Review: Mad Men - The Grown-Ups
by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 2nd 2009 12:52AM
(S03E12) "The whole country's drinking." - Pete, to Trudy
When Joel talked to Mad Men creator and writer Matthew Weiner last month, he wouldn't say when or how the show would deal with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. We all knew it was coming, since last week's episode was set on Halloween, but I actually thought it would happen in the season finale. But they addressed it tonight.
They say November 22, 1963 is the day America changed, and I would say that the lives of the people in and around Sterling Cooper changed too, in various ways and for various reasons.
The Kennedy assassination is a tricky thing to tackle. It's been done so many times in so many ways in pop culture that I wouldn't have been surprised if Weiner and company had skipped it altogether (well, they couldn't do that, but they could have touched on it lightly). But really, you can't have a show set in the early 60s and have it not be covered in a major way and affect the characters in a major way, so I'm glad this episode completely revolved around that week in November.
Here's how it has affected the characters:
- Betty is already messed up by the Don/Dick revelation, and now she is overwhelmed by JFK's death, then the Oswald shooting, and her feelings for Henry. If Betty's seemingly new found love for Don after the revelation was surprising, her stunning admission that she no longer loves him was even more surprising, and really puts the Drapers in a tailspin as the season finale comes up. Sad, really. I thought the two were stronger.
- I was really impressed by Pete and Trudy in this episode. Pete gets screwed over at work again and decides to leave for home early. When the news bulletin comes on TV about Kennedy, Pete is the one who wonders why Harry is just looking at his papers worrying about which commercials won't be shown. Pete is the one who wonders why the hell they're going to go to a wedding on a day like that. And just when you think Trudy is going to pester him about it, she actually is happy he's going to stay home, watching the TV coverage with him, and she knows he's been pushed around at work too. I've always liked Trudy.
- I wonder if Don and Peggy are going to have to scrap that ad campaign for Aqua Net. I think a lot of shows wouldn't even have discussed the ad campaign in an earlier episode and would have just shown the drawings suddenly in this episode so we see the resemblance to what happened. I didn't even think of that. But Mad Men is good at foreshadowing things like that, and I love being reminded and surprised.
- Duck seemed genuinely concerned about calling his kids, but he certainly doesn't let JFK's death get in the way of his hotel romp with Peggy. He didn't even tell her about it! I hope she remembers that before going to work for him.
- I love how the Kennedy news was revealed in this episode, in Harry's office while he was talking to Pete, the TV on in the background but the sound turned down low. If you're not the type of person who looks for things in the background (a must for this show) you might have missed it. Harry was watching the CBS soap As The World Turns.
- I haven't figured out why the show opened up with the office so cold, but I love the little touch of Lane taking off his glove to shake Pete's hand. So proper and sincere, too.
- Does every wedding Roger is involved in turn out odd? At his own wedding he dresses up in blackface, and now his daughter's wedding is on the same day as JFK's assassination. (Update: a reader reminded me that Roger did the blackface at a party, not his wedding.)
- I love how Roger not only called Joan (glad to see Christina Hendrick's in this episode, even for just a little bit - for a while there it looked like she wouldn't be in it), but he called her right in front of his wife! She was shit-faced, sure, but still! It's great how Roger and Joan are friends, as well as ex-lovers.
- Great to see Betty and Carla sharing a smoke!
- I wish this episode had at least a little Sal.
- So who were the grown-ups in this episode? Or did every character turn into a grown-up tonight?
"I think it's good you're being picky. Finally." - Peggy
"Then why are you seeing him?" - girl, to Peggy, about Duck not being married
"Just because she went to India doesn't mean she's not an idiot." - Mona, to her daughter
"I don't know what kind of world you live in, but I'm the good person here." - Jane
"They're a couple of homos. Tell them you have plans." - Duck, to Peggy
"I know a nooner when I hear one." - Paul, to Peggy
"How would you know what a monster looks like?" - Jane, about Oswald
"He was so handsome. And now I'll never get to vote for him." - drunk Jane, about JFK
"Everthing's going to be fine." - Don
"How do you know that?" - Betty