Couch Commando

MAD MEN: Season 1 Episode 7 – “Red in the Face”

Posted in Mad Men by LaurenStheTA on March 12, 2010

Viewed late at night, at home on my couch, with a friend, during a heavy thunderstorm.

Roger Sterling: A nauseating man to most - even himself.

This is Roger Sterling. He is a major partner at the Sterling Cooper ad agency, and the boss (read: drinking partner) of Don Draper. He has a wife and daughter, but he’s having an affair with Joan Holloway. In most walks of life, he’s generally despicable. In this episode, Sterling becomes an unexpected dinner guest at the Draper home outside New York City. When Don goes to the garage to search for more liquor, Sterling helps Betty take the dishes in the kitchen and ends up hitting on her. She resists him, and Don walks in sensing that something has happened between his wife and Sterling. After boss man leaves, Draper yells at Betty, telling her she was acting like a giggly school during dinner and blaming her for the episode in the kitchen.

The next day at the office, Sterling brings Draper a bottle of liquor and apologizes for the night before. He compares it to “parking your car in the wrong garage” and explains that “When a man gets to a point in his life when his name’s on the building, he can get an unnatural sense of entitlement.” He likes to mention that his name is on the building a lot. Draper plays it cool, but he’s still verbally holding it against Betty. Later, we see Draper speaking with the elevator operator and handing him some cash.

Betty "Introspective" Draper.

Speaking of Betty, we see her grocery shopping the next day. She spots Helen Bishop (the divorcee from down the street with the serial killer-in-training son) and says hello. Helen tells Betty that she found the lock of blond hair in her son’s room and admonishes Betty saying, “He’s only nine!” Betty slaps Helen and runs out of the super market. I think we’re starting to see Betty come undone, which sounds bad – but I think Betty is going to start showing that she’s a lot smarter and more multi-faceted than everyone thinks.

A few episodes ago it was mentioned that Richard Nixon, a likely presidential candidate, might be using Sterling Cooper for his ads. Sterling wants Draper on the account so before a meeting with Nixon’s people, the guys go out to lunch. They eat a few too many oysters and drink multiple martinis, completely forgetting to discuss Nixon’s ad campaign. When they return stuffed and drunk, the elevators are out of service. With Nixon’s people waiting, Sterling huffs and puffs up the 23 flights of stairs while Draper barely breaks a sweat. Draper introduces himself to Nixon’s people and Sterling makes an attempt, but instead vomits martinis and oysters all over the rug in the lobby of the office. They give Sterling a moment to collect himself while Draper follows the men in to the meeting with a trace of a smile on his face.

The real women of Mad Men.

After writing in another post that I felt a certain scene must have been written by a woman, I decided to do some research on the writers of the show. As it turns out, seven of the nine writers on the show are women (pictured above). Unsurprisingly, the articles on the female majority confirms many things I would already assume. Of course, the writers have a larger pool of experiences to draw from since they’ve probably encountered many of the same problems that Joan Holloway and Peggy Olson would face in their work places.

I hate to admit that knowing so many of the writers are women makes me like the show more, but it is true. For that reason, I’m glad I didn’t know anything about the writers when I started watching the show. However I wonder if that has anything to do with the men of the show being less like-able. I’m definitely not one to believe that women can’t write for male characters, or vice-versa, but personally I have a harder time feeling sympathy for the male characters. Then again, this difficulty could also be a product of the fact that I’m female and usually tend to feel more kinship with female characters. Either way, it’s interesting to know exactly who it is behind the words of Mad Men.

Rated 5/5.

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MAD MEN: Season 1 Episode 1 – “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”

Posted in Mad Men by LaurenStheTA on February 25, 2010

Viewed at home on my couch, evening time during a slushy snow storm, with a friend.

I viciously went after Mad Men, Season 1 because I figured it was about time I gimped my way onto the Mad Men wagon – two years after the show officially premiered. So one email on February 11th at 12:01 PM on-the-dot-later, I’ve got Season 1 in my hands and I’m mindfully expecting visions of guilt free cigarette smoking, leisurely two martini lunches, and killer vintage fashion. Most of my expectations were gathered from this trailer I watched a few days ago:

After the show.

So I was wrong about the guilt free smoking. This episode had one of the central characters, the dashing Don Draper (creative director of the agency), pondering a new way to sell cigarettes now that the public knows the truth about the link between cigarettes and cancer. Upside? This doesn’t keep anyone from getting their nicotine fix.

As far as the entire show goes, I liked it – but it didn’t hook me. If I saw this premiere on TV, I wouldn’t mind catching the next episode, but I wouldn’t go through a whole lot of trouble to make sure I saw it. Much like Don Draper’s attitude towards his extracurricular women, I’d probably keep it casual.

In this episode we meet most of the main characters – like Margaret “Peggy” Olson. She new, she’s green, and it looks like she’s going to be testing the waters of being a woman in a male dominated work environment. No doubt these waters are murky, but she has Joan Holloway to guide the way. Holloway is more experienced in just about every sense of the word and kills a 1960’s wiggle dress so hard it should be illegal. She tells Olson everything a woman needs to know to be successful at the agency – this advice includes wearing shorter, tighter skirts, investing in some aspirin and needle and thread for her boss, and the right sexist gynecologist to go to for birth control pills. Olson will be an interesting character to watch evolve and Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway) is proving to be a scene stealer.

One of the major redeeming factors of this show is how true they’re staying to the time period. Oddly enough, this might also be what makes me a little subconsciously uncomfortable with Mad Men: there doesn’t seem to much glossing over the negative stuff. The writers seem to revel in being able to show the dirty side of a decade that is fraught with issues that were born and raised in the Valium addled suburban neurosis of the 1950’s. And for that, I’m definitely willing to give it some street cred.

Rated 3/5.