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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

RE: Mad Men Rewatch

Posted by Jacob Schraer on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 3:25 PM

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Appreciation of Mad Men benefits a lot from rewatching. Even the most banal episodes reveal something startling or amusing about the characters. Here's some extra observations I had reviewing last week's episode, The Summer Man.

The social hierarchy of the suburbs is one of Mad Men's most interesting topics for me (the main reason I miss Betty). The tribalism, the petty disputes. Betty and Henry are in a tenuous spot there. One of my favorite moments this week was Francine going directly to Betty's side after Don showed up at the party with his adorable stuffed elephant (get it? the elephant in the room? eh?). Betty then kissed Henry, in front of Don, in Don's house.

Betty's reaction to seeing Don with Bethany was also very primal. How much did you love her little episode in the bathroom, sniveling into toilet paper and then patting her armpits dry? Ewwww.

The SDCP phone booth is now officially the break up phone booth. Peggy last week, now Dr. Faye.

Speaking of Dr. Faye, she is definitely on Don's wavelength. Her fable, which I still think is cheesy, focused on the powers of the sun. The sun is one of Mad Men's enduring symbols. It featured prominently in Anna's tarot reading of Don in S2, and one of S3's most crucial episodes revolved around a solar eclipse.

Lane and Joan are cute together. I wonder if he's a dark horse for her affections when Greg gets shipped out to Vietnam. Not that Joan is that kind of girl anymore, but it would be a good move for her.

Bethany's back seat blow job follows her meeting Betty for the first time. She is very pleased with herself for upsetting Betty, and fancies herself Betty Draper '65 (which she is, which is why Don is probably about to cut her off).

Mountain Dew and vodka sounds like the grossest drink ever. Apparently it was also marketed at hillbillies. (Thanks AV Club.)

"You smell nice," is becoming Don's line. He's used it three times this season, twice with Faye. It's weird too how he's dressed like a used car salesman on their date.

The narration was a bit thick and corny. Dick Whitman is a big softy.

The boys and their jokes. I know they're sexist idiots but Don blows it off by saying, "Boys will be boys." Stan further dismisses the cartoon by protesting, "It was a joke." And on his way out Joey informs them, "Fun's over. Look out guys." They do not understand why the women are soooooo offended by their piggishness. For one second, let's imagine that it is all in good fun, that the guys don't see it as sexism but as familiarity. After all, they constantly joke and insult each other. Do you think the guys are relatively innocent in this? Are they ignorant lunkheads who just think everyone needs to calm down? Imagine also that they have no concept of institutionalized sexism and other such modern notions.

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