Monday, September 20th, 2010

Footnotes of Mad Men: Mrs. Draper, You've Got a Lovely Daughter

SALLY DRAPERI don't need to tell you what going through puberty feels like, with all its urgency, eroticism, and ugliness. You went through it yourself. If you didn't go through it as a female, I can tell you that the desire to appear adult is consuming. Whenever there's role-playing to be done, the pubescent female will assume the role of Teacher in School, Doctor in the Hospital, Mother in House-and beware the girl who played student, patient, baby. For young girls, the thinking goes, if they exude an air of maturity, they'd be chosen to enter the world of adults. A young girl's desire to play cook is not only a demonstration of her ability to be an alchemist, converting raw globs of yoke and salt into something edible, but also to show that she can successfully manage adult responsibilities. This is to wriggle into the world of grown-ups. So there's no greater shame to be exposed as a fraud-when, despite a girl's best efforts, she finds herself reflected in the pitying leers of adults. There are few positions more shameful than face down on the hall floor of your father's office.

A LA MODE• Let's spend time in Sally's pre-teen world. It was likely that she would have subscribed to or at least thumbed through the teen magazines-an enduring badge of maturity for the aspiring adolescent. The most widely read teen glossy of the era: Seventeen. Also popular were Mademoiselle and Charm. While Mademoiselle modeled itself as a miniature Vogue-a self-serious catalogue of fashion, décor, and girl glamour-Seventeen followed in the tradition of Woman's Home Companion: home-spun advice on manners, recipes and thrifty clothes-shopping (not "fashion"). Fashion trends were acknowledged: for example, the cover girls, always with energetic smiles instead of a smoldering stare or pout, would be in step with the times (cropped clam-shell coifs were replaced with flips and bouffants), but the emphasis of the magazine was on wholesome living. In the essay "Up the Ladder: From Charm to Vogue," a history of women's magazines, Mary McCarthy described Seventeen this way:

Thoughtfulness is the motto. The difficulty between being both good and popular, and the tension between the two aims (the great crux of adolescence), are the staple matter of the fiction; every boy hero or girl heroine has a bitter pill to swallow in the ending… Poorly gotten out and cheaply written, it has, nevertheless an authentic small town air….

Another major motif of Seventeen is groupy-ness. "Get your gang together!" Each issue had a litany of projects that required every one's cooperation: games to play, after school theme parties, management of a high school prom-and even "how to stop a family quarrel."

• As far music goes, we can only imagine the sophistication Sally's musical palette. But if she's like most tweens of that era (with little cash to burn on obscure musical acts) then her tastes would be guided by what was popular and accessible. The Beatles were at their squeakiest in 1965 with "I Want To Hold Your Hand." In 1965, there was huge glut of girl groups, thanks in part to the success of the Supremes, who by that summer were having their fifth number-one hit. The major themes of the girl groups were ready-made for teenagers: puppy love, anxiety over chastity, loneliness, hopes of marriage, talk of boyfriends. The groups ranged from the soulful New-Jersey-founded Shirelles, who had sex laced throughout their lyrics, to the more proper lyrics of the Bronx-born Chiffons. Compare the lyrics of the Chiffons' Carole-King-penned "One Fine Day"….

One fine day
You'll look at me
And you will know
Our love was meant to be
One fine day
You're gonna want me for your girl

The arms I long for
Will open wide
And you'll be proud
To have me by your side
One fine day
You're gonna want me for your girl….

To the Shirelles, on the opposite tip, from 1963:

Foolish little girl, fickle little girl
You didn't want him when he wanted you
He's found another love, it's her he's dreaming of
And there's not a single thing that you can do

"Forget him cause he don't belong to you"
"It's too late he's found somebody new"
"There's not a single thing that you can do"

But both groups were on their way out with the tide-even though Motown was just five years old. Jefferson Airplane was forming. Phil Spector was about to retire (for the first time). The Rolling Stones were on the top of the charts.

ZAC OF HIS DAY• Speaking of boyfriends, we already met the man who brought Sally to slip her hands under her nightgown: David McCallum, our man from UNCLE. Another male who could have seized her heart (and hands) was Luke Halpin, the often-shirtless, tawny star of "Flipper," both the films and the TV series that began in 1964. Halprin was the Zac Efron of the afternoon airwaves.

But Sally has already displayed a taste for more mature objects of erotic fantasy. For Sally's gaze, then, Warren Beatty.

SUREHe had become one of Hollywood's most formidable sexual personae (cough) by 1965. He was still boyish, still too young to be considered anything but beautiful. He was fresh off his turn as a gigolo in 1961's "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" (co-starring Lotte Lenya!), in which his sex appeal could not be undone by his horrible Italian accent. Though Beatty oozed sex more freely than Brando or Dean, he was withholding, mischievous, cerebral, a bit troubled on screen. Critic David Thomson wrote of Beatty, in 2004: "Beatty was not open or generous. He seemed reluctant to yield himself up… Despite valiant efforts, Beatty the actor never persuaded me that he knew how to lose control… Control is his thing and maybe his curse."

You can always find more footnotes by Natasha Vargas-Cooper right here, or, you know, you can get a whole book of 'em.

62 Comments / Post A Comment

mathnet (#27)

It was fascinating and heartwrenching, watching her try and get close to her dad. Taking the train to his office as his 'peer,' planning their pizza date and inquiring about her romantic rival as his 'girl,' offering to care for his babies and cooking him a rum-soaked breakfast as his 'caregiver'. . . even venting her frustration at being shut out by screaming and yelling as his 'Betty.'

mathnet (#27)

("It's the business of sadists and masochists, and you know which one you are.") –Hellcat, RIP.

saythatscool (#101)

You are the true Queen of Perversions, mathnet.

I KNOW. I was really looking forward to more hellcat hijinks.

mathnet (#27)


saythatscool (#101)

That's a good thing! You're welcome.

mathnet (#27)

Oh! Speaking of! We've seen Don get head twice just this season. Have we ever seen him give it?

City_Dater (#2,500)

About the only thing that could make me want a baby now is prospect of waking up to rum-soaked french toast, 12 or 13 years hence.

The Sally Draper Cookbook = instant best-seller.

mathnet (#27)

"Is it bad?" "Not really!"

mathnet (#27)

(And of course it's Carla who taught her how to make french toast.)

saythatscool (#101)

Any thoughts on Joyce the lesbian walking in to the office as Sally is walking out?

mrschem (#1,757)

ooooh. i missed that.

innag (#7,189)

saw that. what's your point again? very curious.

saythatscool (#101)

Videogum called it "lesbian foreshadowing." If it wasn't that, then perhaps it was meant to juxtapose Megan the receptionist to Joyce the lesbian and the future sexuality of lil' Sally Draper.

mathnet (#27)

Here's what I saw: A lesbian woman taking note of there being a crying, puffy-faced child on the 37th floor, and also of a beautiful blonde lady.

saythatscool (#101)

Perhaps it was just that. I can't believe that's David Mamet's daughter btw.

I don't think she is. Here is his wiki entry

"Mamet and actress Lindsay Crouse were married from 1977 to 1990, and have two children together, Willa and Zosia. Mamet has been married to actress and singer-songwriter Rebecca Pidgeon since 1991. They have two children, Clara and Noah."

And her imdb entry

Mini Biography

Adria's grandfather, Sam Tannenbaum, was a song-plugger for Irving Berlin who changed his German surname to Tennor to sound more American. Her grandmother taught her all these songs as she grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. She studied acting and directing at New York University's Tisch School for the Arts. Her first role was as a 12-year-old boy talking about porn in Tompkins Square Park with an amnesiac in Hal Hartley's movie, Amateur (1994). With a few more film roles under her belt, Tennor moved to Los Angeles to work in television. There, she also performs her one-woman shows regularly around town, There's Not a Lot of Coat Check Work in LA, Electro Magnetic Stripper, and most recently Strip Search, inspired by her studies in pole dancing with Sheila Kelley at The S Factor Studio. She lives with her restaurateur husband, Claudio Blotta."

saythatscool (#101)

Thanks kitten!

LondonLee (#922)

The Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" is probably the best example of that good/popular agony.

deepomega (#1,720)

Loving this season's emphasis on Types Of Feminism. (Or proto-feminism. Whatever.) The last scene was a little ham-fisted, but I don't care because I love the themes.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

This whole season has been ham-fisted.

keisertroll (#1,117)

The good thing about having ham-fists is that you'll never starve to death.

Ledrew (#654)

Hamm, fisted.
(Sorry, saw an opening. [Again, sorry.])

mrschem (#1,757)

Seconded. I had a little 'Dynasty,' flashback at Dr Miller's 'it-was-test-and-I-failed-it' tantrum.

"There are few positions more shameful than face down on the hall floor of your father's office."

Way to trample fond childhood memories, Natasha.

Oh this made me laugh!

Annie K. (#3,563)

I liked that part of that sentence: "beware the girl who played student, patient, baby." I think that too but I'm not sure why and I wonder why Natasha said it.

Mar (#2,357)

Oh, because that girl always has some sort of minor injury or troubling (fake) secret or boy-adjacent drama and she grows up to be a black hole of need that takes your stuff/boyfriends/time. She'll blame it on borderline personality disorder or mild bipolarism or whatever, but the truth is that some cats is cats, and some cats is women.

mathnet (#27)

She also runs away from home to your house and tells your parents a teacher molested her.

mrschem (#1,757)


She's also weirdly servile and more at ease being punished and silent.

hockeymom (#143)

Where do we think the character of the pretty secretary in reception is going to go?
I'm torn between future Draper conquest and lover of Joyce.
She's my favorite.

She'll hook up with the lesbian.

Not sure if I'm reading into it or not but they also seemed to be contrasting Megan hugging Sally after her fall with Faye's I-don't-want-children reaction right after.

mathnet (#27)

OMG you guys. I have last week's episode on in the background right now? And I just glanced up to see an autographed 8 X 10 glossy of Buddy Ebsen as Jed Clampett in Harry Crane's office!

mathnet (#27)

So is Pete's (second) child going to be born next week, do we think?

mathnet (#27)

(And is Joan pregnant with Roger's baby?)

KristaJulieva (#588)

I Want To Hold Your Hand was released in early 1964. (Which makes it still true that that's the sort of thing Sally might be listening to at that point in time…but as a Beatles-obsesser since childhood I had to make the niggling point.)

This is what I was going to say.

The summer of 1965 ended with the release of Help! By the end of the year, Rubber Soul.

joeclark (#651)

What the fuck are "globs of yoke"? Are they one of those "darndest" things?

"Globs of yoke" is a pejorative term used to describe people who comb through blog posts looking for spelling errors so they can post snide comments about them.

scrooge (#2,697)

Hey, MrH, that's my job

LondonLee (#922)

I swear the apartment building Joan and Roger were walking past when they got mugged looked exactly like the place Jack Lemmon lived in The Apartment. Wouldn't surprise me if this was deliberate given the boss-secretary-lover relationship they have.

mathnet (#27)

Ooh, + the final scene in the elevator = maybe

They both might have been shot on Paramount's New York Street:

sigerson (#179)

Me too! I half-expected Jack Lemmon to come out of the shadows, peering up at the windows to see if the coast was clear.

mrschem (#1,757)

NVC, you are the best. I will be sorry when this show ends and I won't get my weekly fix of your writing.

Awwww. We can be pen pals!

mrschem (#1,757)

I wish. :)

mathnet (#27)

So I just realized. Bobby Draper was born the same year as Kevin Arnold, right? (Sorry–have we covered this already?)

Registered (#595)

I just posted this on Gawker. Now I get to make a fool of myself on both sites. If you have friends or frenemies who still post there, please ask them to abstain for a week.

I know, I'm a fool.

"Could you refrain from posting here for a week? Take your Mad Men/Top Chef comments to another site? Well, c'mon, would it ruin your life? I think the Awl could provide alternatives.

Why? Because I don't think Gawker should have taken Betty Crocker's star away. They'll probably fall all over themselves to give it back tomorrow, thinking he has had a sufficiently humiliating time out. Way to treat one of the most valued commenters, Denton.

That's how we lost the wonderful Bookish, and I don't want to lose Betty.

Memo to Nick & his underpaid "editors:" I'm all for some decorum on the posts, and I've gone a bit too far at times, and so did Betty this time.

However, this site is written by the commenters, not the mods. Generally, the standard of excellence comes from the commenters.

Let's not visit Gawker for a week. I will find this very difficult. But let's teach them who brings in the money. It isn't Denton or his underpaid scribes. It's us. Let him know what a week of low-hits looks like."

bb (#295)

good luck with that. FWIW I haven't been there in months. can't even imagine how bad their Mad Men posts must be.

lilbeanie (#4,082)

While I think that commenters have added a whole new level of depth and, obviously, discourse, to sites like Gawker, I think it's pretty asinine and arrogant to say that commenters provide the "standard of excellence" rather than the editors and mods. The editors don't have the luxury of speaking solely for themselves without any real thought toward consequence or style. Their livelihoods depend on simultaneously pleasing their superiors and the masses, with the added pressures of previously unheard-of deadlines and time constraints along with instantaneous criticism, commentary, and the all-powerful pageview-counts. If you want anarchical commenting privileges, you should probably go to sites with absolutely no editorial at all.

pdxmadwatcher (#7,537)

Credit where credit is due. Gerry Goffin, not Carole King, wrote the lyric to "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. This was Carole and Gerry's first big hit and their work at that point was clearly divided – Gerry was the lyricist, Carole the melodist.

And what a beautiful melody it was.

pdxmadwatcher (#7,537)


Meant that to say Gerry Goffin wrote the lyrics for "One Fine Day" while Carole King wrote the music. Although it applies to "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow as Well".

rj77 (#210)

Also applies to "Natural Woman." Gerry must've been in touch with his lady-side…

Ian Finn (#7,569)

Hey Natasha, why was the receptionist in tears after Sally left?

cellardoor (#7,575)

Although you asked someone else, I will respond: Megan and half of SCDP just witnessed Sally throw a tantrum about how singularly unhappy she is living with her mother. The assumption is that most people at the agency have seen Betty's cold demeanor, and can only imagine the worst after having experienced Sally's outburst. Perhaps Megan, too, had an unloving mother. I did, and I cried throughout that scene. Megan was emotionally overwhelmed at having been hugged for dear life by a very unhappy child. This might make any woman concerned, sad, or depressed, depending on the degree to which they could identify with the child's issues.

cellardoor (#7,575)

Herman's Hermits!

That's right!

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