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Old April 7 2012, 07:04 PM   #1
the G-man
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Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Insofar as a forum search doesn't turn up a thread about this show, I'm starting one.

We're two eps into the season and, among other developments:
  • It's 1966.
  • Don is now 40, still looks more like Bruce Wayne than anyone in history, and is and married to an insanely hot French Canadian woman.
  • Pete Campbell is slowly but surely turning into the number two at the agency (second only to Don as a power player) and is still married to the also-insanely hot Trudy (played by "Community's" Allison Brie)
  • Betty (Don's ex wife) has gotten fat and (more importantly) morose, meaning that January Jones almost appears able to act.
  • Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Ltd played a joke on another ad agency related to the civil rights movement and it 'backfired,' forcing the office to----have to hire an African American. But at least she's only a secretary. (graemlins to note sarcasm, natch).
  • Roger is still pickled, still bigoted, still an asshole on every level and generally the funniest part of the show.

Anyone here watching what is generally considered the best show on American television?
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Old April 7 2012, 07:11 PM   #2
Dorian Thompson
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Zou bisou bisou.....zou bisou bisou.....


I watch. God, it's satisfying watching Pete become a total thorn in Roger's side. Roger's entertaining, but he's also a spoiled, self entitled dipshit. Pete having his secretary put a 6 am appointment in his schedule so that the snooping, usurping Roger could see it was priceless.

Don and Betty are going to both betray their spouses with each other, even though Henry and Megan have been good to them. Don and Betty are both pathological. Everyone realizes this, don't they?
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Old April 7 2012, 07:16 PM   #3
Lord Garth
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

I've been waiting for someone to start a thread like this! I didn't want to be the thread starter.

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Ltd played a joke on another ad agency related to the civil rights movement and it 'backfired,' forcing the office to----have to hire an African American. But at least she's only a secretary. (graemlins to note sarcasm, natch).
We all know what Roger thinks. Looking at it from Lane's point of view, the penny-pincher that he is, a secretary would cost less to pay.

Harry Crane is such a poser.

Pete's arrogance was a new high, even for him. Even though he's been bringing in all the new accounts, he didn't need publically humiliate Roger in front of the entire company. He should've just left it at the Coca-Cola prank. I was with Pete on that one.

I liked Don Draper's comment about how he had to look like The Man when he went to the Rolling Stones concert. That's what he's been doing since 1950. The poor hick who made himself look like The Man so he could sneak his way into a better life.

Last edited by Lord Garth; April 7 2012 at 10:04 PM.
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Old April 7 2012, 07:34 PM   #4
Dorian Thompson
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Pete's arrogance was a new high, even for him. Even though he's been bringing in all the new accounts, he didn't need publically humiliate Roger in front of the entire company. He should've just left it at the Coca-Cola prank. I was with Pete on that one.
I can't agree about your first point. If you think back over the life of the series, Roger's pulled some pretty obnoxious BS in his day. He did a fair share of making fun of Pete in the office in front of people during season one and berating him for being the "rich kid" when Roger himself got his job in the company because his daddy was one of the founders--not a great deal of self awareness on Roger's part. Between the blackface party, coming on to Betty and grabbing her in her own home when his "best friend" Don was in the next room, ("Come on, you know I give you hot pants") and--most egregiously--while they were still at the original ad agency, not telling anyone for over a month that he'd lost the Lucky Strike account, which could have caused the entire company to shut down.....Roger's done his share of bad stuff. He's funny as hell and he makes me laugh, but I can't feel sorry for him.

I suspect that a great deal of Pete's emnity for Roger hearkens back to how Roger would berate him in season one. Not saying that Pete's perfect in any way, but he does work a heck of a lot harder than Roger. Of course, Pete's morphing into Don a bit. The dissatisfaction with life in the suburbs, a wife he cares about but really doesn't love with his whole heart, a huge mortgage he doesn't want....was it just me or did it strike anyone else that Pete's rifle made a reappearance in that episode? Depression, anyone?

And Betty.....oh my, Betty Betty Betty. I try to be on your side because Don treated you like shit for so long, but Henry's soooo good to you. Why can't you appreciate him? Why are you so hung up on Don? And Don with the young, smart, gorgeous wife who adores him--you know he's going to screw up and cheat on her. Don's always had women issues and he always will.
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Old April 7 2012, 08:21 PM   #5
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Dorian Thompson wrote: View Post
was it just me or did it strike anyone else that Pete's rifle made a reappearance in that episode? Depression, anyone?
Probably, but I think Trudy just doesn't want him to have the rifle in the house.

And Betty.....oh my, Betty Betty Betty. I try to be on your side because Don treated you like shit for so long, but Henry's soooo good to you. Why can't you appreciate him?
She has a real self-image problem.* She almost seems like she'd have rather have had the cancer to explain why she's gained weight; rather than deal with the depression she has.

* Isn't being the wife of someone involved with politics more prestigious than an ad man? A lying, cheating ad man at that. It's funny that Henry, given his profession, is one of the characters with the most integrity.

Last edited by Lord Garth; April 7 2012 at 10:04 PM.
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Old April 7 2012, 08:26 PM   #6
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Pete has become like Don, and it seemed like Don could become just like Roger with his young wife. But Don seems to have a more mature relationship with Megan than I might have guessed. I was pretty surprised that he had apparently been open about his identity with her rather than just carrying on as Don Draper. He also seems to have an uninhibited and somewhat unusual sex life with her, which is also opening up in a way.

I thought Megan was kind of a nice, shy kid in the last season; the extroverted party performance surprised me a bit. It heightened their generational differences, for sure, but the way Don moved past it was really something. The guy seems to be growing. The fact that he's blind to the mess Megan is creating in the office is going to be trouble, though.

I'm not a Pete Campbell fan but it was hard not to root for him in his power struggle with Roger. Roger seems to have tired to make up for being seen as a second-generation knockoff of his dad by out-schmoozing, out-drinking and out-screwing everybody instead of really working hard. Pete the ass-kisser is coming around to really producing for his firm.

Roger is still fun to watch, though. His simple "Shut up" to Jane cracked me up.

Lane Pryce is apparently kind of a creep, but Jared Harris is tearing along so well in that role that it's great to watch him do anything.

Peggy and oddball Stan seem to be on their way to becoming the kind of new creative team that will move SCDP into the future of advertising. I'd like to see more of their process and work.

The scenes with her mother really went a long way to making me sympathize with Joan. She's another who's grown a lot.

I still can't sympathize with Betty, though. Yes she's unhappy and fat and had a health scare, but, jeez, Henry is probably straight-up the most decent guy in the show, what does she want?



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Old April 7 2012, 08:30 PM   #7
Dorian Thompson
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Good point about Henry. I hadn't thought of that, but it's true. He does seem to have more integrity than our regular motley crew of ad men. Being his wife should have more stature than an ad exec's wife whose company makes commercials about dancing bean ballets.

It's not as if Betty was cast aside for a younger woman and has to live in some decrepit apartment. She's got a huge house with a successful husband who adores her, but she's unhappy. She misses Don. She's as emotionally stunted as Don.
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Old April 7 2012, 09:46 PM   #8
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

I'd actually say Betty is worse than Don. Don is a bad person on many levels who wishes he were better but Betty is just a horrible person who doesn't care about anyone but herself.

This is especially true when you consider how they treat the kids. Don is distant, like most fathers of that era, but he dotes on the kids when he's with them. Betty is openly cruel to them on a number of levels. It is also important to remember that, when the daughter went to the child psychologist, the doctor pretty quickly figured out that Betty was the really nutcase in the family.
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Old April 7 2012, 09:57 PM   #9
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

I've jumped back in (caught up on the last half of S4, too). The premiere confirms what I've suspected, that this show is much better sans Betty, her perpetual childishness long since having grown boring. I was disappointed that she is merely fat and not terminally ill with cancer, which could have been an entertaining plotline, watching her croak. Oh well, maybe the doctor got the diagnosis wrong.

I'd actually say Betty is worse than Don. Don is a bad person on many levels who wishes he were better but Betty is just a horrible person who doesn't care about anyone but herself.
Don occasionally shows glimmers of intelligent life, what with his anti-cigarette and pro-civil rights outbursts. Betty has the inner life of a mollusk. She's a boring, useless element in the show now and the only further purpose she could serve is to spiral into a long sickness, become a source of even greater chaos and angst for the other characters. Accellerating addiction of some sort could also achieve the same thing. Maybe she'll keep eating until she explodes.

And Betty.....oh my, Betty Betty Betty. I try to be on your side because Don treated you like shit for so long, but Henry's soooo good to you. Why can't you appreciate him? Why are you so hung up on Don? And Don with the young, smart, gorgeous wife who adores him--you know he's going to screw up and cheat on her. Don's always had women issues and he always will.
At this point, you need to acknowledge that Betty's problem has never been Don. She was a childish, mindless bitch before she met him and will always be that way. She needs to get hit by a truck.
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Old April 7 2012, 10:13 PM   #10
Dorian Thompson
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

I'll acknowledge that Betty has other problems, but to say that Don has never been her problem? Don's been plenty cruel to Betty during their marriage. Yes, he was a problem for her.
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Old April 7 2012, 10:41 PM   #11
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Ironically, we see some positive movement in Don this season. He told (fine ass) Megan his big secret and he actually seems like a loving Dad when he has his children with him. He still has a ways to go though. The way he treated Megan after Zou bisou was pretty bad. But their make up session was...rather hot.

Love this show, though I think Breaking Bad is the best drama on television. But no one does subtlety the way MM does, from the way we find out that Roger figured out Pete had pulled one on him, to the way we're being told that Pete is growing unhappy with suburban living with pretty much just the looks on his face.

BTW, hiring Dawn as a secretary makes perfect sense and is entirely realistic considering the time in which this show is set. The only thing that mildly surprised me was that she ended up Don's secretary instead of Pete's. Pete has seemed to me to be the most socially progressive of the office execs.

So, January Jones was wearing a fat suit?
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Old April 7 2012, 10:46 PM   #12
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

So, January Jones was wearing a fat suit?

Partially. "Tea Leaves" was recorded ahead of "A Little Kiss" and January Jones was eight months pregnant.

Going by the publicity photos for the season; I think she'll be back down to normal weight by the end. I wonder what she'll do to change her routine to lose the weight.

BTW, hiring Dawn as a secretary makes perfect sense and is entirely realistic considering the time in which this show is set. The only thing that mildly surprised me was that she ended up Don's secretary instead of Pete's. Pete has seemed to me to be the most socially progressive of the office execs.

I bet Joan wanted to give Don another secretary he wouldn't hit on. It was either that or keep Caroline as Don's secretary and assign Dawn to Roger. Actually... maybe that's what should've happened.
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Old April 7 2012, 11:25 PM   #13
Dorian Thompson
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Now that shocked me that Don told Megan who he really was. That's a risk that nearly drove him across the country at a moment's notice. He was going to abandon Betty and the kids at the end of season one when he thought he'd be publicly exposed by Pete. Remember how pissed off Rachel got when she realized he really wasn't asking her to run away with him, only that he was running away to escape detention and asked her to go with him? She called him a coward for it and didn't want a man who'd just disappear from his children's lives, child support checks or not. I thought that was a powerful scene, and Rachel was dead on right.

Now he tells Megan, presumably before marriage. That is positive growth. However, I'm still convinced their age difference will prove a problem and that Don just can't settle down and be happy with one woman. He'll find something to pick apart in Megan, like his insulting her friends last episode or his curmudgeonly behavior after she sang her Zou bisou song for him. His mommy being a prostitute and stepmother being such a cruel harridan messed him up too much about women. He'll find some way to screw it up. My mother and I watch the show and talk about it on the phone afterwards. We're both convinced that Don and Betty will have a one night stand, but my sister says no. Betty will drive Henry away no doubt, and he really does love her. It's a shame. She won't let herself be happy either. Don should have married Faye. She stimulated him intellectually, but he wanted the kind "mother image" that was Megan since she was nice to his kids.
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Old April 8 2012, 01:15 AM   #14
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Dorian Thompson wrote: View Post
I'll acknowledge that Betty has other problems, but to say that Don has never been her problem? Don's been plenty cruel to Betty during their marriage. Yes, he was a problem for her.
I'm not defending Don's treatment of his wife on any level. But it's been clear for some time, and gets clearer as we see how Betty treats Henry, that her issues are largely independent of-and appear to predate her marriage to-Don.
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Old April 8 2012, 01:53 AM   #15
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Re: Mad Men, Season 5. General Discussion Thread (spoilers welcome)

Oh, I by all means agree that she has deep seated issues predating Don. I was just saying that he really, really, REALLY didn't help matters. For someone with Betty's issues, Don was the least compatible type husband for her. Not at all what she needed. Betty's own mother has been related to have been so incredibly cold to her that it's almost like she has an attachment disorder--like she never really learned how to show selfless affection because it was never shown to her. Her own father admitted that he should have intervened in the situation but he didn't do it. It's the archtype of the cold, distant New England upper crust taken to extremes.

I remember when Eugene came to live with Don and Betty and he related the story of how Betty's mom made her get out of the car and walk home one night to punish her for what she perceived as over eating. "Don't get stout," was her mom's favorite phrase. Just do what a young woman in your situation is supposed to do--be beautiful, be thin, be a good hostess. Betty did all that and Don still didn't love her. She's completely psychologically ill equipped to adapt and, unfortunately, Betty grew up in a time when women didn't have the same options to say it was okay not to want the traditional husband, kids, housewife in the suburbs life. It's as if she's trapped in childhood mentally. She's getting older and not as able to attract men. What's her worth if she can't do that?

Don, at least, has the luxury of defining himself by what he "does" as opposed to what he "is" and how others perceive his looks, his temperament, his decorum. His self worth isn't dependent on being chosen to be a "proper" husband and good host, or on being a "proper" wife. Those social mores were very limiting for women in a way that they weren't for men. Betty did what she thought she could do--get a better husband but a better husband hasn't "fixed" her so she overeats. She does things that make me mad, but I pity the character. I think her and Don's pathologies are intertwined still, though. I wonder if mom and I will win our bet.

Oh, these characters on Mad Men. They are so rich and ripe for discussion. It's why I love the show.
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