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Mad Men returns with a party

After a 17-month absence (never do that to me again!), 'Mad Men' is back on AMC. The two-hour premiere felt like a nice warm hug as we slipped back in to the world of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

- Season 5, Episode 1 - "A Little Kiss"

After 17 long months, Mad Men is back! Luckily, in those 17 months, Netlfix picked up the show and I rewatched the entire first four seasons. I imagine a lot of you did the same. It helped to stem my addiction, but I’ve been jonesing for more Mad Men for a good long time now. AMC has finally delivered and given all of us crazy fans two whole hours. So, light up a Lucky Strike, have your pre-teen daughter mix you up a cocktail and let’s dive right in.

Was it just me or did it seem like this episode brought more laughs than usual? It always seems like shows with a lot of history between characters can mine small lines for laughs easier and more effectively than younger shows. Maybe Mad Men has just reached that point, but with Pete giving himself a bloody nose, Peggy concerned about Don because he is being kind and patient, and Harry making a complete fool of himself in front of Megan I was chortling more than usual during these first two hours of the season.

There is so much ambition in the halls of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Trudie nailed it when she told Pete that dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition, and luckily we have plenty of that on the show to fuel drama. You have Pete and Roger sniping at each other and jockeying for position and without Lucky Strike, Roger doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. It’s going to be very interesting watching that relationship through the season and how the standings of the two characters within the firm change. Roger is clearly a desperate man in need of a break. I would hate to see what he is capable of if he gets too desperate.

Joan and Peggy have always been such great foils. I feel like they actually envy each other a lot more than either would like to admit. Joan is ambitious even if she is quiet or embarrassed about it. She sees in Peggy a modern woman who is unafraid and unapologetic to go after what she wants in the workplace. Peggy meanwhile, sees the power and confidence in Joan that she lacks. As time goes on, I think both women are becoming more and more alike. I’m looking forward to seeing Joan back in the office full time where she belongs so that she and Peggy can have some more interaction. Joining the ambitious ladies at SCDP this season is Megan, now working in creative and getting to the office late everyday with her new husband. I’m sure that situation is going to be conflict free.

For me one of the things about Mad Men that has stood out over the past four seasons has been the misplaced anger from all the characters, the subtext and what goes left unsaid. It seems, without fail, that whenever a character gets pissed s/he ends up on taking it out on someone other than the person s/he is mad at. The prime example in this episode was Megan lashing out at Peggy for her comments at Don’s birthday party when she was really pissed at Don for hating the party. Of course, Megan really should have known that Don wasn’t going to love a surprise party. It all worked out in the end, but you have to wonder how long kinky makeup sex will solve every fight. Can a man like Don have a happy relationship? At least there’s some honesty in the relationship at this point.

I think for most Mad Men fans, and I know I’m speaking for at least myself here, felt like this premiere was a nice warm hug. There was a certain comfort falling back into this world where all the character are so cynical that they “don’t smile, [they] smirk.” Yes, Megan. Get used to it. I’m surprised she hasn’t already. It was great to see Pete whining, to see Harry act like a fool and think he was going to get fired. It was great to see Roger getting drunk with clients, Peggy get frustrated with work, and Joan caring so much about the office. In short: it was great to have Mad Men back.

Finally, did you notice the complete lack of Mrs. Betty Francis in this episode? Did you care?

Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC

Categories: | Episode Reviews | Features | General | Mad Men | News | TV Shows |

12 Responses to “Mad Men returns with a party”

March 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM

I can’t believe the show might be finally taking a hard look at the civil rights movement … and we might actually have a character of race in the office! I also find it disturbing that outside of Peggy, the least bigoted character appears to be Pete (remember his ad campaign from the 1st season).

March 26, 2012 at 9:30 AM

I prefer the realism that the show has chosen to use throughout its run, staying true to the history and attitudes of the time, regardless of how uncomfortable they make us feel. If all the characters were super liberal and inclusive I think the show would feel wrong.

I think the show has always dealt with race and racism, but it has always been on the periphery, as I believe appropriate for a show based in an upscale Madison Avenue office in 1960. See Kinsey’s girlfriend and Joan’s reaction. Lane’s dalliances with the playboy bunny, and the way Pete’s marketing idea was received.

That being said, with the mid to late 60s counter culture becoming more prominent (as we saw with Peggy, her friends, and her underground journalist boyfriend last season), I think the time is right and I’m excited to see another dimension added to the show.

March 26, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Oh, I agree completely. I think in the Madision Avenue world, it makes total sense that we haven’t seen many characters of race (outside of the practically nameless cleaning and elevator staff) because that world was so adamant about keeping things the way they were and pretty much ignoring what change was being made in the outside world for as long as possible. But I was hoping that the civil rights movement would ultimately push into the office, so it’s cool to see the execs tails ruffled at the end. It’s like Peggy’s (more or less) professional respect within the office. I understand why it took them so long to get her there, but it’s still fulfilling to see that change, really starting in the 2nd half of season 3.

So my thoughts are less “Why didn’t this happen before?” and more “Awesome, the times, they are a changing.”

March 26, 2012 at 2:57 PM

I agree about the humor. When the show was over, my first thought was, “When did Mad Men get so funny?” I think Jane had the best line of the night though with the “Why don’t you look like him?” retort when Roger asked her why she didn’t sing/dance like Megan.

I have a feeling that this season will feature a major train wreck of Roger. It already seems that everyone is on edge when he’s around (loved Joan’s face when he exclaimed “There’s my baby” and then ignored his baby and gave Joan a hug.) I love that Pete is messing with him a bit by sending him to 6 AM fake meetings. I imagine Roger will be making a pass at Megan at some point.

I also enjoyed the absence of Betty.

March 26, 2012 at 3:06 PM

And how about that not-so-subtle dissing of his wife at the party and really throughout the episode. “Ugh, my hot young wife who used to be my secretary isn’t as young as Don’s hot young wife who used to be his secretary!”

Also, I laughed like a crazy person when Pete said something along the lines of, “Our wives don’t understand how hard we have it,” on the train. Yes Pete, you’re a white collar white male in 1960s America… your life is SO hard!

Other favorite terrible Pete moment? His, “Move a baby?? What am I, a woman!” bit.

March 26, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Come on Katie, That’s NOT what Roger was thinking. Jane was DON’S secretary, not Roger’s. ;P

March 26, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Ah, of course. I had Roger all wrong. He doesn’t marry his own secretaries… he just impregnates them. What a swell guy!

By the way, did anyone else see similarities between Don’s surprise party and the Sterling party featuring Roger in black face? For one, Don hated both. For another, awkward dancing (oh Trudy).

March 26, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Pete does have it rough right now, just ask him. And I loved him sadly eating cereal for dinner. It’s got to be an adjustment for him. You know Trudy had dinner and a smile waiting for him every night. Now she’s an exhausted mom with a newborn, and Pete’s having difficulty adjusting. I have finally stopped thinking him as whiny Conner from Angel, and seeing him as an interesting character.

March 26, 2012 at 2:58 PM

- I’m looking forward to seeing Roger Sterling’s reaction to counter culture becoming more and more mainstream. Without Lucky Strike the man exists just to spit out great quotes.

– Pete is still a douche, but I’m rooting for him. I loved his punking Roger to get up at the wee hours of the morning.

– Zoo bee do be doo.

– “Where was Betty?! I miss her!” said no one.

March 26, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Apparently it’s spelled “Zou Bisou Bisou.” THEMOREYOUKNOW *rainbow*

March 26, 2012 at 3:27 PM

It’s also available for download on itunes. So there, Glee!

March 26, 2012 at 3:51 PM

I knew it a Zou Bisou Bisou, but I don’t speak a word of French. So I just went, “Zoo be zoo be doo,” while I was humming the song in the shower, in the car, at my desk, and while those around me strangled me to death for the non-stop humming because that was the closest I could come to repeating the lyrics.

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