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Jews Watching Mad Men: Lessons Learned

Jews (and everybody else) continue to watch Mad Men this week hoping that the old Don will return with a vengeance to re-claim his wife, his kids, his house, and perhaps take it easy with the hired help — by which I mean the prostitutes, not the housekeeper.  Last week left us wondering how long it will take for Betty’s new marriage to fall apart, when little Sally is going to hit her angsty stride, and when they’re finally going to mention Bob Dylan.


This week, Mad Men educated us like a teacher demonstrating how to hide under our desk in preparation for the A-Bomb.  So sit down and be sure to have an apple for your teacher, or a bagel, something, I’m not starved but I could eat, and be prepared to take notes on this week’s lessons from Mad Men.

Divorce is fine from the 1970’s onward, but anytime beforehand and it will completely destroy your child’s psyche.  This lesson began last week with Sally’s sweet potato spitting incident at thanksgiving and the show continues to brazenly show us that Sally is way screwed up over her parents divorce.  I get the feeling that we’re being prepared for a major pubescent estrogen explosion.

The real surprise came with a re-introduction of Season 1’s neighbor child and early product of divorce, Glen.  You may remember him as the cute young boy with a thirst for watching grown women pee, and who would rather play with locks of women’s hair over a Slinky.  Now he’s back, and has transformed into a dark-eyed twelve-year-old with hormones and a switchblade.  He seems harmless enough –working at the Christmas tree lot, flashing his knife to impress a blooming Sally– but when he breaks into the Draper house, trashes every room except for Sally’s, and then leaves a lanyard on her pillow, it becomes clear we’re being shown the beginning a cautionary tale.


Addiction, though potentially deadly, can be an excellent networking tool!  Freddy, everyone’s favorite pants pissing drunk from the Sterling Cooper days, returns, sixteen months sober, Hazelden approved, and bearing a big account to offer the firm.  We last saw Fredddy after he’d pissed himself in the office and Roger and Don sent him to rehab to "dry out."  He returns to the new firm with a Pond’s Cold Cream account.  When asked how he got the account, he claims that he went to the same frat as the boss, but we soon learn that they are both friends of Bill W.  Even though the current season of Mad Men is taking place in the Mid 60’s, the lesson is still valid.  Have you ever been to an AA meeting in New York or LA?  Talk about a schmooze fest!  So, if your career is faltering, don’t throw in the towel.  Go on a bender!  Smoke some crack!   Just remember that there’s no cross-talking and not to share for over two minutes.


What goes up must come down.  This week’s episode offered no hope to those of us who want to see the return old, untouchable Don.  While Don doesn’t pay for sex this week, he does have his advances thwarted by both the flirty twenty-something nurse next door, and the new psychology lady at the office. Two rejections?  For Don Draper?  It’s like watching Lebron James score under thirty points.  Then, just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, Don drunkenly forgets his keys at the office, calls his secretary to bring them to him at his apartment, and gives her the half asleep Draper bedroom eyes followed clothing pulled-aside lazy sex on the couch. The secretary walks away thinking her world has changed for the better and Don decides to mend the problem with a cool hundred-dollar Christmas bonus. Who the hell is this guy?

New Don’s antics aside, Mad Men has yet to disappoint in any facet of this season’s execution.  I’m no closer to understanding why this show is so brilliant, but I do feel like I’ve learned something today.  These things may all be happening in the mid sixties, but each is as valid today as it was back then. Some lessons are timeless.

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