Mad Men: Parents Just Don't Understand

Daddy's little girl is all grown up.
Daddy's little girl is all grown up.

As expected, Mad Men season five just keeps getting better. Last night's episode, although somewhat soapy, was filled with rich character development, and even Megan wasn't that annoying. In fact, I may be starting to like her! Nothing makes a character more sympathetic than when they have totally screwed-up parents.

The episode was all about the ladies. Each of the mini-plots focused on Megan, Peggy and Sally, but it is the tumultuous relationship that each of these girls has with the people that are supposed to be the "grown-ups" in their lives that was at the heart of the matter.

Megan's parents are in town visiting Don and crew and are joining the Drapers at an award reception where Don is being honored. Due to an accidental tripping over a phone cord, Henry's mother, the world's worst influence over children, who has been watching the kids, ships them off to Don's for the weekend. Don is coerced into taking Sally to the reception and is shocked when his little girl is decked out in age-inappropriate clothing and makeup.

Megan's parents leave little to be desired. Her dad is something of a jerk and her mom a slut. They argue in French and make the Drapers very uncomfortable. Don complains about Megan's father "never liking him"; Don's needing another person's validation is a very un-Don thing to do.

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The fancy awards ceremony finds Sally being forced into adulthood a little too quickly. She sees Megan's mother and Roger acting completely improperly, her dad is off gallivanting and then, when Megan is insulted by her father and leaves the table, little Sally sits alone eating grown-up food in the middle of a bunch of adult situations. Sally has been pushed into some really awkward situations in the past, and the trend continues. Let's just hope she doesn't cut off all her hair again in rebellion.

On the other side of the coin, Peggy's boyfriend Abe asks her to cohabitate. She's excited, but maybe not as excited as she would have been had he asked her to marry him as Joan made her believe he would. But this is the late '60s and shacking up pre-marriage is a growing concept. Peggy's mom, however, is none too pleased about this situation. She would rather Peggy lie about it than tell her the truth. Gee, mom, that doesn't seem all that motherly of a thing to say to your child. Peggy's mother tells her that Abe is just using Peggy for practice; he's having his cake and eating it, too.

In business news, Megan actually has a good idea for Heinz, and she and Don sell it over a dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Heinz. The idea focuses on parents unequivocally loving their children throughout time, and they show this love by scooping out a hot meal of beans. Beans are reliable and so are the parents that serve them to you. Paging Captain Subtext!

There are many highlights to this episode. My favorite moment included Roger hanging out with Sally at the awards show and the two of them having a delightfully funny banter. Roger has always been a scene-stealer, but this season he has become the best character out of the whole bunch of them. His LSD moment last week has given him some of his confidence back and I like it!

Another fun highlight was Sally's old buddy Glen showing up, via telephone. I love the bond that these two misfits have, and the fact that he is still creepy is even better.

By the end of the episode, all three women have been sorely disappointed by the "adults" in their lives and the episode ends with Glen asking Sally how the city is, to which she replies "dirty." It is a dirty world out there for sure.


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