Monday, November 9th, 2009

Footnotes of Mad Men: Goodbye, All Our Pretty Horses

YOUR ONLY FRIENDOf all the metaphors this season, the strongest seemed to be the horse. That could seem old, pony-furred hat if we were not in the strong hands of the Mad Men writers room. The partner of the wayward man making his claim on the land; the embodiment of stubborn independence; since cigarette ads immemorial, a symbol of virile Americanism. Of course horses are also chattel, and we Americans will gladly take our spirit animals, chop them up and serve 'em to our pups if there is good business to be had, even if we have to lie about it. Also, horses can kill you! (RIP, Papa Whitman.)


§ Off to Nevada! A 1934 article on Nevada's divorce law in Fortune magazine described the town as "Population 18,500. Elevation 4,500 feet. Reputation: bad." At the turn of the century, divorce laws were so draconian that couples would temporarily migrate to states with looser laws. Places like Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada lowered their residency requirements to get a chunk of the transient divorce trade. Nevada came out ahead by dropping it's residency requirements from 3 months to six weeks! During the dust bowl, locals entered the divorce trade by offering lodging to couples looking to get their marriage-as they put it in the ads-Reno-vated.

BATHTIME FOR BETTY§So where did Betty get her chutzpah-or as a WASPY mainline 'brat' of her ilk might call it, 'moxy'-to declare D-day on Don? Henry Francis? Betty Friedan? Or was it all that sultry bath time? Here's a particular passage from The Group that may have resonated with our white-nosed Betty. Kay, a college grad in a unhappy marriage to a creative type named Harald, fantasizes about taking the train to Reno:

She had loved him at first, she reckoned, but he had tormented her so long with his elusiveness that she did not know, honestly, now whether she even liked him. If she had been sure of him, she might have found out. But things had never stood still long enough for to decide. It sometimes struck her that Harald would not let her be sure of him for fear of losing his attraction: it was a lesson he had learned in some handbook, the way he had learned about those multiplication tables. But Kay could have told him that he would have been far more attractive to her if she could have trusted him.

As was stated by the fussy man in the glasses, the state of New York very much did not want you to get a divorce! The legal grounds for divorce in 1963 was adultery, which had to be proved in open court (could you imagine the adulterer damp with sweat on the witness stand?). The idea of divorce due to incompatibility was not really legally absorbed until the late 1960s. Nevertheless, at the time, unhappy couples were pushing matrimonial law along-one disillusioned alimony case at time.

§ Speaking of disillusionment! Don's revulsion at being sold off has to do both with his free-pony-roaming the-silvery-plains sense of individualism (DREAMY) and also McCann Erickson's noxious reputation in the 1960s. 'Giantism' was their business ethos. Beginning in the early 1960s, McCann-Erickson, then known as Intergroup McCann-Erickson, gobbled up a mid-sized shops and retained them under one umbrella, but still forced them the compete for clients. This had an upside: two agencies could be under the McCann Erickson parent with one shop servicing American Airlines and the other shop servicing TWA. And a downside: the fear, at the time, was there would be leaks and betrayals between agencies. In 1964, Nestle left McCann-Erickson because they also serviced Carnation. Continental also withdrew their business because McCann was in bed with other airlines. "Bigness is an evil," a Nestle executive explained, "that strains relationships that ten years ago were very warm and close." Oh my God, can't you see Bert and a guy from Nestle drinking warm milk together and saying that to each other? Then being super sad?

The parallels continue (and perhaps will give us some clues as to what happens next season. Preemptive historic spoilers! Like Kennedy!). The head of McCann, a man named Harper, responded publicly about hemorrhaging clients and money one year with this pissy little quote: "We can't support people with little thoughts or little dreams."

Eventually, to keep their clients happy, Harper was sacked. One member of the board of directors for McCann said of Harper: "We thought of him as a genius with one glaring weakness: little sense of people."
So, lesson learned from season three, life, et al: Never take relationships (particularly those with ladies like Peggy Olsen) for granted.

If you skip forward eight years, McCann Erickson will reclaim its glory with this very un-Draper, dance around the maypole bullshit ad:

And in the same year, 1971, it will be made illegal to advertise tobacco products on TV, billboards or radio, which may prove a challenge for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce… or will it?

Perhaps the boutique shops that peddle vice will serve as base camp for the refugees of Madison Avenue after the 1960s. Or perhaps it will be the death blow.

You can always get more Footnotes with Natasha Vargas-Cooper here.

109 Comments / Post A Comment

mathnet (#27)

But Betty's not going through with any Reno-vation (love it!). Nope. Cannot. Believe that. Six weeks with Henry in miserable Divorce City without Sally and Bobby? Henry is BOR ING and they don't know each other any better than she and Don did!

And something makes me very nervous about Baby Gene being there too.

mathnet (#27)

Totally! Natasha's convinced he's going to DIE.

mathnet (#27)

Oh and it was neat seeing Don back at old his typewriter from his used-car salesman days (right?)!

AND it was wonderful hearing Don finally tell Betty what a horrible mother she is most of the time!

(Obviously it was also great that she looked him in the face and told him that it was he whose actions had broken up their family. But it wasn't as exciting because I like Don so much better anyway.)

mathnet (#27)

No, OK. Typewriter's new. But he had a typewriter in his apartment when Anna ambushed him.

mathnet (#27)

And as much as I loved Peggy's scenes, I didn't find them believable so I got distracted.

Her quote of the night took place in my new favorite office:
Rodge: "Peggy, will you go get me some coffee?"
Pegs: "No."

Maevemealone (#968)

Because she said exactly the most awesome thing possible to say in that moment? True, that is implausible, but it got me all excited as she almost literally puffed up with awesomeness. Don's first piece of humble pie.

I found that too! I'm like, HEY, KNOCK IT OFF EMPOWERED PANTS. Too precious and perfectly done.

LondonLee (#922)

Last night was such a crowd-pleaser the more cynical part of my brain was wondering if it was all a bit of a cop-out that didn't follow through on the more serious threads of the plots. But the show can be so bloody glacial and dour at times it was nice to see it be snappy and bright for a change so I told myself to stop being such a miserable git and be entertained.

Saatchi & Saatchi had a similar rep to McCann for greedy bigness in the 1980s, but I had some friends who worked there and they did throw great parties (free champagne all night!) so it has it's good side.

mathnet (#27)


Sucks for his wife though.

karion (#11)

His wife is such a bitch on In Treatment.

mathnet (#27)


I also love her in everything. She is the ultimate find for a role that calls for an English Ice Queen with good eyebrows.

oudemia (#177)

She was the evil Natasha in Bridget Jones, right?

oudemia (#177)

Oh duh, look down, oudemia.

sigerson (#179)

and californication too.

I miss that show! She was my favorite!

karion (#11)

Bridget Jones' Diary? I THINK NOT!

(I actually love her brand of bitch in In Treatment).

mathnet (#27)

Including! The only real problem with that movie was Lemon-mouth Squinty With The Worst Fake Accent Ever.

cherrispryte (#444)

Also the unfortunate habit of speaking/writing in BridgetJonesspeak for 2 weeks after seeing the movie (or reading the book). v.bad.

mathnet (#27)

Obviously will not disagree or similar.

tiny dancer (#1,774)

I'm afraid Betty is about to make the biggest little mistake.

mathnet (#27)

And! Such a relief not to have to deal with Suzanne after all! Mess with me any time, Mad Men, as long as you keep me happy.

sunnyciegos (#551)

I love that no one responded to your previous comment about Suzanne coming back this week. Because no one wants to think about her. Except one coworker of mine, who said she was hot because all she did was cook and have sex. So there's that.

mathnet (#27)

She has one fan!

belltolls (#184)

Apparently assault and domestic violence were also not grounds for divorce in 1963. Maybe because I was taught not to lay hands on another person without permission (like during fucking or hugging or fuck-hugging) I thought Don's drunken mauling of Betty pretty grotesque. No recap addressed it ANYWHERE!

Now, how about a fun thing. The playing of Roy Orbison's Shahadaroba "…he future is much better than the past." It was actually the A side of the 45 with In Dreams on the B side. You might hear In Dreams a lot but I don't think I have heard this more than once. Apparently Shahadaroba is Arabic (?) and fits into that spooky mystical side of Orbison and of course, the voice.

Yes, agree that the roughhousing was cringe-inducing, and tough to watch.

Sweetie (#519)

"Mauling" is a bit much, don't you think? If you'd grown up in my house, you'd understand that what Don did to Betty was just a minor variant on "goodnight."

Maevemealone (#968)

I cringed at it and braced myself on her behalf. I was surprised at quickly she steeled herself to him and spit back, grabbing the baby. I think he regretted calling her a whore as soon as he said it, seeing her holding the baby. Bad mom or not, he knows he's the slut in the house.

sunnyciegos (#551)

I saw the baby as armor. Like, she was thinking, he won't hit me when I'm holding the baby. Thankfully they didn't press that.

I was glad to see Don and Betty finally have it out. She's been far too controlled to be totally believable. Both of them had to say things they didn't totally mean for this to seem real.

And Henry? Does anyone believe anything he's saying?

mathnet (#27)

No way, Jose. Remember how the older Junior League lady was all [knowing-wink] "I think we'll have better luck if Betty calls him"? I mean, he's a philanderer who cheated on his wife and divorced her and has romantic ideas about playing Romantic Hero for a little while.

cherrispryte (#444)

I got into a lot of awkward conversations re: "drunken mauling" on Jezebel about this, because I sort-of defend it: Don was drunk, betrayed, and living in the '60's. I thought the fact that he didn't openly hit her during that scene was a positive testament to his character. Mind you, I'm not saying what he did was acceptable, but it could have been a LOT worse. Yes, he manhandled her and insulted her, but still displayed some restraint.

Yes, precisely. I sort of did an "Oh, the '60s" thing in my mind while cringing, just like I did when Don brought up the "negro" market again. And I was pleased that they didn't have him cross that line, because that would have been (in Betty's words) tawdry.

oudemia (#177)

Even while drunk and out-of-control his "You're a whore!" was pretty clearly sad-sacky and barely meant. I just hope the writers don't spend all of next season humiliating Betty, since Henry has convinced her not to ask Don for money and I can't imagine that Henry'll stick around.

Maevemealone (#968)

Did anyone else notice that the door to the art dept actually said "Fart Department"?

Betty has gotten a lot of crap today for being a spoiled princess, but I think it's quite the big girl thing to do, to demand a divorce from Don, especially how hard it was to get at the time. I think she'll also regret it when Henry inevitably turns out to be something other than her knight in shining armor… I was fully braced for Don to hit her when he dragged her out of bed!

mathnet (#27)

Ha! No, but I'll look for it when I re-re-watch the episode tonight.

I agree. It's a big-girl thing to do. But it's also a little-girl thing to do. So it's perfect for Betty.

Yes, I did notice, and had a nice little 12-year-old-girl chuckle about it. I was guessing that was some kind of nod toward the Art Department being overrun by frat boys after Sal stopped running it.

Henry is himself divorced for a reason. I find it interesting that, given what we've been shown, Betty knows little more about him than that he likes her and works for Rockefeller. It didn't even cross her mind that the woman at the wedding was his grown daughter.

cherrispryte (#444)

Not enough has been made of the awesomeness that is the return of gold-pen-wielding Joan. So. much. awesomeness.

LOVE! "It's Room 406, Harry."

mathnet (#27)

God yes! But "Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price" is way too long and annoying. SCDP. Don't really like it, but OK.

adriana (#1,654)

Yet somehow, when Joanie says it, it sounds like chocolate and caramel.

Oh, and can I just mention the awesomeness that was "Very good. Happy Christmas!"

sunnyciegos (#551)

Yay Lane!!

sunnyciegos (#551)

And you, Sal. I think I've missed you most of all.

Guess it would have been too hunky-dory for him to also walk through that door.

mathnet (#27)

Oh but he still WILL, don't you think?? Please?

mathnet (#27)

No he won't, dummy. They still have Lucky Strike. :(

Maevemealone (#968)

I think he will. It was imperative that they poach those still with SC before Monday. Sal is already free of them so he didn't have the same urgency. Don's mentioning him in the previous episode I think bodes well to his eventual return.

mathnet (#27)

Maybe junior will die in a freak homosexual accident, paving the way for Sal's triumphant return!

Maevemealone (#968)



davidwatts (#72)

YES! I loved the whole scene of those left behind. AND! When Paul opens Betty's door to see that she's gone, too, his look of being beaten, again, is just fucking priceless.

Or they try to look up Sal and it turns out he's been murdered in some kind of freak park hookup. I didn't like the way we left him, with those leather-jacketed toughs hanging around the phone booth. But here my knowledge of period gay sartorial habits was wanting: Were they cruisy gays, or batsy bashers near a cruising ground?

sunnyciegos (#551)

"You made him sleep in Gene's room and it's SCARY in there!"

I LOLed.

cherrispryte (#444)

As did I! I hope we see the kids next season ….

Abe Sauer (#148)

I'd just like to point out that Fargo was the divorce capital of America for the last 30 years of the 19th century.

Maevemealone (#968)

Did it have preemptive direct flights to Reno or what?!

Abe Sauer (#148)

Actually, because the new Western rail went through there, visitors could get off the train for an hour, register for divorce (required 3 months "residency") and then scoot out of town to come back 3 months later for the confirmed divorce. So YEAH KINDA'

mathnet (#27)


Monorail. Monorail. Monorail.

NY's still a bit behind in divorce law. You don't have to prove adultery but you do have to prove the marriage can't be saved and live apart for a year.

blueeyeddevil (#1,924)

Not that pushing someone around is ok, but y'all are overreacting a bit to Don's confrontation with Betty. This is the dude who refused to spank his son at his wife's urging on the grounds that his father beat him and it taught him nothing.

If Don was the hitting women type, he would've let loose on Bobbie when she mentioned his rep as a "connoisseur" in season 2.

So sure, he roughly pulled her up from bed, but that's as far as it went and was as far as it was gonna go.


Also, Hamm busted out those crazy Draper eyes we had never seen before. How long has he been holding out with those?

mathnet (#27)

"Because you're good and everyone else is baaad." SWOON

dirge (#2,164)

At the end when Don emerged from the bedroom after talking to Betty, did anyone else feel like Don was looking with pride over his true "family"? And when I think about how the show started with Don accusing Hilton of kicking him around like a abusive father it blew my mind. Am I alone on this?

mathnet (#27)

It was a great moment in a great episode. We saw his two families, and his solace in the (more realistic/real) one he'd created–the one he hadn't messed up (yet).

Wondering about the Don/Peggy conversation, when he came to her apartment to convince her to leave SC. They both seemed near tears. What was that about? It was cryptic.

mathnet (#27)

I think he was talking about how they'd both been through terrible things, and they both knew what it was like to be changed by those things and to want that innocence back even though it's irrational to believe it could be regained. I think he was saying that she, like he, understands people and people's lives and people's desires–which makes her a good Creative and also a good friend to him.

LondonLee (#922)

That was my take too, her experiences (and also just being a woman I guess) gives her an emotional connection to her art which makes her good at selling shit.

Nice apartment Peggy had by the way.

Did you notice the sense of pride when she opened the door TO HER APARTMENT. All Virginia Woolfin it and shit.

bb (#295)

with her high heels plunked under the table! So funny in comparison with Trudi making a green pepper dip.

dirge (#2,164)

They have been through a lot together, the baby and his accident. It would be tough consider letting the other go. BTW what about Don telling Peggy he'd spend the rest of his life trying to hire her but telling Betty that he wouldn't fight her?

I think Don has a more fatherly instinct with Peggy so it stirs up different motivations.

revmeg (#2,083)

Again, the writers must have looked into my life. The scene where Don and Betty tell the kids they are getting divorced was word for word the conversation my parents had with me and my sister in the same situation, though I was a teenager and my sister was about eleven years old. It was even held in that one area of the house forbidden to kids: the living room. My sister said the same things Sally said, while I was thinking, "Thank God! Now the fighting will stop." Boy was I wrong! They fought about child custody; I was allowed to decide whom I wanted to stay with but my parents went to court fighting over my sister…Mom won but she died shortly after and my sister went to my dad anyway, what a waste of
time and money. They fought about holidays and weekend visitation. As a teen, I wanted to spend weekends hanging out with friends but to keep the peace I went to Dad's and tried to have a good time, only to come home to be grilled by Mom about what we did and whom we did it with, and to be lectured about all of Dad's faults. If she found out we had met someone he was dating she would call him and scream for an hour about how he was not to bring his friends around us. Oh what a joyful time Sally and Bobby have to look forward to!!

Tuna Surprise (#573)

When Don went to an apartment at the end of the episode, was that the same building as his first season boho girlfriend (Maggie?). I wasn't sure whether he's striking out on his own or hooking up with old flames.

I think he's not fighting back against Betty because he knows she won't be able to go through with the divorce. No way is she going to sit in Reno for six weeks. She'll be back.

I think Joan hooked that apartment up for him. And his boho girlfriend–didn't she get married or something? Maybe misremembering. But I had all these thoughts because I, too, briefly wondered why the establishment shot looked so FAMILIAR.

tralafel (#1,221)

I love love loved Joan's discreet "I'm sorry" when Don told her he needed an apartment.


joshc (#442)

I loved this episode like nobody's business, but how awful and non-credible was it that they're leaving the kids alone with Carla for six weeks over the holidays?

sunnyciegos (#551)

That was some Bad Idea Jeans.

bb (#295)

is it possible they just go to establish residency and come right back? cf. Abe's description of Fargo divorces above.

joshc (#442)

I hope so. Betty's a monster mother, but that would be really harsh even for her.

Re: Title of post. Caught a bit of Silence of the Lambs and got to hear Q Lazzarus' "Goodbye Horses" while Buffalo Bill's best moment was censored by the network. (I think you know what I am talking about.)

More importantly, HENRY: He seems to be in one or two episodes here and there in all these crime and creepy genre shows like Without a Trace and The X Files. I don't know these shows well enough to know how he is cast, but maybe someone else knows whether he is a regular television villain. He has all the physical trappings of a recurring psychopath on a Law and Order franchise.

I was hoping to find he'd played the charming and later villainous husband in several Lifetime movies. I'll tell you what I think. He is going to turn out to be a wife-beater, or else there will be something effed up with Sally, or both. I don't know why this premonition is so strong in me but I only thought of it after that controversial Don-and-Betty bedroom scene.

Does Betty know why his first wife left him? Why does he want to be so paternal? And is it just possible that the knockabout scene in Don and Betty's bedroom is meant to foreshadow a discourse between the characters of Don and Henry, a parallelism for Betty?

There is something about that guy that is creepy and controlling. Partly it's the illusion of freedom, mutual choice he offers Betty. But it was unwise of her to agree not to ask Don for anything. She now forfeits any personal means she might bring to the marriage.

I agree with everyone here who thinks there were scenes that were crowd-pleasers and not totally realistic. But then, if they please a crowd that cares about realism (I think this comment pool pretty much qualifies), then maybe they figured out the formula for getting away with it. I was clapping through much of the episode. I just think the viewers needed this, and I for one stuck my disbelief on a shelf where it can stay till the next season starts.

And thank you so much, NVC, for the McCann/ad industry background. This thing is fantastic.

sunnyciegos (#551)

There was something predatory about the way Henry moved in on Betty while she was still pregnant.

OOOO that's true! He touched her belly— OOF CREEPY

mandor (#1,014)

Mad Men has a knack for hiring actors who tend to be cast as creeps. The actors who play Roger and Duck were also both stalkery/murderous dudes on Desperate Housewives.

bb (#295)

any opinions about where Don's new apartment is? Looked kind of UWS side street-ish (in the 60s it was sort of slumming it for professional types) — or is he going back to his downtown/beatnik roots with the West Village?

OMG How will Don design his apartment?!?!!? I didn't even think of that. It will be a den inequity and Eames chairs.

mathnet (#27)

She got him a furnished place, but "for now." SO MAYBE!!

I didn't recognize it, but maybe I was supposed to (meaning maybe it's a famous building/neighborhood). I don't think we're supposed to recognize it from the series though. I think the shot was echoing, and contrasting with, his usual going-home shot in Ossining. Back-of-the-head, carrying his suitcase, late at night, etc. Am I missing something? I just assumed it would be in Murray Hill/UES someplace so he could walk to the Pierre and Grand Central.

bb (#295)

to be honest, with those high arched windows it looks like TriBeCa, but obviously it is definitely not. The brownstones on the UES do not look like that. Some on the UWS do, and maybe Murray Hill as NVC says. Frankly, it's probably too ubiquitous to be clear, but man it is exciting to see The Don on the nighttime streets of Manhattan…

bb (#295)

oops, as MATHNET says.

It's a temporary furnished apartment. And I think he walked home from the Pierre. I am thinking it was not a rental on Sutton or Beekman, so it's First or York avenue, north of 60th. Plenty of buildings looked like that in that neighborhood around there.

mathnet (#27)

Is there a New York-area map somewhere of Mad Men characters' homes and offices and hotels and stuff? BECAUSE I NEED TO CONSUME THAT

mathnet (#27)
bb (#295)

super cool– the Westchester county footnotes of mad men! love the contemporary picture of the school.

We need this for NYC ASAP, though it may actually be harder b/c there are fewer specific non-set locations because Manhattan has changed more than Ossining. I can hardly think of places where they have been outdoors — I think I saw that certain restaurants have been used:

but still, there's the Waldorf, and there could be a nod to Lever House because the interior office layout looks just like it IMO.. the UES "white brick" buildings like the one where Pete and Trudi live, and the Brooklyn church where Peggy's family go. If I still lived in NY I would totally location-scout.

Ahhhh!! This is great. The grand central dot:

"after cajoling all around New York City Don takes the train home to (twist!) to see his wife and two children!"


But this discloses a slight problem I was talking to some friends of mine about. They live in Ossining? Not quite right. Should have been Bedford, Scarsdale, even Bronxville, even even Pelham. Ossining's a bit weird. Like the suburban equivalent of Bushwick, but with trees instead of preexisting nonwhite people. I went to Catholic high school in NY with commuters, and Ossining was, even for them, subdivisions. It'd be like if they were from Bergen County and they chose Oradell instead of Ridgewood. For all of the carefulness … not quite right!

If they were going to be off the beaten track it'd have been a town like Croton Harmon back then I think. But not Ossining.

bb (#295)

I would be willing to bet $$$ that Weiner chose Ossining because of Cheever, and the rest is close enough.

mathnet (#27)

Not as awesome, but worth a look IF YOU'RE OBSESSED:

mathnet (#27)

You know what? Fuck that. Delete. Totally sucks.

Come on, Internet!

We should start a bus tourline like they did for SATC!

mathnet (#27)

Hosted by Gladis and Staton and Flanagan!

adriana (#1,654)

Would pay top dollah for that.

rockfalls3 (#1,624)

Irony alerts:

1) Don calls Betty a "whore", when his birth mother was a prostitute. It sounds like something his father's wife would've called the (late) birth mother.

2) Henry's comment to the lawyer about not wanting another scandal, after the divorce lawyer remarking 'the state of New York very much [does] not want you to get a divorce!' The irony being that Henry works for Nelson Rockefeller, who divorced his first wife in 1962 and then on May 4, 1963 married Margaretta "Happy" Murphy. They remained married until his death in 1979, when he was found by paramedics with an aide, Megan Marshack (at a townhouse he owned).

Jetpacks (#2,220)

Goldang, woman! You teachin' a college course on Mad Men or what? This is some serious investigative TV watching.

Sadly, all I see is a bunch of fucked-up, egomaniacal shitheads careening headlong into an overglorified era of free love, no consequence hedonism.

And Henry "The Weasel" Frances? That dude's got pedophile bad step-dad written all over his smarmy face.

garge (#736)


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