Things I forgot about Mad Men

I recently re-watched the first four seasons of Mad Men in preparation for its long-awaited return. As is often the case with re-watching things after years, there was some shit I totally did not remember. Just to name a few examples, I had forgotten:

*…that Ken Cosgrove was just as sleazy as the other guys at first. He might be the worst of the lot in season one, actually! He improves somewhat by season three, but not that impressively. Perhaps getting abandoned by the gang when they slink away to form Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce humbled him and made him a new man, because by the time he re-joins everyone partway through season four, he’s become the nice, respectful guy I remembered.

*…just how fucking awful Pete Campbell’s family is—which explains a lot about that mean, manipulative side of him that sometimes comes out. Pete’s father was downright cruel to him, and the episode where he dies is fascinating because of it. Also, I’d blocked out the level of Pete’s lameness to Trudy at first. Their relationship seems to have grown stronger as each of them has matured into adulthood, and I hope we see more of them together in season five.

*…about the scene in season one where Pete punches Ken for making jokes about Peggy gaining weight! Someone make me gif of just the moment right when Pete throws the sucker punch and the moment when they sheepishly shake hands after the tussle. Please. I’ll love you forever.

*…that Betty wasn’t such a bad mom at first. She didn’t know how to be a “good mom” by our contemporary standards, but to start out she was hardly the monster she’d become known as by the end of season four. Her coldness and anger increases slowly as her naïveté fades and frustration builds about the life she’s trapped in and who her husband is. We start out feeling sorry for her, like one might a naïve child, and as she grows into a petulant teen, that turns to dislike. Will we see her mature from here?

*…that Paul and Joan had a thing! How did he pull that off? Oh my, that woman needs a man who is worthy of her. (Also, I don’t miss Paul.)

*…about some of the awful things Don does to Betty even outside of the neverending philandering. Leaving to pick up Sally’s birthday cake and never coming back, thus humiliating Betty with their friends? Blaming and slut-shaming her for nothing when Roger was drunk and hit on her? Ugh, Don. Even the 1960s aren’t an excuse for that sort of behavior. (And these moments represent more reasons why I’m usually on Team Defending Betty.)

*…that LEE GARNER, JR.—so critical to SCDP proceedings in season four—was the client who hit on Sal and got him fired for rejecting the advances! Why in my head did I think it had been some throwaway character? Crazy. (I do miss Sal. Going through his demise again was tough.)

*…that Peggy’s gratingly sassy Manhattan-working-girl roommate was played by Carla Gallo! I love her. She needs a sitcom deal, for something truly funny and weird, immediately. Maybe I will write something and send it to her…

Anyway, more thoughts about Mad Men: The Journey So Far can be heard in the first episode of the new podcast from Damsels in Discussion, Mad Femmes. Please give it a listen; it’s very funny. (Also NSFW, unless your office doesn’t mind chatter about blowjobs. Le scandale!)

Happy season five premiere this Sunday!


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