Sunday, April 26, 2015

GH's Throwback Thursday, Mad Men Edition: "The Forecast"

1 comment:













"Ooh Child"
by the Five Stairsteps (July 1970)

Ooh-oo child,
Things are gonna get easier,
Ooh-oo child,
Things'll get brighter.
Ooh-oo child,
Things are gonna get easier,
Ooh-oo child,
Things'll get brighter.

Some day, yeah,
We'll get it together and we'll get it all done.
Some day,
When your head is much lighter.
Some day, yeah,
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun.
Some day,
When the world is much brighter.

Ooh-oo child,
Things are gonna get easier.
Ooh-oo child,
Things'll be brighter.
Ooh-oo child,
Things are gonna get easier.
Ooh-oo child,
Things'll be brighter.

Some day, yeah,
We'll get it together and we'll get it all done.
Some day,
When your head is much lighter.
Some day, yeah,
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun.
Some day,
When the world is much brighter.
Some day, yeah,
We'll get it together and we'll get it all done.
Some day,
When your head is much lighter.
Some day, yeah,
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun.
Some day,
When the world is much brighter.

Ooh-oo child,
Things are gonna get easier.
Ooh-oo child,
Things'll be brighter.
Ooh-oo child,
Things are gonna get easier.
Ooh-oo child,
Things'll be brighter.
Right now, right now.



Twice in Mad Men's Episode 7.10, "The Forecast," Don Draper tells someone to essentially grow up, to take responsibility for his or her failure to do something correctly.

And each time, the thing they've failed to do is sell something imaginary. Melanie the realtor and Mathis the copywriter each come to Don for guidance—for the former, it's on how to sell his empty, soulless apartment; for the latter, it's how to get back into a client's good graces.

These are relatively easy tasks for Don, because he's gifted at creating something out of nothing. He can "paint a picture," as Ted Chaough tells him (which is also what he tells Roger to get out of having to write Roger's "prognostication"—but more on that later).

Good Housekeeping, June 1970

And Don has a point, when you think about it—he is paying both of these people to do their jobs. He shouldn't have to hold their hands through it. His frustration with the constant interruptions at work and the amount of instruction his young copywriters (and sometimes Pete) need this episode is palpable.

But Mathis and Melanie have something Don seemingly doesn't, despite his accusing them otherwise: character.

Melanie's job is to sell a home, and though nobody ever fully trusts a realtor, doing what she does requires a certain level of transparency. When Don returns to his apartment and asks how her day of meeting potential buyers went, she says, "About how I expected. They loved the lobby, but the emptiness is a problem." Don tells her, "There are other ways to sell things." To which she responds, "I'm not a magician. I'm using everything I have, but this requires too much imagination."

Good Housekeeping, July 1970
Don's suggestion to make up a story falls on deaf ears. He tells her to give people "a little glamour, a little hope." Something that requires imagination is the best opportunity there is, he says.

She explains, "I have to sell it to people with their eyes open. And do you know what it looks like? It looks like a sad person lives here." She tells him the place reeks of failure.

Of course, all of these are words you could use to describe Don the man right now.

I've mentioned before how the women of this series would begin to switch places with the men, at least as far as adopting a certain persona in the world, as we entered the 1970s. In this episode, we see Don oversleeping and letting a relatively strange woman catch him in his boxers. He walks around the office carrying a bottle of beer (somehow leagues less classy than carrying a low-ball) and is told he needs to get his hair cut. He shaves while standing at his desk, right in front of his secretary. He eats doughnuts and Clark bars (his Hershey's 2.0). He only thinly veils the manipulativeness of his every interaction—each an effort to gather ideas for Roger's assignment. And he manages to disgust his daughter when her young friend flirts with him.

Don has always been a bit of a cad, but as many recappers have noted this half-season, he's never been a sloppy one. Until now.

Just look at the sheer number of women he appears to be sleeping with. The Don Draper we've known for most of this series has been a rather repressed, stoic man—he only seemed to conduct extramarital affairs if they were in his immediate proximity. He probably worked with Midge at some point, for example, and then there's Rachel Menken, a client, and Bobbie Barrett, another client. Then there's the stewardesses he met on planes. And Dr. Faye Miller, a researcher working in his office. The laundry list of secretaries. Sally's teacher. And Sylvia lived in his own building.

Each of these affairs took very little legwork. He's not the most social guy in the world. But by 1970, not only is he making an effort to juggle all of these women, but he is also presumably having multiple conversations with them. And most of the time, we're supposed to believe, he's doing this just to indulge his carnal desires, not to satisfy his never-ending "need to be known."

It's strange. It's very un-Don. It's as though even the act of maintaining his persona has become his addiction, and he's gotten increasingly bad at it. The image of Don Draper in the mirror is what turns Dick Whitman on now, it's what keeps him going.

No wonder he's drinking himself to death.

The ladies, on the other hand, have only just begun.

Good Housekeeping, June 1970
Did you notice how many female characters this episode seem to be sporting way too much makeup? Each one, from Melanie to Meredith to Peggy, has plastered on the wrong color of blush and bright lipstick and some pastel, very '70s eye shadow. The only one who seems to know what she's doing here is Joan, and I have to guess that's because her best friend works at Avon.


Good Houskeeeping, June 1970
Joan exemplifies the whole what's-real-and-what-is-just-an-image dilemma this episode. When she introduces herself to Richard, she says, "I'm Joan Harris, an account executive and partner," like it's very important that he knows that. Because God forbid he might think she is still a secretary. She is fancy now, but on her own terms. She stays in the Beverly Wilshire on business trips, clad in an elegant emerald nightgown, and when she goes to work, she dresses to the nines, maintaining her femininity in head-to-toe pink and a rose print, no less. This is a big f-you to the oafs at McCann and Peggy, who essentially told Joan to stop dressing so much like an attractive woman. Even her jewels have experienced a major upgrade.


But this is a difficult road for Joan, who though very pragmatic and an excellent problem-solver at work has always really wanted love. It's why she still hasn't moved out of the apartment she shares with her mother and son and gotten a larger one for the whole family—she suffers from what Iyanla Vanzant calls "living in the meantime." She spends her riches on the clothing she needs to attract a man (notice how she's also always dieting) instead of on a new, bigger, more updated home—which she can certainly afford at this point. Though Bob Benson has warned her otherwise, she still believes in romance.

Good Housekeeping, July 1970
So she puts on her nude heels and her matching nude purses and heads in to work every day, living this new, modern role, yearning for the day when someone comes along and makes her feel whole.

Just like what Don's been doing all these years.





Notice how when Richard comes back to the office to apologize to Joan, he brings her a bouquet of roses (a gift she's received many times over from multiple admirers). When the camera pans away from them, they are in a bride and groom stance. Except they're in the wrong spots. Joan is standing, holding her bouquet, where the groom normally stands, on the right. Richard is in the bride's position.


Good Housekeeping, July 1970
Richard is apologizing to Joan in this scene and essentially telling her that even though he's a man, his needs don't supersede hers. And though she delivers her message sarcastically, Joan very much stands up for herself here and is strong and forthright with Richard. This is new. This is revolutionary.

It's too bad Don's not in earshot, because THIS is the future.


He does have an educational Chinese dinner with Sally's friends, though, who each seem to want something out of life that is also quite unprecedented.


As I've mentioned before, in our modern culture, people tend to be highly influenced by media. Betty, for example, tells Glen he'll be just fine in Vietnam, where they "have all the comforts of home," because she read it in a magazine. (Notice, by the way, how she touches his hand in this episode when she tells him he's going to be OK. It's the same way he held hers back in season one, when she told him she was so sad and had nobody to talk to [which was likely what inspired him to become her knight in shining armor once he was older].)

Good Housekeeping, June 1970

Joan has a magazine holder in her living room with Ladies' Home Journal peeking out. Kevin watches "Sesame Street" (only on the air for a year by then) and Bobby and Gene "The Brady Bunch." Maureen the baby-sitter has on Carson, and Betty watches a tiny TV in her kitchen now, while she reads the paper. This episode showed more types of TV shows being watched and more TV viewing than ever before. And it's not just a JFK vs. Nixon debate or a boxing match everyone's tuned into at the same time—it's specialized shows for specialized groups of people.

Which is why Don tells Mathis and Peggy, "Kids won't get it, and adults won't see it," when they pitch their "Dear John"-inspired cookie commercial. This is a commercial that will play during children's broadcasting, which is something adults now largely don't watch.

It's going to make Bobby and Gene's generation a different breed from Sally's. But more on that another time.

John Mack Carter with feminists during sit-in
(photo from Hearst Newspapers)

Like Joan and Betty, Sally and her friends will be influenced by women's media, but in very different ways. Only a few months prior to their Chinese dinner, a group of 100 feminists sat in the offices of John Mack Carter, the editor-in-chief of Ladies' Home Journal, for 11 hours, refusing to leave until he honored their demands. Among them: that he hire a female editor-in-chief (even the women's mags were largely run by men then) and an all-female editorial staff; that he have women write columns and articles to avoid inherent male bias; that he hire non-white women according to the percentage of minorities in the U.S.; that he raise women's salaries and provide free day care on the premises; that he open editorial meetings to all employees and stop running ads that degrade women or from companies that exploit women; that he stop running articles tied into advertising; and that he end the "Can this Marriage Be Saved?" column. Numbering among their suggestions for new article ideas were "How to Get a Divorce," "How to Have an Orgasm" and "What to Tell Your Draft-Age Son."

Good Housekeeping, July 1970
This event inspired Carter to be more mindful of the woman of the future. "There was more discrimination than I thought," he later said. "I didn't push our women readers far enough in their self-awareness." Carter died in September 2014, the only person in publishing history to have headed McCall's, Ladies' Home Journal and Good Housekeeping magazines. According to his obituary, "his magazines reflected his ever-evolving consciousness, and he became one of the first male members of the Association for Women in Communications. He remained an advocate for women for the rest of his career, speaking out on issues ranging from equal rights to sexual harassment."

And that's how you get a 16-year-old girl who wants to be a senator in the summer of 1970. Or one who wants to work at the UN.

In fact, if Don were more patient about listening to women's suggestions, he might have reached the answer to the question he ponders this entire episode more easily: What will the future look like?

Photo of the World's Fair from the April 2014
New York Times story, "Recalling a Vision of the Future."

The reason he struggles to write 2,500 words on the future of Sterling Cooper & Partners is because the future is a place where he just doesn't live. He plumbs anyone he can find for answers, even dutiful but dim Meredith. In a snippet of a scene, she tells Don that she believes the future will be just like the 1964/1965 World's Fair. She asks him if he went to it—he could have easily, because it took place in Flushing, New York. It was a huge event that attracted about 41,000 people each day.

Don asks Meredith to name her favorite part, but we never get to hear her answer because right then Mathis rushes into his office. But she likely would have mentioned what was a huge crowd favorite that year, Disney and GE's Carousel of Progress (watch the documentary linked here if you want a real nostalgia treat).

The ride was something orchestrated by Disney and GE to illustrate how far we'd come by the 1960s with electrical innovations. Participants would enter a dome-shaped building and sit in chairs on a spherical platform that gradually rotated around a nucleus of rooms. In each room was an animatronic family who represented a different era—the 1890s, the 1920s, the 1940s and the 1960s. The 1960s room predicted what was to come in modern electricity.

But by far, the best part of the ride was its catchy theme song.


As Richard Sherman, one of Walt Disney's famed composers, tells it, he and his brother were tasked with crafting a song that embodied hope for the future. Here are the lyrics they came up with:

"There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of every day.
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow's just a dream away.

Man has a dream, and that's the start.

He follows his dream with mind and heart.
And when it becomes a reality,
It's a dream come true for you and me.

So there's a great big beautiful tomorrow

Shining at the end of every day.
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
Just a dream away."


In June 1967, the Carousel was brought to Disneyland, and in October 1971, it was installed in Walt Disney World, per Disney's instructions (this all happened posthumuously, as Walt died in late 1966).

But by the time the ride opened in Walt Disney World, GE had abandoned the campaign of "progress is our most important product." The company said they wanted the public to buy now, not in the future. And then they even abandoned the original theme song and forced the Sherman brothers to write a new one.



"A new president came in, and he said, 'I don't want to talk about tomorrow,' which is the song, 'A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,'" Richard Sherman explains. "He wanted to talk about 'today.' He wanted to talk about 'now': 'I want GE now; I want people to realize that now is what it's all about.' And it was a whole shift of gears for a lot of the people, including Bob and myself. Because they requested, would we come back and write a brand-new song. Not a revised song, but a brand-new song for the Florida GE Carousel of Progress. And so it was not an easy job, actually, to come up with what we did. But we came up with a very positive statement about today. And it was quite different than the one we had done for the original. But I like it as well, it's kind of a powerful song. So for about 25 years, they used 'Now Is the Time, Now Is the Best Time.'"

The lyrics go like this:

"Now is the time. Now is the best time.
Now is the best time of your life.

Life is a prize, live every minute.
Open your eyes, and watch how you win it!

Yesterday's memories may sparkle and gleam,
Tomorrow is still but a dream.

Right here and now, you've got it made.
The world's forward-marching and you're in the parade!

Now is the time. Now is the best time.
Be it a time of joy or strife.

There's so much to cheer for, be glad you're here.
For it's the best time of your life."

"Be it a time of joy or strife"? "Be glad you're here"? Not exactly the most uplifting lyrics in the world.


One commenter on the ride's documentary website wrote, "It's very sad that the original concept and the original ride died so soon after Walt Disney himself died. The early to mid-1960s was an era of hope, vision and wonder that was completely dead by the end of the decade. For all of Walt Disney's personal faults, he was a man of vision and a positive belief in the future of the United States, and of the world really. Perhaps it was somehow tragically fitting he passed away when he did."

Richard Sherman also notes in the documentary that the original song, "A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," was largely written about Disney himself, a self-made man if there ever was one.

If anyone was gifted at instilling "a little glamour, a little hope" in people, it was Walt. Even if it was sometimes a bit of a sham.


Sound like someone we know?


In this episode, Sally doesn't know what she wants to do with her life (and is tired of being asked about it) mainly because she's still coming to terms with what she doesn't want. It is the experience Don had when he started on his current course—at age 24, he was running away from his family and past because, as he tells his brother, Adam, in season one's "5G," he just "couldn't go back there."


Don spends much of his life just trying to maintain who he pretends to be. He expends an enormous amount of energy on this, to a point where there is barely any left to put towards thinking about the future. He is a survivor, and a survivor mentality does not leave much room for making optimistic plans.


When he tells Mathis this episode that he doesn't have any character, and Mathis accuses him of the same, they are giving the word two different definitions. "Character," in Don's book, is hard work, even if it involves a little fibbing. For Mathis, though, "character" means authenticity—and that's something Don is certainly lacking.

See the problem for Don and Betty's generation is that though they seemed very grown-up by all traditional standards—the well-kept house, the car, the job in the city, the 2.5 kids—they were putting so much emphasis on status that something got lost along the way. Don's just an extreme example of what an entire generation was experiencing. He and Betty have paved the road for their children to somehow be better.


When he tells Sally, "You're a beautiful girl. It's up to you to be more than that," that's really all he has to say. Because Sally has the chance to live authentically that Don never had.

Unlike Mathis and Melanie, Don doesn't want Sally to sell something imaginary. He wants her to sell something real.

The thing about being 16, of course, is you're never really aware of the fact that the people around you are not necessarily internally the age they ought to be. Because when you're 16, and sometimes even when you're 25, it's very "us vs. them." There are children and then there are adults. So why can't these so-called adults get their damn acts together?

Maya Angelou once said that everybody gets older, but not everybody grows up. Perhaps Sally can teach her parents how to do that.

It makes it all the more fitting that the only product discussed in this episode is a cookie named after a character who stayed a boy forever: Peter Pan.


And incidentally, by 1971, Disney's Carousel of Progress added a new line to its repertoire in the 1920s portion of the ride. The narrator/father of the American animatronic family says to his teenage daughter, "It's a man's world out there, Jane."

Her response? "Well, it won't always be, Father."

Until next time, "Now we have to find a place for you!"


















"Teach Your Children"

by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (July 1970)

You, who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by.
And so, become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye.

Teach your children well
Their father's hell did slowly go by.
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

And you (Can you hear?) of tender years (And do you care?)
Can't know the fears (And can you see?) that your elders grew by (We must be free).
And so, please help (To teach your children) them with your youth (What you believe in)
They seek the truth (Make a world) before they can die (That we can live in).

Teach your parents well
Their children's hell will slowly go by.
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why
If they told you, you will cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.














Wednesday, April 22, 2015

GH's Throwback Thursday, Mad Men Edition: "New Business"

5 comments:

















"Watching the Wheels"
by John Lennon, 1981

People say I'm crazy, doing what I'm doing.
Well, they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin.
When I say that I'm OK, well, they look at me kinda strange.
"Surely, you're not happy now, you no longer play the game."

People say I'm lazy, dreaming my life away.
Well, they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me.
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
"Don't you miss the big time, boy? You're no longer on the ball."

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round.
I really love to watch them roll.
No longer riding on the merry-go-round.
I just had to let it go.

Ahhh, people ask me questions, lost in confusion.
Well, I tell them there's no problem, only solutions.
Well, they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind.
I tell them there's no hurry, I'm just sitting here doing time.

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round.
I really love to watch them roll.
No longer riding on the merry-go-round.
I just had to let it go.
I just had to let it go.
I just had to let it go.


As I mentioned last week, the Beatles officially broke up in the spring of 1970, around the time we're currently seeing on Mad Men. John Lennon was a successful solo artist for a few years after, but by the mid-1970s, he'd lost interest in fame and had become a devoted father and househusband, spending his days taking care of Sean, his son with second wife Yoko Ono. This song, "Watching the Wheels," was his ode to that activity—he wanted to emphasize how important it was to spend time with his family, that working yourself to the bone isn't the point of life. It was released a year after his death.


With Don's Draper disillusionment of late, I suspect he'll experience a similar turnaround by series' end. In the meantime, in Mad Men Episode 7.9, "New Business," he's still beating that dead horse he calls love.

Here's a sampling of the most-heard song lyrics on American radio in May 1970, the time we've landed on in this episode:

"Band of Gold," by Freda Payne
I wait in the darkness of my lonely room
Filled with sadness, filled with gloom
Hoping soon
That you'll walk back through that door
And love me like you tried before.
Since you've been gone,
All that's left is a band of gold.
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the dream of what love could be
If you were still here with me.


"Cecilia," by Paul Simon (Simon and Garfunkel also disbanded in 1970)
Celia, you're breaking my heart,
You're shaking my confidence daily.
Oh, Cecilia, I'm down on my knees,
I'm begging you please to come home.
Come on home.
Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia
Up in my bedroom.
I got up to wash my face,
When I come back to bed,
Someone's taken my place.



"American Woman,"
by The Guess Who
American woman, stay away from me.
American woman, mama, let me be.
Don't come a-hangin' around my door,
I don't wanna see your face no more.
I got more important things to do
Than spend my time growin' old with you.


"Turn Back the Hands of Time,"
by Tyrone Davis
Oh darling please, please let me come back home.
Your love has been so good to me, baby.
And I just relied without it.
I can't go on and you're the other half
That makes my life complete.
If I had one more chance, we'd have a love so sweet.


"Love or Let Me Be Lonely,"
by the Friends of Distinction
Love me, let me be lonely.
Part-time love I can find any day,
So don't defy Mother Nature's way.
Please make it mine, a love for to stay.
I can live without love,
If I wanted to in this lonely room.
But I don't want to, so I leave it up to you
To wash away my gloom.

"Love on a Two-Way Street," by The Moments
I found love on a two-way street and lost it on a lonely highway.
Love on a two-way street and lost it on a lonely highway.
True love will never die, so I've been told, but now I must cry.
It's finally goodbye, I know.
With music softly playing, her lips were gently saying : "I love you."
She held me in desperation, I thought it was a revelation.
And then she walked out.


Wow. Talk about depressing.

The age of Motown aside, these are some seriously lovelorn people, all hitting the top of the charts at exactly the same time. No wonder everyone in this episode is either lonely, making horrible choices in love or dealing with the fallout of a marriage's end.


Good Housekeeping, April 1970
Let's just review our principal characters' current romantic statuses.

Divorced:
Don (twice)
Megan
Betty
Henry
Pete
Roger (twice)
Joan (twice)
Harry (most likely)*
Diana

Married/In a relationship:
Stan and Elaine
Marie (and her husband)
Marie-France (and her husband)
Sylvia and Arnold

Single/Never-married:
Peggy
Pima
Meredith (presumably)

That's about 50 percent divorced—half the major players in this episode, and three of them have done it twice. Those in committed relationships are all philandering (with the exception of one, but that seems to be due to her religious conservatism, and she's incidentally the most miserable of the bunch).


Years ago, in the first season of this series, a young divorcée named Helen Bishop moved into Don and Betty's quiet Ossining neighborhood and caused quite a disruption. Betty and her gossip hound pals considered her a threat, a victim or a virus, with a mission to infect all the "happy" unions around her. Likely due to his own outsider mentality, Don treated her with respect. And bored with her own life, Betty approached her with curiosity.

In fact, she may have been one of her first "patients."

"I know it's beyond your experience, but people talk to me.
They seek me out to share their confidences."

Good Housekeeping, May 1970
Betty's jab at Don this episode brings up an important point: Betty's an example of the many housewives forced by their husbands to seek psychotherapy, but by 1970, seeing a psychologist had become the norm. This contributed to the culture shift at the time, as W. Bradford Wilcox explained in a 2009 article for National Affairs: 

"The psychological revolution of the late '60s and '70s, which was itself fueled by a post-war prosperity that allowed people to give greater attention to non-material concerns, played a key role in reconfiguring men and women's views of marriage and family life. Prior to the late 1960s, Americans were more likely to look at marriage and family through the prisms of duty, obligation and sacrifice. A successful, happy home was one in which intimacy was an important good, but by no means the only one in view. A decent job, a well-maintained home, mutual spousal aid, child-rearing and shared religious faith were seen almost universally as the goods that marriage and family life were intended to advance.


Good Housekeeping, June 1970
"But the psychological revolution's focus on individual fulfillment and personal growth changed all that. Increasingly, marriage was seen as a vehicle for a self-oriented ethic of romance, intimacy and fulfillment. In this new psychological approach to married life, one's primary obligation was not to one's family but to one's self; hence, marital success was defined not by successfully meeting obligations to one's spouse and children but by a strong sense of subjective happiness in the marriage—usually to be found in and through an intense, emotional relationship with one's spouse. The 1970s marked the period when, for many Americans, a more institutional model of marriage gave way to the 'soul-mate model' of marriage.

Good Housekeeping, June 1970
"Of course, the soul-mate model was much more likely to lead couples to divorce court than was the earlier institutional model of marriage. Now, those who felt they were in unfulfilling marriages also felt obligated to divorce in order to honor the newly widespread ethic of expressive individualism. As social historian Barbara Dafoe Whitehead has observed of this period, 'divorce was not only an individual right but also a psychological resource. The dissolution of marriage offered the chance to make oneself over from the inside out, to refurbish and express the inner self and to acquire certain valuable psychological assets and competencies, such as initiative, assertiveness and a stronger and better self-image.'"

Good Housekeeping, May 1970

It brought the chance to begin again.

Pete Campbell says something profound about that this episode, as he's giving Don advice, while Don is only reluctantly commiserating. I chuckled while watching this scene, because it reminded me of Don and Pete's exchange in Episode 1, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."


Don tells Pete while walking to the Lucky Strike meeting, "Campbell, we're both men here, so I'll be direct. Advertising is a very small world. And when you do something like malign the reputation of some girl from the steno pool on her first day, you make it even smaller. Keep it up and even if you do get my job, you'll never run this place. You'll die in that corner office, a mid-level account executive with a little bit of hair, who women go home with out of pity. And do you know why? Because no one will like you."


While driving to the golf course, Pete says to Don, "You think you're going to begin your life over, and do it right. But what if you never get past the beginning again?"

This typically isn't a problem for Don, because as Faye Miller once told him, he only "likes the beginnings of things." But think for a moment of what it must be like to be the man who "has no people," as Grandpa Gene used to say.
Good Housekeeping, May 1970

We've now reached a point in time where no one seems to have people. And even when they do, as in Megan's case, the generational differences make relating to them nearly impossible (Weiner makes this quite literal as Megan switches from French to English and back again this episode—she and her family don't even speak the same language anymore). Over several seasons, we've watched these characters suffer silently or act out in relationships that were making them miserable, but the misery they experience now has a different tint to it. It is filled with striving and self-loathing and the desire for self-actualization and power. The vibe is busy and disorienting, and it's not only in the wallpaper.

Good Housekeeping, May 1970
It's why few viewers really enjoyed this episode. It had very little sweetness and very little charm. And much like Stan's interaction with Pima, every experience of intimacy was fueled by something selfish and quite the opposite of love. Pima's not the only hustler, as Peggy calls her. Every sexual act was an exchange of goods.

It was new business.








Though Don does seem to be feeling the first glimpses of love for Diana. There is something different about her.

Though I'm not sure how different she really is.



After all, she did have sex with Don in an alleyway for money.

When Don tells Diana he thinks he knows her, it's her shame that he knows. It's similar to the shame he carries around constantly, so to find someone who's enduring just as much brings him a sense of relief.

But while Don has adopted a persona that helps mask his inner shame (yet really only perpetuates the cycle), Diana wants her shame to stand center stage. She lives in a room of shame, she wears dark colors, she wears uniforms so that she can blend in. She even blends into the walls of the elevator in this episode.


Janie Bryant often uses this trick to convey how connected a person is to his or her environment or current situation. She does it with aplomb when Roger meets with his two secretaries—Roger's gray and navy suit and tie matches the Op art poster behind him perfectly, while Shirley's orange-and-blue floral print blends in with her background and Carolyn's neutral suit matches the curtains.

We are used to seeing Roger dressed in all gray, sitting in a completely white, minimalist, serene environment. His old office decor made it seem like he did almost nothing all day (albeit in style). His new decor better conveys the workload he's begrudgingly inherited and his level of discomfort as the new Bert Cooper. And when he needs to hide from the mayhem, he naturally chooses the only place nobody frequents before 11 a.m.: Don's office.

(OK, so Don is sometimes there by 10, but Weiner sure seems to be hammering home the fact that he's late nearly every day this season.)

So Diana in her blue waitress uniform is very much at one with that diner. And Diana in her brown waitress uniform has merged with the dimly lit steakhouse. Nobody could ever find her there. Except for maybe a private detective. Or someone as persistent as Don.

It's likely the reason some viewers believed Diana was imaginary at first.

Women didn't wear waitress uniforms or even really work in restaurants until the 20th century. What we know now as the traditional diner waitress uniform came about during the Great Depression, when the only luxury people often allowed themselves was a piece of pie at the corner diner. Because of this, there was a greater demand for female servers—as Jennifer Wright points out in her recent article on Eater, "restaurants were one of the few places still hiring, and respectable women joined men in search of jobs. Women were willing to work cheap, and diner owners found that a female staff could entice both male clients (who enjoyed having pretty women bringing them food) and female clients (who felt more comfortable among other women). The new workforce needed a uniform that was serviceable, attractive and respectable. Though there wasn't one definitely 'original' design, a pattern emerged among mass-produced uniforms. The white—often detachable—trim around the sleeve was attractive, but more importantly, it made the outfit reminiscent of those worn by ladies' maids (as did the little hat). Imagine a stereotypical French maid outfit: Chances are, you're picturing the same thing as a diner waitress uniform, but in black. The typical waitress uniform therefore needed to seem servile enough to make customers feel as though they were getting a little bit of luxurious treatment with their coffee and dessert."

(The John Dos Passos book Diana reads in the diner was published in 1937, just after the Great Depression. And the novel Mildred Pierce was published four years after.)

As outrageous as fashion trends are becoming as we enter this new decade on Mad Men, Diana's normal garb is a sensible throwback. And so is much of what Don wears, by the way. Which is what makes his decision to put on his suit to answer the door, and her remark about whether he sleeps in it, even funnier.


Good Housekeeping, May 1970
This is also an episode that brings us a woman dressed in a full man's suit for the first time (Peggy's plaid pantsuit and Joyce's blazer don't count). Pima's look is almost laughable to a modern audience, but it seems to be taken quite seriously by the people around her—her uniform conveys power, because it resembles a man's. She is mostly shot from below, so she appears stronger and taller than she is. There is nothing servile about her whatsoever. She takes what she wants, even if it means stealing from a nurse (another servile uniform). As I've mentioned earlier in this blog, this was a time when feminists often took fashion very literally—Annie Hall wasn't the only one dressing like this.


Speaking of fashion, Don encounters three different exes this episode, and each is overdressed for an appointment. Each found excitement with Don at one time, and each gave him her trust. And when Don didn't respect that trust, each ended up taking something from him.


For Betty, it was his children, on whom he looks back wistfully from the backdoor. For Sylvia, it was his dignity in front of his children (though Sally's catching them in the act was accidental). And for Megan, it's a million dollars (and all of his furniture—also accidental).



So Don is left at the end with a blank slate of a room and a blank slate of a woman.


But unlike his exes, Diana is on to him from the start. Each ex has told him she wants nothing from him, but Diana truly means it. And when you're wanting nothing, there's no reason to conduct any business. For Diana, Don is merely an escape from her personal hell. And even that is too expensive.

Good Housekeeping, May 1970
And while Don might recognize his hidden shame in Diana, her shame is self-generated—he was born into his. He didn't actively abandon a child, like she did. Rather, his childhood was so bad that he actively abandoned himself. Much like his own mother abandoned him at birth. He was born a bastard, the product of an affair. After his alcoholic father died, the woman who never really wanted to raise him anyway brought him along with her to a whore house, where he was defiled by the only people who offered him any sense of camaraderie: prostitutes.

This level of abuse is very difficult to undo. With each new romantic encounter, he is hoping the woman will be the one who loves him for who he is. But as long as he keeps attracting women who just want an escape, who want to be with this debonair, charming man, if only for one night, that healing can never occur. He will never reach the level of a trusting relationship necessary for him to feel whole.

And no matter how much wealth and prestige he accrues, there is a place in Don's mind that resembles Diana's dump of a studio apartment. It is a bare and dingy room where he put teenage Dick to rest, and he's been waiting to be let out ever since.

Until next time, "Good luck with your bright future."

















"Reflections of My Life," by The Marmalade (May 1970)

The changing of sunlight to moonlight
Reflections of my life, oh, how they fill my eyes.
The greetings of people in trouble
Reflections of my life, oh, how they fill my mind.

All my sorrows, sad tomorrows
Take me back to my own home.
All my cryings (all my cryings), feel I'm dying, dying,
Take me back to my own home.

I'm changing, arranging, I'm changing,
I'm changing everything,
Ah, everything around me.
The world is a bad place, a bad place,
A terrible place to live, oh, but I don't wanna die.

All my sorrows, sad tomorrows
Take me back to my own home.
All my cryings (all my cryings), feel I'm dying, dying,
Take me back to my own home (oh, I'm going home).

All my sorrows, sad tomorrows
Take me back to my own home.
All my cryings (all my cryings), feel I'm dying, dying,
Take me back to my own home.



*I've added the phrase "most likely" to Harry's name because it's been pointed out to me that he still wears his wedding ring when he meets with Megan. Also, two reddit users (chaiceratops and Rept4r7) reminded me that though Harry said Jennifer was talking about divorce in "Waterloo," Weiner has never made it clear whether or not they went through with it.