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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

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Life of Mary MacLane

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Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Tuesday
Sep072010

« In Which You Should Be Thanking Me Every Morning When You Wake Up, Along With Jesus, For Giving You Another Day! »

Why Is There A Dog In The Parthenon?

by MOLLY LAMBERT

"Once you start expressing your innermost thoughts and feelings, it's kind of hard to stop." - Don Draper

No just kidding that was actually Nick Jonas in Camp Rock 2, but there's a little something about Don in there too amirite? Nick Jonas will be legal on September 16th, just three days after my/Alex's 27th birthday. Here's something Don actually said: "You are twenty-something years old. It's time to get over birthdays." 

Here is a not good way to go about your life: have a two-item checklist that reads "Career" and "Relationship." Spend your whole twenties trying to check off one or both items, eventually finding out that every time you check off one side the other column will mysteriously spring a leak. Even if you choose to opt out there will always be the occasional Megan The Secretary butting in to tell you if you're "doing alright" or not.

Spend some time without either thing in order to learn what you are truly like. Find out that you truly like to download music and stay up way too fucking late. Familiarize yourself with the less well-lit corners of your your adult mind. Decide that you are depressed. Later, romanticize your "depressed period" as a golden age of personal growth and stealth fucking around. Realize as you approach your thirties that you will never escape the tyranny of the checklist, which you never even chose to buy into.

Should you somehow manage to get both plates spinning simultaneously you will be seized with a bout of "What Does It All Mean?" after realizing that achieving your goals has changed absolutely nothing besides to make those goals meaningless, at which point you will hit the reset button on one or both, if only to give your life the semblance of direction and some kind of forward propulsive movement again.

"You look like you could use a good cry" is a great pick-up line to try on dudes. Life is less like The Game Of LIFE and more like a game of Chutes And Ladders. Don and Peggy both need a copy of Kelly Cutrone's If You Have To Cry, Go Outside. When a beautiful woman succeeds, her looks are over-credited. When a handsome man succeeds, it's assumed he was just so successful he also willed himself handsome. 

Don is always failing to earn women's first impression of him, whereas Peggy is always saying something "witty" or doing something smart that makes men give her the condescending surprised respect that all smart girls get used to early on in life. Don is still learning one of life's basic confusing lessons: that who you're most physically attracted to might not correspond to who has the most attractive personality.

Have you ever had a romantic evening with someone that didn't culminate in sex? That doesn't mean there was no sexual tension, just that it was buried down far enough under the conversation that you couldn't even really think about it? Which is actually more romantic than the kind of romance based around suppressing your deep-willed desire to bone somebody long enough to make perfunctory smalltalk, since it is grounded in the attractiveness of your personality, not just your appearance?

What do you call a bromance across gender lines? A platonmance? A friendship? If Peggy were a real person in the modern era she would be rolling her eyes at the world's oversharey facebook status updates like errday. As a fictional character, we just get to see her politely give the extreme side-eye to Trudy's smug pregnant attitude.

Mad Men is neck and neck with Louie pushing the boundaries of meaning, narrative, and comedy in television. Why is it so funny to see Don Draper burst into tears? Because it's deeply cathartic and semi-humiliating to watch? When Duck called Peggy a whore I half-expected her to be like "thank you finally someone who gets my duality!" 

One thing we learned from "The Suitcase": Don is not half-assing it with the S&M lifestyle. Dude is roping Peggy into a serious BDSM relationship with his promises of never-ending all-nighters, furtive half-clasps, and alternating between yelling personal insult tinged inanities and crying just as hard as he throws up Greek food. 

This episode also featured one of my favorite Matthew Weiner thematic touches: the tension-release vomiting spectacle. (see: Betty in the car after learning about Don f-banging Bobbi Barrett, Roger after oysters and a flight of stairs). In lieu of being able to kill people, Mad Men often goes for hardcore throwing up. Don's badge of honor for his bout of late-night personal growth was a well-placed vomit stain on his shirt.

The main complaints I've heard about this season are that the ad campaigns are (purposefully?) no longer good, and that it seems like they have suddenly changed the rules of drunk behavior. Personally I think they're focusing on demonstrating the difference between being a high functioning alcoholic and a non-functioning one.

As for the ad campaigns, they can't do anything remotely close to the Kodak Carousel pitch that famously closed out season one without venturing into self-parody. I buy the idea that clients are stupid, and SCDP is a smaller company, so they have to win people over more. The carousel pitch was Kennedy's America, now they're adjusting to post JFK's death Conquest Of Cool stuff, and they're not quite hitting it yet.

I think the theme of this season especially, as Don mentioned, is the line between brilliance and stupidity and how it is very often just chance that makes some people into life's winners and others into losers. I've got excuses for everything on Mad Men, except for the ghost of Anna Draper, and the line about leaving the door open (groan). I hope Peggy's doofusy fiancé is gone to the Bobbi Barrett character consignment pile. 

Peggy Olson doesn't want to fuck Don Draper, although she is obviously a decent judge of handsomeness and it's LOL that her real tastes run towards the athletic (feel u girl). No, she's got bigger plans than that. She wants to be her own Don Draper. The real question is how did Don get so clean overnight? Does SCDP have an executive washroom on the imaginary second floor of the fictional office building? INCEPTION'D.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbls and twitters.

"Minotaur" - The Clientele (mp3)

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Reader Comments (6)

I'd be curious as to your take on how much of Weiner's strange behavior towards his young female writers is influencing this season. I have to think that conversation about money being the thanks and recognition may have been something he's said, just as all the contract negotiating Don did mirrored Weiner's own AMC deal.

September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

right. on.

September 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermeredith

Classic Episode. Classic Recap. Classic Lambert.

September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLambo

this is sick.
"like errday"

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercarlosf

Wait, Roger is writing a book? Enjoyed the mixed up dictation tape shenanigans which Don used to tool his way back to the tool shed.

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHugh

Oh Trudy. Don't she know Pregnant Women are Smug?

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate

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