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Mad Men: “Love Among the Ruins”

August 24, 2009

Ann Margaret in 'Bye Bye Birdie'

Ann Margaret in 'Bye Bye Birdie'

Spoilers for Mad Men 3×02 ensue:

This was a very 1960s episode–for the first time we can really start to feel the changes in society.  The episode opens on our ad-men and ad-woman watching a clip of Ann Margaret singing “Bye Bye Birdie,” from the 1963 film (I’ve included the video below).  Sal loves it, and says “Aw,” when they turn it off.   “I love her,” he gushes.  Hee.  He  says that he saw a different actress perform the part on Broadway, “but she didn’t have that.”  Again, let me stress my love for Sal–more Sal please!  Anyways, the clip is the inspiration for a new Diet  Pepsi ad campaign, that is hilariously referred to as Patio (according to the internet, Diet Pepsi really was called Patio–so odd).  Peggy is hesitant about this campaign strategy.  She tries to explain that it’s women who buy diet drinks, so the ads should be marketed towards them.  Male colleague: “She’s fun and sexy!  Don’t be a prude.”  Hate.  Peggy points out, “Clients don’t always know what’s best.”  Very true Peggy, but you’ll realize the genius of this campaign soon enough.

Cut to a home scene at the Drapers.  There’s a little bit of tension, but nothing serious.  Don really does seem committed to being a good husband, despite the cheating last week.

Back at the office, pompous-ass Pete is speechifying to some greedy corporate clients.  Said clients want to tear down Penn station.  Kinsey starts talking about the protests against this.  A writer from the New York Times is especially vehement in protesting the move.  Client: “I don’t care if she wrote for the 10 Commandments.  She’s trying to sell papers, doing what they always do: making people miserable.”  Heh.  Then there’s an ironic line about crybabies from Pete.  Ha!  You’re SO not one to talk, Pete Campbell.  Kinsey is dangerously supportive of the protesters.  Kinsey goes on to spew some garbage about the Romans, totally misunderstanding history.  It makes little sense, so I shouldn’t even argue against him … but I will note that it’s actually the other way around in some cases.  Some of the best-preserved Greek temples exist in Italy, due to colonization (i.e. Paestum).  The clients are not happy, so Pete tries to diffuse the tension: “You know those snide ad men you see in the movies, that’s him.”  Hmm, that meeting did not go well.  Pete points out the irony of Kinsey’s stand: “You have no problems with an atom plant,  but with this …”  That just goes to prove my sentiments regarding Kinsey, and shared by Joan: FRAUD.  Kinsey tries to spin his comments positively: “Now, they’ll trust me more when I help them.”   Ha!  That’s like those pick-up artists who recommend insulting women to get them to go to bed with them.  Pete: “Do you ever listen to yourself?”  If only Pete took his own advice.

Mrs Draper comes into the office, all pregnant and fabulous.  She and Joan get along well–of course they do.  Joan: “Other than Wilma Flintstone, I’ve never seen anyone carry so well.”  Ha!  Best line of the episode!  She also implies that once her husband’s made chief resident, he wants her to start making babies.  Ugh, I hate Joan’s husband–just want to throw that out into the universe.

Mr. Lane meets with Bert, Don, and Roger to let them know that they’ve been sacked by Campbell Soup.  Bert hilariously doesn’t care, and points out that losing clients is the nature of the business.  He stomps out, complaining about wearing out the carpet.  Don looks fabulous as always.  His suits seem especially well-tailored in this episode.  Lane has suit of armor in background, and Roger can’t stop himself from making a joke.  Hee.  The men leave the office, and Betty and Don get ready to go to lunch. Roger: “Oh look, Princess Grace just swallowed a basketball.”  Oh, it’s just too much!  My other favorite line in the episode!  Betty: “How are you Roger?”  Roger: “It’s not easy to adjust to happiness.”  Hmph.  Some tension there–I daresay Betty doesn’t approve of Roger’s divorce.  Roger and Joan share a little smile, and he says “Good night Mrs Harris.”  On the way out, Betty quips, “I’m in a foul mood.”  When isn’t she?  But that’s why I love her.

The Drapers have dinner with the Lanes.  They drink wine, and pregnant Betty doesn’t abstain.  It’s a rather awkward social engagement, but it’s not too disastrous.  However, when Mrs. Lane asks how long they’ve been together, Don says 10 years and Betty says 9 years.  Uh oh.  After some more awkward small talk, the food comes to relieve them.

In the car ride home, Betty’s foul mood darkens.  Don apologizes for making her come, and she replies: “It was just the cherry on top of my Sunday.”  She is hesitant to tell Don what’s on her mind, so he finally says: “Tell me now, and not three seconds after I’ve dozed off.”   Hee.  Turns out that Gloria left her father.  Don: “Maybe she realized he’s a son of a bitch.” Ha!  So many great lines in this episode.  Anyways, Betty’s brother and his family are coming to stay, along with the senile father.

Back at Sterling & Cooper, Roger’s ex-wife and daughter visit.  Mrs Sterling looks like hot-stuff with her black Sophia Loren outfit.  Divorce has served her well.  There’s some family stress regarding the daughter’s wedding and the seat arrangements.  Roger offers to find the former Mrs. Sterling a date, but she already has one.  The daughter rather hilariously states, “I was good enough to go to her [Jane’s] wedding, the least she can do is not come to mine.”  Oh, so Roger did get married.  When are we going to see Jane again?

Back at the Draper home, Betty’s dad, brother, sister-in-law, and children visit.

At Sterling & Cooper, Peggy comes into the office and sees Joan greeting a group of men and being charmingly flirtatious. They all watch her walk away very intently.  Oh, Joan.  Even I can’t help but watch Joan walk away.

Roger and Don scene: yay!  I love those two actors together.  Roger: “To my knees, Don.  They’re bringing me to my knees. […] There’s a land grab going on.”  Don’s not horribly sympathetic.  The two meet with the clients from earlier–the ones who want to demolish Penn station.  Client: “Why do you people insist on making us seem like villains?”  Don points out that the guy has a guilty conscience, and that’s the problem.  He explains that change doesn’t have to be good or bad.  “Madison Square Garden is the beginning of the new city on the hill.”  Client doesn’t want “commie” Kinsey on his account, and Don assures him that he will handle it personally.  Well-played, Don, as always.

Draper family residence.  Betty looks so lovely, as always.  Betty, William (her brother), and Judy (William’s wife) discuss what is to be done with the father.  William talks about putting him in a home. Betty says that those homes are for people who don’t have families, and questions his motivation.  He offered to sell his house and move in with his father, but that would put him next in line to inherit the house.  Despite the motivation, it seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Don arrives home and greets Betty’s dad.  When he goes upstairs, Betty quips: “I wish you would hang your coat up downstairs. It’s covered in soot.”  Oh, that is such a Betty thing to say.  Betty is pissed and thinks her brother wants the house.  “How can he talk that way to me, in the condition I’m in.”  When Don makes to bring his coat downstairs, she imperiously says, “Just throw it on the chair and stay here.”  She just kills me.

Cut to William and Judy sleeping in the kids room on bunk-beds.  Hee.  They discuss the situation.  Judy: “Why can’t we just move in with him.  I’ll take care of him”   She seems very kind-hearted and sincere.  William says that it’s bad enough to work for him, he doesn’t want to be suffocated and controlled.

Cut to Peggy posing in front of mirror.  Adorable.  She seems so young all of a sudden.   My, what a smile does for Elizabeth Moss.  She sings “Bye Bye Birdie,” and mimics Ann Margaret’s tone and mannerisms.  The show should really have Peggy smile more.

There’s a short little scene at the office, in which one of the guys calls the new drawings “right out of Metropolis.”  Is that a Superman reference?  Lane comes in and wants to speak to Don in private.  Bad news.  There’s a problem with the Madison Square Garden account– a conflict.  Despite Don’s protests, the company’s new British management is not interested.  Don is pissed. “Why the hell did you buy us in the first place?”  Lane: “I don’t know.”  On his way back to his office, Don tells his secretary to tell Mr. Cambell that MSG is dead.

Peggy forcibly gets herself a meeting with Don.  I love pushy Peggy.  She comments on the “Bye Bye Birdie” campaign, and Don says that he hasn’t seen it.  Peggy: “You haven’t seen it? You see everything?”  Cut to Don and Peggy watching the Ann Margaret clip from the beginning of the episode.  Don seems to love it: “She’s throwing herself at the camera.  It’s pure. It makes your heart hurt.”  Peggy: “No one seems to care that it speaks to men, not the people who buy diet drinks.  I don’t mind fantasies, but shouldn’t it be a female one?”  Don points out, “It’s not about making women feel fat.” The two argue over advertising philosophy.  Don repeats the now familiar view from “Maidenform,” in reference to Marilyn and Jackie: “Men want her and woman want to be her.”  Don: “You’re not an artist Peggy.  You solve problems. Leave some tools in your toolbox.”  Hmm.

As Peggy leaves the office, Roger addresses her in the elevator.  Peggy always looks uncomfortable.  The passing little scene highlights Roger’s disappointment that his daughter doesn’t want him at her wedding enough.

Peggy goes into a bar.  Yay, she’s looking for a little fun, finally.

Don comes home to a  full house.  Betty is clearly upset, and says that she’s going out for a bucket of chicken. She whines about how William said that there was only one option: him and his wife moving in to the father’s house.  Don is inexplicably pissed at this, and goes into manly mode.  He calls for William, and I would like to point out that I would be terrified of Don right now if he were addressing me.  Don: “This is what’s going to happen.  You are going to explain to your sister and your wife that [you think it’s best for your father to move in with Betty and me.]  You’re gonna go out and tell your sister that’s what you want.”  Wow.  William: “You want him, you got him.” I think Don may regret this option, while William will eventually be pretty happy once he solves the whole transportation problem.  They inform Betty’s dad about the plan and he’s pissed.  “I should’ve been the first to go.”  William is so ready to get out of there, and I don’t blame him.

Cut to Peggy at the bar with an unknown guy.  She’s drinking.  The guy assumes she’s a typist.   She says she works for “a jerk.”  True feelings? Or is she playing a part?  Peggy leans over and grabs his hamburger.  “You’re funny,” he says.  Hee.  Cut to the two back at his apartment.  Things are getting hot and heavy, so  Peggy asks, “Do you have, you know?”  He’s all like “WHAT?”  He’s an idiot.  She explains, “A Trojan?”  He doesn’t, so Peggy says, “I can’t.  I can’t.”  Someone learned her lesson.  Guy is super-disappointed, but Peggy says: “Well, there are other things we could do.”  Ha.

Don’s house.  There’s a noise in the middle of the night.  Uh oh.   Turns out that Betty’s dad is dumping drinks down the drain, and thinks it’s prohibition.  Ooh, is there a story there?

Peggy wakes up and she and guy have little talk.  He says, “You know, I hang out at that place a lot.”  Peggy responds very unenthusiastically, “Oh.”  Poor guy.  She says, “This was fun,” and she leaves.

Cut to Don at Susie’s school event or dance recital.  All the parents are outside watching the children and their teacher run around a maypole.  Finally, some 60s flower-child stuff.   The teacher has her hair down, and it’s rather longer and more natural than any other ladies we’ve seen on this show.  She is all innocence and laughter, and Don watches her intently.  There is definitely a parallel here to the earlier scene with Anne Margaret singing.  Don sets down his drink and strokes the grass while he watches. The teacher, by the way, is played by Abigail Spencer, who should be familiar to Bones and How I Met Your Mother (she was Ted’s brief girl-friend “Blahblah”) fans.  Susie comes up to her dad after the dance, and once again I notice how fabulous Betty looks.  Someone takes a photo of the happy family.

Don goes back to the office, and I think he had an epiphany about the soda campaign.  So did Peggy, and the episode ends on the two of them in Don’s office, ready to make advertising.

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