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Mad Men - "My Old Kentucky Home" OAD 8/30/09

Discussion in 'TV Show Talk' started by Stuart Sweet, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    Jun 18, 2006
    One of the amazing things about this show is how clear it makes it that the early 1960s, which were within many folks' lifetimes, was such a different time! Throughout this episode we were hit in the face with so many difficult reminders.

    Personally I thought Roger's blackface routine took the cake. If this weren't a period piece, and such a well written one, I don't think you could even air that.

    It's not just blacks who suffered in 1963, women took it on the chin too. Nowhere was this more obvious than with poor Joan. Not only does she have to face her former employee, now her former lover's wife, but she is treated like a child and forced to perform at a dinner party for her husband's coworkers.

    Perhaps the subtlest social commentary was totally silent. Did anyone notice a Pinsky, a Cohen, or a Markowitz at that country club? That's because there wasn't one. This show is pitch-perfect for the time, when anti-Semitism was both pervasive and invisible.

    We're starting to see some interesting things happen with the women of Mad Men. While the men go on about their merry ways, doing things as they always have, a perverse sort of independence is spreading among the women.

    First of all, I found it odd that Betty stood outside the powder room instead of going in. Still more odd that she let a strange man touch her. I think Don would have blown his stack, if he wasn't so busy hiding. For all his success, he's still more comfortable behind the bar, or parking cars.

    Peggy continues to become a less likable person as she strips away everything in her life that marks her as a servile woman. She now takes random lovers, and in this episode she starts smoking pot and while she seems to genuinely appreciate her secretary's concern, she dismisses it along with everything else the well-meaning woman represents. I imagine Peggy in 1988 as a salty 45-year-old who eats men for breakfast, and if you've ever met someone like that and wondered how they got that way... watch this show.

    The most interesting turn was Sally's (Don and Betty's daughter.) I think she'll be trouble by 1969 when she's about 15. She's showing so much deviousness already and you know where the sixties will take her. She's inadvertently learned that being devious will help you avoid punishment, and if she can quiet her own conscience she'll turn into a hellion.

    There is a ton more to talk about with this episode, especially in the area of race relations... so let's keep the discussion going.
     
  2. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    Rereading that review, I would just like to say how well-written this show is, that you think of these characters as real people, and you imagine their journeys through life, and the times you know they will live in. It's pretty amazing.
     
  3. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Northern...
    Great review. What an episode!

    The contrast between today having an African-American President and being slapped in the face with Roger's blackface routine forced me to remember many offensive things I experienced back then even though I was white and in California in 1963.

    The obliviousness of most at the Country Club combined with apparent displays of uncomfortableness of a few and Don's disgusted looks at Roger over that (plus the Jane thing) was a superb bit of directing.

    Race, ethnic, and gender discrimination are effectively combined in this show with an heightened awareness of class discrimination through Don. Don's memories of peeing in the trunks of high-society folks cars in his "other life" was recited in a setting that made it clear that he was simultaneously still uncomfortable but now critical and judgmental (even though his wife is among the oblivious). (Who was that guy he told that to?)

    The ultimate expression of the "I'm better than you are" attitude that has pervaded American social history was offered in the Jane-to-Joan "request" to have one of the girls flag down her driver seeming to remind Joan of her "place" in the pecking order, still way down social ladder though she married a doctor.

    The thing with Joan as a "junior" among the doctor's wives while her husband is still down on the doctor career scale also reminds us that we haven't escaped a subtle country club mindset that allows us to discriminate based on all kinds of social badges, most of which are awarded simply based on apparent wealth which has nothing to do with the value of a human being. This was reinforced with Roger's comment to Don about who get's invited.

    And then there's the Sally rebellion placed in the context of Grandpa Gene having her read out loud The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Say what? She's the age to be reading pre-adolescent oriented books. She deserves his entire clip of money for that. I know there's a few messages in there, but I haven't quite figured it out yet.

    Finally, knowing what for me the period from November 22, 1963 (Kennedy's assassination) to May 4, 1970 (the Kent State shootings) represents in the way of disillusionment about our society, I can't help but wonder what will happen to Don who is already cynical and disgusted.

    Yes, for me they are very real people only slightly in caricature.
     
  4. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    I read somewhere that all the characters' names were chosen for hidden meanings. For Don Draper, it's beginning to seem clear that he is the "don" (master) of draping conflicting meanings on his actions. He would appear to be expressing discomfort at the country club set for being so staid and placid, at the same time taking comfort in his own past.

    Phrelin, you make an excellent point as to Gene's choice of book. Clearly many people saw the 1960s as the decline and fall of the American Empire (although in retrospect that was years in the future) and Sally telling her grandfather about decline into debauchery and immorality... what a great bit of symbolism.
     
  5. ibglowin

    ibglowin Godfather/Supporter DBSTalk Gold Club

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    This season is not living up to our expectations.

    My wife and I are both looking at each other thinking "what was the point of that scene" over and over again.

    Its slow (so far) and very disjointed.

    Hopefully by the end of this season there will be some more light shed on the purpose of many of these seemingly pointless scenes.
     
  6. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    Mike, I remember feeling that way at the beginning of last season but it very quickly grew on me. I think part of it is that the pacing is so different from most stuff on TV, you have to slow your mind down and focus much more deeply on what's going on.
     

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