Sunday, August 29, 2010


Mad Men, Season Four, Episode Six, "Waldorf Stories"

I suppose it's a bit clever to air the episode about Don and SCDP winning a top award at the Clios on the evening the Emmys bestowed two major awards on Mad Men. Let's hope the similarities end there, so we don't see the show barreling toward the Abyss as rapidly as Don is. Sheesh! A forty-eight hour blackout during which he's seen stealing ideas he hated from a young man he scorned, hitting on Dr. Faye (yeay to her for saying 'no,' recognizing what a messed-up state he's in), bedding two different women--one of whom he falls asleep on while she's going down on him, the other of whom he apparently told his name is Dick--and blowing off his date with his children. I haven't sympathized with Betty in awhile, but here, she was completely justified in her tirade against him. How much farther does he have to go--do we have to see him go--before he hits bottom? Is that going to be Episode 13 of the season, with Season Five opening on him in an AA meeting? Nice eight month long cliff-hanger?

The Life cereal rep thought Don's ad might be too sophisticated for readers to get: "I think it's kind of smart for regular folks. The irony part." Mad Men writers don't underestimate their audience's ability to get irony. This show featured several good examples: the self-referential bit about winning awards while on the way down; ending an episode in which we watched both a success for Don and his tumble into darkness with the upbeat singing of "up the ladder of success"; and highlighting the flashbacks of Roger's initial encounters with Don in which we discover that he thought Don not worth hiring, but did so in a drunken blackout, similar to the one that led to Don having to hire Danny. Is Don being compared to Danny, whose idea he stole to make the Life men happy? Might Danny prove to be extremely creative like Don can be? Or is part of the point that Don isn't as good as he and some others think he is? (BTW, I see from the previews that Tom Lenk [Danny] will be back next week. He's still just that creepy Andrew from "Buffy" to me. I don't know how long I'll be able to watch him if that doesn't wear off.)

And, finally, shifting focus a bit: We know what Don did to receive Joan's punishment of that secretary. What did poor Peggy do to deserve that asshole Stanley? She sort of showed him up, taking his bluff about working in the nude to "liberate" the mind, but I expect he's the type who will never accept that he might be wrong--especially from a woman--and double especially from a smart woman like Peggy. She seems to have pegged him: "You're lazy and have no ideas," but where's that going to get her? She also had to deal with Don's lack of acknowledgment of her role in the floor polish ad to the point of not even inviting her to the awards. Even Joan seems to be tiring of these men as she left Roger in a pool of drunken self-pity at the bar, clearly disgusted with him.

Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot the final irony of the quick ending ad for the iPhone ap that challenges you to mix your cocktails as well as they do on Mad Men! You too can head for that alcoholic abyss....and have fun and glamor while doing it, Mad Men-style!


  1. I've been bad and spent my entire morning reading blog after blog. I loved the synchronicity of all the awards jokes during the ultimate TV awards show.

    Memorable moments: hand holding under the table and Don/Joan's kiss. The backstory of Roger and Joan, Betty in the fur ad.

    Peg's strip, even while it made me almost as uncomfortable, as our "wish I could be a nudist" idiot. Peg's growth is the best thing on the show, but given how depressing most of the rest is, it's not saying much.

    Don being called "Dick" by the waitress. Someone wrote that Dick is tired of being in hiding and he's coming out more and more each show. I loved the way the Don who won was so child-like, grinning and more like the Dick of Ann than the Don of Roger. But then he got more and more dickish as the show went on.

    Lots of folks (including Weiner himself) think Don never did get hired--hence the shit-eating grin in the elevator. Wonderful. It is so painful watching him self-destruct. And while Betty's screeching may not have bothered you, Cathy, remember it wasn't about the kids, it was about "missing a very important brunch."

    Some bloggers are thrilled with Peter's treatment of Ken, but I found him even more irritating than usual. I noticed one blogger thinks he might fit somewhere on the autism spectrum, being so incapable of reading others' reactions to him. I don't know, but he seems to have a lot of fans out there. I never liked that actor in Angel either. But I'm thrilled to see a Buffy alum show up. I always enjoyed his creepiness, Cathy, although he's less creepy and more pathetic in this.

  2. Interesting idea about Dick being tired of hiding and coming out more. Growing discomfort with his dual identity could both lead to the escape of increased drinking and the increased drinking can lead to more outlets for Dick as we saw this week. I hadn't thought about the possibility that Roger didn't really hire Don at all while drunk. That is a great self-made man element. I like it!

    I know Betty wasn't concerned about her kids that Sunday noon; she rarely is. But, they still had plans and were counting on Don. And, I guess I count on Don to keep showing himself the better parent. He can't do that while in an extended drunken blackout.

    You're right that so much of this is depressing. The season's about half over. I wonder if it's all going to be a downward spiral or if there will be any light shed. To continue the Buffy connection, this is feeling something like Buffy's sixth season--so dark. When it was all over, that ended up being one of my favorite seasons, though many fans were turned off by it. Creative people can always do so much interesting work exploring darkness; that was revealed in the sado-masochistic Spike/Buffy relationship and in Willow's descent into addiction and dark magic. Maybe it will reveal much and lead to much insight in Mad Men this year too.