Mad Men

Mad Men Round Table: Epiosdes 1 & 2 (Aug 7)

Three of the biggest Mad Men fans around are on the spunkybean staff!  Each of them weighed in on the show’s first two episodes of the new season.
EJ Feddes:

It’s fifteen months since Don Draper’s family celebrated Thanksgiving without him. This is a pretty big time jump between seasons, and things have changed. Salvatore has withdrawn even further into the closet and found a girlfriend, Peggy’s baby is being raised by her mother, Duck has gone from Don’s golden boy to his adversary, and Don and Betty have come to a new understanding in their marriage.

It’s an effective storytelling technique. The first season asked us “Who is Don Draper?”, but with last season’s revelations, they can’t hang a season on that mystery again. This season we’re asking ourselves what happened. There’s a seismic shift in Don’s marriage, and we don’t know exactly how it came about. It’s an ingenious way to keep us guessing.

Still, whatever new understanding Don and Betty have, our Don Draper hasn’t changed, not really. He’s working to keep up the façade, but we’ve already seen it drop a couple of times, revealing the real Don. Yes, he comforted Pete, but what happened the very next time they saw one another? He snapped at Pete, dismissing him instantly. In a way, Don was actually living the advice he gave Pete, doing what people do. It wasn’t a moment of genuine sympathy, it was Don living up to the social contract. Still, his actual uncensored reaction, his natural response is to yell “Another time, Pete”. Don hasn’t changed; he just sometimes remembers to act like he has.

Seriously, the man’s got his children mixing drinks for him and then criticizes their technique. He’s going to be casually destroying lives again in no time flat. At least, we can hope.

And then there’s Peggy. Remember back in the first episode when Peggy was sweet and naïve and served as our point of view character to introduce us to the cynical characters around her? Remember how we all felt sad when Pete used her and tossed her aside? I can’t decide if evil is actually an STD that Pete managed to pass along, if Peggy’s career advancement came at the cast of her soul, or if she was always unpleasant and we just didn’t know it. She’s just upsettingly callous to her mother and sister, who are raising her baby for her, and she’s cruel to the other women in the office. (Does anybody doubt it was Peggy who copied Joan’s license? She sort of had it coming, but that’s still not cool.)

I’m starting to wonder if the theme of this season is going to be that people can only change for the worse. Of course, the theme of the first season wasn’t apparent this early on – two episodes in, it pretty much looked like the show was just going to be about smoking, actually. Meanwhile, I’m just going to spend the next 11 weeks worrying that Betty is actually going to start having sex for money.
Don Kowalewski:

The first two episodes annoyed me because ..well …we get it.  Don Draper wears grey suits.  But, is that all he wears, now?  And, suddenly, Mad Men is driving business fashion as evidenced by my latest J. Crew catalog that features “the classic grey suit” and all the women’s clothes are so obviously Peggy-inspired, I think J. Crew could actually be sued for this applied endorsement they’re using.  But I love J. Crew and I love Mad Men and I don’t really want to see either of the two get hurt.

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