Extra short-form mild neck-injury blogging
Mad Men as the antidote to Hollywood’s women-get-in-the-way-of-male-bonding-especially-when-they-do-that-castration-thing-they-do narratives. (Yes, I saw The Hangover. The zither soundtrack was unbearable. But at least the misogyny was fresh! And there was even a prostitute with a heart of gold. Didn’t see that coming.)
I’m only on Disc 3 of Season One trying to catch up, but the last episode I watched ended with Betty, cigarette dangling from her lips, shooting the neighbor’s pigeons after he threatens the family dog. I was sure it was going to be Don doing something like this after he learned about the incident from his daughter, but was quite happily suprised to see Betty taking up the challenge. The reckless use of firearms certainly suggests she can male bond with the best of them if given the chance.Posted by on 08/24 at 10:04 AM
Betty is indeed a complex character, as Amanda pointed out recently. When you get further along in the series, let me know what you think of that curious combination of hard-as-nails demeanor and thwarted-smart-woman-in-bad-marriage.Posted by on 08/24 at 10:08 AM
Interesting how little “female bonding” there in Mad Men—or how truncated, abbreviated, silent, angry that bonding is. Think of Betty and divorcée Helen Bishop from Season One, but also that terrifically uncomfortable scene with Peggy and Joan at the train station, where every extended hand gets slapped back, then re-invited. It’s puts a whole new spin on the no-so-casual drink breaks among the male characters and Don’s challenge to Peggy that she drink like a man.
This week’s episode (S03 E02) was particularly strong, in my opinion, when it came to women talking and not talking. I loved how so many of the scenes ended on a cut from a moment of anger, frustration, or not-always-quiet desperation among the women. Think of the quick cuts after Betty yells as the kids ("What are you doing!” [CUT]), or snaps at the secretary ("Just tell me first how long I’m going to be here” [CUT]), or refuses to rise to Don’s power-plays ("she’s really kicking”; “just throw it on the chair and stay here” [PAUSE, UNCLASP WATCH, CUT]).
Or think of how many scenes cut away from Peggy’s silence—for example, from her reaction to being reprimanded by Don to the elevator doors (almost) closing on her before Sterling squeezes in. Or her singing “Bye-Bye Birdie” to the mirror.
But heck, I liked all those cut-lines, even “Ah, the coquilles! Brilliant!” Indeed. Now who’s ready to talk about Pampers?Posted by on 08/24 at 10:36 AM
Oops, forgot the bonding moment. Bro! Hope your neck’s okay! Thanks for sharing your vulnerability.
Actually, I do hope it’s okay.Posted by on 08/24 at 10:50 AM
One of my readers just proposed television, more generally, as the solution to a similar complaint I made on my own blog (about the vapidity and incoherence of female characters in movie comedies), and I think she’s right--maybe the long-form narrative means writers actually have to think about developing interesting, complex female characters.
And hey, commenter Nashe: are you secretly my boyfriend? We just watched that MM episode the other night. At any rate, I too have some catching up to do--but so far I agree with Michael’s proposition. And assessment of The Hangover.Posted by Flavia on 08/24 at 11:00 AM
Mad Men cured me of my explosive diarrhea and enabled me to understand all of humanity for 12 seconds, whereafter I done forgot.
Include your personal miracle testimony and a $5 donation to the Church of That Hot Secretary Who Became Roger’s Second Wife and be rewarded with a prayer cloth in an early 60s color that no long exists.Posted by on 08/24 at 11:06 AM
My miracle testimony: I used to be a Judd Apatow fan, but after Mad Men, I got really outraged that there are so few good female characters in movie comedies.
And it’s wonderful to hear that Flavia agrees with me about The Hangover. What do we want? The space-age Dezitherer®! When do we want it? Now! Also, comedies with 80 percent less misogyny.
Peter @ 3 reminds me of one of Betty’s nastier moments—setting up Sara Beth for that affair with the horse-stable guy (Arthur Case) who’d been pursuing Betty, and then lambasting her for the affair over the phone. And Peter @ 4, I’m not sharing my vulnerability, dude. I’m a guy—I don’t have any vulnerabilities. I’m just explaining the recent cutbacks around here.
Ow ow ow, my arm. Good thing my PT is a strong woman.Posted by on 08/24 at 11:33 AM
I am in an ongoing Netflix battle in my household to catch up--I keep putting the next MM episodes at the top of the queue, and my wife (who found the pilot of MM too misogynistic and uninteresting to continue the series) replaces it with old SNL best-of compilations. So, a) I don’t think I’m secretly your boyfriend, and b) I can’t get caught up fast enough! (They only put three of those things on a dvd, damn them.)Posted by on 08/24 at 12:13 PM
I just read recently that a lot of the scenarios the female characters find themselves in are based on incidents in the lives of the largely female Mad Men writing staff. As a single professional woman I really identify with Peggy in particular myself. I guess sexism is timeless.Posted by on 08/24 at 03:10 PM
One would hope that this thread could encourage and promote these fine intelligent women to comment and critique. If the reporter/blogger in the piece is correct, the women actually had a deep and passionate discussion along these lines.Posted by on 08/24 at 03:23 PM
I thought Peggy’s singing in the mirror was kind of sad. But I’m glad she got her some then walked out. Without even a sex-typed, cliched, “see you again?” or “call me.” Good for her. I also am certain Don recognizes her as an equal, or at least as someone worth mentoring to that role.Posted by on 08/24 at 09:43 PM
Easier said than done.Posted by aisw on 08/25 at 03:41 AM
Peggy’s reflects the character of today’s women…
Mbg IS right to certain extent, she is perfect to that role…Posted by Jen on 08/25 at 07:57 AM
This is, like, a TV program?Posted by on 08/25 at 09:39 AM
Michael, did they approve that MRI yet? I hope y’all have read this article in Sunday’s Post that somehow slipped past Fred Hiatt. Quote:
In the United States, an MRI scan of the neck region costs about $1,500. In Japan, the identical scan costs $98. Under the pressure of cost controls, Japanese researchers found ways to perform the same diagnostic technique for one-fifteenth the American price. (And Japanese labs still make a profit.)
As for misogynistic comedies: you mean women aren’t there only as background props for the life of men? Communist!!!Posted by on 08/25 at 10:28 AM
Christian, if you didn’t hate America so much you’d know that we have the best health care system in the world. Besides, in East Asian cultures they turn grandparents over to the death panels, whereas U.S. eldercare is the envy of Othercountriestan.
No, no MRI yet. More PT for now.Posted by on 08/25 at 10:35 AM
As for misogynistic comedies: you mean women aren’t there only as background props for the life of men? Communist!!!
Communist? Are you kidding? According to the Monsieur’s commentariat, Professor B. gets the vapors from anyone to the left of Phyllis Schlafly.
This is, like, a TV program?
Oh, come on, Mr. DeMilo. Even I am tangentially aware of the Mad Men audiovisual entertainment, and I don’t even have a converter box for my elderly analog television.Posted by on 08/25 at 10:46 AM
Yeah, Sven, you are fooling nobody. A week ago it might have worked, but after Michael ruining his shoulder furiously typing out a post on the season premiere last week, the game is up.
And mds: are you suggesting Phyllis Schlafly is not a communist? Traitor.Posted by on 08/25 at 11:12 AM
Communism: a choice, not an echo.Posted by Phyllis Schlafly on 08/25 at 02:56 PM
Alas, I have seen only one episode of the show, this year’s season premiere, and am not yet sure if I really want to netflix it.
That said, this post, however brief, is definitely a mark in the “yes” column.
Also good luck with the pinched nerve. The neck/arm/nerve thing really sucks.Posted by bitchphd on 08/26 at 05:31 PM
and am not yet sure if I really want to netflix it.
That’s a verb now, too? O Twentieth Century of the Christian Era, I hardly knew you. It’s like everyone’s generating their own grammar these days.Posted by on 08/26 at 06:56 PM
Indeed, “netflix” has already generated a whole host of spinoff verbs, like “netflixiate” and “netflixify.” The premiere of season 3 was kind of tepid, Dr. B.—mostly table-setting, I think. It’s definitely worth netflixorizing—that’s what we did with season one, and it led us to boxedsetacquire season two.Posted by Michael on 08/26 at 10:09 PM
And viddy season three realtime as it unfolds all choodessny before your astonished glazzies.Posted by on 08/26 at 10:53 PM
GAAAAAAAAH!Posted by on 08/27 at 08:58 AM
What was that!!!Posted by Jen on 08/28 at 12:49 AM