Mad Men, Season 5

The Hidden Depths of Stan Rizzo
Talking television.
May 15 2012 10:56 AM

Mad Men, Season 5

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The hidden depths of Stan Rizzo.

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Stan Rizzo, the barrel-chested art director

Photograph courtesy AMC.

John, I think you’re right about the rapport between Sally and Megan. Sally sees her young stepmom as an ally, someone who buys her go-go boots and takes her to balls and sees her as a budding grown-up rather than a bratty child. That’s why she was so peeved that Megan was keeping secrets from her.

Julia Turner Julia Turner

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

Speaking of secrets, how much do we think Jane Sterling knows about Roger’s relationship with Joan? Before she acquiesced to the apartment-dinner date swap, she pouted to Roger: “Why don’t you ask Joanie? She’s a professional something.” Perhaps Jane was just channeling the office scuttlebutt she picked up in her few months at the old Sterling Cooper. Or perhaps she has an inkling that more has transpired. We haven’t really seen Joan and Roger interact since the disintegration of their marriages.

Though to be fair, we haven’t seen much of Joan at all. She’s been lurking around the edges, giving Peggy romantic advice and shoring up Don’s ego and generally taking care of things. Much more present has been Stan Rizzo, the barrel-chested art director whose affable wit now carbonates most of the scenes at the office. The show rarely presents us with glimpses of Stan’s inner life (all we’ve learned this season is that he has a cousin in the Navy). A few commenters around the internet have complained that his “Ozymandias” joke was unlikely. (When a Snoball-drunk Ginsberg gloats “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair,” Rizzo retorts, “You should really read the rest of that poem, you boob.”) But Stan contains multitudes; why shouldn’t he read Shelley? As Slate commenter dylan111 noted:

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Once when I was waitressing, a whole table of very educated, erudite folk were trying to think of the name of an Ayn Rand novel; it wasn't Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead ... but what was it? They were stumped. "Are you thinking of We the Living?" I asked, as I cleared the soup bowls. The looks of astonishment on their faces was both gratifying and rather insulting. My point is that we can't really know the depth of another person's knowledge on short or limited acquaintance. I personally loved Stan's retort; it was one of the highlights of the show for me. I am growing rather fond of him.

(“By the way,”—dylan111 adds—“before any of you comment, I hate Ayn Rand and used the word novel very loosely.”) 

I’m growing rather fond of Stan, too.

One last question for you, John. Did you notice Roger asked Ginsberg for an “impactful” idea for the Manishewitz folks? That sounds to me like a modern Madison Avenueism. Calling Ben Zimmer!

Gone to get bagels,

Julia