Mad Men: “Blowing Smoke”

This episode begins with Don having lunch with an executive from Heinz, who explains that his business is cyclical, and ketchup has become popular while his division – vinegar sauces and beans – has faded in importance. He further says that they’re not happy with their current agency, and while the man likes Don’s work, he just doesn’t trust that SCDP will be around for much longer. He then leaves, and Don calls a waiter over.

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In Ossining, we see Betty making dinner for Sally and Bobby. Sally asks why they don’t have dinner with Henry, and Betty says it’s because Henry works too late to eat with them and because they eat different foods. Sally says that she’d try new food, and Betty smiles and asks if she’d like to eat with Henry. Sally says that she does, and Betty says that she’ll think about it.

At the office, Geoffrey Atherton (Faye’s boss) tells the partners that signing new business is extremely important. He then mentions a new brand of “women’s cigarettes” that Philip Morris will soon be releasing, and he says that it would be a good match given SCDP’s past experience with Lucky Strike. He further says that he’s arranged a meeting between the folks at Philip Morris and SCDP.

We then see a quick montage of Bert and Roger strategizing in his office. Roger wants to go after a big client to make up for the loss of Lucky Strike, but Bert thinks that it would be too expensive to do so. We then see Pete and Lane in his office, and Lane thinks that they’ll need to lay off people and start thinking about subletting spare office space. We then see Ken and Harry in his office, where Harry has a drink and wonders who will return his calls now that Secor Laxatives are their largest client. Ken complains that he left a stable agency for this, and reminds Harry that he’s getting married soon. We then see Don and Faye in the conference room, discussing Philip Morris’ past marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, Sally has a secret rendezvous with Glen. They talk about how psychiatrists, and Glen says that his doctor was easy to fool. Sally, in contrast, says that Dr. Edna is smart. He reminds Sally that he told her to “kiss her mom’s ass”, and asks her who is smarter, he or Dr. Edna. He then pulls out a pack of cigarettes, and offers Sally one… but she declines. He asks if she talks about him to Betty, and Sally says that she’ doesn’t any more. Glen says that Betty doesn’t like him, but stops before revealing the real reason Betty doesn’t like him. Instead, he says that Betty doesn’t like kids, which Sally says isn’t true. The two then look at the sky for a few moments before Sally says that she has to go.

Later, Don leaves the office and runs into his old flame, Midge Daniels, in the lobby. She says that she had a meeting with some Time-Life magazine folks in the building, and she asks where he’s going. He says that he was heading home and compliments her on her looks  She says that she is too skinny, and asks if Sterling Cooper moved into the building. He brings her up to date on the goings-on with the agency. She asks if they need any freelance artists, and he tells her to ask him again in six months. Don pauses, then says that he had expected to run in to her in [Greenwich] Village, and he then tells her that he’s gotten divorced. She invites him to her home, but he declines at first. She then says that she lost her purse, and asks him to at least give her a ride home.

We then see Sally meeting with Dr. Edna. While the two play Go Fish, the doctor tells Sally that she’s pleased with her progress, and that she only needs to see Sally once a week from now on.

Don and Midge walk in to her tiny, cramped apartment, and Don is introduced to her husband, Perry Demuth, who pours them all a drink. Midge then goes to the bathroom to freshen up, and while the two are alone, Perry shows Don #4, one of Midge’s paintings. Don says that it’s nice, and Perry says that he’s misplaced his price list and offers to take whatever Don will pay for the painting. Don says that he’ll think about it, and Perry says that times are tough for them, and he knows that Midge “digs” Don and implies that Midge will sleep with him if he buys one. He then slips up and says that Midge was excited when she tracked Don down.

Don asks him to explain, but Midge walks back in the room before he can. Perry says that he’s going to make them an incredible dinner, but opens his wallet and finds it empty. He asks Midge for money, and she says that she lost her purse. Don gives him $10, and he leaves to “buy groceries”. Midge says that he’s just going to “put it in his arm” (i.e. buy heroin). Don tells Midge that he could have gotten so much more from him, if that’s why she tracked him down. Midge swears that she just wanted Don to buy a painting. She sits on the bed, and Don joins her. He asks her what heroin is like, and she replies:

“It’s like drinking 100 bottles of whiskey while someone licks your tits.”

Don looks around the awful apartment and says that it’s obviously going well for her. She says that Perry told her it would take her mind off her work, but now using heroin is a full-time job. He asks her why she just doesn’t stop, and Midge says that she can’t. He writes her a check for $300 for the painting he’s been admiring, but Midge says that she can’t get it cashed. Instead, he gives her $120 in cash. She asks if he thinks her work is any good. Don asks if it matters, and says that he doesn’t even have cab fare now. She goes to kiss him, but he pushes her away.

The next morning, we see Betty talking to Dr. Edna. She complains about Henry and compares him to Don. Edna says that Sally has made “wonderful progress” and suggests that they cut her sessions to once a week. Betty insists that Sally is no better at home, and that she’s afraid of Sally losing Dr. Edna’s good influence. Edna says that she’s noticed that Betty always has a lot to talk about during their sessions, and she wants to recommend a doctor for her. Betty refuses the idea, and insists that she wants to keep seeing Dr. Edna. The doctor tries to remind her that she’s a child psychologist, but Betty refuses her referral. Betty agrees to keep seeing Edna.

Back at the office, Don practices for his pitch with Philip Morris. Peggy knocks on the door, and Don peppers her with questions about the meeting. Megan then knocks on the door to say that Geoffrey Atherton is in the elevator on his way up, that the partners are gathering in the lobby, and that Faye called and wished him luck. Don goes to the lobby, where Pete, Roger, Bert, Lane and Harry wait Atheron’s arrival. But then Geoffrey walks in with bad news: Philip Morris has canceled the meeting and given the account to Leo Burnett. Don and Pete make several loud comments about their lack of business, and Bert tells them all to go inside.

The partners then go to Don’s office (Bert orders Harry out of the office!) and the men start loudly discussing business plans. Roger suggests that they go after large accounts, like General Motors or United Airlines. Pete asks if he thinks that’s easy, and asks Roger to try getting an account some time. Peggy, Ken and Harry listen through the wall of her office as Lane says that he’s spoken to the bank, and that they’ll extend SCDP’s line of credit if each partner comes up with $100,000 (Lane and Pete only have to put in $50,000). Massive cuts in staff will also be required. Pete objects, but Bert reminds him that it’s in his contract. Pete says that cold and flu season is starting, and that Vicks can get them to the holidays, where Sugarberry Hams and Samsonite can take over. Bert says that they should move, that they never should have rented the overpriced space in the building. Roger says that SCDP moving would look entirely too desperate. Don says that if the partners figure it out to call him. He leaves.

In Ossining, Sally and Glen are discussing their dreams. Sally talks about flying over a city in one of her dreams, only it was London, not Ossining. Sally says that she felt like she was going to heaven in the dream, but she says that she doesn’t believe in heaven. Glen asks her what she believes in if she doesn’t believe in heaven. She says “nothing”, and that it doesn’t really bother her except that it’s forever. She says that she gets upset when she thinks about forever and compares it to the girl on the Land O’ Lakes butter box, who is holding a box of Land O’ Lakes butter with her own picture on it. Glen says he wishes she hadn’t said that. She then says that she has to go.

Don has returned to the office, where Pete tells him that Philip Morris used SCDP as leverage to get a better deal out of Burnett. Pete then says everyone at Burnett is laughing at them for not even getting a meeting. Don asks Pete what he wants, and Pete says that he wants to know why he’s being punished for being the only person who dies any business at the agency. Don says that they’re all being punished. Pete says that he doesn’t have $50,000, and Don tells him to get him appointments with potential new clients.

Megan then buzzes that Peggy is there, and she asks Don what the Creative team should do. Don says that he doesn’t care. Peggy says that she’s been thinking about the agency (Don says it’s not her problem) and she reminds him of one of his old sayings: “if you don’t like what they’re saying about you, change the conversation”. Don says that they can’t do that, because what they’re saying is true. Don calls Creative the “least important
most-important thing there is”. Peggy leaves.

Later that night, Pete comes home. Trudy excitedly tells him that the bank called about his loan application, because she thinks that Pete wants to buy a house. He sighs and tells her that it’s for the agency, so they can meet payroll. She asks how much the loan is, and he tells her that it’s $50,000, and that they have $22,000 in the bank… not counting the baby gifts, which Pete says that they’ll keep. Trudy says that they need a yard for the baby to play in, but Pete says that Central Park was good enough for him. Trudy says that when you bet big and lose, you don’t double down, but Pete says that it’s in his contract, and that he’ll lose his partnership if he doesn’t pay it. Trudy sarcastically asks if he’s afraid of losing his state room on the Titanic and the forbids him from giving any money to SCDP. Pete tells her that she can’t forbid him anything. She tells him to lower his voice… and not to ask her father for the money.

At his apartment, Don walks in and picks up the painting. He walks to the door, as if to throw it away, but stops. He then stares at it for a long time:

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We then see him sitting at his desk, flipping through his diary. He rips out all the pages he’s written so far, and begins to write:

Why I’m Quitting Tobacco

Recently, my advertising agency ended a long relationship with Lucky Strike cigarettes, and I’m relieved.

For over 25 years, we devoted ourselves to peddling a product for which good work is irrelevant, because people can’t stop themselves from buying it. The product that never improves, causes illness and makes people unhappy. But there was money in it, a lot of money. In fact, our entire business depended on it. We knew it wasn’t good for us, but we couldn’t stop. And then, when Lucky Strike moved their business elsewhere, I realized here was my chance to be someone who can sleep at night because I know what I’m selling doesn’t kill my customers.

So as of today, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will no longer take tobacco accounts. We know it’s gonna be hard.

If you’re interested in cigarette work, here’s a list of agencies that do it well:

B.B.D.O.
Leo Burnett
McCann-Erickson
Cutler, Gleason & Chaough
Benton & Bowles.

As for us, we welcome all other business, because we’re certain that our best work is still ahead of us.

Sincerely,

Donald F. Draper,
Creative Director, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce

Don reads the letter aloud to us as he writes, and we see him move from writing it out by hand to typing it up, to leaving his apartment with the letter and what appears to be his checkbook. We then see him going for an early morning swim. As Don’s narration continues, we see Henry Francis looking at his morning paper… specifically at the full page ad Don has taken out in the New York Times, which contains the full text of his letter. We also see a shocked Pete reading the ad whilst eating breakfast, Roger reading it at his desk, much of the rest of the agency reading it in the elevator.

We then see Don walking in the office. Stan and other member of the Creative Team, who had been reading the ad at Megan’s desk, scatter. Don asks Megan if he’s had any calls. She says that he’s had many, mostly from reporters and members of the public.

Don walks in his office and asks Megan to get Faye on the phone, but soon all the other partners storm into his office and angrily demand to know why Don placed the ad. Pete asks why he did it, and Don says that someone had to do something. Lane says that he used the agency’s name in the ad, and he should have consulted with them before running the ad. Don asks why, because they’d only discuss it to death. Don then says that he slept the night before for the first time in a month. Roger and Lane yell at him, then Pete asks what he expected the partners to do… pat him on the back? Don says that his letter was an advertisement for the agency, and if the other partners don’t understand it, then they’re in the wrong business. Bert then accuses Don of humiliating the other partners by not including their names in the ad. Don says that he did what he thought was best for the agency, and the other partners can back him or not. Pete calls Don impatient and childish and says that Don did what was best for Don. He then accuses Don of throwing a tantrum on a full page of the New York Times. Don looks at the other partners and asks if anyone is happy about this. Roger philosophically says he’s happy that he won’t be the reason SCDP will close.

Megan interrupts, saying that Don has a phone call from Senator Robert Kennedy’s office. Don picks up the phone and is connected with the Senator… only it’s a prank call from Ted Chaough, who thanks Don for including him in his ad.

Don hangs up the phone, and Bert calls him “cynical and craven”, and says that tobacco put a roof over his head and fed his children. Don says that it also killed his business. Bert says that he thinks that Don “never had the stomach for a partnership”, and then resigns from the agency. He asks Megan to get his shoes, and Roger tells Bert to calm down. He says that he will not, then points to Don and says that they’ve “created a monster”. The other partners walk out of Don’s office, and on his way out Lane reminds Don that he’s just moved his family here… and that he’ll need his $100,000 before the end of business today.

Megan walks in and says that Faye will stop by later. She then says that she loved his letter, and loves that he stands for something. Don says that’s not what the ad was about, and she says that she gets that too: that the public will know that SCDP dumped Lucky Strike, and not the other way around. She says that it feels different around the agency.

We then see Harry, Peggy, Ken, Stan, Danny and Bill sitting in the Creative Lounge. Many, many people have called and left messages for Harry, and he entertains the crowd by going through them. Danny asks if Don is going to quit smoking, and Stan calls him an idiot. Ken says that he’s heard from most of his clients this morning, mostly out of “morbid curiosity”. He then notes that none of the clients are talking about Lucky Strike any more. Peggy, smiling, says that that was the whole idea. Harry says that everyone will be fired. Bert sticks his head in and says that it was a pleasure working with everyone… and Stan says that he didn’t think they’d start the firings with Bert. Megan then walks in and says that Don wants to see Peggy. Thinking he’s going to fire her, Peggy slowly walks to his office.

But Don isn’t firing her. Instead, he asks her who she can live without. He reads from a list Lane has provided, and Peggy notes that it’s a lot of people. She asks if SCDP is going under, and he assures her that they’re not, and that he’s only telling her this so that she’ll know what’s going on when the firings start. Don notes that she hasn’t said anything about his ad. She looks at him for a moment and says “I thought you didn’t go in for those kinds of shenanigans” with a sly smile on her face.

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Betty is driving home when she sees Sally meeting Glen. She stops the car and walks up to them. Glen flees, but can barely run fifty yards before he has to stop and catch his breath. Betty yells at him to stay away from Sally. At the house, Sally says that she and Glen are just friends, but Betty says that he is bad. Sally says that he isn’t, but Betty says that she knows him better than Sally does. Sally disagrees, and Betty sends her to her room.

At the office, Don and Megan walk up to see Faye waiting at Megan’s desk. Faye asks why Don is smiling, and he says that everyone wants to kill him, but he has a bodyguard, nodding his head towards Megan. As they walk into his office, Faye hands him a box of stuff. Don asks what it all is, and she says that Atherton is quitting SCDP because he might want a new cigarette account some day. Don says that he’s sorry, but Faye is actually happy about it, as they can now date openly. They kiss and make dinner plans for later.

Faye stops by Peggy’s office to say goodbye. Peggy is shocked, and asks if they can have a drink sometime, as she really looks up to Faye. This is because she is respected and “doesn’t have to play any games” to do her job. Faye asks if that’s what it looks like to her. She declines Peggy’s offer and says that they work together again in the future.

We then see Henry, coming home early to eat with the family. However the kids couldn’t wait, and Betty says that they can eat later. Henry insists on eating with the kids, so Betty gets up and makes him a plate of spaghetti. While doing so, she says that the neighborhood is going downhill, and thinks that it’s time to move. Henry think that’s great, but Sally runs upstairs and cries on her bed, holding the lanyard Glen gave her.

At the office, the partners call a meeting, where Joan says that layoffs should start immediately before morale is affected. Lane, ever the bean-counter, tells that partners to limit any “sympathetic adjustments” to employee’s severance packages, and to keep an eye out for disappearing office supplies. Roger asks Don if he’s going to call the American Cancer Society back, as they’ve called twice today about starting an anti-smoking campaign. Don says that that’s interesting, and Pete grumbles about public service, and how “free work” is what the agency needs to be doing right now. Harry (in the partner’s meeting for no reason) says that it’s prestigious, and Lane says that they can’t eat prestige. Don says that someone called them, and Ken notes that there are a lot of important people on the ACS’s board of directors. Roger says that he would normally consider this an opportunity, and Pete sarcastically says that Don saved the company… and now they have to fire half of it.

The meeting breaks up, and Pete asks Lane to stay behind. He tells Lane that he simply doesn’t have the money, and asks if he could have some type of advance to pay it. Lane tells Pete that Don’s already paid his share. When Pete expresses surprise, Lane says that maybe Pete wasn’t supposed to know that. Pete looks at Don, who is standing outside his office talking to Megan. As Pete walks out of the office, he silently raises his glass to Don, who nods in return.

Pete fires Danny, who holds his head up high and thanks him for the opportunity. Others leave the office in tears. Peggy and Stan try to work as sobbing people walk down the hallways. As Don invites another employee in to fire him, he looks down the hallway and sees former employees gathered together, crying.

OTHER STUFF

– This episode was directed by John Slattery and written by Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton.

– Interesting that Don met with the Heinz beans executive, and we then see a shot of Betty serving the kids hot dogs and baked beans.

– Geoffrey Atherton is almost certainly talking about Virginia Slims cigarettes, which were introduced in the United States on July 22, 1968. These cigarettes were much narrower and longer than standard “king size” cigarettes, and were pitched with the famous slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby”.

– Random Virginia Slims facts: they were test marketed in the San Francisco area. The test was supposed to last six months, but was ended after only seven weeks due to its incredible success. And although Virginia Slims’ market share has decreased due to competition and the lack of promotion, the brand remains near the top in customer loyalty.

– How interesting that Virginia Slims ads targeting women didn’t raise an eyebrow with the folks with SCDP, when Pete’s suggestion of targeting blacks (from last season’s “The Fog”) was widely ridiculed within the agency. I don’t know if that’s just how desperate SCDP is, or if the idea of targeted advertising was much more accepted by this time.

– Liked the shot of Don and Faye, with Megan in the background. No show does symbolism quite like Mad Men, no?

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“See You Later, Alligator” was a popular song in the 1950s. Originally titled “Later Alligator”, the song was written by Louisiana musician Robert Charles Guidry, and first recorded by the same under his stage name, “Bobby Charles”. Although Guidry was white, the Louisiana blues sound of the original recording led many music historians to think he was black. The most famous version of the song was recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets on December 12, 1955, and was a huge hit at the time. It should be noted that the the catchphrase was already popular by the time the Haley version hit the charts.

– The “proper” response to “see you later, alligator” is “after [a] while, crocodile”.

Go Fish is a simple card game. I can’t imagine anyone growing up in the United States or Canada not knowing all about the game (thanks to its simple rules the game is popular with children). But I included it here in the recap for completeness’ sake, and in case someone from Germany (or some other country that’s never heard of the game) wants to know.

Brendan Behan and Dylan Thomas were both poets from the British Isles. Behan was Irish and Thomas was Welsh. Perry doesn’t look like either of them.

– An afterimage is an optical illusion created by staring at an image for 30-60 seconds and then quickly looking at a white surface. One of my favorite afterimages is this one, an American flag with incorrect colors that looks correct after staring at it for a minute or so.

– $10 in 1965 is worth around $67.30 today, although I don’t know how much heroin you could buy for that kind of money.

– $300 1965 dollars is worth around $2,018 today, and $120 1965 dollars is worth around $807 today.

– You can see a high-res version of Midge’s painting at AMC’s site here.

– Dr. Edna wants to refer Betty to her friend, Dr. Evelyn Shapiro. A Google search of the name comes up with a professor in Canada and the “Evelyn Shapiro Foundation Fellowship” at The Clay Studio, a ceramics studio in Philadelphia.

Leo Burnett was one of the single most important ad men of the 20th century. Born in Michigan on October 21, 1891, Burnett attended the University of Michigan, where he majored in journalism. In 1917, he moved to Detroit, where we went to work for the Cadillac Motor Company as a copywriter. In less than two years, he became their advertising manager. He held jobs at various ad agencies in the Midwest before being hired by Erwin Wasey & Company as creative head in 1930 (Wasey was mentioned in “The Beautiful Girls”). In 1935, Burnett left to start his own agency, which seemed to crank out advertising icon after advertising icon, including the Jolly Green Giant, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger, Charlie the Tuna, Morris the Cat and (relevant to this episode) the Marlboro Man. This is interesting in itself: Lucky Strike was the #1 cigarette brand in the United States for decades, and both Philip Morris and Burnett’s own research indicated that the new, filtered cigarettes introduced in the 1950s were considered “unmanly” by most male smokers. So Burnett came up with the most macho, most American image he could think of (the cowboy) and created an ad campaign behind it. Very quickly, Marlboro went from 1% market share to the most popular cigarette brand in the world. As luck would have it, the Marlboro Man also translated well into other media: where Winston and Lucky Strike struggled to come up with ideas after cigarette advertising was banned on TV, Philip Morris easily came up with hundreds of billboards and magazine ads for their product.

– $100,000 in 1965 is around $672,882 today. Pete’s share would be half that, or $336,441.

Mary Poppins was released on August 27, 1964.

– The common name for the recursive image Sally describes with the Land O’ Lakes girl is the Droste effect, after a Dutch brand of cocoa that has a similar image on it. Here’s a picture:

Droste box

– Pete has $22,000 in the bank, or around $148,034.13 in 2009 dollars.

– During the argument, we find out that Pete and Trudy’s baby is named Tammy!

– The copy of the New York Times we see everyone reading is “genuine”, in the sense that it’s the actual newspaper that was published on September 16, 1965 (in the elevator, you can clearly see an article about U Thant, then Secretary-General of the United Nations. The text of the article can be accessed here if you’re an NYT subscriber). Of course, the newspapers are most likely reprints, or a modern newspaper with just the 1965 NYT cover page. Still, that’s how that day’s Times looked, and it helps up date this episode.

– Emerson Foote, who Megan casually mentions when Don asks about his messages, was one of the top mangers at Lord and Thomas, the third oldest advertising agency in the world. Founded in Chicago in 1873, the firm was home to Albert Lasker, a man many consider to be the “father of modern advertising”. Lasker started at Lord and Thomas as a clerk, but became a salesmen when an existing salesman quit. When Lord retired in 1903, Lasker bought his share and became a partner. He bought out the rest of the firm in 1912. In 1942, Lasker sold the agency to his top salesmen, Emerson Foote in New York, Fairfax Cone in Chicago and Don Belding in California. The agency was known as Foote, Cone & Belding until 2006, when the firm merged with another agency called Draft to become Draftfcb.

– Albert Lasker was famous for getting women to smoke. His agency had the Lucky Strike account, and both he and American Tobacco noticed that men smoked in much larger numbers than women. So Lasker started in ad campaign in which he told women that they’d stay slender by smoking Lucky Strike cigarettes… and it worked. Soon the number of women smoking was only slightly less than men.

– Emerson Foote, a former chain-smoker, ended up despising tobacco, and famously quit his job as chairman of McCann-Erickson after the Surgeon General’s famous report linked smoking with lung cancer. Foote also forced Foote, Cone and Belding to resign their American Tobacco account in 1948. Worth $12 million at the time (or $105,771,629, today) it remains the largest account any ad agency anywhere in the world has ever voluntarily resigned. Read more about Foote here.

– When Peggy comments on Don’s “shenanigans”, she’s almost certainly talking about the Sugarberry Farms publicity stunt she pulled in “Public Relations”.

– La Caravelle was an elegant restaurant located at 33 W. 55th Street. Opened in 1960, the restaurant closed in 2004 after the owners couldn’t negotiate a new lease with the new property owners, and because the owners were approaching retirement age. You can read the restaurant’s “obituary” here.

Rye, New York is located in Westchester County. Note that the city of Rye (where Henry suggests they move) is different from the neighboring town of Rye. Note also that the town of Rye is significantly larger than the city of Rye (2000 census populations: 43,880 vs. 14,955). The city was the boyhood home of John Jay, a Founding Father and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the city’s milestones were originally laid by Benjamin Franklin. As Bobby notes, the city is also home to Playland, the only government-owned amusement park in the United States. A 2010 survey by real estate giant Coldwell Banker notes that Rye is the “third most expensive city” to buy a home in the entire United States.

– Glen gave Sally the lanyard in “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”.

– The closing credit song this week is “Trust in Me”. It was written in 1937 by Ned Wever, Milton Ager, and Jean Schwartz, and was first a hit for singer Mildred Bailey. The song was revived by Louis Jordan and Eddie Fisher in 1951, but the version heard in this episode was recorded in 1961 by Etta James. It hit #30 on the charts. More recently, the song was covered by Beyoncé for the Cadillac Records soundtrack. The lyrics are as follows:

Trust in me in all you do
Have the faith I have in you
Love will see us through
If only you trust in me
Why don’t you, you trust me?

Come to me when things go wrong
Cling to me daddy, woah yeah and I’ll be strong
We can get along, we can get along
Oh, if only you trust in me

While there’s a moon, a moon up high
While there are birds, birds to fly
While there is you, a you and I
I can be sure that I love you, oh

Stand beside me, stand beside me all the while
Come on daddy face the future, why don’t you smile?
Trust in me and I’ll be worthy of you
Oh yeah, yeah, why don’t you
You trust in me in all you do?

And have the faith that I, I have in you
Oh, and love will see us through
If only you trust in me
Yeah yeah yeah

Why don’t you, you come to me, when things go wrong
Cling to me and woah, and I’ll be strong
We can get along, we can get along
Oh, if only you trust in me, yeah

MY THOUGHTS

Can I be honest for a bit here? I love this show, which is probably obvious by the fact that I do the recaps and everything. But I’m getting pretty tired of people finding hidden meaning in everything on the show.

I know I’m guilty of doing this myself, but I’ve just read so many things in the past few weeks where seemingly anything that happens on the show has some hidden meaning to certain fans. It seems like a lot of hardcore Mad Men fans are turning into Lost fans, and I’m troubled by that.

Honestly folks, I don’t think it matters what exact angle Peggy sits at her desk, or which wrist Megan wears a bracelet on, or where Don takes Faye to dinner. It’s just a TV show, not a treasure hunt. Relax.

With that out of the way… I knew in my bones that it would be Midge making a return, although I had no idea it would be as a heroin addict. It seems like a cheap ploy in a way, but I’ll go with it, I guess… because of the symbolism between Midge and heroin made Don think of SCDP and its tobacco money. I still wonder what Midge meant by saying that her marraige was “not romantic”. Does she mean that it was just to keep Perry out of Vietnam? That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

I’m not sure I buy Don placing that ad in the newspaper, either. I guess my biggest problem would be that he’d do it without consulting the other partners first. Don can sell anything to anyone, and it’s nice to see the old, ass-kicking Don back. But I’m sure there are idiots out there (mostly the kind who like to say “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission”) who are all for Don’s action. It just seemed shocking to me, is all.

I just can’t believe Betty, though. I defended January Jones as an actress for so long… because Betty Francis is a cold, repressed person. And I defended Betty Draper as a neglected housewife who just needed sexual release far more than Don was giving it to her. But Betty is really just a bad parent. Moving your children is traumatic, but blatantly moving them to get away from a neighborhood boy is just beyond the pale. But Betty’s just soooo hot though. I just can’t resist her siren song:

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One last thing… is Bert really gone?

I guess we shouldn’t expect any resolution in the season finale next week, huh? I’ll be sad to see the show go for the next eight months… but I can’t wait until next Sunday!

9 Replies to “Mad Men: “Blowing Smoke””

  1. So, a few comments and one point. I love these recaps. They were fabulous last season before I had started watching Mad Men and now I have to be sure to scroll fast past them in my RSS feed if I haven’t watched the Tivo yet. 🙂 Keep up the good work.

    But, I think you miss the cultural signifigance of why they didn’t want to target the “negro” market in the TV Set ads. It was the culture of the time that white folks wouldn’t have bought something explicitly deemed as a “black” item. After all segregation was still around even if NYC didn’t participate, look at the treatment of the elevator “boy” in previous seasons for clues to that cultures treatment of African-Americans. They weren’t equals, they were lesser peoples. Sure, they were free, but they didn’t “count.” OTOH, the wife would be the one making the purchases of cigarettes and floor cleaner and asking for the new TV. Marketing to her was almost as de rigeur as it would be today. Women were everywhere. They may not have had as much explicit power as men, but their buying influence was just as great and in a lot of ad-buying areas even greater. After all, do you think the men of the ’60’s would go around buying floor cleaner? Or “vinegar, sauces and beans?” Plus, Playtex and Vaseline had been advertising just to women for years (see the previous episode).

    Also, Sally is the one who said she had to go in the 2nd tryst scene. Midge didn’t finish her drink, she poured it into Don’s glass after taking a sip. 😀 Take it easy.

  2. Hey Chip! Good to see ya, bud!

    Yeah, I made a couple of corrections based on what you wrote. When I was writing this, I’d even looked up “Fritos” on Wikipedia to make sure that Sally could have had some to save for Glen… but somewhere between point A and point B I got those two mixed up. And I changed the drink thing just because I don’t think one can “wolf down” a drink! 🙂

    Yeah, I get your point about advertising to women. I even noted in the History Blog article about cereal that manufacturers targeted women in the 1930s because they did all the shopping; Wheaties came up with a “Dennis the Menace” type character called “Skippy” in their radio ads who was really popular with kids, and this was probably the first everyday, non-toy consumer item that kids convinced their parents to buy.

    Anyway, while you’re probably right, there were still gender roles back then, and I can’t help but think that a “woman’s cigarette” would be at least partially ridiculed… unless the advertising market had changed by that point, which is what I was asking. It seemed to me that many in SC ridiculed the very idea of targeted marketing, while a few other (like Don) saw the value of it, but didn’t want to associate their client’s products with blacks. I dunno. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

    Glad to see you like the recaps! 🙂

  3. Hi Jim,

    Love your historical recap of each episode, I’m totally hooked. As far as Mad Men fans turning into Lost fans, let’s just hope it doesn’t trickle up the actual creators. Lost ultimately got victimized by its dorko and persnickety fans, and the narrative and plotlines of the show suffered. Matthew Weiner isn’t making appearances on Comic Con, thankfully. That said, this season is by far I think one of the best of the series, and I’m at a loss to predict the arc of the finale. Also, I was surprised a bit by Faye blowing off Peggy when Peggy showed interest in hanging out. I had been waiting for a scene between these two ladies. They are both single, independent, from working-class backgrounds, and out to undermine a male-dominated business paradigm – Faye via the psychological subversion of focus group studies, and Peggy by blood and sweat. I suppose it makes sense that Faye is a bit snobby about Peggy. It is not a pretty playing field for the ladies.

    Can’t believe only one more episode!

  4. Nice recap as usual Jim!
    I had totally forgotten about Midge-I didn’t record it-but when she said her marriage was “not romantic” didn’t she also say something like “it’s for the dough” ? I’m not sure what that means either.
    I thought Don taking an ad out in the Times was great! To me, totally Don Draper. Like he said-it was an ad for the agency. Turning their loss of a major client into a faux concern about tobacco will win them new clients-I think. Very interesting similar real life story about Mr. Foote too.
    Man, only one more episode???

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