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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Saturday
Sep192009

« In Which We Arch Our Backs Like Don Draper »

Where Am I And Who Is This Child?

by ELEANOR MORROW

Pregnancy is a fog. Don's busy getting breathy phone calls from his daughter's teacher, and Betty Draper tells him the keys are already in his hand.

During the birth, Don fantasizes about an imaginary friend/prison guard who makes Don witness his exortation to be a better man. Somehow this guy found the time to get Don's favorite brand of liquor and offer it to him. Later, the guy doesn't even recognize Don in the hallway.

Fine, okay. Don spends more time with his children, appears more "caring" and trustworthy. He turns down Peggy's request for a raise and denigrates Duck Philips' designs on his creative team. Duck killed his wife's dog, found work at a new agency, and time to ambush Pete Campbell. How is Don supposed to live in a world where people envy what he never desired?


January Jones models an impressive new dress and demands her doctor, not the local Jew obstetrician on call. She names her son after her crazy, lecherous father, and promises the child she'll never let him jam a fat girl's head against a spigot. The child has no choice but to take the name.

The series finale of King of the Hill aired last Sunday. The rating is likely to make Mike Judge sad. The weird thing about that show is that its characters never aged; so that no matter what happened in the world Bobby was the same chuckling child as when it began its run nine years ago.

Sally Draper and Don Draper, on the other hand, have room to grow as people. A Draper has no chance of being a human being. Like her new little brother, she'll be encumbered by her father's infidelities, and probably forbidden from driving her grandfather's car.

All the while, men continue to approach Don Draper privately. Each one mutely expresses the desire of the other. Don draws on some relevant pain in his past to sympathize since he lacks a soul — who else channels his own life's tragedy better than Don Draper? Even when he's hallucinating while his wife gives birth, he's on the clock for Sterling-Cooper. I see everything, he tells the jerkwad British CFO, you've seen my ticket stubs.

There's a backlog of work you need to approve, Sterling tells Don. He's just sitting in his office having a drink, laughing off the whole thing about Lois' scarf getting stuck in the copier. Bitch out Pete Campbell and Don Draper and you've earned your salary. Fortunately he's a few years shy of the '09 recession.

Pete's been getting the short end of the stick for awhile now. He's not benefiting from the competition with Ken Cosgrove, and he's starting to go overboard by having intense moments with service people of color. Like in The Sopranos, folks of color are used as props here for white insecurities, scapegoats for profit margins, and 3/5th of a vote. With that said, I will be taking out a full page personals ad in Ebony. I'm crossing my fingers that it will pay "big" dividends.


Dream sequences were also a meaningful part of Weiner's previous show. In Betty's dream, her father pretends not to recognize her, and then she sees her prim mother with her hand on Medgar Evers' shoulder, a signifier embedded in Betty's consciousness since her parent-teacher conference. Would you believe that Evers actually played himself in the role? Why haven't they done a Martin Luther King Jr. biopic yet? Is Spike Lee that busy warming Kobe Bryant's scrotum with his breath?

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here.

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