Our Weekly Mad Men Column: Liz & LJ on "The Runaways"


LJ: The most exciting thing that happened on this episode of Mad Men is... I fell in love with Stan! Every single character on the entire show was jam-packed into this episode (except for Pete & Ted, who hopefully spent the duration of "The Runaways" chilling on a beach eating bagels while Jan & Dean's cover of "Norwegian Wood" played cosmically in the background in reference to Peggy Olson, and Joan & Roger, who were hopefully having sex and eating oysters somewhere fancy) to a point where I couldn't really concentrate on loving any of them with as much fervor as I'm usually capable of, so I just sort of skipped over cultivating any real opinions about Don or Betty or Sally or Stephanie or Henry Francis (who, FYI, I think is hot) and channeled the whole shebang into loving STAN. Stanley Rizzo. Whoever thought of the last name Rizzo for him gets a raise. 

The episode got off to a really cool start with a picture of Lou Avery's cartoon monkey Scout left in the Xerox and my new boyfriend Stan wheezily chuckling to himself about it. A really creepy thing I semi-recommend doing is Googling the actor who plays Lou. He is apparently some sort of "comedian" from "New York" who was born in 1954, and there are some really ugly and grainy pictures of him with long flowing hair on Google Image Search. They were probably all taken at comedy clubs during 1993-1995. He also has an extremely depressing website

To state the obvious, Stan has an extremely cool scarf tied around his neck. He also wears a denim shirt, and has gained a ton of weight since Season 4. He's so hot and I want to marry him. The other day my boyfriend was telling me that when he was in elementary school he always wanted to hang out in the library with the smart kids, but would get kicked out of the library for being too loud. That was one of the number one times I've ever loved my boyfriend. Stan Rizzo has a really obvious "loud in the library" vibe about him. I love how he spearheaded the whole "making fun of Scout's Honor" movement at Sterling Coop. If almost any other character on Mad Men had found those photocopies they would have either said nothing or quietly shown them to whichever character they are closest to. But not our Stan! 

Also- s/o to the cute guy with glasses, AKA the #2 character on Mad Men I've ever wanted Peggy Olson to fall in love with, who called Scout a "saucy little retard"!! It was chill of Mad Men to just be like "Oh, whatever, in the sixties it was normal to say retard," and then put "retard" on Mad Men. That character's named Ed, by the way, and the actor who plays him is named "Kit"! Great news all around. In conclusion, I feel like going out to dinner with Stan Rizzo would be a dream come true. He would probably drink four or five drinks and I've no doubt in my mind that he's one of those rare and spectacular dudes who deeply and truly loves dessert.

I really loved this shot of Peggy. It was soothing to see such an honest depiction of how easy it is for a person to have a double chin. Like think of that cover of New York magazine where Peggy Olson is naked in a pair of overalls and looks like the glintiest and most glimmering little sprite there ever was! And all she has to do to have a double chin is lay her head back. Don't forget about that, next time you see a double chin picture of yourself and get worried that you might actually have a double chin. You don't. 

My initially very pedestrian reaction to Peggy's big scene in "The Runaways," the one where she's wearing the horrifyingly schlumpy outfit of either sleeveless turtleneck over white longsleeve or faux-sleeveless turtleneck with faux-white longsleeves attached, and burgundy trousers that her bum actually looked quite cute in, gearing up to eat pretzels with her neighbour Julio, who is a child, on a Saturday night, was "That's so sad." I wrote a quickie little paragraph in my head about how I wish she would transport herself back to her buddy-buddy with Susan Sontag-y Zosia Mamet days of kissing Abe in a closet at a Bob Dylan-y loft party, but then I thought harder about it, and now I'm like, "Fuck it- Peggy Olson is my girl and I have her back always." She's just in a weird place right now! Like, what? Have you never been in a weird place? Have you never been single? Did you never wear an ugly outfit and watch a TV show on a Saturday night? All I ever did was wear an ugly outfit and watch a TV show on a Saturday night! Literally the only reason why I don't wear an ugly outfit and watch a TV show on a Saturday night 9 out of every 10 Saturday nights is because I work in the restaurant industry and Saturday night is when I make the bulk of my $$$. So that's settled. Peggy is perfect and normal, and more than made up for her Saturday night frumpiness in this saucy navy number Monday morning. 

Oh cool, and she's about to barf all over herself because her co-worker just presented her with a jewelry box full of his nipple. Do you think Ginsberg went out of his way to buy that jewelry box, or do you think he just happened to have it lying around? Either way, I really wish men would stop barfing their bullshit all over poor Peggy Olson. I think she's officially hit her breaking point. 

LIZ: Yeah, Stan Rizzo! I never gave Stan much thought till the beginning of season six - I watched the season premiere with my friend Hallie, and the first time Stan came onscreen Hallie sighed and said, "He's handsome." Which he is. So handsome. I love the swoop of his bangs, and his belt buckle and denim button-down, and how he's wearing a mood ring or something. It's cool how all these other dudes ended up wearing scarves/ascots/whatever in this episode (Harry Crane, Megan's sexy-dance partner who she obviously should just get with and leave us alone), just so we could see how much more fiercely Stan Rizzo rocked it in comparison. So I'm now bumping Stan up a few spots on my Mad Men Crush List, and speaking of which WHERE IS BOB BENSON???

One not great thing about "The Runaways" is I watched it before bed on Sunday night and then couldn't sleep, thinking about Ginsberg. Then I fell asleep and woke up again, and fell asleep and woke up again, over and over all night, my Ginsberg-induced insomnia broken up by some nice chill dreams about hanging out with the Beastie Boys in a space-age art gallery with rainbows everywhere. Poor Ginsberg. When he first showed up at Peggy's and had that funny banter with Julio I thought we were having a "Look how cute Ginsberg is with kids" kind of moment. But nope! Not where that was leading at all.

Anyway, I'm happy that Peggy and Julio worked their shit out, even though he's apparently now her only friend in the world. I agree with LJ that Peggy is perfect.

God I love Sally's poncho. I love her cool deep voice. If we don't get some Don/Sally Alone Time again before the end of the first half of the season, I'll eat my hat. I'll eat the hat Don Draper's wearing when he's being a bad-ass/pathetic cowboy ad man for whom a song titled "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line" kicks in upon his macho-ly hailing a taxi. That is the hat I'll eat.

So I'm generally Team Not Megan, but I really liked watching her this episode. Her hair looked fantastic at the party and even better post-threesome, especially when she was lighting her cigarette off the stove (always a good move, in my book). I liked her pink underwear and I loved her dress here:

But one of the things I dug most about "The Runaways" was spending so much time in Megan's house. It's so pretty and perfect and artificial; it's like some Laurel Canyon dollhouse come to life. A few years ago I read Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Legendary Neighborhood by Michael Walker, in which Kim Fowley (manager of The Runaways, whoa!) is shit-talking the Laurel Canyon scene and says the following:

"In those days when certain songs would come out, people would actually have listening parties, and they'd sit around the record player and smoke dope. When 'What a Day for a Daydream' came out, there was a party at somebody's house. People would dress up in their bangles and leather and buckskin and bring food and you'd sit there like it was a religious experience - like Howard Dean was coming to your living room in New Hampshire - and they'd play the damn thing for five hours. Then they'd have discussions about it."

And I thought that was so cool, and I felt really bad for myself that I couldn't be there. I love music like Neil Young and the Byrds and the Doors and Joni Mitchell, so Laurel Canyon's always infatuated me; I've had born-too-late syndrome for a long time and sometimes I go to Laurel Canyon Country Store for dumb things like kombucha and raspberry licorice just to soak up the heavy vibes, man. But watching this episode really accelerated the long-mounting decline in my Laurel Canyon fascination, and I'm thankful for that. I'm so happy I don't have to hang out with these goddamn people, who bring banjos and oboes to parties and generally just seem totally boring and insufferable. I'm aware that they're a poor representation of "what Laurel Canyon was actually like," given that Megan's crowd probably isn't very inside, and also that Matthew Weiner's always pretty lazy on character development when it comes to counterculture types. But, in the interest of moving on with life, I'm just gonna go with it and assume this was a pretty solid encapsulation of Laurel Canyon in '69. I do think it's cool, in a lame way, how they're listening to Blood, Sweat & Tears - but other than that, I so would've been out of there too, even if it meant having to hang out with Harry "I Used To Be Kind Of Endearing, What Happened To Me?" Crane in some empty bar.

So yeah, I'm over being romantic about late-'60s/early-'70s Southern California pseudo-bohemia. Late-'60s/early-'70s New England pseudo-bohemia is obviously where it's at.

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