It’s Wings, Daddy
Bill Watterson, the Calvin and Hobbes showrunner, found Sunday strips frustrating because they had to be prepared weeks in advance and, because of subscription/space irregularities, couldn’t be crucial to the story. In television terms, a Sunday strip would be your closest thing to a disposable hour. Every show, if it’s wise, invokes this principle at least once a season. You punch holes in the box, let everybody breathe, and then you judge that show based on the strength of its Sunday strips.
After three weeks of dreams, trips and Swedish orphanages, which by the way Ginsberg may not have actually grown up in one but he definitely buys his clothes there: Mad Men did a Sunday strip. No big plotty things happened, even by season five’s Altman-like standards: people even did some actual work. I’d prepared some remarks about this season’s flattened work ethic, and how during this period work was, for the first time really, allowed to be incrementally less important in many people’s lives. But then the new episode rotated on the Heinz account and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s alliance with the American Cancer Society, née American Society for the Control of Cancer. Mary Lasker, who once threw a farewell party for Harry Truman, tinkled silver with Big Tobacco apostates who, for the first time all season, don’t stop working, with one lewd exception.
During season four, people started complaining about the reduced quality of SCDP’s creative work and it was no truer than criticism of the Studio 60 sketches. But the Heinz Beans: Some Things Never Change tagline really was kind of terrible. I get that it’s 1966, space is the go-to app, and everyone’s got moon on the brain, but this makes Peggy’s bean ballet look like the Kennedy Inagural. I was stunned that Peggy didn’t hate Megan for horning in; I am becoming more and more convinced that Peggy may actually be a Good Person. She may also be a mistress of manipulation who’s securing Megan’s vote for when she leads an office coup.
Episode by episode, Peggy is acquiring an air of inevitability. I just realized she’s the Chris Moltisanti/Jimmy Darmody character, not Pete, only instead of tragedy befalling her I expect her to tell Don, in a distant season, to get fucked and then go start the world’s first all-woman agency. Their first product will be a McGovern button that doubles as a roach clip.
Megan’s parents visit. Despite this, Don and Megan are trending up on Intrade. Don reads a book in bed, belying my belief in his permission to, and by a Jew! From a thought bubble above him, Rachel Mencken watches.
Megan’s parents are really fucked up! He’s a Philip Roth character, she’s every Roger Sterling wet-dream rolled in flour—a little bit mature, a little bit sad, a lot like she used to be the girlfriend of a boxer or something. (Sterling used to box, remember Annabelle?) I wondered last season who in 1941 would name their daughter Megan. Now I see who: these people!
“One day she will spread her legs and fly away” Dr. Calvet says to Don re: Sally. A million Take Your Daughter To Work Days shrivel and die.
The scene where Don turns and sees Sally in her fancy tween clothes was just like the one where Stephen Dorff sees Elle Fanning in Somewhere, the best movie ever made about a Sally Draper by a Sally Draper. Don, of course, has no sense of humor about adolescence. On The West Wing when the First Lady tells Bartlet his grown daughter Ellie wore makeup to the debate and he goes “I don’t approve of that” he was almost certainly joking, lol! Whereas Draper never met a stern look he didn’t mean.
Sally’s phoners with Glen, who is rounding into fighting shape if that fight is with a man made of Ramen, contained some of the most intense dialogue ever on the show. The pair of them are basically in à nos amours. If we understand Sally’s raved-up sexual curiosity as a kind of identikit for everyone born in 1954, it was my mom’s 58th birthday yesterday, and I can pretty much guarantee she and Sally Draper do not have similar Pinterests. But if Sally is slightly atypical with her high marks in anatomy, her reaction to Roger’s blow job was totally standardized. In conference with Glen later, he asks her how the city is and she’s all “dirty”. End credits. Hilarious.
There’s a reference to “the new Albee play” which is A Delicate Balance not Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, aka last time on Mad Men. But if this episode were a play it’d be Thomas Babe’s A Prayer For My Daughter. Of the two Sopranos children, Boardwalk Empire is about sons and what they’re up to; Mad Men is increasingly about daughters and what they’re in for.