Mad Men

Mad Men Round Table: Season 2, Episode 5 – “The New Girl” (Aug 26)

…so the shopkeeper tells the sheik, ‘no, but you can get the camel for two dollars!’

Well, with Myndi on vacation, it’s a special All-Dude Edition of the Mad Men Round Table. That’s right, feel free to scratch anything that needs scratching, because nobody here’s going to judge you.


Don Draper’s whole existence is pretty well spelled out for us this week. “Pick the job you want and then be the person who does it”, and “It will shock you how much it never happened.” Those two lines will appear on the first page of Don’s autobiography. And Peggy gets in a nice little dig that everybody who interacts with Don needs to remember: “I don’t want you treating me badly because I remind you of it.”

Now, it’s pretty obvious where those lines pertain to Don, but Pete presents a counterpoint throughout the episode. Pete picked the job he thought he wanted and then tried to become the person who he thought would do it. He wants to be Don Draper; we all do. But I don’t think that he actually cares about the industry. He’s pretty dismissive of his actual job, and he’s never really betrayed any interests that would tie in to the advertising world. Pete is consistently shaped by what he thinks he’s supposed to do. Ken gets a story published, suddenly Pete cares very much about writing fiction. It’s like he’s a robot – he has to pick a reaction all the time. His career is never going to advance because not only can he not be true to himself, he can’t redefine himself with any degree of success.

On the other hand, he pretty much nailed Don’s advice about forgetting things. In his interview with Dr. Stone, Pete lists the stress factors in his life and doesn’t even mention his father’s recent death. He forgot that his father died right up until the doctor specifically asked about his parents. That right there is an ability to compartmentalize that only the truly psychotic possess. Don’s spent years rewriting his life, but he can’t possibly forget Dick Whitman. Once again, Pete is a robot.

By the way, did Pete just flat-out lie about bringing in a big account? The only account we’ve seen him work on this season was American Airlines, and we all know how that went. It’s possible something has slipped my mind, but I do believe he lied.

As long as we’re talking about Pete, that had to be the worst reaction of all time to fertility news. “My sperm is viable? Awesome. I bet I could impregnate a table if I had to.” (I am paraphrasing.) That is a guy who can’t really read his audience.

Peggy actually got to be likeable again. I know; I was shocked too. It’s endearing to watch her in an awkward social situation, when her attempts to be the person she thinks she needs to be just fail her. It’s interesting that we only see a glimmer of the old Peggy when she’s dealing with somebody who has even more to be embarrassed about than she does. She’ll reduce the secretarial pool to tears, but as soon as she has a houseguest who was injured in an alcohol-related car accident while cheating on her husband, and she’s quite the gracious hostess.

Share Button

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *