Tuesday, July 27, 2010
More Mad Men: I Didn't Like It (Don't Hurt Me!)
Am I the only person on earth who thought this episode bordered on disaster? I thought a lot of the acting looked like they were shooting a rehearsal. There are visual anachronisms all over the place, in dress, hairstyle (Peggy's hairdo is still a couple of years away from popularity, and her "boy toy" young Brad Pitt look-alike co-worker has a ridiculously modern haircut! ), set design and art direction. Roger really has a space-age office from the 70's? Yes, these things were entering the mainstream no too soon after the 1964 World's Fair, but I found it out of place and off-putting.
As for Don's "well appointed" new "digs" in the West Village? I know the writers and creator are going for heavy symbolism here, with Don's private life being squalid and dark, but I don't buy it. That neighborhood in the 60's was hedonistic and somewhat dangerous. He brings his kids there? His old beatnik girlfriend had a nicer place. Old, dark, beat up decor that smacks of "furnished apartment"? Don has more money than ever, has been used to a fabulous lifestyle for quite some time, and I would think that when he asked Joan to find him an apartment that she would not ever find him that dump, no matter how hard they want to drive home Don's private tortured symbolism. He polishes his own shoes? Please, he gets them polished at the train station or at work like everyone else in that time period.
The new offices? Everyone keeps going on and on about how "new, open, and fabulous" they are. Really? They look to me like they were conceived to symbolize a rat's maze--all narrow corridors and right angles and walls, walls, walls. Even if they are made of glass. You'll notice we were shown the low ceilings over and over to close us in. We were also shown on at least two occasions that those walls are paper-thin; everyone can hear everyone else. As for the lack of a conference table? Roger can have an office full of the most cutting-edge expensively made furniture on earth but they can't afford a conference table? It just doesn't wash. Many things about the office are too modern: the yin-yang Miramekko peacock textile print behind Peggy's desk, Don's blue Italian Murano glass mod ashtray, Roger's mushroom desk and arc lamps. My guess is that they feel these things will fit in fine by the end of the season (late 1965) and were too cheap and/or lazy so they just plunked them there now.
I also don't buy the fact that Henry would spend one night in Don and Betty's old house. Not one. He convinced her at her attorney consultation about the divorce that he would provide her with everything--he didn't want Don owing her a thing. And now he's freeloading in their old house? Trying to screw Don's wife in their old bedroom? Has Matt Weiner ever been in a relationship? He magically erased Henry of his pride and Betty of her territorial nature as a woman.
Sorry to keep complaining, but the whole ham actresses-fighting-in-a-supermarket scenario rings false as well...if you've ever met or worked with an actor in NYC. Those two women would never have gone to the police. They are actresses hired by a big ad agency in New York--they would never jeopardize the possibility of being hired again. Never. The "ham" was the best symbolism of the night. I think a lot of the activity on this episode rang false because they propelled the action by what they wanted to show us quickly in one hour.
After watching this episode a few times, it still smacks of wrong in a lot of ways to me...like somebody putting ketchup on a doughnut. Am I the only one who feels this way?