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Mad Men: Three Ibsen Plays

Matt Weiner in a former life

Dramatic Literature was my first English credit at college and I remember thinking that it was really fun but totally useless.  When was I ever going to use it?  Apparently, it was a concept waiting for an application.

Decades later, Matt Weiner created Mad Men.  I started watching Mad Men in the second season, just before the episode The Mountain King.  It took me a few days to catch up (continuously down loading from iTunes).  And then I saw the method in his Madness.  Weiner is recreating at least three plays by Henrik Ibsen.  Here is RD’s Ibsen Theory of Mad Men:

Ibsen play #1: Don Draper is Peer Gynt

Run away! Run away!

Peer Gynt is an adventurous dreamer.  He is a creative and gifted storyteller.  But his whole life is one of avoidance.  Early on in the play, he runs off with the rich farmer’s daughter, but then dumps her and becomes an outlaw.  There is a beautiful young woman named Solveig who encounters Peer throughout the play.  Peer’s adventures take him to the home of the Mountain King, a troll,  where he engages in an existential discussion about what separates man from troll.  The Mountain King tells him that man says, “To thy self be true” while trolls say, “Be true to yourself-ish”.  Peer meets a Green Woman who turns out to be the Mountain King’s daughter.  She’s beautiful on the outside but really a troll under her skirts.  They have some kind of relationship.  She says she’s pregnant, he says he never touched her. He returns home and finds Solveig waiting for him.  She says she knows all about who and what he is and she is willing to stay with him warts and all.  Peer welcomes her into the house he built for them.  They are happy for about a split second because the Green Woman shows up dragging a crippled child with her.  The child is the product of their illicit affair.  Peer denies this but the Green Woman curses him and says that the evidence of Peer’s infidelity will always come between him and Solveig.  Peer decides to run away.  He has more adventures, wins and loses fortunes, is pressured to sign some tricky contracts, engages in some shady and disreputable business careers (advertising, anyone?) and in the end is forced to confront his life and whether he has been true to himself.

Ok, I don’t think there is any question that Don Draper/Dick Whitman is the Peer Gynt storyline.  If you’ve been following the show, you’ll see the existential struggle as the main event.  Who is Don Draper?  What kind of man is he?  But the current season focuses on his relationship with Solveig and the Green Woman or Betty and Suzanne.  Betty is the idealized woman to Don.  She is beautiful, sophisticated and pure.  He feels most sexually attracted to her when she pretends to be someone else, as in her flirtation with him when they went to Rome together in the episode Souvenir.  Otherwise, Betty is the mother figure to Don and therefore untouchable, which is frustrating and confounding Betty.

In the last couple of episodes, Betty finds out Don’s true identity and confronts him.  Realizing that divorcing him without clear proof of infidelity might leave her penniless and force her to give up her children, Betty appears to have decided to accept Don/Dick.  The mysterious Don Draper is suddenly starting to make sense to her.   The last few moments of the last episode are the most touching of the series.  Don wakes up after his confession, not knowing what to expect from his wife or life.  She stands in the kitchen, calm, clear eyed and less tense than we’ve ever seen her.  She asks him if she can get him something for breakfast.  He answers no, they look at each other knowingly, he gently touches her cheek but does not kiss her.  She greets him at the end of the day in the same manner, offers him the rest of her hot dog and they go trick or treating with their children.  This is as good as it gets as far as marital bliss.  It is a simple tableau of coming home to warmth and acceptance. They start fresh from this point.

BUT, the Green Woman is still out there.  In Peer Gynt, the Green Woman seems to symbolize eroticism and infidelity.  We’ve seen Don’s struggle with both.  It’s a fight he often loses.  Usually, Don keeps his little forays in tight little compartments.  He doesn’t boff the secretaries and he doesn’t covet his neighbor’s wife.  This time is different.  Suzanne is his daughter’s former teacher.  Early on, she asks him if he really wants to dally so close to home.  Don’s having some issues at work and feels under pressure to sign a contract (ding!, ding!, ding!) and he gives into his attraction to her.  He first sees Suzanne dancing under a Maypole, a symbol of nature and fertility.  But each encounter after that is darker, shadowed.  The sun is eclipsed, he meets her running in the wee small hours of the night, he visits her in her dark, poorly lit over-the-garage apartment.  Could it be that all this darkness is obscuring Suzanne’s true nature?  Does the darkness allow him to touch the animal, erotic nature at the core of the sexual experience?  We can only speculate.  Don appears to see something about Suzanne that eludes the rest of us.

However, one thing is certain.  Suzanne is getting closer to her target.  The boundary between Don’s erotic world and the home that he is trying to protect is being breached.  The Green Woman is moving from public sphere- the school, to neighborhood -as a nocturnal runner, to Don’s public image- encountering him on his morning commute on the train, to right outside his house- when he leaves her in his car to go in to get some clothes for their rendezvous in Connecticut.  There are two episodes left for her to finally physically come between Don and Betty.  The season’s ending is going to coincide with the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Weiner says that he will not focus on the assassination.  That territory has been covered. (Update:  He lied.  I guess it was unavoidable.  Nevertheless, he’s gotten it out of the way, leaving the last episode open for the final confrontation.)   But the parallels between the end of Camelot, that perfect tableau of domestic bliss, and the end of the Draper’s marriage are pretty clear.  Peer and Solveig are going to be separated.  They won’t get back together for a long time.

Ibsen Play #2: A Doll’s House or Betty is Nora.

What *do* women want?

Nora Helmer is a woman who has it all.  Three children, a well respected husband, Torvald, and soon the financial security that will allow her the kind of lifestyle her family has waited a decade to enjoy.  Early in the marriage when she was pregnant with her first child, her husband’s doctor tells her that Torvald will die from consumption if he does not spend time in a warmer, drier climate.  Because they are poor, and because her father is dying (or recently dead), Nora forges her father’s signature on a promisory note from a disreputable lawyer.  Women do not have the right to take out loans in their own names so she has broken the law.  But she reasons that she has done this for a noble cause and that if Torvald ever finds out, he will come to forgive her.  After Torvald’s recovery, Nora secretly takes on work in order to pay off the lawyer.  She is almost finished paying back the loan when Torvald is made manager of the bank where the lawyer now works.  Torvald vows to fire the lawyer because of the lawyer’s past transgressions.  Torvald’s tragic flaw is his intense preoccupation with appearances and propriety.  He doesn’t want the lawyer’s past blotting his own reputation.  Torvald also treats his wife as a child.  She is his lark, his little squirrel, his little wife, play acting as a grown up.  When Torvald finds out about the loan, he is immediately concerned with his own reputation and sets about disciplining his wife.  He forbids her from raising her own children.  She finally comes to realize that she has been living in a dream world.  She has been a doll in her father’s and then her husband’s houses.  She has no identity or rights except that which they have given her.  She decides that she is incapable of loving her husband or raising her children because this was not freely her choice.  She decides to leave her family in order to exercise her free will and become the person she is meant to be.

Betty Draper, nee Hofstadt, is a woman trapped by convention.  She is a beautiful, well educated, poised, pampered suburban housewife.  She is also bored out of her gourd.  A couple of episodes ago, we found out that Betty was an anthropology major at Bryn Mawr and she says she never uses it.  But we have seen Betty paying very close attention to the social confines of her world and have even witnessed her knowledge of human nature to manipulate her friends into cheating.   Betty may not be the wittiest person in the world and her emotional restraint, something she blames on her Nordic heritage, makes her appear cold and humorless.  But Betty knows that something isn’t right with the constructed environment in which she lives, which strips all agency from her and other housewives and infantilizes them.  Betty reads.  We’ve caught her reading Ship of Fools, The Great Gatsby and The Group.  It’s only a matter of time before she reads The Feminine Mystique.

Throughout this season, we have seen Betty’s own struggle with identity.  She has dreams of her mother telling her to be happy with what she has and to keep her mouth shut.  But Betty longs for an emotional connection with her husband and an intellectual connection with the rest of the world.  She is conflicted about the birth of her third child (there is some overlap here with Hedda Gabler, see below).  She’s depressed.  She snaps out at her children and can’t connect with her daughter Sally, who shows some evidence of misbehavior due to neglect. Unlike Nora, Betty’s problem is not necessarily that her husband is infantilizing her, although he does make a big deal about “showing her off” as the beautiful trophy wife she is.  It is the culture of the early, pre-sexual revolution 60’s that is hemming Betty in.  It is the obstetrician who tells her she is pregnant and then when he sees she is unhappy about it tells her to let her husband take on the burden of worrying.  It is the small town atmosphere that insists that her conduct remain above reproach.  It is the hospital where she goes to deliver that straps her down during labor and administers drugs to her without her consent.  It is the lawyer who tells her she doesn’t have the right to divorce in New York state unless she can prove conclusively that her husband is an adulterer.  It is the whole construct of the 60’s American experience that has defined the rigid confines of the box she is in, one that she entered into willingly, trained by her mother and her social caste, and which she finds to be artificial and empty.

She has been flirting with Henry, a Republican political operative.  But instead of giving into Betty’s desire to be swept away and rescued, Henry stands firm and tells Betty that she will have to come to him of her own free will.  She will have to decide if a relationship with Henry is what she wants and if she is willing to break with convention to have it.  She is also confronted with her role in Don’s life when she discovers his true identity.  She wants to confront him immediately but he eludes her.  When she has a chance to talk to him, he interrupts her anger and tells her to get ready for a dinner where he is to be honored as a humanitarian.  His respectability in the society is rising and he uses her as a status symbol, much like his new Cadillac.  She is a possession to him.  As she gets ready for the dinner, we see her in her gown in the bathroom, struggling to resume her role in her story, burying her anger, arranging her face.  She knows now that she is a doll and she sees the reality of her world.

What will be the trigger to cause her to reevaluate her life and take control of it?  What will Betty become after Camelot’s brief, shining moment is over?

Ibsen play #3: Joan Holloway Harris is Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler is one of the most complex characters in Ibsen’s repertoire.  I think Weiner has mixed some of Hedda with Betty and some of Nora with Joan.  Betty’s facility with shotguns and fascination with fainting couches come to mind.  Hedda’s complicated interior monologue can be shared with several female characters including Peggy as well.  Hedda is a product of her time.

But does it go with Danish Modern?

Hedda Gabler spent her youth having a good time and then began to realize that she was in danger of becoming a spinster.  The social stigma of becoming an old maid spurs her to find a marriageable partner.  She was once in love with Eilert Loveborg but Eilert, an intelligent man from a good family, is reckless.  He ruins himself with too much wine and women.  On a whim, she marries Tesman.  Tesman is a good man but not the brightest bulb in the pack.  He is a scholar studying for his PhD and hoping to get a position at the university.  It is his intention to give Hedda everything that is good in life: a beautiful villa, servants, horses and financial security.  But he hasn’t secured the position yet.  Hedda and Tesman return from their wedding trip, a trip they took on borrowed money, and live in the lovely villa that Tesman has secured without any visible means of support.  More complications ensue.  Eilert has gotten his act together and has written a brilliant book that makes Tesman’s work pale in comparison.  Also, Hedda *may* be pregnant.  This is not absolutely clear in the play but she doesn’t deny it when others infer this about her.  Eilert is now competition for Tesman for the same position at the university.  It turns out that Eilert has a research assistant, Thea, who was once a schoolmate of Hedda’s.  Thea loves Eilert and helps him reform his life.  She helps Eilert write his book.  Hedda is jealous of Thea’s ability to influence Eilert’s life.  Eilert comes to Hedda and confesses that although he owes a great deal to Thea, Hedda is his only love of his life.  Hedda rejects him and then provokes him to prove he is a man by drinking more than he should over Thea’s protests.  Eilert goes partying with Tesman and some other friends and ends up disgracing himself at a whorehouse.  He loses the second book that he has been writing with Thea’s help.  Thea is upset but vows to help Eilert get himself together.  She goes in search of him.  Meantime, Eilert’s second book falls into Tesman’s hands.  He debates what to do with it but in the end decides to return it to Eilert.  Too late!  Hedda has burned Eilert’s book.  Eilert returns to Hedda in despair over his missing book.  He feels guilt because he finally realizes that it is Thea who is the source of all of his strength and inspiration.  Hedda gives him a pistol and tells him to die beautifully.  He goes out to another whorehouse to drown his sorrows and accidentally shoots himself with Hedda’s gun and dies.  The fact that it is Hedda’s gun make her a target of blackmail.  Hemmed in by her domestic circumstances and the loss of the love of her life, she commits suicide while Tesman and Thea work to reconstruct Eilert’s book.

Whew!  That was long.

Joan is paralleling the Hedda story pretty well.  She doesn’t have Hedda’s confounding personality but her goals mirror Hedda’s.  Joan had her fun in Manhattan and was the person who held the Sterling-Cooper office together.  But in her early 30’s, she looked around for a marriage partner and not seeing one at Sterling Cooper, she married the next best thing- an up and coming surgeon.  She dreamed of a life of ease in the suburbs.  Except, it turns out that her husband, aside from being a rapist, is not a very good surgeon.  He was hoping to become chief resident.  Instead, he ends up losing his surgical residency.  Joan doesn’t know this when she quits her job in anticipation of living her suburban dream with her doctor husband who promises to provide for her.  She finds out about their sudden change in circumstances on the eve of her last day of work.

Meanwhile, Roger Sterling, the dissolute scion of one of the agency’s founders, has divorced his first wife and married one of his secretaries, Jane.  But Roger and Joan were once an item.  Roger clearly loved Joan but was married to Mona at the time and Joan didn’t see a future for them.  Now that Jane is in the picture, Roger seems to be settling down.  Ok, he still does really offensive things, like singing in blackface at the country club.  But in general, Jane seems to be having a stabilizing effect on Roger.  There is no love lost between Jane and Joan.  Joanie is clearly more intelligent and sympathetic.   Jane is too young for Roger and a gold-digger but for some peculiar, unfathomable reason, Jane gets Roger.

Joan’s storyline is the most uncertain.  She has to get a new job.  Greg has joined the army to practice surgery.  He doesn’t see Vietnam in his future but we do and, Ok, we’re kind of hoping he doesn’t make it.  Joan?  She’s gone to the one person she trusts and feels closest to in order to find a job- Roger.  He is trying to hook her up with a friend.  What happens to her after this season is a mystery.  Will she disappear forever?  Will she come back?  Will she end up an army wife?  Is this a suicide or a homocide by Weiner?

Ok, here’s your chance to tell me I’m all wrong about this theory.  Weiner may have never read Ibsen in his life and this is all original material.  Ehhh, even Shakespeare got his plots from other sources but the language was all his own.  If Weiner is going for Ibsen here, it would make perfect sense.  Ibsen was writing in the Victorian era, which pigeonholed the individual into roles for life.  His plays were all about self-discovery and self-actualization against the mind set of the collective, the consensus reality.  Mad Men is a chronicle of the 60’s and how American culture shook off the stifling conservatism and conformity of the post WWII era.  But the forces of conformity are strong.  In a sense, we are back to that era after having passed through a period of social unrest and sexual revolution.  As we learned to our horror last year, women still do not have the same opportunities to succeed as men.  We have watched confident, capable women reduced to charicatures.  They  are bitches or Caribou barbies, aggressive  or bubble headed.  Our country is also going through an identity crisis.  Are we the land of the selfish or the country of the more perfect union, striving for domestic tranquility and providing for the general welfare? Do we want to nourish creativity or harness it to the ruling class? Where do we go from here?

Your turn…


54 Responses

  1. Great. Now I’m going to have to watch another show.

    • Why? We haven’t gotten to Enemy of the People or Ghosts yet. And we don’t know how all of this will turn out. The Ibsen plays left characters hanging, well, when they weren’t busy killing themselves. I can’t wait to see what happens with Suzanne and what is about to happen to Peggy (I see a reverse Strindberg in the interaction with Pete and Peggy) Besides, I never thought I’d actually be able to apply all this dramatic crap in my life. Most television series aren’t that interesting.

      • No, now I have to spend an entire day watching the old episodes of Mad Men (btw..how many are there?) so I can start watching it. I loved Doll’s House and HD in college. Missed the other. Like I don’t have enough to do!!!

        • I think I’ll skip the other Ibsen plays for now..and it will all be new to me!
          I’ll let you know what I think. I got really into True Blood which is not my cup of tea. And Dexter of all things. oh well…this sounds a bit better for me.

          • I loved the first few Southern Vampire novels. But then Charlaine Harris started adding more supernatural creatures and plot and motivation went out the window. The first season of True Blood lacked the charm of the books and the spunkiness of the heroine. The second season was better but even then, the Marianne storyline got to be absurd.
            Oh, well, I’ll stick with it for the third season and hope for the best. At least it’s mindless entertainment.

          • Dexter is also excellent. Great acting.

    • HD, HG..whatever

  2. I always thought Weiner’s starting point was Bewitched, only with a dark, angsty tone and none of the supernatural elements. The Drapers and Roger Sterling all struck me as deconstructive reimaginings of the Samantha, Darren, and Larry Tate.

  3. Great analysis, Riverdaughter. I remember studying Ibsen in high school and university but would never had made these connections.

    Just a couple of things I’ve noticed in watching Mad Men this season:

    1. When Don signed the contract, the date was July 23, 1963.

    2. The date of Roger’s daughter’s wedding is November 23, 1963, the day after the assassination (I imagine that event might cap this season, but I could be wrong…)

    Is there something up with the number “23”?

    Also, in a recent interview, the actress who plays Suzanne mentioned that Weiner told her to read the lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s song/poem “Suzanne” before playing the role. Unlike just about everyone else who comments on the character of Suzanne, I really like her and see no dark or sabotaging crazy woman who’s determined to insert herself into Don’s life. Yes, she was too close for comfort, but I truly belief she is more representative of what is to come…she’s the promise of tomorrow, of a life that has shed the conformity of their unnatural lives (you phrased this far more eloquently). I think she truly fell in love with Don but new the limitation of their relationship. He says “Goodbye, Suzanne”…she will accept that. Suzanne is indeed a better partner for Don/Dick than Betty could ever be (remember when she asked, through her tears, how he was doing, and he remarked that she’s the only person who would ask that in a similar situation?). But Betty is what he (Don Draper) needs right now: she’s the beautiful wife, the mother of his children, the accomplished conformer in their suburbtopia. I believe they will stay together and Suzanne will disappera. When the sixties really explode, later, some seasons hence, and Don/Dick sheds the facade, he will seek out his Suzanne (or another like her) and runaway with her to utopia (Bali, Tahiti, California, wherever!).

    Of course, I could be wrong about all this!

  4. That is some tasty lit crit, RD. thanks for taking the time to expound. I agree that just about all artistic expression is, at the center, variation on a theme.
    I think you had it distilled earlier in the week with
    B meets G, B gets G, B loses G, B gets G back.
    Draping the bones and filling the gaps is the art.

    • Nice to see more of you.

      • nice to be seen, water sprite!

        If you’re interested in guessing, (some are not I know) I had revelatory dreams about the last two episodes. I’m going to put them up in comments at the other shop. trying to trim them down (editing is hard,!! like math, but with words)
        No spoilage involved, don’t “know” anything but took a stab from reading narrative tea leaves in my sleep, (admittedly after much halloween grog though.)

        Have any one specific prediction for tonight?

        • No fricking clue. I think Betty is going to become more comfortable with Dick Whitman. Was it you who compared Lane Pryce to Colonel Nicholson? Brilliant.
          I don’t think Suzanne is crazy but her relationship with Don is just as dangerous anyway.
          Which thread are you posting your theories in?

          • Yeah I like the River Kwai notes but couldn’t really figure out where else that would possibly lead.
            Sabotage for the bigger picture? I trust there won’t be dynamite involved. (that would be soapy)
            I think I have a legitmate read on the title of next week’s closer though.
            I’m gonna comment in the “Don still has a secret”, I put something there earlier.
            It’s long-winded but I had fun with it. Come read

  5. Great post RD. I love archetypal theories. Haven’t watched Mad Men yet. It must be on during one of my hubby’s favorite shows.

  6. Oh man, this show sounds really good. I may actually have to turn the TV on again. Thanks for this fascinating review, RD.

    • It really is that good, BB. Mad Men finally gives that lit course meaning. Mad Men is like a classic novel in a sea of pulp fiction. It drives me nuts when people interpret it in terms of a prime time soap.

      • I saw a clip from it earlier today, and I was thinking maybe I should try watching it. I think I can see some old episodes on “on demand.”

      • That’s what sticks in my craw also.
        I’ve wondered about why it is. Another site I read, the host takes such great care in writing reviews, now and then, of movies and some TV. He and I are on the same page 95% of the time and when we’re not at least I understand his perspective but he off-handedly dismissed MM as second-rate soap opera, not worth the time. I was gobsmacked. How could we be viewing the same drama?
        Is it generational maybe? I think I relate to it because it shines a light on what my parents may have actually been living in. So maybe I look harder at the sociological and philosophical aspects Weiner presents. And literature and film is layered all over the presentation. It impossible to miss and easy to access.
        Soap opera my ass.

        • I think you’re onto something there Less – I lived through those years and for women – it wasn’t a lot of fun. I finished school and started working in the sixties, as I think back on it I find it hard to believe I actually put up with some of the stuff they threw at us. I have not watched MM simply because I really don’t want to go back.

          • joanelle-
            “I have not watched MM simply because I really don’t want to go back.”

            That’s a legitimate reason for many.
            I have read that sentiment in a lot of blogs. My uncle doesn’t watch for the same reason. “too close to the truth” he says. He’s a pharmacist, prefers “House” , likes to second guess fictional doctors.

  7. Great analysis , RD . I am a long time fan of the show.

    One realization I came to after watching MM: I always had an idealized vision of the 60s in America and often thought that I would have liked to be a young person here at that time. I realize now that it was actually a very unsettling period in US history and it was probably a very confusing time when long established institutions ( educational, military, paramilitary) were losing their validity.Ibsen as you rightly pointed out – wrote his plays at the time when the human psyche was emerging like a chrysalis from the constrains of the repressed Victorian era. The 60s were like that for America – maybe that’s why we see the parallels!

    • I was a wee bairn during the period in question. My mom was Peggy’s age but she took the Betty Draper route. Yes, it is fascinating to watch these train wrecks because we can see how it turned out for our parents.

      • BTW, RD – based on your recommendation, I got The Clinton Tapes a week or so ago and wish I had more time to devote to it – it’s facinating

  8. I know little about Ibsen’s works and haven’t watched any of “Mad Men”, but I’m fascinated with your finding literary themes and characters in contemporary tv stories, RD. I’ll try to catch MM before the episodes run out.

    btw, I’ve just started reading 5 sponges “The Clinton Tapes”.

    • Once you get into Mad Men, you might as well give up on a clean house. Each episode requires multiple viewings to get all the dramatic goodness.

      • sounds like something I’ll have to do over winter break … As soon as I get all this fall stuff done I’m going to need a bunch of days to absorb something outside of my own zone

  9. Runa — I’m happy about growing up in the ’60s. Up until November 23, 1963, as a teen, I felt more secure then than I do now. Post-WW2 was a boom time. Sure we have progressed over the 40 years, but have badly backtracked in areas like women’s equality and the sexualization of nearly everything.

    • peregrine:
      Thanks for the insight! I think i had a romanticized view of the 60s – woodstock, the summer of love etc + i would have loved to be around at the start of the feminist movement ( before all this post -feminist BS began ! )

  10. CIT just filed for bankruptcy: be prepared to see the secondary market for factored receivables to go boom tomorrow … I wouldn’t want to be a small business selling durable goods about now…

    With $71 billion in assets and nearly $65 billion in liabilities, CIT is among the largest corporate bankruptcies on record, though it is dwarfed by the likes of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. The company said in its bankruptcy petition that it had $800 million in bonds maturing from Sunday through Tuesday.


    • fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck

      • Jimmy or Bunk in the house!??! lol
        Send McNulty to Wall Street to get some justice.
        Love profanity BTW, need more salty everyday conversations.

      • the real credit market is still NOT good, not the casino banking industry but the lend to business side of things

        • it averted the worst form of bankruptcy by negotiating with our favorite vampires squid

          • Goldman Sachs?

          • yup

            Last week, the company secured several important agreements to aid its prepackaged bankruptcy plan. It obtained a $4.5 billion loan from several investors, including bondholders who lent it $3 billion earlier this summer. It also reached an accord with Goldman Sachs that would preserve a $2.13 billion loan even through bankruptcy protection, while paying only a portion of a $1 billion termination fee.

            from the above NY Times article

        • They act like reckless teenagers. You can tell them to behave responsibly but once they hit 18, they can tattoo themselves from head to toe and there’s not a thing you can do about it. They will regret it and so will we but by that time, we will all be a whole lot poorer.

          • Wall Street Investment bankers are basically a bunch of men that never grow up and they enjoy playing reckless games still like chicken … it’s the addiction to an adrenalin high

    • Wow, I have a number of friends who work in their corporate offices. Doggone it.

  11. Wow RD. Makes me want to read and reread Ibsen more than watch Mad Men. Too close. Will watch it someday for sure. Enjoy tonight.

    OT, so Joe Scarborough is stuck on the tarmac for three hours because BO is flying into Newark for the final Corzine push. He begins to spew, sample: @JoeNBC: God help me but I am really beginning to hate political parties and the feckless followers they create. Political parties promote stupidity.

    OT again, I like Glenn Greenwald’s consistency.


  12. RD; But the forces of conformity are strong. In a sense, we are back to that era after having passed through a period of social unrest and sexual revolution. As we learned to our horror last year, women still do not have the same opportunities to succeed as men. We have watched confident, capable women reduced to charicatures. They are bitches or Caribou barbies, aggressive or bubble headed. Our country is also going through an identity crisis. Are we the land of the selfish or the country of the more perfect union, striving for domestic tranquility and providing for the general welfare? Do we want to nourish creativity or harness it to the ruling class? Where do we go from here?

    Beautiful RD. I don”t know if Weiner”s parallels are intentional, but you make an excellent case. The Bard himself said, “There are no new stories (just reinterpretations). This season has really been masterful, & tonight”s episode was one of the best ever IMHO. I just love the patient, probing pace, like good literature; the intelligence and subtlety of multiple story lines; the elegant, accurate period set & costume design; and especially the examination of political and social mores. This kind of quality doesn’t come along often.

  13. Spammy ate my long comment…

  14. I download “Mad Men” (buy the season at iTunes) and have a pack with myself exercise on the elliptical trainer, rower, or treadmill while I watch it.

    After I watch one season, I rewatch it! It does bear repeating. Multi-layered.

    (Since I have no TV, I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to download it.)
    Today I got “The Clinton Tapes” from audible this afternoon to accompany my housework.

    Am just at the beginning of Branch’s narrative, but I so do miss having a brilliant President in the White House. The fact that Bill is a gifted politician and a true public servant…nostalgia for what might have been.

  15. When the series comes out on DVD — I’ll get it. I no longer have a working TV — that way I never have to listen to teh ONE. The last time I had to sit through an evangelical crusade I was hanging on to my chair — because I wanted to stand up and scream — LIAR, LIAR. Whenever I hear teh ONE — I suffer from flash backs to that time and horrible place.

    However I did love the production of A Doll House done by the Seattle Rep. Theater a few years back. So I think I would enjoy Mad Men — in the context of RD’s review. But I need to control the ads — and the BS coming from the “box” — so I watch DVDs on my Computer.

    • Off topic — but the gang rape in Richmond, CA — really disturbs me. I graduated from a high school not that far from Richmond — our school played against Richmond. My mom did her first teaching assignment at a elementary school in Richmond. I’ve not been back to that area for a very long time.

      I cannot even imagine this sort of gang rape happening way back in the 60s or 70s — nothing of this magnitude. This would have been just after the era that Mad Men is depicting. I know the east bay, Oakland — and something really disgusting has happened or changed in the fiber of this culture. Others see it as well –and speak out in the snip I’ve quoted below.

      The Seattle PI has a long article — and an address where donations to the victim can be sent.

      Calif. gang rape seen as nearly inevitable

      Donations for the Richmond High School rape victim may be sent to: Richmond High Jane Doe, account No. 041-30-1188, Mechanics Bank, 3170 Hilltop Mall Road, Richmond, CA 94806.

      The article ends with this:

      Rough justice
      Even the neighborhood ex-cons who lounge against their cars all afternoon at the back end of campus are outraged. For all the sensitivity training going on, this is still a rough city — and there is rough justice.

      “If we’d gone over there earlier, before it was over, those mother- would have been shot. For real,” said 24-year-old Chuckie Pelayo, leader of a pack that hangs out at the corner of Hayes Street and Emeric Avenue, one block from the rape scene. “We’ve all been to prison, and we know the code of how you’re supposed to behave. These younger guys, they don’t know the code.

      “Some of us know a few guys who were there, and we’re out looking for them,” Pelayo added, the others nodding. “They better hope the cops find them first, because when we find them the same thing that happened to that girl is gonna happen to them.”

      • Midway through that article ( which was also reprinted in the NYT!) .. there is a quote

        “They had her down on the bench and the bitch tried to kick ‘Tweak’ (one of the men) in the nuts,” said one young man, who said he had a first-hand account of the attack from Smith but was afraid of being named. “He went off on her, started hitting her, and then it was on. They pulled a train (a gang initiation-style rape, one after the other) on her.”

        Note the casual use of the word “bitch” to describe the victim. This is the root of the issue – Women have been dehumanized to the point where these young men see only “bitches” and “hos” . How can they have any empathy for something they do not even see as human?

        Why is this happening? Is it -as someone in the article claims – because of increasing violence in video games? in misogynistic lyrics? Or are those just easy targets – is the issue deeper in what we are teaching our children about the world and gender parity ?

        People wonder why we don’t “get over” the 2008 election. This is why !

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