Don Draper and Mad Men: Is John Hamm a Good Director?

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
April 2 2012 3:47 PM

Don Draper Directs

John Swansburg chats with readers about Mad Men and Jon Hamm’s directing prowess.

(Continued from Page 1)

John Swansburg: Great point! And here I was looking at his total bases numbers ...

Rumors on the Internets: Pete Fox played with Hank Greenberg for years in Detroit. That said, I think Ginsberg's dad said "Red Sox" as a descriptor of Fox, so that might sink that theory.

John Swansburg: This just in! Dave Weigel notes that it's a bit hard to believe that Henry Francis would have thought George Romney a "clown" in July '66.

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Edmund Karner: From John’s TV Club post on Don and the teenage girl at the Rolling Stones concert: “He didn’t know how to speak the girl’s language, didn’t seem to grasp that a teenager might indeed know something about psychiatry ...”

I don't think so. That's Don's fact-finding process. That's how he learned about O'Hara in the first place: Don was just a square at the bar talking to some Beatnik. How would a teenager know something about psychiatry? Not just about psychiatry, but how a psychiatrist acts? Don realizes immediately: by seeing one, which takes the wind out of her sails.

John Swansburg: ‎You might be right. He has been out of his element before, but I thought there was a greater divide between him and that girl than I'd seen before at Midge's apartment, say.

Bill Planey: Don was showing us the foundations of his success: He asks questions and he listens to what people have to say. He is deeply curious about human motivation.

Edmund Karner: Yes. And I think he was unimpressed with the girl's responses—I think Don suspects that there's no "there" there when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll. Just insecure kids smoking grass.

Ashley Fears: I've been loving the idea that Don is having to deal with growing more and more out of touch as he ages. Last night’s episode seemed to really exemplify that, from not knowing how to understand how a teenager might relate to the Stones to his own discomfort with Betty’s illness. I actually really loved the direction that last night's episode took.

Miriam Isserow: Don is out of touch, but he has always been a man of the zeitgeist. I think that ultimately he will follow Megan's lead (she's totally au courant) and learn to loosen up and be more part of the ’60s.

Melissa de Castrique Thomson: ‎I think/hope he'll catch up with the times. There's certainly precedent for the former Dick Whitman to adapt when circumstances require it.

John Swansburg: A few trips to Fire Island certainly won't hurt him. I suspect he'll end up catching on too, perhaps because he'll feel threatened by Ginsberg and/or some kind of Ginsberg/Olson outer-borough, young(er) person alliance of creativity.

Edmund Karner: A prediction and a thought: 1) Don will at some point listen to Bob Dylan music, remark about how much he hates Dylan's voice, and then prove to appreciate Dylan's lyrics. 2) I'm so happy Paul Kinsey isn't there.

John Swansburg: ‎Edmund. re: point #2—really? I always loved Kinsey. Such a pompous ass, sure, but great fun. And always mixing it up. But I guess the newly outsized character of Harry Crane is more than pulling his weight in the ass/mixing it up categories.

Edmund Karner: Yeah, don't know why. There's something about him. I hope they reveal the character was hit by a train or lost at sea or last spotted shouting slogans in Red China. No offense to the actor.

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John Swansburg: Do you all think that Ginsberg and Peggy will hit it off? Or become rivals? I couldn't quite guess from what I saw last night.

Tree Fitzpatrick: I think Peggy and Ginsberg are going to be wicked fun to watch. As much as Stan challenged her—remember their strip-off in that hotel room, the challenge Peggy won?!—I think Ginsburg will challenge her more. And the way he assumed she was a secretary and even after she clarified that she was the interviewer, he still asked to meet Don. Her instinct was to drop him and then Sterling intervened. So Ginsburg has already successfully manipulated her. He'll do it again and again, I think. Sparks flying.

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Ann Gibbon Not sure why, but I had a feeling Betty was lying about the test results. As an earlier post said, it would be strange to have that issue dealt with so swiftly in one episode.

John Swansburg: I've seen a few commenters suggest that. I have a hard time believing Betty would have the presence to lie about that in the moment. She's so frazzled when she first learns of the lump she can barely remember what the doctor told her.

Edmund Karner: Ann, I think there's a damn good chance you're right.

John Swansburg: ‎Ann and Edmund, I'll buy you guys a sack of burgers if you're right. Mad Men loves a twist, but this doesn't feel like the kind of twist the show goes in for, to me at least.

John Swansburg: OK, it's been fun as always, but there's a bag of Bugles here on my desk that I just can't resist any longer. Thanks for stopping by to chat; talk to you next week!

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