Mad Men–Season 2, Episode 1: For Those Who Think Young

This is me not blogging about it because I really don’t have the critical framework with which to analyze a television program. If it looks like I am blogging Mad Men, it’s only because I happen to be musing about it in public on a blog. And I’m not going to let something as petty as ignorance or being unqualified stop me from musing! That’s the whole point of this exercise in vanity!

So I watched it on Sunday night. Husband watched it with me; we’d been talking about him watching the series, too, but we hadn’t started yet. I sort of wish he’d stayed downstairs. I think it was a terrible episode for bringing in new viewers, and it really wasn’t that exciting as a returning one. Perhaps my impressions have everything to do with the fact that I watched the entire first season again basically from Tuesday through Friday, and then fidgeted impatiently for two whole days until it aired. And then it turned out to be basically a parade of characters with ostensible clues and signs about how they’ve changed and what they’ve been up to. The scenes that seemed the most natural were the ones like Don at the doctor’s office, Joan talking to the Xerox machine moving guys, and Peggy walking in on the copying free-for-all.

Because were having a conversation right before, and because either all the clocks in my house are a few minutes behind or all the clocks at AMC are a few minutes ahead, I missed the first minute or so. I started up with Betty walking out of the stable talking to her friend. Betty on horseback seemed strange to me. Maybe horseback riding was an era thing, or a New England thing, but I just can’t imagine ever coming up with horseback riding lessons as a hobby. I wonder if she is keeping her own horse. I mean, have there been hunting parties in the country that she’s had to sit out? I didn’t know what would become of Betty, and I am hoping that she still doesn’t become an alcoholic this season, and nothing in last night’s episode made me worry about that anymore. I just wish, I don’t know. If she’s looking to kill free time, I wish she’d picked up flower arranging or cake decorating or painting or something with more creativity. Maybe horseback riding is all about creativity. It was very amusing, though, that they were joking about the riding instructor having a crush on her, though. I think. (They were referring to the instructor, right, and not the handsome young thing?) It is interesting that this conversation about woman-love… if it happened as I am thinking it happened… happens so easily and with so little self-consciousness and/or cruelty when Joan’s conversation with her roommate (Carol! Her name is Carol!) was so empty of acknowledgment and Salvatore was so afraid to say anything aloud, even to another gay person.

It was hard to watch Betty talk to her old friend the party girl, partly because it was so obvious that the party girl did not want to be talking to Betty. See, I didn’t catch that she was an escort, either, so I thought that Betty was being shunned for having gone all suburban (although I realize now that the woman was, if not mortified, overly wishing she’d never been recognized). I can see, too, how Betty thinks the lifestyle is glamorous–if a little vulgar–and I guess I can see why she was flirting with the guy who fixed her car. I still wish that if she was going to be earning a little money on the side and not telling Don that she’d have a secret regular job, maybe below her station, instead of this odd adulterous sex thing. I’m not sure what Don not getting it up signified about Don (I attributed it to the alcohol), and I think it only happened to show that Betty was raring to go and provide later justification for why she might look elsewhere. We’ve just never, ever seen Don with an I-problem before, and we have seen him in many, many beds. That struck me as peculiar.

Not as peculiar, however, as how horrific that television set looked in that beautiful room, as how annoying Jacki Kennedy was during her televised tour of the White House, and as how tasty half an avocado stuffed with crab meat sounded late at night. I hope they aren’t sharing that avocado. I’d want an entire one for myself. Which made me then curious about the availability of avocados in New York in February in the 1960s. I lived in Connecticut in junior high and didn’t move to California until high school, and I have no memory of avocados at all until the move. True, there’s that installment in the Trixie Belden series of mysteries in which they all go to Arizona and eat them some alligator pears, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured that out. I guess avocados really are the food of the gods and the upper classes!

I was pleased with how seriously the men were taking Peggy as a coworker. True, they gossiped about her when she left the room (a year too late, especially for men, but the writers had to bring the subject up for the audience so whatever), and true, they asked her if there were any more glasses, but they didn’t ask her to get any more glasses and she had been Don Draper’s actual secretary. It’s not crazy that she would know. I loved her line about how Don wouldn’t care if Dale were present at the impromptu visit or not. I don’t understand, though, how Joan could put the copy machine in her office. That is what happened, isn’t it? Is Peggy, and her male office mates (are they/he still around? it was late), really going to have to work around that thing?

I marvel sometimes at just how much duplicating work computers save us, and why there no real need for secretarial pools anymore. Surely that copy machine means some of those women will be fired, doesn’t it? I don’t normally watch the “Next week, on…” so I’d turned the sound off but it looked like Roger or Joan or someone mouthed the word “fired.” I don’t know if that’s a spoiler. I wasn’t paying that close of attention.

Final Thoughts
The time difference threw me, but now that it’s been confirmed by people other than me that fourteen months have passed, it makes more sense that Trudy Campbell would be so sad about being childless and that Joan would be so confident about her Gentleman Doctor Beau proposing to her on the date of her choosing. Lois seemed a little hesitant about her job as Draper’s secretary, but it makes more sense that a year (versus three months) would have been enough time for her to ascend from the switchboard to personal secretary. Jean Turtleneck cracked me up. Pete watching scifi on V-Day cracked me up. I wanted candy. I couldn’t figure out if Salvatore was dating or married. The Gone with the Wind line stood out artificially to me… a mother who had watched that movie with her daughter would have just said “Bonnie” instead of providing the title of the film as a means of dating the jump ahead in time by revival date. I loved how the tow truck guy was tolerating Betty’s amateurish come-ons and flirting, and loved him for not embarrassing her. I think Don mailed the envelope to Midge rather than Rachel. I wonder if Paul’s ascot and beard mean he’s finally published something. The voiceover really stood out in its novelty. I ought to look up the poem and read it–half of it got by me. Like I said, it was late. I caught the beginning again to see what I missed (Joan and Peggy getting dressed is all I remember) but I skipped the little featurette I heard they had about the program, which I am not that interested in anyway.

I plan to watch the episode again.

That’s all I have to say about that.

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