My thoughts on Season Five, Episode 2 of Mad Men.
“I didn’t pick this profession, it picked me.”
The dialogue in Mad Men is often brilliant, but this line in particular really hit home for me. It’s uttered by Michael Ginsberg, Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price’s soon to be hired copywriter, in defense of his bizarre attitude in the face of Peggy Olson, who is not amused. This sentence really rang true for me because I didn’t choose advertising either. I chose journalism. And at times I long for the parallel life I might have led if advertising hadn’t swept me away. But, alas, it did. And I’m grateful for it.
Michael Ginsberg introduces us to another area of blatant, pre-Civil Rights Movement discrimination, because as you might have guessed, Ginsberg is a Jew. And Roger Sterling wants him hired because “everybody has one. It makes the agency look more modern.”
He’s also hired because they need “someone with a penis.” To which Peggy quips, “I’ll work on that.”
God, I love Peggy. She’s not afraid to be direct. She gives it right to Ginsberg in the interview by saying, “I’m the person you need to impress right now.” I would have a hard time saying this to someone today, much less in the 60s. She is my heroine, through and through.
So…can we talk about Fat Betty?
OMG, Betty’s fat! Imagine the writers’ dilemma. What do we do with a fat actress whose entire existence relies on being perfectly primped and wardrobed in waist-hugging dresses?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know January Jones, the actress who plays her, is pregnant in real life…hence the weight gain. And that’s okay, getting fat when you’re pregnant and all. But it is apparently SO not okay to be overweight if you’re not.
However, the actor who plays Harry Crane has clearly lost 20 lbs. since last season, but did we need to work an entire story line around that, or even reference it at all? No, we didn’t. Okay, sorry. Feminist rant ends there.
Cut to Betty noshing on Bugles in her pink quilted robe—I swear my mother had this very same robe in the 70s—then visiting her doctor to secure a prescription for diet pills, only to find out she has a concerning lump in her neck.
The surprising thing is how concerned Don gets over this. Sure, his main worry is that his children could grow up without a mother, and maybe there is some selfishness in there with his fear of having to do more of the parenting, and call me a romantic, but the whole Betty reaching out to Don and Don being hyper concerned thing had me feeling like a kid who just wants her parents to get back together again. And like kids whose parents get divorced, I loathe these step parents. Raise your hand if Henry Francis really annoys you? What about Megan? Eat a sandwich already, right?
Betty’s lump comes up benign. But we don’t leave Episode 2 feeling like things will be okay with Betty. Her whole character is wrapped up in her chronic unhappiness. So things change. And things stay the same. But, as we see her finishing Sally’s dessert for her, we realize it’s nothing a hot fudge sundae or two can’t fix.
Until next time, when hopefully Joan will be back.