Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mad Men -- Everybody's Lookin' Out for Number One

*Warning: Spoilers ahead from the latest episode of Mad Men.*

"You are not loyal. You only think about yourself." -- Peggy Olson to Roger Sterling after Roger gave a new copywriter extra work (and cash) instead of asking Peggy.

Everybody's got an agenda, and it's all about benefiting the person they see in the mirror every day.

Betty, who doesn't seem to want what she has but wants what she can't have (food, Don's affection/respect/confidences), wants to make Don and Megan miserable so she'll feel better about herself, particularly after getting a glimpse of the slender Megan when she was getting dressed.

Don, who hasn't been exercising his creative muscles lately, wants to best an up-and-coming copywriter so he'll feel better about himself and doesn't play fair when he uses his seniority to trump the guy.

Pete -- who, like Betty, doesn't want his life or his spouse -- daydreams about sexy dalliances with a woman who's married to the guy with whom he commutes to work every morning. That's when he wasn't off trying to promote himself and only himself, excluding other members of his firm . . . only to fail miserably in his public relations efforts. (Have I mentioned how much I hate Pete Campbell? Snake.)

Roger, who ditched the loyal mother of his first child for a younger wife who he also dumped after he grew bored with her too, wants to sully Jane's new digs so he'd be the first man to have her in her apartment even though Jane expressly said she wanted a fresh break from him, after she extracted a bribe from him in exchange for accompanying him to work dinner.

Everybody's a selfish git in this episode, scheming and maneuvering about how to handle situations in ways which are beneficial to themselves. Even characters who have always been selfish -- Don, Roger, Pete -- demonstrated a little extra self-absorption at the expense of others in their workplace with Don smacking down an employee whose efforts could help Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's bottom line, Roger blowing off Peggy who'd helped him in a pinch and Pete who was only looking out for himself and not his ad agency when he made his bid for New York Times publicity.

The cruelty we saw that was personal in nature was rooted in each character's insecurities. Betty, unhappily overweight, wanted to hurt Don and his thin trophy wife by not only trying to wreck Megan's warm relationship with Sally, but by telling Sally about Anna Draper, hoping to damage Sally's relationship with her father. Roger, who didn't like the notion of being replaced in Jane's bed by the twentysomething son of a client, wanted to wreck Jane's fresh start. Megan's friend Julia, who was trying out for a role that Megan said was fairly lousy, lashed out at Megan for being freed from having to audition for crappy scripts because she sits on an affluent "throne" courtesy of her husband's money.

Nobody seems happy with anybody. Nobody seems nice to anyone else, except for Henry, who chose not to tell his weight watching wife that he was starving after all the low-calorie dinners and fried up his own steak in the middle of the night, hoping she wouldn't notice. (Henry already demonstrated his insecurities earlier this season when he didn't tell Betty that Don had called to inquire about her health after she feared she had cancer.)

By the way, what is up with Megan being barefoot all the time? Is this supposed to represent a new, freer, youthful, late 1960s kinda vibe? It certainly contrasted with Betty who showed up in Don's apartment looking like the 1960s housewife she is.

Image credit: Michael Yarish/AMC.

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