Smart Mad Men Recap: S7E6, “The Strategy”

SPOILER ALERT: “You can’t tell people what they want. It has to be what you want.”

Mad Men

The closing scene from this week’s episode of Not The Sopranos

If you’re someone who has never seen an episode of Mad Men (ya poor soul) and wanted to watch just one to see what it’s all about, “The Strategy” might be it. In many ways it seemed to revisit well-trodden ground – Women struggling for respect in the workplace! The dissolution of the American family! – but the penultimate installment in this penultimate set of episodes offers some of the most wonderfully layered writing in the show’s history, as well as the slightest suggestion of evolution. That is, if the central question of Mad Men is “Can people change?”, it’s now maybe potentially conceivably sort of perchance kinda possible that the answer could be… yes.

Because although Peggy being coerced into not delivering her own Burger Chef pitch is another exhausting example of the glass ceiling, this time Don decidedly isn’t standing in her way. Continue reading


Smart Mad Men Recap: S7E5, “The Runaways”

SPOILER ALERT: A teeny bit of blood goes a long way on Mad Men.

AMC's Mad Men

“A belated Valentine’s Day present! xoxo” – Ginsberg

Everything you need to know about this episode of Mad Men can be summed up by the look on Don Draper’s face as his wife leans in to kiss another woman. Or maybe it’s the look on Jim Cutler’s face when Don marches into a meeting with Commander Cigarettes he wasn’t supposed to know about. Or poor Peggy, reacting with horror and revulsion to what is surely this show’s most disturbing twist. It’s the same face I wore for the majority of “The Runaways,” a face perhaps best described as:

The fuck??

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Smart Mad Men Recap: S7E3, “Field Trip” & S7E4, “The Monolith”

SPOILER ALERT: It’s getting real on Mad Men. And like Don getting his shit together, recaps are better late than never.

Mad Men

“OMG Don you look so great, how was your vacay??” said no one at this meeting

“I wish it was yesterday.” Tell me about it, Bobby Draper. Welcome to the real world.

So much happened in the third episode of Mad Men’s final season, turns out I needed a whole week to process it. (For this week’s episode, click on!) Between the almost certain demise of Don’s marriage to his reentry into the agency – to say nothing of Betty drinking fresh milk from a pail! – this installment could have easily passed as a season finale knockout. With only four episodes to go in the (half-)season, it’s hard not to wonder if each will include quite as much defecation hitting the fan.

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Smart Mad Men Recap: S3E2, “A Day’s Work”

SPOILER ALERT: It’s Valentine’s Day on Mad Men.

Mad Men

Don (Jon Hamm) and Sally (Kiernan Shipka) discover their french fries are cold. So are their feelings.

“Just tell the truth,” Sally tells Don. And then, miraculously, he does.

A lot can happen in a day’s work, and a lot does in “A Day’s Work,” the second installment of the penultimate season of Mad Men. (I’m calling bullshit on AMC’s seven-episodes-this-year, seven-episodes-next-year crap. It’s seasons 7 and 8, smartass.) The show’s writing is in top form, and seems poised to show off each cast member’s unique talents. This week we were served high-stakes office politics, petty office politics, and a whole lot of kickass character development in one of Mad Men’s most fascinating and crucial relationships.

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Smart Mad Men Recap: S3E1, “Time Zones”

SPOILER ALERT: Mad Men is back.

Mad Men season 7 episode 1

Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) wears an adorable beanie-like beret in the Season 7 premiere of MAD MEN

Something about the way Peggy tilts her head, lifts her hand, and says through a slight squint, “That’s a home run,” is startlingly Draperesque. Mad Men has drawn parallels between Don and Peggy before (remember Peggy’s handjob in the movie theater?) and as we embark on its final chapter, it appears this show ultimately isn’t Don’s story, nor twisted to become Peggy’s. It’s about both of them, how an ad man and his secretary relate to each other, are related to each other, and relate to a time in history when all the rules were changing.

Matthew Weiner has dabbled in tongue-in-cheek self-awareness before, but I don’t know if we’ve ever gotten as blatant a meta moment as this season’s opener:

“Are you ready? Cuz I want you to pay attention. This is the beginning of something. Do you have time to improve your life?”

Everything before that last line feels intentionally direct, from Freddy addressing the camera to the tone of finality inherent in the assertion that this is a “beginning.” Self-improvement is Weiner’s season 7 thesis statement; he’s situating the time we have remaining with these characters as a period of possible redemption. Is there a difference between improving your life and reinventing it? How much of starting anew means saying goodbye? Continue reading