February 27th, 2010
|09:19 pm - Mad Men Blogging|
Season 3, Episode 6: Guy Walks into an Ad Agency. This is the best episode of season 3 so far.
It had one flaw: I don't think the British characters are quite realistically British. I said last week that I thought Mad Men would be about the impossibility of balancing success and morality, and the British are much more focussed than the Americans on being utterly ruthless, efficient and capitalist. I'm not sure that supernatural efficiency was a defining feature of British business in the early 1960s. Was post-war welfare Britain really a time when men with physical injuries were despised? Nu-huh. Well, the Brits are obviously there to represent an idea, which I guess is fair enough.
Why am I talking about that? I guess because it is some firm ground, and in the rest of the episode I am not entirely on firm ground. Person after person is obliterated in this episode: dismissed, wiped out or negated. Some of them will come back from this abyss, and others definitely won't. Don's daughter thinks the new baby is a dead man come back.
There is a great scene where Don and Joan - the alpha male and female - sit next to each other in hospital (where another character is being obliterated). Two magnificent animals - they should be King and Queen of the Universe, yet Joan has nothing at all to look forward to. She just saved a man's life, she made Don laugh from his darkness, and now she is going home to make dinner for a snivelling rapist. This is what sexism means.
The Americans aren't very good at writing British (no doubt it's mutual). There's one character I've liked recently - a doctor played by Eve Best in Nurse Jackie
- who I think works because they're not trying to make her a British character, just someone who happens to be British.
I thought that scene between Joan and Don was a high point, too - one of those where so much isn't being said. I don't think they've ever slept together, and I hope they never will - outside the petty society they live in, they're equals, and perhaps the way they both use sex means they couldn't have a sexual relationship with an equal. (I think Don's most successful relationship with a woman is with Mrs Draper, and that had nothing to do with sex either.)
(Hang on a minute, I have an Eve Best icon
! From when I saw her play Hedda Gabler
It's easier for me to quibble about the odd bum note than to describe the symphony. So - I think they were also wrong to imagine that Brits harbour some grudge about 4th July. Heaven knows there is plenty of irrational bitterness in British life but I don't think there is a trace of resentment about US independence.
I hope they don't sleep together too. Though (I am reading some US reviews as my viewing catches up with them) there were plenty hoping for it after this episode.
Oh, I expect the British completely forgot about the holiday. The Americans just assumed everyone would remember what the Fourth of July was.
It's curious the way some scenes have the opposite effects on different viewers, shipping-wise. One of my favourite scenes of the whole series to date was Peggy telling Pete it was all over, even though I rather liked the pairing; I thought it was sad, and beautiful, and entirely right for her to move on, whereas other people said "Oh, I do hope they still end up together!" I could see them becoming close professionally, and working as allies, but that chapter was closed. Perhaps it could open again, years later, in a more equal society... He's not let go of it yet, has he? His annoyance when he found Duck had invited Peggy along with him, the way he was there to catch her when she fainted. But it strikes me now that this series gives sex a very bad image; it's one of the ways in which inequality is enforced, and the most successful cross-gender relationships are the ones which avoid it.
Catching her was nice. Though he is such a dreadful person. Don is as far as I can tell quite pleasant to the women he has sex with, but when he respects someone (Peggy, Joan, his wife) sex is more or less ruled out. And that's so well conveyed I think, by Hamm's acting. 'I am not thinking about you that way'.
He's dreadful, but interesting. His colleagues go on about him being to the manor born, but I don't think they realise that his choice of career was seen as an act of rebellion by his family; his father couldn't understand why he bothered with advertising when he could run a proper company. And then there's the not-particularly-racist thing you've mentioned. It's not that he cares about black people, but why wouldn't you want to sell things to them? Racism isn't practical.
Don does sleep with his wife, ergo he does not respect her. He tends to treat her as a child.
|Date:||February 28th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)|| |
Oh a very good sequence of thoughts there! I did like Hollis' muted reactions in the elevator scene - they spoke volumes.
The Americans aren't very good at writing British
Well hell they suck at writing Canadians and we're pressed right up against 'em.
(not that I've ever watched more than thirty seconds of Mad Men, they might have awesome Canadians all over)
I expect they're rotten at Mexicans, too.
I liked the British. My grandfather was in advertising around that time, and he was very much of the school that the English are shown as being in Mad Men - including being sent down from Cambridge for chasing a professor around a courtyard when drunk.
He sounds much more likeable and relaxed than the Brits in Mad Men.