Everyone lies. That’s just a fact. We lie to the bus driver about “forgetting” fare, we lie to our parents about our student loans, we lie to our friends to spare their feelings, but even more dangerously, we lie to ourselves. I’ve done it a lot recently. I’ve lived in NYC for about 4 years now, and I’ve been unhappy for the last year. I continue to talk about it being the coolest place ever, that I’ll never leave, but really I’m just embarrassed to admit that I made such a big deal about moving here, and now I want to leave. I’m feeling and thinking one way, but acting another. That disconnect is the theme in this week’s Mad Men. The characters just can’t stop lying, even when the truth would set them free. I want to move to LA because I’m tired of NYC. There. Bam. What a relief that was, now I can move forward with my life, because as journeyman Kanye West says in “Bound 2”, “Admitting is the first step. (I realized last week that my post lacked silly hip hop references so I’m bringing it back.)
Don Draper is lonely with a capital “L.” He sleeps in late, watches TV all day, and spends most of his day sitting in a bathrobe and consuming the products he once wrote copies for. But Don Draper would never admit that he’s lonely. Even when Dawn comes over to give him the scoop on what’s going on in the office, he tries to present to her that he’s still top dog. He showers and puts on a fancy suit, and then tries to give her money for her services. She’s being a friend to him, but he’s trying his best to keep the status quo. Later Sally discovers that her father is lying about having a job, but when she gives him the chance to come clean and he just lies to her, even though if he told her what really happened she’d be intrigued. She’d listen and may even gain some respect for him. Instead he tries to bribe her with car rides, food, and money.
Peggy can’t help but do the same. She’s as lonely as she could be, and Stan (her only friend) has plans, but rather than be kind to him and see if she gets invited out, she tries to cope with her loneliness by putting on her bossy pants. She nit picks Stan about his work, and this leads him to keep his mouth shut about his friday activities. Peggy then mistakes her secretary’s flowers as her own, and goes into a tailspin of self denial. Shirley, Peggy’s secretary, is also bit by the lying bug and can’t bring herself to tell Peggy that they’re her flowers, and Dawn agrees, saying that everyone who works there just wants to “keep pretending” and that if Shirley wants to keep her job, she should too.
Roger keeps pretending it’s the good old days with him and Don, he attempts to joke with Lou (the worst person ever) and Lou ignores him, then he waltzes into the partner’s meeting and tries to dictate what the business should do, and everyone ignores him. Then later, rather than admit his mistake, he lies to Jim that he called Peter and set him straight, but everything was already decided without he and Pete.
The title of this week’s episode “A Day’s Work,” is even a lie, as no work gets done. Because how can any progress be made without truth? How can any progress be made if everyone is sitting in bathrobes and eating Ritz crackers and lying to themselves? As Pete’s suddenly interesting lover tells us, “our fortunes are in the hands of others, and we have to go take it from them”.
That’s what the successful characters in this episode did. When Dawn stood up to racist Lou Avery and told the truth, she got a promotion. When Joan stood up and handled all the drama of the office, she was offered a new office and she leapt at the opportunity. Jim is no idiot. He sees there is a leadership void without Don, and he leapt up to the challenge. He told the truth about what they need to do with their new business. But most importantly, Sally Draper stood up and got the truth out of Don. Don tried to hold change for the pay phone over her head, and she went and took it from his hands.
This is where Don is incredibly lucky. Whereas most of the office is filled with cowards who are afraid to tell each other the truth, Sally isn’t afraid of Don. Sally has lies of her own, she claims to be going to a funeral, but really she’s going to shop in the city. But later, we realize she didn’t even really care about shopping. She wanted to go the funeral, but she had to lie to her friends to fit in. She tells Don that she’s “so many people” and he of course understands. He finally admits to Sally that he lost his job, and they finally relate and build a relationship. Don then tells Sally to run to the car because they are going to skip out on the bill, and she’s excited for a moment, but then he pulls out his wallet to pay. At first it seems like a silly scene, but then I realized I wanted him to skip out on the bill, because I wanted him to take some power back in to his own hands. Long gone is the Don who never stays put, and constantly reinvents himself. Now he’s the Don who stays at home all day, who stays in a marriage that isn’t working, and who stays at a job that doesn’t want him. He’s offered sex on planes, and he turns it down, he’s offered jobs and he turns them down, so what is Don looking for? What is his fortune? It’s clearly his amazing daughter, but he’s always too stupid to realize that. That’s why it was so important when Sally told Don “Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you” because it’s the first time in a while we’ve felt hope for Don. Sally is smart enough to feel one way, and act that way. That moment in the diner made her love her dad, and she’s not afraid to admit it. Hopefully that moment means as much to him as it should, because as my good friend Kanye West once said “one good girl is worth a thousand bitches”.
That last quote doesn’t make much sense to the situation, and it’s his daughter, but I like the way it finished off this article. Thanks for reading homies!
- I love when Jim and Roger are arguing in the partner’s meeting and the camera frames them up in front of a desk with an empty chair #symbolism, also when they stand next to each other in the elevator Jim makes Roger look so old
- Lou Avery is hilariously awful, he’s racist and even more importantly so boring, when Roger tries to joke with him in the morning he doesn’t care, Roger really misses Don
- Not sure what to think of Pete and Ted out in Los Angeles, Pete says he feels like he’s in purgatory and Ted says he should not complain and just cash his checks because he’ll be dead someday, it was a funny scene, but I need to know more about what Ted is thinking, Pete claims all he does is mope, does he miss Peggy?
- Don having lunch with a friend is so awkward, it felt desperate, was he trying to get a job offer? And how about the other guy coming in and buying their lunches. Everyone is trying to throw around their money and look superior in this episode