Monday, September 27, 2010

"Do You Want to Know a Secret?"

Mad Men, Season Four, Episode Ten, "Hands and Knees"

Quite the episode, wasn't it? I love how the Beatles framed the show. Mad Men has frequently contextualized itself in the politics of the era and sometimes in the emerging drug culture, but it hasn't really done much with the music of the sixties until a couple of weeks ago when Don's journal soundtrack was a Stones song--and now this. How cool a dad is Don that he's taking Sally to a Beatles concert? She's just young enough not to be embarrassed at the idea of being seen in public, at a rock concert, with her father. Okay, he'll have ear plugs in, but I've seen and heard footage of that Shea Stadium concert. I'd want ear plugs too. Thousands of girls and young women shrieking non-stop, in unison, the way Sally did over the phone. That was so cute. And Betty looked genuinely pleased at the idea. Good for her for not throwing cold water on Sally's excitement. It was a neat and rare shared moment between the three of them. The choice of ending song--in instrumental form only--was perfect. It got at the theme of secrets being revealed, sometimes even being thrust upon an unwilling hearer ("Listen," George sings in the version with words, giving an imperative before the question, like Lane pushes his father to listen to the news that he's had a secret.) The song also highlighted the differences between the Beatles of 1963--when "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" came out--and the 1965 Beatles whom Sally and Don will be visiting. In the two intervening years, the band was maturing, shifting from the creation of what John Lennon would later term "silly love songs" to the more musically and thematically sophisticated and varied songs of "Help!" (which was released right before the N.Y. concert) and "Rubber Soul," that appeared late that year. Likewise, there are some signs our main characters are maturing in the midst of the complete mess that plays out. On the one hand, we see some growth. On the other, there's the classic denial, deception, and desire just to "get rid of it" (as Don explicitly tells Pete about the North American Aviation account.

Note to Don and everyone else: Read what you sign, dude! It was interesting, if painful, to watch Don deal with the stress of the DoD investigating him. As others have recently noted as well, he's seemed to want--and to allow--Dick to emerge from behind his wall more and more this season. But, he's not yet ready for full disclosure. And we, as viewers, were forced for perhaps the first time to consider the legal ramifications for Don's Army desertion and identity theft. In the past, it's come up more as an issue in his personal life. Now the criminal aspect of it is at the fore. It was tense watching the scene with Betty and the government officials. I really wondered what she would do. In the midst of it all, though, they managed to insert some humor: "Would you describe him as loyal?" Poor Betty. The government's single-minded focus, though, on "radicals," "subversives" and Communist sympathizers means they miss a lot about Don and the integrity issue. But, beyond the personal, the consequences for Don's actions in Korea are now laid at the doorstep of his business partners. They lose out on this $4 million account--at a time when they're also losing Lucky Strike (good riddance, Lee! Maybe Sal can come back now? That is, if there's still a company to employ people after the desertions and rejections of big accounts.)

Don has to confront the issue of his past head-on with Pete. Confronting things head-on is not what Don likes to do. He also doesn't like owing someone and he's going to owe Pete big-time for this. I can't imagine Pete will let him forget it. But, Pete...Yes, this is unfair to him, but the self-deception on his part was also staggering. He tells Trudy--to whom he can't really tell anything--"No one knows--except the honest people who have to pick up the pieces." Honest, Pete? You're referring to yourself as one of the honest people? Sitting there on the couch with your hugely pregnant wife, who believes she'll soon be delivering your first-born child? You, the rapist of the down-the-hall nanny while Trudy's in the Hamptons? Give me a break. (And--I can't help but be catty here. Was there anything more ridiculous looking than an about-to-pop Trudy in those super short, pink baby-doll pajamas? Eeek! The costume people had to be contributing to a comment on how absurd that scene--and Pete's ideas--were.)

But, in the midst of the tension, disquieting confrontations, and the fear of strange men in hallways, Don is moving forward. He tells Faye his secret. "I'm tired of running. . . I'm damn tired of all of it." And she's understanding, offering her comfort for the night in what appeared to be a non-sexual way. This is growth for Don. I worry, though. At the end, she tells him "We'll figure out what to do." Don has never been a part of such a 'we' before. Does this frighten him? Why else the look at Megan, applying her lipstick, as the song begins and the episode ends?

Turns out Lane has a secret too. It came upon us so suddenly (last we knew, he'd had a night with a prostitute at Don's place and that was it as far as him acting on the dissolution of his marriage; now he's in love? really?) I'm not sure if I can believe it's genuine--or if he just wants it to be genuine--or if he's just trying to shock his prick of a father. He's clearly throwing her and their intimacy in the old man's face. He and his father clearly have a nasty history. Lane has always seemed so old and stodgy compared to most of the men at the firm. To see him treated like a little boy by an abusive father was shocking. But, is Lane also maturing some? Moving enough into the American 1960s to have a real inter-racial relationship? Or is he trying too hard to "get rid of" his old family and his dictatorial, aristocrat of a father's hold on him? Or might it be both? I don't know at this point. I do know, though, that him referring to her as his "chocolate bunny" was the grossest line of the evening.

And, finally, Joan. Oh, my goodness, how I felt for her. We've seen how she wants so badly to have a baby that she goes off the pill as her husband's getting ready to deploy to war. We've heard her ask her doctor if the fact that she's already had two abortions would hurt her chances to conceive. Now this. To find out that she has conceived--in a dark alley with a married man who's not her husband. The fact that he likely is her true love just makes it worse, I expect. Roger "gallantly" assures her that he'll 'take care of it' (i.e. "get rid of it"). He does express regret and listen to her, even suggest that she could keep it and pretend it's Greg's. He might come home and not "do the math." But, the baby would never be his. She seems, of course, to be handling this maturely. She's all business-like, stating unequivocally that of course, they will avoid this "scandal." But, does she go through with it? I have my doubts. The young mother and daughter in the abortionist's office had to be there for a reason. The woman tells Joan that she had her daughter when she was fifteen and didn't regret it. She now cries over the daughter's abortion. When Joan, always comoposed, responds to the woman's question about her daughter's age, Joan says, "Fifteen." Has she realized that if this woman could have a child at fifteen and not regret it, that she could do it in her thirties? There was just a quick shot of Joan on the bus coming home. She had a bit of a smile on her face. The music playing was serene. I think she'd come to a decision she was content with. I'd be surprised if she actually ended this pregnancy. But, we'll see. She's the consummate manager, calling to order the meeting of the partners in which everyone of them--except Bert, who's superfluous--was lying about something. Does she have a secret too?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"More Beautiful Than Answers"

Mad Men, Season Four, Episode Nine, "The Beautiful Girls"

During a commercial break, the AMC tagline jumped out at me: "Stories Matter Here." I've seen this hundreds of times before, but for some reason, it set my mind wandering tonight and I landed on a line from Mary Oliver's poem "Snake"--"so many stories/more beautiful than answers." "The Beautiful Girls" didn't make for a beautiful story, but it certainly did leave me with more questions than answers, the strangest one having to be, 'So a mugging is now an aphrodisiac for Joan? WTF?'

The episode seemed largely to be about how to sell--how to frame something people don't really want in such a way that they will be compelled to buy it. The literal business example involves Filmore Auto Parts wanting to persuade middle-class, white-collar men that they want to be like their mechanics and shop for auto parts too. Or, at least the Filmore brothers want the middle-class men's business; they're ambivalent--or divided--about actually wanting non-macho mechanics attracted to their store. Don, Ken, and Faye have to sell them on the idea. Since neither Don nor Ken work with their hands, the Filmores seem to put them in the same category as Faye--they might as well be women. It's Faye who comes up with the good line: "Filmore Auto Parts--for the mechanic in every man." Sale a success.

Not so much for the other attempted sales of the evening--the more complicated political and personal attempts to persuade: 1) Abe tries to sell Peggy on the idea that corporations, the advertising industry, and SCDP in particular, are unethical entities involved in the repression of people's freedoms--case in point, she's working on a campaign for Filmore Auto Parts, which refuses to hire "Negroes" in the South; 2) Peggy tries to sell Abe on the idea that "In advertising, we don't really judge people." Instead, ad agencies try to "help" their clients out of these situations; after all, this restrictive hiring is bad for their business; 3) Peggy further tries to sell Abe on the idea that white women like her are actually as discriminated against as "Negroes"; 4) Roger tries, in the most pathetic attempt on view tonight, to sell Joan on the idea of getting back together with him--or at least having dinner with him: "I'm going to go to my favorite restaurant and order a glass of cyanide...or you could come with me." Roger can be so urbane and witty, yet this snivelling come-on is the idea sales pitch that wins, revealing how low Joan is about Dr. Greg getting called up to Vietnam; 5) In the saddest of all the attempted sales exchanges, Sally repeatedly tries to persuade Don to let her come live with him and Don works to sell her on the idea of going "home"; 6) Finally, the closing shot, framing Joan, Peggy, and Faye in the elevator door is so intentionally and artistically done--the storytellers are trying to sell us on something about these "beautiful girls." What is it?

The exchanges between Peggy and Abe were great at concisely representing so much about the racial and gendered politics of the period. She feels the pain of her struggles to make it in a man's world--and with last week's episode fresh in mind, it's impossible to blame her for her resentments--but they lead her to a lack of understanding/empathy for the struggles of Black people fighting for their rights. Abe is right that "they're not shooting women to keep them from voting," but his condescension is too much. "Alright, Peggy, we'll have a civil rights march for women." Yep, sweetie, in a year that's what you'll be seeing. She puts defensive walls around herself and the job she's worked so hard to get and keep when he tries to sell her on the unethical nature of what her company is doing in working for the Filmores. When Peggy attempts to defend what they do, Abe is right that "civil rights is not a situation to be fixed by some PR campaign." While the paper he's written for her is hyperbolic in its title--"Nuremburg on Madison Avenue"--the implication that ad people are only following orders probably hits too close to home. Peggy does spend much of her time doing just that. While she's proud to have made it as far as she has, she's there following Don's orders, creating ad campaigns that get Don's stamp of approval--or are tossed out. When she finally does raise the question of why they're doing business with a company like Filmore Auto Parts that won't hire Negroes, Don retorts, "Our job is to make men like Filmore Auto Parts, not make Filmore Auto Parts like Negroes." And so that's what she participates in.

While the political focus in the business part of the episode highlighted the complications in everyone's positions, the personal focus in the Sally and Don scenes was just sad. I know that this is 1965; Don's place is in the world of business, at his office; Betty's place is in her home, caring for her children. So, it's not surprising that Don should be so upset at Sally transgressing that boundary and showing up at his workplace. Since it's 1965, it was also unheard of for a divorced father to take custody of his child/ren. And, in 1965, most people still held to the creed of not talking about unpleasantries and not airing dirty laundry. Even so....isn't anyone ever going to ask this child why she so hates it at her house? Is it only that Betty's cold, harsh, and doesn't understand her? (Not that those are small problems). Or is something more going on in that house to hurt her? It was nice to see her and Don on the couch together waiting for the pizza. I love that he took a morning off to take her to the zoo. They looked so cute, walking down the hall of his office, almost smirking, as he came in to work late that day. It was heart-wrenching, though, to hear her attempts to persuade him to let her live with him: "I'll be good!" I'll take care of my brothers. Her comic attempt to be the responsible breakfast maker with the rum bottle that looks like Mrs. Butterworth's. "Is it bad?" "Not really." All Don can do in response is to insist on the sales pitch that she has to go home. He has no good reasons to back up his argument. So, resentment radiating out of every pore, she's deposited with Betty, who's also not too happy, though she pretends to be concerned.

All through the episode, I kept wondering who "the beautiful girls" were supposed to be. The closing shot answered that--or so it seemed: Peggy's make-up-less, unglamorous lesbian friend, Joyce, gets on an elevator on the right; Joan, Faye, and Peggy get on one on the other side. They're all pretty, made up, dressed-up in their own ways. Each represents a woman who's struggled to make it in a man's world, though are in different places: Joan has always used her sex-appeal to push herself ahead of the flock, though she's at least as smart as the other two; Faye has made, with no regrets, the choice to be a career woman and not have children. "I don't view it as a failure," she tells Don. She couldn't be more different than Betty in this regard. Between Joan and Faye stands Peggy. Peggy, who has worked to use her brains and talent to get herself where she is, foregoing Joan's sexual option, but, unlike Faye, she isn't so certain about giving up on the husband and children route. They're three similar, yet different, women. Framing them in the final picture of an episode entitled "Beautiful Girls" seems to define them--the struggling-with-their roles-white-women of the 1960s--as the beautiful ones. But, I have to wonder about what the frame leaves out. There are all those Black women who are marginalized in Peggy's story of getting ahead. Carla is mentioned several times tonight, but never seen. She was supposed to pick Sally up; she taught Sally to make French toast. She's invisible, however. Joyce is consigned to an elevator on the other side--not a beautiful girl. Finally, and I know the arguments over calling grown women "girls" hadn't really started yet, but...What about the only person on the show who really is a girl--Sally? What's going to happen to that beautiful girl?

So, what is Weiner trying to say with the title and the closing frame of the three women in the elevator? Who gets to decide who's deemed beautiful? What does it mean that Joan, Peggy, and Faye are beautiful when they're trying to struggle to make it as professionals? What about those left out of the picture? This episode doesn't hand out easy answers, just "girls"/more "beautiful" than answers.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Let the Fun Begin

Mad Men, Season Four, Episode Eight, "The Summer Man"

A self-reflective Don Draper--the writer. The show had a completely different feel using the device of the voice-over. "Mad Men" has always been quite literary, but with this chapter, Matthew Weiner said in the short interviews AMC puts on its website after an episode has been aired, they got as close to a short story as they've ever been able to get. As Don strives to become the narrator of his life, to reassert some control, to gain--as he writes--"a modicum of control over how I feel," he takes some important steps forward to pull himself out of the quicksand in which he's been sinking over the past year. Even though he sees this writing as making him like a "little girl" jotting things in her diary, the process gives him insight. He recognizes that his excessive drinking is making it impossible for him to think. Instead of trying to divorce himself from his past, he now knows that "when a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him." He's both Don and Dick and he needs to keep the two together. We've seen him do that more lately. Perhaps Anna's death will play a positive role, rather than forcing him to hit bottom. Or maybe hitting bottom is still to come. But, it was nice to see him trying tonight: limiting his drinking (the slow motion/silent sequence in which he watched the others and then himself drink in the meeting was fascinating, while sending the 'blind' Mrs. Blankenship back to the store with the four bottles of booze was funny); controlling himself sexually with Faye; taking charge and asserting himself as Gene's father. It was so sweet to see him with the baby at the end. I thought of that late last season episode in which he sat rocking the newborn Gene in his bedroom in the middle of the night. Perhaps Don is growing up.

And--surprise, surprise--perhaps Betty is starting to grow up as well. We had another scene in which Henry was shown to be the mature adult in that relationship. While I'm not sure what brings Don to Bethany, I'm also not sure why Betty cared. Is she jealous of him because she really believes, as she told Francince, that he's living "the life?" Is it, as she told Henry, because he was the only man she'd been with (except for the anonymous guy in the bar that one night)? Does she resent the "imposter" she now knows him to be getting access to another country club girl? She's used the line, "I hate him!" before, sounding like a petulant school girl. I like how Henry called her on it tonight. "Hate is a strong word. I hate Nazis." When he tells her that he gets bothered by his ex-wife sometimes too, but doesn't hate her, Betty says, "You're a saint." "I'm an adult," he retorts. Go, Henry!

But, it seems to be Francine who turns Betty around, if only for a bit. "You've got everything to lose. Don has nothing." Or, rather, Don already has lost everything: his kids, Anna, his self, even Betty? "We're flawed because we want so much more," he writes in his journal. "We're ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had." Perhaps a bit melodramatic, but insightful. He seems to be trying to figure out what he does want in women. Is his periodic going back to Bethany an attempt to figure out if a wife like Betty really is what he wants? He seems to recognize that it's not: "She's a sweet girl. She wants me to know her, but I already do." He next asks out Faye. This time when he's sober. And he seeks her psychological advice, letting her know he's feeling out of sorts because of Gene. While he's been feeling the victim here: I can't go to the party; I'm not welcomed there; he thinks that man's his father, she wisely counsels him that "all he learns of the world is what you show him." She then passes on the Aesop's Fable about the wind and the sun trying to get a man to take off his coat: kindness, gentleness, and persuasion win. We'll see...

On the office front, though, kindness, gentleness, and persuasion don't work with the cadre of male chauvanist pigs Peggy and Joan are stuck with. Tonight Joey showed himself to be as bad as Stanley did a few weeks ago, but while I cheered Joan on during her "I can't wait until next year when you're all in Vietnam" speech, I was with Peggy more when she fired the idiot; I can't agree with Joan's snarky speech to Peggy on the elevator. It's interesting that both Christina Hendricks and Elizabeth Moss--in the AMC mini interviews I mentioned above--saw Joan as right in rebuking Peggy. And I suppose it could just be my position from 40+ years later that can't allow me to accept that, but I think that even back in 1965, Peggy was right to do what she did. (And Don was right to urge her to do it herself or they'd just think she was a tattle tale.) Those men already saw Joan as just "a meaningless secretary" and Peggy as "a humorless bitch." Peggy firing Joey didn't cause that. Joan looking forward to seeing them die in Vietnam--as cool and collected as she was in delivering that speech--was still a reflection of powerlessness. Joan has always seen her power to lie in her sexuality. Now she's stuck with a bunch of young men who aren't moved by that; not only are they not moved by it, they scorn her for it. Joey compares her to his mother (ouch!) So, let them think of Peggy as a bitch--sometimes that's what women have to be in self-defense. Sexist men have used the "you've got no sense of humor" line for more than 40 years; some still use it. Racists use it when listeners don't like their anti-black jokes; homophobes use it when people don't laugh at their anti-gay jokes. They still need to be stood up to--not agreed with. And Peggy did that admirably. While Don left the Y early in the episode to Mick Jagger singing, "I can't get no satisfaction," recognizing something about his life, I say Peggy should take a lot of satisfaction in asserting some control with Joey. "The fun is over," Joey says to the other guys. Maybe for him, but I hope that for Peggy, it's just beginning.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Wanderers

Mad Men, Season Four, Episode Seven, "The Suitcase"

I like seeing "Written by Matthew Weiner" cross my TV screen during the opening music; it usually promises an extra-rich episode. Nobody gets at the depths of Don's character like his creator. An amazing amount happened last night, yet the episode did not feel too busy; it was just an incredibly deep and rich hour of drama, in which the typically reserved Don travelled an immense emotional terrain. The 'suitcase' metaphor/device worked well on a number of levels.

I loved seeing Don and Peggy as fellow travellers. They're both on a journey; both are wanderers, trying to remake themselves, figure out who they should/want to be. I think back to the late last season episode "The Gypsy and the Hobo." In writing about it, I reflected on how Don has always been something of a gypsy--traveling from identity to identity, from woman to woman, always with this sense of restlessness. As we are made to watch him fall apart and self-destruct this season, we're allowed into a different type of wandering on his part, more internal. And in this episode, he was able to explore those wanderings with Peggy by his side. While "The Gypsy and the Hobo" happened on Halloween--that night where the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is rendered more translucent--"The Suitcase" occurs on the night when Anna Draper is leaving this world. Don's awareness of this sad fact seems to propel him into his night with Peggy. While I was troubled by his inability to call Stephanie back right away, that piece of paper in his shirt pocket all day burned into his psyche the knowledge of the passing of the only person who truly knew him. It seems to have propelled him into a level of honesty and openness with Peggy that he's never allowed himself before.

For quite awhile, Peggy's been the one person at the office who knows him best. That deepened this evening. Did Don somehow realize that with Anna's death he really needs someone else to whom he can turn and with whom he can be himself? Peggy is the natural choice. They already know each other on a deeper level than most at work. They're equals in a lot of ways. Their relationship is non-sexual--something that allowed his relationship with Anna to be as rich as it was. Someone wrote last week after the waitress called Don "Dick" that Dick apparently wants to come out and Don is allowing that to happen more and more. While last week it happened as part of a drunken blackout, this week he dropped pieces of information about Dick while fully aware of what he was doing: from 'I grew up on a farm so I know what a mouse looks like' to 'when I was on my way to Korea, some kid who was a bigger hick than I was...' to sharing that he too had watched his father die and that he never knew his mother. Peggy hears all of these bits of information that are so central to making Don who he is--whoever that might end up being. And, she's there to witness his phone call to Stephanie and his subsequent sobbing, which he does not attempt to put off until Peggy is no longer there. When she rubs his back and tells him that it's not true that Anna was the only person who really knew Don, we can see that perhaps Peggy will help to fill the void left by Anna's death. And I can't help but think that Anna would approve. When her spectre appeared to Don, suitcase in hand, ready for her journey out of this world, she smiled at him, as if bestowing a benediction. I can't help but think that she was happy to see him peacefully sleeping with his head in the lap of a woman who truly cares about him, who possesses some understanding of him.

And Peggy's not afraid to call him out. While Don was being a jerk to her earlier in the episode, she gave as good as she got, yelling at him for being so drunk that he stole one of Danny's ideas and had to hire the idiot. (Did Danny really have a pipe in his hand in the first scene? Is he going to become the next Kinsey?) When he asked her to make him a drink after he'd spent time throwing up in the bathroom, she point-blank asked him, "How long are you going to go on like this?" He needs Peggy. And the best part was that on the morning after, he acknowledged that. Unlike after his sexual episode with Allison, he let Peggy know (although wordlessly) how much their evening meant to him. That moment where he put his hand over hers before sending her off to rest at home and then bring him ten tag-lines was so sweet and redeemed much for Don, who's been so unlikeable the last few episodes.

And Peggy's wanderings with Don were something to watch too. For the first time, they talked about her time in the hospital. Instead of just telling her she shouldn't think of such past difficulties, he asks her if she ever thinks about it and she replies that it can be hard not to when she goes by playgrounds. Her revelation that her mother believes Don the father of her child because he was the only one to visit her was fascinating. The dynamics between her mother and her via the phone calls to Mark at the restaurant were so revealing. She's right to break up with Mark, but it was sad to watch her process what it means that he doesn't really know her. The contrast between Mark as ex-boyfriend and Duck as ex-boyfriend is too stark (though at least Duck serves to remind us that there are bigger asshole drunks than Don out there). But, through her ruminations with Don, she seemed to work to an understanding that she does want to be a career woman; she doesn't want to succumb to the cultural and familial demands that she become just a wife. "I know what I'm supposed to want. It never seems as important as what's in that office" is quite a self-revelation.

Finally, I just have to note that rarely have we been treated to such an in-depth view of the creative process these characters engage in. Don and Peggy's all-nighter--ostensibly on behalf of Samsonite--while showing much of themselves to each other also revealed much about how the minds of these two characters work and how their creativity travels from seed of an idea to full-blown campaign. The way that their personal experiences and the context in which they find themselves shapes their thinking was readily apparent. From musing on the Parthenon picture on the diner wall ("What's the most exciting thing about a suitcase?" "Going somewhere.") to the final product being a mirror of the Liston/Ali photo on the front page of the paper, ideas pass fluidly between permeable walls that barely separate minds, real-world images, past experiences. Don's rebukes to Peggy's tirade about the Glo-Coat ad were in part self-serving, but also brought up crucial points about collaboration that still get discussed in academia with regard to plagiarism. When does an idea truly belong to someone? If you hear someone else's idea and use it to develop it into a new direction and it ends up being something else, is it yours or that of the person who came up with the original seed? In collaborative work like that which happens in an ad agency, to whom does a final product "belong?" Don tells Peggy that all ideas belong to the firm. "I give you money; you give me ideas." To her protest that "you never say 'thank you,'" he loudly retorts, "That's what the money's for!" Is he being mean? ungrateful? jerky? or a realistic businessman? After sharing a night of brainstorming ideas, is the final product of the fight-related Samsonite ad Don's or Peggy's and Don's together or SCDP's? It was an interesting glimpse into some important questions.

Final thoughts I don't have time to delve into more fully:

--the context of the Liston/Ali fight and what it meant for the culture at the time and all those who went to see it, including a visibly pregnant Trudy, putting on her white gloves, talking about being ready for some "blood sport." As my husband noted, it's interesting to see an ad man like Don be disapproving of Muhammad Ali's self-promotion. Isn't that what advertising types do all the time? Many people didn't like that about Clay/Ali. Is it because he's Black? Peggy seemed to hit on that when she mentioned how her father got rid of all of Nat King Cole's records when her mother made an approving comment about his looks, much as Peggy had revealed to Don that she thinks Cassius Clay is handsome. Don: "I don't like him." Peggy: "You're not supposed to."

--the other pugilistic references and subtexts from Don and Dick's fight over Peggy to Peggy's revelation that at age 12 she'd watched her father die of a heart attack while watching a violent sporting event so that she's never liked sports since.

--Mrs. Blankenship and Bert Cooper? "Bert Cooper has no testicles?" I guess that's a metaphor they can explore more fully in another episode.