Mad Men, Season 4

Week 2: Couch Sex
Talking television.
Aug. 2 2010 5:03 PM

Mad Men, Season 4

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Week 2: Couch Sex

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss).
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men

Ah, the conga line. The dance that launched a thousand excruciating wedding videos. As I watched the employees of SCDP, I tried to remember the last time I joined a conga line unironically. Maybe the seventh grade. You're right, Julia, that most of us have forgotten how to dance together in large groups with flair. Though I think even an uptight guy like me could pull off that Jersey Shore fist pump move—should circumstances require it.

The two of you already noted the re-emergence of Freddy Rumsen; I enjoyed hearing once again the unlocateable twang of Lee Garner Jr., closeted Lucky Strike heir. He waltzed through the office and smoothly gave the men the back of his hand. Roger, worst of all. The Fuhrer's birthday party was a cutting reminder that for all of advertising's creative aura and magazine-perfect offices, it's ultimately a service profession. Like fortunate kids at Christmas, the clients get what they want.

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That baser view of advertising flies in the face of Faye Miller's highfalutin presentation. I really wanted to see the film! Did anyone get a proto-Ann Coulter vibe from her? The scene in Don's office was well-observed. Don is like an athlete trying to do thing things he used to do before he got injured. He hasn't figured out how to make his divorced status seem alluring. He's relying on instinct when he really needs to be analytical, a la Dr. Miller.

After Don is 0 for 2, he pulls Allison onto the couch for drunk couch sex. Oh my. The scene in the office the next morning was excruciating—with Allison, full of sparkle and brilliantly setting off the poinsettias on her desk, getting the stone-faced hammer from Don. I don't know if she was writing her resignation letter at the end, Julia—that seems a little too connect-the-dots for the show. But I do think Matthew Weiner is flirting dangerously with making Don really, really unlikable. Don's affairs have always been counterbalanced by the weight of all the Betty-hatred out there. And his leaky, pitiable life is getting noticed back at the office from places high and low. I'm curious how Don can deploy his charisma to climb out of the pit he's dug.

John, I'm as confused as you are about Peggy's taste in men. Mr. Swedish-Way-of-Love is suffused with an outer-borough naiveté that I thought she left behind in Season 1. I suppose this guy may be about Peggy's nostalgia for her former self. Those relationships never work out so well. One day, the future Peggy will hear the words of Don Henley and realize "Don't look back, you can never look back." She'll find love in the office somewhere, perhaps if SCDP lands some more accounts. Obviously, marriage will be like tugging a handbrake on her career. I'm anxious to see how she carves out the new working-girl path for herself.

I also remain extremely charmed by the actress who plays Sally Draper, and her eerie resemblance to Betty. Her dialogue with Glenn, however, was the second most excruciating thing in the show. Time to reread your Cheever, Mad Men writing staff—he's the master at describing how children speak among themselves and in the presence of adults. I'll submit that the GIMP was very funny. Part of me wonders whether a true obsessive wouldn't labor over a twisted fluted column stitch, though. Those kids were the real crazies.

Thanks for all your hard work,

Agger

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Michael Agger is an editor at The New Yorker. Follow him on Twitter.

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