LadyGhosts of TV Past

Mad Men: They Shoot Fat Girls, Don’t They?

Previously on Mad Men:

Don had an extended flashback, told off some hipsters, and brought an account home with Peggy’s ideas. Peggy went there on an office couch with Pete and ripped her blouse. She was also awesome and adorable on the dance floor. Sal almost went there with a lipstick executive, but he couldn’t and it was very sad. Pete was a jerk to everyone and somehow got at least one woman, probably two, to go there with him. Somehow.

The Draper kids are playing with the guilt puppy, who has grown quite a bit, in the yard while Betty does some pruning. She is wearing some pretty amazeballs white sunglasses, and I don’t think this is the last time we see them. I always appreciate it when shows actually recycle costume pieces as if they are dressing normal human beings.

The next yard over, a man opens a box to release some pigeons. Okay. So. I have questions, or rather I have one question: who keeps pigeons in Ossining? Like, don’t people move away from the city to escape things like pigeons? Sally and Bobby, who do not know any better, are entranced by the birds flying away, and Betty stands looking up at them. The neighbor man shakes a tin of seeds (maybe? I don’t know things about pigeon husbandry) to call the birds back and waves at Betty. She waves one polka dot gardening glove back at him.

We fade to a very fancy lobby, where Don is standing and smoking, waiting for someone. A bald man walks down the stairs and greets him. They have a moment for ugh, I never would have gotten rich if I had known that attending performances was a requirement, except that isn’t what they say, but they do establish that they are at a show. Then they establish that Bald Guy is an ad man at another agency, the agency that picked up the Israeli tourism contract that Don must have failed to deliver while he was out offending Jewish ladies who are too good for him, and attending bad coffee house open mic nights in the Village. It comes up that some rich men have been talking about Don, while sitting around a steam room in their towels it should be noted.

Bald Guy’s end game is to schmooze Don for McCann, which is a much bigger agency. Their wives join them, and Bald Guy’s wife, who is clearly no stranger to this game is like,  OH YOU MUST BE IN ADVERTISING SINCE WE ARE DEIGNING TO SPEAK WITH YOU NO REALLY I WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT IF YOU WOULD TALK ABOUT ADVERTISING SOME MORE I FIND IT SO RIVETING. When Betty asserts that Don is capable of being interesting, Bald Guy’s wife–and yeah, I think we did get both of their names, but I like calling him Bald Guy–whisks Don off to fetch drinks with her, leaving Betty and Bald Guy to shuffle their feet awkwardly in front of the world’s most ridiculous chandelier/fountain thing.

Betty breaks the awkwardness by whipping out a cigarette for him to light, and oh, how I wish for the days when that gesture was universal language for hey, isn’t this awkward/obnoxious/boring. Bald Guy compliments her by asking if she’s an actress, and she responds that she’s just a house wife, but she was a model “in another lifetime.” He calls her a dead ringer for Grace Kelly, and posits that he might be able to use her on Coca Cola’s international campaign. For her “European face,” you see.

She says she’s retired, but he asks her to think about it. “Your color with a green bottle and an Irish setter!”

Don and Wife of Bald Guy return with drinks and everyone hurries to get re-lubricated for the second act. I have to wonder if live performance venues would be suffering so much if they started encouraging public intoxication and liveblogging. I’d be more likely to go to the opera. Still just about as likely to pay the ticket price, though, so that is to say, not likely.

Don adjusts the radio dial on the Buick. – BUICK! I totally forgot that they had a Buick in the first season. Quick side note: my very first car was a Buick and that thing was a fucking yacht of a grandma car, but a disagreement between my mother and the entrance to the old, former carriage house garage resulted in only one side mirror, which was eventually replaced by my boyfriend with a mismatched one so that I could, you know, see in my blind spots, and by the time I was driving it, half of the paint had peeled off so it looked kind of like Shrek, if Shrek were a rusty blue Buick. I really loved that car. It eventually self-destructed in dramatic fashion by popping off one of the suspension parts and puncturing a rear tire while we were going down a steep hill, but damn, did people get the hell out of the way when they saw that thing coming. The end. – Don is coughing that worrying cough of his. Betty regards him for a moment, and then asks why he didn’t want to go to dinner with Bald Guy and Wife of Bald Guy. Don replies that people like that only talk business because they have nothing else to talk about. Betty discloses that Bald Guy passed her his card, and Don’s first two responses are: 1) He must have meant you to give it to me; 2) He must want to bang you. While those responses are probably accurate, it still makes him a dick. Betty asks if she’s really that wrong for Coca Cola and gives him a winning smile, and Don says she’s not wrong for anything. Except gun control lobbying, probably.

She asks if he’s going to go over to Bald Guy’s agency, and Don makes no reply.

In the Draper residence, presumably the next day, Francine asks how “Fiorello with an exclamation point” was. Betty admits that she probably isn’t going to be able to drag Don back to Broadway any time soon. Betty brings up Bald Guy’s job offer, and Francine is like HAHA NICE ONE, Betty says that Don thought the man was trying to sleep with at least one of them and he wasn’t fond of the idea of either. They giggle.

Betty says she did do some modeling, did you know? Francine did not know, which I find incredibly difficult to believe, but I feel like Francine would also probably not say YES, FOR THE THOUSANDTH TIME, YES because suburban wives have to band together against boredom and suburban divorcees. Betty continues that she got started in Italy after college with one Italian designer who loved Americans. Francine: “He loved American girls!” Betty insists that it was more of an artist-muse relationship. Francine: “Okay”¦”

Betty lays a dress bag on the bed and opens it to reveal a multicolored designer wardrobe. Francine sits among the spoils and asks, “He made you all this and it was platonic?” incredulously, in case we weren’t already really hammering home Betty’s looks, sexuality, and relationships with men as her main worth this episode.

Betty struts out of the bathroom in a colorful jumpsuit cut straight up to there just about everywhere and does a little turn. She grabs another dress to continue the fashion show.

You’ve kind of got to feel for Francine in this scene, since she’s about a million months pregnant.

SPEAKING OF PREGNANT, uh, nothing. Never mind.

Peggy takes Don’s coat and hat and gives him the news of the day. She also directs him to a package sitting on his desk marked PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL. Don removes the wrappings to discover a box containing a robe with a fancy seal sort of thing on it and a note that says, “Welcome to the club!” signed Bald Guy. Don asks Peggy for an outside line.

Bald Guy answers the phone in a very, very “modern” office. Don thanks him for the gesture. Bald Guy says the next step is a “quiet rendezvous” at the Algonquin. You’re welcome, by the way, for not pointing out all the inherent homoerotic undertones in manly men business courting. Don’s not quite ready to jump in the sack, though, so Bald Guy starts to spill details: Sterling Cooper has limitations, McCann-Erickson does not, blah blah stock incentives, blah blah huge clients, blah blah “panty dropper,” he summarizes that eventually Don will “come up here, or die wondering.” Don looks thoughtful.

Betty is on the therapist’s couch recounting the story of receiving Bald Guy’s business card for the third time this episode. Then she mentions that she was a model for the 18 millionth time, but I think only the third time this episode. She tells the story of how she and Don met: she was at a photo shoot wearing a fur coat, he was a copywriter for the fur company, she didn’t want to give the coat back, he asked her out, she said no, he gave her the coat. Then they got engaged. Then she got pregnant. They moved out of the city. Now she feels old. She goes on that her mother was very concerned about looks and weight and was always telling Betty she’d be fat. Instead, Betty became a model and her mother hated it and called her a prostitute.

The therapist points out that Betty is angry with her mother. Betty is like, “You’re going to talk now?” The therapist just repeats his previous statement. Betty says he doesn’t listen to her and then he provokes her out of nowhere. The therapist just says, “Tell me more about that,” so Betty flops in a pout back down on the couch and takes out her cigarettes. She misses her mother. “She wanted me to be beautiful so I could find a man. There’s nothing wrong with that. But then what?” Then what, indeed. “I don’t care why he gave me his card.”

Jackie Kennedy is on the television, courting the Spanish-speaking vote in Spanish. Apparently Harry obtained the tape from someone, though it’s already on the air. Ken is like, “I don’t understand it.” Paul: “Because it’s in Spanish.” They want to put together a plan of advertising attack in case Kennedy creeps up in the polls some more and the Nixon campaign gets desperate for their help. Don isn’t really sure why they’re taking this risk on themselves, but it’s what Cooper and their shady corporation clientele want, so that’s what they’re doing. Harry suggests they target swing states, but Paul thinks that’s easier said than done. Sal thinks women will hate Jackie K. because she’s like their better-looking sister. He’s “practically” jealous. The meeting ends on that note.

Don comes home late and blames Peggy for his lack of communication. Betty goes to fetch him some food, and he notices a fancy ham in the fridge. Betty’s like, dude, it’s not cooked yet, so you can’t eat it. Heh.

Betty goes ahead and launches into her pitch about missing modeling, ham or not. Don is skeptical, but Betty says, “There will still be ham.” Well, okay then. Don asks if it’s even worth arguing with her about. She says it’s just something she wants to do. Don says he can’t stop her from doing what she wants. Well, okay then.

Peggy reaches across her desk to grab something and rips the hell out of her skirt’s side seam. True story, once my [sassy, gay] brother and I were running errands and I, climbing back into the passenger seat of his car after a trip into the bank, ripped the entire back seam of my vintage dress. I mean ripped all the way, like flapping open. It was pretty impressive ripping. Completely deadpan in response, he said, “What are you going to do with all that junk?” And I still laugh about it. Like right now.

What I did about it that day was shove it into a cheap jersey dress that I made him run into Walmart to buy me, but what Peggy has to do is more embarrassing: wander around with a sweater tied around her waist until Joan asks her pointedly if she needs to go home, and if it’s “one of those days.” It is one of those days, but it’s not one of those days, and no, Peggy does not have a needle and thread, even though Joan told her to get some in the first episode. Don’t worry. Joan has a spare outfit. That should work out great.

Elsewhere in the office, Roger slouches up to Don with a bag of golf clubs. He says he’s lost men like Don, and usually it’s because he doesn’t praise them enough so here, have some praise and some golf clubs. He knows about Bald Guy. Don wants to know how he knows. It turns out he saw the clubs going down the hall, thought they were for him, and discovered that they were for Don from Bald Guy. Ha. Roger, never change.

Roger wants to know what they’re offering, since they’ve basically already asked Don to name his salary at Sterling Cooper. Don says they’re offering a big agency with big clients. Roger thinks that big clients are in some ways overrated, especially if you have stockholders, because you can’t fire them, which he knows Don will hate.

Roger asks Don to look around him and think about whether he really wants to start over. Don simply says he hasn’t made up his mind. Roger leaves him with the note that he is taking the whole thing very personally. Don: “Why? It’s just business.” Roger: “Is it?”

The Smarmies gossip about the rapidly spreading news that Don is flirting with another agency. Paul’s hoping he’ll jump ship and take him. Pete says he can go. Paul thinks Pete totally loves Don, everyone does. Pete tries to play off like he hasn’t been licking Don’s boots in the hope of a pat on the head since day one.

Peggy walks by wearing what on Joan I imagine is a pretty knockout dress, but on her stops just short of completely tragic. The Smarmies bemoan the loss of her figure, and Ken is the only one who has the decency to mention that she’s a pretty talented thinker. Then he talks about her weight some more. Ken, you are so Ken. They think it’s too bad that no one ever went there with her before she got fat, and Pete looks uncomfortable.

At a casting call, lots of pretty women in slightly dressy street clothes wait, bored. Betty is wearing a straight up original Barbie dress. She clearly feels awkward. One of the other girls gives her the side eye.

Bald Guy shows up and is pleased to see her. She apologizes for overdoing it, things have apparently changed since she was last in the industry. Bald Guy’s vaguely flamboyant accomplice loves the whole thing, though. Bald Guy sends them off to do some test shots, and reminds Betty that it’s just an audition, no guarantees. Betty reminds him that she’s a big girl and she’s done this before. Vaguely Flamboyant Accomplice just wants to talk about the Barbie dress.

Pete and Harry are working in Pete’s office, brainstorming media buying strategies for Secor laxatives and being nostalgic about their college frats. Pete tells a boring story about the time they had a funeral for their dead Dalmatian, but it gives him an idea: decrease Kennedy’s air time by buying up air time in swing states to advertise laxatives. It’s a pretty great idea.

At the Draper residence, a scare tactic commercial for Lysol is playing, the phone is ringing, and Don is half asleep on the couch. The phone was for Betty–she got the job. She’s the Coca Cola girl. Don unenthusiastically says he’s not going to ruin this, he’s very happy for her. They get snuggly. Betty says she knows he doesn’t like it, but she also knows he’s a little proud of her. Betty wants him to come upstairs with her, but Don wants to have sex on the couch.

Later, the babysitter is sleeping on the same couch (the couches, people!) while the kids careen through the house with the dog, and Betty sits primly in a flowered dress holding bottles of Coke. Her fake, commercial family poses around her at a picnic. Betty asks how the bottles are open already, and VFA answers, “Well, we don’t want life to look difficult, do we?”

At the Draper residence, Bobby and Sally watch the neighbor man with his pigeons. And so does the dog, who goes ahead and eats one of them–or at least tries to. The pigeon seems to be injured but not dead, and the man caresses it while threatening to shoot the dog. People and their pets, man.

Sally is traumatized and runs off.

Betty has dinner waiting for Don as promised when he arrives home. Betty announces that everyone had a nice day. She talks about “Ronnie,” who I assume is VFA. Don says he knows him, he’s the Art Director, which: HA. Betty would like Don’s help filling out her tax forms so she can get paid. Sally looks extremely troubled

Don and Betty are cuddled, asleep in bed, when Sally comes in crying. She had a bad dream, and she spills the story about the neighbor threatening the dog, whose name is Polly. Betty reassures her, and carries her back to bed.

Don offers to go right over and talk to the neighbor at two in the morning, but Betty says she’ll deal with it. Don blames her absence, and Betty sets him right about the fact that bad things happen to kids and they don’t tell anyone. Betty’s just happy that Sally cries attractively. Really.

In Don’s office, the Smarmies smarm to him about how genius his Lucky Strike campaign was, Pete a little more reluctantly than the rest. Peggy is wearing an incredibly unfortunate combination of skirt and blouse, which I assume is because some of her more, uh, matching clothes don’t fit.

Bert and Roger interrupt the meeting to demand, “Who was responsible?” no one is quite willing to take responsibility for this ambiguous action with that open-ended question on the air, so Bert clarifies that they’re talking about the laxative media buys. Harry slowly takes responsibility, and Bert is like, “Really, YOU thought of this?” incredulously. When it becomes clear that Harry isn’t being fired on the spot, Pete also claims some responsibility. Roger and Bert are thrilled. Roger: “I didn’t think you had it in you, and I mean that.”

Pete is incredibly pleased with himself, brags to Peggy, who was there the entire time, about it, and stands, asking, “Are we finished here?” Don: “No.”

The Smarmies are having a little impromptu celebration in Pete’s office. Hildy comes in bearing a bottle of Jack Daniels from Freddy. Harry: “Unopened, nice!” Pete, high on the moment, throws some slimy sexual harassment Hildy’s way. Hildy: BITCHFACE.

Team Hildy.

Peggy brings Don another envelope marked PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL. It’s from Bald Guy. This time he’s dangling Betty’s Coca Cola stills.

Damn, that’s cold.

Don walks across the office, in the background we can hear laughter from the Smarmies in Pete’s little office party, and asks Roger’s secretary if he’s in. He is. He’s eating Jell-O. Awesome. Roger apologizes for letting anything good happen to Pete. Awesome.

Don doesn’t beat around the bush. He’s staying, but he wants $45,000 a year, which is a hell of a lot since we know that when the Smarmies were talking earlier they were impressed by $30,000. Roger says he’s not going to bother to ask why Don is staying, but he knows it’s not about money. Don just likes the way Roger does business better. Don doesn’t want a contract, he just gives Roger his guarantee that he won’t ever leave for another agency.

He goes back to his office and asks Peggy to get him Bald Guy. Bald Guy has the audacity to think that his pictures worked. They the opposite of worked. Either way, it’s clear that Betty’s lost the job.

In the break room, Joan asks Peggy what’s going on with Don. Peggy refuses to tell her, and gets a rare bit of praise from Joan. She gives her the dress, dry cleaned, back. Joan offers to let her have it, and then drops some subtle–this is Joan, after all–hints that maybe Peggy has some taking in here and there to do. Peggy insists that she’s more than her figure, she’s a writer. Joan throws the barb that she thought Peggy was just doing that to get closer to Paul, then tosses out that the clients’ wives won’t be too threatened by her. Peggy spits back that Joan is no pixie, but Joan points out that she knows exactly how men think of her.

Peggy: “They think you’re looking for a husband, and that you’re fun, and not in that order.”
Joan: “Peggy, this isn’t China. There’s no money in virginity.”

Peggy says she’s not a virgin, and Joan is like yeah, okay.

Peggy: “I just realized something. You think you’re being helpful.”

Peggy is going home.

At the end of the day, in a different frilly pink dress, Betty is saying that everything at the set was splendid. VFA breaks the news that they’re moving the campaign in a different direction. He lets her down gently, but she’s crushed. He says she can keep the dress, and it’s incredibly kindly meant, but she starts to cry. He insists that it has nothing to do with her. I really wish for the both of them that gay BFFs were a thing in 1960 because I do think that they’re totally kindred spirits who should keep in touch.

The Smarmies have moved their party out onto the main typing floor. They watch Peggy leave and say some more mean shit about her weight gain. Ken is particularly harsh, but he’s just being his usual self. Pete, not being his usual self, goes ahead and punches Ken in the face. Poor Ken. You never, ever saw that one coming.

Pete is really going for him, and it’s turning into a full on brawl over some poor secretary’s desk. In one of the funniest moments in the entire series, Don and Roger, utterly ignoring the chaos behind them, agree to carpool.

The other Smarmies finally manage to separate the two, and it should probably be noted that at that point Ken is totally winning. Ken, his usual oblivious self, is like dude, what in the world was that all about? Paul hauls both of them off the ground and demands that they make up because otherwise they are the only two guys getting laid that night and the others will suffer from relative lack of manliness. Have I mentioned lately that I would totally go there with Paul? Yes, I’m trying to make “go there” happen in this recap. Ken and Paul agree to make up for the good of the team.

At the Draper residence, Betty once again has dinner on the table as promised, and brightly says that the children are in bed. Don asks how it went, and Betty pretends that she didn’t get fired, she just doesn’t want to work anymore. Don, obviously feeling the guilt, says that if she wants to be a model he should be able to give her that opportunity. She says she has what she wants. Don insists that he doesn’t care about having dinner on the table, he just wants her to be a good mother. What. WHAT. Sometimes, I can’t deal with you, Don. To be fair, he follows this up with an elaboration on his Madonna/Whore complex that is spectacularly lacking in self awareness: he would have loved to have a beautiful, kind mother like her. Great. He compliments her cooking, and she beams.

The next morning, Betty is making breakfast. The kids wish Don a good day, and Betty kisses him goodbye.

She fusses with Sally’s hair and Sally whines that she’s eating. Well, see there, Sally, that’s the problem.

Betty does housewife things, tells the children not to jump off the bed, smokes, experiences deep ennui, then makes the executive decision to drive off the neighbor’s pigeons with her shotgun, cigarette dangling from her lips.

I would like to take this time to point out the casualties of Betty’s housewife angst so far: birdbath, pigeons. Are we sensing a pattern?

Next week:

Roger doesn’t handle down-time very well, or he handles it exceedingly well, depending on how you look at it.

By (e)Kelsium

Kelsium lives in Southern California with her partner and collection of almost (almost!) kill-proof plants. She enjoys the beaches, but finds the lack of acceptable bagels distressing. She considers herself an expert in red lipstick and internet rage.

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