TROUBLE CITY

Martworld #11: Mad (Wo)Men

BlogsMartin MalloyComment

Don't you think that should be the title? I mean Betty..er..Bertie...er...Betty is one irate lady.  Anyway....Second season has started and is such a welcome oasis in the dry depths of the summer TV months.  For my part, I actually only watched the first season a week or two ago when I realized it was free on demand.  I had heard it was great, but never saw it.  Also I am a huge Breaking Bad fan (I think it's just as good as Mad Men) and thought I should check out the other AMC show.  It's like a one-two punch. 

Suprisingly I haven't read too much about the Season 2 opener, so here's my thoughts.  Initially I was actually a big upset.  It could be related to the fact that I had watched the first season in mere days in 2-3 hour sittings and was just feeling withdrawal symptoms of not being able to click on the next episode and resolve the problems of this one...but this new episode seemed to be lacking something.  Then I realized...I think that's the point.  Unless you read about where the series was headed, it would have been hard to pick up on the jump to 1962 from 1960.  We haven't gotten a resolution of the many problems of the Draper household and we're thrown into the middle of their future life.  I percieved that this episode acted as more of a set up for the rest of the season rather than one that will dispell the answers people have been agonizing over. 

We see Betty and Don together.  He seems to come home on time and appears to not be cheating anymore.  Betty has picked up a new hobby, yet she seems no more happy than she used to be.  It shows them as an aging and, well, boring couple.  Just look at the Valentine's Day scene.  It was almost excruciating.  They enter the hotel room at the "upscale" hotel and it just looks drab and plain.  Don sits down on the bed and immediately takes off his shirt signaling that there's no spark yet, it's as if their being romantic is just mandatory.  Betty comes out of the bathroom wearing a new sexy outfit signaling the only real conncection when Don looks at her in awe, but only for a split second.  She then gets under the covers and Don goes into the bathroom.  It then cuts to them in the middle of...well you know...and it becomes clear that Don can't finish.  Betty says "its ok, we have all night" and they decide to order food which creates a slight, storybook marital argument.

What this scene shows us is that while they were having problems in 1960 (I'm assuming the infidelity problems are not ongoing at the moment) they seemed to have much more spark.  Betty once gave Don a soliloquy about how bad she wanted him and there was another time where they "did it" on the TV room couch.  Now they can't even finish, let alone have a truly romantic time.  They're an old, boring couple acting romantic more out of habit than the want of each other.

So while it may appear that their marital problems have been solved (still not sure about the outcome of Betty's depression and therapy) new ones have arose.  They now live the storybook married life but neither one is showing that spark they used to have.

I was also quite interested in Peggy's new character.  Is it me or did she kind of come across as, basically, a bitch to Don's new secretary?  Not to say she doesn't deserve to be sometimes.  I mean look at what she has to put up with as being the only female in the "boys' club" creative team, but she seems to have really changed.  I guess having an unwanted and unknown child can do that?  Plus the fact that she has to put up with Joan's crap.  But I always thought her naivete was her charm and was hoping she wouldn't succomb to the dark side.  It's kind of like how I know better deserves to cheat on Don (even though two wrongs don't make a right) but it would just shatter my respect for her.  Still, something has happened to Peggy.  She doesn't seem enamored with Pete anymore and the other guys definitely know something has happened with her and are correctly guessing she had a child.  Where is it?  She shunned it in Season 1 but maybe she changed her mind.

I was actually most let down by Pete's story.  I sometimes want to just smack him upside his head but that's what I love about him.  If a show can make me hate a character that much then you know you've got a winner.  Yet at the same time I really feel bad for the guy sometimes.  He's actually trying to make his own life instead of just taking from his parents.  Still, he has a lot to learn about being a good member of society.  It appears him and his wife can't have a child but I'm not convinced that he actually wants one.  Maybe others feel that he does but I'm still not convinced he even loves his wife.  It's obvious he's unhappy, in general, but I got the feeling from Season 1 that he wasn't sure he made the right decision marrying her.  Maybe he does love her now and is truly upset he can't have a kid with her (we at least know he's not the one shooting blanks) and that is just adding to his grief of having a "normal" life.

I'm hoping in the coming episodes we will be given a closer glimpse of how these characters got from where they were in 1960 to where they are now in 1962, and I'm sure we will.  It seems as if these characters are on the edge of cultural revolution and they are just beginning to realize it.  I hope this doesn't dramatically change the show because part of the reason it attracted so many is because the show itself was so inviting.  Yea all these people had so many problems and they were sexist and racist and politically incorrect, yet you still wanted to be in that time with them.  It felt as if everything was much simpler for some reason, when in reality everything was much more complicated.

Oh and what about Roger not learning his lesson at all?  He's still pursuing Joan.  What a faker.    And is that Sal...with a woman???? Hmm.....

What'd you guys think?  Like it? Hate it?  What did you take away from the episode?