COOL: Mad Men Series 5, Episodes ! & 2 (spoiler)

Posted on March 25, 2012 by


Mad Men fans – this one’s for you.
Turns out, MM Series 5 is everything we hoped it would be, and therefore well worth the wait. What was it, nearly two years? Oy vey. Now – like us – you’re probably just bursting to discuss what’s happened so far! The story, characters, plot-lines, themes and socio-historical relevance of all the above in each episode, but don’t know where to do it. Look no further. 

As the series draws to a close (episode 8/13 just aired in the US) EIC is psyched to welcome Mad Men episode translator, ‘TA’  (short for TellyAnalyst) editor of TV blog, Conversations On The Couch  who in the next few weeks will chew the cud after each episode on our behalf so we can try and make better sense of it all. COOL. So here goes the first installment.
Remember – let us know what YOU think too.

Let the discussions begin! Mad Men S5 E1-2:

“A Little Kiss”

 As a subtle character drama, Mad Men really suffers, I think, from such a long hiatus. Truth be told, I barely remember these people, and what they’ve been up to. And, sadly, my mind wasn’t blown. But I’m willing to wait for the slow burn, for these characters to get under my skin again. In the meantime, let’s try to catch up with our (anti)heroes.

I wanted to subtitle this post “A Crisis of Masculinity,” and then I realized that perhaps the whole series could have that subtitle. I was most struck by what amounts to the generation gap between Don and Megan (+ her young, “queer” friends). We’ve seen over and again on this series that for Don, being a man was a well-defined role. A provider for his family, a dedicated professional, an honorable servant of his country (which Don was not; hence his deep shame), a confident leader. This episode, as a continuation of the whole of last season, finds all of these aspects of Don’s masculinity in flux, whether due to a midlife crisis, the changing times, or both.

Don’s role as Family Patriarch is diminished due to his divorce; he seems to have lost interest in his work entirely, and he is exposed? violated? emasculated? by his young, hip wife who leads him—into a trap party that he wasn’t too thrilled about.Now, I never fully understood the Freudian-Lacanian-Mulveyesque castration complex. Why are women so threatening? Does a vagina really make men think chomp?? No men that I know. But, dear readers, this episode explained it all to me.Megan’s coquettish sexuality — and the very fact that Don was not dominating her at every instant—most definitely implied his emasculation (he insisted on just “going to sleep” after the party), and led to quite a bit of mockery around the office. She had to be tamed AND punished by the end of the episode. Some of which she did to herself through the weird, kinky sex play she and Don (ha! nearly misspelled as Dom…) seem to have established (ooh, look at me being all angry and servile at the same time! you can never have this! I’m saying no!) and Don taking what’s his without even bothering to remove his boxers. I don’t know—sex scenes and Don Draper used to be, um, sexy…now they just kind of feel sad.

There was a lot more going on this episode. Peggy continues to be my favorite feminist ever, Pete continues to be perpetually dissatisfied (his conversations on MetroNorth  along with his jockeying for a bigger “office” continue the ‘crisis of masculinity’ theme in pretty obvious ways, eh?), Joan gets to deal with some gender crises as well as her mother tries to convince her what her proper role is as a wife and a mother, Lane gets to be pervier than ever, and “Zou Bisou Bisou” is still playing on an endless loop in my head.

One thing I love about Mad Men is that no matter how much we love the characters, they are all unswervingly portrayed as people of their time. It was an excellent touch, in an episode in which SCDP tries to prove how much less racist they are than Y&R, their rival ad firm, that nonetheless they are all clearly still racists when actually confronted with real life black people.

There’s probably a lot more to say, but I’ll let you all take the lead. Discuss away!

[PS: this post is open to the public. If you are hyper-sensitive about your privacy, just use first name only, or even initials, on your comments :) ]

Posted in: COOL