Friday Recommends, television

Friday Recommends: Staying In And Watching Mad Men

“I’m about to devour ten hours of your weekend.”


That’s our Friday night right there. We figured it was time to get on board.


22 thoughts on “Friday Recommends: Staying In And Watching Mad Men

  1. Based on episode one, which we just finished, I’d say Don’s advertising skills are a bit more … seductive … than Leopold’s.

    We’re going to alternate episodes with readings from Ulysses!

    (And Lucky Strikes!)

  2. Thoughts through episode four of Mad Men (which we fell asleep watching last night):

    – Poor Pete.
    – We hate Pete.
    – Glenn will grow up to be a creepshow.
    – Why does Cooper not wear shoes?
    – John Slattery is the balls.
    – Favorite line: “You could hide a nickel in those dimples.”

  3. OK, voreblog. Now that you have bravely tackled the subject of Mad Men, can you please answer a question for me? Why is this show so stinkin’ popular? I don’t understand it. Except for a few exceptions, I can’t find any redeemable characters in the lot. Who do I root for? Between the drinking and smoking and cheating and whoring and male chauvinisming, I usually feel dirty and sad by the end of an episode.

    I do like John Slattery, though. Balls indeed.

    It feels as if this is the kind of show that people like merely because people like it, but nobody has ever explained to me the appeal in any satisfactory way.

    Care to take a stab?

    As a counterpoint to my own argument, I should confess that I really like AMC’s other very dark show containing nary a redeemable character, Breaking Bad. I’m not sure what the difference is, except 1) maybe because of the sprawling Southwest vistas (versus the smoky, boozy boardrooms), I don’t feel suffocated after watching, and 2) nobody ever talks about that show, so I don’t feel like I’m performing some civic duty by watching it.

    Now I’m off to create another Breaking Bad avatar. In this one I’m going to hold crystal meth!

  4. Scott —

    Good question. It will inform our viewing of the remainder of season one (which resumes today at 3 p.m.).

    Speaking for myself, I was a bit wary of Mad Men as the show everyone loves and every hip and with-it cultural commentator must mention in passing when discussing some other topic (health care, sports, Afghanistan, space exploration, etc.). In last Sunday’s New York Times, I think I read three different articles/columns that mentioned it. Which is a bit ridiculous.

    But really, everyone I know — except, now, you — raves about the show. So we figured it was at least time to give it a gander.

    I’ll let Erin chime in with her two cents, but in episode one when Don appears to stumble during the Lucky Strikes negotiation, she said, “Good, I wanted him to fail.” I didn’t want him to fail, but I do like myself a good anti-hero, be it Tony Soprano, Omar Little, Dexter Morgan, Vic Mackey or Charlie Day. (The last one is mostly a joke. Mostly.)

    I’m most enjoying the historical moment the show captures (very well). I suspect — but don’t know in detail — what’s going to happen to these guys who are on top right now over the coming years. This is really going to stretch it but I think you’ll appreciate the analogy: The Mad Men remind me of the 1990 Pistons. The insurgent Bulls were on their heels but the Pistons managed to stay on top for at least another year. But then we all know what happened in 1991.

    So Don Draper has Pete Campbell on his heels vying for his corner office. All the guys seem to desperately cling to their misogyny at the dawn of the women’s lib movement. And episode four ended with the balls John Slattery and Don going back-and-forth about their respective generations. (Our favorite scene in the episode was when balls John Slattery dressed down Pete with his you-never-saw-combat line. Harsh but true. Can’t you imagine Isiah whispering that in MJ’s ear during the 90 Eastern Finals? “Nice try, Mike, but you’ve never fought a real war like we have”?)

    What do you think?

    Also, being the snappiest dresser I know, don’t you envy the style just a little?

    As for Breaking Bad, it does not surprise me in the least that you like the show given your raging meth addiction. Great Gary Sinise, Scott, you’re a father now.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I honestly see the show a little differently now.

      A couple of thoughts: Do you think the prevailing opinion on Don Draper is that he is an anti-hero? I ask because it seems that a lot of the people I’ve heard discuss the character view him as a hero-hero, as in, “Whew, that Don Draper sure can make a pitch,” or “Ho-HO! Draper really gives it to the ladies, chuckle, chuckle, vomit.”

      I must not be much of an anti-hero guy. I say this because, other than Tony Soprano, I recognized NONE of the names from your list. Further indictment of my callow and unsophisticated tastes, I suppose.

      I should stress that I believe the show is impeccably made. The costuming and the sets, as you suggest, are delicious. The opening title scene is pitch-perfect. I just don’t like these people.

      And finally, to your analogy. You sure do know how to win my heart. Can we extend this a little, though? Your analogy perfectly proves my point. WHY WOULD I WANT TO SPEND AN HOUR WITH THE BAD BOY PISTONS? Can I acknowledge their skill and efficiency? Sure. Are they good at basketball? You bet. But they are horrible, horrible human beings.

      Now, does this make their comeuppance all the more delicious? I suppose it does, yes. And if the show, in Season 8, involves Joan taking over Sterling Cooper as creative director and senior partner, while Don — an unholy mix of lung cancer, cirrhosis and chlamydia — and Pete — who finally admits that he’s both British and gay — slink out the back door without shaking her hand, I suppose I will have to call it the greatest show of all time.

      But until then, do I have to watch? Should I watch? I’m still not convinced.

      1. Scott,

        I’m glad you went for the Pistons/Bulls analogy. The fact it also proves your point wasn’t something that occurred to me until just now. It’s not that far a leap from Mad Men to Bad Boys, really. And while you, Scott, hated the Bad Boys (as did many others), you gotta admit they were the best show in town until MJ took center stage.

        Was their comeuppance in 91 oh so sweet though? Hell yes. So we, like you, eagerly anticipate that season 8 episode with Joan running the show and Don and Pete slinking out the backdoor, just as balls John Slattery vomits 23 gallons of oysters out the window and onto their heads, crushing them to death.

        (Fade to black)

        Does this mean you need to watch until then? Absolutely not. But WE’LL keep watching (our plans to finish season one in one weekend may have been too ambitious) and send you our thoughts.

        Besides, we know you’re busy beating the meth addiction and all.

        We also agree the opening titles are pitch-perfect. We imagine you doing a little dance every time we hear it. And boy are you a good dancer!

  5. Best line from episode five: “I just think it’s weird the bear is talking.”

    If we had to count the number of times in this marriage one of us whored the other out for our literary careers … well, we’d need at least five hands. Maybe seven.

  6. “Babylon” — episode six — maybe our favorite so far. Great ending. The “brainstorming” session was amusing and perverse.

    We don’t let our parakeet watch us make love either.

  7. Through seven episodes, we have watched approximately 193 cigarettes smoked, 117 glasses of alcohol consumed, 7 extramarital relations (2 attempted, unsuccessfully), and one geyser of vomit from the balls John Slattery. Our Aunt Lettie got us the same chip-and-dip for our wedding. Ben also returned it for a shotgun. Marital tension ensued!

  8. “mad men” is my favorite tv show since “the wire” – another vore favorite.

    i couldn’t put this down, might help guldy feel the love:

    they had me at historically accurate fruit.

    i actually really like several characters. sure, no one on the show is overtly likable, but isn’t that sort of like life? i’m cringing as much as i’m rooting and it feels very familiar. what’s with this need to like people on tv or in the movies?

  9. drinking, smoking, cheating and whoring are a few of my favorite things. I don’t know why they make Scott G. so sad!

  10. Raindrops on roses & whiskers on kittens & bright copper kettles & warm woolen mittens; those are a few of my favorite things!
    Particulary whiskers on kittens.
    Far more than bright copper kettles, actually.
    Although also John Slattery, who is the silver-haired balls.

  11. I just finished episodes eight ( “The Hobo Code”) and nine ( “Shoot”) tonight, which still puts me two behind my wife, who is not-so-surreptitiously watching ahead of me. When I came home from work today, the TV was on but the screen was blank. She was sitting on the couch with the remote. There was an awkward silence. “So are you going to keep watching or should I leave?” I asked. She got indignant. “What are you suggesting?” she said. I went over to the DVD player and pressed “play.” Don Draper magically appeared, taking a long pull on his cigarette. “How did that get there!” she protested. How indeed.

  12. So it is almost like Erin is seeing Don Draper behind your back…He is one sly seducer. If you come home and Scooter is staring at a blank screen with the remote I would be concerned.
    Also, if Scooter starts to take up smoking.

    ‘The Hobo Code’ was about my favorite episode from Season 1. Although ‘Shoot’ was very good too, and the only episode that was directed by someone who visited JBB in the last year…as far I know.

  13. Erin is now finished with season one, but I have four episodes to go. Three, actually, now that I just finished “Long Weekend,” in which the balls John Slattery shows his dramatic range AND gets to take his shirt off. Also a good episode for Joan. Favorite scene: her typing up telegrams in the middle of the night for her (ex?) lover. It showed she was as devoted to Sterling Cooper as anyone else in the building.

  14. “Indian Summer”: Betty Draper meets a washing machine, Peggy Olson meets “The Rejuvenator.” And Pete Campbell opens mail without his name on it.

  15. Scott, if you’re still listening, have you seen episode 12 — “Nixon vs. Kennedy”? Writing that good covers a multitude of sins. You’ve got the Nixon/Kennedy subplot; the office reenactment of Paul Kinsey’s secret opus; Pete’s failed blackmail attempt; wise, eccentric gems of wisdom from Bertram Cooper like, “One never knows how loyalty is born”; and the poignant, heart-breaking backstory of Dick Whitman becoming Don Draper and watching his family (and his poor younger brother) from the train as it pulls away.

    It’s good stuff, man. I’m a believer.

    Plus the switched identity subplot reminded me of a Tobias Wolff short story ( “The Other Miller”). So it had that going for it too.

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