Mad Men – 4.08: “The Summer Man”

“We’re flawed because we want so much more.  We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.” – Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

I once commented while watching the first season DVDs of Mad Men that I found it to be a very fascinating show, but not one that I could ever imagine myself tuning into on a weekly basis and getting excited to find out what happens.  6 months and 2 DVD sets later, I now find myself eagerly anticipating each new installment of the show.  I still stand by the critique that Mad Men started off very slowly.; it painted interestingly flawed characters, but nothing ever seemed to happen to them.  That problem doesn’t exist anymore, as the very nature of moving the characters away from their old employer to start a fledgling company pretty much requires the plot to move forward at a rapid pace.  Throw in the ever-changing dynamics between the characters (divorces, hook-ups, break-ups, etc.) and some really fun new characters, and the notion of Mad Men not being watched every week is now unthinkable to me.

Part of Mad Men’s appeal is observing the differences in culture between the 60s and today.  I’m not much of a historian, so some of the subtleties of this aspect of the show are lost on me, but the sexist attitude is an always-prevalent theme of the show, and it came out in full force in this episode, with Joey drawing a sexist cartoon of Joan.  In this day and age, that shit would get you fired, but of course, the men of the 60s wave it off as simply a joke and the women who get offended as not having a sense of humor.  I was excited to see another step in the character growth of Peggy Olson when she fired Joey, and then equally surprised and amused to watch Joan expertly shove it in her face.  In these two characters, we see ambition and drive in a hostile environment, but one is trying to rewrite the rules, while the other is trying to get as high up as she can while playing entirely within the established rules.  And Joan is so good at what she does that when she chastises Peggy for coming off as a humorless bitch, my first inclination is to believe her.  I mean, look at how cold and calculating she is when she says that!  She’s gotta be right, right?  Ultimately, I’m not sure who was right, and it’s moments like that where we’re forced to question what we hear (and maybe even take sides) that makes the show brilliant.

In other news, Betty is back, and that makes me sad.  Last we saw her, I actually didn’t mind her so much.  January Jones is a distractingly bad actress in the show most of the time (admittedly, she’s gotten better since the first season), but she can pull off being indignant really well (and she’s pretty good at playing emotionally upset too).  Too bad this week sees her trying to pull off a wider range, and outside of the previously mentioned two emotions, it’s not great.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this season has felt very brisk and well-paced and that Betty has a reduced role; her character, despite probably having the most to be upset about, was just so boring and her plotlines felt tedious.  Her character’s been through so much and been slighted countless times, and yet I still dislike her so much.  There’s so many more interesting characters in the show; hell, even her new husband would be more fun to follow around (which we just might get to do in the near future).

One last thing: God, there were so many good lines!  I’m trying to pick only one quote for each blog entry I do, but there were a lot of great ones and it was really difficult to pick.  I’m going to try not to do this too often in the future, but here are some other good ones that I struggled with passing over:

“They say as soon as you have to cut down on your drinking, you have a drinking problem” – Don

“People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be” – Don

“I can’t wait until next year when all of you are in Vietnam.  You will be pining for the day when someone was trying to make your life easier.  And when you’re over there, and you’re in the jungle, and they’re shooting at you, remember you’re not dying for me, because I never liked you” – Joan

“He’s a handsome, two-bit gangster like you” -Faye Miller



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: