Live-Blogging Mad Men: Some Things Don’t Change

by Tom Watson
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Castro 1960Last week, I just missed Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad up at Columbia, but I did dodge the motorcades and frozen zones around the United Nations, and undergo the requisite pat-down at the Clinton Global Initiative. What a wild week in New York, and it reminded by a little bit of 1960, the year of our blogging discontent.

A year after Cary Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill dodged assassins under the gaze of Hitchcock at the UN in the clearest stylistic model for Mad Men, Cuba’s Fidel Castro hit the streets of New York and the right-wingers in the press went wild. Castro spoke to the UN the last week of September, 1960 – by my estimation a month or so after the current episodes are taking place (I’m going by the comparison of the Nixon and Kennedy ads post-convention).

Castro went a bit north of Morningside Heights, staying in Harlem at the Theresa Hotel, where he held court for notables from Malcolm X to Langston Hughes. Ahmadinejad didn’t speak in Harlem, but he did mix things up at Columbia, bringing the tabloid fangs down on the University, much as they descended on the entire Harlem community in 1960.

I wonder if the writers will work in a Castro/New York reference in one of the final three episodes of this first run like they’ve felt compelled to cram in every 1960 pop signpost – “hey, how about that Psycho, huh?” Tonight, Sterling Cooper deals with the near-fatal heart attack of a partner and tries to hold on to its clients. The agency feels like it’s in a spiral right out of Vertigo, and man, that’s not a great vibe for the canyons of midtown, believe me. Back shortly – we commence at 10, and tonight I’ll keep my thoughts strictly in the comments section. Just easier that way.

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  • October 5, 2007

    Ha! I was wondering if it might do that…

  • October 5, 2007

    Nice intro Tom. I hate hangings. Poor bro.

  • October 5, 2007

    Site a little slow, eh? Well they’re moving the storyline very quickly this week – the vibrator stunt was, well, low and not humorous. I’m interested in what’s happening at the firm, how they survive the loss of a partner. The AC salesman, not so much…

  • October 5, 2007

    Wow. Sterling’s little speech to Red is odd and crass. Did anyone see her in Life last night? I love that she’s always a man-eater, like in Firefly.

  • October 5, 2007

    Wow now that’s heavy – making up the corpse for a presentation to the client. Nice touch. October, by the way.

  • October 5, 2007

    Yeah, that was some sweet talkin’ alright.

    Tom — yeah, the site is loading really slow.

  • steverino
    October 5, 2007

    All that talk about units…

    (sorry – on 10 min delay here)

  • October 5, 2007

    Enjoyed the cigarette boys and their meeting, even the bit of drama.

    Sorry about the server folks – appears to be a problem over at Yahoo with one of the big servers. Will try and fix it later, save your best lines or keep trying.

  • October 5, 2007

    Partner for Draper – $5 for Peggy.

  • October 5, 2007

    Some kid is going to write their American Studies thesis on the symbolism of the glass of water throughout this episode

  • October 5, 2007

    Of course the site popped right up the minute the show ended.

    I thought tonight’s episode wasn’t half bad.

  • cgeye
    October 5, 2007

    Is there any way the death of Don’s brother could be deemphasized more?

    Was there any reason why they couldn’t spend more time with him, other than showing how callous Don was, in the first place?

  • October 5, 2007

    So I’m guessing that Pete’s going to try and blackmail Draper into a promotion. I still don’t understand why Don’s childhood is something worthy of blackmail. Well, maybe turning the brother away who then commits suicide, but so what if his mother was a whore? He’s an ad man, not a society man.

  • October 5, 2007

    It’s not the the cover of Ad Age will be splashed wit the headline:

    Whore Child!
    New Partner at Midsize Firm Unmasked

  • Jim S.
    October 6, 2007

    I doubt that Pete the chinless wonder can take down Don. It can’t
    get any worse for Don than what he faced in Korea, Nietzsche-wise…

  • cgeye
    October 6, 2007

    I think MAD MEN’s doing something I haven’t seen before on TV: Showing the tactic of gaining weight, by a woman being sexually harassed.

    Think about it: We got so used to the idea of secretaries being hit on as part of their job description — and ignored the constantly sobbing woman in “Ladies’ Room” — that we kinda forgot that those women were being hit on, every single goddamn day.

    Peggy got her affair over with relatively quickly, and saw the downside immediately. Her danish and sammich eating was probably part of her coping-with-stress mechanism; she could do it in response to tons of work, as well as tons of (or no) Pete. In the meantime, she was learning how not to be part of the game — be too silent, too thoughtful, get into the sister category instead of whore, then keep the weight on, to cement her status change with the fellas.

    Note how she responded earnestly to the weight loss belt opportunity — any one of us could have been sarcastic or insulted, at any stage of her pitch, but she kept her head on a swivel, and made one more successful account grab while the men were too busy snickering. What broad among us could sell a vibrator with her boss, his gang of drunken cronies, and her repugnant ex, in the same room? Not many, I tell you what.

    Just because she went for the plain, and the chubby, we didn’t see it was as much of a plan as a model-svelte woman going plain with makeup and hair, and wearing glasses with no RX lenses. We dissed her, not seeing that she’d rather suffer dissing than the complete lack of respect connected with being anybody’s girl. If she can get out of Sterling Cooper with a career, and alive, yay, Peggy!

  • Manny Maher
    October 6, 2007

    Hey Tom,
    complete change of subject: the first two “Below the fold” links are messed up.