Monday, April 16, 2012

Still not an academic post: random bullets of Mad Men

After a hardworking but very discouraging week, I just don't want to think about academics. Here instead are some observations on this season of Mad Men. If you haven't seen it--spoilers ahead. If you're looking for a more academic blog post--look away, look away.

  • Many internet words have been spilled on the issue of Don's birthday as celebrated with Megan's sexy song versus Don's actual birthday, with the consensus being that Dick Whitman is six months older than Don Draper. Say what? In an earlier season, when Don goes to the doctor and promises to cut down on smoking, the doctor tells him that he looks pretty young for a 45-year-old man (the real Don Draper's age). It emerges later in the episode that Dick Whitman is actually 36, and in the Korea flashbacks, the actor playing the real DD was older than Jon Hamm/Dick Whitman. In this season, has Don/Dick settled on his own real age (40) but the real Don's month and day of birth?
  • Not one but two lovely moments of name-forgetting and remembering: neither Don nor Megan can remember the name of Ken Cosgrove's wife, and when Ken calls her by name, Megan blurts out "Cynthia" a few seconds later. There's another moment, though: when everyone at the dinner party is talking about the UTexas shootings, someone says that the shooter's name was "Charles Whitmore." "Whitman," Don corrects him quietly, and given that that's his real name and we saw him kill someone in a fever dream last week, he should know.
  • Here is a question of vital importance: at what point did Dick/Don the "whorechild" and his mother come to the Whitman household? Last night he alluded to being raised in a brothel, yet every time we saw a flashback, he was on the family farm.
  • Did anyone else think that the monstrous maple entertainment center--"Seven feet long! Wilt Chamberlain could fit in there!" Pete says proudly--when put in the center of the frame looked exactly like a coffin? Poor Pete, entombed in suburbia.
  • Pete cranks down on the water valve, thinking that tightening down on the pressure will cure the problem--until it sprays out of control. Only Don knows how much tension should be applied and how to fix natural forces like water effectively (and look great while doing it, as anything that caused him to shed that jacket would have). I think we have a Symbolic Objects winner, ladies and gentlemen.
  • After seeing Don humiliate himself so thoroughly last season, it was nice to see Don the Superman reemerge not once but twice: fixing the sink and declining the services of the brothel. All this AND wearing the hideous jacket that Megan wants him to wear: he really is a changed man, at least temporarily.
  • Show of hands: who else wants to hear some of Ken Cosgrove's science fiction, which sounds to my inexpert ears perfectly pitched to the kind of scifi being published in the mid-1960s? Who else felt like writing after seeing him propped up in bed writing after what's her name Cynthia had gone to sleep?
  • Historiann has a post (Mitt Romney, or Don Draper?) with clips, and in them, Don Draper looks like a baby compared to how he looks now. The presidency doesn't age a person nearly as fast as being in advertising, it seems.
Anything else?


Stacey Lee Donohue said...

Too tired to comment, but just saw last night's episode, so greatly appreciate your bullet points!

undine said...

Thanks, Stacey. Right now I am searching for distractions because of last week and thought others might be, too.

Historiann said...

Don is looking pretty used up, but I think that's because Matt Weiner wants to emphasize the contrast between him and his youthful bride.

Death is stalking someone at STDP. There have been so many allusions or representations of death this season that I've lost count. More importantly, even Roger Sterling, the last of the good-time Charlies, isn't having any fun. I want my fun Roger back!

A Salon writer predicted a few weeks ago that it's Pete who's going to die or kill himself. (Do a search on that site for Vincent Kartheiser, the actor who plays him, and you'll be amazed by the jaw-droppingly obsessiveness of the article.)

undine said...

Historiann--I keep seeing those predictions about Pete killing himself, but I hadn't seen that obsessive one. Just wow--jaw-droppingly obsessive indeed.

My money is on this: Megan is Margaret Trudeau--married to an older man and ready to try her wings.