Mad Style: Favors

Posted on June 12, 2013

We were thrilled when people started responding to these Mad Style posts. When it comes to TV reviewing, if you don’t establish a strong voice and a decent hook to your work, you’re going to get lost in the crowd; especially when the crowd is as large as the one recapping and reviewing Mad Men. We’ve always felt like, with these posts, we were jumping into the conversation and offering the fashion and critical analysis that could only come when two gay men, one with a fashion background and one with a film degree, get together to talk about the show on their predominantly fashion-oriented site.

We’re telling you this because with this week’s episode, we’re feeling a call to arms to be the big ol’ mouthy gays that we are; a call to help give a little inside perspective on the question that seems to be plaguing all of mankind this week.

 

Just what the hell is going on with that Bob Benson guy?

 

(Note to the newbies: “Mad Style” is normally a look at the costuming and art direction of the show, and this post will get into that after the long Bob Benson diversion. If you got sent here to read the Bob part, don’t be confused when we switch modes and suddenly start talking about dress colors.)

After almost an entire season of popping up in the background or suddenly showing up to offer help to various members of the SC&P family, Bob disappointed a whole bunch of people who were hoping he was any of a number of wild things, from Don’s illegitimate son to an actual government spy, by revealing the mundane truth of himself: he’s gay and he’s hot for Pete Campbell.

Or is he?

Well… yes, actually. We look around at many of our fellow reviewers and recappers, as well as the online fans, many of whom are still asking this week if Bob Benson is really gay, and it seems to us that a whole lot of people – possibly most of the ones who watch the show – are kind of missing the point. Despite one of the most open declarations of love and desire ever depicted in the entire 6 seasons of the show, people are theorizing that Bob is anything from a sociopath to someone who’s just putting Pete on, pretending to hit on him in order to further some scheme. To all that we would like to say this:

In 1968, homosexuality was a recognized mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. A gay man in 1968 could not only be fired, he could be jailed, institutionalized, subjected to electro-shock therapy and even chemically castrated. The idea that any man in 1968 would pretend to be gay is akin to the idea of someone pretending to be a Jew in latter Weimar Germany. It just doesn’t scan. The stakes are entirely too high for anyone to fool around with that sort of stuff. It is virtually impossible to conceive of any sane straight person doing such a thing. It’s like pretending to be a pedophile for ulterior motives, in today’s terms. That’s how it would have been seen at the time. Some men tried it to get out of serving in Vietnam, but even then, it wasn’t a common tactic, even with stakes that high.  No, as shocking and hard to accept as it may have been, Bob Benson really was hitting on Pete Campbell, and now we’re going to tell you why.

Since there has been an insane amount of wild speculation regarding Bob, we decided to sit down and watch every scene he appeared in, taking notes as to where he was, who he spoke to, and what he said. If anyone wants citations, we can provide them in the comments section.

Here is what we know about Bob Benson: He went to Beloit and then got his MBA from Wharton. He worked in finance for a year, he hated it, and his family has worked for the same financial company for three generations (since this is all so easily checked by the people he told it to – Don and Pete – we’re going on the safe assumption that it’s accurate).  He talks about sports or uses sports metaphors frequently. He listens to self-help, power-of-positive-thinking, Dale Carnegie-esque salesman porn and espouses the expected self-help platitudes left and right about being in the right place and being the kind of man he knows he can be. In typical Carnegie style, he goes out of his way to be available and helpful to all people, all the time. He makes a habit of handing out coffee to co-workers; Pete most often. He sent a deli tray to Roger’s mother’s funeral and when Ken reprimanded him for it, he claimed that “It seemed the right thing to do.” He secures a nurse for Pete’s mother.  He rescues Joan in the middle of a health crisis and tells her he has “nowhere to go.” He hangs around the creative area frequently, claiming that he loves it down there. We know that he has a fairly good relationship with Stan and a very good one with Ginsberg, to the point that he was the only one able to talk Ginsberg down from whatever mental health crisis he was having.

He hangs around outside Pete’s office frequently. When questioned on it, he claims he loves the light. When we actually see his office, it’s tiny, dark and windowless, which tends to back up his excuse. He visits a whorehouse with Pete and stands outside in the hallway while Pete gets his rocks off. When the prostitute comes out, he offers to pay for Pete. There is no indication he had sex with any of the prostitutes. It’s implied he waited there the whole time. He has happily gone to the store to get Pete toilet paper. He brings Pete up in conversation frequently (“Doesn’t Pete Campbell have a beach house?”) and claims to be very interested in his well-being (“He’s a very generous person and I think he’s going through a rough time.”). He constantly flatters Pete and speaks highly of him.   He stays at the office later than most of the employees. He is friendly with a gay man and wasn’t shy about admitting it in the office. He claims that this gay man just nursed his father back to health but he earlier told Ken that his father died. He has developed what looks like a fairly close platonic relationship with Joan (a woman not prone to close platonic relationships); to the point that he jokes about her mother being at the track and thinks nothing of offering to handle Kevin for her. When Joan’s mother tried to suggest a romantic relationship, Joan said knowingly, “He’s not interested.” Joan figured out Sal was gay just by playfully kissing him once. Joan absolutely knows when a man is or isn’t interested in her and she is highly unlikely to admit to her mother that a viable man isn’t interested in her. She once got testy and competitive with her mother over a plumber she admitted she found disgusting – and this was just a couple weeks post-partum.

Here is what we surmise about Bob Benson, based on the above: He’s an upper-middle class over-achiever from a family of them but he’s more than likely estranged from them because he’s gay, which partially explains why he doesn’t work for the family firm and also explains why he can be so flexible about whether his father is alive or not. Like a lot of gay men, he is fascinated by people who work in a creative field, even if he’s not creative himself. Like a lot of well-closeted gay men, he is a smooth liar from years of experience; very good at fooling the eye with distractions and cover stories. But because he’s constantly spinning tales he can’t always keep track of them and a close observer can occasionally pick up inconsistencies. Like a lot of over-achieving well-closeted gay men, Bob is operating under “Best Little Boy in the World” syndrome, a term which comes from the seminal coming-out autobiography of the same name, published in 1973, and so well describes a certain type of middle-to-upper-class gay man that it’s considered an honest-to-god measurable syndrome today.

Basically, it comes down to this: there is a certain strain of gay men who have an overwhelming urge to be over-achievers in all areas of their lives. In school, they are A-students and members of every club and organization that will have them. They are athletic, scholarly, friendly, and helpful to everyone around them, constantly seeking excellence and popularity in order to deflect any questions as to why they don’t date. They are always extremely clean-cut, if not downright conservative in appearance. They quite often stay in school to get advanced degrees because the atmosphere allows them to continue to put off any questions about their personal lives or plans outside their education or careers. After school, they throw themselves into their careers with the same fervency. If a gay man is both a Best Little Boy and estranged from his family, he is more than likely an extremely lonely person; possibly even someone who’s bad at reading personal cues and engaging in emotional intimacy. These types of gay men still exist, but there were far more of them back in the days when staying in the closet was less of a personal choice and more of a necessity.

But Bob’s life doesn’t necessarily have to be one completely without companionship or sex. New York City was (and in many ways still is) one of the best places to be in the country for young gay men with no family ties. There was a burgeoning gay social scene at this time. There almost always had been one in New York City, but in the years following the war, the numbers of detached men and women who migrated to the city and joined what would later come to be called the “gay community” expanded tremendously. This is largely why the Stonewall Riots of 1969 happened when they did;Salvatore because the gay community finally had the numbers and the communally-fed anger needed to do something about the institutionalized harassment they were receiving from the police.

By the way, the Stonewall Riots will be happening practically in Joan’s backyard. Having lived in the Village the entire decade of the sixties, Joan has probably come across more gay people in her day-to-day life than anyone else in the Mad Men story. It makes perfect sense that she would befriend a good-looking young gay man who works with her.

Anyway, we made a point in our initial review of this episode that Bob comes across “culturally gay,” which is to say, he’s closeted in work and in many areas of his life, but he likely has some form of gay social life, given that he knows Manolo well enough to recommend him for jobs. If you’d like some sense of what this gay social scene was like and how someone like Bob Benson would have fit into it, we highly recommend seeing the film version of “The Boys in the Band.” The play opened off-Broadway in April of 1968 and offers a near-perfect snapshot of bitchy, self-loathing, pre-Stonewall middle-class Manhattan gay male socializing. The entire film is available on YouTube. It’s quite the artifact. We would also highly recommend Edmund White’s “A Boy’s Own Story” and “The Beautiful Room is Empty” for an extremely detailed and well-drawn depiction of white gay male life in NYC prior to and around this period.

The idea that Bob might be socializing and having some form of gay life, however limited that may be by today’s standards, sets him drastically apart from the show’s other notable gay male character, Sal Romano, who was such a deeply entrenched good Italian Catholic boy that he was living with his mother and apparently a virgin (he ran like hell from that Belle Jolie guy like he was on fire) well into his middle age. We think it’s safe to say that Sal had no gay friends and had never set foot in a gay bar in his life.

This doesn’t seem to be referred to much anymore, but back in the Sal Romano days, you frequently heard reviewers and recappers talk about how obviously gay he was and how hard it was sometimes to believe that no one around him ever suspected. For our parts, we weren’t particularly happy with the famous scene where his wife Kitty figured it out, arguing that no man who had been as deeply closeted as Sal would ever start camping it up in front of his wife like that so freely and un-self-consciously. He is a very fondly remembered character but the one consistent criticism leveled at him was that they may have oversold the gayness in his mannerisms and speech a bit too much. However, since this was a period where men like Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde and even Liberace could get millions of people to not question their heterosexuality (although plenty of people did), we don’t think it was completely out of the realm of possibility. Anyway, our point is, looking over the whole Bob Benson storyline, we get the distinct impression that he was designed to correct that “mistake.” He was deliberately designed to throw the viewer off and not immediately get them to guess that he was gay, in total opposition to Sal, who loudly signaled his gayness to the 21st Century audience the first time he opened his mouth.

Bob also serves to allow the show to continue its examination of the changing status of gays, much in the same way Dawn replaced Carla, the Drapers’ maid in Ossining, who was the primary African-American character on the show for the first three years. This change in character illustrated the ways in which African-American visibility and interactions with middle-class whites changed; as they moved from the servant class to the professional class. Many fans of the show have clamored for Sal’s return but we have never been among them. Sal’s story, such as it is, is done. The likelihood of a man of his generation leaving his wife and Joycecoming out of the closet in middle age is almost nil. If Mad Men truly wanted to examine the changing status of gays, even if it’s done in a very limited way (as with Dawn) then they were going to have to introduce a new, younger gay character to the cast. For a time, Peggy’s friend Joyce seemed to be the likely candidate to fill the role (and a likely candidate to actually be at a place like the Stonewall in 1969), but she was limited as a character in a lot of ways and can’t provide the stark contrast that someone like Bob can. And cute gay Kurt, who gave Peggy her first makeover, was a casualty of the SC crackup and never seen again.

As for why Bob would ever fall for, or be attracted to Pete, we don’t even think it rates a question. A succession of very attractive women of varying degrees of intelligence and sanity have gotten it on with Pete; from Trudy to Peggy to Beth Dawes, to that model he followed home, to that crazy neighbor lady who broke up his marriage. In fact, if you want to be a little crude about it, Pete’s probably the Number 3 swordsman on the show, behind Don and Roger. He hasn’t done badly for himself at all and he’s not nearly as unattractive to certain people in the story as he is to us, the viewers. Bob doesn’t know all the various ways in which Pete has been an utter shit the last 6 seasons, from raping that nanny to shitting all over Peggy’s self-esteem, to petulantly blowing up his marriage because he was mad at his Father-in-law. To Bob Benson, Pete is a fussy, droll, highly emotional, well-dressed, slightly effete, old-money WASP who left his wife, frets over his mother, and just recently started smoking pot. It’s the Niles Crane effect. Combine that with his being a junior partner at the agency, and he becomes irresistible to a go-getting guy like Bob. Making his move now – even after hearing him use the word “degenerate” – made a certain amount of sense to him, even if it didn’t to the audience.

 

And as to the question of whether a closeted gay man would do what Bob did, risking what he’s risking, we’d just answer with: they did. Gay men did, in fact, do this sort of thing and do, in fact, still do this sort of thing; risking the closet based on very deep infatuations (or even dangerous obsessions) or just an obsessively close reading of another man to see if he’s sending out signals. It was insanely risky on his part, but you can read the stories of countless men in Bob’s generation who fell in love with bosses or dorm roommates or teachers and eventually either made a successful move or made a fool of themselves – or worse. It looks and sounds crazy to us in this day and age, but like we said, Bob is almost certainly extremely stunted emotionally and very bad at intimacy. He’s all surface because he’s spent his entire life being all surface in order to deflect questions.

In addition, you have to remember that culturally gay people at this time had virtually no way of picking up on normal romantic and sexual cues. It was actually illegal for gay people to socialize with each other, which is at least partially why so many gay male assignations at the time happened in back alleys and tea rooms and why complicated signaling like Polari and the hanky code were used to communicate everything from sexual position and act preferences to basic gay social concepts (“butch,” “drag,” and “queen” are all Polari slang). Having never really been taught how to read whether a man is interested in them, many gay men of this period suffered serious crushes on the straight men around them and totally misunderstood any forms of friendliness or affection as sexual attraction. Also: while the camera lingered on their knees in this scene, such moves were in fact very common among gay men in order to non-verbally signal to each other that they were like-minded (like toe-tapping in tea rooms). They worked and were devised  because it was something that was quite easy to deflect or ignore if signals got misread. People bump their knees all the time, right? No big deal. Pete obviously picked up on it, but it never quite goes so far that he needs to leap out of his seat in disgust. This move was very much part of the gay male playbook of the day, which was almost entirely about trying to figure out just who the hell around you was also gay and reaching out to them in a way that didn’t get you killed or arrested.

There is some question as to whether or not Pete reacted with as much repugnance as one might have assumed, which is notable since his mother tells him outright that he’s unlovable and here’s this person he likes and relies on declaring their love for him. We’ve delved enough into the personal politics of this scene. We’ll leave it to others to theorize as to whether Pete might be open to the idea of something less heterosexual in his life.

There. That’s what we see when we look at the story of Bob Benson, knowing what we know about gay men of this period. He’s not a sociopath or even a schemer of any great note. He’s an obsessively go-getting, emotionally damaged gay Golden Boy type who has lousy taste in men and is so bad at social cues that he’ll declare his love for someone who’s currently worrying that his mother has been raped.  This doesn’t preclude Bob from doing something nefarious down the line in the story, nor does it totally negate the idea that he’s bisexual or not entirely gay (which is how Matthew Weiner coyly put it -  “not gay, necessarily” – in the “Inside Mad Men” video this week, but he has a history of being not entirely trustworthy when talking about ongoing storylines).

We tend to believe that he’s gay, though; because bisexual men in 1968 were for the most part not hanging around in gay bars or socializing with gay men in that way.  Again: the stakes were too high for anyone who had options outside gay life at this time. If anything, bisexual men were even more furtive about their same-sex attractions than gay men were.  The only non-gay people who surfaced in the scene at this time were motherly fag hags (of which Joan, by the way, would make a near perfect example). Anyway, we don’t predict where the story of Bob is going, but we’re fairly sure we’re close to knowing what his story has been so far. If you have the episodes DVR’d, we recommend fast-forwarding through everything and watching just the Bob Benson scenes, one right after another. It all becomes a lot clearer and a whole lot less ominous than many theories would have you believe. He’s been infatuated with Pete all season.

Now, to bring this back to style and costuming, we want to note that Pete is quite a snappy dresser and always has been. His shiny, electric-blue suits of the early ’60s were youthful and showed that he cared about fashion. He and Trudy were always a quite fashionable, well-dressed couple, especially when they lived in the city together. While we wouldn’t call his three-piece suit here youthful, it’s still a more stylish version than Roger’s 1920s-style 3-piece. That very short, cropped vest was popular in the late ’60s partially based on the Edwardian and military styles which were inspiring fashion from top to bottom. His bright blue tie and matching pocket square speak of a slight dandy-ism that sets him apart from a lot of men on the show. Basically, Pete puts thought and effort into his outfits and he tries to come up with a distinct look for himself, another reason for Bob to mistakenly think he might be gayer than he appears. Bob is all youth and All-American college grad in his style. Almost all of his ties look like prep school ties and he frequently pairs them with pin-striped shirts, just to give his look a slightly more textural feel to it. He and Pete are speaking to each other in tones of grey and blue here, but not quite matching up.

Allright. Enough of these two. Let’s move on to the rest of the costuming.

 

It’s cute that gingham appears to be Dawn’s thing the way plaids are/were Peggy’s and florals are Joan’s. She’s worn a pink gingham summer dress more than once this season. One of the things we love about the way Janie dresses working class people is that the quality of their outfits vary from day to day, which is very true for all working people, most of the time. This is clearly one of Dawn’s “nice’ outfits.

 

And this is clearly her laundry day outfit. Not only do the top and skirt not really match, but as you can see from the back, the quality of that blouse isn’t high. Several of Dawn’s outfits look home sewn to us, which would make perfect sense for her character, the thrifty, low-key good girl who thinks the women in her church are a bunch of harlots.

Dawn is the only woman on the show to sport hoop earrings. This isn’t the first time she’s worn them. They clearly signal her otherness in this setting and call back to her African-American heritage with great subtlety. Virtually all the white women wear the button-style earrings that were popular for them at the time.

 

We feel bad that we haven’t highlighted more of Clara’s costumes this season. Janie Bryant’s been doing some fantastic work with her, giving her some scene-stealing looks.

We’re sorry, but we burst out laughing at both of Dorothy’s looks this episode. All season long she’s been depicted rather drably, showing the dementia that plagues her through her costuming. Even back in the day, when her husband was still alive, she was depicted as a typical old-money WASP. Her style was preppy and unadorned, like most of the women of her type. But here, and later in the episode, she is dolled up like a drag queen; hat and gloves; coordinated purse and shoes, an impeccable suit, perfectly applied makeup and quite a bit of jewelry. Why? MANOLO, of course. She’s got herself a gay gigolo-nurse willing to dress her up like a doll and make her feel prettier than she ever has.

 

Just look at her. She’s positively dripping with expensive jewelry. And since she more than likely needs help putting it on, it means she’s giving Manolo free access to her no-doubt considerably stuffed jewelry box (no pun intended). Pete actually had good reason to want Manolo gone. There was, and in some respects, still is a long tradition of elderly Manhattan socialites cavorting with gay gigolos.

She’s not only dripping with jewels, she looks almost literally ice-encrusted, which works quite well for a scene in which she’s cruelly cold to Pete. Manolo is quite hilariously playing a part, right down to the ascot. He ditched that getup for a tight sailor shirt the minute he got out of there and hit the village for some cruising. Allegedly.

 

Janie will do this at times; render two figures starkly, in similar silhouettes and styles but in wildly different solid colors. It turns them into figures in the scene; the green one vs. the pink one. Dorothy is all in pink as she talks about the tingling of her loins and the pleasures denied her so long. Peggy is in a more mercenary, business-like money-green, trying desperately to keep the conversation on anything but this. She’s also got touches of blue, which make this look yet another entry in the blue-and-green motif of season 6. We’ll see why in a bit.

 

Love that shot of Manolo checking out Pete’s ass. We wonder if Bob’s been telling him all about how dreamy he finds his boss. On the one hand, Manolo’s laquered hair and mustache are very Euro-trash for the time, but they also are heavily forecasting what will come to be known as the “clone look” in the gay male community of the ’70s and ’80s; very short hair, a mustache and a muscular body. It pretty much becomes the standard urban gay male uniform look for two decades post-Stonewall but it was already popular in the underground gay community at this time.

 

The major season 6 color motifs of green, yellow and blue facing off in one scene. The yellow-and-blue combo has been absolutely consistently applied in scenes where characters were failing to connect with each other. Betty is far more put together around the house than she was as recently as 8 or 9 months ago. That is some seriously set hair and face. We wouldn’t be surprised if Sally’s style changes very soon in light of the events of this episode. It seemed to us that her clothes this episode were more childlike than normal. As we’ve said before, this was a period in fashion where infantilized clothing for grown women was all the rage, but even so. It tended to be more popular with adult women than with young girls desperate to get away from those dresses. We suspect after this we won’t be seeing so many knee-hi socks and good-girl dresses in Sally’s rotation. She’s ripe for some rebellion and we think Janie deliberately dressed her as conservatively upper middle class as possible in this episode.

Janie also quite often dresses several woman in the same color throughout an episode, so Sally’s green dress binds her somehow with Peggy and Dawn.

 

Demonstrating impeccable timing, Janie chose this season as the one where blue jeans started becoming more prominent. It was the late ’60s when jeans shifted from something relegated to blue-collar workers and rebellious teenagers to the ubiquitous article of clothing it is today. It’s not that everyone in 1968 started wearing them; it’s that people like Don (who, if he ever wears them, won’t do so for another decade at least) found themselves surrounded by them more often than ever.

Megan is red and black and as we’ll see, this is a color motif that surround Mitchell this episode.

 

First, Arnie shows up sporting the two colors, utterly beside himself with emotion. It’s notable that Don is not sporting these colors and is the one who remains, for now at least, removed from the emotions of the scenario, unlike Megan.

 

And then later it repeats in the lobby scene with Sylvia. Basically, everyone who’s worried about Mitchell’s fate is bound together in these two ominous colors, which often evoke blood and death.

We also want to note that Sylvia has worn a LOT of black this season (more than any single character, in a season where a lot of ladies wore black) and that Arnie has often been depicted wearing grey and black with touches of red. If this family had a banner, it’d be red and black.

 

It was interesting how her romantic history, past, present, and possible future, were laid out in this scene. But since these three are also embodying the major color motif of BGY, let’s break this down. Ted’s in blue and yellow, signaling a lack of connection. He and Peggy are not hooking up here and in fact it’s Peggy and Pete who do the major emotional connecting. When Ted comes back to find them laughing over Pete’s mother, he’s completely left out of the conversation. It’s also notable here that Pete’s in a green tie. What’s even more interesting is that his green clashes with Peggy’s. They have a history, but they’re not on the same page anymore. And since Peggy is infatuated with the married Ted (and vice versa) she’s in the adultery-signaling BG combo.

 

Like Betty and Don a couple episodes back, when they were doing their whole reminiscing tour, Pete and Peggy never looked quite so attractive all season as they do here; the lighting perfectly working on both their faces, even though they’re sweaty and drunk, unlike Betty and Don who can’t help but look glamorous together.

 

We don’t know what it is about Nan, but something about her look reads as totally 100% period accurate to us. In short, she looks like a bazillion suburban moms of the late ‘60s and all the way through the ‘70s.

Because Ted wants HIS juice, dammit, his story tends to revolve around red and oranges, reflecting the cranberry vs. orange war he’s currently waging with Don.

Jesus, is that a hideous bedroom, though? Perfectly, groovily of the period. Yellow, orange and avocado green are going to dominate home decor for about the next ten years. This bedroom is actually a bit trendy, except for the knotty pine, which is a pure ’50s holdover, probably dating to when their house was built.

 

Once again, all the partners are wearing either yellow or blue ties, but Don, who’s the least involved of all them, has a strong strain of red in his. This mimics the way they were all dressed for their first partner’s meeting and indicates not only that they’re not connecting with each other, but that they’ve made not the slightest progress on that front.

Again, Pete’s more stylish than we tend to give him credit for. That’s a perfect ’70s executive look, right down to the blue shirt.  Note the differences between his vest and Roger’s more old-fashioned one.

 

“I don’t want his juice, I want my juice!”  And he is surrounded by swirls and stripes of orange and red to go with his temper tantrum.

Still, we dig his groovy ankle boots. And speaking of groovy…

 

You’re soaking in it.

When Peggy famously gave a handjob to that guy in the movie theater, we noted that his striped pants were so groovy that half the teenagers in America would be asking for them within a year. Mitchell’s wearing the 1968 version. It should be noted that Mitchell, despite how he looks to us, comes across at this time like the spoiled rich kid he is. No one but grownups would ever think this look was counter-culture. He’s no more a hippie than Sally and Julie are.

Sally’s wild pattern and general color scheme tie herself closely to Mitchell but not because they’re romantically destined for each other like troublemaking Julie hopes, but because their parents had an affair. Julie is completely outside this scenario, both in style and in reality.

Both girls were dressed in that child-like manner, but Julie’s costuming was even more ironic than Sally’s on that front, since first, her costumes were slightly more ridiculous, like here; and second, she’s such a manipulator and troublemaker, belying the sickly sweet, Bad Seed persona she puts out.

It seems to us that Janie puts Megan in these simple monochromatic looks when she seems to be unaware of what’s going on around her, like the fact that Julie is running downstairs to slip a note under the Rosen’s back door. Interestingly, she wore this same outfit the last time she encountered teenage girls with flower patterns and seemed somewhat oblivious to her surroundings.

Ah, remember when breakfast cereals actually had “SUGAR” in their names? Good times. Part of a wholesome breakfast.

 

It couldn’t be simpler. After failing to connect all season, they are both finally matching, in shades of yellow and black. They’re also perfectly reversed; Don’s solid black jacket and patterned tie vs. Ted’s solid black tie and patterned jacket. They’re on the same page but they’re also still themselves.

 

This outfit is meant not only to remind us of the outfit Sylvia wore when she dumped Don, but it also ties her directly to her kitchen, something Jane tends to do very often with housewife characters.  It should also be noted that Sylvia is most definitely NOT getting the Betty Draper glamour lighting in this scene and in fact, has been shot to look worse and worse as the season has progressed. She was out of fashion but still quite beautiful when we met her on New Year’s Eve. She’s shot, lit, dressed, and made up to look harsh and frumpy here.

Like the Chaough bedroom, the oranges, yellows and greens in this kitchen are simply not going to go away for quite some time, permanently scarring a generation of children before finally fading in popularity. The heavy orange tones throughout this scene and the next one also serve to remind us of Don and Ted’s juice war, because every time there’s an abundance of orange in a scene this episode…

 

A little cranberry must always be added to the mix.

Again, we think we’re witnessing the death knell of Sally’s little girl looks, which is why this and the last dress she wore are so over the top in that regard.

 

Yellow and orange dominated these scenes thoroughly, making Sally stand out all the more as someone who just shouldn’t be where she is.

 

With the day over and the the war finally settled, Ted returns home to a loving reunion with his family, like so many lucky soldiers.

 

While Don, ever the mess, returns to yet another war zone for him.

Couple things here: We love how Nan is napping in her knee-hi’s. No way in hell she’s walking around her house barefoot like a hippie. We also love how Megan looks more stylish and trendy than either of the two teenage girls at the table, both of whom look like they were dressed by their mothers.

Kiernan Shipka knocked it out of the park in this scene. The wincing look of pain at the sight of her father was beautifully done; knife-to-the-heart. Sally and Don are never really going to have the same relationship again, sadly.

In the end, this particular story, with its endlessly repeating motifs, like fractal images…

 

Is partially about how family dysfunction sometimes passes itself on from generation to generation, despite the best (or in this case, the worst) efforts on the part of the elders. Patterns repeat; mistakes re-occur.

 

And a privileged east coast girl in the late 1960s can find herself in danger of winding up just like the screwed-up, poverty-stricken Appalachian son-of-a-whore who’s failing to raise her, because sometimes you just can’t get away from your family history.

It’s kind of funny. After years of Betty being vilified by the show’s viewers for being a cold, sometimes terrible mother, we’re all kind of rooting for her to save Sally from being totally screwed up now, aren’t we? On the other hand, we’d all probably cheer if Sally put on her bell bottoms and hit the road.

 

BONUS:

We’re thinking “Ralph” for the cat.

We love how uneasy these two are with each other. She is so not impressed with the men in her life right now and he is so not impressed with this lady who keeps hogging the couch.

By the way, both Peggy and the Chaough boys are watching Hawaii 5-0, which just debuted.

 

[Stills: tomandlorenzo.com]

Tags: , ,

  • Feathers McGraw

    AMAZING! Thanks. I am hoping for minimal fallout on the Bob story and everybody ignoring what happened as much as possible. Thanks for this writeup. I stopped watching the show but I still love reading about it.

    • Meg0GayGuys6

      I’m really hope Pete doesn’t do something stupid regarding Bob and his job. I hope that seeing as he got a declaration of love right after his mother called him unlovable, Pete will have the decency to prove his mother wrong, and do Bob right by not harming his career.

      • SFree

        I just hope Pete was so confused and taken off guard that he goes into denial about this incident. I wonder more what happens with Bob. He looked a little teary as he walked away.

      • rage_on_the_page

        I just hope Pete falls in love with Bob and they run away to Fire Island together. Teehee.

        • Meg0GayGuys6

          That is some fantastic fan fiction just waiting to be written! They will be reunited with Sal in Fire Island!

        • PrunellaV

          Yes. Pete + Bob is kind of hot.

  • catherines

    Great post – thanks! One thing that struck me was how prominently Sally’s necklace is displayed against the dark colours of her dresses. I think that’s the SBD necklace that Don gave her for Christmas in S4 – or, more accurately, that he gave Allison $30 to get for her, in the same episode in which he drunkenly slept with Allison in his apartment, and the next morning gave her a hundred dollars. That pattern of recklessly bringing his sexual affairs into his home (once he and Betty have separated) and in linking money with sex AND in failing to protect his daughter as thoroughly as he should from his sexual life has now reached a horrible zenith. It’s deeply poignant to see Sally wearing the necklace that her father gave her two seasons later in an episode which sees the end (presumably) of her idolisation of him (to which Betty refers at the start of the episode).

    • Chris

      Yes, Sally seems to never take the necklace off she even wears it with her nighties. It’s definitely going to be noticeably absent after being a staple for a few seasons.

    • katchwa

      Great catch. Thinking back on it it has been particularly prominent I think for a few episodes and I wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears, at least until there is some development that brings them closer together?

      • Chris

        I can’t think of a Sally scene where we haven’t seen it on her since he gave it to her. If you look back for the past few seasons of Mad Style I think you can see it with every single outfit Sally wears.

        • katchwa

          I know she’s worn it every single time we’ve seen her – but I think her costumes have been put together in such a way as to draw the eye to it – I certainly noticed it in The Crash several times, having not done so for ages.

      • SonOfSaradoc

        Sally was also wearing the EXACT colors of the Draper apartment kitchen red-and-blue blocked cabinets in her red-and-blue plaid. She was aligned with that apartment when she bought or packed that outfit for the trip to NYC. Probably not so aligned anymore.

    • MK03

      A few episodes ago, I thought Sally might ditch the necklace after the “Grandma Ida” incident, but I was wrong. After this, though, there’s no way she’ll be able to even look at it again.

      • Glammie

        No. I think poor Sally still loves her father. She’s heartbroken, but he’s still a part of her life and who she is. She may take off the necklace, but she won’t throw it away. Someday she may wear it again.

        As awful as Don is, he does love her and even when he was lying to her, it was clear he cared–and Sally knew that. She went from anger to grief, which in some ways was worse.

        Don being a two-timing rat doesn’t make Betty a better mother–so Sally’s really stuck. She doesn’t have the connection to her stepdad the boys do. So with her parents, she has a present mom who’s cold, competitive and bitchy a good chunk of the time to her and an absent, betraying father who is, however, nice and understanding of her when they interact.

        • formerlyAnon

          The best Sally can hope for, once the rage and betrayal die down, is that feeling that “OH. It all makes more sense now.” I’ve seen that happen when people discover the (awful) hidden truth – there’s a strange sense of “rightness” because so much that never added up suddenly does.

          • Glammie

            I think as an adult if Sally knew how terrible Don’s own upbringing had been, she might have some forgiveness/compassion for him. That he’s a deeply broken person who kept trying to do the right thing, but couldn’t stop from doing the wrong thing.

            But, yes, I think pieces will fall into place for Sally–give her a better understanding of why her mother divorced her father.

            I always think of Oscar Wilde: “Children begin by loving their parents. As they grow older they judge them. Sometimes they forgive them.”

            Sally’s definitely in Stage II. Will she reach Stage III? Not sure–Weiner clearly feels some compassion for Don and wants us to, but I think a lot of viewers (not me) are fed up with him.

          • formerlyAnon

            I definitely think Sally will get to Stage III. This won’t make her stop loving Don, it will just make her love someone who has hurt her and outraged her (and maybe scared her a little in the “my life raft is dissolving” sense.) But she may be in her 30s before she gets there, and at this rate of spiraling, Don will be dead or an entirely broken man by then.

          • Glammie

            Yep. There’s nothing like one’s own failings as an adult to build some compassion. This sort of thing, though, does tend to really screw with a young girl’s sense of self.

            Sally’s always been written as a smart character–I hope that continues so that she’s not simply a victim of crappy parenting.

          • formerlyAnon

            She’s not just smart – her parents, for all their many faults and counter-productive behaviors are both schemers, survivors, fighters. She is going to make some risky choices and the tools she’s heading out with are flawed at best, but I think she’s likely to fight herself to a better place in life than her mother or father in the end.

          • MartyBellerMask

            He could write a letter. Spell it out and really open up to Sally if he wants things repaired. She may not be mature enough to understand yet, but that’s good because she’s going to need some time anyway.

          • somebody blonde

            He could, but he won’t. He wouldn’t be Don Draper if he did.

          • MartyBellerMask

            Maybe someday he’ll figure out that maybe “Don Draper” aint such a great thing to be. :-/

          • somebody blonde

            It’s pretty hard to just up and change who you are, especially when you’ve built a life around it. Even if he does realize that it’s not such a great thing to be, I don’t think he’d have the least idea of what to do about it. It wouldn’t make sense with his character.

          • http://marshmallowjane.com/ marshmallowjane

            I wish the writers would show just a little more of Don’s inner workings. First of all, he rarely speaks; he’s a quiet man. Secondly, when he does speak, it’s barely a grunt here and there, like, “Get in the car,” or “Isn’t it time for bed….” something like that.

          • Qitkat

            Although the expression is “still waters run deep,” in my experience, that’s not always the case. I suspect that even a great therapist would have difficulty bringing out the true inner man of Dick Whitman.

          • http://marshmallowjane.com/ marshmallowjane

            Sometimes I forget that he’s Dick Whitman. I have trouble remembering what his childhood was like with the hookers because the guy they used as “young Dick” looked absolutely nothing like Dick–or Don. These waters are amazingly “still,” and they run awfully “deep.” :-D

          • Glammie

            I think the closest we got to that was during his divorce year, when he kept a journal. I think there was a little “there, there,” but Don has a lot invested in not looking inward.

            I kind of take the lack of introspection as Weiner kind of commenting on that generation and the WASP mindset as he sees it. Instead of talking about your anxiety, you take a stiff drink.

          • Topaz

            Well, psychiatrists have recently started arguing that emotional repression is massively underrated as a way of dealing with trauma (aka maybe English people were right this whole time). So maybe he should just pretend like it it never happened. Though granted Don Draper has not exactly been the poster boy for this theory so far…

          • ailujailuj

            Topaz – that is quite arresting!

            Sally is going through the initials stages as a kid who is old enough to observe the failures of her father and recognize them as part of who he is. She is vulnerable to that broken heart and she will eventually make the decision, like many other young girls have, to acknowledge who he is vs. who she has wanted him to be, close off that part of her heart and separate that experience from her future relationships with men. Ironically, that experience will bond her more closely with Don because at the end of the episode, she essentially agrees to keep his secret.

            Sally will deal with her chaos by disengaging from the people and the emotion and focusing her attention and hope outward toward her friends, school, social context. She will find her way through men who will also disappoint her and then will find one who doesn’t. She will eventually come full circle to accept don and her feelings of disappointment, disgust, disillusion, for someone she loves and will grow indifferent when she realizes that it’s not only not about her, her relationship with her father has little to do with her. Then as she gets a little older, she will take pity on him and hate him for the empathy he demands of her, still and will be thankful she has built a happy life around her in spite of it all.

            Oh wait – this is about Sally… ;)

          • maggiemaggie

            Or, her father will never stop betraying her, and everyone else around him, until she finally has to cut him out of her life altogether, even though she understands the things that made him the way he is.

          • Glammie

            Well, he has survived and, in some ways, thrived by compartmentalizing. Yes, it catches up with him, but would he even have gotten out in the first place if he hadn’t been able to compartmentalize?

            That said, I think Peggy handles her past trauma better. She knows it happened, knows there’s a child of hers out there, but I think she’s also made some peace with it on a day-to-day basis, which is why she can be kind to Pete.

          • Topaz

            Yeah, Peggy’s a bit of a wonder. Pushing things to one side has definitely worked out better for her, but then it’s not like she’s had to keep the fact she gave birth secret from absolutely everyone in her life. Don knew, her mother knew, and they both remained in her life even with all the associated difficulties that involved. Even Pete didn’t go totally apeshit when he found out. They really reinforced the whole ‘you won’t believe how much this didn’t happen.”

            I guess Don had Anna, but no one from his old life. I suppose there’s a difference between acknowledging something happened but refusing to dwell on it, and actively trying to forget and ignore it.

          • Glammie

            I also think what Don is trying to forget is so much bigger–his parentage, his upbringing, his subterfuge–the first 22 years of his life. And the really brutal thing is that when Betty found out she didn’t forgive him and, subsequently, told him she no longer loved him.

            What would have happened if Betty hadn’t rejected Don at that point? I’m not saying she wasn’t completely justified in her response, but what if she had accepted him? Anna could have turned him in, but didn’t and Don did turn around and take care of her. Megan in that sense was a step in the right direction, but she’s too inexperienced to handle someone like Don. She, like Betty, is getting emotionally steam-rollered.

          • catherines

            My reading of Betty’s discovery of Dick Whitman was that, sure, she wouldn’t/couldn’t forgive him, and displayed her characteristic desire to be cruel but, also, that she couldn’t continue to live with the lies and control which he had exercised over her (down to talking to her psychiatrist or refusing to let her wear a bikini; and when she finds out about him, he’s on the verge of taking off with Suzanne) and which were now laid bare. Of course she was complicit in constructing him as such (in the Gypsy and the Hobo she tells him “I thought you were a football hero”) but Don clearly wanted her to see him that way.

            And, Betty also refuses to turn him in when the FBI come around asking about Don for North American Aviation in S4.

            It is really interesting to compare the emotional situation between Don and Betty and Don and Megan. Megan insists on her own life, to some extent, but as you say is getting steam-rollered and doesn’t know what to do.

          • Glammie

            Yep, I’m not blaming Betty, more pondering a “what if”? In a sense, both were trapped by their own limited viewpoints (and self-absorption) and the times.

            Don admires, but is also scared of perceptive women.

          • Topaz

            But I don’t think there was any way for Betty to go at that point except rejection. Megan’s problem isn’t that she’s too young and naive to handle Don, though she was perhaps foolish to marry him as quickly as she did. The problem is that Don can keep up a facade for years, even fooling himself, so she had no way of knowing who she was getting into a marriage with regardless of what facts she knew about his past. She’s realising that now.

            Don has been the agent of his own misfortune in a lot of ways in recent years – he’s a master of self sabotage. He deliberately manoeuvres himself into situations that are liable to blow up in his face. He doesn’t know how to accept love from people while forgiving them for not being absolutely everything he wants them to be, so he hooks on to people where he only ever needs to know half of them and can fill in the blanks with fantasy.

          • Glammie

            I’m not saying Betty did the wrong thing or that she should have forgiven Don. I’m postulating a “what if?” What if all of Don’s efforts to control and limit Betty hadn’t worked–if she turned out to have a sense of grace despite it all?

            Not saying it’s likely, but what if?

            I chalk up a lot of Megan’s naivete to her youth. Fay would have handled Don differently, so would a Joan. And, yes, he avoids marrying women who could challenge his dominance. Though the irony of it is that it’s what he kind of needs.

            But a Megan who was 10 years older would be a savvier Megan. She doesn’t seem as frozen as Betty.

          • Chris

            Don had Faye, who knew not only about him, but was willing to help him face the authorities if need be. She was his professional equal in many ways and had already showed him she could help him get clients etc. She understood him better than perhaps anyone could because of her profession and training but Don didn’t want that. He wanted the fantasy of a younger woman who didn’t really know him at all and idolized him for being, older, richer, smarter, wealthy and very successful. When Don got engaged to Megan she had no idea about his past. He had her wrapped up for we don’t know how long before he told her about his past, they could even have been married. By the time Betty found out the truth about him she knew something was very very wrong and was looking for proof even though she wasn’t 100% sure of what she was looking for. Don had abused her trust in every possible way and had been emotionally abusive to her. To find out you didn’t even know the real name of a man you had three children and at least a decade with is a terrible blow. I don’t think Betty’s acceptance of Don would have done much for him at that point. No matter who accepts Don he has to accept himself for it to do any real good.

          • Glammie

            Yes, I know and said earlier that Betty giving up on Don is completely understandable–my question is what would have happened if she hadn’t? Not that she should have done so.

            Faye Miller is a complex question. Yep, she was good for Don in many ways, but I don’t think he was totally off in wanting a woman who was more open to the stepmother aspect. It felt like Faye would put up with the stepmother aspect, but would never feel comfortable with it–and given Don’s own crappiness as a parent, he’s right in looking for someone who can deal with kids.

          • formerlyAnon

            I don’t know that they do anything to help you learn from experiences or to grow and mature, but compartmentalization and emotional repression can be damn fine tools when the goal is to function and get the job done.

          • ailujailuj

            the thing is, that works pretty well for adults who have had at least a chance to develop basic coping skills. When kids are raised among chaos and lies, deception and subterfuge not only do they have to develop their own coping skills, which generally isn’t a good idea, but they also have very little context for what is healthy. And then there are those kids who never learn to cope. Some learn to compartmentalize and repress – but not because it’s the right approach (as an adult, it’s easier to choose the path of less stress and pain) but because there is no one to help kids amongst chaos. Oftentimes kids are controlled BY those secrets – as in classic cases of incest.

            Sally is at least coping – she takes care of her brothers, seems to do well in school, hasn’t sought after attention from boys that she isn’t getting from dear old dad, appreciates Henry, and seems to deal with Betty straight-on (good reference to Dr. Edna by decormaven) rather than deviously–and knows how and when to push her buttons about don. I would agree that she might be compartmentalizing her chaos but I think that is very different then repressing it. She is becoming the narrative hero, when it would have been so much easier to write her as the story’s sacrifice.

          • Glammie

            Yes, I’ve felt for a while that Sally’s very important. I sometimes wonder if Weiner intended all the kids to have that role, but it’s fallen on Sally because of Kiernan Shipka’s acting chops.

          • ailujailuj

            oh yes. the kids have been written so provocatively. And Bobby is a powerhouse too. He’s incredibly precocious and aware. The scenes w/ Don a couple of episodes ago were among my favorite. I really want to know who these kids turn into.

          • http://marshmallowjane.com/ marshmallowjane

            Thanks for this quote!

            “Children begin by loving their parents. As they grow older they judge them. Sometimes they forgive them.”

            It can take a lifetime to forgive parents. Forgiving might be quicker on television. This incident could help her like her mother better, but not by default. When a father cheats, it’s a betrayal to the wife and to the children. A child with empathy for the mother can hurt for her mother and for herself.

          • Glammie

            I love the quote–so pithy, so apt.

            Yeah, Sally might blame her mother less for the divorce, but Betty’s a bitch in her own right, so that relationship’s not going to be mended over this. Don’s cheating on her stepmother, not her mother, so there’s a step removed.

          • melisaurus

            He spends way more time doing the wrong thing than the right, it’s hard for me to be compassionate. My dad got more right than Don that doesn’t mean that I have to like him as my father. As a human being he is ok.

          • Glammie

            I honestly think these sort of things depend a lot on where you are in life and what a parent got right or wrong. When I had a child, I realized just how inadequate and bad some of my upbringing was, but I also understood just how horrendous my father’s upbringing had been (different than Don’s, but in the same ballpark of awfulness.) I pretty much thought, “Wow, you really blew it as a dad, but when did you even have a chance to learn how to be a father, or even a whole person?”

            Don’s sort of put himself together from Dick Whitman’s fantasies and Dick Whitman never had a chance.

      • nptexas

        Lots of kids rise above the bad parenting of their “only human” parents, thank god. I guess at some point most people realize most parents do try to do right by their kids. Everyone has their own baggage and children eventually accept that about their parents I think.

        Sally is smart. I’m rooting for her and hoping she doesn’t fall apart or worse.

        • decormaven

          Right on. Remember how Dr. Edna praised Sally for not getting upset when Betty got upset and made her brush her teeth for some inane reason. Maybe Sally will see her dad has “stresses” as well. I’m just sorry that a child has to rise about this situation, but she’s not the first, and unfortunately won’t be the last.

          • nptexas

            I remember that session with Dr Edna, too, and thought later about whether Sally was “controlling” her anger or just stuffing it. Sally is so precocious I have to remind myself she’s only 14 or so. Also, living in and around NYC, she is much more mature and sophisticated than I was at that age. I’m a few years older, but grew up in a part of the country that might as well have been in a different galaxy!

            I do love this show and just re-watched seasons 1-5. I think I’ll do it again now that I’ve found Tom and Lorenzo.

    • Bonjour

      Sally’s necklace to me always read as a French upper-class Catholic kid’s medaille de bapteme, especially against the structured plaids and blouses she wore in the early 60s. In certain neighborhoods of Paris — 16th and 7th arrondissements — it’s all you see on blond kids who look like Sally — little gold circles bouncing off of crisp white blouses and structured tartans, because those kids are dressed the way Sally was in early seasons. In France it reads as vieille France Catho, or, old money establishment, stuffy, conservative, even aristocratic. And the other, ‘loose’ side of French culture, the revolutionary, free thinking and free love side, is what breaks that down — a bit like Mad Men’s journey through the 60s breaking down 50′s structured culture.

      Anyway I always thought Andre Jacquemetton threw that in, Sally’s medal, as a nostalgic touch for France (and because you rarely see a preppy child without one, in certain contexts.)

      • catherines

        And you could also see it as representing her faith in her father – her request for the necklace was in a letter which Bobby believed was going to Santa, but Sally understood was going to Don. This episode marked another stage in growing up – where she let go of her belief in the heroic figure of her father.

    • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

      OMG! Thank you for this. I never noticed it and don’t have the capacity to remember it. Great catch.

  • par3182

    He’s an obsessively go-getting, emotionally damaged gay Golden Boy type who has lousy taste in men and is so bad at social cues that he’ll declare his love for someone who’s currently worrying that his mother has been raped.

    Best character description ever.

    This was an epic, guys; thanks so much for the in depth coverage.

    • Mazenderan

      Agreed – this was great. Bob Benson just didn’t make any sense to me, and now he does.

      I was also totally baffled by his attraction to Pete, but the comparison with Niles Crane made perfect sense as soon as you pointed it out.

    • DawnMarie76

      Adding my thanks too, as a former ‘Bob really is gay’ sceptic. I was going to go back and watch all his scenes again on my DVR, but you saved me the time. thanks for the education and insights.

  • Tracy Alexander

    Thank you. Yours is usually one of three recaps I read on Monday mornings (the other two belonging to very prominent TV reviewers) and this week I was very disappointed in all but yours for exactly the reasons you outline at the start of this post. If nothing else, Mad Men has always been extremely deliberate and thoughtful when it comes to character establishment. The initial wild speculation about Bob and then the further questioning of his scene with Pete (one of the most authentic scenes of the whole series) were almost insulting as a fan. Thank you for being the voice of reason.

    • MartyBellerMask

      The only other MAD MEN stuff I read regularly is called “If MAD MEN took place entirely on Facebook” which is just a humor thing, usually pops up this time every week.
      And another thing I found this week, I believe it is just an essay, not an ongoing review (which is a shame really because it is very good), I believe is called “What Sally Knew”. I will try to find the links but they are easily google-able.

      • Travelgrrl

        I’m guessing that title is a nod to Henry James’ “What Maisie Knew”, about a girl who is slowly awakened to the dreadfulness of the adults around her.

    • filmcricket

      The AV Club handled it fairly well this week as I recall, but then again the reviewer this week is also gay, so perhaps that’s why.

      • Glammie

        I like the men on Slate, but not Hanna Rosin; she isn’t real perceptive.

        And thank you ,TLo, for really spelling it out. Not sure why so many people had problems with Bob’s gayness, but I guess that says something about the reach of this blog. I started reading it back when it was Project Rungay, so the commenters tended to know something about the gay community, but the Mad Men posts seems to bring in a wide range.

        I suppose, too, maybe some of the younger ones don’t have a visceral sense of how coded gay life was and, in some cases, still is. Mad Men, as a show, is all about codes and deciphering them. It’s what Don does and Janie Bryant, of course, costumes a great deal in code. (The hoop earrings on Dawn is such a great catch.)

      • something

        Yes. I had gotten into the habit of going to Vulture and reading all the best of Mad Men recaps cause I can’t get enough Mad Men analysis, but I’m just getting more and more spoiled by TLo’s masterful deconstructions. Everyone else reads like they were catching up on their email during the episode and missed the point of half the scenes. Honestly, I forget which review it was, but one of them said Peggy was offering Stan a three-way when she said he could bring his girlfriend over if he would come and take care of the rat! I’m wondering if these people are watching the same show I am. Or the seemingly constant suggestion that Sal is going to resurface at the Stonewall riot and bring his friend Bob, because all the gay guys in New York know each other. It’s like they think of Mad Men characters as Forrest Gumps who are going to show up at every historical event of the sixties: Abe’s gonna get arrested at the “68 convention, Sally’s going to Woodstock, etc.

  • Frida

    So many costuming connections that I didn’t notice until you screen-capped them. For example, just noticed in the final scenes of Ted coming home to his family, and Peggy on the couch with the cat, both Peggy and the youngest son are wearing very similar baby-blue stripes. This seems to explicitly link them, and is suggestive of the fact that Ted chose to go home to the loving embrace of his child, who threw his arms around Ted’s neck with happiness, rather than to what might have been Peggy’s similar loving embrace if he’d turned up at her house instead… Instead, Ted has his family and a satisfied smile as he takes them to their beds, while Peggy is stink-eyeing her cat, who sits removed from her.

    Also, Ted seems to be surrounded by red stripes – the cushion he’s lying down on in his office, the curtains in his bedroom – which seems to distinctly tie him to Mitchell (especially Mitchell’s groovy trousers) – suggesting that Ted is the one that *actually* provides Mitchell’s reprieve, not Don. It is after all Ted’s older son who is evocatively also in red stripes; Don, meanwhile, is disconnected from his oldest child, and his desire to help Mitchell doesn’t really come from a paternal place (he’s not moved by Mitchell’s story until Dr Rosen inadvertently reminds him of his time in Korea…)

    I thought it was a little ham-fisted to have Sally yell at Betty early in episode that ‘dad always let’s me do what makes me happy’, or something to that effect, and Betty snark back, ‘yeah, he’s just perfect’, and then have all that come crashing down a few scenes later. It’s a familiar daughter-mother argument, but it possibly didn’t need to be juxtaposed with Don’s fall from grace in Sally’s eyes quite so directly I thought…

    • Robyn Garrett

      Excellent points. That Peggy/Chaugh Jr. connection is perfect.

    • Alice Teeple

      Add in the fact that Peggy and Chaoughlet The Elder are both watching the same TV show. That’s a great observation and analysis.

      • Frida

        Ah yes, of course, that really does seem to confirm that the costuming choice was deliberate! These were the two parallel scenes that Ted could have walked into, and he made the very un-Don-like choice of going home to the family.

        More generally, despite what people have been saying about Ted not being as Mr Nice Guy as he seems, MW seems to be going out of his way to show that he isn’t very much like Don at all in this episode. I thought that look on Don’s face when Ted was ‘bargaining’ with him in his office – that look of “how can you want so little from me in return for such a huge favour – are you for real??” – was so indicative of how different the characters are. Don just can’t comprehend Ted, and I think Ted, after his tantrum on the couch, decided he would no longer play the game on Don’s terms. Ted is in many ways the bigger man, putting the interests of the company first, and wielding much more influence when crunch time came (he both put his foot down on the cranberry/orange fiasco, and he was the one with the ability to solve the Mitchell situation in the end).

        I’m not surprised Peggy pines for him; but at the same time, he’s better in the status of unattainable. I think Ted probably would’ve fallen from grace in her eyes already (like Don in Sally’s) if he had actually cheated on his family with her… would’ve been bitter-sweet anyway (“he likes me! but he’s a disloyal philanderer like the rest of them…”) If they do end up having a liaison before the season ends (!), I’d put money on the fact that it’d elate and crush Peggy equally.

        • Alice Teeple

          Bingo! I think Ted really is a kindhearted guy, and I actually think it’s really creepy that people are mad at him for rebuffing Peggy and not cheating on his wife. I do think his feelings for Peggy are genuine, and he’s actually very conflicted about the situation, which explained his actions. I don’t think Ted is a liar. From what we’ve seen of him so far, he is very straightforward and honest. His wife is perfectly aware of Peggy and calls him out on it. If he were a devious sort, she would have no idea about her. He also doesn’t seem to have as much of an ego – his ego comes from directing a solid work team that produces good work, not by working solo. He’s brought this up multiple times over the years.

          Ted’s tantrum on the couch was an interesting one, because I don’t think it was solely about the power struggle between him and Don – it also stemmed from wanting to work closely with Peggy on the account, which he probably wouldn’t get to do with Sunkist. The interaction with him and Nan was not a warm one; it came in stark contrast to his interaction with his kids. She was really lethargic – maybe a Mother’s Little Helper popper? Ill? I couldn’t tell.

          I think you’re right about Peggy, too. She loves Ted for who he is, and if he left his wife and family for her, it would really bother her. She would have been brought up to be against divorce, for one – and she already got burned by Duck, who was either divorced or separated. I liked how they tied the familial link and the romantic link in Peggy’s and the son’s outfits. Notice that Peggy matches nothing in her own home. She’s clearly uncomfortable there. Even her posture on the sofa felt like, “I don’t belong in this space. I feel weird sitting here with this animal.” And she’s smoking at home. We don’t see much of that; she’s more of a social or nervous smoker.

          • Frida

            Agreed on all your points! I do get the sense that even though she is somewhat bucking her traditional roots when it comes to relationships – living with Abe unmarried was no doubt a huge deal for her family – she values decency and loyalty (just like most people do!) She seemed genuinely hurt when Don got Ted drunk early on in the season – she wants him to remain a paragon of virtue. Whereas at Cutler, Gleeson and Chaough she seemed to be trying to emulate Don in her manner, we haven’t seen any of that since she’s come back to work under Don and Ted together (in fact, have we seen *any* of her work since she came back to the old office? She tried to hook the Avon man in but Joan kind of accidentally screwed that up… I miss seeing Peggy pitch!)

          • Chris

            I really hope they show an actual Avon pitch, complete with artwork etc. I, like you, miss seeing more pitches!

          • Alice Teeple

            You’re right – we haven’t seen her in the boardroom doing anything successful, but we’ve seen her working, or it’s been implied that she’s been working. She was viewing film footage in a little mini projector in her office when Joan came in; she was presenting margarine, which led to the hand brush and the Ted Freakout. I’d like to see Peggy make a successful pitch on her old turf, after nothing but failures in that boardroom. That room’s been bad luck for her.

          • MartyBellerMask

            Love this.
            My impression about Nan at the Clio awards was that she was an alcoholic. I have no grounds for that, aside from her dress matching her drink. ;) Plus she looked sloshed. But now we know that’s kind of how she is. Maybe he’s an enabler. Maybe their marriage retreat addressed his wandering eye and her alcohol problem. I don’t know. I doubt we will learn much more about her this season so I get to make up whatever I want for now.

          • Alice Teeple

            I was wondering about a booze problem too. She did seem drunk in that episode. It might be they dressed Nan to look matronly at the awards because we were seeing her from Peggy’s point of view, but when we saw Nan at Benihana in Season 4 with Don, she looked even older, like Pat Nixon.

            I don’t think Ted really harbored any feelings for Peggy until that New Year’s. Before, their interactions seemed pretty standard as workers, and that whole line about dinner at La Caravelle when he poached Peggy initially was definitely not romantic-oriented, but more of a “you can do a lot better than this crappy diner” line. The whole gazing-at-Peggy action really started when he returned from the retreat. I think he started falling for her when it became clear that Peggy was as dedicated to her work as he was, and she was well on her way to bringing the company forward creatively. That is a surefire way to Ted’s heart.

          • MartyBellerMask

            I really need to rewatch those early Ted episodes.

          • Alice Teeple

            I admit I have a thing for men in turtlenecks. ;)

          • Glammie

            She seems kind of self-aware for an alcoholic. Someone theorized in another thread that she was depressed. That *does* strike me as on-target.

          • MartyBellerMask

            Also entirely plausible. :)

          • quitasarah

            Regarding Ted’s interactions with Nan, he’s supposed to be coming home late in the scene. I think it’s just nighttime and she’s exhausted from raising two boys!

          • Chris

            Just realized why Peggy looks uncomfortable with her cat- she is allergic to them. Remember her post on the bulletin board that Joan said was “sad” and were like the stage directions for an Ibsen play? Peggy says on it “allergic to cats but will tolerate dogs.” So poor Pegs had to put up with her allergies to get the rat situation under control.

          • Alice Teeple

            OH! I forgot about that! Oof. That’s miserable. I wonder how long the cat will last…either by Peggy’s account, or depending on how big her rats are. I’ve seen some monsters in the city.

          • Glammie

            Oh no, how perfect and awful. Let’s get Peggy out of that apartment–STET

        • Chris

          I’m going to repeat myself from the other day but I agree Ted is presented as a counterpoint to Don. Both of them deal with temptation, friendship, work and their families and in each instance Ted is giving a positive example and Don a negative one. Ted is showing us what could be if Don were capable of making good, unselfish choices in any aspect of his life. I agree about Ted being more crush-worthy specifically because he won’t cheat.

          I am a little concerned (as much as I love Ted and Peggy I don’t want him and her to be a cheater and a homewrecker) because Kevin Rahm in an interview was trying to answer without spoiling anything regarding Peggy and Ted but referred to their kiss as “their initial kiss.” It could be a slip of the tongue or it could mean there is a subsequent kiss between them.

          • Frida

            Oh no! But what you gonna do if they’re in love – you do get the impression it’s not just a case of lust+opportunity as it is with Don. They’re actually trying to be good people.

            In terms of counter-points, I agree with you almost entirely, but I also kind of like how random Ted’s being a pilot is in the story. Have you noticed how in every conversation that it’s mentioned, the other characters talk about how dangerous it is, how much they fear for his life/their lives when in the plane? Don and Pete are scared to fly in it, Ted’s wife doesn’t want to worry him before he flies, Peggy doesn’t want him to drink too much beforehand… They all think of it as a death-trap. I don’t think this is foreshadowing an accident (at least I hope not), but it does show that Ted *does* risk shattering his family in a different way. He doesn’t play with lives like Don does, but he isn’t averse to somewhat selfish thrill-seeking either…

          • MartyBellerMask

            Oh, now that’s interesting.

          • Chris

            I took it more as he is a real “hero” in the fact that he does interesting, adventurous things while Don just looks the part. Different people have asked Don “Are you an astronaut?” because he looks like what we think one should look like. Dig deep and there isn’t much to Don, no interests, no friends. But Ted and Arnold are interesting, accomplished people even though they don’t have the dashing facade at first. I agree that Ted has a daredevil streak, after all it was Ted who took Don’s idea of a merger seriously and gambled on it. Plus Ted being a pilot instantly made him the coolest guy in the room at that meeting and made the cocky Don feel threatened for the first time in a long time. Ted clearly loves the thrill of business and pitching to a client but it’s more wholesome than Don’s love of it. Don’s is all about his ideas but Ted’s is about the business and the fun of being on a team. He was just loving having those drinks with Peggy and Pete, which in turn brought out a better side of Pete for having been included.

          • Frida

            Completely with you on the restaurant scene – really rare in the MM world to have a scene that relaxed between people from the office, having fun and laughing hysterically. Peggy looked sort of sweaty and luminous, and yes, even Pete seemed a different man. Ted’s definitely better for the team, although in the last episode wasn’t there a suggestion that that team was going to schism soon? Hmm.

          • Chris

            I loved that Pete said to Peggy “you really know me” during that scene, the same way he said it to her when he professed his love during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Regarding the schism- it seems like Cutler has cooled down (unless he is working behind the scenes) and feels better because he was the one counseling Ted “it’s all your juice” when he was riled up with Don. I guess we will have to see on that score. It does seem like it would be counter intuitive to go splitting up the agency when the point of getting together was to be big enough to get the top tier clients.

          • DawnMarie76

            I loved that restaurant scene. It was so true to life with the camaraderie and slight hysteria after a stressful time at work, with a lot of psychosexual angles working.

    • ldancer

      It might have been hamfisted, yeah. Then again, fourteen-year-olds are the definition of hamfisted, and mothers can sometimes say really cliched things. My mother actually said to me, in the lead-up to my wedding, “Fine! I just won’t come to your wedding, and someday I’ll be dead!”

      Am I the only person who gets distracted by Ted’s vagina wallpaper every time there’s a scene in his office?

      • Frida

        I meant ham-fisted on behalf of the writers, to make Sally’s changing opinion of her dad so brutally obvious. We already knew that Sally idolised her dad, even if she knows she doesn’t know him at all, and that she thought her mother was put on the earth to destroy her every happiness. But you’re right, I bet Sally and Betty have that same argument about 300 times a day… So, I take it your mum did come to your wedding after all?

        Ha! I certainly do find the optical illusions and pattern clashes make my eyes swim. Not as much as Roger’s office though!

        I do wonder how often the offices get decorated. Characters seem to leave and arrive with only a tiny box of personal things, and yet the offices are pretty densely (and individually) furnished. That dog in Pete’s office was just great, especially with BB acting as Pete’s lapdog of late.

        • ldancer

          Oh, I understood that you meant on the part of the writers. But as a storyteller myself, I sometimes let writers off the hook for that, if they’re otherwise good. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, Is this realistic? And put it in, even if it might come across as a little obvious.

          The wallpaper also looks like something you’d see in an Almodovar film. And in that context it would definitely be vagina wallpaper.

          • Sean Gill

            It might have been a little obvious, but in the last season Sally seemed to compare Betty more to Megan than Don, so this was a bit of return.

            Also the scene compared nicely to Bobby’s scene where he was so excited to have both of his parents together at summer camp, equally supportive of him.

      • housefulofboys

        Ha! I keep wondering how my mom’s words keep coming out of my mouth, saying things I promised myself I would never utter.

        • ldancer

          Oh god, isn’t that worst? Though if I ever start pulling that textbook Jewish Mother shit with my kid, I’m going to go jump in a lake.

  • aeascot

    I am not going to comment on whether or not I think Pete could ever be swayed into a relationship with a man (although Bob seems like a lovely choice). But I did want to point out that in the pre-flight scene where Pete and Peggy are emotionally connecting, and Pete says to Peggy “You know me” – that statement comes after Peggy makes several astute observations about Pete. He’s scared of flying, he’s such a New Yorker, AND that he is in love with Ted. Pete deflects the comment about Ted as being work related, and I don’t think that Pete is in love with Ted. However I do think the fact that that comment, about being in love with Ted, comes in the midst of a conversation where Peggy is proving how much she really does know Pete is significant and adds a lot of subtext to what happens in the rest of the episode, and perhaps in the future with Pete . . . .

    • Frank_821

      yup it goes along what I wrote in my post above about Pete desperately needing a good friend. Peggy could almost fill that need but not quite owing to their history

    • 3hares

      If nothing else it points up how right Bob is–and Pete himself is admitting it–that when someone cares for you and takes care of you, it’s easy to “fall in love” with them. Just the little affection Ted’s showing him makes Pete happier than he’s been all season.

    • Topaz

      I think I said in another thread that I can certainly imagine Pete having crushes on other men, but can also completely imagine him being able to wholeheartedly repress them and choose to ignore them. Bisexuality might explain why he’s quite so aggressively gross about chatting up women, because subconsciously he’s trying to compensate for something, but I also think there’s not enough emotionally at stake for him for it to be worth him ever acting on any same sex attractions. There will always be socially safer prospects for him with women. Then again, his self esteem is super low at the moment and Bob is the only person telling him he’s “loveable”. I don’t know. I still feel like it’s a huge leap. Right now I think he’s just devastated that he’s lost someone he was starting to see as a real friend.

      As for Bob’s attraction to Pete – I’ve expressed a lot of horror about it so far (in a lot of capital letters), but I don’t find it implausible story- or character-wise so much as I think Bob’s sort of fascinating and adorable and I keep thinking of myself as the friend who goes “what is wrong with you? You could do so much better. Get a grip.” Same as I thought when Peggy first hooked up with him and in every scene between him and Trudy since they got married, while also understanding that people don’t always pick the ones who are good for them.

      • filmcricket

        Pete definitely has non-sexual crushes on men – he had one on Don for most of the series, and to an extent on Duck as well. Whether or not those ever wandered into the realm of the carnal I don’t know.

        • MartyBellerMask

          Another good point.

        • Topaz

          Duck, man, I’d almost forgotten him. Think I’m going to have to go back to the beginning and watch the lot again. There’s so much I don’t remember from the earlier episodes.

      • MK03

        Please excuse my ignorance of the subject, but did people understand bisexuality in the 60s? I don’t mean “understand” like we do now–that sexuality has a spectrum that runs far and wide, and some people are attracted to both sexes just as some are attracted to one sex or the other–I mean, did they even acknowledge it existed? Or were the options just “normal” and “degenerate”?

        • Topaz

          According to that oh-so-reliable resource Wikipedia, a bisexual organisation called “the Sexual Freedom League” was formed in 1967 and the Pride marches were spearheaded in the 1960s by a bisexual woman called Brenda Howard.

        • formerlyAnon

          The Kinsey Scale (which included options we’d shorthand as “bi”) was first published in the late ’40s, I think. I don’t know how widespread the recognition of a bisexual orientation was – I’m sure it varied tremendously.

          It’s hard to generalize when the most one ever heard openly stated in polite conversation about someone’s non-heterosexual orientation was generally “well, he’s not the marrying kind” or “she was born to be a spinster.” And of course there’s the confusion factor that if one *could* be attracted to women as well as men, life would be easier if one lived one’s public life as if one were hetero.

          • Topaz

            I agree. I think the countercultural movements at this point were probably one of the first environments in the 20th century where a largish number of bisexual people might have felt it was worth exploring the whole range of their sexuality, even balanced against the social stigma and danger associated with same-sex relationships, but I can’t imagine even then it touched the lives of the vast majority of Americans.

  • Rhonda Shore

    RESPECT. You are originals with a depth of analysis rarely seen and a unique way of pulling everything together. No one else’s Mad Men – or any other cultural analysis for that matter (with the possible exception of Frank Rich, another original) — comes close. Your blogs have enhanced my understanding and enjoyment of this show. Looking forward to your book.

  • katchwa

    Chaps. F— me that was EXHILARATING.

    On Bob Benson, not a word wasted and you have fully fleshed out a person from what was a slightly obscure character to most of us, everything you say rings so true. I cannot look at the shot of Bob in the second that his heart breaks. For what it’s worth I don’t think Pete has or will have romantic feelings towards Bob, but rather is a man so deeply lacking in self esteem that the veryway in which Bob declared love it took him somewhere else completely. It’s something he hasn’t felt and has been desperate for for a very long time, but I think he is too entrenched to consciously consider a relationship with a man. Honestly, I fear for poor lovesick Bob – I can see Pete being the kind of emotionally needy person that will take advantage of his feelings for continued validation.

  • MzzPants

    WONDERFUL piece of writing. Thank you, TLo.

  • 1tsplove

    Wonderful and insightful, as always. For anyone interested in learning more about gay male sociability in New York City, allow me to recommend George Chauncey’s Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940 (1994).

    • http://angrynerdgirl.net/ Jessi03

      That was one of my textbooks in high school! Very informative.

    • formerlyAnon

      And an easy read for a historical/sociological analysis.

    • ikillplants

      I was wondering if someone would mention Gay New York. Also a gender & sexuality textbook for me in high school (quite some time ago). A fascinating book.

    • mcpierogipazza

      Two people had that as a high school text book? What wonderful teachers you had!

  • avidreader02

    THANK YOU! Not just for having the best Mad Men commentary out there, but for the Bob B. analysis. I may be wrong (I usually am about this show) but Bob seems to be just what they have said he is… a gay man who desperately wants to fit in and find his place in this company. He has gay friends (his almost eye roll about Manolo having sex with Pete’s mom was great), he is friends with the most fabulous woman at the office, and he looks great in shorts. He made a bad romantic decision (which most of these characters make). It has annoyed me more than it should to see how many reviewers have refused to let that be his character… he has to be a time traveling sociopathic cia bastard son of Don. Maybe I am just glad to see a character who reflects my own life experience and I don’t want him to be marginalized into being less than that.

    • katchwa

      He seems like a really great, fully realised character (although all credit to T&L, I at least would never have seen how finely shaded he was without this post). I think that part of the over-speculation with Bob has been because of the fact that his character has been quite subtly and slowly filled in – unlike the newer characters from S5 (Ginsberg, Megan) this season’s major introductions seem to be being introduced much more ambiguously (Cutler, Chaough to an extent).

      • filmcricket

        It’s true, I think all of us TV watchers are conditioned to expect that someone who’s suddenly “there” all the time is going to turn out to be a bombshell, but Mad Men rarely works that way, or at least it’s a slow burn. Ted Chaough was all of a sudden all up in Don’s grill in S4 even though we’d never heard of him before, and he didn’t turn out to be of real significance until the end of S5. Megan, too. Following this pattern, Bob may still wind up blowing up SC&P, but it’s unlikely to happen until the series finale. (That’s a joke, in case that’s not clear. :) )

        • avidreader02

          I think he will just glitter bomb everyone in his tiny shorts. And then go to a piano bar with Joan. ; )

    • MartyBellerMask

      Thank you for your personal story. That’s what I love about this blog. None of (well mostly) the commenters are in a race to see who can be most obnoxious. Unlike everywhere else on the internet.

  • CMSmith1848

    This was absolutely amazing. A wonderful critical analysis that is fun and informative.

    Bob’s tight sad smile when he walked out of Pete’s office broke my heart.

    • Denise Alden

      Me, too. I thought their whole scene was dazzling.

    • SFree

      I think there were tears in his eyes. I need to watch it again!

    • http://classversussass.com Class Versus Sass

      Mine too, poor Bob. But he deserves better than Pete

  • Pennymac

    NAILED IT! Awesome, astute, and spot on. I can’t wait to see the other Mad Men reviewers posts start with “On the Tom and Lorenzo fashion and culture blog, they said , “…..”. You two are amazing!

  • Kate Andrews

    Thank you! This post is great. I think you’re absolutely right that Bob is a chance to “get things right” after Sal. I loved his character, but yes, there was too much telegraphing “I’m gay” by the actor. That look of devotion in Bob’s eyes broke my heart. I mean, we need to remember that there are gay people now who are under similar constraints socially — not as much in the United States, but absolutely in other, more conservative countries and cultures. Sidebar: My neighbors had three cats named Ralph, Waldo and Emerson, and the orange one was Ralph. So, I love that.

    • http://wipgirl.wordpress.com Kristel

      I never really thought Sal (or the guy who played him, I forget his name) telegraphed too much – he was just more obvious to the present day eye than he might have been to the people around him back then. (I haven’t watched those old episodes in a while, but I get the feeling that he was considered straight until proven otherwise by his co-workers. They had no reason to suspect he wasn’t straight, so they just didn’t.) That said, I never felt like he should come back (like so many fans wanted); they told his story the way it needed to be told. (And I like to imagine that eventually he picked himself up, moved to California and got into tv or the movies and did something fabulous with his life. I’m happy to go on imagining that, even if he really just wound up finding another job and hunkering down with his wife because it was the expected thing.)

      Anyway, the look on James Wolk’s face through that whole scene was just devastating, that devotion and hope and then that fake smile he put on after Pete says he’ll pay a month’s wages and to tell Manolo it’s disgusting and then the way his face starts to fall as he walks out.

  • Meg0GayGuys6

    This is the first time I actually watched the episode twice with the intent to try and figure out some of the costuming, but it’s never as clear as when you guys spell it out for me!

    Driving in to work this morning, I thought, “ugh the only thing to look forward to is the Mad Style post in the afternoon”. Then, delightfully, at 7:30am I check TLo (as I do every morning) and lo and behold…. Morning Mad Style! Greatest morning :)

    Great job, as always!

    • MissKimP

      Agreed! The best payoff for a much-too-early rising this a.m.!

  • Michael_Jones

    Extraordinary Bob Benson commentary, boys. (And, gosh, do I ever feel like a failed gay for not knowing about the “best little boy in the world” syndrome, particularly for someone who’s almost exactly the right age and personality type to be one of the best examples of it ever…)

  • http://thatswhatthemoneyisfor.wordpress.com/ lizlemonglasses

    Bravo!

  • ricky rocky

    “In addition, you have to remember that culturally gay people at this
    time had virtually no way of picking up on normal romantic and sexual
    cues.”

    Huh? This was the only off key note in this otherwise great article. It runs contrary to reality. GLBT’s had to stay 3 steps ahead of everyone else just to be safe. You had to. One always had to be many steps ahead to make sure that people and conversations were not veering into unsafe situations and topics. Even now closet cases are STILL spinning plates like they were on Ed Sullivan. That’s why the closet is so deadly.

    Saying that we couldn’t be normal is odd. It was the f****** ‘phobes who were abnormal.

    Happy Gay Pride Month !

    • formerlyAnon

      “[S]pinning plates like they were on Ed Sullivan. ”

      Perfect image. Props.

    • Elissa Malcohn

      I respectfully disagree that the statement was off key. See, for example, Dr. Loren A. Olson’s book Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight.

      • ricky rocky

        ONE person’s journey is not universal to an entire community. In 1968 we didn’t have a gay asperger syndrome epidemic. lol. The only problem we had in 1968 (just like now) was dealing with haters. (imo)

  • rage_on_the_page

    I do hope we get to see Stonewall live and not just over the TV. It’s one aspect of the turmoil of the ’60s that hasn’t been completely overhashed in TV and movies. Please, please, please!

    • Meg0GayGuys6

      I was hoping that too- and after TLo pointed out that it happened right outside Joan’s place, I think there’s a chance.

      • masspatriot

        I’m surprised that T+L have located her apartment in the Village, and I’m not sure when that was mentioned. Would you tell us what you saw or heard to come to that conclusion?
        I assumed it was somewhere very uptown, since Greg was a medical student at Columbia-Presbyterian. That was why I was always surprised when Don or Roger or Bob could show up so casually — up by the medical school was quite a trip. And she didn’t move after Greg left for the War.

        • Tippi123

          TLo inserted a link to some kind of her ID. It also mentions her address.

          Joan has always lived in that appartment. Greg only moved in (and thankfully also moved out again).

          • Meg0GayGuys6

            According to Wikipedia, she lives at 42 West 12th Street, which is in Greenwich Village.

            ETA: I don’t remember this being mentioned on the show, but that’s what wiki said

          • Tippi123

            I think this ID or whatever it is was shown when someone put it on a board for everyone to see. That’s how the other secretaries found out about her real age.

          • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

            Back in season 2, Paul Kinsey took her driver’s license out of her purse, xeroxed it, and hung it up for all to see that she was over 30. This happened after Joan insulted Paul’s girlfriend at his party.

          • deathandthestrawberry

            Google is telling me that that address was purchased by Tom Cruise for Katie Holmes back in 2009. It’s back on the market. There are floor plans online. Obviously, when Joanie would have lived there it was divided into apartments, but it’s a very posh single-family brownstone now.

          • Glammie

            Damn, you guys are all so good at this. Doesn’t look like Joanie lives in a townhouse from the lay-out, but I’ll cut MM some slack.

            Interesting that Joan’s never moved, but I guess having a roommate made that large an apartment affordable when she was a secretary.

          • chylde

            Guess what? Tom Cruise owns the townhouse at that address these days. Gay!

          • Meg0GayGuys6

            Haha! I saw that it was on the market! Whichever BK buys that (and one of us MUST buy it), will have a TLo party straightaway! It’ll be like an IRL TLounge!

        • ailujailuj

          useless trivia… joan lives on a beautiful block – always loved walking down 12th – one of those quintessential nyc neighborhoods. I would have loved to live in the village mid-century. But if you google her address and look at the street view, across the street from her and to the right a bit: that dark gray stone building was the building where Jack Nicholson and Greg Kinnear “lived in” in the movie “As Good as it Gets”. And according to a good friend of mine (who also happened to work on that movie), Meryl Streep has the brownstone a couple doors down. I’m sure other famous people live in that area but I’ve been out of town too long to keep up.

      • Flora O

        Perhaps she’ll be mistakenly tossed into the paddy wagon with the drag queens.

    • masspatriot

      As someone who was an adult in NYC in ’69, I can tell you that Stonewall is only prominent now because of what’s taken place over the past 40 years. At the time, it made the Village Voice, and otherwise was seen as one more rebellious group that the police needed to quell. The world was not told it was a gay event — only those in the know would have pieced it together. So, there was no tv coverage or even much coverage at all in the mainstream press.
      Many of the civil rights demonstrations of that era were staged. Then came race riots — ground-roots rebellion.
      Stonewall was a spontaneous rebellion. Only years later were gays able to assert themselves as a group.

      • rage_on_the_page

        Right, and because it was spontaneous and on the outskirts of “what mattered” at the time, it would be great to see it up close and personal and not as a bit of news in the background like they’ve done with other events of this time frame. Everything that could be said or done surrounding the assassinations of JFK, Bobby, and Martin has been said or done. Stonewall is kind of a blank canvas for most of America.

      • ianw_bklyn3

        I think the world was told it was a gay event. Here’s a link to the text of the infamous coverage of the riot in the New York Daily News:

        http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/stonewall-queen-bees/

      • Bonjour

        Sit-ins, freedom rides, and marches for civil rights were not ‘staged,’ they were organized for and planned. The organizing to make them happen was called ‘grass-roots,’ because it went door to door, person to person, in churches, schools and colleges, and neighborhoods. That’s what SNCC and SCLC did.

        I look forward to seeing how MW writes Stonewall into MM as well.

        • mcpierogipazza

          Same with abolitionist events, women’s suffrage marches, labor marches and protests and much more — including the big Rosa Parks moment. It’s organizing. There were spontaneous riots and rebellions throughout all those movements, often in response to crackdowns by the powers-that-be, but how people responded to them later, such as Stonewall turning into a bigger, more organized gay rights movement, is where lasting change happens. (Let’s not forget that there were brave gay rights activists already out there, like in the Mattachine Society.)

  • Stuart

    Would it be a stretch to point out that Peggy’s cat is in the same colouring as Ted’s signature warm golds and browns?

    • chylde

      awww, the schnee schnaw matches sweet Ted

    • DawnMarie76

      Aha! She’ll probably name it Teddy.

  • rage_on_the_page

    Also: The scene with Sally, her friend, and Megan is another instance of people in various states of undress in the Draper apartment, with Sally in her PJs and the others fully clothed.

    • EricaVee

      Great catch! Especially with Sally being on the receiving end of her friend’s machinations…

  • Frank_821

    Okay I have to say THANK YOU for the Bob Benson breakdown. I was a toddler back in those days and even I know enough how dangerous it was to be a gay man back then. And thank you including the reminder it was ranked as a mental illness and not revoked until the 70s (something Dr Laura conveniently forgot).

    Terrific post and all I must say how did I miss Ted groovy boots. Once I saw the screen cap I became instantly nostalgic for them and wish they would come back

  • gracedarling

    T and Lo, many thanks from an Australian girl, who comes here to soak up some insight once the dust has settled on most American recaps and reviews. It’s such a treat to watch the show over here, and then head to this site to actually join in the discussion.

    Because you’ve gotten so perfectly and so incisively to the heart of Bob Benson, I’ll stick to the non-Benson talking points. For one, I was really struck by Sally’s hands in this episode. A few episodes back, Don and Betty argued as to who Sally was ‘more like’; despite the repeating vignette mentioned at the end of this post, Sally’s hands, at the door scene, were pure Betty, the Betty who couldn’t drive or light a cigarette for numbness, the Betty who once consoled Don with hands that almost looked puppet-like in their stiffness. All the credit in the world to Kiernan Shipka for picking up on January Jones’ little nuances, or to whoever directed her in that scene.

    It was also mentioned a few posts back that Elisabeth Moss’ face can handle a lot of slap, and despite the hero lighting in the restaurant with Pete, I feel as though she never looked more beautiful than she did hunting the mouse in the half-light. (Which, of course, called right back to her pink nightie as she bayonetted Abe.) Her little moment with Pete was perfect, too. Vincent Kartheiser has been playing Pete so repugnantly lately that it’s easy to forget his appeal, but Peggy’s softness, and Bob’s infatuation, reminded me of why I used to love that smarmy little rat so much.

    Finally, because apparently I CAN’T help it, Bob’s confession of love almost brought me to tears. It was one of the most honest and heartfelt things anyone has ever said on this show, and watching him rearrange his face once Pete turned him down as kindly as he knew how almost wrecked me. I was clutching my husband’s arm in horror from the moment he gave Pete a drink; as soon as my husband cottoned on, he turned his head away from the screen in agony. Five out of five emotional lawnmowers. It ruined us.

    • Meg0GayGuys6

      Bob’s face right after Pete turned him down, wrecked me as much as his face with the sleepy smile and cocked head that he had right before he touched his knee. That slight change from desperate hope to utter sadness totally got me.

      • katchwa

        Me too! and so beautifully played by both. You can see a full range of very real emotions wash over both of them during that scene.

      • Supernumerary

        I thought I’d recovered from that scene, but your description of Bob’s ‘sleepy smile’ just managed to destroy me all over again. Props.

        • alex

          I cannot get that scene out of my head—night and day.

      • Shug

        James Wolk: sexy AND talented.

        • Meg0GayGuys6

          Indeed! Pardon me, while I go scour the internet for any and everything I can find on him :)

          • Shug

            (shuts myself in my office for some alone time)

          • Meg0GayGuys6

            Two notable things:

            1. He’s 6’4″ (yummmmy)

            2. He’s starring in a new sitcom airing this fall so I hope that doesn’t mean his time on MM is almost up. I assume they film at different times since they’re aired at different times, so hopefully he can stay!

          • nptexas

            Well, there’s only one season of MM left, so I guess he can handle both. Man, I hate this show is ending! I’ve been binge-watching from episode 1 and it’s startling how much I forgot. Big stuff and little. Betty speaks Italian!

          • Meg0GayGuys6

            Yea, that’s what I was thinking/hoping. I’ve really been looking forward to a whole weekend where I have absolutely nothing planned so I can binge watch the whole series too! When I read in the comments and posts about things that have happened in previous episodes, I’m always surprised at how much I’ve forgotten!

          • nptexas

            It’s a good project but will take more than a weekend. LOL 64 episodes thru season 5. And I STILL have to rewind. I wander off to the kitchen (wearing my headphones) or somewhere thinking I know what’s going on then realize I’ve missed some key moment or side eye. MM is almost exactly 6 yrs old and, believe me, you’ve forgotten a lot. Besides that, it’s so fun and interesting to see all the unnoticed foreshadowing! Remember Betty’s rape comment from this season? And her little sex game in the limo with Henry? Well, wait till you see Betty and Don in Italy.

            I’m closing in on the end of season 5, but I’m going to re-watch AGAIN now that I’ve stumbled on TLo.

            Hope you get a chance for a marathon soon.

          • alex

            Yes, and would you believe the sit-com is about an “ad agency?” Don’t tell me! There is only one ad-agency in my book!

          • MartyBellerMask

            3. Chest fur.

          • Sean Gill

            Allison Brie stars in “Community” and still guests in “Mad Men”, so it’s possible

        • editrixie

          Get the episodes of Happy Endings where he plays Max’s perfect boyfriend — he’s gay there too! He’s absolutely wonderful — I’d seen him in some other things here and there, but it was on Happy Endings that I fell hopelessly in love with him. He has a fan for life in me.

          Arg, sorry, I meant to reply to Meg0GayGuys6 below!

          • http://wipgirl.wordpress.com Kristel

            He’s just ridiculously cute in Happy Endings (and shirtless in the one episode to add to the short-shorts mental image) – it’s kind of a shame he only got to be another three-episode boyfriend. (Then again, if I were an actor, I’d take a steady gig, even for one or two seasons, on Mad Men over an unsteady one with an almost cancelled show like Happy Endings. It’s nice they got the third season before the axe came down.)

    • AudreysMom

      I was just wondering about the lawnmower scale on this event. That it happened, only to be followed up by Sally’s discovery of Don and Sylvia (my heart started racing when she used the ‘I lost my key’ excuse again) pushed about every emotional button my little heart could take.

    • Beth513

      5/5 emotional lawn mowers – awesome!

  • Frank_821

    by way looking at the caps just re-enforced something about Pete-about lot of characters. What he needs right now is a good friend. He really doesn’t have any. The closet thing he has may be Peggy since they have history. You can see the much needed moment of intimacy they have there where he unburdens himself without sounding like a petulant child. I think it reflects in his previous chats with Joan that might be less of a come and more as a cry for help. That’s what Bob may be picking up on.

    I think a good pal and confidant to help Pete weather through all this shit and help him steer his life is what he really needs. More importantly there’s still time and hope for him. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Bob turned out to be that person for Pete

    • lac87

      Good catch on the Pete/Joan scenes this year. I’ve been too busy screaming NO, JOAN, NOOOOO! to try and get a good read on what else might be going on there. (Because as TLO pointed out, Pete has a history of getting women he has no business getting.)

      I find it interesting that Pete, who hasn’t had anything resembling friendship since the early seasons at Sterling Cooper with Ken, Harry, & Kinsey, consistently seeks romantic relationships and entanglements rather than friendship and real companionship. Going after Joan is yet another example of Poor Pete trying to be Don–and unknowingly Roger–and not realizing that it’s never made Don happy either.

      I’d like it for Pete if Bob could provide his life with some much-needed friendship, but my heart would break for Bob to be continually held at arm’s length from someone he has greater feelings for.

      • 3hares

        I don’t know if Pete really never seeks friendship. He’s often shown hanging around talking with the other guys in the office, seems really happy whenever he feels like “one of the guys” and last year, when he was devastated at the end of Signal 30, said “This is an office. We’re supposed to be friends.”

        Being friends with a woman was a little more complicated at the start of the show, with the sexes so segregated, but his scene with Joan where he talked about his mother and wanting to have supper seemed all about Pete appreciating the friendship. Despite getting kicked out of the house for tomcatting around, Pete hasn’t been doing much skirt-chasing as a bachelor.

        • Frank_821

          I always see what goes on in the office at SCDP as people acting more as colleagues. They socialize out of courtesy and when it deals with business but rarely do you see them just hanging out out of real friendship or camaraderie. Compare any of the core SCDP people’s relationship with what Ted had with Frank Gleason. Those 2 scenes with Gleason showed what an intimate bond they had. That friendship was likely part of the reason how Ted managed to remain a fairly upstanding and decent man. Gleason seemed like the kind of friend that would call him out on his bullshit but still would be supportive. Even on his deathbed

          Don and Roger don’t have any real friends. Don makes it a point not to normally associate with the other employees outside the office. Look what Trudy had to do to force Don and Megan for dinner and what a shocker that Ken and his wife (uh, Cynthia-insert joke here) were invited since he and Pete were never pals

          Pete (as well as Roger, Don and Joan) needs his own Frank Gleason. That’s pretty much true for all of us of course. And sometimes even a good wife won’t fill that role. Trudy in most respects was a good spouse and effective being the woman behind the man but I always felt she never fully understood that a good chunk of his ambition was actually a desperate need for validation and a sense of self worth

          • Chris

            Yes Don is particularly friendless and doesn’t seem to even know how to act or respond to friendly overtures. I think he was so perplexed when Ted confronted him because he doesn’t even consciously know he is competing with Ted. It’s just his behavior and he can’t see what he is really like. I think Ted thought after their time at the bar and their merging that they would be allies and friends. Ted seemed to have been in awe of Don and his reputation over the years and very disappointed in the real Don. The loss of Frank Gleason must have been huge for him. Even the way he and Cutler hugged after Ted winning Chevy over. You would never see that at SC. Roger is the closest thing to Don’s friend and he is still a borderline “frenemy” at times.

            Regarding Trudy’s dinner party- she would only want “A list” people and Ken is the closest in age and position to Pete.

          • 3hares

            Oh, I agree about the state of the relationships. I just meant I don’t think that’s because it’s never occurred to Pete that he would want one. I think he would love to have these people as friends. It’s just not the way the office works. There’s a whole teaching in place for picking up one night stands and not much in the way of role models for friendship.

          • Chris

            Oh I agree 100%. Pete has idolized Don in every way and would love for them to be real friends. He always takes Don’s side if he can (and repeatedly points it out to Don- like in the taste vs. price debate with Ted). It’s like Pete wants people to like him but doesn’t understand that 99% of what he does makes him so unlikeable. He’s just petty and small. Don and Roger are so stylish and smooth and confident when they are mean it just makes them seem like the cool kids. Most of Roger’s job seems to be insulting people around the office.

            While Trudy certainly supported Pete in a number of ways it seemed like she never cut the cord with her parents and frequently put them before Pete which is something he always resented. He always wanted her on his team exclusively. When she had the child and the house she always wanted (which Pete didn’t) she seemed fine with finally cutting him loose because she had her “own” family now which didn’t need Pete.

    • katchwa

      That’s true.
      I don’t think Pete’s pause was anything to do with considering the idea of a romantic relationship with Bob, I think he was taken aback completely by someone reaching out to HIM for companionship, partnership and with love. No-one ever reaches out to Pete (even Trudy for quite some time, and Beth, briefly). No one ever wants Pete as a person.
      I do fear what Pete might do with the realisation that Bob is not only besotted, on top of having shown he is prepared to take care of him. There’s potential for poor Bob to get drawn into a position of meeting Pete’s many and complex needs and providing validation. I don’t want that for Bob!

      • MissKimP

        Yes, I’m a little worried about how Pete may use Bob’s revelation. Could come under the “Be Careful What You Wish For” category for our dear BB.

      • Rhonda Shore

        And as TLo pointed out, Bob’s kindness/come-on was right after Pete’s mother told him how unloveable he is. Not that he won’t use it and take advantage of it, but timing counts for a lot.

  • Joben

    For some reason I have the thought that Sally and the older Chaogh boy are destined for a match.

    • Heather

      Maybe when she’s 24 and he’s 29. But not now.

      • Joben

        I think you thought I meant Sylvia’s son, but I was talking about Ted’s. I agree Mitchell is too old.

    • CommentsByKatie

      Haha, nice! That would be the ultimate ‘Ted Wins’ defeat for Don, if even Don’s own daughter ‘chose’ Ted over him, as a resulting of Don’s Bullshit. I think that might be a wonderful storyline device.

    • Alice Teeple

      Oh wow, that’s a really sweet idea. I don’t know if that would be too precious/Jane Austen-y for “Mad Men,” but it would be a sad story for Don in the long run if Ted’s *family* won over Don’s. Sally needs a nice boy in her life. I hope the Chaough boys are as nice as they seemed. That little one…so cherubic. I wanted to pick him up and give him a kiss myself.

  • Beth513

    Epic! As in epically amazing analysis and commentary. You boys are spot on and bring my enjoyment of this show to a whole new level.

    The needlework basket of flowers on the wall in the Rosen’s maid’s quarters is exactly the same as one I inherited from my grandma. She and Sylvia must have purchased the same kit!

    • Rhonda Shore

      And i grew up in a home where the couch textiles were orange, gold, and avocado in the living room AND den!!!

      • decormaven

        Absolutely! Brown as well.

        • Rhonda Shore

          Yes, brown was a part of those prints! I love that TLO pay such painstaking attention to detail!

      • Travelgrrl

        God, we had that orange wall the Chaough’s have in their bedroom in our living room – with a green floral couch. Ouch.

  • LauraAgain

    I was *certain* Sally was going to rip that locket from her neck (the one Don bought her and she’s worn ever since) and throw it at Don or her bedroom door.

  • Democracy Diva

    I read as many Mad Men recaps as I could get my hands on, and so many of them included a WHO COULD EVER HAVE SEEN THIS COMING?! with regards to Bob. Hilarious, given that you boys predicted this weeks ago. So thank you for this epic poem of a post, and for your prescience, and for being a thousand times sharper than every other blogger out there. I had never heard the phrase “Best Little Boy in the World” syndrome, but thank you for explaining it, because it really does ring true for, as you said, a certain type of upper-middle class gay guy.

    I didn’t even think about the fact that Joanie lives so close to Stonewall. Again, you boys seem to catch literally every single detail that no one else can see. It’s why these posts are so phenomenally fun to read.

  • Aurumgirl

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post.

  • PastryGoddess

    Thank you TLo for the best morning ever. This is an amazing post and if there are awards for internet writing, I’d nominate and vote for this post in a hot second

    • http://completeflake.com/ LaVonne Ellis

      Actually, there are: https://www.webbyawards.com/

      • PastryGoddess

        I signed up for SNAIL MAIL notifications when it’s time for the next call for entries. I mean really TLO world domination has to start somewhere

    • Rhonda Shore

      It was and i was late to work as a result of having to read every word and pore over every screen shot before i took my morning shower!!!

    • filmcricket

      That’s a good point: does this site put itself up for Webbies? (Do Webbies still exist, come to think of it?)

  • DeeMc

    That was an epic post. Now go take a nap.

  • Judy_J

    I have nothing to add….you boys have said it all. But on a somewhat personal note, I will say that the pink suit, hat and gloves combo Dot wore looks exactly like what my mom wore to church on Sundays. Only my mom was in her mid-30s, not pushing 60, as Dot must be. I would never have dressed in such a matronly style when I was in my 30s.

    • Kiki Reinecke

      That brings up something I notice every week: Where are the hats??

      Maybe things were different in New Orleans (at that point usually two years behind N.Y. in fashion), but as a kid I remember men, and women young and old wearing hats a lot of the time. By 1968, gloves were seen less than even 5 years earlier.

      • Bonjour

        I always heard that men’s hats ended in 1962 at JFK’s inauguration when he went hatless. The South was still voting democratic back then but maybe following the fashion set by a Massachusetts Dem was just too much for Louisiana? Tell me…

        • Kiki Reinecke

          Probably just took a few years to catch up. Even in the 80s, N.Y. fashion took a year or three to filter out to the hinterlands.

      • mcpierogipazza

        I was just a baby in 1968, but in family photos I don’t remember seeing hats on women past ~1964 or 65, though my Ohio family is Catholic, though to some degree hats on women were specifically for going to Mass pre-Vatican II. Men are never wearing hats in those photos, and just the older ones were in the early 1970s.

  • TheAmericaness

    Lovely guys, just lovely! I especially enjoyed your take on Bobby B. and when I read it to my husband he said: “Well, I guess gaydar didn’t help much if they were all in stealth mode.”

  • acevedob

    Thank you Tios! Amazing! As I sat reading this, the world around me melted away and my 1/2 hour commute to work somehow flew by. As a young married gay man I couldn’t even fathom what my gay ancestors went through pre-marriage, pre-rights, pre-anything (although the vestiges of oppression have not completely gone away, if they ever do). I hope they give us at least one scene of Bob outside of work, in his gay social life, just so we can see how he is in a different sort of environment. Thank you again :)

  • Frank_821

    Ooooh, it really didn’t click in my head til now with the timing of Bob’s reveal with Gay Pride having just gone on

  • i_heart_tom_and_lorenzo

    Coveting the Draper’s salad bowl. As well as the TLo brilliance.

    • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

      We LOVE that salad bowl. We talk about it all the time. LOL

    • catherines

      I couldn’t make out what they have near the salad bowl – it looks like a bunch of grapes made of red glass. Is it a table decoration?

      • Suse

        Those grapes were extremely popular in the ’60s and early ’70s. I used to make them with my mother, using hot liquid resin poured into glass molds. Once they cooled, the glass was broken and removed. The grapes were then wired together and a piece of driftwood was attached as the stem. They were quite the thing back then. We had them all over the house in every color, and also gave them as gifts. You can find them on eBay and Etsy (search for “lucite grapes”). I can still smell that hot resin!

        • catherines

          Thanks! That sounds like something I would have loved to watch as a child (and still would, truth be told). I’ll check them out on ebay for a closer look. Glad to have the mystery cleared up!

        • Susan Collier

          Thanks for the insight on the history of those grapes. I was familiar with them but never knew they were a craft.

        • Heather

          That’s awesome. I’m sure the hot resin released all kinds of toxic fumes and of course NO company now would sell anything that required you to break glass b/c of the liability. Yay, our innocent, less litigious past! :-)

          • Suse

            Yeah – no kidding! There were pretty much no safety regulations for anything back then. Kids were exposed to lots of scary stuff. I was 16 in 1968 and my boyfriend (now husband) took me everywhere on his motorcycle. My parents loved him, so no problem there. Neither of us wore a helmet. We always talk about the insane and dangerous stuff we did and are somewhat thankful we had no kids to worry about.

        • ldancer

          Oh god, fake fruit! My Yiddish grandmother, and all my Yiddish great aunts, had cut crystal bowls of plastic and glass fake fruit on their coffee tables. It went with the plastic-slipcovered velvet couches (ice blue, if you’re wondering) and needlepoint pillows. I could never fathom it.

          • formerlyAnon

            In our circles, it was an Italian grandmother thing to have glass fruit in the living room, many more people of all sorts had plastic fruit in their kitchens.

          • ldancer

            Italians and Jews. Same people.

          • formerlyAnon

            Heh. My dad’s first- & 2nd-generation American buds from the ‘hood (working class Jersey City before WW II): the Irish Catholic, the Italian Catholic and the Russian(?) Jew. From such bondings classic sit coms are born. (The family stories of what the priest had to say about my dad’s best man being a Jew are hilarious.)

            I have a series of photos (spanning 10 or 15 years) of them, and the Protestant WASP they picked up as a running buddy in their very early 20s, decked out in white dinner jackets celebrating milestones at the Copacabana in NY. One was a Big Night Out after they all got back from service sometime between WW II and Korea, one was a stag night before one of them got married, I don’t know the occasion for the third. Dates were present for at least one of these occasions, but the professional photo souvenirs my dad saved were the ones of the boys.

            Makes me sad that my parents stuck nearly all their photos in a box in a closet that I never saw till they were both dead, so I never got to ask them about the stories behind them.

        • MDubz

          My grandparents have a set of those!

        • mcpierogipazza

          My mom had a set of grapes like that in gold or amber on a coffee table, but they were glass.

        • TeraBat

          My grandmother had a set nearly identical to those grapes, that sat in her kitchen until she passed. When the time came to apportion out her belongings, my sister (late 20s) made a mad dash for those grapes and they’re now in her kitchen.

    • Susan Collier

      I notice they also have those giant transparent plastic grapes on the table. By the ’80s those grapes would be caked with dust on the top of the refrigerator.

      • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

        SO TRUE.

        • Rhonda Shore

          Someone once wrote Ann Landers or Dear Abby — late 60s/early 70s — that they broke a tooth biting into a piece of fake fruit and shouldn’t the hosts pay the dental bills, lol.

      • MilaXX

        I hated those darn plastic grapes.

        • decormaven

          Worse were the faux bananas.

      • MissKimP

        THAT’s where I left them! ;-)

      • Chris

        I’m cracking up over the discussion of the decorative grapes. I’m thinking Megan’s are blown glass not plastic as there is just too much of Marie in her to have chosen the plastic ones.

        • formerlyAnon

          Yup. I automatically assumed glass – I think they were earlier and “classier.” (“classier” Chortle!)

      • Alice Teeple

        Oh my god, My aunt Helen had those squashy plastic grapes on her coffee table. I used to squeeze them as a kid when I was bored at her house. They had a really satisfying texture, which I know sounds weird, but there you go.

        • Heather

          Yes my grandma had some in her trailer. They had a weird seam down the side. I also took pleasure in squeezing them.

          • ldancer

            They were so satisfying to squeeze. Pliable, oddly sticky. Isn’t it pthalates that give plastic that texture? So good for you, and your grandchildren. The fake fruit was also fun to pose barbie dolls in.

        • MartyBellerMask

          I didn’t know any people “classy” enough to have the glass ones. But somebody had the plastic ones. I can’t for the life of me remember who. I can remember biting them once. Just to see.

          • Alice Teeple

            ME TOO. Okay. Now I don’t feel like such a weirdo. I remember not liking the plastic banana.

        • Glammie

          Hadn’t thought of them for years, but my grandmother also had those grapes.

          My mother, though, had a bunch of colored tone fruit made in Mexico. They were pretty cool–wonder where they went?

    • mcpierogipazza

      And it appropriately is filled with iceberg lettuce. I can’t say I miss the food many of us grew up in before Alice Waters and others shook things up.

    • Suse

      That salad bowl appears from time to time on Etsy and eBay. Search “teak and glass salad bowl.”

  • TippiH

    Note to my children – when I get old and crazy please make this happen: “She’s got herself a gay gigolo-nurse willing to dress her up like a doll and make her feel prettier than she ever has.”

    • Rhonda Shore

      WANT THE SAME!!!

    • SueFromCatering

      Yes! I manage a restaurant/bar and we have this lovely older lady and her gay caretaker that come in very often for drinks. All of her children have moved away, but she’s having the time of her life at 88 years old with a young, attractive man who takes her places and does fun things for her (they just got back from a cruise!). When I grow up I want to be her!

      • EricaVee

        That made me “awwww” out loud! I love it.

    • EveEve

      I will be reviewing my Long Term Care Insurance policy to see if it covers a 24/7 gay gigolo, and if not, how much that rider will cost! Because: totally worth every cent.

      • Heather

        YES. But why do we have to wait that long?

        • EveEve

          Well, because right now I’m young and sane and thoroughly happy with my full-on hetero lover, that’s why!

  • carolynmo

    Splendid post. I can’t wait for your book.

  • hac51

    You guys should seriously teach seminars on gay culture and history. That was really amazing to read.

    • decormaven

      Absolutely. This is the most well-written explanation I’ve read of gay life in that time period. For those who are calling for Stonewall to be represented in an upcoming episode, be sure to watch the American Experience documentary, Stonewall Uprising. That has been helpful to me in understanding that event.

  • Tracy M

    Uncles, thank you. You’re always fabulous, but this just goes above and beyond. You’ve given us not only the anticipated fashion deluge, but valuable social context and much-needed historical lesson. Thank you.

  • ChaquitaPhilly

    EXCELLENT post!
    Thanks, Guys.

  • MissSlimsky

    Wonderful article as always. What’ll I do in two weeks with no more T&L Mad Men analysis??? (small picky note: The Weimar Republic was actually a high water mark for Jewish culture in Germany – are you sure you meant this era and not its horrific sucessor?)

    • SusanJane

      MissSlimsly is correct!! You were much better off being a Jew in the Weimar Republic than being an uncloseted homosexual in 1968.

      • Bonjour

        Weimar is the era Christopher Isherwood wrote his Berlin Stories about, that became Cabaret.

        In act 2 of cabaret, we see (with the nasty Gorilla song) that its getting worse for the Jews, but in Act 1, presumably set a year or a few years earlier, being Jewish is not a problem (in the movie there is another Rachel Mencken character). And there are thriving sexual (sub)cultures all over Berlin. Danger lurks but nobody really sees it coming in the world Isherwood describes, which is Weimar, 1919-1933. Even after Hitler became chancellor in 1933 Jews in Germany didn’t hide who they were, per se: the anti-Jewish laws came in 1935, the Nuremberg laws, and that’s when Jews were racially classified by the Nazi state, segregated, and removed from public life. Weimar was heaven by comparison.

        • Bonjour

          But I know from the Tonys post, dear TLo, that musicals are not your thing. ;-)

          • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

            You might want to check our Cabaret Musical Monday post before you say that.

          • Danielle

            Please bring back Musical Mondays! (because you two aren’t busy enough! – maybe after this season is over?)

          • formerlyAnon

            I’ve sadly made my peace with the idea that Musical Mondays will never return as a regular feature. I’m still blowing on an ember of hope that there will be one as a Special Treat change of pace occasionally once the explosive growth of this site’s popularity & our hosts’ writing careers eventually reaches steady state.

          • Bonjour

            Omg I’m reading it and I love it. XD

          • formerlyAnon

            Brilliant, right?

            Plus, one of THE musical scores of the ’60s & ’70s. Minor keys. Dancing.

            Also: Young Michael York. Cheekbones.

          • Perditax

            I think that post was actually the first of yours I ever read! Either that or ‘High Society’. Ah, memories…

          • ldancer

            YES please, bring back Musical Mondays! I don’t even like most musicals but I LOVE your Musical Mondays posts. If you ever do bring it back, can I beg you to consider reviewing some Busby Berkley and the 1980 mega-clunker “The Apple”?

          • formerlyAnon

            Seriously, though, how can one satirize “The Apple”? It’s a parody of itself as it stands!

          • ldancer

            I am so glad I’m not the only person here who’s seen it. “Bite the apple! Juju Apple!”

  • Chris

    What a great analysis of the Bob Benson character. I appreciate that you present hypotheses (backed up with facts and examples) rather than random theories. So much of it called to mind Sidney Poitier at the time who had to struggle with always taking roles and appearing “perfect” as the example of a culturally acceptable black man to the white audience.

    A couple of costuming things that stuck out to me:

    Sally falling down face first onto her bed in a blue plaid dress like she (and later Betty) did in their last days in the house in Ossining.

    Peggy wearing the nightie she fantasized about Ted in while kissing Abe, (during a previous house problem) calling Stan for rat help and offering a (probably) fake proposition. Stan, unlike Abe, knew he was not the object of Peggy’s affection and refused her.

    Nan has an old lady Victorian style dressing table. So much so, I knew that was probably their bedroom just from the clip of Ted walking in the room for one second. No way that was Peggy’s bedroom.

    • Susan Collier

      So much of it called to mind Sidney Poitier at the time who had to
      struggle with always taking roles and appearing “perfect” as the example
      of a culturally acceptable black man to the white audience.

      Yes. Like how Jackie Robinson had to be the best baseball player and the ultimate gentleman.

    • CommentsByKatie

      And falling face first into the bed in a RED and blue jumper, not just a blue jumper. Poor Sally.

    • Alice Teeple

      I found Nan’s dressing table really odd and old-fashioned in that otherwise very modern-looking bedroom. The jacquard bedspread, the orange walls, the Frank Lloyd Wright-y high windows, the clean bureau with minimal decoration – and then this weird Victorian vanity stuck there on the opposite end. It didn’t fit with the rest of the room. Also a nice touch: the his-and-hers bathrobes on the door. That was a nice touch. Ted WOULD wear plaid.

      • Chris

        Maybe she comes from money and it’s a family piece? That’s what I love about looking at the background, you can always formulate a theory or two just from the set dressing. And it’s not all just crazy theorizing- Kevin Rahm (Ted) said that even years ago Ted’s office was decorated with propellers and airplane decor long before he ever knew Ted was supposed to be a pilot. Nothing is throwaway on Mad Men.

        • Alice Teeple

          Good point. Nan is supposed to be older than Ted, so maybe she was one of those wealthy Main Line types that an alpha male would have been initially been drawn to in his youth. She may have come from money, but a fussy Victorian dresser like that wouldn’t be really en vogue until the 80s. It seemed really out of place in their bedroom for that time period (I personally would love it in my own room!) It’s a contrast to the Draper house, which is uber-modern with zero antiques in it. Maybe it signifies sentimentality? A more glamourous past? Speaking of props in Ted’s office – there’s a Liberty Bell on his windowsill.

          • Heather

            It’s funny, without makeup and hairdo – just casually in her own home – she and Ted looked the same age.

          • Alice Teeple

            That’s true! She looked just like my aunt, only blonde. I loved the detail TLo found of her wearing knee-hi sheer socks. I completely missed that. A period-perfect detail.

          • Chris

            Some of those period styles are so aging, particularly to our modern eyes. Plus makeup (as much as I love it) adds years and that wig she had on I won’t even discuss. Whenever I see MM stars out of costume they always look so much younger. With no makeup and casual clothes I agree Nan looked much younger than at the awards dinner. She does have a noticeably less modern style than Ted who seems to try to keep up with the new trends.

          • Suse

            Remember that Victorian divan.fainting couch that Betty’s decorator had her buy? That was supposed to be an antique. I always viewed the Drapers’ home in Osinning as more eclectic than modern. It had a lot of early American touches.

          • Alice Teeple

            The Draper 1.0 family had a very modern home. Early American was a big home decor style in the late 50s-early 60s, but not so much Victorian. And I don’t remember seeing many antiques in their house – maybe a few little things as a nod to Betty’s old family ties, but not a lot. That fainting couch was so gorgeous! But remember how it didn’t really fit in with the Draper house’s decor, either? It wasn’t the decorator who had her buy it – it was Henry! The decorator was mad because Betty upset her room arrangement because of how intrusive it was with the rest of their home, even blocking the fireplace. The Drapers’ suburban home in the late 50s-early 60s would have looked woefully old fashioned by the time avocado and mustard and mod daisies came on the horizon. The Draper 2.0 home is completely modern and minimalist, with nothing old.

          • Chris

            If you look at the backgrounds in a lot of the screencaps you can see the Americana influence, particularly for people who came from old money. Pete has an English Toby jug on his desk and all kinds of New England nautical, sailing stuff all over his office. Barometers etc. Pete looks like he would wear plaid shorts and Topsiders in the summer if he was alive nowadays.

            Speaking of Americana and Colonial decor- did anyone else notice at the celebratory dinner after pitching to Ocean Spray the restaurant looked like a seafood restaurant with a nautical motif? Also the dishes looked like they had seafood and clam chowder maybe. A nice touch- they were pitching to Ocean Spray so they would have flown to Plymouth, MA. Of course they would have seafood afterwards, probably by the ocean. Love the attention to detail.

          • Alice Teeple

            That’s a good point about Pete. He would be into the old money style, because that’s what he was probably most comfortable with, being a Dyckman. Trudy wouldn’t have had that sort of sentimentality, because her family was nouveau riche. I remember Betty Draper being resentful or something about not getting the family heirlooms when her mom died, or some sort of argument? My grandparents’ home was full of that late 50s-style colonial stuff: eagle wallhangings, Jefferson chairs, Liberty Bells, etc. That’s why every time I see it, I think of Philadelphia. What an awesome observation you made about the seafood restaurant – I didn’t notice it, but it makes perfect sense. The chairs definitely looked like “olde New England” style.

    • http://thoroughly-me.blogspot.com/ thoroughlyME

      Yes, Sally’s blue plaid dress! The first time she flopped onto a bed in one of those, she felt Betty had betrayed her by replacing her father and then moving them out of the house in Ossining. Now it’s Don who’s betrayed her and undermined her sense of being at home.

  • LauraAgain

    Major kudos not only to you, Tom and Lorenzo, but also to Matthew Weiner for creating and fully realizing the Bob Benson character in 1968 (and to Janie Bryant for her wonderful Golden Boy dressing of him). It’s pretty obvious from most of the posts that very few people knew/realized what life was like for gays in the 1960′s. Institutionalized? Chemically castrated? Wow. Just wow.

    I have learned so much from Mad Men, MW and TLo ~ I feel I’ve taken a class in modern history and culture.

    Thank you!!!

  • http://dontmakeitlikeimdumb.blogspot.com/ annabelle archer

    You two are simply amazing. That is all.

  • Amishius

    “Having lived in the Village the entire decade of the sixties, Joan has probably come across more gay people in her day-to-day life than anyone else in the Mad Men story. It makes perfect sense that she would befriend a good-looking young gay man who works with her.”

    I wonder if this makes it more likely that either A) Bob too lives in The Village or B) that he’s just there all the time anyways, so he might as well pop in on his pal Joan.

  • http://theargiehome.blogspot.com/ Gus Casals

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for contextualizing homosexuality in 1968. When women commenters and reviewers have to deal with male privilege it’s bad enough, but now we are awash on straight privilege.

    With that out of the way, an outstanding analysis all around: your research and archival strengths make all the difference from all those “put up the review before anyone else” commenters. And your gay POV, of course.

    • editrixie

      Gus, thank you for acknowledging that bit about male privilege. That awful rape jokey thing earlier this season from Betty bugged me enough, but the way most people (always men) were dismissing it as no big deal just burned me fiercely. It’s really easy for guys to handwave that horrible conversation as nothing, or period appropriate, but they don’t understand or care what it’s like to live in a rape culture and to have these things thrown in our faces all the damn time. There was just no earthly reason for that to have even been in the show, nothing dramatic or enlightening to the story or characters.

      And it dovetails with straight privilege. It’s so easy for so many of these people who insist Bob really can’t be gay to handwave it, and that makes their crazy theories even more offensive.

  • leighanne

    So happy that a friend recommended MadStyle this year and I was able to watch and keep up with the postings. I wish I had this obsession to look forward to in previous years!

    the red and blue combinations really stood out to me. Red and blue outfits side by side, Peggy next to her reddish cat :) I felt it maybe symbolized harmony in some scenes, in contrast to the red and oranges conflicting throughout the episode.

  • MilaXX

    This is hands down my favor Mad Men post EVER. I never saw Bob as anything but possibly a guy trying to climb the corporate ladder and possibly gay, but completely missed the Pete infatuation. I also think this is in a way Sal 2.0. I never thought Weiner would bring Sal back, but I could easily see him doing another slant on what it was like to be gay at that time.

    EXCELLENT job guys.

  • lexilexi

    I have never seen a Mad Men episode, but this may just force me to contact Netflix to get started with Season 1.
    After G of T, Borgias, Boardwalk E, Homeland, Magic City… I have resisted… but may have to give up the fight. Thanks TLo!

    • http://www.facebook.com/dglassman1 Doug Glassman

      Now I want to see TLo do a Mad Style type of column for “Boardwalk Empire”. Their costuming is definitely on a “Mad Men” level of accuracy and creativity.

    • Mike R

      Why? How? Why and how do people resist for so long when they see potential awesomeness like this show is?

    • Rhonda Shore

      Watch it in order, starting with season 1!

  • Donna Tabor

    Having lived through this same era I’d like to say that it took women a longer time to realize how many men were gay back then. Which is how Liberace, et al could live the lie, all the while laying it out there for all to see, if only one would look.

    My mother is 83, and she does not have the same sensibility. I realized this recently when she, a three-time widow and an inveterate flirt, sidled up to a man I was chatting with. I knew instantly that this older man was gay (and he turns out to be with his partner for the last 45 years), but my mom clearly did not see his disinterest in women. It was fascinating, and made me think about how I figured this out along the way. Because I was single in the 70′s and 80′s I met a lot of gay and lesbian friends through the years.

    Joan as fag hag: YES! She is perfect, as I’ve said before, and would be a total hit in that culture. She has never had real, non-sexual friendships with men, and really very few female ones, but this could open up her character in such an interesting way.

    • http://completeflake.com/ LaVonne Ellis

      Back in ’68, I was a naive, 21yo “Children’s Crusader” for Gene McCarthy, flown into NYC for the June primary (and told to canvass door-to-door in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn the day after RFK’s assassination – talk about traumatic.) I’d never been to New York and was infatuated with the idea of the Village, so I went there one afternoon, all dressed up in my miniskirt and tights, expecting to be admired by artists and musicians. I sat at a sidewalk cafe and waited for the gorgeous men I saw to notice me — but I might as well have been invisible. Then I saw two men walking together across the street who looked almost like twins (“the “clone look” in the gay male community of the ’70s and ’80s; very short hair, a mustache and a muscular body”). Subconsciously, I recognized from their body language that they were a couple. Suddenly, everything became clear and I slunk away, quite deflated.

      • Donna Tabor

        Oh, yes, that moment of recognition and reality!

  • Caitlin O’Brien

    Don is going to have a nervous breakdown, or spiral out of control, or something dramatic.

    I think it’s safe to say this whole Sally ordeal will break him.

    • swiss_miss

      I think you give him too much credit. He’s too selfish to have a breakdown about losing the love of his daughter.

  • dialmformichele

    Thank you for placing Bob’s experiences and choices in the actual, real, 1968 gay world. In a recent conversation with my mom about the show and your recaps, she asked me, “What is this Stonewall Riot they keep mentioning?” So thanks also for being downright educational.

  • jen_vasm

    You guys rock. So oversaid, but necessary to state again. You took the half-formed musing I had that Bob was meant to correct the over-played Sal character and laid it out perfectly before I even made it into a cohesive thought.

    I’m not of the End the Season on a Violent Note school, but there is something about the Rosen family that makes me uneasy. The constant use of black & red in costuming, the consuming, out in the open unhappiness. They might not be as tragic as the Draper clan, but there is a rain cloud over all of them just about always.

    I love how the Chaogh house is all about that bedspread, which matched Ted’s jacket. Anyone around in the 60s/early 70s had an eye-twitch when they saw that thing.

    And we all need to bow down to Pete’s mom and her addled, rich old-lady swag. That ice-blue number is fierce! Plus, the sex talk with Peggy in the pink suit hearkens back to Dick’s prostitute.

    • Elizabetta1022

      I agree. Plus, all the Catholic Saint imagery. I swear I can smell candles in a musty cathedral whenever Sylvia is in a scene.

    • CommentsByKatie

      Agree about Pete’s mom! I clapped my hands with glee when she walked in with that fabulous pink number.

  • carnush

    The best content on the internets. You guys are amazing.

  • bxbourgie

    This took me FOREVER to read, and I love every single word. Thank you Uncles! So so SO much here, Fashion, history, gay culture ( I am an admitted fag hag). I LIVE for Mad Style!

  • Contrarienne

    Sorry to bring up a minor point that’s not about Bob, but as a history nerd I have to say: I don’t think you guys mean Weimar Germany in your analogy, I think you mean Nazi Germany. One of the reasons the Nazis hated the Weimar Republic was because it was a time when Jewish artistic and intellectual life flourished a lot, especially in Berlin. Yes, there was anti-semitic sentiment in the population in the Weimar era, but it wasn’t institutional; Weimar Germany was a very very different place than Nazi Germany.

    • Mike R

      I was going to mention this too. In Weimar Germany, Jewish people were in very high positions of economic, political, and social power. But it may be like comparing apples and oranges, because Jews by and large could not hide that identity as easily as gay people hid their gayness, nor did most of them try. I suppose the Weimar mention is technically accurate (no Christian Germans would have wanted to pretend to be Jewish in 1920s Germany), while also sidestepping the fact that Jews, as you say, flourished in Weimar Germany compared to what had come before, with important Jewish-identified organizations and institutions and real power, in a way that (openly) gay people only ever have in very recent times.

      • ldancer

        All very true, except that many German Jews weren’t so different from the rest of the population, not like the Ostjuden. That was part of the shock they experienced as the Nazis rose to power; they were often quite assimilated, and considered themselves Germans first in many cases. Whereas in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, they were never permitted to be part of the general population, and were less surprised by another round of persecution. They just didn’t expect it to end their entire culture.

      • swiss_miss

        Seriously? Some of them were in high positions, but a lot less than anti-semitic propaganda would want you to believe. Many of them were middle class and the recent immigrants from the East were poor. They did flourish in some jobs and industries, but one could make the argument that so did the gay population in the late 1960s. It still was very, very difficult for Jews to get some jobs, like a high position at the university.

    • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

      We don’t actually mean Nazi Germany. That wouldn’t be a very good analogy since gays and Jews were being rounded up by the state and killed. We merely mean a period in which it was increasingly dangerous for certain people, and pre-Nazi German was awash in growing anti-semitism.

      • AmeliaEve

        In fact, during the Nazi era, many gay Jews were more successful at escaping Germany than their straight friends and family. They already had an existing underground and were skilled at reading social cues and avoiding detection.

        • Glammie

          Hmmm, now that’s a weird fascinating tidbit.

      • not_Bridget

        While living in Weimar Germany, it would be wise to keep an eye on politics as well as the fascinating cultural scene. Enjoy it while you can–but work out your escape plan in case of regime change.

        Which art is worth packing? Which should you sell off? (Although you probably wouldn’t get much cash.) Time to touch bases with that cousin in New York City….

      • Lisa_Co

        Even after the war ended, it was dangerous to be gay. In Lars Von Trier’s Zentropa, the gay son of a prominent formerly Nazi family (played by the great Udo Kier) is murdered when people realize he is gay.

    • swiss_miss

      Thats a very idealized view of Weimar Germany. Did Jewish intellectual life flourish in Berlin? Yes. Was their a lot of Antisemitism as well? Yes. There were antisemitic riots in 1923 for example. Jewish people could have difficulties getting good jobs (for example at the University) and so on. Google Weimarer Republic and Antisemtism and you will find lots of things.

  • lesterminator

    I just love your recaps, both for the costuming insights, which are well beyond my observational powers, and for the no-nonsense interpretations of character. One observation though – Manolo looks exactly like Alec Baldwin as the Generalissimo on 30 Rock. It took me days to figure that one out.

    • Denise Alden

      “Manolo looks exactly like Alec Baldwin as the Generalissimo on 30 Rock.” Snort-laugh: thanks for that!

    • Heather

      OMG you’re right! It would actually be hilarious if it was Alec Baldwin playing him.

  • formerlyAnon

    I suspected this was going to be a special post when you left us all to play among ourselves in the FMK playground yesterday, but WOW. Thank-you.

    I can’t see how anyone could mistake Bob’s feelings for Pete, though. Rewind the episode with a woman in his place – hmmm? (ETA: Though in real life I’d have missed it, as an office mate. My gaydar sucks, I’m way too prone to taking people at face value.)

    Clothes later. Love you guys.

  • Mike R

    Brilliant analysis, guys! Truly brilliant, and one can only hope this will put the “Bob Benson truthers” in their place, though of course most of them still won’t get it. Thanks for the historical perspective.

    I love that one of the Chaough kids is wearing hi-top shoes on the bed. Back in the days when removing your shoes when inside wasn’t the done thing.

    • somebody blonde

      My dad was definitely of that school. One of the strangest things for me towards the end of his life was seeing him without shoes on.

  • Eclectic Mayhem

    I can’t say it enough; you guys are extraordinarily good at what you do. Love you heaps.

  • decormaven

    Ha ha on Manolo decking out Mrs. Campbell in her best jewelry. Loved that pin paired with the pink suit, and the necklace chosen for the ice blue number. Pete’s dad might have run through the family fortune, but mom still had a few nice trinkets in the jewelry box.

    • CommentsByKatie

      The pink hat with that button tab was my favorite! Fabulous! At least I’ll have one thing to look forward to when I get older.

  • ccinnc

    I consider it a very, very good day when I learn something, and you guys taught me many things today. Thank you, TLo, for an incredible history lesson.

    ETA: … and, I might add, the empathy lesson.

  • decormaven

    Good call on the fact everyone was tuned in to Hawaii Five-O. That’s how shows got traction back in the day- just three networks, so consensus built quickly.

  • ~Heather

    Bob Benson: always trying to fit in, can’t truly be himself, but ALWAYS the one person that people open up to with their own awkward secrets. Joan’s medical emergency, Pete’s mother, Ginsberg’s mental issues…while his own secret has to be kept silent.

  • christy in nyc

    YES. This is the first review of this episode that jibes with my viewing. I’m with you guys.

  • yellowhannah33

    You two are a force of nature. I didn’t question Weiner in this episode because I trust his eye for American, 1960s culture in all its forms but I’d be lying if I said I understood the ‘Bob Benson is a) gay and b) interested in Pete Campbell’ road MM has travelled. It seemed off. This has really opened my eyes to that. I also didn’t know about the Stonewall riots (in my defence, I am from the UK and I know very little about post-1880 US history, let alone the late 1960s which seems to be a little chink of time different from the rest).

    Shipping Pete and Bob now.

    Haven’t read all the comments so apologies if repeating. It made me lolz that the pink in Mother Campbell’s suit matches Peggy’s ad board – she’s ‘Berry Healthy’ now too. Continues to strike me how awful Don and Sylvia looked during their liaison. Horrid pallid skin, off white undies, harsh lighting, ugh, Rachel Menken where art thou? I see now, of course, that it’s meant to call back to Don’s whore house days, which kind of hammers home the point that the whole affair with Sylvia has existed to underline where Don’s damaged character originates.

    • MartyBellerMask

      Kinda shipping them too. I’ve never given up on Pete, he’s an ass, but a very damaged one. There will be much more to his story, and I hope he finds some happiness in it.

    • CommentsByKatie

      Right? I think Weiner might have WANTED us to hate the Sylvia storyline, WANTED us to groan every time we saw Sylvia on the screen – because it made this important scene so much more powerful. We totally felt Sally’s disgust.

  • decormaven

    Check Megan’s handbag on the kitchen counter when she’s wearing that beige coat/dress ensemble- is that a reptile skin? This woman has had a very, very good time shopping since she became Mrs. Don Draper. If they do ultimately split, Megan’s clothing allowance will be significant.

    • AnneElliot

      She also has her own income now since she’s working on the soap opera.

      • decormaven

        True, but this gal hasn’t cycled through her wardrobe yet. There’s always a new look. I’m thrilled- she’s had some of the best styles of the season.

        • Chris

          And she has inherited her mother’s excellent fashion sense. Say what you like about Marie, she is very chic.

          • decormaven

            Absolument. If they would show a shopping expedition with those two, I’d be in Girly Heaven.

          • Chris

            I’d love to see some period accurate late 60′s store “porn.” When I watched “A Patch Of Blue” again a couple of weeks ago I was riveted by the supermarket scenes. It reminded me of Betty out shopping all dolled up in season two.

      • Alice Teeple

        She wouldn’t have gotten a massive paycheck working on the soap opera, but definitely enough for a solid clothing budget. I read somewhere that soap actors making minimum made about $150/episode or something? Certainly not making what Don was, but it wouldn’t have been a bad gig.

        • swiss_miss

          And she and Don probably wouldn’t feel like she has to contribute anything to their shared living expenses, leaving her paycheck for her to use for things like clothes and not rent or so.

        • something

          Well, if she works five days a week, which is possible since she’s playing two parts, that comes to almost $40,000 a year, which today would be worth about $250,000. So yeah, all the fabulous clothes she wants!

          • Alice Teeple

            Thank you for clarifying the inflation scale! I was wondering how much that would work out to being. I was way under! Jeez. I’m jealous of her wardrobe. Between her and Peggy, I want ALL THE CLOTHES!

          • something

            I actually just double checked an online inflation scale and it’s actually a little higher – $268,450! But yeah, I’m five years younger than Sally and I can remember picking up bread for mom for 19 cents a loaf. My parents bought a 4 bedroom house in 1970 for $30,000, and even in 1977 I could fill up my little Fiat for $4 – gas was 50 cents a gallon.

            And yes, the clothes are TO DIE!

  • Chase

    Thank you so much for the detailed analysis of Bob Benson. I found it really fascinating.

  • Lily Lemontree

    Damn, you’re good! Can I tell you I enjoy reading your re-cap just as much as I do watching the show! Wednesday morning is not complete without the two of you!

  • Susan Collier

    Awesome as always. Thank you so much for the exhaustive take on Bob’s character, from his history and “type” to where he is in NYC gay society timeline. It’s been an education.

    Totally noticed Jack Lord on the TVs.

    • Mike R

      “Hawaii Five-O” premiered on September 20, 1968. Peggy and the Chaough kids are looking at the TV in that interest-piqued but still skeptical look common to those approaching new shows every fall. “Hmmmm…. am I going to give this one a chance or not?”

      • Susan Collier

        Whoa. So the summer of ’68 is over already. I thought the NYC background noise seemed quieter. It must be because more folks have their windows closed.

        • not_Bridget

          That’s why Peggy’s apartment seemed relatively pleasant. No street noises coming in through open windows–in fact, more of the neighbors people are inside, watching TV. (Summer time meant reruns!)

          And the cat seems to be better company that the sweaty Abe….

      • Mike R

        OK, this is taking “Mad Men” minutiae to a whole new level, but if this is 9/20/68, the distorted show playing in the bar where Don is getting plastered may be “Man in a Suitcase,” which ran opposite “Hawaii Five-O” on ABC that night. (Thanks to the amazing TV Tango site for that info.) That title describes Don pretty well.

        • Alice Teeple

          I think you might be right! (Great theme song by Ron Grainier for that show, too!) It’s interesting that they had Peggy and the Chaoughlets both watching the same show. I know there were only a couple of channels in 1968, but it was a nice tie-in. Maybe Chaoughlet The Elder can lend Peggy his Mad Magazine.

          • Mike R

            Having those two in their relatively placid domestic lives (even with flaws) watch the same channel, while Don was watching another one, was a nice touch. Also, of course it tied Peggy and Ted together.

          • Glammie

            There were the three big networks–ABC, NBC, CBS, also PBS. However, most areas had a number of smaller independent stations as well–many were on UHF, which took some finagling with the tuner. Oh analogue. . .

          • Alice Teeple

            Yup! I only grew up with CBS and PBS in my rural area because they were the only stations our antenna could pick up. I do remember UHF stations in Philly on my nana’s little black and white television. On the bottom dial! PBS was still called NET in 1968 though, right? I think that changed up in the early 70s.

          • Lisa_Co

            It’s still WNET in NYC.

  • Heather

    Here’s a genuine question: what SHOULD Don have said to Sally? Obviously, he should not have been bonking the neighbor lady in the first place. But given that he did… what could he have said or done when she caught them together? I don’t think there was any way to make that ‘better’ but I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts.

    • http://completeflake.com/ LaVonne Ellis

      “Sally, I am so, so sorry. It will never happen again. Please forgive me.”

      • charlotte

        Although “It won’t happen again today” would probably be more truthful. We all know Don Draper.

    • formerlyAnon

      Should something so awful have happened in my household growing up (didn’t, we saved our family traumas for late teens), Dad would have gone meta and talked about how the adult world and marriage were more complicated than I could yet understand, there were different kinds of love, that no one, including parents, were perfect & always able to live up to their ideals. And possibly even talked to my mother about it, dealt with THEIR shit as much offline as possible while presenting a united front: “this is a matter for grownups, not for children. We love you and that’s all you need to know.”

      I had a good childhood.
      (ETA: Though on the downside, I came to adulthood with pretty much zero skill at direct, honest communication where emotional content ran high. One could *be* angry or happy or sad, yell or snipe or hug, but rarely talked about it except in a “let’s tidy this away and get on with things” way.)

      • Frank_821

        you certainly did.

        • formerlyAnon

          Given my parents’ childhoods, what they gave their kids, without benefit of therapy or even a lot of self-help reading, is a fucking miracle. I suspect that that is a lot of the reason that I tend to be a glass-half-full person. Change comes hard, and is inevitably partial, but it’s possible.

          • Frank_821

            I get that. My own parents had this unusually hard life. They experienced first hand all the civil unrest and the eventual communist take over in China. They never discussed it much but I could always tell it molded their thinkign when it came to what mattered to them and what should matter to us. It adjusted some of the traditional asian thinking of the time. Non completely but enough to make life a little less demanding and constricting than for most kids raised by asian parents-especially for my sisters

      • somebody blonde

        Honestly, I don’t think that would be better in this particular circumstance. I think Sally would’ve thought of that as so much bullshit, and frankly, I think she’d be right.

        • formerlyAnon

          Not sure it would be better. But that’s what would have happened in my case, I’m convinced. It *feels* better than the Don version to me, but it comes out of the version of family in which I was raised, so of course it would!

          Anything a parent would say in this instance would be largely bullshit, I think. “I love you to the best of my limited ability and I’m *REALLY* sorry you had to see that, but I’m a chronically womanizing, lying, cheating husband who is never happy” is the only thing that’s not bullshit & that’s not gonna be too comforting either.

          • somebody blonde

            Yeah, that’s kind of what I was getting at. I don’t really think there is anything to possibly say. What he said was awful, but I don’t think he had any better options. Maybe “I’m sorry” with no further explanation, but Don is incapable of saying that in this context.

    • b.read

      “Sally, I did something very wrong, that I’m not proud of, and I’m sorry. Being an adult doesn’t mean you stop making mistakes. I love you, and Megan, and I’m so sorry I hurt you. I’m always going to be your father, and I hope eventually you’ll forgive me.”

      Only the first sentence might actually have made it out of Don’s mouth. There was too much shame and horror, and anger on Sally’s part, for the correct things to be said.

      • CommentsByKatie

        Exactly. I honestly think that situation could have been salvaged if he had manned up, admitted his mistake, apologized, and say that he was incredibly committed to her, and to Megan, and making sure that it never happened again. I’d give my dad another chance (only one.)

        • Frank_821

          Sadly Don’s default M.O. is lie and obfuscate

          • decormaven

            And comforting! He’s all about the comforting. But it’s complicated. ;-)

          • CommentsByKatie

            Right…of course Don would never do that, which made watching him continue to bungle the situation even sadder. There’s no coming back from it, now.

    • OrigamiRose

      “Wanna go to the movies?”

    • Elizabetta1022

      “Sally, it will surprise you how much I will act like this never happened.” Just kidding. In all honesty, I’m not sure what any parent can say to a child after being caught in an adulterous act. I think, “That was wrong and I’m ashamed of myself; I hope some day you can forgive me.”

      • Heather

        I actually thought he might say something like that! Thanks all for your insights.

    • testingwithfire

      I thought about this, too. I wonder if anyone has ever said something truthful/compassionate in that or a similar situation in the history of mankind. I would vote for something like: “I’m sorry you had to see that, Sally. I’m involved in a situation I don’t know how to get out of. It has nothing to do with my love for you.” But that would take a lot of self-awareness/self-acceptance, neither of which Don Draper has.

    • swiss_miss

      Sally, I am very sorry. I messed up. The one thing I never wanted was to hurt you. I love you and I hope that you will be able to forgive me.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful, fascinating, and thorough meditation on gay culture in the 1960s and present day.

  • Heather

    TLo: astounding insight in this post. Thanks so much for your work on this.

  • clevRcat

    Best Mad Style post ever! Thank you for the brilliant history lesson. Bravo!

  • Greg

    Pussy galore > Ralph. For so many reasons.

  • marlie

    Amazing job gents. I think my favorite part was the history lesson in the first half of the post. Bravo.

  • BarniClaw

    I can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said, but I was always taught to write thank-you notes. “It’s not yours until you write a thank-you note!” So: Dear Tom and Loranzo, Thank you for putting so much time and effort and awesomeness into this post. I am continually blown away by your Mad Style, and today, I’ve been blown into the outer regions of the universe. You guys are just…wow. Love always, Anne

  • sweatpantalternative

    My catholic Jersey grandmother had that same kitchen wallpaper well into the 80s.

  • chowwander

    Betty’s look screamed “I AM Sweden!”

    • AnneElliot

      Now I can’t wait for the TLo posting after the Miss Universe Pageant!

  • Chris

    Some more random thoughts:

    Post Sugar Crisps- remember Sugar Bear?

    Milk in a glass bottle (probably still delivered)

    Julie, Sally’s friend looks like she could have come straight out of an episode of the Brady Bunch as one of Marsha’s snotty friends.

    The compare and contrast of Ted and Peggy at the end. If you are a workaholic man you can still come home to a nice family life, even if you are very late. If you are a successful woman you can come home to a cat.

    • formerlyAnon

      Ted & Peggy: EXACTLY.

    • b.read

      “Can’t get enough of that Sugar Crisp~!”

      Ted & Peggy: it may be gradually changing, but even today, that’s still the automatic conclusion.

      • Chris

        Then it became Super Sugar Crisp. Now it’s “Golden Crisp” like they’re fooling anyone.

        • Alice Teeple

          I remember it being “Super Golden Crisp” as a kid in the 80s, with the singing bear jingle. That must have been the Interlude Years while the kids were all getting their teeth drilled. I do recognize Pete’s box of Raisin Bran, which only had minor changes to the box when I was a kid. That’s what we ate in MY healthy household.

          • Jaialaibean

            It changed from “Sugar Crisp” to “Golden Crisp” sometime in the mid-80s. Loved it then, but would never touch the stuff now. Also, the bear mascot, as I recall, was named “Sugar Bear.”

          • Chris

            They were “Sugar Corn Pops” too at least through the 70′s. Back in the good old days sugar was a selling point not a detriment to kids.

          • Alice Teeple

            I’ve seen the old ads touting sugar as “ENERGY FOR KIDS!” And the ones encouraging parents to give 7-up to their infants. Oy veh.

    • MilaXX

      She looks like evil Jan Brady

    • onebluepussy

      I think we had milk in glass bottles in the mid-to late eighties – in Europe, though I don’t know if that makes any difference. Makes me SO nostalgic.

      • Chris

        We had them and a milkman through the 1970′s in the U.S.

        • 3hares

          Me too, and into the 80s. In the US.

  • Sobaika

    Reading, re-reading, forwarding to all my friends and Mad Men addicts. Hands down my favorite post of yours, ever. Thank you so much!

  • http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com/ Sir Knitsalot

    I didn’t notice until reading your piece that Nan has fallen asleep while reading Robert Massie’s “Nicholas and Alexandra,” the story of a happy family that ends up (spoiler alert) shot in a cellar after their empire comes crashing down. I have the same edition, with the same dust jacket, from the same year.

    • Mike R

      Thanks! I was curious what book that was.

    • pollatadana

      Franklin Habit commenting on Tom and Lorenzo! My worlds are colliding!

    • Chris

      Someone figured that out yesterday too when I asked the question on the recap boards. Not sure if it’s just timely because it was published in 1967 or if it is a comment on Ted’s family being close like the Czar and Czarina.

      • http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com/ Sir Knitsalot

        I swear at this point they probably pick props just to give all of us something to talk about.

        • Chris

          Yes, I love the attention to detail and thought that goes into everything- even things most people will never see.

      • b.read

        No comment on how different Nan looked in public/private vs. the first time we were presented with her? At the dinner she was stiff, loud, awkward, unattractive. Much younger-looking (though still fatigued) and softer-seeming and prettier at home. (Maybe very much like Alexandra, indeed. Probably too much to speculate their youngest son piggybacking is a hemophiliac.)

        But we still don’t know what “that matter” Moira made reference to is.

        • 3hares

          Yes we do. “That matter” was the death of Gleason.

          • b.read

            Ah, totally missed it, if so. I just automatically assumed it was somehow about their strained marriage/family.

          • Alice Teeple

            I don’t think Nan would call during the middle of the day over some kind of family drama unless it was really important. She can barely sit up. Maybe she’s going to look for some “spa treatments” from her own Rasputin.

          • b.read

            Right, she can barely sit up, so why would she be the one in charge of news about Frank Gleason?

            We’ve seen Ted prioritize marriage/family over work already, and he seems to be very tender and sensitive about news of sickness.

            I assumed Moira knew all about whatever it was, and this was a longstanding thing that had happened before. If Nan’s not chronically troubled, it might be one of their kids.

          • Alice Teeple

            Yeah, I was wondering about that. I assumed it was about Frank, since the Chaoughs seemed fairly close to his family. Maybe it was. But seeing Nan at home this week was strange. When we first see Nan in bed, she has her hand on her stomach. Despite her telling Ted she wanted him home, she wasn’t exactly happy or receptive when he WAS there, and she was asleep when he got home the second time. It was weird that she and the boys were all in her bedroom watching TV, instead of the living room or a den. Hawaii Five-0 aired between 8-9 PM, so it’s also a little weird for the boys to be eating cereal before bed on a school night. I’m wondering if Nan is ill. Ted seemed more inclined to come home upon mention of the boys than he was to see her, and he comes home because he feels obligated to be there and she can’t deal with the boys herself. Maybe she has health problems like a cyst or something, and is depressed. There’s something up with the lady. Poor Nan.

          • Chris

            I couldn’t decide if it was significant that Nan was in bed (or on bed) each time we see her or that it was just meant to convey Ted was really late getting home. Ditto with the cereal, was it the son’s supper or a TV snack? People have posted that Hawaii 5-O ran from 8-9 pm so that’s not ridiculously late, at least not so much that she couldn’t have stayed awake waiting up for him. My Mom had three (almost four) kids at that time and no way she could sleep by 8pm!

  • chowwander

    Guys, this is one of the best articles about anything I’ve ever read anywhere. I applaud you. It needed to be written but you skyrocketed far beyond necessity and it’s like the rainstorm has gone and every leaf and blade of grass sparkles in the sunlight. Thank you.

  • AudreysMom

    thank you, guys! I’m sharing this on FB as required reading.

    Just a note on the 3 kids at the front door of the building. So right! The a-line almost mini dress with bright patterns, possibly in pink and green, large collar, long sleeves (worn with knee socks as a nod to the knee high boots coming into fashion) can be seen in the Simplicity pattern I bought for 8th grade home ec class. And those puffy sleeves, bell bottom pants and wide belt on Mitchell? All the wannabe Bobby Shermans and David Cassidys at my junior high.

    • formerlyAnon

      Yeah, Mitchell: every crush from about 7th grade through 9th or 10th. Hair (color & straight or curly) varied, that was about it.

  • MarieLD

    wow. What a post. love you guys.

  • LCTerrill

    Incredible, fellas. So, SO well done. This is the perspective needed in this discussion!

    I also noticed in Ted’s last scene that Janie tied him to his home through that avocado green color (jacket to bedspread) like she often does with women, emphasizing that reconnection with home/family for Ted.

    Also, I clapped gleefully at the sight of denim bell-bottoms on Mitchell. :)

  • chelsea47

    Excellent work, gentlemen! I’ve been excited about this since 11:04 p.m. on Sunday and it was even better than I could have imagined.

  • Mike R

    Is the older Chaough kid reading Mad magazine? That looks “Spy vs. Spy” to me. I appreciate all these screen shots so much!

    • Chris

      The screenshots are amazing. You always think you had some kind of individual experience growing up but then I look through the screencaps and see our identical kitchen table and chairs in Betty’s kitchen, Ted Chaough’s oldest son wearing my older brother’s shirt (again identical) and realize how many people were leading lives filled with the exact same things at the same time. Janie Bryant and the set designers really nail it every time.

      • Alice Teeple

        It’s starting to feel really familiar to me, too. Even by the time I was a kid, the stuff in the characters’ homes were still hanging around, before the big “country goose” decor blitzkrieg in the mid-80s. Our wallpaper was straight out of the late 60s; we had an avocado-colored washer; our neighbors had a lot of the kitchen accessories we see; my grandparents’ appliances were avocado and mustard. I’m starting to feel that weird “wow, I remember that” that others experienced earlier in the show. It’s a little unnerving.

        • Qitkat

          Your “country goose” poked me, one of my few forays into needlepoint was indeed geese swimming in a pond done in the mid-eighties. In the seventies, it was crewel embroidery owls. I still shudder at the memory of all the avocado and mustard.

          • Alice Teeple

            Oh, my mom subscribed to Cross Stitch magazine in the 80s, I bet I attempted to embroider it myself! I remember all of a sudden my neighbors all had tiny rosebud wallpaper and blue borders with geese. In 15 years, the deer craze the hipsters are going through now will be just as funny to look back on, I think! I love avocado and mustard as color combos in fashion, but as home decor it’s such a drag. I hope it doesn’t make a resurgence. Or knotty pine!

    • Alice Teeple

      YES! I have a bunch of old Mad Mags from that time period. It’s fitting that the Chaough household would be okay with Mad magazine. Those boys are gonna be okay. :)

    • Chris

      It’s definitely Mad Magazine! There is a picture on “the fashion files” on AMC that shows him getting up off the floor and you can see the cover of the magazine. Nice catch!

  • OliviaD

    TLos recaps are always excellent, but this one was truly spectacular. You guys are geniuses.

  • aeb1986

    Unbelievable post. You two are truly outstanding! So thoughtfully written and spot on

  • OrigamiRose

    Just brilliant, bravo.

  • T. Sticks

    Came here today looking forward to your always fabulous fashion insights. Left with a deeper understanding of the gay culture. Amazing! Thank you!

  • Mb

    I think that blue and white outfit of Peggy’s is the best thing she’s ever worn…Since she’s watching Hawaii 5-0, maybe she’ll call the cat “Danno”

  • MartyBellerMask

    I hawk your page every chance I get. I’m going to amp it up this week. You are awesome, I can’t think of anything else to comment.
    Yet. Heh. I’m sure it’ll come to me, I’m just blown away momentarily.

  • wayout46

    “Best Little Boy In The World” all the way. As one of those straight-A children of the sixties who was part of an unconventional family, replete with both dark secrets and heralded achievements, I can relate. And, yes, I was in, among MANY other school activities, our version of “Diplomacy Club” which was Model U.N. And, yes, I got around.

    Would you believe it if I told you my name is Bobby? (It is).

    Amazing also how the orange and red imagery – including Ted’s vagina wallpaper (thank you Doug Glassman) – really jumps at us throughout. Any thoughts on the multiple entendres of “his juice” vs. “my juice?” (the second best line this episode, right after Diplomacy Club).

  • Shug

    Anyone think the presence of orange could be a harbinger of death to come? Roger juggling oranges makes me nervous.

    ETA: Or is this just Weiner f*cking with us…? Tough call.

    • catherines

      yes, very Godfatheresque!

    • ikillplants

      Could you explain? I don’t understand the reference.

      • Shug

        Oranges are a famous death omen in The Godfather and a lot of other tv shows and movies thereafter.

        • OrigamiRose

          Someone on Uproxx pointed out Weiner already used the oranges trope a few seasons back – maybe the episode where Grandpa Gene dies?

          • Chris

            He did say the chocolate ice cream tasted like oranges, but that was because it was a symptom of some disease or syndrome they researched he was supposed to have (and die of soon).

          • Shug

            I think it’s an alzheimer’s thing, or something related to having strokes.

          • Chris

            I always meant to look it up and forgot to. Everything on MM is so well researched I assumed it was accurate but didn’t know the specific diagnosis.

          • CommentsByKatie

            He was buying oranges for Sally at the supermarket when he died, wasn’t he?

          • thorny

            Peaches. He was buying peaches even though Bobby said they gave him a rash. “Your sister likes them.

          • CommentsByKatie

            Ahh there you go.

          • Shug

            That’s right! Forgot about that. What Chris said below!

        • Jaialaibean

          Then maybe it’s a good thing they’re giving up the Sunkist account. I’d hate to think what would happen around that office with crates of oranges arriving every week!

          • Shug

            Agreed. Save Roger!

  • charlotte

    Thank you so much!
    After the adept analysis of the Bob Benson character I wonder even more what Joyce’s life is supposed to be like.
    She always seemed to be quite overt about her homosexuality and I guess it was accepted in the alternative community. On the other hand she was supposed to work for Life, and I assume they would have fired her upon finding out. As you said, she is a limited character, but they could have made that a bit clearer.
    Plus, did anyone else think that Chaough’s wife looks like an older version of Sally (at least from further away)?

    “The only non-gay people who surfaced in the scene at this time were motherly fag hags”
    …and the mafiosi who owned the bars.

  • Hifigoddess

    [Slow clap.] You guys knocked it out of the park. This is singularly the best, most complete commentary I have read about Mad Men. You rock.

  • Susan Collier

    Wait. Charles Nelson Reilly was gay? There wasn’t something going on with Brett Somers?

    • formerlyAnon

      Laughed out loud. Thank-you.

  • Amy Hughes

    “Clone look”, exemplified by Freddy Mercury.

  • RainboVore

    I had to laugh out loud this episode. I had a dress in the same pattern as Julie’s flower dress. Mine had a navy blue background with with white flowers and a white zipped placket on the front.

  • Sara Padilla

    Based on Peggy’s last outfit and Megan’s work look, Id’ like to suggest a new Theme Color: Cream for female independence. Megan wears cream to her job, where she is does not depend on Don. Peggy wears cream and blue stripes as an indication that while she remains infatuatd with Ted, she is coming to the realization that a housecat is more reliable than the men in her life. Also, cream outfits always make me think of Allie McGraw, who brash independence is very, very seventies iconic.

  • 3hares

    This whole recap is fantastic, but thanks so much for the extra work in talking about Bob. I’ve never understood the appeal of the crazy conspiracy theories about him, or even the idea that there was some mystery about him that required a hidden agenda. You really nailed it when saying it’s more just that he’s adept at lying because he’s always covering up who he is, and he lives on the surface because he has to deflect everything.

    And there isn’t any reason that Pete, from Bob’s pov, is a ridiculous choice to fixate on. In that first little scene with the toilet paper when Bob says he was in finance and Pete automatically asks “Which house?” it set up them having things in common. If Pete isn’t gay, he’s still painfully lonely and walks around with the knowledge that he was born with something wrong with him that made him “unlovable” from birth. That choice of words was very specific both by Dot and by the writers and had Bob heard it he probably would have reacted just as viscerally to it.

    I feel like Bob’s been set up to be in a potential important position to effect things given all the relationships he’s built (particularly the one where he’s Cutler’s pawn), and I take this ep as the show letting us know the things Bob truly wants that aren’t on the surface. Reading comments from people who still don’t think he’s gay, that he’s faking it for some agenda–or even that the reaction he got from Pete was extremely bad or even personally hostile given the attitude of the times–seems really 2013 based.

  • Syzygy

    Holy crap! Joan and I share a birthday!

  • Perditax

    Quick thought about Betty/Sally; Sally seemed to blame Betty more than Don about the divorce, assuming it was her fault. I wonder if she’ll put two and two together and realise it may have been down to Don having an affair. It might go a little way to pulling her and Betty closer.

    Also, i know everyone’s already said how amazing this piece was but… Wow, amazing piece!

    • Chris

      I’d love to see more scenes with Sally and Betty like the one where Sally ran back to Betty from the city. Sally has blamed Betty as far back as Don’s first trip to California (or earlier) for the problems in the marriage. It seems like if one of them can be a bit kinder the other will respond. Plus Henry really does seem to be a genuinely good guy and a great influence on that family overall. I think Don’s loss could be Betty’s gain and with the progress she has made lately (and the day to day care she has always given to the family) I feel it would be well deserved.

      • Perditax

        Plus I wonder if Sally being older now might make it easier for Betty to relate to her? I always enjoy the ‘Betty’s not entirely a horrible mother’ scenes, would be nice to see a few more!

        • Chris

          Yes and as Sally is very pretty and obviously smart it seems Betty would like that. No awkward chubby girls with glasses for Betty! She would want the daughter who gets the most valentines.

    • Joy

      I don’t know, I now know that my Dad cheated on my Mom years ago and I still prefer my Dad sometimes, because at the end of the day my Mom really is a piece of work!

      • not_Bridget

        I don’t see Sally destroying her life because of this trauma. Don has disappointed her before, if not as badly as this time. Remember, Trudy didn’t seem shocked when Pete told her about seeing her father in the bordello; she’d probably known for years that he was far from perfect. But he was her father. Trudy had given Pete many chances, but the fact that he was there was the last straw. Sally is not Don’s little girl any more–the relationship has been damaged; but he will be her father as long as they live.

        As noted, Sally will probably begin to drop the “little girl” styles–although they were popular for bigger girls, too, back then. This has been a dreadful step on her road to adulthood–but she may realize that she needs to tell nobody. Her rebellion will be complaints about “middle class hypocrisy”—but I doubt she’ll refuse an upper middle class education. Years ago, viewers were expecting Betty to find The Feminine Mystique; she never did. But Sally will–& it will help her understand her mother. Don’s upbringing is far worse than Sally’s (or Betty’s); it explains his behavior even if it does not excuse it. But nobody else will ever learn just how bad he had it.

        One thing that led young girls astray in those days–& still does: the charismatic (usually) older guy who seduces them & leads them to bad habits–or serious crime. I don’t think Sally will be fooled by a charismatic charmer. Although, in a world of home-made harpoons & runaway lawn mowers, nobody is safe…..

        • CommentsByKatie

          From the perspective of the central storyline, we can guess at what might happen to her because she is tied to Don. She might not run away and turn full hippie, but we can be certain that something dramatic will happen with her, because Don will (rightly) blame himself, and his downward spiral is what this whole show is about. I don’t think the writers would pass up that sort of opportunity; Sally won’t escape this without some damage.

        • 3hares

          Not to apply this to Sally, but I thought Trudy was very much shocked that her father was at a bordello. She was shaking after Pete said it and even said “You’ll say anything to hurt me.” I don’t think Pete being there was the problem. Pete had been kicked out of the house for months at that point and the idea of him having anonymous sex in the city was already talked about. Him being in a brothel was practically following the rules in that context, but her father being there was completely out of left field.

          • Chris

            Well Trudy has always kind of sided with her Dad and parents over Pete. It seemed to be a real bone of contention in their marriage. When Pete was cheating with the au pair Trudy was with her parents and Pete tells her not to leave him alone again (not that that is an excuse!) and during the Cuban Missile Crisis Trudy leaves Pete alone in the city and goes off with her parents. I can see Trudy being more upset about her father because he was always her hero, not Pete. Once Trudy got the child and house she wanted she was happy to let Pete go. Her relationship with her parents was always closer than her relationship with her husband.

          • 3hares

            I agree. Pete’s crimes in the marriage are more obvious, but I can understand how he started feeling as well. He’d kind of recreated his situation with his family where instead of being a husband he was the unwanted Vogel child, always living in Tom’s homes. The Vogels are a unit while Pete lifts right out. In the beginning allegedly it didn’t matter where the money came from, but by this season Pete was seen as owing everyone for their indulgence.

  • HairyBearyGuy

    Thank you for the Bob Benson analysis! Now please, go to every board out there, repost it and put an end to the Bob Benson Truthers once and for all. I hear them saying Bob is pretending to be gay to get ahead, to get Pete’s job, for whatever reason and my head explodes. We don’t pretend to be gay in 2013 let alone in 1968. Saying someone is pretending to be gay is just as silly and insulting as saying someone chooses to be gay.

    • OrigamiRose

      Somewhere right now, the Alex Jones of the Bob Benson Truther Movement is fanatically penning a 50,000 word rebuttal to this, and preparing to point out the “False Flag” moment in each of Bob’s scenes.

      (I know there’s an easy play-on-word, but as a straight woman, I don’t feel comfortable going there.)

      • HairyBearyGuy

        No doubt. LOL

  • jackiecoh

    Wow, I really learned something here about gay life in the 1960′s. Thank you. Outstanding post.

  • Mike

    The analysis of the best little Bob in the world is awfully persuasive, but I still think he reads more as a hustler
    than as a nice gay guy looking for love. And even in the 70s and 80s
    when gay people were well on their way to the mainstream, footsie with
    the someone at the office would have come only after a long prelude of
    cruising and flirting and absolute certainty that the contact was
    welcome. The idea that gay men come on to straight men without restraint
    is a straight man’s idea of what gay men do.

    • wayout46

      “The idea that gay men come on to straight men without restraint
      is a straight man’s idea of what gay men do.”

      Bob’s “come on ” was more of a declaration than a pass and it had all kinds of restraints (he didn’t come out and say “hey let’s fuck”) and outs (“I was talking about Manolo the whole time”), so that at any given time, he could pull on the emergency cord and save face – which he did. He is no dummy.

      Moreover, as someone who did exactly the same thing in high school at age 15 (in 1975) to a straight guy with whom I had the fortune to later discuss the issue as grown up adults, I can assure you…this shit happened, and it was not a straight man’s idea. The gay/straight worlds and boundaries were not mutually exclusive and compartmentalized, even by the “gay ghetto” seventies, especially when life happened out of The Castro and The Village (perhaps the only communities where it could be said gay went exclusively for gay).

      Finally, as pointed out before, the heart wants…

      • formerlyAnon

        Thank-you for posting. As a straight woman I can’t trust that my take on the Bob/Pete scene was accurate (though you might not think that for all the opinions I post), but you validate it completely.

  • Adrianna Grężak

    I squealed when I saw Peggy’s cat.

  • Greg B.

    Incredible. I want to encourage everyone I know to read the Bob Benson segment as a primer on what it was to be a gay man in the mid-to-late 20th Century. Living in present day New York, far too many people don’t understand the history. Even the gay men take for granted the struggles and the pain that went on right here, and not that long ago at all. People forget. And it’s so important to remember. Thank you for putting this all out there, for setting the record straight (so to speak) about how countless men like Sal and Bob lived.

  • OrigamiRose

    I wish there was a bot that would automatically redirect any commenter on any board who starts a sentence with, “I’m still not convinced Bob Benson is really gay” (or the like) to this page. Boom!, just cut it off at the pass and not let them leave this page until they scrolled through, like a TOS Agreement.

    • Shug

      No other mad men critics go into this depth this accurately…TLo rules. Whenever I read the other recaps I’m all, *eyeroll* “amateur hour…”

    • CommentsByKatie

      I have resisted the urge to reply to their comments with, ‘Of course,’ ala Lea Michele.

  • Onirica

    *slow clap*
    This was an amazing post, guys. Thank you.

    Also, I thought everybody was watching the same thing on tv when they changed the scenes. Though probably not.

  • samwise

    I was hoping you guys would have a screen grab of Stan’s Moshe Dayan poster, which as resident Jew expert to my Mad Men loving friends and resident Mad Men expert to my Jew friends, I was expected to comment on, but didn’t even notice. My current theory is that Stan was high and thought it was the Man in the Hathaway Shirt.

    Also, LOVE you guys, you’ve changed the way I watch this show forever, thanks!

    • decormaven

      I’m also looking for this screen grab. Is this the Salvador Dali illustration of Dayan? It looked more graphic than Dali’s work. It’s interesting – June 5 was the 46th anniversary of the Six-Day War.

      • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo
        • decormaven

          Hi! Thanks so much for this- I couldn’t make out the image clearly watching the episode on my laptop. This is a photograph. I think it’s by Paul Schutzer, the photojournalist who was killed on the first day of the Six-Day War.

        • decormaven

          Hi! Thanks so much for this- I couldn’t make out the image clearly watching the episode on my laptop. This is a photograph. I think it’s by Paul Schutzer, the photojournalist who was killed on the first day of the Six-Day War. Discus is having agita- this got posted way down the line. I’ll try to find it again and prune the reverb.

        • decormaven

          Discus is really having agita. This is probably the work of Paul Schutzer, a photojournalist who was killed during the Six-Day War.

        • decormaven

          Discus is eating my posts on this. This is a photograph that I think was taken by Paul Schutzer, a photojournalist who was killed in the Six-Day War.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QFW22QV426LUOEPGASPZJWJMDE MishaFoomin

    That knitted blanket behind Ralph the cat: my grandmothers and aunts made SO MANY of those zig zag blankets in the ’70s!

    And yes, I am still scarred by orange/mustard/dingy avocado. When my parents redecorated the kitchen in the mid-’80s to update… they picked mustard and orange AGAIN, just in more contemporary designs and threw in brown fake wood paneling. Ugh! That’s not an update.

    • Heidi/FranticButFab

      Same here! I think my mom still has one of those blankets my grandma kit.

      • housefulofboys

        They were crocheted out of polyester yarn so they never wore out, landfills will probably be filled with them in a thousand years.

    • Elizabetta1022

      It cracks me up that your parents updated with what they always had…and I have to say, I have a soft spot in my heart for those colors to this day. Growing up, our living room was decked out in avocado (walls), orange carpeting, and orange/brown/cream sofa with a wagon train/farm motif. Later we shifted to plaid sofas, in the same color family. Ugh.

      • Alice Teeple

        Was it one of those weird shiny sofas in a wooden frame, that almost felt furry? And if you rubbed the cushion the wrong way it felt weird and snaggy? My aunt had that sofa. Also of note, we are entering the era of shag carpeting. We had avocado green, wall to wall, in our living room. Ew ew ewww.

        • MartyBellerMask

          My grandparents had that sofa!!

        • Elizabetta1022

          Yes, that’s exactly what it was! Great description…I can feel it now.

      • http://frankbettecenter.org/ sleah_in_norcal

        my mom redecorated in the early sixties and hired a decorator after she had come into some money. the livingroom was “seafoam” green and apricot. a paler, sort of snooty upscale version of avocado and orange.

        • Qitkat

          This made me laugh, because I had never thought of it in those terms before. I hated the avocado green and oranges, but in my second house (mid 70s) of my own, a rental, the landlord agreed to pay for the paint if we painted the boring white walls. And I picked, a lovely soft apricot, and a mellow blue-green for the two main rooms. And the third house (1980), a purchase, was a regression, as it came with icky avocado vinyl floor and fridge. And I added the apricot again for the living room. Ahh, nostalgia.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QFW22QV426LUOEPGASPZJWJMDE MishaFoomin

        They probably bought whatever was cheapest at the time, thus getting the “old fashioned” color scheme items, I am guess at a discount because they were not selling. Really, buying a new fridge, but a mustard colored one? Sure it was not a smooth sheet of metal, but whatever you call that fridge texture, but still old fashioned mustard. Yuck. And those ugly stick down floor tiles in yellow, orange and brown… there is no way they cost much.

    • Alice Teeple

      Our house was full of those scallopy afghans, too! We had a handful in our living room and my grandparents had a brown one on their sofa. My mom still knits them for presents. I asked her to make me a black and white chevron one for Christmas so I can pretend my living room is the Black Lodge of Twin Peaks.

    • http://frankbettecenter.org/ sleah_in_norcal

      we still have a bunch of them that my mother in law made. she died at age 57, suddenly (caused by medical malpractice, but that’s another story). so when i see those afghans, it makes me nostalgic. she was a great and comforting mom.

  • SFree

    The best post ever. And I can say it was educational, which excuses the time I took away from what I “should” be doing to read every word.

  • Joy

    This doesn’t have anything to do with the style, but your post reminded me how much I love the scene with Peggy, Pete & Ted. Not for the romantic stuff, but for the casualness of it all. The post work drinks and dinner with co-workers. I love the comfort level that Peggy has doing just that. We didn’t have a scene with Joan this week, but I was thinking that we haven’t seen a scene like that with Joan just out with the guys shootin the shit laughing about work. Peggy can do that, I can relate to that. As much as I love Joan, I don’t think she has the same ease and true self-confidence in the workplace that Peggy has. She ruined it with Jaguar, but hopefully that will all change with Avon.

    • Angela_the_Librarian

      Some of my favorite scenes from the show are like this one. Last season Joan had that great conversation with Don at the bar (where he admitted that he was a bit afraid of her and she went on about how handsome he is). It’s just nice to see the characters actually enjoying each others company.

  • filmcricket

    Thank you for this post, TLo. Illuminating, educational, and a hell of a lot of work on your parts.

  • ErmengardeGreen

    “In 1968, homosexuality was a recognized mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. A gay man in 1968 could not only be fired, he could be jailed, institutionalized, subjected to electro-shock therapy and even chemically castrated.” It’s startling to note how much the perception of gayness has changed. So much so that viewers reared on Niles Crane and Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes and Max Greenfield and whoever played Stanford Blatch (as an incomplete spectrum of gay and metrosexual straight dudes challenging dude-norms from the ’90s to today) would see Bob Benson and be disappointed or perplexed: “He’s gay; that’s IT?” Mad Men has taken us back to the kind of breakout point for a lot of present-day mass culture’s touchstones and signifiers for gayness, and they’re so familiar that we have a hard time seeing them as revelatory.

    Interesting, in this context, to think about the Bob Benson / Don Draper name mirror. A lot of what’s possible for great-at-surface, shitty-at-intimacy Don Draper isn’t possible for Bob Benson, in part because it’s a lot easier to reinvent yourself and shag your way around New York when you have the option of flirting openly.

    I’m not sure that Peggy’s friend Joyce was inherently a more limited character, though. I think she could have been given dimension and interest; the writers just didn’t choose to go that way.

    The observations about Pete’s mother being dressed up like a doll and Sally’s likely upcoming wardrobe transformation hit me really poignantly; I’ll be sad to see Pete’s ice-queen mother returned to drab basics, and even sadder to see Sally’s disillusionment show up in her wardrobe (though, like everyone, I’ll be cheering her on). I would have missed these points without this recap. Thanks for giving such rich dimension in this series.

  • Qitkat

    Superb, guys. A valuable lesson from the best possible perspective. I’ll be recommending this post to others who follow Mad Men. Your insight enriches my understanding of gay history, while poignantly presenting the deep challenges experienced by the closeted individuals and the painful approach to everyday living which that entailed.

  • Angela_the_Librarian

    Thank you for this great post. Once again I think we should be able to apply for college credit or CEUs! I had noticed the parallels between the scenes of Don with Sylvia and Don’s uncle(?) with his step-mom, but I didn’t notice the parallels between Don and Sally looking so defeated..nice catch!
    Edited to add: I have also added Best Little Boy in the World to my to-read list on Goodreads!

  • SylviaFowler

    Re: Stonewall being practically in Joan’s backyard… Don’s address for the year+ that he was divorced was on Waverly, literally two blocks down the street from Stonewall. It was the main reason why I wanted Weiner to keep him there or at least in the Village because that would be a really interesting story to see unfold.

    • decormaven

      The way things are going, Don may be back in his bachelor pad real soon.

  • Chillmer

    I have Clara’s striped jacket. I screamed so loud when I saw it on screen!

  • smh4748

    Nan’s also got the housewife/house matching going on pretty heavily. She matches the walls of the bedroom in the first scene and the bedspread in the second. Makes a lot of sense, since her whole point in the story right now is to represent Ted’s home and how he is never there and she always is.

    Ugh, those bedroom colors are putrid! The 1970s truly were hideous.

  • Elizabetta1022

    In the 1970s, I was Sally Draper. My dad was an advertising executive in Chicago with a drinking problem and an abusive, narcissistic nature. Sadly, he was far more violent than Don. My father was also a Korean War vet with a secret past. (A family and child I never knew about until I was in my teens. His first wife left him with a note that simply said “Never contact me again.”) I suspect he had affairs, but if he did, my mom would have been relieved. She left my dad when I was 14, and has been on her own ever since. My father eventually stopped drinking, but was a narcissist to the end. Mad Men has been something of a catharsis for me, and Tom & Lorenzo, your posts have made it an even more meaningful, thoughtful experience — I want to thank you for everything you’ve written and illuminated for us over the years. Truly enlightening. PS This Sally still goes to therapy and has turned out okay–good man, great kid, and a pretty happy life, in spite of it all. There is always hope.

    • decormaven

      Thank goodness you have survived in relatively good shape.

      • Elizabetta1022

        It’s been a long journey. I have some wonderful friends, and I always loved to read. I think those two things saved me. I am very grateful to all the people who helped (in big and small ways) through the years. Every kindness matters.

    • formerlyAnon

      Bless you (in an entirely agnostically ecumenical way) and congratulations to you (and your mom.)

      • Elizabetta1022

        Thank you. I am thankful that she had the courage to leave, and that we are more or less sound in body and mind. (My older brother is doing fine, as well.) My mom is a tough lady. She was as beautiful and glamorous as Betty Draper back in the day (though she looked more like Claudette Colbert). Now she wears no make-up and spends most of her time with her dogs and horses — and is a much happier woman for it.

    • Glammie

      Yeah, my dad was also an alcoholic ad exec with serious issues. Only other ad exec’s daughter with whom I’ve been friends had two parents with drinking problems. I remember her saying everyone in the ad biz were all functional alcoholics.

      Glad you’re okay.

      • formerlyAnon

        I think the attitudes to alcohol have changed dramatically. My parents lived the life of a successful middle-to-upper-middle class professional family, but both came from immigrant, working class backgrounds. At least 20% of my relatives (probably 35% of the men) would today be considered high-functioning alcoholics and nobody thought there was anything wrong with it. If you met your work and family obligations (as they were defined) the fact that your leisure time was spent drunk was considered entirely acceptable. Couples discussed arguments over getting the car keys away from drunk macho husbands after parties the way who-controls-the-remote is discussed today.

        • Glammie

          Yeah, being a heavy drinker was a perfectly acceptable category. That said, there was certainly a line some people crossed over–where the booze did get in the way of meeting family obligations.

          The whole MADD movement changed a lot of the attitude, I think. Betty Ford also, I think, did a lot to bring out addiction issues among “successful” people.

          Don’s a problem drinker, though he does seem to be able to not drink. His heaviest drinking seemed to be post-divorce and then, with Faye around, he cut back and could cut back. This season, though, he’s supposed to be always kind of under the influence when he’s with his kids.

      • mhleta

        I was born in 1960 and grew up in Princeton, NJ, which is a commuter town to NYC. Almost all of my friends’ parents were alcoholics, some not so high functioning, but all wealthy. There were bankers, doctors, professors, all sorts of execs, teachers (my sister’s principal kept a bottle in her desk and was often publicly drunk, but the kids never told and she was never fired.) They were gorgeous in public, but behind closed doors, the stories played out pretty tragically. The book (and film) “The Ice Storm” by Rick Moody covers the ground really well. I did have one close friend whose mother didn’t drink. She was black and worked for a publishing company. So basically, she was Dawn. That’s another post.

      • Elizabetta1022

        So very true about the ad biz. Hope you’re okay too, Glammie. It’s a tough and surreal childhood to live through, isn’t it? One of the early lessons my dad taught me: “Sex is the only primal human urge that we can survive without fulfilling–which is why it is such a powerful tool in advertising.” Once you realize that, you see everywhere how advertising tries and succeeds to manipulate us. One of the things I have long thought about America is that advertising works too well here–we have been duped and manipulated expertly by advertising (which is often a form of corporate propaganda, when you think about it) since post WWII.

  • http://40schmorty.com/ Jaye Brown

    Fantastic post, and you guys do such a great job at really breaking this down. The insight into the culture at the time is so great.

    The big question I have though, is that Weiner specifically said on the iTunes bonus video that Bob is not gay. Reading your commentary above though, I don’t see how he’s not. What do you say to Weiner’s assertion?

    • not_Bridget

      Meditate on all those “next week” previews. Weiner likes to play with us….

    • wayout46

      Weiner likes to act coy about characterizations and at times throw us for a loop. I felt disappointed about his commentary until I remembered his history with them.

    • quitasarah

      I believe he said “not necessarily” gay. I think he’s just trying to string out the mystery.

  • mommyca

    Wonderful post… this (and the whole Mad Style series) should be included as a workshop of some sort or in the curricula of any fashion school :-) (or at least I really hope you compile all of them in a book! which I would buy in a heart beat!)
    And I had no idea about the history related to gay issues in that era, so thank you for that.

  • RedRaven617

    I have never watched a single episode of Mad Men, but I still love reading your analysis every week. Maybe one day I will get over my inertia enough to watch the series. I will be looking at it with a different eye.

    • charlotte

      You should watch it, and don’t wait until “one day”. It is that good.

  • AnnPopovic

    Well. I am now enlightened! I agreed with you that Bob was gay, because I know someone who reminds me of him. And now? I know why.

  • Zaftiguana

    I think this a lot, but I don’t think I say it enough; you guys are fabulous, and it’s thoughtful, intelligent, informed criticism like yours that’s a huge part of what makes this show so much more than just another hour-long American TV drama. And no one else writing at this level abut the show could do what you two just did, and the whole dialogue around not only the show but also the nature of art and design and increasingly forgotten LGBT history is so much better for your participation.

  • chylde

    Peggy has no life.

    • formerlyAnon

      ??
      She’s got a successful and demanding career, just went through a wrenching and life-changing break up with a long-term live-in partner and owns [admittedly sketchy] property in Manhattan.

      She has “no life” just because she doesn’t have a boyfriend?

      Would you say that about a man in her position (say, Abe?)

    • http://piblet.tumblr.com/ Anastasia

      No love for a cat lady if your icon is a dog, huh?

      • chylde

        I have two lovely cats, my third just died. Looking for a wee kitten now!

        • Denise Plank

          I could hook you up!

          • chylde

            Are you in the northeast? :-)

          • Denise Plank

            Sadly, not anymore.

    • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

      Peggy has a better, richer, more satisfying life than pretty much every other character on the show.

      • chylde

        I mean that she lives in NYC, but never goes out to parties, dates, or to theatre or shows — with other people — she goes to movies alone. She has very few (if any) girlfriends, and quite frankly, she seems a bit lonely. I do agree that nobody else on the show has much of a life (in those terms) either, considering they all live in NYC. . .

        • formerlyAnon

          O.k., I understand this clarification. I’ve always thought that the characters must go out, see friends and family and do things that simply aren’t shown on the show (for instance that Peggy is unlikely to have made a complete break with her family even if she’s not bringing Abe to her mom’s for dinner every Sunday – or going herself) – but that work IS primary in the main characters’ lives.

          • chylde

            They show other characters going out, socializing (not for work), but they rarely show Peggy doing that anymore. Remember her mother said, “If you’re lonely, get a cat. After 12 years get another one and another after that. Then you’re done.”

          • formerlyAnon

            I’ve put it down to screen time – the Peggy arc has been advanced with more emphasis on her one-to-one relationships. But that doesn’t mean I’m right.

            (Peggy’s mom viewpoint – IMO – is that in order to not be lonely Peggy needs a man who fairly quickly becomes a husband and at least a couple of kids. That’s just her world view.)

        • 3hares

          I think the biggest reason for that is that friends cost money–meaning you have to hire more actors to play them.

          • chylde

            May all be valid reasons why we see her as such a loner, and lonely. It would be great if she and Joan and Bob Benson all hung out together after work…

          • John Smithson

            Those are not signs that she is lonely. Quite to the contrary, one of the hallmarks of a content, happy person it to be able to sit alone in a quiet room and just be. No thoughts of I should be doing this or someone else is doing that and I am missing out. Many people use the diversion of going to bars or being constantly on the go as a distraction from the fact they are actually quite lonely.

          • chylde

            Good point. But Peggy is quite young. Only 30. Maybe it’s the Catholic thing.

          • John Smithson

            IDK, but you seem laser fixated on Peggy for some reason. Are you lonely? Does she trigger something in you?

          • Qitkat

            I don’t think so, mostly all they have in common is working for the same firm.

          • chylde

            Sometimes that’s all you need. They need to all get together and dish about office politics. That happens all the time in the real world, and never portrayed much in MM.

          • Qitkat

            I’ve worked in offices where we never socialized, and others in which we did. I guess it varies.

            It made sense to show Peggy, Ted and Pete together, as they have worked as a team in the office also, and Peggy is *fond* of both men, and they of her. I’m not sure Joan and Peggy have ever done anything social together that we have seen, I may have forgotten. I guess Joan+Peggy or Joan+Bob makes more sense, but not as a threesome to me. I don’t think it would have the easy casualness that P, T, & P had in the bar together. There’s much more personal history there too, as well as office stuff. I think most likely all of these folks have a social life outside of the office, it’s not just written into the show. Don, Pete and Ginsberg may be the most limited that way.

            My husband used to get together with others and dish office politics. It didn’t take me long to be bored stiff, and I wondered if they actually enjoyed it either. It always seemed to be going over the same issues, that never got resolved.

        • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

          We’ve seen her go out to parties and on dates. She just spent the last several years in a serious long-term relationship, just bought a house in NYC, and is one of the highest-positioned women in the advertising industry – all before the age of 30.

          And as you said, you’ve described most of the characters, because the show doesn’t take the time to depict those parts of their lives.

          • John Smithson

            Peggy is also one of the only ones living her own life for herself. She may have made a crappy real estate decision, but that’s fixable. Just because we see her sitting on the couch with her cat watching TV doesn’t mean she’s not happy or unfulfilled.

          • chylde

            she doesn’t look happy in that shot!

          • John Smithson

            Maybe to you! Are you transferring your own issues or idea of happiness and contentment to Peggy? Everyone is going to view this differently. But saying she has no life is baseless.

          • chylde

            Yeah, she’s a fictional character. I sit around w/ my partner watching Mad Men on Sunday nights quite happily. But I also live and work in New York City and I’m just being realistic. NYC is not the burbs. There are a gazillion things to do here. We rarely see Peggy particularly engaged in anything, and besides the fact that she doesn’t have a circle of girlfriends, she doesn’t seem to have interests or hobbies outside work. These are indeed my observations, and I love Peggy so much I’d hate to see her ending up alone and lonely.

          • AELM

            Well, her social life doesn’t seem to be that important to the show so we just don’t see it that much. But she met Abe because she was socializing with a new group of friends — she went to the beach with them. We have seen her and Abe come back into their apartment after having gone out (presumably somewhere). She had that other boyfriend in Season 4, and they went on dates. No, she is not a party girl, but I think she is having a decently good time. Lots of people live in NY and have relatively low key existences, particularly if they have a demanding job.

          • chylde

            True. But when you’re young…ah, when you’re young in New York…you don’t like to see it wasted on work! ;-)

          • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

            Who sits around watching a TV drama with a grin on their face?

          • chylde

            I sit around watching Mad Men w/ a massive grin! And Hawaii Five O was pretty cool!

          • chylde

            Well, yes. But as you mentioned in your last post, she got over Abe pretty quickly. I don’t think she’s mooning the end of that relationship so she should be getting back in the saddle soon. Hope not w/ Pete or Duck!

            She works a lot, that’s true, but she rarely travels for work. Except for that Virginia Slims campaign — whatever happened to that, anyway? Did they bring that account over to SC&P? Hmmm.

            No, I think Peggy’s a homebody workaholic, and always has been, while Megan is a gal about town, and always has been… I don’t consider working 60 hours a week having much of a life. I have too many female colleagues that do (or have done that). One is married to an ex-boss now…who happened to have been married with a son at the time — bit like the Ted/Peggy attraction thing. Very realistic.

          • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

            We literally see less than 5% of Peggy’s life. You’re making a lot of suppositions that contradict what we know about her; that she dates, that she travels for work, is sexually active, has gone to parties, and has a circle of friends.

            Megan is an actress, leading an entirely different kind of life from Peggy’s, with different goals.

        • CommentsByKatie

          Right, that may be your definition of a good life, but it’s not hers. She likes work and views everything in her life through the lens of work and advertising. That’s how she (and we) grade her happiness and success.

        • Angela_the_Librarian

          Also, I think Peggy is a bit of an introvert outside of the office. Going to lots of parties, etc. wouldn’t be an introvert’s idea of a relaxing, fun time (though we have seen Peggy at parties, at the beach, etc.). Not doing overtly social things does not mean that one does not have a life.

        • EricaVee

          Maybe in this past season, but remember that it wasn’t so long ago that she was at fabulous basement art parties and going on beach trips with the trendy set (where she met Abe).

          • chylde

            I know! And hanging around w/ Zosia Mamet. If she were a real person, I’d be worried about her now!

  • Just Me

    Thank you so much for the deeply insightful and interesting post. I learned something about a so-called sub-culture that will inform not only my viewing of Mad Men, but RuPaul’s Drag Race as well. And on a completely superficial note, I wanted to stop the show last Sunday so I could snap a picture of Megan’s beige work outfit, run to a dressmaker for my own version and then to a vintage jewelry store to find that necklace. That outfit was right up my alley, (unlike the vast majority of what the women on the show wear) and completely wearable today. I want it. I need it…and the Universe will provide it.

  • Josefina Madariaga Suárez

    Just two things I would like to say:

    1. Thank God you mentioned it in the chapter review, because every time there was a scene with Sylvia, all I could think is “GOSH she’s annoying”. Maybe it’s because I’ve had my dose of Catholic hypocrisy during my teens, but she always rubbed me the wrong way as soon as the affair was revealed.

    2. Pete’s mother’s pink suit brought me back to the season 5 finale and Beth Dawes’ pink looks in last season’s finale, before and after the shock therapy, and considering that both women had their share of psichological issues, maybe it was intentional. But maybe that’s just me.

    As always, an amazing post that will keep me coming back to check in all the things you said about the costuming. I just love you and I like to pretend that I’m your sharp and bitchy niece who looks up to you.

  • Candigirl1968

    So amazing you guys.

    If I could go to other Mad Men recap sites and tell everyone to just come here instead, I would.

  • http://piblet.tumblr.com/ Anastasia

    The scene with Cutler and Ted, who’s lying on the couch, is totally a la Don and Roger from S1-5. This season, Roger has a couch of his own and Don sits confused at his desk, if he comes into the office at all. Cutler Chaough & Partners seems to be on the horizon…

    • Chris

      Someone at uproxx or some site discovered Ted’s pose on the couch is identical (it doesn’t seem like it could be coincidental) to a shot of Lane on his couch right after his big fistfight with Pete. I don’t think it’s supposed to symbolize that Ted is Lane in anyway but I do think its to say Ted just engaged in his version of a fistfight with his nemesis Don and he is feeling as bruised and alienated as Lane did after the dust up.

      • PrunellaV

        Oh, gosh, and now I’m thinking of where they laid Lane when they cut him down.

  • anitapado

    Great Mad Style, guys!
    Yes, Ralph is perfect.

    Love the clothes Peggy is wearing this season.

    • formerlyAnon

      I would LOVE to own that green suit with the navy(?) trim.

  • ladycat777

    THANK YOU for leaving a very thoughtful, *incredibly* well written analysis of Bob Benson. You know, along with the rest of your amazing Mad Men posts. So many of the comments and articles I’ve read about Sunday’s episode are missing all the details of what it was like to be gay in the 60′s, in particular ignoring how dangerous it was and how damaging that could be to gay individuals.

    So yeah. Thank you.

    And I really hope that Pete spirals down into actually looking to Benson for affection, maybe even physical. Then again, I just want to see Kartheiser kiss a man on my tv screen.

    • Eric Stott

      I think there is something in Pete that wants a romantic relationship, but he wants to control it. Bob might be looking for that. He does have something of a puppy about him. I think he’d literally lick Pete’s boots.

      • ladycat777

        … and I would read the *hell* out of that.

        Beyond my own voyeuristic appreciation, there is something deeply unhealthy about both of them. They’re still children: Pete being the worst sort of petulant brat who never had enough affection to understand how it works as an adult, and Bob as someone who has to disassociate with a part of himself so much that he has no idea how to react to it (T Lo put this much more eloquently). It makes them infantile in their action and reaction.

        It means that Pete would have *way* too much control, which is what would appeal to him, and one of the reasons why I think Weiner and Co might go there. Pete is a control freak who’s life is utterly without it, at the moment. Bob could be used to reassure himself in the same way the hooker was. Bob would get much of the same out of Pete, too. A chance to be ‘himself’ with the object of his crush. It wouldn’t work long term for either of them.

        It’s a pretty thought, though…

        • formerlyAnon

          I pray they won’t go there. Even as simply an exploitative and unequal “friendship.” I don’t want to watch Bob made that unhappy. Heartbreak and unrequited feelings beats the hell out of the realization that you’re being used and that it feels empty and that you initially happily cooperated in being used.

          • ladycat777

            Uhm, may I ask why not? I mean, I have my doubts that the story will go that direction. It’s a little outside of the story that Weiner seems to be telling. It isn’t totally implausible, though, at least in my opinion, and it would be a good way to highlight how Pete is changing.

          • formerlyAnon

            I prefer my entertainment less heartbreaking. (Which might be me reading my own emotional freight into the situation, admittedly.) I know it’s somewhat shallow, but for me real life has enough sadness and hurt which cannot be cured – I’m in what can veeeery loosely be classed as a ‘helping profession’ and if I had a thicker skin I’d be in a much grittier place on that spectrum. [my expanded edit on my original comment may have made this response unnecessary]

          • ladycat777

            Ah, okay. I seem to have missed the bulk of your first comment, which now makes much more sense! *g*

            Yeah, in the sense of heartbreak, this actually might be worse than anything Pete has gone through previously, and pretty devastating to Bob as well.

            I honestly find most of Mad Men to be too depressing and too depressingly close to reality. This could be… a lot worse, yeah. There’s been a lot of affairs that skirt around the idea of use but they’re usually established that way at the start- or both people are using it for the same reasons and pretty much everyone knows. The exception being, as T Lo describe, what seems like Don being emotionally invested for the first time in his current affair.

          • Frank_821

            I understand that reaction. I followed of Sela Ward’s that was excellent, got her an emmy but had low ratings. However the reasons were obvious. The show was too realistic and at times was very painful to watch

      • Bonjour

        The screencap had a porcelain doggie with a long limp bow, on the floor in Pete’s office between the two men

        • formerlyAnon

          Probably just me, but I read that as a visual reference to a Victorian vision of home as a haven in which the businessman could retreat and be refreshed for his battle with the cold, harsh outside world. All created and maintained by the nurturing (and more spiritual and moral), loving helpmeet (wife). What Bob was offering.

      • MartyBellerMask

        Pete wants to control it, but I think it would be good for him to be controlled. In that sense. Since we’re going there.

        Dammit, I just want Pete to be happy.

        • formerlyAnon

          Pete might find a certain comfort in it . . .

  • lubilu

    Here again with my colour theory. Works again this week.

    As a reminder Blue = in control, power, status quo, rule upholding, establishment. Green = independent, free-spirited, challenging the rules and the status quo. Yellow = essential self, not acting a role, innocent, naive.

    I think we can add to that pink for essential, positive womanliness and red for lust/danger. I’m still not sure about orange and purple.

    And although as TLo suggest the use of yellow, blue and green has become more prominent this season (in part because it’s all about the culture clash between the old establishment and the rule breakers) these colours seem to have worked at least since around the time of Anna Draper’s death.

    I also find it interesting that Matthew Weiner’s production company’s sign is a Tarot card (the Sun).Tarot decks often use colours to signal certain archetypes and character traits, so if Weiner has a knowledge of Tarot, it doesn’t surprise me that he and Janie Bryant are using colours this way.

    Anyway, from the top (not including the Bob Benson stuff).

    We don’t see enough of Dawn but she’s always dressed in yellow, green or occasionally pink, suggesting that she remains true to her essential self and is full of independent ideas amid the madness around her

    Peggy too is back to her old independent self, neither controlled nor controlling (since the merger she’s hardly ever worn blue), while Pete’s mom is full of a sense of essential womanliness.

    Since his pot smoking adventure, Pete has been wearing many more little touches of green. He too is looking to break free more. When his mother and Manolo visit his apartment, he is even signalling his independence by holding a green facecloth. But his mother is the one wearing the blue of control and after a while the green facecloth is abandoned. Pete does, however, go back to a blue tie in the knee-touching scene with Bob, where he’s the one controlling the outcome.

    Back at Betty’s, she’s been wearing a lot of light clear yellows in the last couple of episodes, signalling that, having got closure with Don and back to fighting weight, she is happier in her essential self than ever. However, she still has to don the blue apron of control when it comes to Sally, who is of course wearing the green of independence and breaking free (with a red hairband signalling possibly danger and/or burgeoning sexuality).

    TLo astutely point out that the Mitchell scenes are tied together by the black of mourning and the red of danger. I think there’s also an undercurrent of lust (Mitchell towards Megan? Mitchell as the teenage girls’ lustbunny. Don and Sylvia of course).

    In the drunken bar scene Peggy and Pete are both wearing green and signalling that they’re breaking away from control, literally by getting drunk, which bemuses Ted, who is just wearing yellow and being himself.

    Back home, Ted is wearing the power suit, but his wife is under the green coverlet of independence. She’s not going to accept the status quo much longer. But they both have touches of yellow suggesting that this marriage is still important to their essential selves.

    Back at the office both Don and Roger are studiedly in neutrals (I can’t remember the last time Roger wore blue to the office, suggesting he’s no longer really in control there) while Pete and of course Jim are the ones with the power. Ted is just being himself again.

    Sally’s friend is just being herself in yellow and then really stirs things up in green (her insistence on ‘Mrs Draper’ immediately signals that she doesn’t respond to authority) while Sally is in the red of danger and burgeoning sexuality with touches of establishment blue.

    In the Ted/Don scene, Ted impresses Don by being true to himself and his essential good nature. Don is always impressed by people in yellow (Ted now and Peggy before) who don’t play the bullshitty power games. It’s why he and Pete have never gotten along.

    In their tearful phonecall, Sylvia too is being herself in dirty yellow.This is Sylvia in the raw. I find it interesting that her kitchen is yellow – like a good Italian housewife it’s where she expresses her true nature, whereas Betty’s blue kitchens have always been a place of oppression. Nice lust red counters too.

    In the final scenes Sally is wearing lots red for sex and danger, but also covered with lots of blue. She has ALL the control in the situation and over her father’s destiny.

    And someone else is also in control. Peggy is not seen wearing blue at the office, but for the first time she is in control in her new home environment thanks to the cat. I think she’s going to keep that apartment now.

    Most excitingly, the previews show Don wearing lots of GREEN :) Which is HIGHLY unusual for him. (And Megan in yellow). Don is going to break free somehow next episode, while Megan is going to do what’s good for her essential self. Mark my words.

  • crash1212

    This post surpasses in excellence your usual level of excellence. I’m going to read it again because it’s too much to take in the first time around. Thank you SO much. I learn something with every Mad Style post. Also, I love the outfit Peggy is wearing in that last scene – actually that whole last bit with her and the cat was pretty funny. Also x2 – those mosaicy things on her walls are exactly the same ones my mom had when we were kids….it freaks me out.

  • John Smithson

    I’ve thought more about the 8 – 9 gay or (same sex behavior) characters we’ve seen thus far in the MadMen series and I wonder why Weiner portrayed most of them coming on to straight people?

    • formerlyAnon

      Because all of the central characters are straight (unless there are surprises yet to come) and the show is seen through their eyes – or at least revolves around their concerns?

      • John Smithson

        It’s an oddly inaccurate reference on a show that seems to strive for correctly portraying the culture of the times.

        • formerlyAnon

          Perhaps, but it’s also one of the few times that most of the straight characters would have to acknowledge a gay friend/coworker/acquaintance’s orientation.

  • sariebee

    Forget it. You’ve gone from Uncles TLo to Professors TLo. xo

  • mhleta

    I wish you’d let the gay dissertation stand on it’s own. It’s really a stellar piece. I lived in the West Village in the 80s and thought I had a fairly decent handle on gay culture, but this was incredibly illuminating.

  • andrea

    After reading this post and thinking on it a little, it makes perfect
    sense that Bob would be attracted to Pete: Pete will ALWAYS be an
    outsider. The big boys will never, EVER, let him play in their
    sandbox, and the underlings (creative, secretarial, etc) will have
    nothing to do with him as he is one of *them* (superiors/partner). So
    he is caught in the middle. The episode that ended with him taking a
    hit and watching the chick in the short yellow dress go by was
    poignant. Here he was, years later, still THERE, but more alone and
    out of the loop than ever (even JOAN threatens to usurp him). The
    bright minidress walking by highlighted the fact that time is marching
    on, and he really is no more respected than he ever was. Not only
    that, but we’ve seen him all but offer to lick Don’s boots to garner his
    friendship, approval, or just plain acknowledgement. Bob, ever the
    observer, has most likely picked up on that and can maybe relate to that
    feeling of never fitting in, and so it endears him to Pete.

  • OliviaCarmichael

    SO INCREDIBLY GOOD!! you two are so fantastic, and i learned so much about so many different things in this post! i’m so glad you both love that peggy became a cat lady too – which, i suppose, is proactive on her part. since there are no men in her life that will come kill a rat for her, why not get one who’s behaviorally inclined to do so? orange tabbies are also a) almost always male; and b) the best cat breed for mousing. maybe peggy didn’t invest that much thought into her cat purchase, but if anyone on this show WOULD do that kind of research, it would be her.

    • Truly S.

      Where did you get the information that orange tabbies are almost always male? I know a lot about cats and I never heard anything like that. It’s true that cats with the orange-and-black (tortoiseshell) and orange-black-and-white (calico) color patterns are almost always female (if male, they tend to be sterile), but there’s no link between the orange tabby (red tabby) pattern and sex. Nor have I ever heard anywhere that orange tabbies are “the best cat breed for mousing.” Orange tabby isn’t even a breed; it’s just a coat color and pattern that can be found in a number of breeds (shorthair, longhair, Persian, Rex, etc.). I also doubt it would have been necessary for Peggy to purchase a cat; there would surely have been plenty of shelter cats in New York needing rescue in 1968 as there are today. (Of course, in my joking speculation, Peggy’s cat turns out to be the inspiration for Morris the Cat in the long-running 9-Lives campaign!)

      • editrixie

        Orange tabby females are one in three births. If you go to the Monday post episode review, there are a number of comments, including one to me from someone who goes into detail about the chromosomal abnormalities.

      • OliviaCarmichael

        my aunt is a vet and behavioral specialist, and told me that the majority of orange tabbies are male. here’s one site that discusses the genetic reason behind it: http://www.catchannel.com/experts/arnold_plotnick/orange-tabby-male-cats-and-calico-female-cats.aspx

        also, i wasn’t clear – i wasn’t saying that orange tabbies in particular were the best mousers. american shorthairs, however, are considered some of the best mousers: http://www.thecatclan.com/americanshorthair.php

        and, while i am a strong supporter of adopting rescues (like my own kitty!), i really doubt that someone like peggy would comb through shelters to find a cat. she’s looking for one to use as a tool, not as a companion, so i doubt she’d ‘care’ all that much about rescuing a cat, as harsh as that sounds. she can also clearly afford it now.

  • housefulofboys

    Awesome and enlightening post. I can’t read through the comments until I get home tonight (but I did take time at work to read the post!) but I wanted to comment on how much this affected me. I am the same age as Sally, but grew up in a very religious family in a small town in the south, and frankly it wasn’t until I was an adult that I was even aware of homosexuality as a concept (embarrassed to say that, but it’s the truth). Even now, I am college-educated, well-traveled and quite worldly with a grown family of my own, but I have never read anything that picqued my interest in what was going on in the cultural gay community in the way that this post has. It made me feel like I have some small understanding of cultural gay issues that I didn’t have before, like I have been exposed to a parallel universe that was running alongside the timeline of my life. I fully intend to take on your reading list and learn a little more, and for that I thank you both. Can’t wait until tonight to immerse myself in the comments!

    • Qitkat

      I doubt if you’re alone in this. My upbringing was very similar, even though I’m a little older than you. Somehow I always knew I was more sheltered and naive than many of my peers. Thanks for putting it so well. I also plan to pursue their reading list.

  • filmcricket

    Any Canadians on this board? I was just thinking how 1968 was the year Canada decriminalized homosexuality, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” etc. Does anyone know if gay people joined draft dodgers in escaping up here after that?

  • Elyse KuFelts

    What about Peggy’s blue outfit against the yellow of her cat and couch? Reading too much? Or her disconnect from her home even while she tries to take control of her situation?

  • CrazyAuntie

    Great analysis guys – Bravo! The only thing I have to add is that Peggy was watching Hawaii Five O in black & white and the boys were watching it in color. As a 57 yr old, I can remember when color TV was a true luxury!

    • desertwind

      I only learned a few years ago that The Prisoner was in color. What a shock!

      Yeah. My folks were cheap.

      • formerlyAnon

        I never thought about it, but I bet there’re a whole bunch of shows I remember being in b&w that were actually broadcast in color . . .

  • nycfan

    1) Terrific lead-in/analysis of Bob Benson, International Man of Mystery. :) You might consider breaking this post into two parts, the Bob part and the usual style part, for furture citation and reference.

    2) Great job as always on the analysis — and I get to be happy b/c I caught the red/black motif AND saw that Ted and Don were coordinated in that last scene as I watched it and feel like the nerdy kid getting confirmation from her teacher that she caught that point. Yay.

  • Denise Plank

    I want Sally’s shoes. And Ralph. Ralph looks awesome.

  • ldancer

    Good god, you guys are amazing.

    People really need to keep being reminded of what the risks were for gay people not very long ago. And I say that as a straight woman born in the 70′s. We all need to know that our friends, siblings, colleagues that we love and accept and whose sexual orientation we don’t even give a second thought to, could easily have been tortured and ruined for what they are, just a few decades ago. And still can in much of the world.

    Okay, stepping off my soapbox now. Sorry. I’m just always shocked at how gay people were and are treated.

    One small nitpick: Did you guys mean to say “a Jew in Weimar Germany”? Because I think there were plenty of those. The climate was getting worse then, but it was Nazi Germany where you’d never have pretended to be a member of the tribe. Though I guess it depends on which part of the Weimar era.

    • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

      “You’d never have pretended to be a member of the tribe” was exactly the point they were making.

      • ldancer

        I keep trying to reply to this, but Disqus on the ipad freaks out a lot. My point was that that would have been Nazi Germany, not Weimar Germany, where it would have been perilous to pretend to be a Jew. I’m the granddaughter of Holocaust surivors. I know my history. I was just asking if that was a typo in the post.

        • http://stitchingincircles.etsy.com Tina

          True — Walter Benjamin and others were high profile Jews in Weimar Germany who did not need to disguise their ethnicities….

  • Eric Stott

    Peggy has been able to pull together crappy elements and get that apartment looking a bit stylish.

    • Qitkat

      And it does look better since Abe left :)

      • Eric Stott

        You know what they say – when you’re putting on jewelry look in the mirror and then remove one piece…and Abe was that piece. He’s not there to say “They’re fighting to exist out there and you want this place to look like something in the suburbs”

  • NMMagpie

    #fangirl: This Mad Style post is nothing short of a WOW. I am going to make sure my soon-to-be-a-writer daughter reads it, as it is a multi-layered meal. Bloody fantastic. :)

  • Paula Pertile

    You definitely went way over and above “Fabulous” with this one boys. Thank you!!

    I remember how back then anyone gay (was “gay” even used yet?) was referred to as being “that way”, with a hand held out and rocked back and forth, and usually punctuated with some disapproving facial expression. In short, “wrong and weird”. Period. (Along with a lot of other things. I would ask why?, and never got a satisfactory answer to any of it.

    Just noticed those glass grapes on the table in the last scene. !

  • Rose_H_Tyler

    Utter genius. Possibly the best Mad Style post ever!

  • Melanie

    Thank you for taking the time to go so in-depth on Bob Benson. He’s easily my favorite character this season.

  • Qdahling

    Blown away. Your Mad Style recaps have brought around a whole new respect for the Mad Men show and you two as bloggers. I don’t think I would feel the same way about the show if I didn’t have my favorite gays showing me all the intricacies along the way. I have even begun rewatching the beginning of the series when I have some time. (It’s crazy to see how young Pete, Joan and others look!) I admit, I thought Bob Benson was some creepy dude in the office, but now realize that the poor dear has just had to portray this facade to get ahead. Kudos for seeing that before so many people and giving an amazing explanation of the time period. I just love you guys and thank you for all the time you put into all your recaps.

  • Meg

    These posts always blow my mind. Some of the best television analysis around and certainly the best I’ve ever read.

  • EEKstl

    BRAVO, TLo. Bravo. Inspired.

  • nptexas

    As a newcomer to your blog, I can be only grateful! Thanks for all the Bob insight. I’m older than Sally and younger than her parents, so I do see this show through a lens of experience. Having worked during the mid-late 60s, I know your observations about Bob are spot-on. I did work in advertising and corporate retail where there gay people (men, mostly) and no one, but no one, ever discussed it openly. Understood but not discussed.

    I would disagree about hoop earrings and white women, however. I wore those from 1965 when I first got my ears pierced. Small, kind of preppy-looking ones at first, graduating to the bigger “hippie” type hoops in late 60s.

    I’m so happy to have found you both. You discuss so many details that I appreciate.

    • http://frankbettecenter.org/ sleah_in_norcal

      i wore them starting from the mid-sixties too. i think maybe styles differed on the west coast.

  • flightier

    I love how we see the juxtaposition between the older women (like Betty) who still wore serious foundation garments and the ones (like Megan) who’ve moved into the almost bra-less look of the not very supportive bras that came into fashion. I always want to hike up Megan’s boobs in these screencaps, to my eyes she’s way too big not to have more support, but I know it’s period-appropriate.

    • http://frankbettecenter.org/ sleah_in_norcal

      some of us are still living in the freedom of that era. but this is cali.

      • Qitkat

        Thank goodness, and it doesn’t have to be cali. If I had to wear shoes and bras all the time in my own house, I would be even more nuts. TMI?

  • Mod_girl

    Fabulous post!
    Just dropping by to point out the SAME EXACT artwork hanging in the Rosen’s maid’s room (the needlepoint pot of flowers as seen behind Don, right after he and Sylvia get caught by Sally) was in my parents’ house, well into the 1980′s, and I always thought it was ugly (primarily b/c of the gold/burnt orange/avocado color scheme).

  • Guest

    The cat has to be named Charles Manson, you guys.

    • Mike R

      You underestimate the extent to which this event terrorized people at the time. It would be broadly equivalent to naming your cat “Ariel Castro.” And you’re a year off. I know you were joking and I know Manson has in the intervening years metamorphosed from a cold-blooded murderer to a sick shell of an old man, but ick.

  • purpleprose78

    Dear TLo…..This is marvelous stuff and I love reading your intelligent analysis of not just the fashion, but the cultural context. Thank you!

  • Paigealicious

    No body shaming here, but are we really supposed to believe that Joan is 5’8″ and only weighs 140 pounds? She’s busty, curvy, and has a big butt too.

    • out for a walk

      I think we’re supposed to believe that she might put that on her driver’s license.

      • Paigealicious

        Touche! :)

    • MartyBellerMask

      That would have been her 1960 drivers license anyway, correct? I don’t have the same body as I did 8 years ago.

      • Paigealicious

        Well, I’m about 5’4″ and busty/curvy and when I weighed 140 pounds people thought I was anorexic. Add another 4 inches in height to that and I think she’d look a little different than what she looked like at the beginning of the series. I suppose you could always say that the camera makes Christina Hendricks look “bigger” anyway. I like the explanation that that’s what she WANTS you to think she weighs (that said, my DL doesn’t have my correct weight on it, either).

    • PastryGoddess

      You’d better believe it or you’ll be answering to HERSELF as to why not

    • http://frankbettecenter.org/ sleah_in_norcal

      does anyone tell the truth on their drivers license anyway? i always take a few pounds off optimistically.

  • RL McGruder

    Thank you SO much for this textured and nuanced (are those synonymous? They don’t feel so…) look at life for a gay man in late 60s New York City. Truly enlightening.

  • kowskey

    Thank you for your analysis of Bob B. I have been disturbed by the number of people who refuse to accept that he’s gay. It almost seems like subconscious homophobia to me.

    • EricaVee

      Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but it actually seems like the opposite—gay people are so much more accepted today that people see that moment presented as THE bombshell revelation and they’re underwhelmed.

  • shopgirl716

    What a thoughtful, insightful post. I remember watching Hawaii Five O in the 70′s. It was one of my dad’s favorite shows. I am so ready for Megan to get wise to Don and dump his ass. Take a boatload of $$$$, go to LA, and get even more famous and successful.

  • testingwithfire

    I am only partway through this post and I am absolutely blown away. T & L, this is some of the best cultural writing on the Web, not just about Mad Men. I’ve never seen “Boys in the Band” or read Edmund White – am putting those on my list now.

    We can’t really have enough good writing about HISTORY on the Web – I know I have to be reminded frequently that things weren’t always as they are now.

  • dickylarue

    This Mad Style post should be framed and put behind glass on display in the blogger hall of fame. There also should be a fantastic party to induct TLO and Chloe Sevigny must be the one who inducts them. That is all.

    • AutumnInNY

      Yes. What dickylarue said. Absolutely brilliant post TLo.

  • shannon

    This was an incredible read. I am consistently amazed at your wardrobe analysis and ability to make such astute observations, that I never realize until I read your post!

  • fnarf

    Your gay history lesson is not only the best thing I’ve ever read about a scene in Mad Men, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read on the internet. It’s better than the show you’re describing, to be honest.

    As someone who is not gay but has known quite a few gay men and women in my life, including my closest uncle, who was gay in New York during this exact time period and the decade or so before it, I find this all so resonant and true down to the bone. Gay history, if read correctly, tells us a lot about straight life too, and not just on the margins. Here in Seattle, the relevant work is “Gay Seattle”, by Gary Atkins, which includes a lot of pre-Stonewall history. What’s really interesting about the gay bar scene is that it both enabled by, and created the pressure that sustained, the police corruption that was so important to this city. Not that corruption is a good thing, but without those payoffs a lot more gay men would have been in prison. The protection racket was important in New York as well. That’s the system that started to crumble at Stonewall.

    Poor Bob’s got a wild couple of decades ahead of him. I wonder when the first out gay account executive was to be found in real life? I’m guessing we’re less than a decade away from the first out gay art director, and the first out gay creative exec might not be far behind, but accounts seems like a place where the closet is the rule for maybe as many as thirty more years.

    • wayout46

      My one-time boyfriend, now deceased for over 20 years, was an out ad art creative since 1963 (I was 2-3 years old then but he was straight out of college!), when he also dodged the draft by outing himself to the military – not an easy and as a matter of fact quite a humiliating experience back then. I assume that by 1968 he had made art director. And his were not small firms. Starting in 1968, he worked for J Walter Thompson for 20 years and later for DMB&B for about 5 more.
      Also, by the time I was in college (1978-82), out graduates were being recruited as AE’s by large ad agencies. Most were still closeted, but the out ones existed.

    • Glammie

      Depends where you were. My father’s agency partner came out in the early 70s. This was SF, but allowances were made in creative fields. The partner coming out was a big deal and the partnership didn’t last. However, less than ten years later, the agency had a gay art director and a gay production manager and it was a non-deal–as was the PM’s crush on my brother. *Huge* change in attitude when I think of it.

  • Lenora Dody

    Great analysis again, guys! And an interesting post about Bob. I especially liked (and felt sad about) the observation about his living on the surface to deflect the questions.
    My brother was in band in the seventies and the one abiding memory I have of that is the many times that we heard the Hawaii 5-0 theme at concerts.

  • NMMagpie

    And thanks for the shout out to Ted’s boots: my Dad wore those Captain Kirk boots all the time!

    • Alice Teeple

      Goodness gracious. I could write a sonnet about how awesome those boots are! Kevin Rahm rocks them so well. They would, however, look completely ridiculous on Jon Hamm.

  • Charlie Doobie

    I vote Morris for the cat, since he debuted in the 9-Lives commercials right around this time.

    • John Smithson

      Yep, and 9-lives was part of the Heinz family, Peggy has a Heinz account, so this very well could be the source of Morris.

      • FunButNutz

        Too Early for OJ the Cat. A decade too soon for Garfield the cat. I like the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s reference from above. Maybe he should be named Harry GoLightly?

        • John Smithson

          Too early for Morris? He came on scene 68 – 69? No?

  • formerlyAnon

    “And speaking of groovy . . . You’re soaking in it.”

    You guys don’t let the layers of references and minor grace notes go, even when delivering a well-crafted essay establishing the historical context in the same piece, do you?

    (Younglings, Google “Palmolive Madge “you’re soaking in it.”" Or just go straight to youtube.)

  • Sarah Thomas

    Will you two just write a textbook already?

  • ailujailuj

    As 426 others have said, what a wonderful post. I’ve been quite immersed in the urban gay culture by way of welcoming friends since living in NYC village for 10 yrs but learned quite a bit in your historical cultural references. And as others have mentioned, what a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the storyline, costuming, and that energy “thing” that the show itself has created out there in the universe. A heartfelt appreciation for making this season even more delectable and entertaining. This site and your posters are simply fabulous. (BTW, it would be equally as enjoyable to read your analysis on Downton Abbey series… another show with incredible cultural, historical, design and character depth).

    Thoughts on Petey – I don’t think he’s going to dabble in Bob’s ink… not literally. I have always viewed him as desperate for attention and approval, to be needed and wanted. And given his family and upbringing and eternal failure to be the man his father wanted him to be or be the preferred son of his mother, it’s understandable. I always saw his sexual conquests as Pete cleverly identifying a wounded lamb and swooping in for the kill. I don’t think it says as much about his desirability or heterosexuality as much as it does about his need to be needed and controlling. I’ve never been given the impression that he’s a sexual dynamo – quite the opposite when he was with Pegs. Rather, he does have magnetism and he knows exactly how to speak to child-like women to get them to do what he wants. Trudy played her part in the upper crust socialite couple quite well, and never seemed to really get the shallow depths of her husband until it was too late. I was never that impressed by her.

    …so along comes Bob, the helper, giving Pete attention and respect he’s not getting from others in the firm environment. I think the knee tap (oh MY the electricity that shot through Pete at that moment!) made him feel valuable and wanted. That’s all he cares about. The come-on was secondary. Had Pete been truly mortified he would have leapt across the room and thrown Bob out. No, Pete appreciated the gesture and was probably confused and disgusted at himself for it. Amazing acting and editing. An incredibly emotional scene… but I think it’s the beginning of their story. As others have posted I agree that Petey is in search for friendship, companionship… although his focus will always be about Pete.

    • testingwithfire

      The look on Pete’s face as Bob left the room… deep sadness on “having” to refuse an opportunity to be loved because it’s from the “wrong” place, combined with the revulsion he thinks he has to feel. Vincent K. is aces.

    • Cheryl

      Yes, they recap Downton Abbey in season. (I’ve also picked up the hobby of following TLo on Twitter during “Mad Men” and “Downton Abbey.” Their spur-of-the-moment insights are priceless.)

      • ailujailuj

        hey – look at that. I didn’t even bother to look at other shows. I’m in season 2, so I’ll go back and read.

    • Qitkat

      Well crafted thoughts, especially on Pete. What a terrible, terrible thing his mother said to him, in her dementia, with all her long pent-up feelings, she became totally honest, and in just a few short words, confirmed everything he had always suspected about her. Pete and Don both have been damaged since childhood, by the persons they ought to have been able to trust the most. I look forward to how the Pete/Bob dynamic will continue to play out as the series winds down.

  • AutumnInNY

    Awesome post guys. Excellent in all respects.

    I wonder from a directing stand point what background information actor James Wolk was given to work with. Fascinating recap and history TLo. I’m also with you on the Sal thing. I don’t think there is a need (much as I enjoyed his character) to come back. I think as you mentioned it was over. They went as far with Sal as possible. Anxious to see where how and where Bob’s story proceeds.

    Mitchell as others have mentioned resembles Glenn. I didn’t see the hotness there–or the resemblance to Mark Lindsey other than his hair color.

    Kiernan sure did knock it out of the park. She’s a stunning and talented young girl, casting her was the exact right call. She looks more and more like Betty/January all the time.

    • testingwithfire

      I think she looks tremendously like Jon Hamm – even some of the facial expressions are similar (the puzzled/annoyed scowl is at the top of the list). Thanks to T & L’s photos, I have reason to disbelieve that it’s all makeup, although I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s getting some pointers on thel expressions. She’s entirely believable as Don & Betty’s child and quite the actress to boot.

      • AutumnInNY

        I agree. She has characteristics from both Don/Betty. Again, great casting. Those last few shots of both Don and Sally were heartbreaking. Excellent performances from both actors.

    • OrigamiRose

      I was thinking Wolk may have been directed similarly to Stephen Boyd in Ben-Hur – who Gore Vidal famously claimed was secretly given a backstory of being in love with Ben-Hur, while Charlton Heston was kept in the dark about the whole thing.

    • http://frankbettecenter.org/ sleah_in_norcal

      what exactly happened with sal at the end of his employment? i wasn’t a mad men watcher then, but i’ve seen most of the epi’s in reruns, not necessarily in order. i saw the one where don saw him though the window with the bell boy going down on him, but i believe they never talked about it, in don’s usual style. it never happened. then i saw the one where a client, was it the lucky strike guy? i forget his name. anyway, the client hit on him and he turned him down, and then after that he was gone. did the client just out him to the firm and that was it? even though the client initiated the whole thing and nothing happened? someone fill me in on this important point in mad men history.

      • editrixie

        The Lucky Strike client guy got pissed off at being rebuffed by Sal, called SC, and demanded Sal be taken off the account. So Don fired him. It was horrible. And we’ve never seen Sal since.

  • Joan Blackheart

    Okay, the last time you just made up a random definition of what you consider bisexual (= “middle of the Kinsey scale”; a scale which doesn’t even operate with the term “bisexuality” btw) I let it slide, but now you are going on an erase bisexual people from the queer history? This. is. not. okay! Bisexual people DID in fact socialize with gay folks at that time. The most prominent “proof” is Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman and your fucking Mother Of Pride, who was highly involved with the Stonewall riots and the LGBT movement for decades.
    Sincerely,
    your proud owner of the *angry bisexual with a keyboard* card

    As for Bob Benson: I don’t think he is going to be a bisexual character. Simply for the fact that the popular media doesn’t do any representation of male bisexuality. Ever. And MW doesn’t seem like the revolutionary type.
    :-(

    • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

      You are COMPLETELY making shit up, putting it in our mouths and arguing against it.

      Bisexual men were not likely to socialize in the gay male community at the time is the only point we made here.

      • FunButNutz

        There’s always an angry bisexual lurking around the corner. Ask Dan Savage about that….

  • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

    Have I told you lately that I love you? I can’t wait for your book. Best. Post. Ever.

    • Alice Teeple

      I’m going to chime in on the TLo love, too. This was an exceptionally well-researched, well-analyzed post, guys. I relished reading it, and I learned so much about gay history today. Fascinating stuff, and beautifully woven into the story. xoxo

  • VioletFem

    You have outdone yourself. Half the fun of watching Mad Men is reading the Mad Style and MM review on this site.

  • something

    I’m new and not sure how to respond to a particular comment, but b. read said down thread that we knew “that matter” referred to Gleason’s death, but if that was the case, wouldn’t Moira just have announced it to the partners? After all, they all knew Gleason was dying and would have an interest in the news of a death of a partner, even if no one else was as close to Gleason as Ted was. I felt that Moira was resentful of Peggy’s forwardness with Ted because she knows what “that matter” is and is protective of Ted’s family because of it. It’s certainly possible that Nan could be ill, but I can say it’s very easy to drift off to sleep while reclining and watching TV even if you’re perfectly healthy, especially when taking care of two boys and all household responsibilities on your own. Nan probably gets up at 5 a.m., bathes, does her hair, puts on make up, and gets dressed before her husband and kids are even out of bed. And growing boys can easily eat a complete hot dinner and be hungry for cereal two hours later.

  • Lattis

    Damn you two T and Lo. I was going to send you a brief fan email last week saying how great your observations and writing were – I thought last week’s style post was tops. And now curse you to hell you’ve outdone yourselves. How I hate you. :)

  • Sorena

    Forget Don Draper. I’m ready for a Bob/Manolo focalized spinoff.

    • Mike R

      That really is a great idea. If you like that idea, start by watching “The Boys in the Band,” the movie, if you haven’t already done so.

      • Shawn EH

        It’s a pretty great movie, bitterness or no.

  • alex

    As others, I am blown away by your character analysis of Bob Benson, Pete, and Sal. Thank you for such educative posts which I can now not live without reading each Monday and Wednesday. So here’s a question. I recall that Kurt (way back) was quite open and almost nonchalant about sharing his sexual preferences with Peggy (when inviting her to the Dylan concert). No qualms there. Could this be that Kurt came from another country (can’t recall which country) that might be more accepting of gay culture?

    • Logo Girl

      He was German. From what I can find, German laws were pretty similar in Germany and the USA, with the softening of such laws in West Germany being around the same time as Stonewall, here. I think Kurt was supposed to be an art student type who didn’t care if he lost some corporate job, but his ease of making this statement always seemed weird and not quite plausible to me.

      • Mike R

        It was a low point in MM believability, that’s for sure.

      • alex

        Thank you for your helpful research! I guess I was not fazed by Kurt’s openness at the time—mainly because I wasn’t apprised of the history that Tom and Lorenzo have so skillfully offered here. I recall at the time thinking Kurt represented the next generation of creatives…much more open and free. Silly me.

  • Anna

    Sorry to be the swot of it all for one time, but you guys do know, that Weimar Germany is not NS Germany, right? Apart from that: Thank you so much for the hint about the hankey code. Have been wondering/guessing for years and years what it was about Zeferelli’s Mercutio/John McEnery and his white hankey. Now I know.

    • Mike R

      They address the Weimar thing below.

      • Anna

        Thanks. And sorry.

        • Mike R

          Nothing to be sorry about! It was an excellent point.

          • Anna

            At least a bit sorry for not reading before typing. But the comments section on these posts has gotten capital-H-uge…

    • Chris

      Well it was also a symbol of death in that movie as well along with Juliet’s nightie, the nurses veil, the curtains etc. but that’s interesting about the code. Zeffirelli had said Mercutio was supposed to be an embodiment of Shakespeare and gay. That was very forward thinking at the time.

      • Anna

        Do you happen to have a link to any of Zeferellis thoughts on “his” Mercutio?

  • Ziuskin

    I love EVERYTHING about this post, but most of all, I love the shout-out to Edmund White, whose work I absolutely adore, and kept thinking about while reading the first part of this post. Lo and behold, there he was! “Farewell Symphony” remains one of the most achingly beautiful depictions of what it was like to be a gay man during a certain time.

    • BKagainwiththesweatpants

      THIS. His “Nocturnes for the King of Naples” is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Gorgeous, gorgeous prose that will break your heart. Given to me by one of the first Bob Bensons of my life, who, though gone, is not forgotten.

  • Samuel Joesph Donovan

    Gorgeous discussion on Benson; this should get you guys a Pulitzer in blogging.

  • http://marshmallowjane.com/ marshmallowjane

    I see Sally as the truth seer of the stories that she is privy to. But something just occurs to me. Although I know this blog isn’t about ME, I just realized how this show affects me. The actor who plays Don (J.H.) is a bit younger than I am, so I didn’t realize this right away:

    I’m having difficulty liking Don as I went through something similar that Sally is going through. “Don” is my father’s age during this time period. I’m a bit older than Sally at this point but not all that much. I’m not sure at what age I realized my dad was cheating on my mother. He told my brothers, “I laid, relaid and parlaid….” but his daughters were supposed to be virgins. Anyway, that’s too much about me, except to say that my father devastated me. I adored my dad. I eventually grew disdain for both of my parents who smoked and drank their pain away.

    I don’t absorb 1/2 the nuances or even themes of the show because I’m so busy being disgusted by Don and most of the others who are so out of touch with who they are. I’ll say this again. Mad Men shows much of why people growing up in the 50s and 60s rebelled (checked in and checked out) , because they (we) witnessed our parents living their lives in a daze or slosh. This is how I saw the world (the U.S.) on LSD. The lives portrayed on this show are sad and full of pain. People didn’t go to AA (much). There was no Oprah. Therapy wasn’t that common among middle class. Much therapy began within small groups of friends who smoked weed and dissected their childhoods.

    • Cheryl

      I’m not sure if you’d consider “Mad Men” a work of art, but that’s what art does: it holds up a mirror in which we see ourselves. Fortunately my parents were nothing like Don and Betty, but some of this also rings true for me.

    • SylviaFowler

      Interesting. I generally hate when people wax on about their personal stories, but I guess I can do it here. I have been in Sally’s position too, although it was my mother whom I caught cheating. I was about 14 years old (in the 90s) when it happened too, about a year younger than Sally. And my “father” was a perfect blend of Betty (herself) and Dick Whitman’s parents. I hated him like Sally hates her mother, so although I was shocked and terrified – literally quaking in my skin for months – after stumbling upon my mom’s secret, I eventually came to realize that it WAS complicated (as Don says to Sally) and I could understand why she did what she did. It changed the way I looked at her, yes, and it shook me to my core, but it didn’t ruin our relationship.

      I was able to hold two competing thoughts in my head at once, even as a teen: that my mother loves me and supports my dreams, and she is not perfect and she makes mistakes and her life had been much more complicated and difficult than I could grasp at 14. My discovery also did not improve things with my father. Actually most of the reason that I was so terrified in the aftermath (and I have never told a single soul about the incident in real life), is because I was so scared that she would leave us and I would be left with my father, or that he would find out and hurt my mother. Mostly I was just angry and anxious that she was putting me in jeopardy of being put in his full time care. So I am of extremely curious which path Sally winds up taking here.

      • formerlyAnon

        Thank-you for “waxing on” about your personal story. (And I’m sorry that this part of it was so sad and difficult.)

        I believe that if we all listened more to each other’s stories, we’d find it easier to improve how we deal with others. I blame the inability to really grasp that our own personal experiences are NOT universal and that others have experienced endless different variations on many different life narratives for much of what’s wrong with us all.

      • http://marshmallowjane.com/ marshmallowjane

        One thing you share with Sally is the weight of finding out a secret. Not only has Sally gone against her mother somewhat in liking Megan, but now she has stumbled on to a secret that could change life for many if she were to blurt out the truth. I think much of Sally’s anger comes from being stuck in the position to know this awful truth. In my case, everybody (we five children) knew but my mother, and I never knew what she did know. She was in denial about much, and she drank to deal with her life’s disappointments. My father had had many girlfriends before my mother, and she felt like she’d ended up with the prize, even though he was verbally abusive to her.

        A common thing about the sixties and seventies was that alcohol was completely accepted as a form of recreation and anxiety control. This acceptance is a common theme of the show.

        • formerlyAnon

          Your observation about alcohol is dead on.

          • http://marshmallowjane.com/ marshmallowjane

            The alcohol use makes me uncomfortable. My mother died from liver damage. She was a bright and kind woman who should have had a career instead of staying home with five children. After her death her sisters and everybody else kept drinking.

            Smoking is another weird thing about that time period. I’m occasionally shocked at how the main characters light up in the middle of business or intimate moments. The men light the women’s cigarettes. I haven’t had a cigarette in over twenty years. Usually I’m sickened by the thought of smoking when I see characters smoke on TV or in movies. I’m especially annoyed when a nonsmoking actor/actress lights up and does a fake inhale and the smoking has nothing to do with the plot. On this show, smoking is realistic, and its importance takes me back. In the last couple years I’ve been dreaming about smoking, and I really want a cigarette in my dreams. I’m thinking that the show has influenced my subconscience.

          • formerlyAnon

            It is like going back into a different time. Oddly, I find myself nostalgic for the patterns of drinking & smoking I grew up among and have consciously avoided my entire life while I watch. Not the kind of nostalgia that wants to go back there, but it all feels very “homey,” if that makes sense. Just more evidence that what we see as young children has the emotional power to feel normal, even when we know it’s not desirable.

  • Marcus Bennett

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the Mad Men posts in the past – they are some of the best commentaries on the show – but you have outdone yourselves with this one – absolutely fantastic. And all of these theories about Bob being a serial killer or a govermment spy were overlooking how Mad Men works – it’s a human drama that doesn’t resort to cheap tricks but instead plays out slowly, revealing little by little about what are, in the main, fairly ordinary lives – well as ordinary as you’re going to get on television.

    On a personal note, the coffee percolator on the countertop in the Rosen kitchen is the exact model that my parents brought back to Ireland in the early 70s, having lived in New York from 1959 on. They could have filled the Mad Men set on their own with the stuff they brought home, much of which is still in the family home.

    • feathered_head

      I know — I find my attention is always wandering to the decor. It feels right out of my childhood — spurs memories of things I had not thought about in 45 years. Can’t say it feels nostalgic — more an eerie sense of decay.

  • Lattis

    So – I’ve said this before – but, my mom has Alzheimer’s and one thing I am struck by is how her clothing choices have changed. When she picks out her own clothes to wear, they will often be colors she never would have put together in the past. She is actually much “freer” now, and it mirrors the loosening of her inhibitions in other ways as well. She is decidedly less guarded in voicing her feelings.

    The story line of Pete’s mom has been interesting and kind of painful to watch. But, I love love love the observation that Manolo is “dressing her up like a doll and making her feel prettier than she ever has.” My god, what a gift that is to give a person.

    • Qitkat

      Your personal story is both a little funny and very poignant. What a beautiful last sentence you have written. Your mom is lucky to have a child with so much compassion. I had a cousin who had very little understanding when her own mom went through similar things. It doubled the sadness of the situation.

      • Lattis

        Thanks, Qitkat.

  • mstzilla

    Thanks so much for this post! I particularly like your insights about Bob Benson – I truly hope people will listen to you. As someone said below, so many of the wild theories abut Bob were not in synch with how Mad Men actually works.

    P.S. Peggy’s cat looks uncomfortable to me because he (she?) never puts his tail down on the couch. I’m sure that could be the choice of the cat who was acting – but as you said, it definitely symbolizes how uneasy they are with each other.

    • Luneowl

      Then again, with the rats in that apartment, it looks to me like he might be in “ready to hunt” mode, more alert than uneasy.

      • mstzilla

        Hope that’s true! He reminds me too much of the cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (also an orange tabby).

  • ConnieBV

    This post made my day.

  • Finrock

    Absolutely the best commentary of the season! Question: any idea what book Nan is reading? (Ted’s wife -looks like she fell asleep while reading -looks political). I searched through some best seller lists for 1968 but couldn’t find a match.

    • Mike R

      “Nicholas and Alexandra: An Intimate Account of the Last of the Romanovs and the Fall of Imperial Russia,” by Robert K. Massie. Hardcover, 1967 edition (probably the book club edition, knowing Nan). Credit to someone below who figured that out.

      • Finrock

        Thank you! Just got my curiosity up and I could not figure it out.

      • Thistle

        OMG. Thank you! That’s been on my mind and I had a feeling someone here would figure it out. The older son looks like he’s reading MAD, which I remember my (male) teenage babysitter reading around 1968. My mom was shocked that he let me see it!

      • feathered_head

        Another death clue? The entire Romanov family died.

  • ah2o

    HOLY MOLY!! I had to post just to give you props for the length on that mother. Impressive work.

  • M. H. Leader

    And did you all notice that Peggy is watching on a black-and-white TV while Nan and the boys have a COLOR TV in the bedroom? B&W TVs were still VERY common in 1968.

    • Lorelei

      My parents met in 1967 because Dad owned a color TV. This was a huge deal among grad students – mom was invited over to watch it by Dad’s roommate.

      • ailujailuj

        They needed that story for the Zenith (RCA?) campaign.

    • Alice Teeple

      Jeez. We had a black and white 13″ TV until 1993! My parents didn’t see the point in wasting money on a new television when our old one worked perfectly well. I remember when getting to see TV in color was a big deal, and a big reason why I’d hang out at my friend’s house to watch it. It’s kind of crazy to think we were that late, considering how quickly things changed technology-wise!

      • Qitkat

        Ha! Memories. My parents didn’t even buy a TV til 1959 or 60. Before that I would go to a friend’s house to watch anything; in early elementary school I had an assignment to summarize a show, and that was the only way I could see it. I don’t recall when they finally bought color, but it was years after I moved out. My parents would have totally been on the same page with yours. A little of it must have rubbed off on me, because my husband and I only bought our HDTV two months ago, after living with a 27″ from 1988, all these years. Our kids were astonished, lol.

        • Alice Teeple

          My dad used a typewriter to write his papers until the early 2000s. Then he ended up with one of those little black and white Macintosh Pluses from a friend “that was perfectly fine for what he needed.” He used that thing until it died and was forever angry he couldn’t find floppy discs anymore. I just about fell over when he got a computer with working internet. To this day he refuses to use a cellphone. And he’s only 60!

      • Susan Collier

        We got our color TV in 1985. We briefly had a used color TV in the early ’70s that was in a giant wooden cabinet. Swanky!

  • housefulofboys

    Can I just say with regard to Pete Campbell: it is in no small way due to Vincent Kartheiser’s brilliant acting that Pete is able to repel the the audience at times, and then charm us in others, sometimes both at once and always completely believable. I guess some of it can be attributed to writing and directing, but I think he is just phenomenal.

    • formerlyAnon

      Yes. The longer I watch the show, the more I respect him as an actor.

    • alex

      For me, he was the #1 actor on the show from the very first season. When friends were focusing on his abhorrent behavior and how much they couldn’t stand him, I was championing his acting. No one wanted to listen to me. Thank heavens I have found a haven with this post! Thank you! He is brilliant!

  • NoveltyRocker

    Thank you for such an in-depth and thoughtful perspective! I love how Mad Men gives us characters that can become access points into a completely different world that continues to echo into the 21st century. You illuminated a whole cross-section of history that makes Bob Benson another valuable access point for me. I was writing this character off as a nuisance to an already full roster of more familiar characters but this meaningful analyses has me finally appreciating what he adds to the story. No joke, I learned things today.

  • Logo Girl

    I think Pete’s need to be worshipped and adored trumps any general leanings he may have, and that there was some part of him that considered, fleetingly, in responding to Bob Benson’s signal.

  • Shawn EH

    Megan’s white suit … lost in the clouds? Clovered in fluff? Seeing only distantly, as if through a fog? It’s the white of obliviousness.

  • Charlotte406

    Not to deny the validity of the T&L capsule history of gay life in America, but in 1968 my grandmother died, and my uncle left his wife and son and moved from Chicago to Philadelphia with his “roommate.” We were in our early teens when we figured it out — eventually the two of them had a gala 25th anniversary party at which my father congratulated his brother for doing better with G. than my dad had with either of his two wives. Sadly, my beloved Uncle died just before the protease inhibitors came out … he was a lovely lovely man who always made sure to actually have conversations with children.

    • Frank_821

      That a great story. What a brave man he was to follow his heart

      Of course your Uncle doesn’t invalidate what TLo wrote. If you look hard enough you can find people who took the risk. In the past 2 years I’ve seen 2 different documentaries spotlighting a gay couple who have been together for more than 50 years. These were 2 separate couples and both sets of men met during the 40s

      One of these videos is available on youtube and is part of the Devotion Project series which I cannot recommend enough. That’s a series of 10 min docs that spotlight couples from different aspects of the LGBT community (old, young, middle age, gay, lesbian, trans, queer, white, black, latino)

      • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

        Yes, our point here certainly wasn’t that no gay men had happy or healthy lives back then; just that Bob Benson represents a kind of gay man who probably didn’t, in a lot of ways.

      • Charlotte406

        Oh I know — it was certainly not the norm — it just struck me that it was exactly 1968 when Jack went to Philadelphia.

  • nptexas

    As I’m rather new to this site, just let me thank you for using Disqus. It is, IMO, by FAR the best discussion forum. I am so thankful you don’t do this on FB. I would never have participated or enjoyed the comments so much.

  • Cheryl

    We know this episode is late summer, (September) 1968, by the Hawaii 5 – 0 pilot. In September 1968 I went to celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days at my fiance’s temple. Since it was still warm and summery, I wore a yellow dress. As I looked around the temple that night, everyone, despite the warm weather, was dressed in their autumnal best. I was mortified, and I’ve never forgotten my fashion faux pas that night. And then I see Dawn wearing yellow in September, 1968, and it struck me as inappropriate to the season. Is it just me?

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Space_Kitty Space Kitty

    Holy balls, that was a tour de force, and I will never see Pete and not think “Niles Crane” ever again.

    • nptexas

      Ha! I didn’t pick up on that but you are so right.

  • duchessofjersey

    How did I not know about Polari until now?! I had no idea all those words were from the same secret language!

    Thank you, TLo. This was a really great read.

  • http://hotmesshousewife.blogspot.com/ Hot Mess Housewife

    This is so incredibly thorough and fascinating to read. Excellent work, guys! I wish there were Emmys for recapping shows, ‘cuz you guys would win it hands down.

  • housefulofboys

    You have confirmed for me something I have been thinking about Dawn’s clothing, i.e. that a lot of them are home made. In the 60′s and early 70′s my mom made a lot of my clothes (those that weren’t hand-me-downs), and taught me how to sew and tailor until I went off to college in 1974. She always taught me that it was better to have 1 good item than several cheap ones, so she and I would go to the fabric store and pick out the best fabrics and choose patterns from the “Vogue” designer collections, adding vintage buttons from her old clothes. Just around the time period in this season, I even crocheted an orange-and-red (really!!) mini-skirt and vest combo that I paired with suede orange-and-red platform sandals – really made the church congregation sit up and take notice! Anyway, Dawn’s clothes really stand out to me as a way of upgrading her wardrobe without costing too much.

  • http://vhanna26.typepad.com Vera

    Love these posts! Thanks TLo!

  • gropgrum

    Has anyone else noticed the interactions between Cutler and Bob Benson? Before the revelation about Bob Benson’s sexuality I assumed he was gay. It wasn’t his beach shorts or his interactions with the rest of the staff, but his interactions with Jim Cutler. Cutler seems very familiar and dismissive with Bob in a way he hasn’t been with other characters. A little overly familiar. I suspect Cutler knows about Bob, but exactly how well is still up for speculation. Cutler seems almost like an old school alpha gay stereotype. Fit, slim, aggressive, and polished. I can imagine him getting down on a battleship in the Pacific and cruising NYC in the 50′s. Bob is more of a squishy snuggler. A needy young fledgling with chubby cheeks. A people-pleaser. There hasn’t been much insight into Cutler’s personal life outside of his prescription uppers and his feelings about the merge.

    • quitasarah

      Squishy snuggler. Yes. This.

    • siriuslover

      very interesting hypothesis. He does, however, seem like he might have a thing for Moira–first asking about her Shalimar perfume in a seductive way and then we see them coming back to the office all smiles.

      • gropgrum

        How many completely straight men can recognize a perfume by scent and recall its name? Not impossible, but not common in the Mad Men atmosphere. The straights send their secretaries out for gifts like perfumes or ask a clerk what’s popular. Flirtation isn’t out of the question in male female interactions of any variety. Possible red herring. Or he may also enjoy the company of women as well. Maybe we’ll find out…

        • siriuslover

          perhaps. I wasn’t suggesting you were wrong, simply pointing out other moments–and I believe TLo pointed one of them out as well. Just dialoging, not arguing.

        • gropgrum

          Damn! I have been doing some searching and Harry Hamlin specified to Matt Weiner that his Mad Men character not be gay or a pedophile. Maybe not as likely as I thought. He did, however try out for a smaller role before getting the Cutler part so maybe Weiner pulled a fast one and Hamlin conceded? I suppose I was just projecting my wishes onto a character with impossible posture and impeccable dress…

          • Shawn EH

            Seems strange for him to want to avoid playing gay since a) everybody knows about him and Lisa Rinna (they’re a Hollywood hot couple) or his succession of other hot wives and b) he’s already a gay icon thanks to Making Love, way back in the day. Oh, hold up, I found the link (online GQ interview, how appropo for a former Sexiet Man Alive); he didn’t actually say no to gay OR pedophile: he said no to “gay pedophile.” IE, sounds like he would have been fine with playing either just gay man OR a straight pedophile. And the reason is he’d just finished playing a gay pedophile on another show. BIG distinction, because he’s just never struck me as anyone with hangups about his masculinity.

      • HoundsOArtemiss

        That would possibly even explain why Cutler has thrown Bob the opportunities he has: not only does he sometimes seem like the only hard-working grown-up in the room, but perhaps there is a touch of guarded solidarity, as well.

    • something

      I thought I detected some sexual tension between Bob and Cutler when they had that conversation in the hallway last week, but on the second viewing, I didn’t sense it. Not sure what to make of that.

    • SonOfSaradoc

      Agree that we’re missing some key information on the pivotal character of Cutler, new this season. He seems to be something of a user, like many of the characters on this show, but has been as much in the background as Dawn or Ken this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn something big about him in the final two episodes in Season Six.

    • PrunellaV

      Quoted: Cutler seems very familiar and dismissive with Bob in a way he hasn’t been with other characters. A little overly familiar.

      What’s weird about that is when he and Joan and whoever else were deciding whom to retain and to let go in the merger, he didn’t even know who Bob was. Bob almost got canned, but Joan vouched for him.

      Also, he could be bi. And he seems like he would fit in well with those aristocrats from Don’s first trip to CA.

      • gropgrum

        I had to re-watch that scene. It’s such a short blip at the end of the episode. Bob gets brought up when Pete says “I don’t know who Peggy counts for, but we need Bob” and Cutler quickly replied “Bob’s gotta go – last hired, first fired…” and then when Joan suggests Lawrence instead in Bob’s defense casually agrees “Fine, Lawrence is gone – we done here?”

        OH!! I never cared so much about the minute of Mad Men before I started reading Tom & Lorenzo! I don’t know what to make of that scene. I think regardless of his sexuality, Cutler is business first and absolutely about self-preservation in all situations. People keep comparing him to Roger but other than being in that position at the other company I feel the similarities end there. Cutler seems so much more intense and even manipulative. Slick and sarcastic like Roger, but much more focused otherwise. All of the finesse and none of the smarminess.

        I agree! I could DEFINITELY see him in one of those Hills parties having some speed-fueled escapades. It will be interesting to see what happens with his character. I will be slightly disappointed if he’s not in the last 2 episodes.

  • SuzyQuzey

    I had a cat named Ralph. He was a great cat.

    The set decorators are also to be commended, together with Janie and, of course, you guys. Those earthenware bowls the girls were eating cereal from; we had those! We also had one of those ridiculous large glass grape bunches like the one that sits on the dining table at Don and Megan’s apartment. What a blast from the past!

  • Stuart

    Apologies if this comparison has already been made and I’ve missed it but Bob Benson has always reminded me of Tom Ripley (of “The Talented Mr Ripley” fame): opportunistic, manipulative, preppy and just a little bit empty inside. This episode – perhaps my favourite this season – adds “unrequited love” to that list of similarities.

  • jozie310

    I knew a “Best Boy in the World” “Golden” gay guy. You so nailed that
    character and what gives rise to him. If only I had been more aware of
    his entire precarious structure and its roots I might still have that
    friend.

  • LML

    I LIVE for these reviews. Some thoughts…

    1) Perhaps Ginsberg is gay as well and has had some type of relationship with Bob Benson? His father was always pointing out the lack of women in his life, he confessed on a date to being a virgin, and Bob seemed to be very in touch with him emotionally when calming him down a few episodes back.

    2) Sally also being consistent with the themes of women/girl in pink sleepwear and one person in PJs and the other in street clothes in the Draper apartment.

    3) Nan’s outfits tied her to her home (the bedspread especially) the same way Trudy was tied to her home, and both women expressed anger at their husband for being detached from the home and too involved with work.

    Keep up the great work, TLo!

    • quitasarah

      My only issue is with your first point. I really don’t think Ginsberg is gay. I think he has mental issues, but from the way he was acting on his date, I think he’s into girls.

    • verve

      re: 3, Trudy’s outfits were often in discordant/clashing patterns with her home when she was unhappy, but Nan matches hers so well, her torso practically disappears into the bedspread in her second scene. *ponders*

    • Eric827

      If Ginsberg had hooked up with Bob, why would he ask him if he’s queer?

      • http://twitter.com/juvie_cinephile CM Gardner

        Ginsberg is not one to really keep his opinions or feelings in check let alone standard social cues. He always struck me as asexual but it is incredibly possible with his backstory as an orphaned Jewish kid in New York he did not need another hang-up that gave him a bigger target on his back when he grew up. Remember when Megan’s friend was dancing on the table last season? Ginsberg looked away from it and found the fact Don and Megan could just schtup in the office more fascinating than what was in front of him. He did not seem to pine for either, mind you, but just the idea of it as it is something he could not do.

  • Wendy Fox Weber

    I have nothing profound to say. I just wanted to tell you this blog is fantastic, and has really opened my eyes to the importance of fashion on this show. The intro about Bob was also very interesting. Great work!

  • Joy

    One very small detail that I loved in this episode is Sylvia’s kleenex tucked into her sleeve, at the ready. The only person I know who still does that is my 80 year old mother-in-law.

    • feathered_head

      I know — it made me think of Sylvia as an old lady. My great grand mother (who died at the age of 81 in 1980) wore her hankies this way — later these lovely flowered hankies became wads of used kleenex. Yuk.

    • sweetlilvoice

      I do it when I’m sick….but it is gross.

    • cpetersky

      My Italian-American piano teacher also had the tissue up her sleeve. She’s still alive (and playing piano), and in her 80s, too.

  • ginnee

    Your post re Bob Benson was very insightful. Bravo.
    Now, as for Peggy’s cat, I think she’s the type who’d name the cat after something in her work life — since she’s so focused on her career. So I’m thinking Cooper. If he was silver, I’d say Sterling. :)

    • verve

      Now I want to go out and adopt four cats, to be named Sterling, Cooper, Draper, and Pryce. (Let’s be honest, ‘Draper’ is an excellent name for a cat.)

      • formerlyAnon

        Now that you articulate that, it seems inevitable that litters of kittens are being named after SCDP all over North America as we sit here.

  • Carrie D.

    I’m thinking “Cat” a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I don’t imagine Peggy being emotionally comitted enough to the cat to give it a name.

  • PowerfulBusiness

    I know this has been brought up before, but you guys NEED to have a coffee table book of these Mad Style posts compiled and sold in stores – once we get through season 7. Can we start a fund on Kickstarter? When the show is over, I’ll longingly leaf through the pages and let my tears stain the impeccable designs of Janie Bryant, and magnify the letters of your otherworldly analysis.

    • quitasarah

      YES! THIS times infinity!

  • siriuslover

    So late to this discussion, but I desperately want to say a few things:
    1. TLo, your discussion of Bob Benson should be a chapter in a book–perhaps your second book?
    2. I am so happy you mentioned Ted’s ankle boots, because I LOVED them!
    3. Interesting three way with Peggy, Ted, and Pete. Lots of communication through all of their eyes.
    4. Loved your final analysis with the juxtaposition of Don and Sally / Don’s encounter / Sally’s discovery.

  • Bonjour

    TLo. There is no other recap.

  • chi7

    Wow, TLo…this is amazing.

  • SoulMo

    Okay, I’ve figured out why Bob Benson getting a rather fleshed out storyline bothers me: Dawn doesn’t have (much of) one.

    And that typifies my sometimes unease with Mad Men as a whole, that even when people of color are in the storyline and function as part of the landscape the ensemble, they don’t get that well crafted story that *could* be told. Just as much analysis could be given to Dawn’s character if she had that rapid trajectory that Bob had.

    Then again it represents just as much then as now that the narrative of someone white, however marginalized, is more interesting to mainstream audiences from the perspective of Hollywood. Sigh.

    I know Matt Weiner probably doesn’t know how to write characters of color other than inserting them as stock representations, and the actors that play them do the parts more than justice (given they have little to work with they tend to give it their all). But, this season, and all the Bob Benson hoopla makes it uber weird, considering, by 1968 there WAS actually a situation comedy featuring a professional class African American woman (Julia) and, oddly, Dawn’s wigs look EXACTLY like the one Diahann Carroll wore for the majority of the series. For me it’s been increasingly hard not to see the parallels of “Julia” and the professional pressures of Carroll being in a landmark role, and seeing huge missed opportunities for a mirror storyline of the pressures of Dawn managing being in a white professional world during the same time.

    Off soap box.

    • quitasarah

      I’ve wrestled with this question as well and this is what I’ve come to:

      (1) This is a story about an ad agency in the 1960s, and as such is predominantly populated with middle- and upper-class white people. That’s who the story is about, and I actually think it would seem disingenuous to shoe-horn a story about race in here without doing an even worse job of it than Weiner has already done.

      (2) I’ll probably get a lot of flak for this, but I think there have been many more stories of the black experience in the 1960s, than there have been of women climbing the corporate ladder (Peggy) or of gay characters (Sal, Bob) in the same period. I think that Weiner is purposefully telling these other stores through MM. While he certainly could do a MUCH better job representing people of color, I think that even though we want him to tell their stories, it doesn’t mean he should. Like I said, many of those stores have been told, and the more screen time Dawn gets, the less we get to see Peggy, Joan & Bob.

      • SoulMo

        I must be missing what station you see all of these “multitude of stories of the black experience” especially from the 1960s. ‘Cause from what I’ve seen from that era is: Julia, I Spy, The Bill Cosby Show, The Supremes on Ed Sullivan about 15 times. I guess that makes for about 20 instances.

        And if we get into modern representations we get crap like “The Help” or any a number of musicals based on the rags to riches girl group troupe. It is and isn’t a criticism of Mad Men at the same time. And probably why I have a hard time connecting to the Bob character: I can’t identify with him, as his experience is as far from the gay experience from my gay reality. He’s well fleshed out, but I’ve heard his story retold and respun a million different ways in LGBT entertainment (and history for that matter).

        But I can understand (and create a storyline for/identify with) Dawn. It’s not all that different that she has a split persona, one for work, and one for her private life. We got one glimpse of it, then it disappeared into the background.

        I have a hard time buying “if we have to hear about the one of the 3 black characters that have lasted more than an episode, that it takes away from the 15 white characters we know and love” argument. Granted what would solve that would be actually a show about people of color during this era…. but I’m not holding my breath, and voicing my opinion on how it *could* be done better in an established series that has had 7 years to get better at it.

        • quitasarah

          Point of clarification: I was speaking of modern representations of the era, not what was actually on TV/film at the time. And of course I can’t think of any examples right now, but I’m SURE I’ve seen representations of the African-American experience in the 1960s other than “The Help” and “Dream Girls”.

          I think the crux of it is, and I didn’t express this well above, is that I just don’t think it’s fair to evaluate a TV show (or movie, book, painting, etc) based on what it’s not, or what we believe it should be. We need to evaluate it based on what it IS. If you don’t like the depictions of Dawn, Carla, “Grandma Ida”, et al, that’s valid criticism. But complaining about what’s NOT represented is missing the point of the show that Weiner is trying to make.

          And I do stand by point that Peggy’s story and Sal/Bob’s story haven’t been told in mainstream media. As a straight woman, I haven’t seen a lot of “LGBT entertainment” so Bob’s character is new to me. And I really haven’t seen Peggy’s story, so I’m happy with what Weiner is doing. Your mileage may vary.

  • TigerLaverada

    Absolutely fascinating. Thanks, TLo, for a wonderfully illuminating explanation of a world outside my experience.

  • halleygee

    Wow, what a great post! I was never one to wonder all that much about Bob B., but now very interested in his character. I so enjoyed reading the first part of the post about the gay community, the history, etc. Very interesting – I didn’t know much of that.

    I feel I have gotten much better at picking up on the costuming, but my eye will never be as fine tuned as yours! The show is never complete until I’ve read Mad Style.

  • Marceline

    “Bob disappointed a whole bunch of people who were hoping he was any of a number of wild things, from Don’s illegitimate son to an actual government spy, by revealing the mundane truth of himself: he’s gay and he’s hot for Pete Campbell.”

    Technically, just because he’s gay that doesn’t mean he can’t be one of those other wild things. Being gay doesn’t preclude him from being a spy, sociopath or relative of a cast member. I think the reveal about Bob’s orientation is a red herring. Yeah, he’s gay but that doesn’t explain where he came from or how he ended up working for SC&P.

  • OffAbroad

    The tiny stone mosaic framed picture things behind Peggy & cat – my mom had! Ours was of an exotic Genie. As a child of the 70s, it seemed like a relic from 50s/60s. Anyone know when they were at he height of home decorating popularity?

    • feathered_head

      I remember when I was a child during the ’60s these pictures came in a kit. The kit included a board with the drawing printed in it, some black cord to glue onto the lines of the picture and packets of crushed color stone which were labelled by number. You painted the glue in a numbered area of the board and then poured on the crushed stone of the same number. Kind of like a paint by numbers. I’ve always noticed these hideous pictures follow Peggy where ever she moves to. I think the idea is that she made these as a teenager.

      • OffAbroad

        Ah yes. I remember my mom telling me about making it now. Thanks!

    • sweetlilvoice

      I have a vintage one of fish myself!

  • ailujailuj

    and Miss Clara… I, too, love that she feels pretty and feminine.
    But I’ve never seen a clitoris attached to a pillbox before.

  • mcpierogipazza

    “You’re soaking in it.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crptyplVH0k

  • Darren Nesbitt

    Peggy’s hair this episode = WERQ

  • Wellworn

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful analysis of Bob Benson and his motives thus far. To me he has always been an enigmatic but endearing character. Now he does seem much more comprehensible, thanks to you and also to the episode where he bared his soul for those few seconds. I spent time today reading about the Stonewall riots, and the best little boy syndrome, hankies, Polari, etc. and I also thank you for adding to my cultural education. Now about that Chaugh bedroom; my parents bought a new house in the LA suburbs in 1966, and proceeded to decorate in the high style back then of orange and avocado green. My sister and I had a yellow and orange bedroom, and my brother’s bedroom was blue and green. The house stayed the same until the 1994 Northridge earthquake, when my mom finally had enough money (thanks to insurance) to redecorate and I was so happy to help her. Shag carpet, swag lamps, veined mirror tiled walls begone!

  • pamasutra

    I think all your Mad Men posts are brilliant, but this is the only one so far that brought tears to my eyes. The heartfelt and deft breakdown of the closeted Bob Bensons of that era- you took my breath away. Thank you for reminding us of how far we’ve come and at the same time how painfully slow social progress can be.

  • http://gabyrippling.tumblr.com/ Gaby

    Manolo looks like Alec Baldwin as El Generalissimo. I can’t but laugh when I see him. Especially how TIGHT his nurse’s drag is; I bet he’s playing doctor after hours. (Sorry, it was too easy and I’m sure someone else has already said it in the comments but I don’t care).

    OMG TED’S ANKLE BOOTS. I LOVE. I’ve been wanting my boyfriend to pick up a pair of beatle boots (nothing terribly flamboyant, but with a little cuban heel, though it looks like Ted’s are flat?) because he tried on his dad’s similar boots and they looked so good on him (my boyfriend comes from a family of people on the shorter side, which is why his dad already had such boots; however my boyfriend is also sensitive and defensive about his height and wants no heeled shoes, no matter how good they look or how much I point out that men’s dress shoes already have slightly raised heels by design). /endrant Sorry about that.

    Mitchell looks like Greg or Pete Brady so yeah, not anti-establishment at all. He’s a Partridge. Also Sally’s friend Julie was annoying as hell – exactly the annoying girls I knew in middle school who pretended to be your friend while constantly undermining you (except that since you were in middle school, you didn’t realize they were toxic two-faces until it was too late).

    That was an excellent, dense, long entry. Thanks for unpacking so much, T and Lo. <3

    • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

      THANK YOU! I’ve been saying that since the episode aired. I even put comparison pics on my tumblr. El Generalissimo is gay, so my “head canon” (as the fandom set put it) is that Manolo is El Generalissimo before he got into acting. Because look at him, everyone. Look at him!!! :D :D :D

  • Sweetvegan

    And Sally not only catches Sylvia with Don, but also caught Marie with Roger. How was the city? Dirty.

    • sweetlilvoice

      Something is wonky with Disqus….I voted up, not down! I agree with you.

  • roverrun

    This is what separates the men from the boys in the world of blogging “… we decided to sit down and watch every scene he appeared in…” A big thanks from a bitter kitten.

  • Kate

    Tom and Lorenzo–I loved your Bob Benson inspired history lesson so much. Thank you for the links and titles. Can’t wait to get educated.

  • StarburstLady

    Wow, I really enjoyed the discussion of Bob Benson– fascinating stuff in its own right. In terms of this episode, I was hoping you’d talk about the blue and red color story– I thought it was pretty heavy-handed after Sally walked in on Don. She walked through a red and blue room in a red and blue dress– it reminded me of the heart sculpture on Sylvia and Arnie’s dresser.

    • verve

      Were you reminded because of the heavy-handedness or because hearts are often depicted in red and blue?

      • StarburstLady

        The heart sculpture on the dresser is red and blue.

  • Tara White

    Amazing and insightful post, you guys are the best.

  • eb1966

    This is such an amazing entry that I am at a loss for words. Thank you for all you do for your fans, TLo! I really look forward to Wednesday mornings so much during the Mad Men season.

    • sweetlilvoice

      Me too, The style post is my favorite part on Wednesday. You have no idea how pissed I was that I was too busy at work to read the post yesterday first thing.

  • eb1966

    P.S. Peggy’s green suit reminds me of the one Marie Calvet wore in “The Phantom” when she was comforting Megan in bed.

  • stephbellard

    T-Lo, you guys are always insightful but this is EXTRAORDINARY. Right up there with your indelible review of the Never Been Kissed episode of Glee. Bravo!

    On a related note, I’d like to suggest that Peggy’s cat is an ancestor of Lord Tubbington (Britney’s cat on Glee).

  • BethAnn3

    In Bob’s scene with Pete, he dominates Pete,as though Pete has been waiting for Bob to take charge. Pete obeys Bob’s firm, almost shouted commands to “sit down” and “drink this.” Pete is mesmerized by Bob’s glance and takes just a little too long to move his knee away. Most telling are the nasal sighs both men give as they make eye and physical contact. Bob touches his knee to Pete, continues talking and staring into Pete’s eyes in a smoldering way, then lets out his sigh. Pete can feel Bob’s knee touching, but doesn’t acknowledge it at first, continuing to look into Bob’s eyes, then Pete averts his eyes and lets out a soft sigh of his own, looking slightly disturbed at his own reaction and then moves his knee away. He tells Bob that Manolo should be let go with a month’s pay and that Bob should tell Manolo that his behavior is disgusting, but he delivers it in a soft, yielding tone of voice, not in the least aggressive. It’s almost like he can’t assert himself to close the door on Bob’s advance in a firm way.

    My interpretation of Bob’s expression leaving the room is that he knew he got under Pete’s skin, and that Pete has shown some weakness, that he does have a gay side. I’ve always suspected Pete of either being a closet case or having some kind of gay experiences at the prep schools and university he attended. There’s just something oddly effete about Pete that doesn’t jibe with his often unhappy, misogynistic pursuit of women. Pete uses women, but doesn’t seem to need women or love women in the way that Don Draper is able to.

    I’m not sure that scene is a prelude to Bob and Pete having some kind of fling or relationship between them, but it could be a start down that road for Pete with trying it out with perhaps another man besides Bob.

    • DeniseSchipani

      I watched again last night and I agree, at least somewhat. I noticed how aggressive (in an “I’m going to care for you right now!”) way Bob was in that scene, with the drink and telling Pete to “sit down!” He wasn’t gamely standing by with an extra drink in his hand just in case Pete needed it, he was TELLING him to drink it. Pete definitely submitted to the care. I think his instincts in the end forced him to push aside any feelings he might have for Bob or any man, or any desire he might have to just be cared for (which he clearly has never been, first and most importantly by his mother), but the inclination to let go and let Bob take over seemed very clearly in play here.

    • 3hares

      I would be totally open to Pete exploring a relationship with a man, but I suspect that Pete’s openness to Bob in the scene is more about love than sex. He does happily let Bob take charge in the scene–despite standard theories about how Pete dominates people he imo responds better to being taken in hand. Trudy did it too in happier days. Given his current situation of total isolation, plus his mother validating his impression that he was never loved and it was his own fault, I think Bob’s expression of affection and love was more powerful than any potential sexual attraction to men.

    • Aestro

      That might also not necessarily prelude to a relationship (it might), but simply be a reflection of both characters.

      Bob has been using all those self-help books and it shows. He’s extremely confident in the interaction, despite knowing the risk. However, unlike the arrogance that runs rampant in most of the agency, he’s also considerate of others – he’s not shouting at Pete, he’s trying to make Pete more comfortable. That does reflect his feelings towards Pete, but he also has shown the same considerations to Joan, Ginsberg, and nearly everyone he meets.

      Pete on the other hand has completely lost control of his life this season. He’d gotten married, had a child, bought a house AND got his apartment in the city, and most importantly was partner. Now his marriage has fallen apart, he’s kicked out of the home, he’s lost several major clients, his name was taken off the agency and even his own mother hates him. He’s always been petty, but his reaction to Joan last episode showed Pete at the end of his rope. His appearance in this episode when dealing with his mother reflected that.

      We might see something with Bob and Pete together, but the power imbalance in that scene might also have simply shown where the two are at right now.

  • appliquer

    I’m just going to say “hooray” before I even read the post!

  • FayeMac

    “Pete is quite a snappy dresser and always has been.” I noticed that compared to the other partners Pete is wearing a blue shirt with long shirt collar points. All the other men’s collar points are shorter. Ted’s are slightly longer and Mitchell’s red shirt has real long points. Care to comment about this trend in men’s shirts at his time.

    • Chris

      I had thought Pete’s tie looked a little thicker than the others, anticipating those awful thick ties of the 1970′s but it may just be the way he knotted his.

  • susie111

    TLo wanted to tell you a funny story you brought back to me. When I was a 7 yo my parents brought me to a drive in double feature. I think it was in the Catskills. We saw Boys in the Band and Grasshopper. Can you imagine parents doing that today? Someone would probably call CPS on them. My sister, 4 at the time, and I sat in the back seat with me. We understood neither movie but I remember it so vividly!

    Let me add – you did call it. My theory was that Bob was Zelig. I guess he still is Zelig-like in some ways. Now we know why.

  • Melissa Protzek

    I can only imagine how hurtful the continued “Bob Benson is a spy/killer/psycho” theories are to the two of you. By that I mean the uninformed majority continuing to hang on to a theory that is so blatantly wrong (and based on negative stereotypes/discrimination) that you had to educate them on things that they don’t bother to know because it is outside of their experience/”culture.” It fits the definition of a Microaggression to a tee. Thank you for posting and sharing with us.

    • Martha McSweeny

      I was one of those, “he’s faking it,” theorists. And I think you’ve over-stepped a bit.
      I didn’t subscribe to the theory because I’m ignorant, homophobic, or discriminatory. But, faking homosexuality is a very TV-soapy-dishy thing to do. And I went with it because of that. That’s all.
      T&L’s post was so well written, informative, and enlightening, that I realized I was wrong. And the ‘fake gay’ thing is also an insult to the MM writers. I should have given them more credit.
      But, in the long run, it’s just a TV show, and we’re just fans of the show.

      Can’t we all get along?

    • Eric827

      Some of the reactions to Bob hitting on Pete have definitely been homophobic. (And some are just clueless, like the idea that Bob would have any reason to pretend to be gay.)

      But the “Bob is a dangerous psychopath!” thing has been around for a while now. People were saying that well before I ever saw any speculation about the character being gay. It came across as people saying, “No one on this show can be as pleasant and cheerful as Bob without having a huge dark side.”

      I think (or at least I hope) that some of the current “evil secret” talk is just coming from people who don’t want to admit their theory was probably wrong.

  • ~Heather

    The image you’ve captured for each of this episode (the re-cap and the style articles) of Pete’s mother and Pete’s Bob both have the same look on their faces and are holding their heads at the same angle. (But could Bob pull off that pink pillbox hat?!)

  • somebody blonde

    Gotta say… I just watched Boys in the Band from your link, and it’s rough to watch. Extremely uncomfortable in a way movies usually aren’t anymore. Nowadays, if a movie makes me uncomfortable, it’s usually for excessive violence and/or the attitude expressed toward violence. Boys in the Band is uncomfortable because you can feel the characters’ self-loathing and sadness, sympathize with it, and realize there’s very little to be done about it. It’s very similar in mood to Rebel Without A Cause and Twelve Angry Men, actually. I wonder if they just don’t make movies like that anymore or if they just don’t get wide enough release.

  • Lisa Utter

    Wow. I just realized why my ex husband always wore blue bandannas. Thanks, TLo, for verifying yet again what I always knew but he denied.

  • FloridaLlamaLover

    1) Thank you for showing us Pete through Bob’s eyes. He is meticulous…separated and on the way to divorced…a go-getter…a snappy dresser in his own way. After you described Pete through what might be Bob’s perception, made more sense to me why Bob might throw caution to the wind. 2) LOVE>LOVE>LOVE Manolo. I had to shout it, I love the character created by the writers and the actor who brought Manolo to life. 3) Regarding your analysis of Bob’s hidden life vs. Sal’s, I agree with a heavy heart about Sal being deeply closeted, possibly for life, and not being able to find love. Hopefully dear Sal can find some measure of happiness, though. My Mom’s best friend in high school (Class of 1941), went to university in a large city, came back, and after a few of years, committed suicide. Years later, after finding out that gay people existed (Mom laughed in her later years about how naive she was), Mom realized that her dear friend was probably gay. Imagine living in south Georgia in a tiny town where everybody knows each other (which is wonderful in it’s own way), but everybody knows everybody’s business (which is awful), and you are the confirmed bachelor who played piano exquisitely,enjoyed paintings and the fine arts in a small farming community, 4) PLEASE PETE, do not do anything to jeopardize Bob. 5) Loved Pete and Peggy’s moment; nice to see Pete just be a regular person. 6) Don…ugh. Same old, dame old. Too bad you’ve destroyed or severely damaged your relationship with your daughter.

  • gefeylich

    I read at least 10 post-MM episode reviews every week, but yours are clearly the most thoughtful and insightful.

    And thank you for pointing out the lack of simple logic in practically every other MM review and many user comments about Bob Benson’s story, motivations and background – AND the reasons for his infatuation with Pete. I wonder about people’s thought processes sometimes. Hardly anyone puts this series in its proper historical context, and even fewer put themselves in the place of the character. Yeah, we know Pete has been awful throughout the series – but BOB DOESN’T.

    Again – bravo to you both. Your reviews and style analyses are an absolute pleasure to read.

  • ailujailuj

    …not to upstage TLo… but I keep coming back to this blog partly because I’ve decided not to work hard today, and partly because the blog participation is really kind of impressive. There is so much thoughtless mediocrity out there in the overinfosphere but I’m finding these discussions incredibly engaging. OK, I give the writers, actors, producers, designers, directors, and probably craft svs some credit for reaching successful depths in the material- but much of the dialogue in the subsequent episode analysis is about culture, history, psychology, psychosis of the show and its context, which clearly conjures personal memories and emotions in viewers and readers. Truly unique in the entertainment industry and a beneficiary of our “time”, I suppose. This is fun – thanks everyone.

  • Leigh444

    T LO, I must say I find your Mad Men reviews so much more compelling and, frankly, rational than other reviewers that I’ve nearly stopped checking out other reviews. In fact, I was so annoyed by the review at Vulture this week (granted I rarely read his reviews so maybe they’ve always sucked) that suggested that Bob was possibly putting Pete on when he hit on him that I just stopped reading after that sentence. And I love that you guys pointed out how ridiculous it was that a heterosexual man in the ’60′s might pretend to be gay to psych another straight man out. Even barring the fact that it’s a ridiculous idea given the consequences an openly gay person might face at the time, WHO does that?! Are there straight men today running around all over the place pretending to be gay to pull something over on another straight man?! This suggestion makes no sense, for then or now! I expect my reviewers to be more insightful than me, not people who will throw out any silly, old idea. So thank you for being the interesting, articulate reviewers in a sea of stupid!

    • Chris

      TLo are by far the most knowledgeable reviewers of Mad Men. Rolling Stone still thinks Peggy’s sister adopted her baby. I can understand the average viewer making that mistake but if it is your job to recap and review a program I expect you to pay better attention than that. This weeks Mad Style really outdid itself with such a thoughtful and well reasoned explanation of the character of Bob Benson. It’s nice to see the other sites giving them some well deserved recognition.

    • ailujailuj

      while I agree that pretending to be gay with such an overt action is unlikely… a former professional colleague of mine who has a high position in a large architecture firm and is outwardly gay amongst a buncha painfully unsophisticated and backwards conservatives. He overplays his homosexuality by acting ridiculously silly, gratuitously effeminate, and very childlike. Not fun-and-bitchy-queen, which can be entertaining, but literally like novelty irritating pre-pubescent teen. My theory is that he does this because he’s an idiot but also because he thinks this is who they think gay people are. He’s right, you can see that they proudly appreciate their own “tolerance”! but he’s also playing up a horribly scripted Jack McFarland TV character – IRL. it’s the strangest thing.

      • Eric827

        But what does that have to do with the fact that someone like Bob Benson would have no reason to pretend to be gay? You seem to acknowledge that your co-worker’s motivations for acting that way had nothing to do with getting ahead in the workplace.

        For as long as there have been out gay men, there have been some out gay men who act campy and outrageous and bitchy. In a lot of cases, it’s because being dramatic, and putting on over-the-top performances, really is the kind of person they are.

        Sometimes, it’s because after living in the closet, they feel free to release all of the pent-up fabulousness that they couldn’t express before.

        It’s very, very rarely because they think that all gay men act that way.

        • ailujailuj

          John & Eric:

          Apologies for perhaps a poorly written post…

          I didn’t say HE felt all gay men act that way, I said that he was acting that way because he thinks others think that he’s supposed to act that way because he is gay. And if that doesn’t make sense, it’s because it doesn’t.

          I don’t disagree that people often act out extremes of their personalities but this is not his personality (a friend used to date him), which is why it seems really bizarre behavior. He’s not trying to be likable or “down to earth” or affable – as I said it’s not campy or bitchy – it is outrageous but outrageously strange and makes those of us who know him and recognize what he’s doing rather uncomfortable. He is literally trying to play up to a bad stereotype and while it’s absurd to take it personally, it’s hard not to be offended by it. He condescends either to draw attention to their lack of sophistication, or because of his own or maybe some deeply rooted sordid past he’s trying to work out.

          I’m not sure it has a ton of reference to Mr. Benson, who I think is becoming a quite interesting character. But I guess my point was that people do weird shit.

      • John Smithson

        My guess / opinion is your coworker acting this way to be non-threatening. It’s as if he is subordinating himself by acting effeminate and childlike. People laugh at clowns and silly children, right? It could be a way to gain acceptance or approval.

  • librarygrrl64

    “It’s the Niles Crane effect.”

    PERFECT!!! As was this entire post. Really, gentlemen, extremely well done. Thanks.

    Also, I work with children on a fairly-daily basis, and my co-workers and I have now adopted the phrase “I don’t want his juice, I want my juice!” Said in a Chaough-like voice. It cracked me up on Sunday night, and it is still cracking me up.

  • Teresa Valente

    Can someone please teach Sally to knock before she enters a room. How many awkward sexual encounters must she walk in on before she learns?

    • sweetlilvoice

      The door was open in terms of Don and Sylvia. And how many people expect to walk in on a BJ between their Dad’s boss and their new Grandmother?

      • Teresa Valente

        True, but I know after witnessing that I’d be much more careful about sneaking around

    • 3hares

      I thought she did knock, at least on the back door. Then she just saw them from the kitchen.

      • chylde

        And Sylvia was going “Oh, God…” and Don was grunting like a pig w/ his panties down. It was icky, IMO.

    • Tara White

      she did knock….softly

  • PrunellaV

    Bookmarking this post for posterity. You guys are a damned treasure.

  • http://kingderella.tumblr.com/ kingderella

    you guys are just wonderful.

  • Tara White

    Your history lesson about being gay in the 60′s/70′s was more valuable to me than most things I read because it really helped me to understand my still closeted father. He was exactly as you described Bob Benson, even the same age at that time. He rarely dated but plucked my mother out of a night class they had together and married her within weeks, I believe to please his parents who lamented the fact that he wasn’t dating. As a child I went everywhere with him, he took me to his gay friends homes for movies, etc, but not my mother. I always felt like something was off that I couldn’t articulate, and I didn’t know anything for sure (and yes I know it wasn’t any of my business anyway) until when I was an adult he went to New York with two of his gay friends and not my mother. I now feel like I have some info to fill in all of the many blanks during my life growing up. I had no one to turn to to ask questions to receive any context, but now your very well-written post has given me the perspective I feel that I have needed. I honestly do think that more people need to realize the fear and loathing people who were gay had to put up with in the past, I wish I could make sure so many people I know could read this…..thank you so much

    • Frank_821

      Wow. Thank you for posting. I hope it leads to a richer relationship with your dad

      Your story and many of the others that have popped up this week has really got me thinking. It has amazed me the effect this episode along with Tlo’s review & mad style post has had on people. It’s easy to forgot 1968 really wasn’t that long ago.

      I recently commented to the 2 of them how great it was the growth of their blog and the impact it has had on people and on popular culture. It’s especially great for supporters like me, a Precious Unborn Fawn who followed their blog from the beginning days when they were referred as the RunGay boys. I can say I was one of the folks who have gotten to bear witness to it all

      I don’t think any of us could have predicted the heights to which this blog has risen and the extent it has come to be part of our pop culture lives-and will keep on going to be. It’s been quite a journey from the days when we laughed at Laura Bennet’s zingers, waited on baited breath for the boys to bequeath nicknames for the latest batch of PR contestants or immerse ourselves in Musical Mondays

  • cherrynyc

    As I read this, Rolling Stone’s ‘Ultimate Mad Men Playlist’ was playing on Spotify. My day is complete.

  • Trisha26

    I love that “the cat” is orange as well. How about OJ?

  • Eric827

    My immediate reaction to Bob’s attraction to Pete was, “Why would he fall for Pete when a dreamboat like Ken Cosgrove is around?” But then I thought back to the scene from the beginning of the season where Ken berates Bob in the middle of the office.

    That scene seemed very strange to me at the time. Ken’s reaction to Bob’s behavior seemed wildly over-the-top for the character, and it wasn’t even clear what he was angry about, other than a general sense that Bob is a kissass. It felt like the reason for showing us that exchange might become more clear later on.

    (And from what I’ve heard, Alan Sepinwall was arguing throughout this season that Bob must be up to something bad, because if Ken gets a terrible vibe from someone, it means something.)

    Now I’m wondering more than ever what that was about. Was Ken acting out of subconscious homophobia? That doesn’t sound right to me. Maybe it was to help explain why Bob would fall for Pete, rather than the more obvious candidate?

    • alex

      While we’re at it, another mystery to me is how Mitchell shows up in Megan’s apartment to discuss his 1A status. Could it be because Megan comes from Canada and maybe Sylvia sent him to talk with her about the likelihood of escaping there?

      • alex

        Eric827, I also meant to say that your question about Ken’s unusual behavior toward Bob was well warranted! I am very interested in what others have to say about your comment!

    • Chris

      I took Ken’s behavior to mean he felt threatened somehow by Bob professionally. That he saw the handsome, eager new guy and didn’t like him “getting above himself” by sending food to Roger’s mother’s wake or being so available and noticeable all the time. It did seem out of character for Ken who always was portrayed as a bit more laid back than some of the others. I thought it meant he was now “the establishment” and not the young up and comer anymore but it could be something deeper than that.

    • Laylalola

      Ken? Didn’t Pete punch Ken way back (heck, maybe season 1?) for saying something about Peggy? I guess I’ve never thought of Ken as exactly … I don’t know, totally upstanding (or one of those guys who if he gets a terrible vibe about someone it means something). I’ve always thought he’s a little off. Even his hilarious tap dance had some strangely unsettling edge to it, he’s … more aggressive/hostile/slightly crazy than he appears or something.

  • katrinka

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for these awesome insights! I just found them at the beginning of this season, and (even though I went back to read all the previous entries) I’m a little sad I didn’t find them earlier, because seeing these things as the story unfolds is WAY better than reading about them afterward.

  • Tessie

    Love your website.

    We are having a dispute–Who did Peggy call to get the rat out of the trap?

    I say it was Gabe, my friend says it was Stan.
    Anyone want to settle the dispute?

    • nptexas

      Stan but i’m going to re-watch

    • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

      It was Stan.

    • http://piblet.tumblr.com/ Anastasia

      Stan — T & L point out that Stan and Peggy have a history of using “Tuesday” as a scapegoat for whenever they want to get out of a conversation or situation. It makes sense that Peggy would call him, since he’s not exactly taken (and expressed his interest), but then again she’s not exactly surprised that he’s in bed with some girl either.

      • ailujailuj

        and the “you can bring her too!” was hilarious.

      • Eric827

        I was hoping Stan would say, “Ma’am, I’ve already told you that your wig will be available on Tuesday. Stop calling me at home in the middle of the night about it!”

  • http://piblet.tumblr.com/ Anastasia

    My favorite parallel of this episode (unintentional or not) was between one of the doormen and Don. The doorman was getting undressed prematurely and got called out on it, and at the end of the episode Don was literally caught with his pants down and looked as disheveled as ever by the time he made it to the lobby. Plus, doorways keep popping up this season.

    While it’s okay to make a mistake at work, Don certainly can’t go back from screwing up as a parent…

  • Jane

    This posting is so fantastic! Thank you, T&L. Every week you produce great Recaps and Mad Style posts, but you have truly outdone yourself this week. The attention to detail in your analysis of Bob Benson is unparalleled.

    • mhleta

      It’s really good. I feel like I’m taking one of those college courses that fills up so fast, people audit it just to bask in the professor’s brilliant insights and the stimulating glass dialogue. It’s Saturday and I’ve been on this board almost every day chewing on this episode.

  • Joan Hanna Pfender

    What character is on the sleeping bag Julie is carrying?

    • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

      We tried so hard to get a clear shot of it and find out, but we just couldn’t do it.

      • Joan Hanna Pfender

        Thanks, it looks so familiar but i cant place it.

      • Joan Hanna Pfender

        Maybe snoopy on his dog house? Btw love all your articles.

      • Joan Hanna Pfender

        Search peanuts sleeping bag. It says “an over night party” on it. It looks almost the same but has more stars in the background.

      • decormaven

        I’d bet it is a Peanuts sleeping bag. The 1960s were when the cartoon hit its merchandise licensing stride.

        • mhleta

          Good call. My sister and I both had Peanuts sleeping bags. And sweat shirts. And calendars. And…

  • Sachie Godwin

    Cat name suggestion: something
    Ps I love you guys

  • lilyvonschtupp

    This just leaves me hungry for this Sunday.

  • yorkjj

    Don’t forget the shoutout to Mark Lindsay in the conversation between the girls and Mitchell. Very funny reference.

  • housefulofboys

    It’s probably too late to get any response on this, but I had a revelation (small) last night. Our power was out so I picked a random episode to watch, “The Suitcase”. So amazing. BUT here’s what struck me. After the long night when Don breaks down after the telephone call, he says about Anna that “she was the only person that really understood me”. And Peggy reaches out to touch him and says, “That’s not true”. I immediately thought of Pete and Peggy’s conversation at the restaurant where he tells her that she knows him, and she nods her agreement.

    Peggy is the glue in this series, she is perceptive and forgiving and understanding and strong. She understands people, which makes her not only a whiz at advertising because she can reach the public’s wants and desires, but she also understands the people around her better than most, maybe not right away, but when she has a little distance to consider and reflect. I still have hope for a redemption of some degree for Don (and Pete) and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Peggy has a part in it. Matthew Weiner said about this episode that Don and Peggy are just alike which is why they fight so much and why they understand each other so well. Peggy obviously sees the mistakes and problems with Don (she asks him in the suitcase episode something to the effect of “How are you going to go on like this?”), and she doesn’t want to be “that Don” but they clearly share an important bond. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

    • 3hares

      I think “to know” is often used in the show as a synonym for love. Didn’t Pete also say to Peggy that he “knew” her when he was telling her he loved her? (He also says that Trudy doesn’t know him.) On this show it’s like the ultimate gift, to be known and also accepted. In Favors Bob reveals himself to Pete also hoping to be known and accepted.

      • housefulofboys

        Yes! I think that’s what I was trying to say. And good point about Pete saying that Trudy didn’t understand him. And obviously Don didn’t feel at the time that Betty understood him (because he said that Anna was the only one), but he may feel differently now after his and Betty’s connection a couple of weeks ago at Bobby’s camp. It’s clear that being married doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you understand your partner.

    • mhleta

      Really good points. But I think Don has said, “You’re the only one who knows me” to every woman he’s been with. When Pete threatens to out him in Season 2? he goes back to Miss Mencken and says it. He says it to the psychiatrist. He says it a lot. Which is odd, because he clearly doesn’t know himself because he can’t as long as he’s living this lie. But yes, Peggy is the glue without trying to be.

  • pattycap11

    about bob…i think the backstory you guys wrote is fantastic, i feel i know this guy, that’s he’s a real person; in fact, i’d like to see a movie about this person you describe. the thing is, though, he isn’t a real person. he’s a character in a tv show, where there is often leeway taken to misdirect in order to advance some theme or plot point. so while i believe bob may well be gay, i still think there is something else going on too, i still think matthew weiner set this character up so that we would mistrust him, because of the mysterious way he was introduced and the general air of superficiality about his whole affect. his loneliness is affecting and heartbreaking if he’s just gay. or there’s something more. we don’t know. he still gives me a sociopath vibe, whether or not he’s gay. anyway, we’ll find out soon enough what’s going on with bob. i know one thing, he makes every scene interesting.

  • BethAnn3

    I’m calling it right now and believe Bob and Pete will hook up by the season finale, probably in the season finale. Maybe not full-blown hook-up, because its non-pay cable, but hugging, kissing and a tasteful closing of a door. I’m not sure it was that that “dangerous” to be gay in New York in the 1960s, in upper class and in creative circles. Sure, cops were harassing and arresting patrons of gay bars, but how do you explain Andy Warhol’s Factory, where there was a big gay scene going on, and it was the center of the New York City art and social world? Even STRAIGHT men were getting involved in gay activities at the Factory to advance their careers. I’m thinking of David Soul, the Starsky & Hutch actor, who spent some time at Warhol’s Factory and by his own admission hooked up with men there, including a “sugar daddy” who paid his rent as he looked for acting jobs. David Soul is an otherwise straight man who has been married to at least three different women, but took advantage of the New York scene back then to move his career ahead (he also got involved with Merv Griffin). Joe Dallesandro was another Warhol actor who was gay for pay but otherwise heterosexual. While advertising was not exactly Warhol’s Factory, it’s a creative scene and I’m sure bosses looked the other way because no doubt people in the art, creative, and other departments had some gay people in their ranks. Remember, even the Sal character was not fired from the firm for being gay, but because he wouldn’t sleep with a gay client when asked. In some ways, the ad agency thinking it was okay to offer their gay employee to a gay client is more outrageous and modern-thinking than a couple of male employees engaging in a discreet assignation or relationship.

    • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

      Your argument is akin to saying, “Sure, black people faced horrible racism in The 1960s BUT HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN MOTOWN? The cops were turning fire hoses on some of them, but I don’t think it was THAT ‘dangerous’ for black people!”

      The fact that Andy Warhol and his Factory existed has practically nothing at all to do with the experiences of gay people at the time.

      And when you try and use some questionably heterosexual actor’s reminiscences about using gay men to further his career as a way to argue that things weren’t so bad for gay men back in the 1960s, you’ve not only lost the plot, you’ve lost all perspective.

      • mhleta

        Yes! AND, when it was happening, Andy Warhol’s factory was very much underground, the complete opposite of a mainstream ad agency. My father worked for WABD TV Channel 5 in the 60s and has lots of stories from the era. There was one obviously gay man who worked at the station–kind of a Sal but more effeminate, if that gives you a picture. He was tolerated because he was good at his job, but otherwise, he was an outcast. Straight men wouldn’t be caught alone with him for fear of “catching” it. My dad and my mom lived in Princeton, NJ during the 50s and just outside in the 60s. They had a good friend whose husband left her for a man. The town was scandalized, and in todays terms it would be like discovering he’d been having sex with a child. Times have changed a LOT. Don’t kid yourself, BethaAnn3.

  • Sashima

    I don’t know if this ground has been covered before in the comments because I didn’t read them all (there are 867 presently!), but I watched the season pilot episode, “The Doorway”, again after reading your post. Paying close attention to Bob Benson, I watched for Pete’s reaction to being handed the other cup of coffee. Pete reacted as if this happened every day! No surprise or thank you, just sort of a nod of the head. Bob’s courtship of Pete had already been going on probably since he was hired.
    Matt Weiner always says that the whole season can be found in the first episode. BTW, I love your Mad Men blog as much as I love Basket of Kisses!

  • therainexploded

    Loving your blogs—especially this week’s, due to your insight into what it would’ve been like to have been Bob in 1968. Thank you for that–it moved me to tears and also educated me (I’d never heard of Polari before). Bob reminds me of Don (I call him Long Dick Don) when he was young, desperate, and selling fur coats. My parents were married In the fall of 1968 (I arrived into this world 5 months later) and in their wedding pictures my dad looked just like Harry Crane and my mom wore yellow. They had a bed spread just like Ted and Nan’s and matching red flocked wallpaper. It rocked.

  • HairyBearyGuy

    Not looking good for our boy Bobbie. Then Pete somehow one ups him? I’m so confused that I had to check to make sure I took the right meds at dinner. o_O

  • archasa

    Thank you! This was truly interesting and informative about a very difficult subject. I’m glad Mad Men have added a gay character who does not conform to the stereotypes of today, but druves home how difficult it was for certain groups in society to take up any space.
    I never saw Bob as the least sinister or weird. I just assumed he was a new type of social climber, corporate kiss-ass (in the metaphorical sense) who tries to get ahead through self help manuals and being indispensible. He had struck me as curiously bad at it though – over the top and incapable of the male banter that has connected so many other male employees as SC previously. Combined with last night’s episode and this info it makes sense. He is emulating, imitating, but does not have it in the bones.
    What’s interesting is that Don has been far better at masking his background, even though Roger keeps teasing him about the dialect that appears at times.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Great post. But wasn’t Sal married? I remember a scene with him having dinner with Kenny and wife and I believe it was a foursome. Also, wasn’t there a scene where he was acting out Bye Bye Birdie for his wife (seems like they were in bed, and he got up to perform), and it sort of clicked for her: “Oh, I get it. He’s gay…”

    /Edit for stupidity: Just read one more paragraph. Never mind

  • SFree

    Prell shampoo … when I heard the reference, I thought “they should be using Herbal Essenses!”. But I just checked and HE didn’t come out until 1972. You can still get Prell, though. Or at least get a whiff in the drugstore aisle!

  • Laurel

    Brilliant post about Bob. In the Castro last week, I saw a great t-shirt with a picture of Bob Benson smiling, with the words “What about Bob…?”

    HOWEVER….

    It’s possible Bob isn’t gay, and was just trying to curry favor with a man he thought was gay: Pete. Haven’t you always picked up gaydar from Pete? I have. In the earliest episodes, I thought for sure he was the closet case along with Sal. Pete is so gay, by today’s standards, in his manner, dialect, attire, urban pose. However, of course, anybody over 50 (that’s me) remembers a time when lots of straight guys were like that. When being a literate, effete stylish guy was an attractive trait. (Think: George Plimpton, William F Buckley, William Powell, David Nivens, Rex Harrison, etc.) That disappeared with the Gay Movement on the 60s and 70s. Straight guys froze up and today, unless a dude is a computer geek, no straight dude is dapper or elegant any more. Only gay guys are. Sad loss for straight women, frankly.

    I am not saying Pete is gay. I am saying he might be, and not know about it, and he might give off that vibe and Bob might be trying to curry favor.

    My point is that Pete always struck me as a gay dude, despite all the plot twists. So perhaps he strikes Bob Benson as a gay dude, too, and Bob would do anything to get favor with Pete. So he makes the assumption. Who knows at this point. Does Joan know Bob is gay? She knew about Sal. Remember her face after their stage kiss that time in the office? She knew. So if she knows about Bob, we haven’t seen it. And for such an amazing office person, it’s striking that she didn’t pick up his shady past when he was hired.

    This is just a theory. Because I’m not sure why Matthew Weiner has created in Bob Benson, or knows who he really is. It’s not like last night was any big reveal, other than to make a wink at the parallels with Don Draper, i.e., that Bob’s past is a fraud, that Bob’s really a redneck pretending to be something else, or that *big chuckles here* Pete doesn’t remember hiring Bob, much in the way Roger didn’t remember hiring Don.

    What to me is the most fascinating twist and parallel so far, is that Pete went looking for the truth about Bob (same as he did with Don) and found it, then didn’t do anything about it (same as he did with Don). I have replayed the scene several times, and Pete’s reaction is a total mystery to me. What’s he up to? Obviously, he wants to use Bob in some way, but… uhm… really? Why? Has he been using Don? Not really. So wtf is up with this.

    And only one more episode to go.

    Wiener usually doesn’t pull major plot twists in the last show of the season. That usually comes before. But this year, I’m at a loss. Will next week end with a bang or a whimper?

    One thing is for sure. Season Six Mad Men has been brilliant and wonderful, but it isn’t at all the same show, not at all, that it was the first couple seasons. It’s a totally different show, different animal, different theme, different lighting, different mood, different Don. Just as good, but not at all a tome about a period in time. Which was originally the point of your blog. It’s a tome about something else. I miss the period behavior, but still, I am in love with the show. It hasn’t jumped the shark and probably won’t. But I’m pleasantly lost and can’t wait to find out what happens to Don. I stopped caring a few episodes ago, but with the Sally plot twist, I suddenly care deeply.

    Bob? I don’t care as much as I did. I love the actor. I love the story. But it’s almost beside the point.

  • Laurel

    Oh, I lost track of a point in my post, which is: No, Bob would not come out to somebody and risk his career. But he would come out if he thought the guy was gay. Gays WERE indeed very out to one another back in the 60s. They used clues, like the color of a handkerchief in the pocket, or the color of a tie. Bob thinks Pete is gay, and there must be some reason for that.

    • 3hares

      Where are you getting that Bob thinks Pete is gay? He has no reason whatsoever to think Pete is gay. Or even if he thought Pete was gay he’s got no reason to think Pete’s open about it. What Bob knows about Pete is that he’s married to a woman, goes to brothels and just casually called someone a degenerate for being gay.

      Even his speech to Pete is not spoken from one gay man to another. Bob’s trying to explain to Pete that sometimes “true love” can be with the “wrong” person.

  • Jim Peterson

    A must read — and should be a chapter in gay history books. I found a copy of The Best Little Boy in the World in 6th grade and it was life changing. Bob Benson is a wonderfully written character and inspires me to thank our gay elders for the progress they forged for us.

  • Chicago Grrl

    I guess you were wrong when you wrote “Here is what we know about Bob Benson.” Matthew Weiner conned me too.

  • emailedanonymously

    You left out Lee Garner Jr (SP). He is a gay character who like Bob, but unlike Sal, was hetero-passing. I don’t think Sal’s mannerisms were a mistake by the writers or actor but rather a choice to show one avenue of depiction. Lee is deep closet, Sal is Liberace gay, Bob is just Bob. Also, that foreign ad guy was open gay. So that’s four gay examples. 1 ) Deep closet. 2) Deep closet but Liberace style. 3) Hidden but there. 4) Open.

  • Sarah Zibanejadrad

    Obviously there were far more important things that happened in this episode, but I must be the only one enthralled by the fact that this is the first time pretty much since the baby that Pete and Peggy acknowledged their past relationship. I know I should feel disgusted with myself for thinking this, but I kind of always wanted Pete and Peggy to be together. They were perfect foils to one another: childish, impatient, blue-blooded Pete who could only bare his feelings to the cunning, talented, formerly blue collar Peggy. I always thought they could bring out the best in one another and this episode gave me that hope again. But alas, I know Pete is prone to being a douche and Peggy has moved onto Ted.

  • malarson2

    I truly feel smarter after reading this. And it’s not just because of your amazing ability to get me to look at scenes and characters differently based upon how they are dressed. Its also your in-depth analysis of BB and his public and private lives, patterns, and behaviors and how it’s all such new info to me, sad as that may be. I think it’s stuff (including the extra reading and viewing material you provide) that is just important for us to study in the knowledge of the human rights struggle that gays have lived, as what we all study to learn the civil rights movement for African Americans. I should already know this stuff. Well done.

  • Kristin Crase

    I can’t find the picture now, but I absolutely have a pic of my grandmother in the sleeveless top that Nan is wearing! I remember her wearing it well into the early 80′s!

  • maya s

    I was wondering what they were all watching on tv! thank you!!

    I still say the cat should be called “Roger” :P

  • maya s

    doesn’t the morning kitchen scene with Sally and Julie echo (however briefly) the costuming of Peggy sitting with Pete’s mother?
    though it’s reversed, since Julie in green is all about the feminine pleasures while Sally *tries* to keep it “business”.

    It warmed my heart to see Ted and his boys… though it shows how dangerous anything with Peggy could be. there are more people to hurt here.
    That bedroom is .. wow. isn’t it strange how in the first scene Ted’s wife in that bed looks just like the painting over her head?

  • Rebecca Morton

    How are you guys attenuating your analysis of Bob’s backstory now that we know his resume was “written on steam?”

  • Cliff Arroyo

    I’m very late here, but shouldn’t Peggy’s cat be named Sonny?