Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday Funday - Mad Men is Back

I distinctly remember having a very meaningful discussion with my friend about two years ago regarding the genius of Mad Men and the the organic tension presented in every scene:

Me: "nothing is happening up here" *flails arms above head* "everything is happening down here"  *gently motions just above table*
Him: "okay... another mojito?"

Zou Bisou Bisou roughly translates to "what the WHAT?!"
And with the return of Mad Men last night, I stand by these statements, but times, they are a'changin'. Early on in the Season 5 opener A Little Kiss, there are lingering scenes where you are just waiting, WAITING for something to happen. And then, true to form, BLAM... nothing happens.  There's a bunch, but two jump out in my memory last night: Don shaving (with the brush his kids gave him for his birthday) and pausing to look in the mirror; and the scene where Megan goes out to the balcony with her drink after getting an earful from Don about the party and how he's embarrassed. Don's scene is not really new to us... how many times have we seen that expressionless face in a mirror? But Megan is new to us, an unknown character who throws surprise parties! sings in French! makes very public displays of affection! What the hell is this?! People don't do this on Mad Men! When Megan goes out to that balcony, we are very unsure about what's about to happen... will she start smashing glasses on the floor? will she start drinking everything in sight? will she jump? Nothing happens up there (*motions up*). But everything has already happened *down here* at table level. At table level, Megan has already shaken things up: besides her performance and the party itself, much was already made of Megan's "last minute" invites to the party and her hip, young, and at least one black, possibly gay? friends. Stuff is breaking through! The next day, Megan actually confronts Peggy about something she said about working the weekend and plainly states "What's wrong with you people?"clearly establishing her as not only the outsider, but representing the cultural changes happening in these mid-to-later years of the 60's (in this episode, we're in summer of '66). We see Megan really struggling to understand this old-school way of thinking, of working, of being and is not shy about expressing-slash-confronting-slash-exposing these dusty old conformities. As for how the fight about the party with Don and Megan is resolved, Megan starts to clean their post-party apartment in her undies while telling Don that if he doesn't want people to know he's "getting this" then he doesn't get to "get this."  Bwahahahahaha.... nice try, honey. Have you met Don Draper? It goes without saying, they do it on the nasty, cheese-curl-ridden floor. 
A smile usually reserved for clients

So, as much as Don Draper stays the same with his sexy-time, things are definitely changing for this man. First, Megan knows all about Dick Whitman. This in itself is a new way of living for Don. Now there's someone to bear his burden, or at least make his burden bearable. Don seems to be reveling in this newfound lightness. This is not lost on Peggy, as burdened as ever, when she says of Don's decidedly I-don't-have-your-back-Peggy moves in the board room with big client Heinz, "Clients are right all of the sudden? I don't recognize that man. He's kind and patient!" Indeed, Peggy. Indeed.

Boys Club is about to get shaken and stirred
Of course, Megan is not the only thing challenging the old ways. Interwoven throughout the episode is the backdrop of the civil rights movement. Could there be a more perfectly arranged visual representing this culture clash than the scene of the good ol' (white) boys of Sterling Cooper standing in the doorway while the waiting room is full of hopeful (black) candidates for possible job openings? A thousand words in this picture. 

- Poor Sally Draper seems to have grown into the responsible one (p.s. I always and forever will refer to Sally as "poor Sally Draper." Always.). However, with the changing times and her on the cusp of teenagedom, if anyone is going to "turn on, tune in, drop out" it will be this girl.
Titled: Ashes on baby's face. Oh, the sixties.
- Joan's baby! Adorable baby bums aside, Joan seems to be having a time of it. In another example of *up here* the baby is Joan's hubby's, we really know that *down here* this is Roger's baby and everyone is playing along. Well, Roger is playing along as best he can. Even he can't help shouting out "There's my baby!" when Joan arrives for a visit, then plays it as if he is talking to Joan. If Joan's heart dropped then, we didn't see it.
- Oh, Roger. Still trying to be relevant, he is worming his way into any business meetings he can crash. Of course, these are mostly Pete's since he is bringing in the most business (or so he reminds everyone at every chance). Thus setting us up for continued rivalry.  Lots of great Rogerisms last night, but Best Rogerism actually came from Jane (she's learning a lot from him):  Roger to Jane: "Why don't you sing like her (Megan)?" Jane: "Why don't you look like him (Don)?"
- Pete still being Pete. Besides the same ol' same ol' with Pete and his love of tantrums, and general ungratefulness of his life, how fantastic was the scene with Peggy with Joan's baby and Pete? Again, if any signs of history being acknowledged happened there, we didn't see it, even though Peggy's personal discomfort with the baby was palpable. 
- Love that Peggy is still with underground journalist Abe!  I hope this one lasts.
- This whole story line with Lane is so creepy: Lane finds wallet, distrusts cabbie to return completely, takes wallet to find owner, finds picture of girl in wallet and basically has the 60's Lane version of phone sex with said girl. I mean, I guess it fits in with his character where he is more than unhappy in his marriage and this life his abusive father is making him live. But really how desperate to proposition a stranger on the phone? I guess most telling of Lane's mindset is his meeting with Joan, where Joan is emotional and professes to feeling lonely not being at work. Lane replies essentially that you don't always find everything you need at home. You don't say, Lane.
- No Betty, but she sure was mentioned when Don says to his children at the drop-off outside of Betty's house "Say 'hi' to Lurch and Morticia for me."  Nice. Dad of the year.
- Megan sings sings Zou Bisou Bisou, not Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo. I'm here to educate. Also, I love that she calls Joan's baby "a little chou (cabbage)." Tres francais!

Hit the comments with your thoughts! Please keep all comments in French, or in song. Preferably both.

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