Mad Men Midweek Fix: Tea Leaves

Mad Men Midweek Fix

Alright, folks — a few of us put our thoughts down from this past week’s episode, and want to hear what others think too! Share in comments.

WARNING: Lots of spoilers follow.

Betty’s weight gain/cancer scare

Sady basically explained everything I felt about Betty in this episode. I was pretty put off by the way the weight gain thing was done. Like Sady, I’m not opposed to Betty continuing to be this really unsympathetic character and I’m not opposed to her “losing her looks” as a way to drive home how lost she is once she’s no longer considered desirable by a culture that has long valued her for that–and that alone. I mean, the final song–”Your life, little girl, is an empty page that men will want to write on”–would seem to be making that point not-at-all-subtly. But I just thought it wasn’t well done. The cut to Megan, the final ice cream scene. It all seemed too spiteful, too much like an empty punchline. It’s a tricky balancing act to make Betty awful in a complex, real way and not, as Sady says, “a woman-shaped narrative punching bag.” And while her weight gain–not to mention potential illness–had the potential to humanize her a bit (because who can’t relate to that in some way?) ultimately I think people find her so unsympathetic already, I think it just turned into a big fat joke.

Except when she called Don and asked him to “say what you always say.” That was heartbreaking.

At Bitch, they suggested that perhaps Betty was lying about learning that the tumor is benign when she got off the phone. Thoughts? That seems unlikely to me. I think she’s just had a pang of sadness to realize that now she’s just gotta keep living this life–a life that she thought she wanted but now feels is kinda over, completed, on the decline. It’s like Buffy said, “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” Of course, Buffy had to battle vampires and Betty has to battle middle-class, white housewife malaise. So…same, same, but different. -Maya

I don’t think Betty was lying about the tumor being benign – that would be kinda out of line with her character. I agree with you Maya, I think she’s just kind of sad she has to keep living this life she’s obviously not happy in. When she thought she might die, the dream she had of her mourning family at the kitchen table seemed more like a fantasy than a nightmare – a world where her family was completely lost without her, where she’s martyred. But now that she’s not dying, she’s just back to being a depressed, unappreciated housewife again.

I also agree that the way they portrayed Betty’s weight gain was pretty wack. Ice cream? Really, dudes? I’m curious to see how this will play out. -Vanessa

You ladies said it all. My fear is that this is basically going to be a series of fat jokes–which is sad for a show that is so particular about details and getting it right. I do not think this plot line will be carried out responsibly. I did however like the ice cream scene because she actually looks happy for a second, like fuck you, I don’t have to be a pretty young “girl.” But one never knows, weight gain is always translated as tragedy in some way and since she is already such a tragic character this is probably just another sign of her unhappiness. Surprise me Mad Men–make her getting fat not be a sad tragedy. -Samhita

Peggy’s interview with new guy Michael

Either Peggy’s gonna bone that dude or he’s gonna steal her job. Or probably (hopefully) both. -Maya

Yeah, I love the character and the actor Ben Feldman (he’s on my favorite big girl show–Drop Dead Diva) and I love the tension between the two of them and the pseudo eye-fucking him and Don gave each other. And, all of us can relate to being the person who calls the shots only to have some dude ignore your authority. Him and Peggy might bone (but I love Peggy’s boyfriend, meowwww), but I kinda hope he’s gay too. I miss Sal! -Samhita

I’ve had a similar experience with a guy that I interviewed for a job once. Funny how things haven’t changed all that much when it comes to women in positions of power. But yep, I do predict something perhaps happening between the two of them — quite possibly a lust/hate relationship.

And have I ever mentioned that I went to high school with Peggy’s boyfriend? And he totally dated my best friend at the time? Be jealous!  -Vanessa

Introduction of a Jewish character!

Speaking of Jewish characters, I miss Rachel Menken. I wish Don had married her instead. -Maya

Seriously! -Samhita

Power struggle between Pete and Roger

“When does everything get back to normal?” LOL. Poor Roger. He’s so lost. I feel protective of him. Like he’s a slightly embarrassing Dad who needs to be reminded how to send text messages. Or, you know, how to not say sexist and racist stuff constantly. -Maya

I can’t help feeling bad for Roger too, but also anticipate that he sadly may be the first casualty this season. The power struggle between him and Pete – and Roger’s age and general decline in the company on a general level – is just too representative of changing times, and the audience already know where the direction of the country is heading. -Vanessa

While Roger is clearly on the demise, I think Pete is being too smug and Mohawk is not going to save his ass and the company the way he thinks it will. Roger is rich, so whatever happens doesn’t really matter, but Pete has a lot riding on this so he has more to lose even if he is slapping Roger around a bit these days. -Samhita

The Rolling Stones concert

I loved watching Don and that young fan interact. Even though that girl looked to be all of like 15, at the beginning of the series, Don would have probably flirted with her to some extent. But the generational gap is just gaping now. Don can hardly keep up with his 26-year-old wife. And he and this teenager just look at each other with mild bemusement and mutual recognition that they cannot understand each other at all. -Maya

I like when she says, “you are all just bitter because we are having fun and you didn’t get to,” and Don goes, “no, we are just worried about you.” That is an accurate description of the two generations clashing in this moment and very much the impetus for what will happen culturally for the next 10 years. Also, can we talk about how Harry Crane got more game than Don now with his cheeseburger eating self? Oh, how the mighty fall! -Samhita

 

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2 Comments

  1. Posted April 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    The writers had to deal with January Jones being pregnant. I supposed they could have showed more imagination. I do not want any fat jokes, but I suppose this is a fairly realistic scenario for the times — bored housewife taking solace in eating but wants diet pills. There’s potential. Just have to see how they handle it. I totally agree about asking Don to “say what you always say.” She and Don still have a connection that she will probably never have with Henry.

    Love how Dawn is handling things so far.

    Might take me a while to warm to Michael. I’m kinda with Peggy right now in not really trusting him.

    The Pete and Roger feud caught me a little off guard. Not that it’s happening, but that it’s now so intense and so obvious. I can’t feel too sorry for Roger. I like how the kinds of things he says kind of stick out now, in a bad way, even in that office. But Pete is heading for his own first heart attack if he doesn’t chill a bit.

    I loved how Don was doing market research on the girl backstage. He knows that he has to try to understand her and kids like her if their business is going to succeed. Oh, and I loved Megan’s line to him before he left the house: “You’re so square, you have corners!”

    I love being able to watch a new season, but so far, I’ve felt that the show hasn’t been quite as sharp as before. Some things about it feel awkward. Maybe it was the hiatus. Maybe it’s that we’re now in 1966. Regardless, I’ll be back for my fix next Sunday.

  2. Posted April 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m really loving the new season far – so great to have Mad Men back.

    I don’t like the Betty gaining weight storyline – I hope it doesn’t become a big focus and that they somehow resolve it quickly and move onto other plots.

    Is it just me or does anyone else think Don and Betty will eventually get back together? I’ve thought that for awhile now and the phone call they had seemed to further suggest it might happen. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on my part. Henri seems even more of a douche then Don IMO.

    I also fee bad for Roger but don’t think he’s done yet. He still has influence and power and you can tell he’s not going to lie down lightly. Not a wise play for Pete to upstage him like that. Doesn’t matter if it’s justified, you just don’t do that.

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