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Robert Altman Week

Monday
Aug022010

« In Which I Don’t Hate Christmas, I Just Hate This Christmas »

Thank You For Bringing My Keys

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Mad Men

Season 4, Episode 2

"Christmas Comes But Once A Year"

You know when you get out of a long relationship and you're thrust back out into the real world all fucked up on a heady cocktail of hormones and adrenaline, only to find out that you have no longer have any game whatsoever? And even though you're not terrible looking and are considered charming by many you now melt into an awkward puddle at even the simplest social interactions, talking way too much or not at all?

When you were unavailable people flirted with you all the time, practically threw themselves at you. Now you're free and suddenly your phone hardly rings and you break a sweat at the thought of trying to make smalltalk with one more uninterested idiot. It happens to the best of us. Why wouldn't it also happen to Don Draper?

During this freefall period it's conventional to make really terrible decisions, which is why Don ends up turning down an invitation to a party full of nurses (WTF Don), bobbles flirting with the hot HR rep (who's totally right about Don being married again in a year) and then zipless fucks his pathetic secretary Allison in the least sexy sex scene in the history of Mad Men (until Peggy and Mark's at the episode's close). 

Remember in season one when Joan talked about how Don never fucks anyone from the office because he knows better than that? Well, things change. It's like they realized Jon Hamm is too funny to be stuck playing a serious character all the time and decided to put Don Draper in embarrassing situations that make us laugh awkwardly so as not to cringe. He's stuck in the handsome bubble

In many ways Don resembles the protagonist of the other best show on television, Louis C.K.'s Louie. They are sad bachelors, illustrating the flipside of the lonely spinster cliché that so outrages Peggy when Freddy Rumsen springs it on her. Don's dingy new lifestyle and its attendant trappings are a balled up shirt's throw away from C.K. eating his slice of pizza over a garbage can during Louie's opening credits. 

Vibes between exes were also running high this episode, as they are anytime Pete and Peggy or Roger and Joan have scenes together. How did the magical samba line future office of 1964 become the soul killing cubicle farm of today? Does it have to do with the concurrent drop in social acceptance of getting totally loaded at work?

Peggy managed to find somebody to date with an even worse haircut than she has, and he finally spoke out against her reign of hand-jobs. All that "who we want to be" vs. "who we really are" stuff was demonstrated by Peggy's beau's Mark's clueless attempts to bully his girlfriend into doing him after assuming she's still a virgin (LOL). 

A Don Draper with no swag is a Don Draper that's a hell of a lot easier to root for. Desperation is never a good look, but "divorced loser Don" is certainly more relatable than "absurdly suave Don." Who among us hasn't passive aggressively done something incredibly hurtful to somebody we didn't really mean to hook up with?

You know who has mad game though? Glen Bishop. Breaking into your crush's house so her stupid new stepdad will want to move? Sheer brilliance. Glen is a little baller, even if he's only trying to get into Sally's pants as a pathway back to her mom's scalp.

Was this episode especially great because January Jones was barely in it? Who can say.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She twitters here and tumbls here. You can find past recaps of Mad Men here.

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Reader Comments (10)

Matthew Weiner is a proud gay man and no photos of his children will convince me otherwise.

August 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterAlex

All fine and good, but what 10 year old boy casually drops the pick-up line: "Maybe I'll call you"? A pre-pubscent Wilt Chamberlain never had that one in his arsenal. No sale.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Ditto Alex.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarco Sparks

How could the secretary be the pathetic one? Don couldn't even go back to get his keys. He couldn't take no for an answer from someone he didn't really even lust after.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertapette

Too good, Molly.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

Watching Roger Sterling get humiliated like the dirtbag he is makes it all worthwhile.

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbloom

Uhh, Sally can do a lot better than Glen.

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned Parent

GREAT recap

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