Slate Readers Come Up With the Perfect Description for Mad Men’s Harry Crane

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
May 21 2012 4:46 PM

Harry Crane’s Baffling Lack of Failure

Julia Turner chats with readers about the latest episode of Mad Men.

Crane & Krishna.
Harry Crane meets an old friend on Mad Men

AMC.

Julia Turner was on Slates Facebook page Monday to chat with readers about the latest episode of Mad Men. The following transcript of the discussion has been edited for length and clarity. To see the full conversation, click on this link.

Julia Turner Julia Turner

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.

Julia Turner: Greetings, mad men and women! I'm curious to hear what you thought of last night's episode, which gave us some flirty moments between Don and Joan, the return of Kinsey, and some misbehavior from Lane Pryce.

Cory Cooper: Loved the line "I bet she isn't even ugly; the only sin she committed was being familiar."

Julia Turner: Wasn't Joan devastating in the episode? Her take on the male of the species was bleak.

Nicole Hall: The fact Don and Joan haven't had a rendezvous is, in itself, a miracle. Is it only a matter of time?

Martin Tanz: My wife said the same thing last night, but I would say no, they aren't getting together.

Julia Turner: I don't think Don and Joan are headed for a nooner at the Plaza. Those flowers weren't about wooing Joan. They were about acknowledging the moment they shared and making her feel good.

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I think Don recognizes that just as Joan needs to adapt to her new reality, so does he. Megan's not at the office anymore. He's still an ad man who gets defensive when experimental theater actors decry his trade. He's got another run left in him. I'm looking forward to seeing where he's headed.

Julie Kramer: Seeing Don and Joan together was beyond exciting. I guess it was like fan fiction, but Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks are always fantastic together (remember their scene in the hospital a few seasons back?). I like Megan, but scenes like this (and the one recently between Joan and Peggy) where we see the history of the characters are the reason I watch the show.

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Julia Turner: We were also lucky this week to be joined by Rich Sommer, the actor who plays Harry Crane. Here's Sommer on his performance, what it was like to film the Hare Krishna scene, and to act with Michael Gladis once more.

Eliza McCarthy: Alas, I have not seen this episode yet, but I just want to chime in that I love Harry Crane. I like how baffled he often seems, by his wife, his colleagues, his own continued lack of failure, and by the fact that women sometimes allow themselves to sleep with him.

Julia Turner: ‎"Baffled by his own continued lack of failure. ..." I love that as a description of Harry Crane.

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Martin Tanz: I enjoyed the episode, but was disappointed to see how far Kinsey had fallen in just a few years. I always liked his character and thought of him as the character from the first couple of seasons I would most likely be friends with if they were real people.

Julia Turner: Yes, he described his own insecurity and craven need for approval—and his description of himself in that scene in some ways reminded me more of the young Harry Crane.

Stephen Rourke: I'm glad that Kinsey's fate was resolved; I always liked him, mainly because he wanted to save Penn Station.

Martin Tanz: It is painful to watch a person slowly realize his own mediocrity. Somehow, it is more satisfying when you see a little prick like Pete Campbell, or even Don Draper, brought down to earth. You know those guys will figure out a way to fight their way back up. Not so sure about Kinsey. I have a feeling things will end badly for him, just as they will for Lane.

Julia Turner: Yes, I noticed some striking echoes between the scene with Harry and Kinsey and the scene in season one between Don/Dick and his brother Adam. Both take place in diners, and in both cases, one man gives the other an envelope of cash, and the instruction to go away and never come back. We know how well that ended for Adam Whitman.

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Stephen Rourke: What about Megan's challenge to Don (and his acceptance of it)?

Julia Turner: I'm interested to hear you say Don accepted Megan's challenge. I couldn't quite pinpoint what it was about the events of this episode that gave Don renewed vigor. Was it Megan's line about how he used to love his work? Or did it have more to do with Joan's line about being raised to be admired. Perhaps Don is looking for a little of the admiration he used to win so effortlessly, too.

Stephen Rourke: I think Joan may have primed the fuse, but I think Megan lit it. He's much more attached to Megan, who's kind of a surrogate mother for him. On the other hand, perhaps Joan is a kind of surrogate mother for him, on a purely professional level. He's clearly a man who needs to be mothered, just as Betty is someone who clearly needs a father. That's the source of Don and Betty's attraction and breakup: they recognize each other's needs but don't have what it takes to satisfy them.

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Julia Turner: I'm curious to hear what you all made of Joan's exchange with Roger, as well. As Patrick Radden Keefe pointed out in his entry, this is the first acknowledgment we've had that Roger knows Joan's baby is his—and that he's tried to help out financially. Why do you all think Joan is refusing his aid?

Edmund Karner: “This is the first acknowledgment we've had that Roger knows Joan's baby is his”—explicitly. But remember when she first returned to the office after her leave, with child in tow? Roger sees them and remarks, "There's my baby."

Julia Turner: Yes, I should have stipulated it was his first explicit acknowledgment of it. That first one was a bit winking and subtextual.

Julia Turner: Thanks all for the chat.

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