Saturday, May 3, 2014

GH's Throwback Thursday Mad Men Outtakes: "Field Trip"


This week, my recap on the Good Housekeeping website zeroed in on the child hunger issue in the 1960s and what GH was trying to do about it...



...and on what GH is trying to do about it today. A No Kid Hungry story appears in every issue of GH now, and it's a cause we really believe in.

In the May 2014 issue of GH, for example, we published a guide to hosting your own No Kid Hungry bake sale and an essay by novelist Melanie Thorne about her experiences trading gumdrops for sandwiches, so to speak, growing up.



I really couldn't help but think of this when I watched that field trip scene, despite the fact that we don't know for sure that Bobby Draper's little friend is having hunger issues. It just seemed awfully odd to me that she would have gone to school without a proper sandwich, even if she may attend a private school (who's to say her parents aren't sacrificing nutrition for education)?

As usual, GH has chosen the best of these finds for my weekly recap, and I'm here to give you the rest. Here's what else I found for episode 7.3, Mad Men: "Field Trip."

I'm guessing Betty Draper Francis is unconcerned about the little girl who doesn't have a sandwich because a) she's obviously more focused on herself, b) she's hungry, dammit—those cigarettes do not equal "lunch," c) she thinks she's unappreciated by her children after all she does for them, or d) she assumes the mother of this child has just started working, like her "friend" Francine does, so she's clearly too harried to remember packing lunches.

In April 1969, many Good Housekeeping readers would have concurred with theory d). Betty would have been one of about 44% of U.S. mothers who didn’t work outside of the home then, according to the U.S. Census. Here's a (somewhat?) facetious editorial written by one of them in that month's GH:



Is it a coincidence that there's a white bread ad dovetailing this column? Methinks not.



Working women and feminism and, you know, just feeling fulfilled for being a person, aside, let's talk about how non-old-fashioned Betty's hair is in this episode.

Here's the April 1969 cover of Good Housekeeping:


And here's Betty's very glamorous field-trip look:




If Betty Francis wasn't getting hair tips out of GH, I don't know where she was getting them from (and yes, I realize she is a fictional character). The March 1969 issue, a month before her lunch with Francine, had a guide to styling your hair with hot rollers, a relatively new concept (no more sleeping on Coke cans—hurray!), that looked like this:




And here's Betty in her half-up do for her ladies' lunch:


Coincidentally, we also ran a hairstyle story in the April 2014 GH, this time on the innovative things you can do with curling irons (all of which were tested in the GH Beauty Labs for effectiveness, with the winners highlighted):






As has been noted around the Web this week, Betty barely touches her salad at this lunch with Francine, so you can hardly blame Bobby for assuming his mother doesn't plan on eating on the field trip!


I'm wondering if there's a theme here with the Jenny Craig program that changed "fat Betty" into "hot mama Betty," and women's focus on thinness at that time in general. I mentioned in an earlier post the shift in this era from fashion shoots featuring models posing in the home to those that showed the "single girl," fun, youthful, jumping around, etc. As I've flipped through these old issues of GH, the mecca of housewife magazines at that time, I've been noticing a slight shift—i.e., lots more articles about diet and low-fat recipes for women. And lots more sandwich ads geared towards men.


What's the one thing we've noticed the gentlemen of this season eating more than anything else? Sandwiches.



Don in California with Pete. Don with Freddie and some Orange Crushes at the end of the first episode. The chicken salad sandwich Don eats while on pins and needles at the end of "Field Trip," waiting in the creatives' room to meet his fate. That scene juxtaposed with Bobby eating his gumdrops, thinking about the extra sandwich he's given away (I have to guess Matthew Weiner put these scenes side by side for a reason).

The BLT Roger is waiting for in the Algonquin when he gets Don Draper instead.

I think we're seeing a trend this season of working women and apparently also housewives who are doing all they can to look thin and young, including not eating much. And men who are eating a ton of sandwiches because fewer people are making home-cooked meals. Just a theory...we'll see if it keeps happening.





Back to the matchups.

There's a whole lot going on in fashion on "Field Trip." Let's start with Megan, the most fashion-forward of the bunch.

When Don surprises her in L.A., her wardrobe blends with her creepy apartment so well that her curtains might even be the same fabric as her blouse. But it's her crochet-knit vest and skirt that I'm more interested in.


In our everything-old-is-new-again category, check out the near-perfect match on Monica Potter in our June 2014 issue, on newsstands now:



It's been noted that Peggy wears the same outfit this episode that she wore when SCD&P combined with Ted's company last season. Somehow, it looks like a colder color than before, though. Don's been gone so long, that it seems many viewers have forgotten Peggy's reasons to say, "I can't say we miss you." Don't forget that it was his decision to send Ted off to L.A., which effectively ended her relationship with him.


But, in her way, Peggy is very much in style for April 1969. A close match to her coat and skirt appeared in the March GH:





Even the clothing on the extras on this episode were chosen with precision. When a strange woman comes on to Don (as several seem to be doing this season), she's wearing a look straight out of the February 1969 GH:






Why is Weiner having Don turn down these offers left and right this season, by the way? Is it meant to illustrate, as he said recently on NPR to Terry Gross, what a changed man Don has become?

And it's not like I'm ignoring Don's character arc here. As I mentioned in the first post, I just think the focus Weiner's bringing to the female characters this season is really interesting and gels nicely with what was happening in magazines like GH at that time.




One thing that really stood out to me (besides the sandwich ads and abundance of feminine deodorant sprays—that's a combo you'll never see again anywhere else!) in these spring GH issues was the number of stories that featured a large photo of a woman coddling a child. In the March issue in particular, for some reason, the number of these skyrocketed:




And even in the ads, like the ones for beauty products:






Let's hope those 1969 moms were happier and more fulfilled than this one:




Until next time, "Eat your candy."

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