Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mad Men’s Six-Month Leave

MANHATTAN, New York October 1, 2008 >> mad men virtuality ©ML Duby

“Stop dining on the drama of other people’s lives like teenage girls.”
– Don Draper

On the other hand, now that we’re here, we might as well enjoy the Mad Men crew indulging their usual barrel of drink. We’ll sample a few hor'dourves and chat before the main course. Unfortunately, one of our regulars – Freddy – over-imbibes to the point of literally pissing himself. Let’s be clear about the Mad Men equation of consequences...after the disclaimer, of course.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 9: "Six Month Leave." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on amctv.com to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray) is sent on a one-way out, “six-month leave of absence from which he won’t return” (Roger Sterling – John Slattery) because the “man is a train wreck” (Duck Philips – Mark Moses) and “disgusting” embarrassment according to Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). The scenario is that Freddy is so totally tanked and still drinking right before the Samsonite luggage client meeting. The unprofessionalism and potentially erratic, unpredictable presentation seems less important that the social stain of wet trousers.

The Six-Month Leave episode is really about who and what we hold onto. Against the real-time world backdrop of Marilyn Monroe’s death, we view our characters reacting to the news, revealing (or not) their feelings about the event, and resolving to move forward toward a “fresh start” as it was put by Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Draper in the elevator on the way up: “Can’t say I’m surprised.” Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) astutely comments, “We’re lucky Playtex didn't go for that Jackie/Marilyn campaign." The secretarial pool is universally weepy with mourning. Roger Sterling sneers that Miss Monroe was a movie star that threw it all away as Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) pines, “This world destroyed her.”

As for Freddy’s plight, he’s dead in the world of Sterling Cooper. Despite his skill set, shared war stories and the loyalty of creative team, Freddy is finished, kaput, sayonara, adios, bye-bye and finito. Roger insists the firm “has to let him go.”

One of Roger Sterling’s violated cardinal sins is lust of the variety that all so frequently allies with disloyalty. Roger ensures the jettison of Freddy is “all being done the right way.” Apparently, 25 years of marriage with Mona does not weigh up as equal to his attraction to the 19-year old secretary Jane Siegel (Payton List). Roger commits a double cop-out, first with a fake name – secretary "Margaret" – to Mona and then, with a twisted-version replay of Don’s suggestion that “it’s your life, you have to move forward.” Roger's business is clear justification without acceptance of responsibilities for his actions and the underlying intentions.

Conflict between Don and Roger is foreshadowed with Roger’s reminder to Don that “you don’t have a contract” with Sterling Cooper. Roger adds, “Your loyalty is starting to become a liability.” At the close, Don ignores Roger’s effort to “explain” his misuse of Don’s bar comment, requests Jane to be off his desk and closes his office door in Roger’s face.

Marilyn Monroe sang “I’m Through With Love” in “Some Like It Hot.”
(1931) Matt Malneck; Songwriters: Gus Kahn, Fud Livingston, Matt Malneck

I'm through with love I'll never fall again
Said adieu to love Don't ever call again
For I must love you or no one
And so I'm through with love

I've locked my heart I'll keep my feelings there
I've stocked my heart in an icy Frigidaire
And I mean to care for no one
Because I'm through with love

Why did you lead me to think you could care?
You didn't need me for you had your share
of slaves around you to hound you and swear
their deep devotion and emotion to you

Goodbye to spring and all it meant to me
It can never bring the things that used to be
For I must have you or no one
And so I'm through with love
I'm through with love
That's why I'm through with love

1 comment:

steve said...

Its really nice show. I have seen every single episode of this show and enjoyed it a lot. Mad Men is such a great show to watch online.