Mad Men, Season 4

Week 6: Why Did Don Want To Win The Clio So Badly?
Talking television.
Aug. 30 2010 5:09 PM

Mad Men, Season 4


Week 6: Why Did Don Want To Win The Clio So Badly?

Roger Sterling (John Slattery).

Maybe Roger is so obsessed with his childhood because that's the only part of his life he remembers? Or cares to remember. This episode had Roger sniping at a supposed general at the Clio party, another reminder of his prickliness about his wartime service. Roger's fixation on the nursery creates a nice parallel, too, when Lane declares to Pete: "Roger Sterling is a child." Writing a memoir is the twilight act of an obsolete executive, but I can't see Roger going gently into that long-winded night.

Like both of you, I enjoyed the Muppet Babies flashbacks with Roger and Don. The scenes captured how forbidding and closed-off the advertising world would seem to an outsider, embodied in the form of Roger's silver mane and all-purpose sneer. What I kept looking for, and didn't see, was the moment when Roger decided that "the fur guy" has what it takes. Wasn't the story being told from Roger's point of view? Perhaps in the elevator? I think you're right, Julia, that Don conned his way into the door.


What does it take to get a new recurring character around here? I keep expecting for Peggy to take up with Bohemian Journalist from Week 4 or even just go on a date with Mr. Swedish Love, but instead she has to contend with Stan Rizzo, a lout who is still nursing a grudge that his Klan ad wasn't used by the Johnson campaign. If you watch the ad, it's a clumsy piece of work. The spot wasn't aired because of the controversy that followed the showing of the "Daisy" ad, which is about as good as political fearmongering gets. I will admit to enjoying Rizzo's hipster lingo, cribbed from the pages of Esquire and Playboy.

Julia, great point that we are seeing the women "calibrate" their sexuality for their advantage. (Though strangely, not Joan, who seems determined, against all anatomy, to become the office den mother.) Peggy's disrobing was a hilarious way to call Rizzo's bluff, even though the writers indulged in perhaps one pencil joke too many. And I think calibration is also the reason why Dr. Faye Miller has been so resistant to Don. No better way to shut him down than with this whopper: "I think you are confusing a lot of things at once right now." Indeed. But maybe Dr. Miller is being pragmatic with her appeal. She obviously knows that Don wants to sleep with her (and may be attracted in turn), but she also knows that she may lose his firm's business if she does so.

Were either of you surprised that Don clearly wanted so badly to win the Clio? I thought he was above that sort of industry fluff. (Commenter Tim Palmer agrees with me.) After all, they hand out 50 of them. John, that's how I read the hand-clasping with Joan: They both knew that Don needed a win, however small. The notion of watching the 6th annual Clio Awards made me pay more attention to the ads that break up Mad Men in 2010. The claymation guys in the spots are growing on me (love the buzzard), but, mostly, the ads are as generic and obvious as that winning Byrrh spot. No wonder light aperitifs never took off in America!

And, John, I liked how you pointed out the parallels between last night's episode and the Emmys. One more link: Don tries to buy the Life cereal idea from Roger's wife's idiot cousin, but Danny holds out for a job, because, as he tells Don, all he has are his ideas. That sounded like a cri de couer from the oft-overlooked writer's room to me. Two last quick things: No way Ken Cosgrove is going to buckle under Pete's dominance, but do we really care? And, my favorite line of the episode, courtesy of Lane: "A beverage called Mountain Dew." Can't wait to see what Don does with the Dew.

Life is sweet,

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



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