneliness is really eating at him. He was lonely before the divorce, but now, it's becoming something that could truly rend him. And when Alison comes to his apartment and starts to take care of him, well . . . . she's too hard to resist. Not that he necessarily wants her - but to be taken care of, to have someone be kind and nurturing to him, that is what he most desires.
Roger is also drinking more. And in not a good way. What's interesting is you can really see the divide between the younger folks and Don and Roger. It used to be that Don and Roger were revered; now Don is called "pathetic" by Joey and Peggy can't believe Roger gets paid for what he does (which is primarily drink with clients). The power dynamics are not what they were - there is no simple hierarchy, with Don and Roger on top. And we are reminded how much Roger is not on top when he has to basically grovel to Lee, the biggest account the firm has. But the drinking, well - it's getting out of control. And the younger staffers are not amused.
Creepy male power
Glen. Ewwwwwww, Glen. There is something very wrong with Glen. It is abusive and scary and dangerous and you know that is going nowhere good. I don't even know what to say there, just ewwwwww, Glen. The question becomes: since Sally knows, what is going to happen with her? Is Glen going to be her way of acting out in a situation she hates? I really, really hope Glen doesn't do anything to her. I really, really hope that. I am hoping Glen just decided to do all those things to the house to avenge Sally's unhappiness, because he was never able to do that for himself when his parents got divorced. The thing is, after Glen asked for Betty's hair - the kid is creepy. I would love to hear thoughts on this.
And then there is Lee, who owns Lucky Strike, who apparently has to put everyone down in order to feel good about himself. It's interesting how Sal was fired because Lee wanted him to be, and everyone backed Lee - now, the firm has a client who is an absolute monster. We saw how awful he was last season, but no one else did in the show - now everyone is realizing that he is a power-trippy asshole with a penchant for humiliating and belittling people. And as the firm hinges on this account, and Lee might know that, this is also going nowhere good.
Adding: Forgot the first time around in this section: Don sleeping with his secretary. Not cool. She hesitates, and maybe she finally "consents" but - her job is on the line. What else can she do? A coerced or extorted consent when there is this much at stake for her is not really "consent." There is an imbalance of power here that should make everyone uncomfortable.
Old-fashioned vs. Modern
Ok, one of my favorite moments is when the psychologist lady, she is introduced as the person who came up with the idea that women want to be sold "sanitary products" by showing women carefree on a beach with white pants. Both Joan and Peggy roll their eyes. I mean - ladies, that shit is annoying, no? So we know not to take her too seriously. But the influx of the personality tests, to bring "science" to advertising - this is new. Peggy's admonishment to Freddy that he is old fashioned, and the best way to sell women beauty products is promise them it will help them get married - you can tell that is not considered acceptable anymore. Freddy doesn't even seem to understand how the hierarchy works - Peggy points out she wanted to bring him in to help HER, not the other way around. And then the whole, well, don't sleep with him before you get married or he won't respect you advice . . . hopelessly outdated. And let's not even get INTO the medieval views on sexuality and gender (well, until comments).
And then Peggy slept with the boyfriend. So . . . thoughts, guys? She had to pretend she was a virgin, but then she slept with him before marriage anyway. Was that because she got tired of holding him off, or because she didn't want to be alone on New Year's Eve? Or because Freddy explained to her that if she was a tease, that was unkind, because it's "very painful" for men, you know?
Also, apparently the civil rights and feminist movements are rearing up. The old men, Cooper especially, are horrible racists, full stop. Freddie makes the comment that maybe if women found husbands they will stop being so "angry." Things are changing outside the office, and we're seeing those who are most stuck in a previous time, and who are racist, and sexist, speaking now about all the changes they see around them. We haven't heard any of the younger employees weigh in on civil rights or feminism yet. It'll be interesting to see Pete, and Joey, and Joan, and Peggy weighing in on the change.
What I want vs. what's expected of me
Well, the psychologist lady isn't all wrong - she nailed Don's problem on the head. Also, she called him on his "type" - he'll be married in a year. Which: I totally agree - he obviously is a mess by himself. But all of Don's problems can pretty much be boiled down to this dilemma - he built a life he never wanted but thought he was supposed to have. It didn't make him happy like he thought it would, and now he is unsure where to go. I don't think Don has any idea of what he wants, which goes back to our conversation from last week - it's pretty clear Don hates himself, or is afriad of himself, and is just pretty clueless about what he wants or needs. He has just been following the script for what he is supposed to do. And now that that's failed, well, he is totally adrift and lost.
I really should go watch the episode again, and then I might have more thoughts, but: the discussion is yours, my loves! I'll be all over comments once I watch the show again, and think some more . . . see you there!
Posted by Gayle Force at 10:50 AM