Hollow Portents (#MadMen #Finally)

Friends, if you can’t blog something nice, blog it late.

Mad Men y’all.

Episode one: hollow portents. Dying of thirst. Cold air chilling the apartment no matter what Don does because the screen door is BROKEN. Square clothes in a far-out airport.

Ok then.

Episode two: commerce and love.

Did you forget what the show is really about? That capitalism mines our most intimate intimacies for fuel? Via advertising? In a self-sustaining machinery of exploitation so pretty you don’t even notice your new pencil skirt is from the Mad Men line at Banana Republic, the store itself named after colonialist-capitalist exploitation 2theXtreem?

Good thing this Very Special Valentine’s Day Episode reminded you. Complete with interchangeable token black secretaries (HAH!!!) and Peggy’s rictus of shame about revealing to colleagues the domestic emptiness lurking beneath her career success.

No matter how far she gets, she still longs for a ring. Embarrassingly. To her and to us.

Episode three: marriage and jobs. That is, more love and commerce.

My new favorite Don dialogue, narrowly usurping “it will a shock you how much this never happened”:

“I’ve been good!”

Don thinks that curtailing infidelity and moderating booze will impress Fair Megan of the Legs and Insecurity.

Now, I thought Megan dumped him last season. So this re-dumping leaves me nonplussed. Still, I’m curious if the first episode’s coyote and fire portents will be literal, symbolic, or hollow. Because of all that kerfuffle about the Manson connections in her costuming, and Don’s narratively ostentatious fuss about her physical safety up in the wild Hollywood Hills.

Which brings us to episode four and my new favorite 2-person dialogue:

“It’s not symbolic.”
“No. It’s literal!”

Two souls are “lost” in this episode: Don and Margaret/Marigold.

The gloriously unwashed, celebrated id of late 60s hippie culture. And the ashamed, sweaty binge and purge of postwar capitalism.

That is, the way so many were pushed out of successful life just as so many were pushed to the margins of this show. Binge on corporate capitalism, purge all the dangerous people out.

Binge on vodka and women, purge it away to stave off despair/keep a job.

And both principles, the hippie and the salaryman, flailing in the face of our looming technocratic inevitability. The monolith.

Hippie culture of the 60s made it an American ideal to personalize and psychologize everything. The personal is political. Sure. But, at least in Mad Men , it’s very very personal.

And with the show’s continued reliance on psychology 101, I shouldn’t be surprised that he adds one more terrible mom (Marigold) to the long list of terrible moms.

Every white woman character is a different kind of horrible mom.

Black women have no backstory, of course.

The best moms were Fat Betty and Joan, and we know what Joan did to help her son. And Peggy. For whom a pregnancy, labor and delivery very much never happened.

I keep trying to drag the personal back into the political, flailing and shrieking, in my reviews here. But Wiener keeps pounding the mommy and daddy issues.

It’s like the show is perpetually 15, convinced that its new realizations about its parents’ failings have changed the shape, color, and smell of its entire world, past, present and future.

And both the hippie and the salaryman flail in the face of our looming technocratic inevitability. HAL 5000.

So if, after all of this, Don ends up a cog in Peggy’s wheel, I will be happy.

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