Mad Men – My Old Kentucky Home

Old Kentucky HomeMan, it must have been awesome to work in advertising and be in those casting calls—if you were a straight man. That is until The Department with Two Heads (accounts) shows up to wreck the party. Cosgrove and Campbell tell the gang that they need to work over the weekend to bang out a few more pitch ideas for Bacardi. Another weekend in the shitter.

Hey-o! Gotta love when the new Mrs. Roger Sterling stops in the office. Little Miss Thing flaunts the diamonds (and that ass—what a walk!) and is sure to let Joan know that there’s only ONE honey in Mr. Sterling’s life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I absolutely love the subtle office sexual politics played out on this show. Looks can kill, indeed!

Grandpa Gene is still hanging around the Draper home and has put little Sally to work reading bed time stories, aka The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The seem to be taking a slow approach to introducing Grandpa’s illness and little Sally might have inherited more from her mom than blond locks when she pockets a fiver found on Grandpa Gene’s nightstand.

Working weekends sucks. What better way to spice up your rum-soaked copy than with J or two? Kinsey calls an old college buddy who shows up looking like Tom Cruise dipped in Ivy League wax. Kinsey’s pompous self delusion hits a peak in the purple haze of afternoon doobage. What’s great though is the peak behind that faux New England WASP accent of his. Seems our boy was a scholarship baby at Princeton and had a decidedly different Jersey accent freshman year. Kinsey has a classic case of over compensation.

Remember last year when Joan’s doctor fiancé raped her on the floor of Draper’s office? Well, he’s still around and looks to be a careerist drip as well. Dr. and Mrs. Hot Redhead host the Doc’s boss and a colleague for dinner and there’s a subtle nod to the possibility (just a hint of a shadow, really) that our Joanie may be preggers. Yes, we already had one concealed pregnancy as a plot device but this is Red Hot Mama we’re talking about! How will she work her sexual hypnotism if she’s carrying 8 pounds of baby love around her midsection? Actually, lots of guys totally dig that but we weren’t allowed to discuss it back then.

Favorite Draper Line:

Grandpa Gene: You people think money solves all problems

Don: No, just this particular problem…

Grandpa is pissed. Someone made off with a Lincoln and while he doesn’t come right out and say it, there are hints that he suspects the Drapers’ African American house keeper. Props to the writers for NOT going the Miss Daisy route on that. Carla puts Grandpa in place and refuses to play the black submissive we’d likely see in less capable writers’ hands. She’s black, she’s not a toy.

Oh, if only Roger Sterling were as evolved as the writers who create him week after week. He and the new Missus host a Derby Day party at the country club and Roger serenades This Year’s Model in—get this—black face. Yes, black face. The looks on Draper and even Pete Campbell’s faces is priceless. Even in 1963 there were some white Americans who knew that the objectification of a whole race of people was less than funny.

Speaking of Pete Campbell: Loose business scruples and occasional spineless groveling at Don’s feet aside, he’s a sympathetic character…and man can he dance! He and Trudy put on a show of Rag Time dancing that Tom Delay will be copping this fall on Dancing with the Stars. Yes, the Hammer could learn a thing or two from The Second Son.

What’s a Derby Day party without a little Rye spilled on the floor? Don runs into a kindred spirit in a trip to the bar and we get just spot of his past. Some old cat who wandered away from a wedding at the club gets more out of Draper than the entire Creative department could pry out in between Old Fashioneds. Pops and Don share a common history as coming from nothing, making it to the rarefied air of business success, and still feel like the nobodys from nowhere that all the Blue Bloods can sniff out like mothballs on your Sunday Best. Don put in some time as a car parker at a country club in Pennsylvania. His adoptive parents lost their farm in Illinois and moved to Coal Country when Draper was a boy. The back story is coming slowly into the light.

How many stoned conversations have we all had wherein we hit upon the most amazing, insightful bit of knowledge that man has ever known? Sadly, we did not have the Mad Men writing pool composing our dialog or we might have had something to remember later. Peggy Olsen uses her altered state to hone her Draperism. Her character development has been the hidden gem of the show and the more she understands herself the more comfortable she becomes with her talent, which will make her a killer in this world…just like Don. And she’s starting to know that.

What is with the Drapers and their superpower that attracts the opposite sex like Dick Cheney to a middle eastern war. All Betty had to do was to stand in the hall and look like a preggers Grace Kelly (oh wait, now I understand her superpower) to get some strange Dick to come huffing around. She has the same power of attraction as her Mr. In a decade’s time they’ll be hosting key parties and swallowing ludes like a couple of carp but for now all their strange love is on the sly.

The stigma of divorce in the early 60s was strong enough that even the cheating Don Draper kept his marital issues on DL last year. So, it’s no wonder Betty shoots daggers when Mrs. Sterling reminds them all that she knew the Drapers would reconcile. Reconcile? How did she even know they were split? Oh yeah, because she was Don’s secretary when Roger first started porking her. If she wants to remain as Mrs. Roger Sterling then she better start holding her liquor better than a 14 year old girl at a gravel pit party. In addition to dropping the curtain on the Drapers’ marital bliss she corners Don and asks him in perfect wasted sorority girl slur why he doesn’t like her. It leads to a minor confrontation with Roger who bemoans the fact that Don (and everyone else) can’t accept the fact that he’s happy.

“Noone thinks you’re happy, Roger. They think you’re a fool.” Ouch.

Now that Peggy has her very own secretary she has to act the boss. That’s harder to do when you’re stoned but Peg tries like a champ and instead treats her subordinate to a philosophical pep talk about how she will not womanhood down now that she’s reached such heights. OK, she’s a copywriter, but she rose from the secretary pool, something not even our Joan could do.

Speaking of Joan—she is not only a sight but a talent. She charms the bossman and her dinner guests with a little squeeze box and some French pop, all the while shooting looks to her fiancé who seems to have botched an operation at work and is now struggling with some inferiority complex. Shades of an abusive relationship on the horizon?

We all know couples who defy logic in their ability to stay together. What draws them to each other and what sustains their relationship when to all eyes it seems impossible? Don has a glimpse of Roger as a happy man dancing the night away with his young new wife and finds Betty sulking in the corner. What keeps them together through infidelity and lies and shadowy pasts and the constant temptations of messy sex with stranger in closets? We don’t know, but it’s there and it’s real and it keeps them together…for now.

AMC’s Episode Recap

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