Monday, August 25, 2008

'Mad Men' Detachment on 'The New Girl'

'The New Girl’ - Season 2, Episode 5
MANHATTAN, New York (August 25, 2008) >> virtuality

'Mad Men' demonstrates how characters are effected by their decisions based on the willingness to let go of or forget about relational and/or psychological attachments. A foundation point of the entire series is that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has become the Creative Director of Sterling Cooper due to his previous detachment from his real identity, his original wife and son, and his brother. The first season's crystal moment of truth about the man who will remake himself as Lieutenant Donald Draper is the poignancy of the son who sees his father leaving on the train.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 5: "The New Girl." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes. MARATHON ALERT: This Sunday, August 31, at 5 P.M. (EST), the first five episodes will be shown in order before the regular cablecast; check your local listings.

In ‘The New Girl’ episode, Don barely hesitates to leave work to meet Bobbie Barrett (Melinda McGraw) at Sardi’s. They liquor up and drive out to Stoneybrook, Long Island for sex on the beach. Don drives under the influence of both alcohol and the sensation of having his ear sucked with serious sensuality resulting in an automobile accident. Peggy Olson is forced to intervene and to bail out Don – literally. (PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you still insist on holding to the belief that drinking and driving is ultra cool or even sane, please review the James Dean safe highway driving trailer as well as the soon-thereafter crash photos of his mangled Porsche!)

Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) has been dragged in as the rescuer and also has to provide Bobbie a safe haven at her apartment to sober up and to give her injured blackened eye a little time to cool down. Bobbie, we see repeatedly, asks a lot of questions to size up people; she queries Peggy about her possible romantic attachment to Don. Bobbie repays Peggy in her own way with tactical tips on how to achieve a corner office at Sterling Cooper. Bobbie insists Peggy has to “be a woman” and has to get don to treat her as an equal.

After her baby was born, Peggy disappeared from work and was in St. Mary’s hospital with "psycho-neurotic disorder" (possibly post-partum depression). In the flashback, Don came to her urging that she “get out of here and move forward.” In other words, detach as if “it never happened.” Don reveals himself in telling Peggy, “It will shock you how much it never happened.”

Meanwhile, Paul Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and his wife Trudy (Alison Brie) have gone to the doctor for fertility evaluation. Turns out that Pete is ripe with “viability” while Trudy is informed the problem is hers. Pete seems ready to let go of the notion of fatherhood in exchange for less encumbered travel time and movie nights. Trudy, on the other hand, expresses suffering from her attachment to her perceived expectation of motherhood, “What is this all for? I really do want a baby.” Pete is unsympathetic and insensitive, “Work this through or keep it to yourself.”

At the office Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) has a new diamond ring visibly announcing to the staff her new status (and upcoming attachment) as fiancee to a doctor. Roger Sterling offers congratulations to her but also expresses regrets as Joan was “the only reason I came in to work.” Joan wields new authority and enforces dress code mores on the new girl secretary, i.e., Jane Siegel (Payton List), for showing a distracting amount of cleavage.

Jimmy Barrett (Patrick Fischler) compliments Don as a 'real cool cat' for his detachment from Jimmy’s bad behavior with the Schillings and then helping him escape a contract clause to do the 'Grin and Barrett' television pilot.

After the accident, Don arrived home very late from waiting to be bailed out for his driving while intoxicated to find Betty (January Jones) angry as well as deeply concerned. Mrs. Draper is attached to the notion that Don would call her since she is his wife unaware that he has been with Bobbie Barrett. Don makes the excuse that the high blood pressure pills and alcohol together possibly contributed to the impaired driving. In the end, Betty Draper states her real fear and attachment: “What would we do without you (Don)?” Betty informs Don that he will have to get used to meatloaf without salt (a contributor to high blood pressure) "because we love him." ///

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