Live-Blogging Mad Men: Here Is New York?

Earlier today on another blog far, far away Blue Girl suggested that the last episode of Man Men (the best in my opinion) reminded her of far away New York and made her wish she was here. I didn’t see it – even the famed “New Amsterdam” episode (the only other one I actively enjoyed, outside of this blogging crowd) didn’t quite get there in terms of its Gothamicity. The whole thing seems confined to studio sets, and a bit too clean for an active represenation.

Then too, the accents don’t work because they’re basically not there. Not is the stance, the attitude, the posture. Any episode of, say, Sesame Street seems much more New Yawkish than Mad Men. Bugs Bunny too. And then there are all the TV shows gone before that were set in New York and its environs: The Odd Couple, the Dick Van Dyke Show, All in the Family (and Maude and The Jeffersons), Car 54, Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, I Love Lucy and the Honeymooners. Some filmed in studios here, most filmed in studios there – meaning California. And yet evocative.

Mad Men is too laconic for New York, too Steve McQueen and not enough Archie Bunker – who, after all, sat first in his chair in Queens just a decade later. Ironic, of course, that the rabid anti-Semitism portrayed in 1960 New York shuts its place-in-time cultural consciousness off from the dominant Jewish-inflected humor of the city. It’s a loss.

Does Mad Men get New York? What do you think? And how does New York influence the pace and development of the show – if at all? Back shortly. Oh and by the by, we’ve received a nod of official recognition from the people at AMC.

General Petraeus tells me it’s time to blog Mad Men…so here we go.

Donald Draper, such a star. But we haven’t seen the work, have we? Major leagues – seems a stretch for the unhappy Drapester.

Note: if we’re not at Sterling Cooper, this show drags and drags and ok we’re there.

They’re trying with the New York thing – “Fiorello!” and the Algonquin.

Job recruitment, former models, salary discussions. The stuff of drama.

Best performance in the series to date: Jackie Kennedy’s campaign pitch in Spanish. No contest.

Anti-smoking ads running on Mad Men breaks – well, that pretty much says it.

And we end the evening in David Lynchland – where’d he come from? Sorry folks – a very slow episode.

Author: Tom Watson

63 thoughts on “Live-Blogging Mad Men: Here Is New York?

  1. Does Mad Men get New York?

    Lord, no. The show is a production designer’s dream of certain images of New York, swiped from any number of sources–The Apartment, the early scenes of North by Northwest, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and (for the beatnik sequences) those Lower East Side tenements you’d see in select episodes of The Twilight Zone.

    In fact, as I thought about this question, I suddenly realized that the Manhattan of Mad Men was only matched in fakeness by one other version I know–the completely false New York of Kubrick’s final catastrophe Eyes Wide Shut. Kubrick, however, at least had the excuse that he had spent the last twenty years of his life in England.

  2. Don’t give my opinion too much weight. An apple sitting on my kitchen counter can get me missing NYC. So, when the one character was talking about riding the train into the city everyday, I got a little melancholy.

    The accents on the show drive me nuts. Don Draper doesn’t do it, but most of the others do. They’re talking like teenagers who are trying to be sophisticated. It’s like a bad, fake Engish accent or something.

    Back to MSNBC’s post-speech analysis till 10. Did you know we are only one of 37 countries fighting in Iraq?

  3. Yeah Jim, they’re borrowing from those old design settings. But hell, in NxNW, Hitchcock shot in New York – outside the UN (which he had to sneak in, lacking permission), inside the Plaza, inside Grand Central and even the background shots on the train up the Hudson were accurate.

    But I do think it’s the accents and the emphasis. It’s off kilter. Which is strange, because the Sopranos has such a strong regional sense. I mean, why not Johnny Sack as an older ad man?

  4. Betty is not Betty Friedan material.
    She wants bright lights not a career
    Jackie went to Vassar, not a finishing school but academically rigorous by that time.

  5. Gosh, if Peggy had only had a spare bottle of that cola around the apartment that night with Pete, maybe she wouldn’t be splittin’ her seams…

  6. Peggy looks bigger in every scene–rapidly advancing pregnancy. Hey, that’s what happened to Darla when she was pregnant with Pete, I mean Connor. (Angel fans, where are you>)

  7. Was it supposed to be funny or something that when the guys were knock down drag out fighting, the two shmoes didn’t even care at all and then just walked out?

    What was that?

  8. So there’s no *deep* meaning?

    How did they possibly shoot that scene and think that’s the way the should’ve shot it?

    Well, that goes for much of the show too.

  9. Actually, I thought Draper and Sterling ignoring the fight and going off to the station was a clever, funny touch.

  10. Blue girl-anger management was not invented yet. For white men with anger issues allowances were made. But this was just absurd.

  11. The closed captioning is so freaky that the first character of each line is dropped.

    And, “Theorello”? If it’s mentioning Tammany Hall, it’s “Fiorello”, people.

  12. In light of last week’s show, this one was such a disappointing clunker.

    It hit all the usual “Mad Men” notes and ended right where it began.

  13. “One day I’ve got to take a picture of her crying.” Every left turn, this sadism/sociopathy peeking out.

    “I didn’t think you had it in you, and I mean that.” What they did was block Kennedy from buying TV time in the crucial state of Illinois.

    And am I wrong, or did Don and Betty have a couple of civilized, sexually-compatible days, due to Betty actually waking up out of her suburban stupor? The psychiatrist only perks up when she perks up, and it’s implied that her outburst is the first one she’s had in his office.

    As for the end, I expected her to drop a plate or a cup, due to shakiness, not accurately sight and fire a pellet gun at the neighbor’s pigeons (an act I consider proportionate to his death threat, toward the family dog).

  14. And, as for Peggy? YAY.
    She sees clearly what she wants, while the supposedly clueful Joan, isn’t.

    “I just realized something… you think you’re being helpful.” About time, missy.

    (Oh, yeah, you’re getting that I’m watching the second showing?)

  15. Tristan–yes, Peggy got birth control in the first episode, and then had sex THAT NIGHT. It takes at least one cycle for the Pill to become effective. So, odds are she got knocked up by Pete.

    I didn’t think Peggy was really shooting pigeons–that was part of her reverie, yes? The shrink oughtta love that one.

    I’m still confused as to how Pete actually turns out to be the smart one in the office. Cause, you know…not bright. I didn’t get the ad buy strategy when he said it–and, frankly, I didn’t find the Mamie’s funeral story half as funny as his buddy did, but then I was never in a frat–but when Roger and Bertram came in it all became clear. And you know what? It WAS a good strategy.

    Given Don’s own dimness about it, I have yet to understand why McCann-Erickson (or anyone else) wuold court him so aggressively.

    I still feel like this show isn’t really taking us anywhere, though–that it’s a lot of stylistic flourishes and grandstanding, without any there there.

    But I did like Don and Roger walking off while the boys were tussling.

    cgeye–I also use the CC option, and was confounded by “Theorello” until they mentioned both the exclamation point and Tammany Hall. You might also have caught the captions referring to “BBDO and YNR” instead of BBDO and Y&R.

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