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Monday
Sep202010

« In Which I Would Have My Secretary Do It But She's Dead »

I Hate It There!

by MOLLY LAMBERT 

Why is it that many contemporary male thinkers repudiate the imperialist legacy of Columbus but affirm dimensions of that legacy by their refusal to repudiate patriarchy? - bell hooks

Why indeed bell hooks! The most radical thing you can do as a man is renounce sexism, in all its many insidious forms, so why do so many people avoid thinking about it by claiming they are "not political" (as Peggy did early on this episode)? Is it the misguided belief that feminism will take food out of men's mouths and jobs out of their hands? Civil rights for all will just make everyone's lives better and easier. 

Sally Draper went all Alice In The Cities on Don. She hopped off the train from Ossining with a dream and her divorce and daddy issues, little hobo in training that she is. What's scarier to a man than his son turning out like he did? His daughter turning out that way! Nobody's good with tantrums. They're like Brooklyn tornadoes.

Don's reaction was to force every woman in sight into a care-taking position. Dr. Faye called him on his bullshit, and everyone in the audience cheered. Don Draper is slowly learning the lesson every alpha male must learn: It's not emasculation if you like it!

When you fuck up, and we all fuck up, the best thing you can do is cut the bullshit and just say you're sorry and mean it. And then, you know, try not to do it again. Some people never learn this lesson. Lindsay Lohan still has not learned this lesson, and she is on her ninety thousandth attempt, and all her go-rounds are in the public eye.

There are actual ways to stop your life from becoming Groundhog Day. Recognize and pay attention to your specific issues and problems and neuroses, whatever they may be for you. Addressing them can be painful, but emotional pain will not kill you, and it will also be fruitful. Ignoring them, or trying to, will make things infinitely worse.

I fully predicted Miss Blankenship being this season's tractor accident (tracctident). Before she kicked the bucket she also explicitly referred to Don and Peggy's S&M dynamic, which I called out in my recap of "The Suitcase." Ms. Blankenship also pointed out that Dr. Faye breezes past her because she's pushy, and Don likes pushy

The problem with Betty is that aside from being really beautiful, she has no sense of humor and isn't very smart or interesting. It takes some people a lifetime to realize that superficial attraction is just part of a varied spectrum of kinds of attractiveness. There's mental compatibility, which can be entirely platonic. Then there are blends of both kinds of attraction, with the obvious ideal being equally high levels of both.

Don and Dr. Faye seem highly compatible on both fronts. Although Don still seems likely to dive-bomb the relationship by sleeping with Megan the secretary (if tonight was foreshadowing), because Mad Men doesn't want us to have nice things and Don is probably still too much of a McNulty not to do something stupid and short-sighted.

One thing Kanye West and Taylor Swift have in common in their unfailing belief that chicks just want to get married. Lots of people really still think that! It is easy to forget how not very far we have come! We still put unmarried women on the covers of tabloids to shame them for being single, as if it is something to shame them about! You know what is way lamer than being single? Being in a bad/boring relationship.

Man that guy Abe goofing on Peggy sure was lame, wasn't he? Maybe they set him up as a counterpart to Joey to demonstrate how all the new cool guys just have new strategies for being misogynistic and dismissive of girls. Peggy's shift from being impressed that the guy thought she was cool and smart to being disgusted that he insisted on trying to prove he was cooler and smarter than her was relatable.

The main teaching of feminism is to just actually listen to what women are saying. Don't base anything on your preconceived ideas of what "women" are like. Women are human beings, no more sympathetic or moral than anyone else. It's a case by case basis. Peggy got the most radicalized this episode, with Don a close second.

Peggy is radicalized twice, after she pitches Harry Belafonte to the boys and realizes she is complicit. Then when she makes the inevitable connection between the black civil rights movement and the burgeoning women's movement that Abe describes facetiously, the women's movement being borne partially out of the sexism and disenfranchisement of female civil rights pioneers by the male leadership.

Finding out that counterculture movements can be just as sexist as the establishment (if not even more sexist, since they should theoretically be more liberal) is one of the ways women find out that as long as they accept the status quo, they're always going to be treated and judged differently than men in otherwise identical situations. 

Don Draper is learning that you can't just cowboy up in every situation. Roger Sterling (for all his constant macho talk) more or less hid behind Joan when they got held up. Roger is turning into an old man, and his life is becoming a Philip Roth novel. There was so much slapstick in this episode. There has been tons of slapstick this season.

Aryan superman Ken Cosgrove said something that seemed to imply he understood duality (that one can be both professional and an amateur simultaneously) and rejected dichotomy, but then he more or less told Peggy to shut the fuck up and let the men handle it. Ken Cosgrove and Peggy might be my OTP, but I could be projecting.

Last week Mad Men crossed universes with The Sopranos when we found out Dr. Faye is a gangster's daughter. This week it crossed universes with The Wire to show the gritty unbelly of New York City: CRIME! Who else really believed Roger and Joan might never fuck again? You got me this time, Weiner! That zipper sound cue was LOL!

Boardwalk Empire even hired Omar and they still couldn't effectively incept The Wire, because all coolness is instantly melted by ragtime, or because the show was just kind of an empty suit in general. Scorsese made it look beautiful, but (unlike Mad Men) the characters were all more or less exactly who they appeared to be. I hope it improves?

Also sorry HBO but Boardwalk Empire had hella shades of Newsies. I'd be happy to buried in that awesome Atlantic City boardwalk set yall built though. What a beautiful art installation that is. I hear it cost eighteen million dollars. Somebody tell me where it is and how to get there. When I go, I'm taking everything interesting with me.

Every man having an inner mechanic is useful for analyzing how patriarchy functions. Don and Ken Cosgrove implied that they inherently know how to fix anything since they are real men. Then Don spent the whole episode attempting to get every woman in the office to fix things for him with both Sally and the former Miss Blankenship, effectively demonstrating that he doesn't know how to do a goddamn thing.

The only dude who handled his shit in the face of crisis was Pete Campbell. Somehow that little fucker remains the most feminist minded of the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce frat pack, if only by default, and he is a rapist! Is Mad Men going to gradually indoctrinate the straight men who idolize it with feminism? Don't mind if they do!

Hey if in 2010 Ron Artest can make it acceptable for pro athletes to talk about mental health issues, and 50 Cent can post cheesecake pictures for his gay fans, who's to say we can't keep widening the boundaries of masculinity to include all the non-normative iterations of it that actually exist? Even heterosexual men can be queer as long as they are willing to examine their masculinity and think critically about what it means.

Matthew Weiner can't resist a terrible gag for the martini. The whole "executive secretaries are astronauts" motif was hammered on the head a bit too literally for my taste with that closing shot. That said, I applaud Mad Men for taking risks like the blackout time lapse, so I can't be too angry with it for continuing to take risks and occasionally failing at things like Don's voiceover last week, because that is the hazard/payoff of risks. If it gave us what we want all the time it wouldn't be as great.

Not that my viewing party didn't cheer at the screen when Don decided not to write in his gournal this week. So he did know that it was terrible? Is it going to figure into the season's plot at all, à la Dick Whitman's box of secrets? Was Sally bluffing about not knowing it was rum and she was just trying to get Don blackout drunk so she could live in his apartment foreverrrrrr? Can you really even blame her? She's a boss!

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbls and twitters. You can find last week's Mad Men review here.

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"A Man Needs A Maid" - Neil Young (mp3)

"Sign of Love" - Neil Young (mp3)

"Love and War" - Neil Young (mp3)

"Peaceful Valley Boulevard" - Neil Young (mp3)


References (3)

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Reader Comments (19)

1920s stand up comedian is THE WORST. NOT EFFECTIVE FOR DRAMATIC CROSS-CUTTING.

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterConcerned Parent

everybody hates 1920s stand up comedian! Alex picked the perfect screencap. I laughed at how dumb and lifeless that whole sequence (show) was. HBO turned down Mad Men and now AMC is laughing straight 2 the bank with it like Fiddy.

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

Dammmnnn Molly, laying down some Judith Butler on us this morning

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDerek

"feminism is the notion that women are radical" google search NO RESULTS. REALLY? WELL NOW THERE IS ONE.

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

Why they didn't Weekend-at-Bernies-it with Ms. Blankenship, I'll never know.

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate

they basically did! that guy with the stutter must have been deaf too

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

amc also has some sort of comeuppance, when hbo advertised (at least in nyc) --to see the encore presentation of its 'boardwalk empire' --in last night's 'mad men'.

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteresquared

AMC is such a Pete Campbell

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

I don't want to sound like I have a lot invested in Roger Sterling's reputation, but how did he hide behind Joan when they got mugged? I thought he handled that as well as he could have.

September 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterraphael

sally is punk as fuck in the t shirt and messy hair. Dr. Faye being awkward is LOL. Still not buying that Don gets that he was a dick AND apologized.

September 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterleti

Alex transcribed Don's "I'm sorry" speech and we came to the conclusion that he is a replicant

September 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

The fact that people think the right way to be robbed is to politely hand over everything you have scares me. You must fight, especially if it's the 1970s. Or give him the woman.

I didn't realize eating those rum pancakes set Don on the drinking road again.

September 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterAlex

So *that's* what's in those boxes of Whitman's Samplers: SECRETS! (Have never bought them before.)

September 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstopokaygo

Wait a second, when did Pete rape someone? Did I miss something?

September 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSwami

Pete date-raped the German au pair last season when Trudy was out of town, then told Trudy about it and asked her not to leave town again.

September 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

Just imagine how many rapes Pete's made (some in concert with Joan's veteran husband) that we don't even know about!

Could he have raped Don? Will this flashback be the last scene of Mad Men?

September 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C.

Molly Lambert FTW!!!!!!!

September 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLambo

FYI: Some people go to some lengths to search out these posts weeks later because they are watching Mad Men in Europe, on the BBC, after some transatlantic delay. They have become an integral part of my MM enjoyment! The lack of continental/UK reactions however tells me that This Recording could use some advertising in this part of the world.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJob
Joan: Meghan, get a man.

Pete Campbell to the rescue!
February 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbaardvark

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