Mad Men – Episode 5-1 Review – “Season Premiere”

You guys! After a hiatus of almost a year and a half, Mad Men has returned to AMC and my life is once again complete. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I’m really glad the show has returned. It is one of the highest quality programs on TV right now, and certainly one of the smartest shows I watch.

I celebrated the premiere by attending a costume theme party at the casino here in Halifax with some great ladies and fellow Mad Men fans. We all dressed up and ordered old-timey drinks like sidecars and vodka gimlets before the show came on. (Proof that I am hardcore into theme parties? My friends and I came to the Mad Men bash straight from a 90s themed costume party, and did a quick costume switcheroo in the restaurant washroom.)

Click through to read my full review of “A Little Kiss” and then head to the comment share your thoughts!

 

It looks as though Mad Men is picking up about a year to a year and a half after where we left off. (So, almost like real time?) Don and Megan are married, and she’s been promoted from her gig as secretary – albeit for very different reasons than Peggy. Joan was at home with a new baby, Betty was nowhere to be seen, and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is…afloat. Stable, but not successful.

Mad Men has always been a slow-burn kind of show, and that’s exactly what Sunday night’s episode was. But it was also filled with little details that I loved. An early Addams Family reference as Don dropped off Sally and his other less interesting offspring let us know that Betty is around, and he still hates her. Don Draper was turning 40, and even though Megan knows Don’s secret and that Dick Whitman had been 40 for months, she was eager to celebrate anyway. With a poorly planned, last minute surprise party.

The party was delightfully awkward, from Peggy’s snarky comment about having to go back to work to Roger’s obvious disdain for his wife, to Megan’s sexy, scandalous performance of a French song for Don. The clothes were fabulous, and Don’s embarrassment was fascinating. Betty might have been terrible, but at least she understood decorum.

Also fabulous? Harry making lewd comments about Megan at the office on Monday morning, with Megan right behind him. He spent the rest of the episode fretting over whether he’d be fired, which made him easy prey for Roger Stirling who was looking for someone to trade offices with Pete Campbell.

Viewers who work in advertising probably appreciated the scene where Peggy pitched a cutting edge bean-ballet commercial to Heinz, who’d asked for something bold but really wanted the “bite-and-smile” material they’d been serving up for years. When Don entered the meeting and said to give the clients what they want instead of selling them on Peggy’s better, more creative idea, she was astounded. One of my favorite lines of the night was “Clients are right all of a sudden? I don’t recognize that man. He’s kind and patient. It concerns me.”

There are plenty of office politics to go around, too. Pete “Bitchface” Campbell has been bringing in the most clients, but Roger kept crashing his meetings. So, of course, he scheduled an imaginary inconvenient 6:00 am meeting with Coca-Cola to teach Roger a lesson. Rarely am I on Team Pete, but that was both hilarious and deserved.

I also loved the Joan stuff, as we saw her struggle with staying at home with her new baby and her mother there to both help and criticize. She’s dying to get back to work, and had a near breakdown when she thought she was being replaced. Lane Pryce was there to set her straight, telling her the office has been a shambles without her. Oh Joanie, of course they can’t get by without you! (Another great moment? Roger Stirling shouting “Where’s my baby?” when Joan came to visit with their new son, followed by “Get that brat out of the way so I can see her” – because he was talking about Joan, not the child. You’re playing with fire, Roger!)

The episode also touched on some racial issues, as we saw some Madison Avenue white execs behave with embarrassing anger, immaturity and prejudice as they witnessed demonstrations, and then we saw Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce place an ad claiming to be “an equal opportunity employer” that was not a genuine attempt to change with the times but an inside joke. The gag resulted in a crowd of African Americans showing up with resumes to apply for a job that didn’t exist. None of the white execs knew how to handle the situation, so Lane simply sent away the men and took resumes for the position of a secretary. Will they actually hire someone? That could be interesting.

I really enjoyed the premiere and I’m interested to see where this season takes us. Megan seems to have had an interesting influence on Don, as he appears to be dramatically less interested in work than he used to be. That can’t last, right? The scene in which Megan poutily cleaned the apartment after the party in skimpy underwear showed both how immature she can be and how attracted to her Don still is. That definitely can’t last. Soon, I think, we’ll see Don stepping outside his marriage again.

So, what did you guys think?

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