Film and TV

Mad Men: Green-Eyed Monster & the Two Mrs. Drapers

"O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock"; truer words were never spoken (by a fictional character in a Shakespeare play).

Last night's episode of Mad Men was one of my favorites of the season. It dripped with the bitter resentment of each of its main characters, and the manner in which they dealt with their green-eyed monsters was beautiful.

Betty's Jealousy: The episode begins with Betty weighing out pieces of cheese in her Weight Watcher's scale, which I had no idea dated back to the '60s. Betty has not shown up much this season, but when she does it's delightful to see her juvenile and substantially larger self juxtaposed against the young and spry Megan. Betts goes to pick the kids up at Don's new apartment and is thrown for an emotional loop at the swankiness of the place and the skinniness of Don's new wife. So what does she do? She tells Sally about Don's first wife, Anna, and somehow manipulates her daughter into blaming Megan for not sharing the details. This is after she fills her mouth with Reddi-wip, and then shamefully spits it into the sink.

Megan's Jealousy: Megan is reading through a script with one of her actor friends and mocks the dialogue. Her friend points out how charmed Megan's life is, and this enrages Mrs. Draper. She's resentful of her friend's acting audition, but maybe she's angrier with herself for having it so easy. Playing the part of the starving artist can prove difficult when you have plenty to eat.

Don's Jealousy: We've seen Don's amazing ego become deflated a few times now this season, but in this particular episode we saw a fragility that Don rarely displays. He's insecure about work? Early in the episode Don notices that the new guy, Michael, an excellent addition to the cast, has been doing the lion's share of the copywriting. He's good. Don stumbles into Michael's office and rifles through his notes on the client Snowball soda. It's a funny campaign. So what does Don do? He decides to write one himself to prove he still has the chops. What's surprising, or not at all, is that what Don comes up with is not as good as Michael's idea.

The team takes both designs to the client to let them decide, but Don never gives them a chance. He leaves Michael's work in the cab, like, totally on purpose!

When the brazen Michael confronts the old Draper, Don does his Don thing and acts like a pompous jerk, reminding Michael who is boss. But it's forced and somewhat sad knowing what we know. Michael will never turn into a Don Draper type; he's just a bit too off the wall to ever compete. What Michael does have is youth and drive, and Don used to have both of these things. Early in the episode, Joan reminds Don of all the great work that has come out of the agency under Don's creative lead, but why does Don need reassurance? And from Joan, of all people?

Peggy's Jealousy: Peggy, too, has started seeing Michael as a threat. Where once he was her junior, he has quickly risen up the ranks to be the top writer at the agency. So much so that Roger singles Michael out rather than Peggy to help him on a secret project. Unlike Don's dick approach, Peggy confronts Roger, who reminds her that we as people are all out for ourselves. This answer doesn't seem to satisfy her.

Roger's Jealousy: Bert confides in Roger that he has made a contact with the directors of Manischewitz wine, who are trying to break into the "normal people" market. Roger is gung ho for a new client that Pete Campbell will have nothing to do with; Bert apparently feels the same way about Pete. Roger invites along his ex-wife Jane, who happens to be Jewish. In exchange with being Roger's plus one, Jane insists he buy her a new apartment. The old apartment they shared together has too many memories of their previous life and Jane, for some reason, is sad. Roger agrees.

At dinner, the Manischewitz couple has invited their son to join, who lays it on thick to Jane with tales of his money and yacht. "What type of yacht do you have?" he asks Roger. Yuk. Roger watches his hot young ex-wife flirt with a rich young other man, and he's pissed.

So what does he do? He invites himself up to her new apartment to sully its un-Rogerness with his manly mark. The next morning Jane tells him he has ruined the whole place for her. Apparently she has forgotten that the horizontal mambo takes two.

Pete's Jealousy: And then there's Pete. Pete is basically jealous of everyone and everything. He is still fantasizing about his brief affair with his train partner's wife. When his train pal tells Pete that he will spend as much time as he can with his secret girlfriend before having to go home for the Thanksgiving weekend, Pete snaps back, "What if I go and sleep with your wife!" Ha ha...? The grass is always greener, says his pal, which is basically what this entire episode is about.

At Betty's Weight Watchers meeting, the overly emo meeting leader reminds the ladies that even when you are skinny you still have problems. This notion plays throughout each character. However good you think someone has it, they will have their own insecurities and animosities. How they handle these feelings is where the drama kicks into high gear.

Things to note: This is now the third time this season that Roger has dug into his own pocket and paid an employee to secretly help him out. It makes me wonder if Roger is made out of money or if we are seeing this because money wells tend to run dry. It's been said that there is more action this season, which I don't fully agree with. There is less ambiguity, not necessarily more going on. There are only a few episodes left to the season, which is usually when Weiner drops a bomb. Will this bomb involve Roger no longer being able to bankroll SCDP? We'll see.

Best line of the season: Bert tells Roger their potential clients are Jewish, to which Roger replies, "How Jewish are they? Fiddler on the Roof -- audience or cast?"

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig