Mad Men: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes   Rewatch 
June 1, 2014 1:07 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Mad Men: A term coined in the late 1950s to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue. They coined it. Spoilers within.

"1960, New York City, the drama unfolds around Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the biggest ad man in the business. As he makes the plays in the boardroom and the bedroom, he struggles to stay a step ahead."
posted by donajo (205 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I hope this is a safe place where I can admit that typewriters do intimidate me a bit. They're heavy, prone to jamming, no spell-check, and you actually need to know how to type to use them effectively.
posted by donajo at 1:14 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's interesting that we're shown both ends of Don's creative process from having no clue what the pitch should be to coming up with it during the middle of the meeting then knocking it out of the park. It's also pretty telling that Don's family situation isn't introduced until the very end of the episode.
posted by drezdn at 1:38 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Totally forgot that Don lost it in that very first presentation. Also that Midge looks like an older, more sophisticated Peggy. And that Peggy's bangs were the worst. And that the music leading up to Don saying goodnight to his family was so dramatic. And that Pete Campbell was such a horrific ass right from the start, oh sweet Jesus what an ass. (Where is Peggy's apartment, there? She's living in Brooklyn, right? Pete went all the way to Brooklyn to get it on with Peggy? How did he get her address?)

That gynecologist scene only gets more uncomfortable every time I watch it. Not to mention that whatever he prescribed for Peggy was (a) not given enough time to work, and (b) ineffective. (What even happens if you take hormonal BC through your whole pregnancy???)
posted by brina at 1:45 PM on June 1, 2014


Pete is so very, very...Pete, from the first moment he's onscreen.

And Peggy apparently had a very busy lunch hour, between seeing a gynecologist for a lecture on harlotry, and stopping off to buy bribes for the switchboard girls.
posted by Stacey at 1:48 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Poor Sal. He was trying so hard to be one of the guys.
posted by Aznable at 1:55 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


I never understood why Peggy slept with Pete. Does she want the attention and validation after her first day? Why on earth would she sleep with him again after he goes on to ignore her/continue to treat her like shit?

Not to mention that whatever he prescribed for Peggy was (a) not given enough time to work, and (b) ineffective. (What even happens if you take hormonal BC through your whole pregnancy???)


A) Is the problem here. It didn't have time to work. I'm not sure about back in 1960, but with modern birth control, taking it throughout the pregnancy will not harm the baby.
posted by donajo at 2:02 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who rushed out to buy a bunch of Lucky Strikes after the episode?
posted by MoonOrb at 2:15 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wanted to smoke through the whole episode.
posted by brina at 2:27 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


-So crucial that the first shot is the camera pulling in towards the back of Don's head. We're entering his world from the very beginning.

- I didn't recall the homosexual innuendo around Sal being laid on so thick from the start. How did I miss that the first time around? Everything's laid on really thick, actually. Subtlety wasn't in the cards just yet, was it?

-I died at Don being invited to join the bachelor party for Pete, and saying "I'll be there next time." Oh, Don.

-PEGGY, NOOOOOOO

-It's so bizarre to watch everyone, knowing their futures over the next decade. I've never done a rewatch like this with characters I've grown to understand. Lots of surprising feelings.

-Everyone looks so young, don't they? Pete is a baby (a creepy horrible baby). Don is young and doesn't really know what he's doing, even when he does. Peggy, good lord. Roger, meanwhile, doesn't seem to have aged a day from start to finish.

-Betty wearing lipstick to bed. Of course.
posted by naju at 2:34 PM on June 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


"It's Toasted" was a real ad.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:35 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]




Upon reread: Reviewer refers to Pete as Paul. Back when they were all interchangeable!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:40 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


At that time, my family did not own a TV. My Dad read the newspaper every night. They listened to records and maybe the radio.

We did not get a TV until the late 1960's, and it was kept in the back den, where my Dad would go to lie down after work if he had a migraine. The formal living room was for entertaining guests.

I'm not sure if my mother read magazines, but surely, she must have. Our house was a large white Federal style, very similar to Don's, with a staircase when you walk in, a formal living room to the left, a dining room to the right, and the kitchen at the back. The den was behind the living room.

We had a picnic table out back, and a red cedar fence between our house and the back neighbors. I remember, because I got yelled at for pinching the hosta buds on their plants (they popped!). I remember the picnic table because my brother put it on its side and was practicing his knife throwing, when my sister popped her head out from behind and took a hit just to the left and above her temple.

From reading that NYT review, it just dawned on me that people didn't have TV so it was all newspaper and magazine ads, maybe billboards. I know we sat at the dining room table every night and my brother got admonished for not eating his carrots. My Dad smoked but he quit due to getting a bad cold and the doctor telling him to cut it out (he was in his early 30's and already had 5 kids!). My Mom sewed a lot so she must have read McCall's at least.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:46 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I applaud whoever pointed out two weeks ago that "abuse the person whose help I need, and then I take a nap" is a thing Don does in this episode.

Also I tried to just watch Smoke Gets in Your Eyes yesterday and I'm already at New Amsterdam. I suck at this!
posted by almostmanda at 4:51 PM on June 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


The gay jokes in this season are waaay overdone. One or two would have been okay but jeez Weiner lay off.
posted by bleep at 4:55 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Show of hands: Who's been watching MM since the very beginning?

I watched the first couple of episodes and then stopped because Mr. Darling couldn't fall asleep with MM on - Pete's voice/affectation in particular drove him crazy and everyone speaks relatively softly so I had to have the volume up (we had similar issues with The Tudors) (and now I watch in another room). Plus I found Betty's storyline very hard to watch. I didn't get back into the show until a Sunday-afternoon AMC marathon halfway through S3.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:56 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I started attempting to watch from the beginning when season 3 was airing. I had to watch this episode three times for it to really grab me. Internet chatter about bad bitch Joan Holloway was 100% of the reason I was interested (I was not disappointed).
posted by almostmanda at 5:00 PM on June 1, 2014


I watched every episode every Sunday (every Monday after we ditched cable) from the first one. I agree that Betty's storyline this season was bizarre and takes up way too much time, in retrospect. A serious weakness in the show.
posted by bleep at 5:00 PM on June 1, 2014


We did not have AMC at the time, so we blitzed it over this past winter on Netflix, tho' I did see a couple of episodes here and there. And I admit we watched this and the next one in a row but am holding off another binge. We still don't have AMC (cord cutters) so we actually paid to watch Season 7 shows on Amazon because the alternate sites were just too crappy.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:07 PM on June 1, 2014


BTW, I could type 80 wpm on an IBM Selectric at one time. And I did have a typing job to start, and I did briefly sleep with a manager (from another department) before finding out he was engaged to be married. So I really empathize with Peggy. Young and innocent and not knowing much about men, lots of compliments and attention. I really had no idea about men, I thought they were all like my father, nice and polite.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:18 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who rushed out to buy a bunch of Lucky Strikes after the episode?

They're toasted!
posted by donajo at 5:26 PM on June 1, 2014


I miss Midge so much. They were so great together.
posted by Sara C. at 5:35 PM on June 1, 2014


"It's Toasted" was a real ad.

There's an ad for pita bread that keeps coming on Hulu that amounts the same thing. It's all about how they let their dough rest overnight. Something tells me that's the usual way of baking pita.
posted by Sara C. at 5:37 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I never understood why Peggy slept with Pete. Does she want the attention and validation after her first day?

My guess is that she thought it was what she was supposed to do. All day long, every single other person -- especially her fellow secretaries -- told her that the whole point of her being at Sterling Cooper was to be sexually available to the male executives. I feel like I would have turned Pete down, because he's a dick and it's the middle of the night and I don't even know this guy. But I can definitely see how Peggy could get it into her head that this was something she was supposed to do.
posted by Sara C. at 5:41 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I always thought it was so strange the way Pete didn't look at Peggy when he came to her apartment ... creepy and intimate at the same time (but mostly creepy, considering they'd just met!). Weiner talked about it in a NY Mag article this spring:

He [Kartheiser] always surprises me. The thing that surprises me is the pathos. ... It’s emotion. He surprised me [in that scene] when he came over to see Peggy. I script a lot of the physical relationships, so there was this thing in here about him talking to the top of her head, about his voice and his posture. It’s very seductive. It wasn’t as predatory as I expected.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:42 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re when folks started watching, I got in right around season 2. I had seen ads for season 1 and heard about it, but I think I thought it was going to be like a lawyer show or something. (I mean I knew it was about advertising, but I just thought, like, dudes in suits yelling at each other.)
posted by Sara C. at 5:46 PM on June 1, 2014


I never understood why Peggy slept with Pete. Does she want the attention and validation after her first day?

I never understood why either, but on re-watch I notice that Joan told the telephone operators that Elinor had moved on because Don wasn't interested, which might imply that she had left of her own accord, but from what the operators said it sounded like they thought she had been let go, partly due to their sabotaging her because they thought she was rude, but maybe also because Don was not attracted to her?

So then Peggy makes a move on Don and he tells her he is "her boss, not her boyfriend" and yells at her about letting Pete into his office.

So she goes home feeling rejected, embarrassed and probably a little worried about her job, so when Pete shows up at her door it soothes her ego over being rejected by Don and sleeping with him maybe makes her feel like she is "playing the game" by becoming the "girl" of one of the executives and if things don't work out with Don, maybe they might with Pete.

Turns out to be the first of many crappy decisions, but after a full day of being indoctrinated that her success at the office depended on her desirability, it makes a certain amount of sense.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:46 PM on June 1, 2014 [15 favorites]


Kristen Schaal cameo as one of the switchboard girls! And I believe maybe Progressive Flo too?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:48 PM on June 1, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yep. Two out of three switchboard girls went on to successful careers. Poor random third switchboard girl.
posted by Sara C. at 5:50 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Third random girl wasn't Lois?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:54 PM on June 1, 2014


No, she doesn't show up till later. The third woman is blond, I think.
posted by Sara C. at 5:56 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I didn't watch in real time until Season 4. I binge watched the first three seasons before that. It's weird to think about because sometimes I think I was born watching this show.
posted by sweetkid at 5:58 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, as we were discussing a few days ago, Pete wanting Don's job makes no sense. That's not a career ladder for Accounts. I think it was just to set up that he wants to Be Don.

I thought Jon Hamm looked so nervous in the first scene with the African American waiter. He isn't Draper at all yet.

Also I was keeping notes while watching this in Evernote and they are sort of hilarious. I need to do this when I watch anything.
posted by sweetkid at 6:00 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Rachel really reminds me of Emma Stone in this rewatch, which is information I don't really know what to do with.
posted by sweetkid at 6:03 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I noticed that they have Maggie Siff in the regular opening credits (and John Slatterly as a special guest star). I wonder what the initial plan for that character was?
posted by donajo at 6:06 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I agree that Betty's storyline this season was bizarre and takes up way too much time, in retrospect. A serious weakness in the show.

Whaat? Disagree so hard. What's bizarre? Her anxiety? Ossining domestic life? I can see not liking it but bizarre? I really miss early season Betty.

(Not being fighty just curious).

Those were supposed to be January Jones' only scenes but Weiner liked her so much he expanded the character. I wonder what the original plan would have been? Never showing his wife or home life again? There would be no Sally Draper storyline. It's kind of crazy.
posted by sweetkid at 6:08 PM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


From the very beginning the show is about the creative process. It begins with a man writing and talking to strangers about preferences they don't even understand to ferret out their secret desires. He doesn't even know what he's looking for, he's just talking to people, figuring them out. He's not exactly charming, just incisive. He takes it and mulls it over for 24 hours, before turning that conversation along with every other conversation, including his denial of scientific research, a personal history barely hinted at, and a lifestyle of chaos and casual sex, into art. Art whose explicit purpose is to trick people into killing themselves. We feel the triumph of seeing a cool dude pull off a great business win, but right away we have to confront the results of his brilliance: People will simply avoid thinking about eat… think happy thoughts instead. It's kind of a simplistic vision of what commercials do, but there we are. From the very beginning the show is about the creative process. It begins with a man writing and talking to strangers about preferences they don't even understand to ferret out their secret desires. He doesn't even know what he's looking for, he's just talking to people, figuring them out. He's not exactly charming, just incisive. He takes it and mulls it over for 24 hours, before turning that conversation along with every other conversation, including his denial of scientific research, a personal history barely hinted at, and a lifestyle of chaos and casual sex, into art. Art whose explicit purpose is to trick people into killing themselves. We feel the triumph of seeing a cool dude pull off a great business win, but right away we have to confront the results of his brilliance: People will simply avoid thinking about eat… think happy thoughts instead. It's kind of a simplistic vision of what commercials do, but there we are.

That's the central premise of the show--that advertising is gorgeous and evil--and the central question remains: How can anyone do it? Not rhetorically, but literally--how does it work? Where did it come from? Weiner would start in the 1890s if he could (and in some ways he does with Rachel Menken--department stores were some of the first big ad accounts in the 1910s) but instead he starts at the dawn of another medium that everyone hates and no-one understands--Television. But Advertising predates TV because TV is simply the ultimate form of advertising. As early church morality plays are to Mozart Operas, so Don's magazine coupons are to Peggy's gorgeous Burger Chef short film, and Weiner sees his show as, at best, Wagner on that spectrum. But advertising is even more than that, more powerful than a single piece of cinema or art or literature. It combines all these things and any other thing it can use to reach you.

The most amazing trick of the episode is the delay in introducing Don's family until the end. What is it intended to say to us, besides "Surprise! This raconteur has a total picture-perfect family that he is cheating on! Ain't he a stinker! Pick up this show for a full season AMC!" The only thing more audacious is the trick of hiding the central mystery behind the main character's life utterly from view for the full first season, and even then only revealing the truth in shards rather than in one satisfying flashback or explanation.

So why reveal the loving family in the last scene? This is the other half of the thesis statement of the show, one that is I think more familiar to most viewers on first watch--that the business world of the time entitled a man to and demanded from him this double life of debauchery and domesticity. But to my eyes watching it again last week, the trauma that Don causes in his family's psyche isn't the result of the nature of New York executive privilege, or booze, or the patriarchy, or capitalism, though all these are certainly going to be cleaned and displayed by the show's clear, wandering spotlight through the age. It is Don's creative power that is the most destructive element. His brilliance at creating adverting acts as a kind of poisonous fungus that feeds on happiness, specific happiness. Midge is already devoured by it, Rachel is in danger of falling into it, Peggy and Pete desperately want to command it, Roger blithely pursues it and Joan tragically embodies it but its most fruitful host is the artifice of the perfect nuclear family that Don has set up in the suburbs. As the season and the show goes on he will plunge his pen into that well again and again until he drains it, finds a new inkwell and start the process again and again. This is what it takes to make America want what you want. This is the factory that manufactures desire. Kiss the generic children goodnight and toss their dreams into the mill.

But to me the most marvelous part about this pilot is the presence of a genuine brand herself. No other show in history can say that they launched not only an actresses' career but he ascension into the pantheon of Logos. I know the character is supposedly called Marge, but from the moment her cat's eyes alight on Peggy you know she is more than just a operator--she is FLO, the form itself of advertising sitting right there about to be created. Or perhaps she is operating far more than a switchboard of calls to and from people--maybe she is still there, in the basement of every ad agency ever, patching in calls from Don and Peggy and even Lou into the noematic core, where poetry and painting and music bow before their true king.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:12 PM on June 1, 2014 [13 favorites]


I get the mid-century housewife ennui thing, that's well-worn territory. It's the creepy Glen thing I'm talking about.
posted by bleep at 6:13 PM on June 1, 2014


I wonder what the initial plan for that character was?

I think that's just a contractual thing. She's in a lot of episodes this season and her agent probably negotiated for her to be billed as regular cast and not as a guest star.

Re Betty, I don't really see how you could have Mad Men without Betty's role. Firstly, her presence cements the fact that Don is the protagonist, and it's not an ensemble/workplace type of show when you get down to brass tacks. Secondly, I don't know how you can talk about the 60s and not talk about the middle class nuclear family. And I don't know how you can do that without actually having a homemaker/SAHM character whose world you delve into a bit.
posted by Sara C. at 6:14 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Those were supposed to be January Jones' only scenes but Weiner liked her so much he expanded the character. I wonder what the original plan would have been?

sweetkid, I wonder if you're thinking of Christina Hendricks? I've heard Matt talk about how he turned Joan into a major character after meeting Christina (who, oddly, originally read for Midge). I haven't heard that about JJ (not that I've read/seen everything).
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:17 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's the creepy Glen thing I'm talking about.

Oh I totally agree about Glen. I could have done without him entirely. Blech.
posted by sweetkid at 6:17 PM on June 1, 2014


I also heard that about Betty and Megan. I guess that tells us a lot about Weiner's creative process. Don't think about women's stories until you meet a pretty one.
posted by bleep at 6:20 PM on June 1, 2014 [7 favorites]


Lois joins the switch board in a few episodes.

I didn't see Allison this episode but I know she shows up from time to time, floating coverage on the front reception desk.

The set is still very much basic, with a lot of those walls as backdrop. Later episodes made it more open, with Draper on the back corner of the main floor and the executive executives one floor up.

I think Peggy was both indoctrinated all day about what's 'expected' but her whole life, even. Her mom talks later on about the horrible things that will happen to her if she actually moves to the city. I'm sure there were warnings and gossip and indoctrination in secretarial school; I know I got a smidge of it later during my stint at the typewriter.

Pete probably got her information from someone/personnel, or even used the phone book to look her up. :P

I think I jumped in on this once Joan had her conversation with the doctor about her "procedures' - there was some media coverage.

Other changes from the pilot to later on besides the finished large room sets - the typewriter cover goes from black to tan - and my business school (secretarial school) teacher would have been pissed they were being wrinkled. Fold them, they look nice and last longer. Wrinkles on the desk are sloppy.

I remember reading, donajo that they couldn't afford John Slattery and he wasn't sure if he wanted to stay. I think that was around the time he was doing Desperate Housewives for a season or two. The funny thing is that I remember that Sports Illustrated commercial (a perm!! were they trying to make him a Steve Gutenberg?) but not Homefront (which I listened to without missing an episode if I recall correctly).

A couple of things to remember, I think - MW wrote this pilot AGES before it got shot. Compare the first draft of The Star War with Luke StarKiller to the final product (Han shot first version of course).

And a lot of things happen based on the characters. They killed off Pete's dad when the actor died, they gave Betty cancer when JJ had her baby (trying to remember what they did for Marcia Clark on DH when she had her twins - carried around a lot of casseroles and then went away on a long visit for a while). MW falls in love with random actresses and his own kid. :P But I think you're off, sweetkid - Betty was always supposed to be there and Christina Hendricks was supposed to be a one or two off character. But she rocked it.

In another thread it was mentioned that they were glad Betty's nerve thing didn't get "dropped". It did. She completely lost it. Fat Betty cancer was just a coincidence, not related. Just 'ennui'.

But MW writes all of the lost threads off as storytelling, he's not going to wrap up lines or satisfy anyone about anything. He writes something once and uses it over and over and over again; once he set up Don's Modus Operandi, he had to keep it that way, and then has him gift it to Peggy as The Way (or My Way if you want to play off of the music).
posted by tilde at 6:21 PM on June 1, 2014


Personally I think the Joan thing is a bit of a myth, too. She gets way too much screen time in the pilot to be a one-off character we never see again.

If anything, I could see the show not being sure what they wanted to do with the character of Don's wife and how much screen time she'd ultimately get, hired January Jones to play her in just the one scene for the pilot, and then tabled the final casting issue for if/when they got picked up.

See also the photo of Pete Campbell's fiancee, Trudy.
posted by Sara C. at 6:22 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


The set is still very much basic, with a lot of those walls as backdrop. Later episodes made it more open, with Draper on the back corner of the main floor and the executive executives one floor up.

Fun fact: the pilot was shot on location in New York, while the show moved to LA upon pickup. While the sets would have been based on the office location used in the pilot, the art director would have designed them for maximum visual interest and practical use by the crew.
posted by Sara C. at 6:24 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Shot in Silvercup, just like 30 Rock.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:26 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Line of the episode:

"Keep it up, and even if you do get my job, you'll never run this place. You'll die in that corner office, a mid-level executive with a little bit of hair who women go home with out of pity. Want to know why? 'Cause no one will like you."

Draper to Campbell on their way to the first client meeting of the episode, Menken's.
posted by tilde at 6:27 PM on June 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


Pete probably got her information from someone/personnel, or even used the phone book to look her up. :P

I've been watching "The Wire", lately, and one thing I think has entirely disappeared from American culture just in the past few years, almost without our noticing it, is the tendency for people to drop by each others' homes.
posted by Sara C. at 6:28 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Shot in Silvercup, just like 30 Rock.

If it's like other pilots I've worked on in New York, they would have shot the vast majority of the episode on location. The state of New York requires one "stage day" in order to be eligible for the tax credit, so most productions will build one set on stage for a pilot. Usually something needed only for one day. If I had to guess, I'd say it's Midge's apartment, but it also could have been the doctor's office or the restaurant Don takes Rachel to when he wins back Menkens' business.
posted by Sara C. at 6:30 PM on June 1, 2014


Betty didn't have cancer. She had a scare.
But I think you're off, sweetkid - Betty was always supposed to be there and Christina Hendricks was supposed to be a one or two off character.

The story might be apocryphal, but I heard it from Weiner and January Jones, so I'm not "off" - I think Sara C's right and they hadn't figured out how much they were going to do with Betty until the show got picked up and JJ clicked in the part.

As far as Betty's hands, we should probably talk about it in Ladies' Room but her hands are a symptom for her anxiety, the symptoms of which can change over time. I don't think it was ever meant to be a permanent condition.
posted by sweetkid at 6:31 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don's not really concerned about people liking him either though. He's concerned with everyone on earth loving him through his work. He's lording it over Pete because he feels at the top of his game creatively, like he's right on the edge of taking over the image-making for a company like Buick or Hershey, something at the center of American (un)consciousness. Even if Pete becomes the CEO of Everything he'll never achieve that. Take THAT shit and stick it in your ass Random HBO Exec Who Rejected The Mad Men Pilot Script In 2005.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:33 PM on June 1, 2014


Sorry, Cancer Scare. It was a benign growth, "the kind of cancer that makes me fat".

I guess it is, sweetkid. I know I've got my own collection of weirdnesses. :P
posted by tilde at 6:33 PM on June 1, 2014


I heard it from Weiner and January Jones, so I'm not "off"

According to Wikipedia JJ had a 7 year contract before the show even started. She wasn't supposed to be in the pilot much but was always part of the show.

""It got down between Elisabeth Moss and myself, and she was obviously more suited to her, but Matthew had said, you know, there’s this other role, of the wife."[12] Jones signed a seven-year contract with the show, although her character originally had two lines in "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes". Weiner eventually edited the script to accommodate her desires."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:38 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the AMC Q&A

I auditioned twice. The first time I came in for Peggy. And the second time I came in for a character that he just sort of wrote overnight, which is Betty… But he told me, “There’s this little scene at the end of the pilot, but I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the character if we get picked up.” But he wrote these two amazing, beautiful scenes within two days that ended up being in the show… I just remember thinking that if nothing ever happened with the show, that I was just happy to be able to do those scenes.
posted by sweetkid at 6:48 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Great thanks Wikipedia now I'm stuck in a hole reading bad reviews of the pilot from supposedly trusted sources:

NY Mag was just bored by it.

"Odd how ridiculous they seem in their dark narrow suits with their dark narrow ties, like Murrow, Ed Sullivan, Lenny Bruce, Rod Serling, and Sinatra’s Rat Pack. So, too, does this series feel like a fifties leftover, chock-full of unimportant secrets. "

The New Republic thought it was sexist and had too many references to the time period:

"But, where sex and violence were splashed liberally throughout "The Sopranos," the lustful, simmering anger of "Mad Men" lurks behind closed doors and under the thick, shellacked veneer of those who care an awful lot about what other people are thinking. And, despite high praise from the Times, People, and the Los Angeles Times ("The pilot of AMC's new original series 'Mad Men' is not so much a pilot as an hourlong seduction"), "Mad Men" is ultimately as self-indulgent and annoying as its terminally repressed characters."

& Tom "Skidmark" Shale in the Washington Post just took a crap in his diaper and then smeared it on his editor like he always does.

"Draper's wife Betty, played by a compelling actress with the unfortunate name of January Jones, is heading for a breakdown. After being told there's nothing physically wrong with her, she decides to see a psychiatrist and at their very first session talks about "the bomb" and nuclear-age angst -- shamelessly obvious baloney."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:52 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


After being told there's nothing physically wrong with her, she decides to see a psychiatrist and at their very first session talks about "the bomb" and nuclear-age angst -- shamelessly obvious baloney."

That's not even the pilot it's Episode 2.
posted by sweetkid at 6:54 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ah, fair enough sweetkid, I guess wikipedia had it backward! Weird to think Weiner hadn't planned to have Betty and Don's homelife be a major part of the show at first.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:55 PM on June 1, 2014


Tom Shale is garbage can.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:55 PM on June 1, 2014


Ah, fair enough sweetkid, I guess wikipedia had it backward! Weird to think Weiner hadn't planned to have Betty and Don's homelife be a major part of the show at first.

Ha. I know my Betty Draper History.
posted by sweetkid at 6:58 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's telling too how angry the bad critics are at the show for showing us how disgusting sexual harassment is through Peggy's eyes. "Ugh this is gross! More Bada Bing Club please!"
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:00 PM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


How can anyone like these characters--they're way too accurate and unanachronistic! They should just pal around and love eachother like that sweet ol Forest Gump!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:01 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yea whenever I see criticism of the show that's like "it's slow" or "characters are unlikeable" or "lots of sexual harassment shown" I'm just like...watch another show. Those things are like the point.
posted by sweetkid at 7:03 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's interesting, though, that "it's slow" becomes the standard complaint for the first couple episodes of every season.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:07 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I remember watching the first episode and being so put off by the "apparent" glorification of the good old days of sexual harassment that I turned it off partway through.

Fortunately for me I was stuck out of town at 3 a.m. a few years later with nothing available on demand except... Season 3. I got hooked and never looked back. Needless to say, if I'd stuck with the first episode all the way through I might have felt a bit different. The Peggy storyline for Season One just floored me in the best of ways.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 7:08 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also one of those shitty reviews calls the scene where Don doesn't wipe his hands on anything in the bathroom "Apropos of nothing". When actually that's the best thing about this show--that scenes often just sort of happen, building themes, painting a backdrop. Every domestic scene like that this season, in my opinion, is the color in the wonderful tapestry of emotion unveiled by the Carousel scene at the end. It's more like a novel than anything ever shot. No other show has ever done anything like that, especially not without violence to compel the plot along. To complain that something small just happens without giving the larger work a chance to occur...man. Critics are literally the worst sometimes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:11 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I never understood how the show was apparently glorifying the sexism. In just the first few episodes we have Peggy being warned off being a strumpet by the doctor and not sure if sleeping with her superiors is part of her job or not. Betty is anxious about divorce and her mother and her six year old's marriage prospects, and her psychiatrist talks to her husband about her problems.
I think it shows women's lives from a really interesting and refreshing perspective, it's not all Bada Bing Club.

Also I love the scene where Peggy is sitting there and all the guys walk by her all bedroom eyes. It's so gross and an experience I've had before.
posted by sweetkid at 7:13 PM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am crazy but not that crazy. :P
Initially, Holloway was set to be a guest role only.[12] However, the role was extended to regular status because of Hendricks' "on-screen magnetism".[12]
Puts a bit more of the 'ornamental' into the ornamentalism of women in the show. Peggy aside, of course, as she seems to be the only one envisioned as a breaking out role.
posted by tilde at 7:16 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think "the characters are all so unlikeable" is a pretty viable criticism of the show. I mean, in the "criticism" sense of trying to answer the question of whether it makes for an entertaining and sustainable viewing experience or not. I tried four times to watch MM, because I knew I was supposed to like it, but, man, I just hated all those fucking people.

However! The fourth time must be a charm, because now I am really enjoying it (only partway through season 2, though). I guess all I'm saying is that I understand how one viable criticism of the show is how the characters are all so despicable, because, well, they are, and that's going to inhibit a lot of people from viewing it. But all that being said, I'm glad it's the way it is, and it's hard to imagine a similarly engaging show with likable characters.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:29 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Peggy was always the female lead in Matt Weiner's mind. In the end I think he really doesn't care that much about characters that aren't Creative. He'll follow them for a bit I guess but the show isn't about the 60s, it's about Advertising. Peggy's arc, whether she's going to turn into Don, reject him, defeat him or find her own way and yet work with him, that's what keeps Weiner up at night. And man, did he ever hit a home run with Moss. From the very beginning she is fascinatingly introverted and naive and yet clearly gifted. Her little cracks to Don, at the first moment they meet, when he accidentally is honest with her about hiding his sleeping and she coolly covers for him, her withering looks at the scumbag account managers, she is fully Peggy from the very start, underneath all that earnestness is a A1 Bad Ass Boss Brain. It's telling that Joan and Betty were all people could talk about when the show started but Peggy is all people care about now.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:30 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Complaining that early Mad Men glorifies sexism is similar to critics insisting that Black Widow is just eye candy in the Marvel-verse. It's betraying a lack of empathy for the female characters and a deafness to nuance that tells us way more about the critic than the media they're reviewing.

And jeez, major side-eye at anyone who was still saying that by the end of season one.
posted by almostmanda at 7:35 PM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


I disagree, I think the show is about the both the 60s and advertising. I think the best parts of the show is when we're in the office with everyone and we're movin and shakin, but we need all the domestic goings on in everyone's life to make those interactions more believable and real.

Also I disagree that Weiner doesn't care about characters that aren't creative. i don't think there are any characters he doesn't care about.
posted by sweetkid at 7:36 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was being hyperbolic but I meant: the other characters, who he does care about as fictional creations whose stories are interesting somewhat on their own, simultaneously act as either fodder or inspiration (sometimes only metaphorically and at a distance) for the creative characters to use to Do The Work.

Except Joan and Roger. That's just true love right there. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Isn't Don's suit kinda fucked up in this ep? Something's off there. Tie too wide or shoulder pads or what?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:55 PM on June 1, 2014


I think I remember Weiner saying that they were filming Revolutionary Road in NYC at the same time they filmed the MM pilot, and the movie costume folks had taken every decent vintage suit on the East coast.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:17 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yep:

They were shooting in Grand Central Station. And they had every gray flannel suit that ever existed in New York City. I had to cast shorter, smaller extras because all the normal-size suits had been bought by the studio [making Revolutionary Road]. It’s incredible. Look in the pilot and you’ll see that Jon Hamm is a foot taller than everybody else.”
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:19 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wait from that interview: is Mad Men going to (maybe)actually end with The End? Maybe I should put that in whatever thread where we were going on about what song they were going to use for the finale.
posted by sweetkid at 8:24 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had to read that whole interview just to make sure it wasn't the Doors song.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:43 PM on June 1, 2014


Why? I linked it.
posted by sweetkid at 8:45 PM on June 1, 2014


I think Joan & Peter are on parallel arcs, just at different points. But if it follows through to the end, that would put Joan/Roger but who with Pete? Not Peggy.

Both characters (not Joan yet as she is filler and a contrast of what a secretary is to what Peggy will be instead, hence her screen time increase - & character extension) are people following the path they understand but it's not working out.

This episode, they are both doing their jobs. Pete wants more, sees his screw ups & wants to tie himself to & ms ascend with Don, as a Don (how hard is it to come up with copy, his lizard brain thinks) since he doesn't feel like he can be a Roger. Joan wants more (house in the country), mentions her screw up (Paul), is open to whom with she will ascend.
posted by tilde at 8:52 PM on June 1, 2014


I started watching Mad Men in the rainforest in Peru; someone had the first season on DVD and we got tired of watching Rome and all its blatant nakedness with the kind of sleazy handy man, so we switched to Mad Men.

Rachel and Midge are my two favorite ladies Don has been with (except for Faye, I think). It'd be great to see what Menken's has turned into in 1969...
posted by ChuraChura at 10:12 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


During that scene with the very dour research lady talking about cigarette smokers, Sal says something like "you mean people live one way, but think and feel a completely different way in secret? That's crazy!", all extravagant and Sal-like, and my eyes rolled so hard I saw my power animal.
posted by palomar at 10:20 PM on June 1, 2014 [9 favorites]


-Everyone looks so young, don't they?

I am now beginning to understand Roger's slow freakout.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:25 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Like almostamanda above, I started re-watching this weekend and am also up to New Amsterdam. Unlike most people in this thread, it seems, I actually am not "caught up" with Mad Men, but have actually followed most of the seasons I have not watched through articles about it because this is one of those shows that I don't think can be spoiled for me.

I didn't even know this was going to start here this weekend, so it's particularly amusing to me.

Anyway, I'm really just joining the conversation because I also fell down that hole of reviews of the pilot, and it makes me never want to say anything on the Internet because oh my god, the wrongness.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:43 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Initially, Holloway was set to be a guest role only.[12] However, the role was extended to regular status because of Hendricks' "on-screen magnetism"

This is either straight up a lie, or they mean, like in her audition tape. The role as filmed is far too large to be a guest role. And I don't know who the fuck Peggy would even talk to in this episode if the role was smaller. Especially since she's the office manager and almost the only person in the agency that Peggy interacts with. How the hell could it be a guest role?

My guess is that what really happened is that Joan was never supposed to be a "follow home" character, the way she evolved to be by about Season 4.
posted by Sara C. at 11:42 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


She's being followed to a hotel room within 3 episodes--this is probably just one of those trivia bits that only applies to her character pre-casting when Weiner had no real idea what the show was aside from this ancient pilot script he'd been carrying around that was all men and history and pitch-talk.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:02 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


The only thing different about Roger is that his quiff is slightly taller. Heh.

There's a bit where Don is talking to Rachel about why she isn't married, and she gives him the side-eye and is all "What, can't a girl be unmarried and happy working?". I wonder if Don ever asked Midge why she didn't marry and tie herself to her home. Same diff.

So many little things, like Midge saying "Lucky for you I was up, and alone," when Don knocks on her door.

Sal's art of his neighbour lying in a hammock smoking definitely has a voyeuristic, sexy feel that I don't think I'm projecting (I could be, but I don't think so). And Don says, "Get a [female] model" and Sal is all OH YEAH STRAIGHT LADIES YEEEAH.

Peggy's utter confusion, almost all day, leading up to PEGGY NO. Having to tell two strangers (because Don still is) in one day that she's a "good girl", and then, ugh. Notice her mustard-yellow blouse. And the poorly-matched outfit, didn't Miss Deaver's teach her how to coordinate?

The realisation that the entire episode takes place over roughly 24 hours (from Don at Midge's to Don at Ossining, at least).

When Betty greets Don, she says she wasn't expecting him, but there's a spare dinner in the oven. Was Betty already (still?) dieting? Or did she always keep one dinner, just in case? Was it a Friday?

Also hello! Shrimp cocktails! David Cohen the rising [Jewish] star! So awkward!
posted by tracicle at 5:27 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Lucky Strike pitch scene was heavy handed in a way later seasons wouldn't have been. Way too much coughing while smoking. Smoking is the le motif. From a 21st century viewpoint, the first thing that jars is the constant smoking indoors. And then in the Lucky Strike meeting everyone coughs. alot.

The most fun of the rewatch is the 'voice of God' element. It's very tempting to yell at the characters, knowing the outcomes.
posted by readery at 5:46 AM on June 2, 2014


Yeah, Don's tie was a little off - I wonder if he'd run out of spares.

I can't wait for Trudy to show up so we can follow The Whelk's theory that she's a spy.
posted by tilde at 5:46 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Heck, I was coughing just watching it! It certainly flashed me back to long car trips with my parents and the windows rolled tightly up.

The theme of lack of paternal affection was set up right away, with both Pete's hunger for Don's approval and Lee Garner, Sr.'s "Shame on you," to Lee, Jr. in the meeting.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:15 AM on June 2, 2014


Oh dang, I was looking forward to this for weeks and then my kid got sick on the night the rewatch starts. Oh well. Like almostmanda, I have trouble just watching one episode. Already I'm on four or five.

I'm struck by how greasy everyone looks. My mother always complained about that in the 50s, so I think it's accurate, but I think they also toned it down later. That first shot of Don's head is just a total greasebomb. Joan looks like she hasn't showered in days. Don't get me started on Peggy's little greasy bangs.

Peggy definitely sleeps with Pete because it's what she's told to do. She's trying very, very hard to be good and play into the prescribed role. Of course, that necessitates being a little bad. And Peggy's terrible at that. At the same time, I think there is real attraction between Pete and Peggy, which we'll see play out later.

I think I am the only person on the internet who likes Glenn. He's perfect foreshadowing for Sally--the messed-up child of divorce.

It's interesting how vague many of the character's jobs are in this first episode. Pete's in accounts, but it's not clear that Ken is, too, or that Paul is a writer, or that Harry is in media (or is he yet?!). They're just a pack of frat boys, with Don as their leader. That's interesting--makes it easy to see, for the first time, why there are so many references to Don as an all-American football player type. In the early episodes, that description almost fits.

Also, wow, he's such a kid in this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:24 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]



Also, wow, he's such a kid in this.


He was 35 when they filmed this. January Jones turned 35 last year, and it was all "matronly" and "aging" and "middle aged" etc. See also basically all actresses who turn 30. No one would ever say they "look like a kid" most of the time.

Just UGH the different ways we view men and women (and I'm not criticizing you at all, just the way this plays out, and yeah my thought was "Wow he's such a kid in this, too.")
posted by sweetkid at 7:20 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, a pack of guys whose roles aren't fully formed and defined. I think, though, that Kenny and Pete have to both be around to know what's going on in all accounts, and with shared writing resources it makes sense to have one meeting and everyone in it. Multiple writers but a single art guy, though there are other art guys (Sal is the Art Director but as we see he's not the only one.

The details on that doctor's office! The "wedding night" book. Oh my. My first lady bits exam was with a doc about as old as that doctor ... but since I didn't have it in 1960, he was older then/there. Just about as uncomfortable but at least he didn't smoke. I have no idea how I convinced my mom to let me change doctors but I HATED him.

So happy when I went to another doctor later on with more agency in myself and my self-confidence -- he was more like the personality of Dr Emerson; a touch less paternalistic but just as kindly.

NB - Pete is 26 in this, March 1960 (calendar on the wall Peggy stared at - also the same episode/day/week she first slept with Pete).

Everyone is dressed a little down this first episode; even Roger. But again, pilot, working things out.

Kinsey is interesting, I wonder if he'll come back. :P
posted by tilde at 7:31 AM on June 2, 2014


I didn't start watching until just before season 4 started, watching in batches as we got the seasons 1-3 DVDs from Netflix. For the first set of episodes I thought the overriding theme was "Just when you thought you got a handle on how awkward/crazy Pete is, we'll prove you wrong!". I'm already behind on the re-watch but should catch up tonight.
posted by mikepop at 7:45 AM on June 2, 2014


Yeah, I couldn't stop. I watched this episode about a week after the finale, and I'm up to Season 6 "Favors" now. It may not be as addictive as Lucky Strikes, but it definitely leaves you wanting another.

I saw Peggy's motivation for sleeping with Pete the first time as a little bit more than "she was expected to." The dalliances between all the other executives and secretaries were notable for their convenience. They sleep with the girls because they're available and they're there. I think she's struck by the fact that Pete went out of his way to single her out - finding her address and taking the train for two hours or whatever out to Brooklyn in the middle of the night. If he was just going to pressure her for obligation sex, in her eyes he could have made it a lot easier on himself. I think she was both flattered and curious in addition to whatever feelings she might have had about it being part of her role.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:54 AM on June 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


Forgot my 'financial report' - Peggy gets Enovid $11 a month (birth control pills).
posted by tilde at 7:59 AM on June 2, 2014


$87.20 in 2014 dollars. Sheesh.
posted by donajo at 8:40 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seriously. On an entry-level salary and she still got pregnant. I'd be pissed.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:45 AM on June 2, 2014


For that kind of money, I might just be tempted to become the town pump to get my money's worth.
posted by donajo at 8:46 AM on June 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think she was both flattered and curious in addition to whatever feelings she might have had about it being part of her role.

Oh yeah, definitely. And also having gotten to know Peggy so much better over the years, part of it might be "I'll show you a strumpet!" to the doctor in the beginning.

It's also the kind of wacky contrivance - "Peggy gets birth control! But has sex too early for it to work! And then there's a baby!" that always crops up in this show but people seem to forget about because it's "too on the nose" and this show is "subtle."
posted by sweetkid at 8:49 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pete is drawn to Peggy for the same reason he is drawn to Don: he recognizes her genius. He's the very definition of lost, wistful, downwardly-mobile upper class mediocrity--despised by his patriarch, disrespected by his wife, unprepared to be agile in the modern workplace. He'd like to possess the soul of a poet, and barring housing it within his own body he'll take Peggy's (or Don's).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:53 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


unprepared to be agile in the modern workplace

Pete's no poet, but he's fantastic at his job.
posted by sweetkid at 8:55 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pete is drawn to Peggy for the same reason he is drawn to Don: he recognizes her genius.

Where are you seeing that? I'm seeing Pete come on to her repeatedly (perhaps because that's what he thinks he's supposed to be doing), and Peggy ignoring it and getting visibly uncomfortable in his presence. Where/how do you think he's seeing Peggy's genius?
posted by donajo at 9:00 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


he's fantastic at his job. Not in the first season though.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:00 AM on June 2, 2014



Not in the first season though.


He has good instincts in the first season, but yeah needs development (he's still really young). The research idea was a good one, even if it didn't go over well with the tobacco people. He just shouldn't have thought he could just spring it out in the meeting without discussing it with superiors first.
posted by sweetkid at 9:05 AM on June 2, 2014


Where/how do you think he's seeing Peggy's genius?

I think that's revealed over the course of the season, not necessarily in this episode.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:06 AM on June 2, 2014


Something Weiner said in his NPR interview this season was that he's not always sure the ideas are good or bad--that a lot of it is in the larger context and presentation. And the truth is, I'm not sure that Pete's ideas as a wanna-be copywriter are so terrible, really. But I guess I should hold off on discussing some of that until later in the season.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:11 AM on June 2, 2014


There's a bit where Don is talking to Rachel about why she isn't married, and she gives him the side-eye and is all "What, can't a girl be unmarried and happy working?". I wonder if Don ever asked Midge why she didn't marry and tie herself to her home. Same diff.

The difference is that Rachel is a seemingly upper middle class mainstream ordinary woman, someone who should want to get married.

Don knows the reason Midge isn't married: she's a bohemian. She likely doesn't believe in marriage, or at least loudly claims that at every opportunity. Also, if it's not revealed here, it's definitely revealed pretty soon down the line that Don and Midge aren't exclusive, and that it's a bone of contention between them (on Don's side). So Don doesn't have to ask why Midge isn't married. He already knows.
posted by Sara C. at 9:11 AM on June 2, 2014


When Betty greets Don, she says she wasn't expecting him, but there's a spare dinner in the oven. Was Betty already (still?) dieting? Or did she always keep one dinner, just in case?

I think the idea is just that Betty cooks dinner for the whole family, and she always makes a plate for Don unless she knows he won't be home that night. I doubt anything more meaningful was implied.
posted by Sara C. at 9:14 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah I think Midge's "I don't make plans and I don't make breakfast" is pretty explicitly an anti-marriage thing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:16 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


And the truth is, I'm not sure that Pete's ideas as a wanna-be copywriter are so terrible, really.

They're pretty terrible. In a more writerly context, they're typically what Jane Espenson would call a "clam".

Not so much for the research in this episode -- where his problem was more "Oh, this book thingie must have all the answers," without evaluating whether the research would actually work for this client in this situation, and not really a writing problem. He also did a piss poor job of explaining the research to the client. Like, don't actually say "death wish", man.
posted by Sara C. at 9:25 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


He also did a piss poor job of explaining the research to the client. Like, don't actually say "death wish", man.

Yeah, how to deal with clients is something Pete got WAY better at over the years, which is a nice arc to see.

Also funny to contrast that "death wish" comment with the latest episode, where he shouts at Ted that the Sunkist clients don't want to die.
posted by sweetkid at 9:28 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Peggy definitely sleeps with Pete because it's what she's told to do. She's trying very, very hard to be good and play into the prescribed role. Of course, that necessitates being a little bad. And Peggy's terrible at that. At the same time, I think there is real attraction between Pete and Peggy, which we'll see play out later.

It's funny to hear Peggy get all this "GET A MAN! STAT! (and here's how...)" advice on her first day, considering how freaked out she is in the current season about being 30 and single. I wonder if she's looking back at this advice now and thinking that all the other women were on the money?

Joan has grown *sooooo* much. It was pretty amazing to see her sucking up to the guys and taking their coats and telling Peggy that if she does a really good job she'll marry herself out of working at all, considering how much of a hard-nosed and confident businesswoman she is now. She's such a fascinating character, her evolution has been so natural I think I sort of missed how much she *did* evolve.

Pete just doesn't get how to play a role well. He's terrible at it. Imagine if this were Bob Benson and Pete were the interloper into the company later in the series? Cracking up at the thought. Actually, I bet that Bob would have come onto him in a creepy predatory way like Pete came onto Peggy, and that Pete would have gone a bit too far with him, not understanding what he's supposed to do and liking the attention a bit too much, just like Peggy. But then, I always think that Pete and Peggy have a lot in common. Though Pete has terrible luck and Peggy's is generally good. I want to see a Goofus and Gallant strip with them, with Pete as Goofus and Peggy as Gallant, of course.

I think that Pete and Peggy slept together because they were both embarking on Adulthood-Capital-A. It was the night of Pete's bachelor party, he was about to become a Husband. It was the night of Peggy's first day of work, she had just become a Working Woman. I think it was a moment of intimacy because they were both going through the same transition into adulthood, and they were celebrating that. Maybe it was the loss of their innocence, too, in the Garden of Eden sense (as opposed to a straight up "loss" of virginity)?
posted by rue72 at 9:43 AM on June 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


Watching the first episode again, I realized how much I missed Bert Cooper, the Madison Avenue koan generator.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:59 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Agreeing with rue72 - also, she was high on the attention as much as it was oppressive, new to her and yet overwhelming a few episodes down from now. Plus it was "away from the office" while from the office, so it could possibly be hidden / downplayed / denied.

I know it's a "on the pill and gets knocked up right away" trope but the doctor didn't tell her about when it would kick in. That "wedding night" book doesn't speak of it, either, I'm sure. I remember a couple of books that came out in the 70s (novels about teen sex) and it's not really discussed that it doesn't work right away, though I don't remember if they started having sex right away (characters in the books).
posted by tilde at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2014


What is the wedding night book? I don't remember that from the episode. Something in the doctor's office?
posted by sweetkid at 10:06 AM on June 2, 2014


I actually think the "birth control takes time to kick in" thing wasn't even consciously a part of why the writers think Peggy gets pregnant. Otherwise they would have set that up in this episode.

It's also possible that Peggy's pregnancy wasn't "planned", from a writing context when the pilot was written.
posted by Sara C. at 10:11 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


The nightclub all the boys are at is my former workplace! The old Slipper Room on Orchard St! Hi Ruby! (the burlesque performer)
posted by The Whelk at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


(also cough they moved the tables around that booth didn't exist cough)
posted by The Whelk at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2014


The Slipper Room is indirectly responsible for 70% of my friend group in NYC. Possibly more than that.
posted by sweetkid at 10:34 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


(weeee might have been there aaaat the saaaame time? Ever go to a Dr. Sketchy's show?)
posted by The Whelk at 10:37 AM on June 2, 2014


I mentioned the "knocked up the first time with Pete" because of the episode that I joined the series on -- Joan going off of the pill. "All this time I was terrified of missing one and it might take up to a month [to be fertile again]" [paraphrase].

Maybe Peggy just missed one. We'll know more when the baby comes right before the holidays. And some women ovulate and get really ready for sex ... and guys can pick up on it though I think Peggy was just handy after he struck out with the Automat girls. If she was ovulating just then, the doc wasn't watching (or didn't know to look at) her cervical mucous.

That wedding night book might be a huge sex ed leap for Peggy. Not that she had NO idea ... and it's a prop as far as I can see, not a real period item (though I did get a pregnancy book on my last pregnancy that was written in the late 70s ... eek. Better than "What to Expect" first edition ... that was a riot.)
posted by tilde at 10:37 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Whelk, I went there for trivia and also burlesque sometimes? This would have been around 2004.
posted by sweetkid at 10:38 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


AH no we where still in proto-form at The Lucky Cat.
posted by The Whelk at 10:41 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Peggy can't have missed one, because she just started taking them today. She has one birth control pill in her system right now. If even, depending on when she took it and how long they take to metabolize.

It's worth noting that "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" was written by series creator Matt Weiner before the show was picked up, before any other episodes were written, and before a full writing staff was hired. It's just a guy sitting in a room in front of his computer, trying to make there be words on a page. (In fact the birth control pill efficacy stuff is the kind of thing you learn not to over-research in this situation, because you've got much bigger fish to fry with that pilot script than a bunch of female viewers noticing your mistake 8 years down the line after the show becomes a hit.)

By the time Joan is dealing with her own women's health issues, there are female writers on staff who would know a little more about how birth control works, and women's feelings about the mundane aspects of being on the pill, than Matt Weiner ostensibly does. There would also be a staff of assistants, PAs, consultants, and possibly even a full-time researcher to get this stuff right. When you write a pilot, you don't have any of that stuff, you just GO.
posted by Sara C. at 10:44 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think I had my 21st birthday at The Lucky Cat. 2002? It was definitely a lounge with the word "cat" in the name.
posted by Sara C. at 10:45 AM on June 2, 2014


Hey, the K-Ben Co-Hargrove Algonquin lounge is still open!
posted by tilde at 10:46 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the pill thing was planned. I wasn't 100% on Peggy getting pregnant the first time but she gives birth 9 months from the start of the series so it seems pretty likely.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:46 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, I think that by the time the show was picked up, a series bible was submitted, and the first season scripts were beginning to be written by the fledgling writing staff*, the Peggy's Pregnancy plotline would have been settled on. And, yeah, it's clear that the baby is conceived in the pilot episode, even if that wasn't arrived at until after the pilot was actually picked up and Weiner had to start breaking story on the first season.

*Wasn't Buffy's Marti Noxon one of the original writers on Mad Men? I have a vague recollection of this being the case.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 AM on June 2, 2014


Here's some interesting reading on the pill. I remember people mentioning back in the day that Enovid wasn't available in 1960 but it was - just off label. If anyone could find a gyn to prescribe it to unmarried but otherwise upright women in Manhattan it would be Joan-apedia. ;)

This weekend I'll go through my MM posts here from my original viewings and see how many people I shot, shipped, or threw out the window. :P
posted by tilde at 10:55 AM on June 2, 2014


He'd like to possess the soul of a poet, and barring housing it within his own body he'll take Peggy's (or Don's).

"This is what happens when you have the artistic temperament but you are not an artist."

her evolution has been so natural I think I sort of missed how much she *did* evolve.

I couldn't disagree more. To me, she's been Season One Joan pretty consistently, and then did a 180 during her divorce and the whole partnership débacle.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:20 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


I hope this is a safe place where I can admit that typewriters do intimidate me a bit. They're heavy, prone to jamming, no spell-check, and you actually need to know how to type to use them effectively.

Late to this party, but just thought I'd point out that electric typewriters did not jam and the IBM Selectric typewriters depicted throughout the show are physically incapable of jamming.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:21 AM on June 2, 2014


her evolution has been so natural I think I sort of missed how much she *did* evolve.

I couldn't disagree more. To me, she's been Season One Joan pretty consistently, and then did a 180 during her divorce and the whole partnership débacle.


Agreed.
posted by sweetkid at 11:25 AM on June 2, 2014


To me, she's been Season One Joan pretty consistently, and then did a 180 during her divorce and the whole partnership débacle.

To me, she's been Season One Joan the entire time, up to the present day. We get a little more of her inner life later on, but the inner life we see is consistent with the exterior effect we get from the beginning. Which is as it should be, for a well-drawn character. It would be weird if, upon following Joan home, we discover that she's nothing like what we already thought.
posted by Sara C. at 11:33 AM on June 2, 2014


I guess what I see Underpants Monster saying is that Joan seemed OK with supporting the patriarchy for most of the series, including the Joey sexual harassment episode, where she was so indignant about how she should have "handled" it by flirting with the Sugarberry ham guy rather than Peggy outright firing Joey.

Then suddenly she was a partner (I always felt like that storyline was silly, but that's for a later discussion) and she really got off the country house with sleazy doctors/marry her way out of the office mindset fast. I think the divorce obviously started setting her up for that, but it seemed fast to me. It definitely didn't seem subtle or natural.
posted by sweetkid at 11:41 AM on June 2, 2014


*Wasn't Buffy's Marti Noxon one of the original writers on Mad Men? I have a vague recollection of this being the case.
No, Marti Noxon was brought in in S2 as a consulting producer. I remember being terrified of the woobification of Pete Campbell that must surely result from this but luckily nothing of the sort happened. (I've been a Sunday-night devotee since the pilot. I was a TV Studies scholar in grad school so HAD to have cable, obviously).
posted by kickingthecrap at 11:44 AM on June 2, 2014


The Lucky Strike pitch scene was heavy handed in a way later seasons wouldn't have been. Way too much coughing while smoking. Smoking is the le motif. From a 21st century viewpoint, the first thing that jars is the constant smoking indoors. And then in the Lucky Strike meeting everyone coughs. alot.

Watch it again - the Lucky Strike people are coughing; after a moment the SC people join in companionably. No one coughed in the Menken meeting. Garner Jr coughs first, then his whole side of the table; two or three heartbeats later the other side of the table jumps in. Well, Don clears his throat but Campbell really coughs.
posted by tilde at 11:46 AM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't at all think that is something about Joan's character that has changed. She's not in the "marry a doctor" mindset because

A) She already did that,

and

B) She is now a middle aged divorcee, and she knows that's not a future for her.

I also think that, in general, it's just that, since prostituting herself for the Jaguar account, the show has wanted to steer clear of hitting the same "JOAN IS NOT PROGRESSIVE ON WOMEN'S ISSUES" note over and over again. We get it. Joan is politically retrograde for the times and is unlikely to consciously take on the mantle of women's libber anytime soon.

Of course, that doesn't mean that Joan doesn't represent culturally progressive changes of the times that go hand in hand with women's lib. Just that she's not likely to formally espouse those ideas, herself. The reality is that you can't really separate women of that time into "anti-feminists", who stay home and raise children and have dinner on the table by 6, and "feminists" who are career women and don't need no man. Women who would not have considered themselves women's libbers were in the workforce and balancing non-traditional families, while plenty of feminists were married with children.

It's also extremely important to understand that women's liberation as a movement is still very, very new in 1968-69. Most of what we think of as second wave feminism really didn't become mainstream until the 70s. In the late sixties, feminism is mostly being discussed in politically radical bohemian circles, and it's considered a fringe idea even there.

We really haven't seen feminism happen as a political ideal that is remotely popular to talk about in public. And you really can't look at anyone's behavior before maybe Season 7 and evaluate whether they are a feminist or not. Even Peggy, though she's the only character who has spoken out so far about what would soon be bread and butter feminist issues.
posted by Sara C. at 11:54 AM on June 2, 2014


The NYT review of the pilot mentions Shirley Polykoff as an example of a female copywriter in this period -- I hadn't seen her name referenced before. Her obit (NYT link) is interesting and has elements of Peggy, Rachel Menken, Joan, and Bobbie Barrett (although I can't see any of them refusing a raise).
posted by sallybrown at 2:45 PM on June 2, 2014


Speaking of Shirley Polykoff, check out this history of hair dye starring her from the New Yorker (Warning: Malcolm Gladwell)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:55 PM on June 2, 2014


One of the stories Polykoff told about herself repeatedly- and that even appeared after her death last year, in her Times obituary-was that she felt that a woman never ought to make more than her husband, and that only after George’s death, in the early sixties, would she let Foote, Cone & Belding raise her salary to its deserved level. “That’s part of the legend, but it isn’t the truth,” Frick says. “The ideal was always as vividly real to her as whatever actual parallel reality she might be living. She never wavered in her belief in that dream, even if you would point out to her some of the fallacies of that dream, or the weaknesses, or the internal contradictions, or the fact that she herself didn’t really live her life that way.”
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:11 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


TBH that article probably inspired the entirety of mad men.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:19 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I could swear I remember a video of Weiner saying he was inspired by a headline that said "Nation ends violent year" for the end of 1968, and I know he also wanted to write about a 35 year old man who had everything but was miserable.

But while looking for that I found this thing that he said on the AMC blog:

He mentioned that some viewers may not always enjoy seeing themselves in the characters on "Mad Men," but he thinks that everyone is "just like someone on 'Mad Men,' and I'll bet you that 90% of you are like Pete. It's who we are."


I totally agree. 90% of people are like Pete. It fascinates me that people don't see that or see him as a villain.
posted by sweetkid at 5:46 PM on June 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


A Thing Like That
posted by Sara C. at 5:53 PM on June 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


He was 35 when they filmed this. January Jones turned 35 last year, and it was all "matronly" and "aging" and "middle aged" etc. See also basically all actresses who turn 30. No one would ever say they "look like a kid" most of the time.

sweetkid, I agree with your overall point. But honestly in this case I think it's more a function of how people age a LOT more between 35 and 43 than between 28 and 35 (or whatever). I'm Jon Hamm's age so I know this from personal experience. :)

Don DOES look way younger in the early episodes than he does now. January Jones looks essentially the same. I'm not sure what the "matronly" and "aging" and "middle aged" thing is that you're referencing (certainly the era and the show treat women in their 30s as past their prime, but did you mean viewers are making those kinds of comments about JJ?).

Kartheiser's about the same age as Jones, and has been aged artificially on the show. Otherwise he too would look pretty much just like he did in season one, unlike Hamm.

If we were watching a show about Betty Francis eight years down the road, I bet we sure as hell would say "wow she was such a child" about the way she looks right now.
posted by torticat at 7:50 PM on June 2, 2014


viewers are making those kinds of comments about JJ

yeah, I seem to remember people did, plus it's always weird to me that she and Jessica Pare are only four years apart, although their characters have a different age discrepancy. Also completely true that people thought of age differently at the time, but I still think the 30s are perceived differently for women and men.

Mostly it's just that we'll still think of men as young and fresh in their 30s but women are aging once they hit 30. It's definitely true of actresses now. One they're 25 or so their prospects drop dramatically, even for Jennifer Lawrences and Emma Stones.

Like I said though, i do agree he looks really young, and that everyone looks young. It's just that being 35, people do say I look like a kid, because I look younger than I am, but once they find out I'm 35 they're like....oh.
posted by sweetkid at 7:55 PM on June 2, 2014


This interview with Kartheiser made me laugh. He sounds like a hoot.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:08 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


This interview with Kartheiser made me laugh. He sounds like a hoot.

He is really a hoot. Oh and this little bit from that interview:
"he’s acted in plays (last summer he played Mr. Darcy at the Guthrie)" reminds me... I was SO excited to see that show last year I went through the whole process of getting tickets online--finding a date, picking seats, etc and was just about to pay when I realized it was in Minneapolis not NYC. I had read about it in the NYT and just completely overlooked the dateline and the theater. Very embarrassing, but more than that I was just so so sad that I wouldn't get to see Kartheiser in that role, which seems so unexpected for him and yet so unexpectedly perfect.

Sorry. Bit offtopic there.
posted by torticat at 8:28 PM on June 2, 2014


I think I am the only person on the internet who likes Glenn

You're not; I looove Glen, and he BETTER be back next year.

First season Glen was a bit weird. Weiner said he was writing about stuff he remembered from his own experience. I kinda felt like ooookay, guess I was never a 10yo boy so I don't get it, but that's alright.

But for all of the internet chatter about creepy Glen, man. He really is a stand-up kid. It's like you keep expecting him to do something genuinely scary or something, and then instead he is just a really great friend. That's probably a discussion for later, though.
posted by torticat at 8:38 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


“On a scale of one to ten—let’s say ten is John Belushi and one is Jesus..."
HA! Yeah, I guess that about covers it!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:42 PM on June 2, 2014


The time Glenn broke into their house and trashed it was pretty genuinely scary.
posted by Sara C. at 9:57 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I totally agree. 90% of people are like Pete. It fascinates me that people don't see that or see him as a villain.

Yes. Pete is no worse than anyone else on the show. It's the obnoxious, childish way he wears his frustrations and desires on his sleeve that drives viewers to dislike him, I'm assuming. He may have smoothed out his social presentation to clients over the course of the show but definitely not in his personal life or with his coworkers. (However, he certainly was smooth in convincing Joan to *ahem* participate in snagging Jaguar). I love Pete. I laugh every time he gets excited or throws a tantrum. That said, I wouldn't want to work with him.

I started watching MM in the middle of the second season and caught up with discs from Netflix. Started rewatching (again) after Waterloo. I'm on ep. 5 5G. So I guess I'll be joining in the commenting. hello!
posted by cwest at 12:26 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a little Pete in a lot of us, and that's totally why so many people have such a stron reaction to him because we don't like what we see.

Or so I imagine my experience extrapolates to others.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:02 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah - Pete has no filter. He lives completely outside of his head.

Was looking at some of my wild wild bits, including stealing The Whelk's Talented Mr Ripley theory for Bob Benson (minus trauma but I'm sure it was tough being a gay man back then) and the idea that Pete was actually not of the same parentage as Bud which is why he got kicked around by his parents so much. :P

Trying to do the math and it hurts.

Story starts in 1960 - Don Prime [deceased] is 43 (revealed at the end of the season) our Don is 35 (next year he has a physical/and or encounter and he was 36), Betty is 28? Pete is 26, Peggy is 21 (Turns 30 in April 69, so subtracting), Joan is 29.

I'm ahead a bit (was listening on the ride in) ... Adam was 8 when Dick (our Don) died.

Adam was 8 in 1950. So in 1960 he's 18. But if Dick/our Don was 18 then, he's only 28 now (1960). What am I doing wrong?
posted by tilde at 6:23 AM on June 3, 2014


The math doesn't work for Don. There was a blogpost about it once somewhere, forget where.

Peggy was 20 in season 1. Surprised Joan was 29, that she gets married after age 30.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:16 AM on June 3, 2014


I'm on ep. 5 5G. So I guess I'll be joining in the commenting. hello!

Welcome! yay!

Also agreed with all the comments above that a lot of people are like Pete but have more of a filter, and that they don't like to see their more jealous, greedy, needy shallow thoughts thrown up in front of them in the form of Pete.
posted by sweetkid at 7:20 AM on June 3, 2014


Oh, I also didn't think Glenn's break in was creepy, not when we know the context of it: Betty's complete overreaction at his (age appropriate) friendship with Sally.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:22 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The math doesn't work for Don. There was a blogpost about it once somewhere, forget where. Okay, I'll drop it. First season, NBD. RIGHT, GLEN.

I so meant to come back to this last night. I just think he's a meh actor, but now that I've got kids of my own he seems less creepy and more half remembered truths oddly written.

Glen's break in is not creepy. It's totally that age and behavior, especially for one who likes a girl but doesn't like her like her. It's crappy "let's wreck things it's funny" kid thing. Like one up on egging a house or tping a house or dog poop in the mail box.

But it is nice that Sally's got a "big brother" in Glen. I wonder what's up with his mom, stepdad, dad, and little sister. I'm guessing Helen married up a bit or her former husband is doing better (she was running a Christmas tree lot a while with her new husband when Glen orbited back in) if he's at a boarding school.
posted by tilde at 7:59 AM on June 3, 2014


The way the show presented Glen was always like a serial killer in the making. Always lurking around in the dark, popping out from behind trees, looking at Betty in the bathroom, showing up with booze, sitting on a dark, empty staircase calling under a fake name. If that was what Matt Weiner wanted to say about his childhood then.. it just goes to show that I do not understand that guy at all. Plus the way Betty related to him was weird, and those scenes just dragged on and on.
posted by bleep at 8:12 AM on June 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just a reminder that we will post the thread for S1E2, "Ladies Room," tomorrow at 10 a.m. Eastern time! You can find the schedule for future posts here.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:25 AM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have so many feels for "Ladies Room" I might have to restrain myself. So many feels.
posted by sweetkid at 8:44 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


at his (age appropriate) friendship with Sally.

Yeah. I mean (much later) he shows up to hang out (alone) with Sally at Don's apartment. She asks, "What do you want to do?" (UH OH) and he says, "Go to the Museum of Natural History!"

How can you not love the kid? He's awesome.
posted by torticat at 9:39 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Glen did eventually grow out of his creepiness, but by then the well was already poisoned for me.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


(I guess he also grew out of his role as Captain Obvious of the Greek Chorus, High Priest of AMIRITE?)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:11 AM on June 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Mad Men loves to pull that sort of thing - something that sets alarms bells off in our head, but ends up not leading to much. Glen is totally going to kill someone. Bob Benson did that for me too, at least while he was more mysterious. The show loves to set things up and then disappoint, it actually seems deliberate and I'd like to read some smart opinions about that technique and what it's signalling as we move toward the end - which is going to be a crazy break from expectations, from what Matthew Weiner says.
posted by naju at 10:54 AM on June 3, 2014


Glen is obviously going to be implicated in the Savings And Loan scandal in the 80s. All the signs are there.
posted by Sara C. at 11:01 AM on June 3, 2014


the end - which is going to be a crazy break from expectations, from what Matthew Weiner says

naju, I can't say I've particularly had that impression from the interviews I've heard/read. Curious if you have a link or links? I'd be interested to read more.
posted by torticat at 11:25 AM on June 3, 2014


I really didn't think Glen was set up to be all that creepy, I just thought he wasn't a good actor or interesting character so he just seemed sort of off. But off like "this is awkward and I don't like it" not off like Bob Benson "I am intrigued two coffees is so weird but he's charming and wait why did the camera linger on him for a sec"
posted by sweetkid at 11:26 AM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


To me, Glen did seem a bit creepy and a lot awkward, but in a harmless/hapless way -- some preteen/early teen boys just kind of are this way. I think Freaks and Geeks was subtler and much more effective at evoking how that age boy can come off that way. Adolescence, especially early adolescence, is rough.

And let's not forget Glen stood up for Sally when she yelled for his help at Farmington -- he really had her back there, and there was nothing creepy about it.
posted by sallybrown at 11:43 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Curious if you have a link or links? I'd be interested to read more.

I wish I could track down exactly what I read, but I can't seem to find it. I think I remember Matthew Weiner saying that it's going to be something people are unprepared for - it's something drastic, quite a few people are going to be confused or hate it. I may have gotten some of that wrong, but the distinct impression I got was that we're in for something.
posted by naju at 11:45 AM on June 3, 2014


Mad Men loves to pull that sort of thing - something that sets alarms bells off in our head, but ends up not leading to much.

I don't know if it's that Mad Men loves to pull this sort of thing, or if it's that so many other shows and movies pull that sort of thing, so we're sort of conditioned to expect it in our popular entertainment. I noticed this during the first season of Mad Men, when Don leaves the house in Ossining one night to go meet Adam Whitman for a drink -- before he leaves, he goes into his office and opens a drawer and stares into it for a moment, then reaches into it for something that he's obviously going to put in the open satchel on the desk. The first time I saw that scene, I was convinced Don was putting a gun in his bag, and he was going to go kill Adam. There's really nothing in the scene to indicate that we should expect to see a gun, there's really nothing in Don's characterization at that point that he's a cold-blooded killer, but still, that's where my mind went first. Is that because the show set me up to feel that way, or am I so used to that sort of thing from other shows?
posted by palomar at 11:47 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The show set you up to feel that way, but it uses the fact that we're experienced media viewers who've seen dramatic television shows before. Mad Men is self-aware like that.
posted by Sara C. at 11:49 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think we can use a lot of these early elements to wrap up the finale:

It's somehow contrived that the partners plus Betty and Sally are in Don's office. Betty has Pete's rifle and is aiming it at Don, seemingly fed up with some heinous actions from the penultimate episode. But no! We pull back to reveal she is actually taking aim at Glen, who has jumped up from behind Lou's tiki bar and is rushing at Sally with one of the office's pointier design awards, looking to impale her. Betty starts to pull the trigger but at the last moment her hand spasm returns and the rifle jerks to the side as she fires. Pete takes a direct hit to the face. He is not mortally wounded, but as he flails about in agony screaming "A thing like that! Can you imagine it?!" he slips on some rejected ad copy Peggy had thrown to the floor in disgust earlier, and tumbles out a window he had previously opened to yell at a departing Harry Crane, who absconded with some of his clients and computer punchcards to form a new agency with Jim Cutler.

Wait, we forgot about Glen in all the confusion.

While everyone is distracted at the window Glen renews his attack on Sally. She disarms him and flings him against the wall using some self-defense moves she learned at the boarding school. Glen pulls out an antique pistol he found in Bert's office in a hollowed-out copy of Atlas Shrugged. The wall suddenly collapses as Bobby drives through it on the riding lawnmower, running over Glen. After a moment of stunned silence Sally and Bobby hug. Don looks on with a tear in his eye as Betty places an arm around him. They exchange a meaningful glance filled with pride, knowing they could not have done a better job as parents.

Roll credits. This song under.
posted by mikepop at 11:57 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's a slow burn anxiety and uneasiness that the show creates in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. There are moments that set you up to feel like something WRONG is going to happen, and it's usually subverted. It's one of the strong points of the show. Whereas something like Breaking Bad signals that something horrible is going to happen, and sure enough, everything goes to hell worse than you expected - this show is after something different. There's a case for Mad Men as experimental horror.
posted by naju at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


And then sometimes crazy things happen that I didn't see coming at all (lawnmower, nipple).
posted by sweetkid at 12:08 PM on June 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Peggy Olsen, 1960: "Life is like a basket of kisses."

Peggy Olsen, 1969: "Life is like a box of nipples."
posted by tilde at 3:43 PM on June 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Basket of kisses references The Bad Seed.
posted by brujita at 4:58 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Welcome! yay!

Thanks sweetkid.

The way the show presented Glen was always like a serial killer in the making.

At the time, when Glen vandalized the Draper home, Matt Weiner stated that Glen was supposed to be Sally's "spirit guide." It didn't come across that way. Creepy Glen. He got that nickname from fans for a reason. While it may be wonderful to have a spirit guide, I definitely don't want him breaking into my home, no matter what the circumstances. Hey guru, skip the disturbed emotional outbreaks, let's meditate!

But I was hoping that Glen was from then going to be written as a juvenile delinquent terrorizing the conformist suburban streets of Ossining. Ah, well.

And as mentioned above, Marten Weiner was very awkward in the role. It didn't help his character's presentation. I felt sorry for the kid.
posted by cwest at 5:04 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wait Glenn is Matt Weiners KID that's fucked up. I don't know why.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:10 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


SpiritGuide? File that with red glowing Cylon spines ....
posted by tilde at 6:26 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


D'oh! Never read or saw The Bad Seed.
posted by tilde at 6:42 PM on June 3, 2014


“Sometimes,” he adds, “you put down a steak and they think it’s pudding, and that’s all you can do.”

More Glenn stuff that's not really related to this 1st episode, but: My reading of the vandalism was he did it specifically to get Betty to decide to finally move, directly after he spoke to Sally on the phone and she told him she hated being in that house so much, not because he's some creepy weird destructive (pre) teen.

I've always liked Glenn, particularly the parking lot scene in "The Wheel". Instantly remembered young me sitting in the car for who knows how long while my mother shopped or did whatever. A weird, sad, mostly forgotten part of my childhood.

Back to Season 1: I've re-watched up through "Marriage of Figaro" over the last few days, and the show's not found its legs yet. It doesn't quite look Mad Men-y enough, and Don hasn't quite been Draper-y enough. It's coming, but I don't remember where exactly it all comes into focus and starts to feel like the Mad Men that has had such a profound effect on me over the last 6 or 7 years. I've re-watched most every episode in the series at least 2-3 times, but I realize now these first few episodes of Season 1 I haven't really gone back to much, because I don't quite like them as much.
posted by dyobmit at 7:05 AM on June 4, 2014


Back to Season 1: I've re-watched up through "Marriage of Figaro" over the last few days, and the show's not found its legs yet. It doesn't quite look Mad Men-y enough, and Don hasn't quite been Draper-y enough. It's coming, but I don't remember where exactly it all comes into focus and starts to feel like the Mad Men that has had such a profound effect on me over the last 6 or 7 years.

For me it was the combination of Ken's storyline in "5G" followed by "Babylon." There was so much unexpected depth in those episodes, combined with great writing (Freddy Rumson on Peggy, Rachel Menken's description of Utopia). And of course the gorgeous song that ended "Babylon."
posted by sallybrown at 7:19 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Back to Season 1: I've re-watched up through "Marriage of Figaro" over the last few days, and the show's not found its legs yet. It doesn't quite look Mad Men-y enough, and Don hasn't quite been Draper-y enough. It's coming, but I don't remember where exactly it all comes into focus and starts to feel like the Mad Men that has had such a profound effect on me over the last 6 or 7 years. I've re-watched most every episode in the series at least 2-3 times, but I realize now these first few episodes of Season 1 I haven't really gone back to much, because I don't quite like them as much.

Couldn't disagree more, I love Ladies Room and that's only episode 2.

But we'll discuss that soon!
posted by sweetkid at 7:25 AM on June 4, 2014


For me it was the combination of Ken's storyline in "5G" followed by "Babylon." There was so much unexpected depth in those episodes, combined with great writing (Freddy Rumson on Peggy, Rachel Menken's description of Utopia). And of course the gorgeous song that ended "Babylon."

Yeah, just rewatched Babylon and that's where it all clicked into place for me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:32 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


There are so many ways to approach a rewatch. I know I got a little nuts in this first thread, talking about season 7 episodes. I think I'm going to chill just a bit and watch for the themes I picked out - comparing the myriad pairs of things they lace the show with, the parallel tracks between Joan and Pete (I think it's there but don't have enough info yet), and money issues. :P

Pete and Joan - people out of their time. Raised with X world view, living in a Y world view.
posted by tilde at 7:41 AM on June 4, 2014


I've submitted Ladies Room - just waiting for approval. I'll do it earlier next time, given the New Normal.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:51 AM on June 4, 2014


How far in advance should we submit?
posted by tracicle at 8:54 AM on June 5, 2014


In my experience it takes anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so for posts to be approved. The time I submitted the first Wire post late at night, it took about an hour (I can imagine whatever mod taking some time to deliberate "so are we doing this now? I guess we're doing this now," before approving it.) The second post, made in the morning, took a few minutes.
posted by Sara C. at 9:50 AM on June 5, 2014


The one for Ladies Room took about an hour and a half, on a weekday morning.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 10:37 AM on June 5, 2014


I just realized that Peggy went to Joan's Doctor the same day she started working at Sterling Cooper. So you show up for work, meet your new boss, see a gynocologist on your lunch hour, get your pills (and flowers, chocolate and bath salts) all in the same day????
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:29 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have a strong feeling that was taken from Gloria Steinem's 1963 expose on the life of a Bunny at the NYC Playboy Club. Not sure it's realistic for a secretary, but it's not implausible.
posted by Sara C. at 1:42 PM on June 5, 2014


I guess she could have gotten the flowers, chocolates, and bath salts at the drugstore while she was waiting for the prescription to be filled. And since Joan is the one she'd be in trouble with if she was late getting back, Joan can't really complain if she's the one who sent her.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:47 PM on June 5, 2014


It didn't occur to me that the job sent her to the doc, just that Joan suggested that if she wanted to get on birth control, that she knew a guy. Which just makes it that much stranger.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:51 PM on June 5, 2014


No no tooo much conspiracy. She's from Ms Deevers sec school. The schools were tied to the employment agencies & handled all thst. Joan intakes everyone.

Joan's done this before; the school has done this, no doubt all the stories & advice from other gals included finding out the lay of the land & the dodge for getting birth control (calling officially for lady problems pills to a doc that doesn't care she's lying) & the grapevine would get her to ask Joan or Joan could feel her out to see if she needed it.

Similar to how Roger found a procedure doctor for Joan through his doctor and being rich. She also found the supposed midwife on her own before she found this doc that she sent Peggy to.
posted by tilde at 2:31 PM on June 5, 2014


I'm not saying "the job" sent her, but from the very beginning Joan established that she intended to manage Peggy's personal life as well as her work. I think she just said something like "You don't want to end up in trouble like some girls I could mention, so you'll want to see Dr. So-and-so. Here's his number; call and make an appointment for lunchtime and tell him I sent you. He'll fit you right in." In the same way she said, "Play you cards right and you;ll be living in the country and not working at all," or "Men love scarves."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:24 PM on June 5, 2014


Oh, I just always assumed the job sent her. It seems wildly inappropriate from a modern perspective, but I don't think it is that crazy for the 60s.
posted by Sara C. at 4:27 PM on June 5, 2014


Oh, sure sure, The Underpants Monster. On the Internet no one knows I'm not a punctuation mark, maybe I was just reading too much into the collective comments.

While I didn't go to full on Secretsrial school, I did take a multi year vo tech series for basically turning us into Joan. Between official classes we had a lot of reality coaching, official & unofficial, including official sex ed & closed door sessions that were pretty explicit. Also was working full time under a Joan at the time.

But yeah, I just wanted to underline the established communal help you'd have to know to ask for or would be out there to tap into if needed.

I'm figuring Joan got a lot of noobs & this was her usual routine. Interesting to watch how that will play out ... She almost seems expository at this point though they will flesh (sorry!) her out.

By two years post graduation I was s7e7 Dawn, the Joan having retired.

We were also the first class to not use manual adding machines. Not manual ten keys, Burroughs calculating machines. The embryonic steampunker in me was very sad.
posted by tilde at 7:17 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Something just clicked for me overnight. Heavy on the future episode / season series spoilers here!

Joan found the "midwife" for her first "procedure" through her socio-grapevine (though we never see her backstory other than that mention) and somehow found Dr Enovid who got her on pills (or took over getting her pills) and did a "procedure" for her. This allowed her to get it Peggy and probably other girls (lots of people having sex and I've never seen or heard hair nor hide of a rubber except around Dick's fabley flashbacks (he wouldn't remember his conception though I'm sure he heard the circumstances).

When Joan falls pregnant with Roger's child, she can't go back to Dr Enovid because she was trying to get pregnant with Kevin's child. So she can't go to her usual circle, she counts on Roger and his circle at higher money levels to find someone to get her the abortion at a very nice clean clinic instead of the back alley first one or the surgical second one.

Betty is not shown to ask Francine about her hands thing, but maybe since she'd never heard of it at her socio-circle, it wouldn't occur to her to ask Francine about it (because if Francine had encouraged her to go to doctors we'd hear about it - she got the doctors stuff from her husband Don/Dick). Plus she's trying to keep up the perfection facade (see later when Francine figures out Carlton is cheating and wants advice from Betty on how to handle it like Betty does).

So Betty tries to go up a level; Mona shuts her down both because she doesn't want to be a buddy and put her in the same socio-circle and because she has her own issues as we'll see later. Betty doesn't have anyone except the 'dangerous' model of Helen Bishop and Betty doesn't want to be alone (gloms onto Henry instead of just leaving).

I've got access to this now (we all just spent five minutes comparing daily pill regimines, lol we are all so old) but I've also got the internet, yay!
posted by tilde at 6:25 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've never seen or heard hair nor hide of a rubber except

Helen Bishop has a diaphragm and so does Betty.
posted by tilde at 8:04 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


--I've never seen or heard hair nor hide of a rubber except

-Helen Bishop has a diaphragm and so does Betty.


So does Trudy. I've never heard a diaphragm referred to as a rubber before; I thought that was only used to refer to condoms.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:13 AM on June 6, 2014


Sorry, I meant condoms - the scene where Archie impregnates Dick's mom. 85cents is all he has, would cost 25 cents for a condom and I think she called it a sheath?

I read somewhere diaphragams referred to rubber baby buggy bumpers.

I don't know how I missed that Trudy had one! But of course she would, being a spy ;).
posted by tilde at 10:21 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't know how I missed that Trudy had one!

It doesn't get mentioned until they go to see Dr. Blow-Up-Your-Ovaries.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:56 PM on June 6, 2014


Poor Peggy never stood a chance against Pete, who was just going for the fresh meat, before she found out who/what he is. And before anyone-- Peggy included-- found out who/what she is. (So much more than he would EVER give her credit for.)
posted by RainyJay at 5:42 PM on June 8, 2014


During that scene with the very dour research lady talking about cigarette smokers, Sal says something like "you mean people live one way, but think and feel a completely different way in secret? That's crazy!", all extravagant and Sal-like, and my eyes rolled so hard I saw my power animal.

That's what I was just coming to comment on! It was:
"So we're supposed to believe that people are living one way and secretly living the exact opposite? That's ridiculous."
posted by ChrisTN at 9:51 AM on June 19, 2014


That, plus:
Girl at Pete's bachelor party: "I love this place! It's hot, loud, and filled with men!"
Sal: "I know what you mean."

Mercy.
posted by ChrisTN at 9:57 AM on June 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


GIFs capture that moment so beautifully ... the girl's reaction (that's not Lois, right?) is priceless.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2014


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