April 30, 2012
5.7: Some Things Never Change

This week we got a longer look at our characters home lives — Peggy’s “sinful” cohabitation decision, Megan’s thwarted dreams and dysfunctional parents, Sally peeking through a “dirty” looking glass. Weiner makes our relationships with our parents — their expectations versus our expectations, the way they boost us and the way they let us down — central to this episode, and so for me this episode was classic Mad Men in the way it hewed so closely to a central conceit of the show … the outsized influence our parents have on our lives, for good and ill. And that the patterns we learn at Sally’s age are likely to be repeated again and again.

"Don’t let your love for this man stop you from what you wanted to do," Megan’s father tells her. I always thought Megan wanted to work in advertising, but I guess she made that declaration while coming onto Don towards the end of the previous season, so I’m really not sure what her true passion is. Dr. Calvet’s view is certainly colored by his celebration of the working class, and the marrying-into-easy-wealth seemed to be among his hangups about his daughter’s situation, but at the heart of that conversation seemed to be true parental desire for his daughter to become fully actualized and liver her best life. Is Don lifting her up or dragging her down?

Megan herself seemed unsure of the answer after using her role as a wife — the gals-in-the-ladies-room reveal — to help save the agency from losing the account. During the next morning’s celebrations, when Peggy was telling Megan “this is the best this job gets,” did Megan have the same exuberance as her colleagues? What is it that would REALLY maker her happy, professionally? It doesn’t seem like it’s advertising, no matter how much it turns on her husband in the backseat of the car… 

Speaking of fun times between men and woman, how about that cohabitation! Before cohabitation was accepted! Census numbers from 1960 show fewer than 1000 couples lived together without being married and even that number was overstated. “Using a consistent measure with a consistent source suggests that the increase in cohabitation between 1960 and 2000 was more than 60% greater than previously recognized,” say researchers from the University of Minnesota.

While Peggy seemed disappointed she didn’t get a proposal, her relationship with Joan has evolved enough for her to get a huge boost when Joan called the living-together decision “brave.” I also thought it telling of a stronger bond between to the two ladies when Joan admitted that Greg’s “piece of paper from the US Army” was more important than the marriage certificate he has with her.

And I finally get to Sally. I, like Sally, was eager to start acting like a grown up, be around grownups, and look like a grown up when I was her age. But I cannot imagine walking into a situation like she did … having to stare a fish head in the face AND catch Roger getting a beej? I wish she stayed a kid longer. That girl already had a life full of therapy in front of her; let’s go ahead and tack a few more years of analysis on after the awards night shenanigans.

The things that never change:

- Don’s “studying” how to be a person all the time, as Megan’s father recognized.

- Sally’s problem with the truth continues into this season. 

- Sterling’s Gold. I am so glad Roger went on that life-changing LSD trip. He really IS so full of life and ambition again. He’s gotten rid of his anchors, ahem, wives (even though he’s paying for them), and again full of his sharp, Sterling one-liners. 

- Which Bobby actor are we on? Number seven? 

To beautiful dishes, glassware and napalm,

E

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