This was the second episode of TV talk dedicated to Mad Men. In the episode about Season 1, Mark, Jax, Jennifer and Razi spent a lot of time discussing Don Draper, in particular whether he’s a heroic character.
Mark described the theme of this episode as moving on, giving up the past and pushing forward. Razi said that’s the show — they show how things change as time progresses. Jax said the supporting characters have interesting arcs and growth this season.
Mark likes Don more as he gets to know him and sees that he can be benevolent; Don is a benefactor to Peggy Olson and he set straight his past. Jax talked about Don’s visit to LA with Pete Campbell when he ditched Pete for an adventure with a pretty girl in a convertible followed by a visit to the real Mrs Draper. He looks after her but there’s no romantic relationship between them and she’s the only person he’s himself with. Mark drew a comparison with the character Horatio from Hamlet because Horatio is the only person Hamlet bares his soul to, so he’s important in understanding Hamlet. In Mad Men, Mark said the original Mrs Draper plays that role for Don — showing us what he’s like without the mask: innocent, genuine, good human being with a sense of justice, a man of integrity warring with his conscience and trying to be the good guy. Jax and Mark both said visiting Anna helped Don remember meeting Betty and why he fell in love with her. Don wanted to be the person Anna Draper remembered.
Jimmy and Bobbi Barrett
Last week Razi defended some of Don’s affairs in Season 1, but he didn’t think that applied Bobbi Barrett. There was no love for Jimmy Barrett either. Jimmy told Don to go to a whore rather than another man’s wife and told Betty about Don’s affair because he wanted to ruin things for someone else. Mark pointed out that Jimmy is inappropriate in flirting with Don’s wife, adding that he represents the type of comedian who’s animated by a deep rage and cynical, and there’s something ugly underneath that. Jimmy hates everything, including himself, and it permeates every pore of his body. Telling Betty about the affair was a destructive act; there was no hint of virtue. Unsurprisingly, Mark enjoyed seeing Don punch Jimmy’s lights out.
According to Mark, this season was also about the rise of Joan and Peggy. He said Joan is significant woman; she’s sultry and beautiful and in total command of herself and whatever universe she’s working within. Joan has untapped intelligence and she’s stolen Mark’s heart. He thought her aloof — a beautiful, clever woman who could navigate the complexities of the office of the sixties — until Roger Sterling had his heart attack. Then you see she had deep feelings for him, and when Sterling destroys that, calling her the ‘best piece of ass I ever had,’ Joan takes it on the chin without showing the world how sad that made her. Joan wasn’t a courtesan; she had deep feelings and intelligence that was overlooked for her other qualities. Razi liked the way Joan called out Paul Kinsey for being pretentious. Jax talked about sexual harassment in the tech industry and there was some debate between the hosts about sexual harassment.
Jax talked about women not being comfortable with the way men treat them. For example, Peggy confronting Freddy about being included, and he dismisses Peggy and smacks her on the ass with the file folder — but we don’t see Peggy feeling sorry for herself over it.
Peggy tells Lois in a calm manner, “you don’t know. when she gives away Don’s location. Peggy was schooling her in how to be a good secretary. Lois gets upset about it and we learn that Joan has made a rule that there’s no crying in the break room.
Mark added that both women are exceptionally powerful and they’re not looking for the power structure to do anything for them; they’re breaking through themselves. Peggy does things that require the men to respect her.
Roger is divorcing his wife of twenty years to marry the young secretary, who is played by an actor Mark worked with on The Tomorrow People. Razi and Jennifer said we’ll see more about Jane in the coming seasons.
Mark talked about Betty’s double standard: she lowered herself by going with a stranger. If she’d gone with a guy she had a connection with, that would have been along the lines of a Don Draper dalliance. Mark had been pulling for her until now. He said she seeks validation in superficial areas. Jax and Jennifer disagree with Mark and Razi (who’s broadly in agreement with Mark) about Betty, particularly compared with Don’s infidelity.