Our Weekly Mad Men Column: Liz & LJ on "Time & Life"


LJ: I watched this episode of Mad Men while lying in bed at 5 in the evening, or afternoon, depending on what time you think the afternoon ends; personally, I believe it ends at four. 4:30 PM is an afternoon/evening limbo, and then the evening officially begins at 5, which is a really ugly time of day to find yourself lying in bed, lighting-wise and everything-wise. I was eating this really intense yogurt parfait. One of the ingredients in the yogurt parfait was- no jokes- passionfruit jam. I was worried that the wildness of my parfait was going to distract me from Mad Men, but then it didn't, and then I started worrying about the opposite problem, that I was missing out on the full experience of enjoying my parfait because it was obvious from the get-go that this instant classic of a Mad Men ep would demand my full attention. I looked down at my suddenly illicit-seeming parfait like "Should I even be doing this????" But in the end, "Time & Life" and a wildly intense yogurt parfait revealed themselves to be an instant classic of a pairing, just like a bottle of Kenny Cosgrove's beloved Chateaux Margaux '53 with a rack of lamb and gratin dauphinois. 

I'm so ambivalent about Kenny Cosgrove's relationship with Chateaux Margaux '53... said a nerd. There's a thing on the Chateaux Margaux website where you can scroll through every vintage of Chateaux Margaux and some poor soul has written a snazzy little paragraph about what it was like. Great wine research, Matthew Weiner! Chateaux Margaux Dot Com affirms that '53 was indeed one of the estate's all-time greatest vintages; "it expresses," it reads, "in a particularly perfect way, the genius of its terroir." I initially read "particularly perfect" as "perfectly perfect," which is a way cooler way to describe the genius of its terroir in my opinion.

At first I was really into the idea of Kenny being a wine nerd, but then I thought harder about it and was like "How pedestrian!"- Kenny's not a wine nerd, he's just a rich dude. His favourite wine is the greatest vintage of the most famous wine from the most famous appellation in the world. Boooooorrrrrrriiiiiiinggggg. Y'all know Ted Chaough would be able to wow you with an absolutely stunning ten-pound bottle of some weird, like, Friuliano, and don't even get me started on how nuanced Stan Rizzo's hypothetical taste in Scotch whiskey must be. 

Sorry to brag, but I was a really early adopter of "having a crush on Kenny Cosgrove." I was into Ken Cosgrove before most non-losers who aren't obsessed with Mad Men even registered that he was a character on the showBack when he was, like, the Mathis of his day. But I get the impression that tonight's Ken Cosgrove is probably the last you or I will ever see of Ken Cosgrove, and to tell you the truth I am OVER IT. He's all yours, girls! If any of you still want him after he said "I'll have a snort" (in reference to the bottle of Chateaux Margeaux that Rodge & Pete were plying him with in the middle of the whole Sterling Cooper West to-do, 19:26 in, in case you want to hear it for yourselves). His delivery makes him sound like he's named Snort. An unpopular Muppet Show semi-regular named Snort, or maybe The Snort. Maybe The Snort could be a guest star on Scout's Honor

Speaking of Muppets: guess who else is a Muppet? Only this time, not a gross snort-Muppet, but rather a lovable, adorable, Letrasetting, New World Sauvignon Blanc-drinking, enthusiastic-about-"Ortho Pharmaceuticals"-style regular Muppet, like Grover? 

Well, obviously, it's Ted. I think the picture of Ted was probably the giveaway here. 

I was writing down a list of things I think Ted looks like now that he has a long, droopy, caterpillar-y mustache, and I landed on a tie between "baseball dad" and "frowny muppet." Maybe, like, "Frowny Muppet eating a hot dog, which he calls a 'red-hot,' at his Muppet son's little-league game." Yeah, probs that.

Would you have a look at these two bros? They cool. This cozy-ass Don-and-Ted scene was one of my favorites from this entire gorgeous, brilliant artistic achievement of a Mad Men episode- it's Don at his personal warmest- absolutely emanating warm, familiar, mulled cider and s'mores at a bonfire on the beach vibes. He's even sweeter than he was when he let all the little kids and stage moms auditioning for Stan and Peggy's Play-Doh or whatever commercial out of the elevator first, because that's how much he loves Ted Chaough. He loves Ted so cutely much! I feel like Don's deepest opinion about Ted goes something like: "I'm so happy that, out of all us craphead guys like Roger and me and Harry Crane and et cetera, he got to be the one naturally good guy in this whole godforsaken ad game of ours." It's a point of pride for him, I think, his being down with Ted. 

PS: Don't forget how Ted adorably describes his new girlfriend as being: "Not too young, gorgeous, a little bit deep." 

Ted also wins my Mad Men Outfit Of The Week prize this week, just barely edging out Shirley & "We should put a bell on you"-era Meredith in this Muppety little muted autumnal earth tone little number he's sporting while Joan and Roger have a sexy secret moment I only know about from doing this screen cap, and Don ineffectually tells his officeful of Sesame Street-looking insubordinates that "This is the beginning of something, not the end." But it's it's 1970 now, and in 1970 the office looks like Sesame Street and no one gives a SHIT about Don's knack for public speaking. Ted's just like, "Where's the baseball game at?" Pete, I think, is mostly feeling uncomfortable about the fit of his suit which, I think we can all admit, is off. He's trying his best to give a shit about the McCann announcement, but in his heart he's just like, "Is everything sorted with my waistcoat right now? It's so short!" 

Ugh, how unappealing was it when Jim Hobart slowly enunciated "CO-CA CO-LA" at Don in the boardroom? Also, isn't it pathetic how I know Jim Hobart's name? I feel like anytime I ever fuck up my job, like, my actual job-job, my boss should be like, "Laura, you know Jim Hobart's name, but you don't know this?" and I'll be like, "Shit, yeah, good point," and genuinely be motivated to perform better. So: shout-outs to you, my boss, if it turns out you're secretly reading this! I won't think you're weird for bringing this up next time I forget how to do something terribly simple, which will probably be tomorrow. Sorry I'm using up all my brain-energy on Jim Hobart. 

Anyway, don't you think it's symbolic how Jim Hobart was like "Pop some champagne!" but then they just ended up drinking shitty beer? That's my cool sommelier's analysis of Mad Men. I liked when Joan said "Don't be a baby, I'll see you tomorrow," to Roger. That's going to be my new sign-off, with everyone. 

Ay-yi-yi! Holler at these two sexy-ass babes. Stan's not Mad Man of the Week this week, but I still want to shout him out for saying "How the hell did that turn into that?" about Peggy's fight with the stage mom- it was like the 1970 equivalent of when people in Tumblr posts say "THAT escalated quickly." Mad Man of the Week this week goes to a tie between Peggy Olson and Sekor Laxatives. Sorry, I'm just so obsessed with how Sekor Laxatives are in every episode of Mad Men ever. They're so creepily loyal to Sterling Cooper! Like, get a new agency, guys! It's the seventies. Holler at Janus and McWhatever like Dow Chemicals or whatever. 

My favorite trait in Peggy Olson has always been her severe lack of professionalism. Once, a thousand years ago, Liz and I wrote a blog post for our old blog called If Mad Men Were Beatles, and we suggested that Peggy Olson was both the George Harrison and the Linda McCartney of Mad Men, but this is no longer relevant. Now, in 2015, and 1970, Ted Chaough is George, and Dawn Chambers is Linda. Don Draper's not in the Beatles, because he's a square old dud (not dude- dud), and Peggy's John Lennon. Joan's Paul. Mad Men is a fucking feminist classic. 

Peggy is Mad Man of the Week for every reason a Mad Man could ever be Mad Man of the Week. I'm probably just going to give Mad Man of the Week to Peggy for the remaining three episodes of Mad Men on principle, but this time I am awarding her primarily for her "Just like a man does" speech, which has made me cry three times so far (twice while watching it the two times I watched the episode, and another time on my bus ride home last night, just because), for being able to access an eloquent and acerbic retort to every point that arose during Peggy v. Stage Mom, and, most importantly, for understanding that the only possible response to the statement "You're right" is "I know."  

Don't be a baby, I'll see you tomorrow-
Laura Jane. 

LIZ: When Joan got up from the table at the bar, I could feel it in my chest. It was this nice, slow, warm kind of hurt, like anytime I've ever sat around a bar or a kitchen table or a living room with a bunch of people I love, and someone's moving away very soon and this is our last hurrah, and all you want is for the night to go on forever and for a little while it feels like it really might - but then that first person gets up to leave, and your heart just sinks, because it's all over now baby blue...or something like that. In that Joan moment I could feel all the SCP dudes just wanting her to stay and stay, and it was sweet, heartbreaking, perfect, awful. But I'm glad she was the first person to break away. I'm glad she's the one who's most immediately got somewhere else to be.

I'm guessing this is Joanie and Don's last together-moment, for us. I was worried that Mad Men was going to end with things being all weirdsies between the two of them, but no, they're totally fine, they love each other. Speaking of goodbyes: I'm sad we'll most likely never see Kenny again, but he really went out with a bang. Also, when I read what LJ wrote about Snort, I laughed so much that I choked on my Diet Coke in a way that made Diet Coke go up my nose. It was extremely painful! And 10,000 percent worth it. Ever since watching the show Sunday night I'd been so curious as to what LJ's "snort opinions" might be, and boy were they more than I ever could've hoped for.

Look at these two. They're so sweaty, greasy, disheveled, red-faced, ridiculous. The cigarette-lighting and the kiss were so romantic and no I don't mean "bromantic." Two beaten-down-by-life dudes drunk on beer on some stupid night like Tuesday, rambling about women and their own stupid lives in some bar, looking fantastic and loving the hell out of each other: that's romance, to me.

Don's "Marie Calvet reaction shot" was cool too, and inspired me watch "Don Draper Says What" for the first time in a couple years. My current review of "Don Draper Says What" is it's still better than 98 percent of all other videos on YouTube, though I now find its jokiness a little off-putting. Don Draper's confusion - and performed confusion - is deep and heavy and no laughing matter.

And I just loved all those shots of everyone all lined up, how it's so blatantly Matthew Weiner taunting us all, like: "Get a good long look at these beautiful babes, 'cause in one month's time they're GONE LIKE THE WIND." That's so cheap of Matthew Weiner, and also so generous. Way to contain multitudes, man.

Nice Paul-esque side-eye there, Joan. I'm sure it's a moment of Joan tacitly acknowledging her cool new Paul status by referencing the part in A Hard Day's Night when we first meet Paul's grandfather and John says "He can talk then, can he?" and Paul replies "Of course he can talk, he's a human being, isn't he?" and Ringo says "Well if he's your grandfather who knows HAHAHAHA" and Paul pulls that fantastic bitchface. You know what I mean.

This was a nice "callback" or whatever the hell to the scene in season 1 when Pete tells Peggy his elaborate fantasy of going hunting and killing some animal and bringing it home and having "this woman" cook the animal up in a cast-iron skillet and then watch him eat it. I wonder how Peggy feels about Pete now - is she like What was I thinking?, or is there still some residual affection happening there? I hope it's the latter. I really just want everyone to be secretly in love with each other forever.

But more importantly: Stan and Peggy are going to get together now, right? I don't know much about this stuff, but it seems to me that if you've got a thing going with someone where sometimes you call each other and stay on the line even as you're doing other things just for the comfort of knowing the other person's there, you should probably hold onto him/her for as long as you can. Or at least make out with them a little! And then move away to California, or maybe to London. Wherever your heart might call you to.

P.S. There's a moment in the bit after the whole Suzy thumb-stapling debacle when Stan and Peggy get back to work and Stan does this amazing hair flip. It occurs at precisely 30:21. Someone please make me a gif of that, so that I can text it whenever I need to express mild annoyance but a general willingness to carry on with the situation at hand. A gif like that would be so useful to me.

I really like how this bit was shot like that part toward the end of Grease where Principal McGee's addressing the graduating students over the intercom ("Among you young men, there may be a Joe DiMaggio, a President Eisenhower - or even a Vice President Nixon!"), and as she speaks the camera closes in on each character getting all starry-eyed about his or her dream future. In the above screencap Ted Chaough looks exactly like that T-Bird guy being stoked on the possibility of becoming the next Nixon, and I'm truly so happy for him.

But overall, yeah: passionately agree with LJ about Jim Hobart's disgusting enunciation of the words "Coca-Cola." In her Grantland recap Molly Lambert said how she had to run right out right and get herself a Coke after that - but I had the opposite reaction, and decided to never consume another Coca-Cola product again as long as I live (which obviously I lied about, since I'm drinking a Diet Coke right now). Really I just want to spite Jim Hobart, for leaving Joan out of his lame-o wannabe-Grease-principal speech. I don't really have anything to say to make that all better right now, so instead I'll just send out some good Joan vibes with this oldie but goodie, my #1 fave "aspirational selfie" of all time: 

1 comment:

  1. your weekly colum rocks! i read every weeks and i cant ever have enough of this i feel. thanks for sharing and doing what you do in such an amazing way.