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Mad Men



Episode 3 - Tea Leaves

8 April 2012

Credit AMC

After a season opener that felt as smooth and well written as ever this episode had several clunky moments.

Betty plots have never been my favourites and now that she is disconnected from SCDP they feel increasingly irrelevant. The dream she had of her family in mourning was so literal as to be pointless. Her friend then described something (I wasn’t sure if it was the treatment for cancer or the fear of it) again in predictable terms and in a depressing way that didn’t feel real. The fortune teller followed on soon after to reduce Betty to tears, again in a move which felt like old hat. Finally Meagan says to Don “she just needs something to call you about.” Umm, am I missing something or is she claiming that Betty made a fuss over nothing to get Don’s attention? That seemed inappropriately dismissive.

Then we had the introduction of Michael Ginsberg who was so all over the place as a character that I had no clue how to respond to him. The most surprising thing about him was his awful suit which no one commented on. But then he understandably questioned why he wasn’t meeting the famous Don before babbling an apology and begging and denigrating his personal life. He was a chatter box but I didn’t know what impression he was supposed to have given nor why Roger went to bat for him based on his ethnicity. When he meets Don he mentions going to a peep show and continues to babble and practically beg for the job. When he and Peggy step outside she is angry at him for suddenly changing his behaviour. Did he? He may have been more composed and more flattering but he was essentially still the same guy. Again I was left blank as to who this new character was meant to be.

Then we had Don and Harry’s attempt to sign the Rolling Stones. Amidst all the noise Don grills a teenage girl about why she wants to throw herself at a rock star. It didn’t seem Don’s usual way of conversing but I suppose he saw her as a child. Once more the dialogue was right on the nose as she explained to this stranger that she would do “whatever he wants” and that people Don’s age are just annoyed because they never had any fun. “No we’re worried about you” he retorts. Well that summed up the 60s generational conflict neatly didn’t it?

It’s odd for a show famed for its writing to put together so many inauthentic moments in one episode.

Elsewhere there was some good stuff. I did like the idea that Betty would look for attention from Don when she couldn’t get what she needed at home. I also appreciated the final scene where it was clear that she is unhappy and her weight gain was not just a thyroid issue. There was a very nice cut at the beginning from Betty struggling with her dress straight to Meagan having no trouble doing hers up. It’s always eye opening to see Roger indulge in racist banter (referring to Dawn as “It’s always darkest before the dawn”). Pete’s power play shows he is learning fast how to demonstrate his power around the office.



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  • You've convinced me over the Meagan line. I guess I was expecting Don to react more to it but as you say, he knows she is not fully in the picture.

    I'm sure you're right about the theme of generational conflict. I just wasn't convinced by some of the choices here.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 06/04/2012 4:17pm (9 years ago)

  • I thought Megan's comment about Betty seemed authentic. All Meagan knew was that Betty freaked out over a blemish and prematurely thought she had cancer. Clearly the youthful Meagan is going to react differently than Don, who is older and recently lost his closest confidant to cancer (This does raise the question of how much Meagan knows about Anna).

    Also back then, 30 years before Lifetime movies, cancer was an unspeakable horror. People simply didn't talk about it, unless directly affected. In that context, and given what we all know about Betty, I think it would be reasonable for Meagan to presume it was an overreact ion to get Don's attention.

    Peggy hyped Ginsberg to Roger based on his impressive portfolio, Roger presumed he would be hired and used his charm and persuasion to convince the client to accept a Jew on the account. My read is that Roger is so desperate to be relevant that he didn't want to give up the small victory he earned through his one talent: persuasion.

    I think Don is so detached from his work, plus he was distracted over Betty, that he didn't really give a sh*t. Another explanation is that that Don was drawn to Ginsburg's raw passion for the job.

    I think the point is that the old guard, the men who are supposed to be in charge are distracted and out of touch right now.

    At least, that's how I read these scenes. Whether these ideas could have been conveyed more effectively, I'd put in the Unknown category.

    We'll see how the season goes. I'm so giddy to have Mad Men back that my ratings may be generous.

    Viewer score: 61 / 100

    Posted by Huell, 06/04/2012 2:09pm (9 years ago)

  • incredible nuanced dialogue, and a fascinating new character in ginsberg. just not sure what that rolling stones stuff was about.

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by jeremy, 03/04/2012 4:54am (9 years ago)

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