Mad Men, Season 6

Is It Wrong That I'm Starting to Like Harry Crane?
Talking television.
April 22 2013 1:26 PM

Mad Men, Season 6

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Is it wrong that I’m kind of starting to like Harry Crane?

crane

Michael Yarish/AMC

Hanna, Paul,

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

You’re right, Hanna, the prostitution theme continues. And continues to be heavy-handed. Moments after Don basically accuses Megan of whoring—“You kiss people for money. You know who else does that?”—we get a gratuitous insert shot of him pressing a shiny penny into Sylvia’s palm.

But it might only be Don who sees the world in these purely transactional terms. For everyone else, this late-‘60s cheating isn’t about that. It’s a bit of fun, testing some limits, breaking down the old sense of order. “A chemistry experiment,” as Arlene and Mel describe their plan to get weird with the Drapers. Kate from Spokane feels an urge to step out on both her husband (with some dude at the Electric Circus) and her job at Mary Kay (with an interview at Avon). Stan’s in a secret room, smoking reefer while he cheats on Beans with Ketchup. “All the girls do it,” says Scarlett when square, behind-the-times Joan busts her for cutting corners.

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Don is no stranger to cheating in its various guises. “I’m sure he’s a man who plays many roles,” says Arlene, unaware just how neatly she’s pegged Dick Whitman. He’s as hypocritical as ever, looking down his nose at Pete’s adultery pad (because he needn’t venture further than his own apartment building to cheat) and condemning Megan’s harmless screen kiss (while he’s running around on her IRL). But something’s different now. Don’s losing the handle.

He looked so sad, lying in bed with the TV remote as Megan prepared to televisually cuckold him. He looked sadder still as he eavesdropped outside that hotel room door, while Peggy wooed Ketchup on the other side. She even stole one of Don’s old pick-up lines: “If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.” Eavesdropping was beneath the old Don. He would have pitied a man who resorts to petty skulking.

Speaking of petty: Is it wrong that I’m kind of starting to like Harry Crane? Totally uncouth that he brought up Joan’s Jaguar affair after storming into the boardroom. But in that meeting with Roger and Bert he finally showed some … initiative.

He and Joan aren’t so different, you know. They both want a little workplace respect. Joan claims it by offloading lame watchdog tasks on Dawn. Harry asserts himself in the Scarlett fracas, and then demands an SCDP partnership. Note he didn’t even blink when handed a bonus larger than his annual salary. It’s not simply the coin he wants, it’s the kwan. I wish as he and Scarlett made their getaway from Joan’s office, arm in arm, the director had re-cued the song that was playing at the Electric Circus: Serge Gainsbourg’s awesome “Bonnie and Clyde.”

On the advertising front, we’re seeing some modern graphic design creep in. So much white space in the Heinz ads proposed by both Don and Peggy. Stark, sans-serif fonts. Bold all-caps. We’re a long way from early ‘60s print ads with their jam-packed visuals, crowded copy, and italic, script typefaces. Keep burning that bud and rocking those fringe jackets, Stan—I like your style.

(Incidentally, in the battle between SCDP and Cutler Gleason and Chaough, I think both sides probably deserved to lose. Don’s pitch was far more emotionally evocative, and he’s right that his ads would run in the “space” of the customer’s imagination. But the client was correct: We need to see that iconic bottle! Peggy fit the bottle in, but forgot to stir our hunger. What would have been better? Check out these 2008 Heinz ads that cleverly combine Don and Peggy’s ideas into a single, mouthwatering come-on.)

Paul, like Hanna I’m wondering how you felt about Dawn’s scenes with her friend. Did they pass a racial Bechdel test? I’m eager to see more of Dawn’s world—possibly in the run-up to the MLK assassination, which can’t be far off?—but so far her extra-office scenes sort of feel like they’re being imported from an entirely different show.

Also, what do you think was going on with Sylvia in that elevator scene? I think she’s up to something. If she had really pressed the down button, the car wouldn’t have stopped at her floor. She was dressed to the nines and wouldn’t reveal where she was going. As the door closed on Don, she glanced upward. Is Don not the only guy in the building who asks her to remove that crucifix pendant before she sins against Dr. Rosen?

There’s nothing better than being known for your loyalty,

Seth

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