Thursday, November 5, 2009

What I’m Watching: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 3, Episode 12 “The Grown Ups” (B+)

This show has always done a terrific job of incorporating historical events, and this episode is no exception. Kennedy’s assassination was a plot point that this show was inevitably going to get to, and it’s handled extraordinarily deftly. The reactions by Betty, Duck, and Peggy were particularly powerful, and the shock on their faces looked very real. Betty’s scream as she witnessed Oswald get shot while she was watching television was especially chilling, and her discussion with Don about how they shouldn’t hide the fact that the president was shot from the children was an interesting moment of parenting for the Drapers. The notion of national shock and dismay after Kennedy’s death was very well-represented here, though that’s hardly a surprise for a show that champions itself on staying true to its time period. The focus on Roger’s daughter’s wedding seemed to come out of the blue, and it’s the kind of thing that really catches you off guard if you don’t watch the “previously on” segment (which I neglected to do this week, in an effort to save time and start the actual episode). Jane has barely been seen on the show recently, but it’s still interesting to see the trouble she has not just with Don but also with Roger’s disapproving family and same-age daughter. The boldness of Roger to call his former flame Joan and have a heart-to-heart conversation while Jane was passed out on the bed right next to him was pretty intense. Even more memorable was Roger trying to minimize the impact of Kennedy’s assassination during the wedding, which was really just a case of terrible timing. The lingering image of Cooper and the other wedding guests huddled around the television in the kitchen at the reception is a token fantastic scene that should be logged in the archives of the best of this show.

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