The Legacy of Mad Men: Cultural History, Intermediality and American Television 3030310906, 9783030310905, 3030310914, 9783030310912

“The Legacy of Mad Men adds significant new perspectives to the legacy of Mad Men scholarship. The authors apply theoret

626 115 3MB

English Pages 280 Year 2019

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

The Legacy of Mad Men: Cultural History, Intermediality and American Television
 3030310906,  9783030310905,  3030310914,  9783030310912

Table of contents :
Contents......Page 6
Editors and Contributors......Page 11
What Else Is There to Say About Mad Men?......Page 16
Bibliography......Page 23
Part I Mad Men’s Status: Television, Reputation, Fandom......Page 25
Right Time, Right Place......Page 26
The Emergence of Quality Television......Page 29
The Legacy of Mad Men......Page 33
Bibliography......Page 38
Introduction: A Meta-Slide Show......Page 41
Sliding into Nostalgia......Page 44
Slide 1: Old Wounds, Kodak Moments, and Acts of Preservation......Page 45
Slide 2: Breaking the Rules......Page 47
Slides 3 and 4: Playing with Time......Page 48
Slides 5, 6, and 7: Invisible Labourers Outside of the Frame: Mothers, Domestic Workers, and Kodak Girls......Page 49
Slides 8 and 9: Absence......Page 52
Slides 10, 11, and 12: Pictures Speak Louder Than Words......Page 53
Nostalgia as Generative......Page 54
Bibliography......Page 56
Introduction......Page 59
From Narrative Complexity to Complex Seriality......Page 60
Conceptual Originality and Drama with a Point of View......Page 62
The Integration of Central Characters and Overarching Story......Page 64
The Psychological Investigation of Character......Page 66
Conclusions......Page 70
Bibliography......Page 72
Part II Gender and Race: The Complex Management of Power......Page 75
Capturing an Era......Page 76
CRT: A Brief Overview......Page 78
Everyday Interactions......Page 79
SCDP and the ‘Negro’ Market......Page 82
The Civil Rights Movement and SCDP......Page 83
The Real Civil Rights Movement and the Reel Civil Rights Movement......Page 87
Conclusion......Page 89
Bibliography......Page 90
Preview: Watching Women on Mad Men......Page 91
Feminist Continuities: The Way We’ve Always Been......Page 94
Historical Difference and Feminist Progress: The Way We Really Were......Page 98
Competing Feminist Frameworks/Competition Between Women......Page 100
From Feminist Snares to Feminist Fantasies: Seeking an Alternative End......Page 101
Bibliography......Page 105
The Performativity of Labour and Femininity on Mad Men......Page 108
Women of Service......Page 111
Performativity......Page 113
Affective Labour and Female Transformation......Page 117
Bibliography......Page 121
Mad Men, Corporate Culture, and Violence Against Women......Page 123
Kanter’s Corporate Work Roles......Page 125
Joan and Peggy......Page 126
Betty and Trudy......Page 129
Rachel and Bobbie......Page 131
Conclusion......Page 135
Bibliography......Page 136
Part III Mad Men’s Intermediality: Film, Music, Poetics......Page 138
Don Draper and the Enduring Appeal of Antonioni’s La Notte......Page 139
Bibliography......Page 152
Mad Men’s Mid-Century Modern Times......Page 154
Chaplin’s Labour Thesis in Modern Times......Page 156
The Violence of ‘The Monolith’......Page 157
‘Human Existence Is Finite’......Page 159
‘That Machine Came for Us’......Page 162
Dehumanizing the Workplace in Our Modern Times......Page 164
Bibliography......Page 167
Dualities and Ambiguities: Mad Men’s Use of the Beatles, Nancy Sinatra, and Judy Collins in Seasons Five and Six......Page 168
Bibliography......Page 179
Introduction......Page 181
Background: Post-war Capitalism and Bakhtin......Page 182
Season One......Page 184
Proceeding Seasons......Page 187
Conclusion: California Carnivalesque?......Page 191
Bibliography......Page 195
Mad Men and the Staging of Literature via Ken Cosgrove and His Problems......Page 196
Bibliography......Page 209
Part IV Endings and Legacies: The Final Season......Page 210
Mad Men’s Finale and the Making of History......Page 211
From Riches to Rags......Page 212
Death of a Salesman......Page 215
Back to Reality......Page 218
Bibliography......Page 221
Ending an Era and the Dismantling of Narrative ‘Machinery’ in Mad Men’s Finale......Page 222
Moving ‘Forward’......Page 223
Accepting the Past, Achieving Stasis......Page 227
Changing Places......Page 231
A New Don?......Page 233
Bibliography......Page 235
What Jungian Psychology Can Tell Us About Don Draper’s Unexpected Embrace of Leonard in Mad Men’s Finale......Page 237
Bibliography......Page 249
Afterword: Reading Mad Men in the Era of Trump......Page 251
The Gender Divide......Page 253
Race, Power and Visibility......Page 257
Conclusion......Page 261
Bibliography......Page 262
Index......Page 263

Citation preview

The Legacy of

madmen Cultural History, Intermediality and American Television Edited by Karen McNally · Jane Marcellus Teresa Forde · Kirsty Fairclough

The Legacy of Mad Men

Karen McNally · Jane Marcellus · Teresa Forde · Kirsty Fairclough Editors

The Legacy of Mad Men Cultural History, Intermediality and American Television

Editors Karen McNally School of Computing and Digital Media London Metropolitan University London, UK Teresa Forde School of Art University of Derby Derby, UK

Jane Marcellus Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN, USA Kirsty Fairclough School of Arts and Media University of Salford Manchester, UK

ISBN 978-3-030-31091-2  (eBook) ISBN 978-3-030-31090-5 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover image: Thomas H. Bivins This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

In memory of David Lavery


Introduction: Where the Truth Still Lies 1 Jane Marcellus What Else Is There to Say About Mad Men? 1 Bibliography 8 Mad Men’s Status: Television, Reputation, Fandom Mad Men’s Legacy in the Quality Television Tradition 13 Gary R. Edgerton Right Time, Right Place 13 The Emergence of Quality Television 16 The Legacy of Mad Men 20 Bibliography 25 Mad Men, Maddicts, and Recapturing the Carousel Through Kodak Moments and Selfies 29 Andrée E. C. Betancourt Introduction: A Meta-Slide Show 29 Sliding into Nostalgia 32 Slide 1: Old Wounds, Kodak Moments, and Acts of Preservation 33 Slide 2: Breaking the Rules 35 Slides 3 and 4: Playing with Time 36 vii



Slides 5, 6, and 7: Invisible Labourers Outside of the Frame: Mothers, Domestic Workers, and Kodak Girls 38 Slides 8 and 9: Absence 40 Slides 10, 11, and 12: Pictures Speak Louder Than Words 41 Nostalgia as Generative 43 Bibliography 44 Mad Men and Complex Seriality 47 Trisha Dunleavy Introduction 47 From Narrative Complexity to Complex Seriality 48 Conceptual Originality and Drama with a Point of View 50 The Integration of Central Characters and Overarching Story 53 The Psychological Investigation of Character 55 Conclusions 58 Bibliography 60 Gender and Race: The Complex Management of Power The Depiction of the Civil Rights Movement on Mad Men 65 Rod Carveth Capturing an Era 65 CRT: A Brief Overview 67 Race and Mad Men 68 The Real Civil Rights Movement and the Reel Civil Rights Movement 76 Conclusion 78 Bibliography 79 Mad Men, Women, and the Lure of Feminism 81 Mimi White Preview: Watching Women on Mad Men 81 Feminist Continuities: The Way We’ve Always Been 84 Historical Difference and Feminist Progress: The Way We Really Were 88



Competing Feminist Frameworks/Competition Between Women 90 From Feminist Snares to Feminist Fantasies: Seeking an Alternative End 91 Bibliography 95 The Performativity of Labour and Femininity on Mad Men 99 Maryn C. Wilkinson Women of Service 102 Performativity 104 Affective Labour and Female Transformation 108 Bibliography 112 Mad Men, Corporate Culture, and Violence Against Women 115 Tracy Lucht and Jane Marcellus Bourdieu’s Symbolic Violence 117 Kanter’s Corporate Work Roles 117 Conclusion 127 Bibliography 128 Mad Men’s Intermediality: Film, Music, Poetics Don Draper and the Enduring Appeal of Antonioni’s La Notte 133 Emily Hoffman Bibliography 146 Mad Men’s Mid-Century Modern Times 149 Zak Roman Chaplin’s Labour Thesis in Modern Times 151 The Violence of ‘The Monolith’ 152 ‘Human Existence Is Finite’ 154 ‘That Machine Came for Us’ 157 Dehumanizing the Workplace in Our Modern Times 159 Bibliography 162



Dualities and Ambiguities: Mad Men’s Use of the Beatles, Nancy Sinatra, and Judy Collins in Seasons Five and Six 163 Rachel Donegan Bibliography 174 Using Bakhtin’s ‘Third Ear’ to Hear Mad Men’s Adspeak in the Everyday 177 Honora Kenney Introduction 177 Background: Post-war Capitalism and Bakhtin 178 Season One 181 Proceeding Seasons 183 Conclusion: California Carnivalesque? 187 Bibliography 191 Mad Men and the Staging of Literature via Ken Cosgrove and His Problems 193 Aaron Shapiro Bibliography 206 Endings and Legacies: The Final Season Mad Men’s Finale and the Making of History 209 Marjolaine Boutet From Riches to Rags 211 Death of a Salesman 214 Back to Reality 216 Bibliography 219 Ending an Era and the Dismantling of Narrative ‘Machinery’ in Mad Men’s Finale 221 Kristina Graour Moving ‘Forward’ 222 Accepting the Past, Achieving Stasis 226 Changing Places 230 A New Don? 232 Bibliography 234



What Jungian Psychology Can Tell Us About Don Draper’s Unexpected Embrace of Leonard in Mad Men’s Finale 237 Marisa Carroll Bibliography 249 Afterword: Reading Mad Men in the Era of Trump 251 Karen McNally and Teresa Forde The Gender Divide 253 Race, Power and Visibility 257 Conclusion 261 Bibliography 262 Index 263

Editors and Contributors

About the Editors Karen McNally is a Senior Lecturer in film and television studies at London Metropolitan University and a specialist in classical Hollywood cinema and American culture. She is the author of When Frankie Went to Hollywood: Frank Sinatra and American Male Identity (University of Illinois Press, 2008) and the editor of Billy Wilder, Movie-Maker: Critical Essays on the Films (McFarland, 2011). She has published and presented widely on stars including Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clift, Ida Lupino, and the Nicholas Brothers, and topics such as race, masculinity, stardom, and the Hollywood musical. Forthcoming projects include The Stardom Film: Hollywood and the Star Myth publishing with Columbia University Press. Jane Marcellus  is Professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where she teaches media history and a graduate seminar in cultural studies theory. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on media representation, with an emphasis on employed women. She is the author of Business Girls and Two-Job Wives: Emerging Media Stereotypes of Employed Women (Hampton Press) and co-author of Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness (Peter Lang).




Teresa Forde is Senior Lecturer in film and media at the University of Derby. Her recent publications include chapters on True Blood and The L Word in Television Finales: from Howdy Doody to Girls (2018) and ‘Olivia Dunham and the New Frontier in Fringe’ in Women’s Space: Essays on Female Characters in the 21st Century Science Fiction Western (2019). Teresa has published on science fiction, soundtrack, memory, and fandom and written about examples such as Doctor Who, Solaris, and Strange Days. Kirsty Fairclough is Associate Dean: Research and Innovation at the University of Salford. Kirsty’s work has been published in Senses of Cinema, Feminist Media Studies, SERIES, and Celebrity Studies journals. She is the co-editor of The Music Documentary: Acid Rock to Electropop (2013) and The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment (2015), Music/Video: Forms, Aesthetics, Media (2017), and author of the forthcoming Beyoncé: Celebrity Feminism and Popular Culture.

Contributors Andrée E. C. Betancourt is an Associate Professor of communication studies at Montgomery College. She is the lead author of book chapters on topics including female protagonists in HBO series; YouTube and mindfulness; and taboo women’s health narratives. Her research centres on the relationship between popular culture and new communication technology, with a focus on representations of memory and cultural identity in moving images, paratexts, cultural institutions, and related virtual communities. Dr. Betancourt has worked in the film industry and for numerous arts and cultural institutions. She is co-director of ‘Many Voices, One College’, a project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Marjolaine Boutet is Associate Professor of history, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens (France). A 2007 Fulbright grantee, Marjolaine Boutet has been working on TV series as historical documents for almost twenty years, focusing on how they help societies deal with their history (US TV series and the Vietnam War, French TV series and World War II, etc.) or understand their political system (articles on The West Wing and House of Cards).



Marisa Carroll is an editor, writer, and instructor based in Brooklyn, New York. Her essays about television and film have appeared in The Essential Sopranos Reader and Magill’s Cinema Annual as well as on the Web sites PopMatters and Hyperallergic. She holds a master’s degree in communication studies from The University of Iowa. Rod Carveth  is Associate Professor of multimedia journalism at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD, United States. He is the editor of three books, including Mad Men and Philosophy. His research includes examining how race and issues related to race are portrayed in media entertainment and news. Rachel Donegan is an Assistant Professor of English at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Her research predominantly focuses on disability studies and how disability and accessibility function within composition, rhetoric, writing program administration, and popular culture. Her affiliations include the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the Society for Disability Studies, and several others. Trisha Dunleavy  is an Associate Professor in Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her research interests centre on television, in which the focal areas are high-end TV drama, related institutions and industries, and national screen production cultures. Her major publications are Ourselves in Primetime: a History of New Zealand Television Drama (Auckland University Press, 2005), Television Drama: Form, Agency, Innovation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), and, with Hester Joyce, New Zealand Film and Television: Institution, Industry and Cultural Change (Intellect, 2011). Her current research project is a single-author book on American TV drama in the post-broadcast era. Gary R. Edgerton is Professor of creative media and entertainment at Butler University. He has published twelve books—including Mad Men: Dream Come True TV (I.B. Tauris, 2011) and The Sopranos (Wayne State University Press, 2013)—as well as more than eighty-five essays on a variety of television, film, and culture topics in a wide assortment of books, scholarly journals, and encyclopaedias. He also coedits the Journal of Popular Film and Television, is associate editor of the Journal of American Culture, and an editorial board member of five other academic journals.



Kristina Graour is a doctoral candidate in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where she also teaches across undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Her doctoral research focuses on ongoing television narratives, exploring new analytical tools for examining their structural principles. The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation (NRF) towards this research is hereby acknowledged. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at are those of the author and are not necessarily to be attributed to the NRF. Emily Hoffman is an Associate Professor of English at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas, where she teaches courses in creative writing, film and television studies, and literature. She has published on a variety of film and television topics, including Paul Newman, Barry Levinson’s Diner, Mary Tyler Moore, and a recent article on character development in The Closer and its spinoff, Major Crimes. An article on seasonality in Mad Men appeared in an issue of the Journal of Popular Television. Honora Kenney earned her B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from the University of Notre Dame. Her work focuses on post-1945 American Literature, exploring female interiority, fertility, and maternity in the light of postmodern conditions such as anthropocentric anxiety, deconstructionism, information hyper-availability, and the nonhuman turn. She is particularly interested in the way these themes unfold in twentieth- and twenty-first-century novels featuring intertextuality with classical literature from the Western cannon. Some of the authors she investigates include Thomas Pynchon, Lauren Groff, David Foster Wallace, Marilynne Robinson, and Toni Morrison. She also enjoys analysing 1960s nostalgia in the television show Mad Men. Tracy Lucht  is Associate Professor at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, where her research focuses on the history, experiences, and representations of women in the media. She holds a Ph.D. from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland and is the author of Sylvia Porter: America’s Original Personal Finance Columnist (Syracuse University Press) and co-author of Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness (Peter Lang).



Zak Roman is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon. His research interests include cinema studies, popular culture, and the political economy of the mass media. He has previously published about licensed-based programming in children’s television and issues of representation in superhero media. Aaron Shapiro  is a poet and essayist living in Murfreesboro, TN, where he teaches courses in undergraduate writing and literature, along with courses in Jewish and Holocaust studies, for the English Department of Middle State Tennessee University. Aaron received a B.A. from the University of Florida in 1996 and a Master’s from MTSU in 2010. Currently, in addition to his teaching, Aaron is pursuing a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Popular Culture and modern and contemporary American Literature. Mimi White is Professor in the Department of Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University. She has published widely on film, television, and cultural studies including Questions of Method in Cultural Studies (as co-editor), Tele-Advising: Therapeutic Discourse in American Television, and articles in edited volumes and in such journals as European Journal of Cultural Studies, Television and New Media, Screen, and Camera Obscura. She was the Bicentennial Fulbright Chair in North American Studies at the University of Helsinki, 2004–2005. Her work on Mad Men balances her research on formulaic television programmes (and their complicated potentials). Maryn C. Wilkinson is Assistant Professor in Film Studies for the Department for Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She studied Film and Television Studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury and the University of Warwick in the UK and received a fellowship from the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis for her Ph.D.; a project that looked at feminist film theory, neo-conservative politics and the representation of teenage girls in 1980s American cinema. Her current research interests focus on politics and aesthetics, popular culture and critical theory, especially issues around feminist film theory, representations of youth and labour.

Introduction: Where the Truth Still Lies Jane Marcellus

What Else Is There to Say About Mad Men? After all, scholars, journalists, and bloggers have examined the show from multiple angles, including—but by no means limited to—mid-twentiethcentury nostalgia, advertising history, gender, music, fashion, sex, and even vintage cocktails and food. Analysed at academic conferences and in scholarly monographs as well as on the pages of glossy magazines, Mad Men (as both TV series and topic for discussion) has held the attention of audiences not only in the United States, where it premiered on AMC-TV in 2007, but globally. The enduring desire to understand the show is not surprising. For ninety-two episodes over seven seasons, viewers watched as ad man Don Draper moved from adultery to self-discovery, secretary Peggy Olson became a take-no-prisoners businesswoman, object-of-the-gaze Joan Holloway developed a feminist consciousness, executive Roger Sterling tripped on LSD, and smarmy Pete Campbell became—surprisingly—a family man bound for Wichita. The show provided relatable characters whose complexity defied typical TV two-dimensionality, offering story arcs that were not only lifelike but subtle in their unpredictability. Viewers never knew how an

J. Marcellus (B) Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




episode of Mad Men would end, but they knew the ending would linger, drawing the imagination to a place just outside obvious interpretation—a place where, as the show’s tagline proclaimed, ‘The Truth Lies’. The show has also added nuance to cultural understanding of the 1960s, a complex decade that elicits iconic images that still compete for meaning in collective memory. On the one hand were the Beatles (and teen girls clamouring for a glimpse of them), TV shows about Jeannies in bottles and flying nuns, neologisms like groovy and cool, while on the other hand, the assassinations of a handsome young US president, followed within a few years by his brother and a charismatic civil rights leader, as well as protests against an unpopular war and Gandhi-inspired marches for racial equality in the American South. It was a decade that changed the lives of ordinary people—not only the types of people we meet on Mad Men but our grandparents, our parents, ourselves. In helping fill cultural hunger to understand the human condition in this not-so-distant past, Mad Men changed television. So popular during its run (2007–2015) that fans remained true despite a seventeen-month hiatus from late 2010 until early 2012, Mad Men remains, as Gary Edgerton writes in this volume, one of the ‘most illustrious and inventive dramas in the history of television’. Its pervasive imprint inspired ads reminiscent of the period and knock-off TV shows such as Pan Am (2011–2012), as Mimi White notes in her chapter. Yet despite scholarly and popular interest, little work has analysed the series in its entirety and even less has included global perspectives. We believe doing so is important. As televisual literature, Mad Men merits continued analysis, building on previous scholarship to provide understudied perspectives that help us reframe and reassess the work and its era. While much good work was published before the series ended, this particular show demands analysis written by scholars who see the work as a whole—from the first scene where Don Draper scribbles ad copy on a cocktail napkin as ‘Sentimental Band of Gold’ plays oh-so-ironically in the background to his final ‘Om’ at a meditation retreat in California. Moreover, it begs for the views of global scholars. Syndicated in over fifty countries and available worldwide through streaming devices, Mad Men garnered not only sixteen Emmys and five Golden Globes but top awards from the prestigious British Academy of Film and Television. Though American in origin, it is arguably an international phenomenon. The Legacy of Mad Men was developed from work presented at Mad Men: The Conference, held at Middle Tennessee State University in May



2016. Inspired by the first Slayage Conference on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, held in Nashville in 2004 and hosted by MTSU under the leadership of David Lavery, Mad Men: The Conference sought, similarly, to treat Matthew Weiner’s creation as an auteur-driven work of literature rather than mere pop culture ephemera. Organized by Lavery and his MTSU colleague Jane Marcellus, along with Kirsty Fairclough and Michael Goddard from Salford University in Manchester, UK, Mad Men: The Conference convened about sixty scholars from nineteen US states and nine countries. Having presented their work and received initial feedback, interested presenters were invited to submit chapter proposals, with the best selected and developed for The Legacy of Mad Men. The book thus brings together the work of conference scholars who examine the show from multiple perspectives, including the understudied finale. Aimed at academic audiences and interested general readers, the book provides tools for understanding the show itself and the Mad Men phenomenon. This book adds to and builds on a significant body of critical analysis and commentary, most of which emerged while the show was still on air. While a complete review of this literature would be too unwieldy to list here, an overview of major books is worth noting. One of the most useful books is Matt Zoller Seitz’s Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion (Abrams, 2015). Offering a guide to each episode, the book includes Seitz’ essays first published in New York magazine and the Vulture blog. Several edited collections were published relatively early in the show’s run, notably Mad Men: Dream Come True TV, edited by Gary Edgerton (I.B. Tauris, 2010), and Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series, edited by Scott F. Stoddart (McFarland, 2011). Each of these volumes offers interdisciplinary essays examining multiple facets of Mad Men as it was still evolving. Meanwhile, Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems, edited by Rod Carveth and James B. South (Blackwell, 2010), explores the show through the likes of Socrates, Plato, and Ayn Rand, while Stephanie Newman’s Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show (St. Martin’s Press, 2012) draws on the author’s professional expertise to psychoanalyse Mad Men characters. Several books take the decade of the 1960s itself as their focus, examining the show through the lens of lived history. An early one is Natasha VargasCooper’s Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through the 1960s (HarperCollins, 2010), aimed at a popular audience. Also focusing on the decade, Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s, edited by Lauren



Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, and Robert Rushing (Duke University Press, 2013), contends, overall, that representation of the 1960s is as much about the present time as the past. Published just as the show was ending, Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Re-Making of Modern America, a collection edited by Lily J. Goren and Linda Beail (Bloomsbury, 2015), looks at the show through in terms of social and political history, focusing on ways that Mad Men rendered post-World War II history. M. Keith Booker and Bob Batchelor’s Mad Men: A Cultural History (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), co-authored by a literature professor and cultural historian, focuses on the present to the world of half a century ago. Two books draw on the experience of advertising professionals from that era. One is Jane Maas’ Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the ’60s and Beyond (Thomas Dunne Books, 2012). A so-called real-life Peggy Olson, Maas describes her experience in the world the show’s characters inhabit. Andrew Cracknell’s The Real Mad Men: The Renegades of Madison Avenue and the Golden Age of Advertising (Running Press, 2012) is based on interviews with former advertising professionals of the era. Much of the work on Mad Men focuses on gender representation, which was often a topic of discussion in the mainstream press while the show aired. Two books that focus specifically on gender are Mad Men, Women, and Children: Essays on Gender and Generation, edited by Heather Marcovitch and Nancy E. Batty (Lexington Books, 2014), and Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness (Peter Lang, 2014), co-authored by Erika Engstrom, Jane Marcellus, Tracy Lucht, and Kimberly Wilmot-Voss. Mad Men, Women, and Children is unique in that it includes children in its analysis—an important angle since, as the editors say, the show’s adult women are often coddled like children, while Sally Draper and other Mad Men children must look to dysfunctional adults for role models. Mad Men and Working Women, meanwhile, looks at women on the show in relation to labour (paid and otherwise) and includes chapters on race, the social class of homemakers, the difficulties competent women faced, and understudied topics such as Don’s ‘other women’. Among individual journal articles and chapters, two that deal with the show’s final season (and are included here for that reason) are Niels Niessen’s “Mad Men and Mindfulness,” published in Discourse, and Douglas L. Howard’s chapter in Television Finales: From Howdy Doody to Girls, edited by Martin Zeller-Jacques. Niessen’s article examines Don Draper’s



end-of-series retreat to a meditation retreat in the light of emerging awareness of the relationship between mindfulness and creativity, comparing it to current use among those who work in the tech industry. Howard’s chapter focuses on the credibility of Don’s final transformation, though he begins by noting that even years after the finale, he is “still struggling” (219) with its end, suggesting the role for ongoing analysis. This book’s goal is to continue this rich discussion. To that end, The Legacy of Mad Men is divided into four broad parts: ‘Mad Men’s Status: Television, Reputation, Fandom’; ‘Gender and Race: The Complex Management of Power’; ‘Mad Men’s Intermediality: Film, Music, Poetics’; ‘Endings and Legacies: The Final Season’. Part I begins with Gary Edgerton’s “Mad Men’s Legacy in the Quality Television Tradition”, which places the show in the larger context of a critical concept that emerged in the 1980s. Furthering the development of ‘quality television’, Mad Men illustrates the possibilities of a ‘multidimensional and supremely adaptable medium’. Edgerton also examines Weiner’s career, particularly his work on The Sopranos. Like The Sopranos, Mad Men is populated by emotionally complex characters, raising the bar for what counts as ‘quality’. “Mad Men, Maddicts, and Recapturing the Carousel Through Kodak Moments and Selfies” by Andrée E. C. Betancourt considers fans’ online responses to the Season 1 Kodak Carousel pitch. Receiving 1908 votes on the AMC website, it was the highest-ranking pitch in the series. This essay investigates the relationship between family and nostalgia in Draper’s pitch and as employed historically by Kodak. The slides for the pitch are explored in terms of inclusion, exclusion, and as sequenced and cyclical images. The pitch resonates with fans as a performative process of presence and absence, memory and design. Next, in “Mad Men and Complex Seriality”, Trisha Dunleavy builds on the way ‘complex serials’—a term from the late 1990s—have been shaped by the creative conditions of non-broadcast services and platforms to investigate the ‘complex seriality’ of Mad Men, illuminating the narrative distinctions that encapsulate this non-broadcast drama form. One of the most controversial aspects of the Mad Men was its limited engagement with issues of race. Leading off Part II ‘Gender and Race: The Complex Management of Power’, Rod Carveth’s “The Depiction of the Civil Rights Movement on Mad Men” examines how the show develops in its representation of the Civil Rights Movement, from the invisibility of African American characters to the impact of the narrative’s re-telling



of civil rights history. Using critical race theory, he explores the extent to which Mad Men frames its discussions of race as part of the white cultural experience and perspectives of its central characters. Mimi White’s “Mad Men, Women, and the Lure of Feminism” interrogates two common feminist perspectives on the show, ‘retro-anachronistic feminism’ and ‘second-wave feminism’, complicating both. Assessing the show through contemporary views, retro-anachronistic feminism connects viewers with the show’s characters, asking, for example, which characters ‘lean in’ or ‘have it all’. In contrast, second-wave feminism seeks a historical reckoning with the show, asking about women’s everyday lives before women’s liberation. Next, Maryn C. Wilkinson’s “The Performativity of Labour and Femininity on Mad Men” concerns itself with women’s work—not only paid labour at work but ways that women must work their femininity and the sexual labour implied on multiple levels by the term ‘working girl’. Using Marx’s theory of ‘affective labour’, she contends that all women ‘work’ and that Mad Men affords its female characters the possibility of transformation through their relation to ‘work’ in its multiple meanings. Viewing female labour slightly differently in “Mad Men, Corporate Culture, and Violence Against Women”, Tracy Lucht and Jane Marcellus synthesize Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘symbolic violence’ and Rosabeth Kanter’s corporate work roles. Using Bourdieu’s theory, which expands ‘violence’ to include social relations that deny women’s subjectivity, they investigate Kanter’s secretary, corporate wife, and token high-level woman, showing how labour, social position, sexuality, and property are appropriated and exchanged for male gain at women’s expense. The next part, ‘Mad Men’s Intermediality: Film, Music, Poetics’, explores Mad Men’s relationship to other media and media technologies. It begins with Emily Hoffman’s essay, “Don Draper and the Enduring Appeal of Antonioni’s La Notte”, which examines the cinematic referencing that pervades the show. She considers in detail a film to which Don Draper professes a particular attachment, Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1961 film La Notte. Her chapter looks into that film’s appeal for the show’s lead character, centring on the creative vs professional dynamic with which Don continuously struggles, as well as the personal narrative he purposefully constructs. Hoffman additionally explores how thematic connections between La Notte and Mad Men might be considered in the context of Matthew Weiner’s unconventional approach to storytelling.



Next, through close analysis of the Season 7 episode ‘The Monolith’, Zak Roman’s “Mad Men’s Midcentury Modern Times ” considers how one episode’s narrative addresses timeless concerns over the dehumanization of the worker via technology. Through a transmedia approach, Roman explores connections to be drawn between this episode and Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film Modern Times, illustrating the persistence of fears around the balance of power between the worker and changing technology, despite the differences in medium and context evident in these texts. Rachel Donegan’s “Mad Men’s Use of The Beatles, Nancy Sinatra, and Judy Collins in Seasons Five and Six” focuses on contemporary popular music and the way the show’s creators use it to convey meaning, creating a consistent thread across scenes that links small moments in individual episodes and the series as a whole. It is followed by Honora Kenney’s “Using Bakhtin’s ‘Third Ear’ to Hear Mad Men’s Adspeak in the Everyday”, which examines how the language constructed by Don Draper and his colleagues infiltrates everyday dialogue and how that language is used to leverage power. Using the idea of the ‘third ear’—similar to the allseeing Tibetan ‘third eye’—she argues that multiple layers of language create a hybridity of meaning and challenge viewers to become more adept at uncovering discontinuities and underlying ideologies. In “Mad Men and the Staging of Literature via Ken Cosgrove and His Problems”, Aaron Herschel Shapiro considers Ken Cosgrove’s literary success and the tensions between business and writing as a creative practice. To continue to write, Ken must divorce his literary output from his work at the ad agency. However, for Shapiro, Cosgrove becomes the alienist or post-structural author who is effectively ‘written’ by his own literary texts. His sense of authorial interiority appears as elusive as that of the pitches made in the agency. The last part, ‘Endings and Legacies: The Final Season’, opens with Marjolaine Boutet’s “Mad Men’s Finale and the Making of History”. She contends that the main purpose of the series’ final arc is to ‘end’ Don Draper as a character and mark a new beginning for Dick Whitman. Moreover, the last scene brings viewers out of the contrived world of the show and back to ‘reality’—paradoxically using an actual ad from 1971 in which Coca Cola sells itself as ‘The Real Thing’. “Ending an Era and the Dismantling of Narrative ‘Machinery’ in Mad Men’s Finale” by Kristina Graour explores a narratological tension between linear and cyclical time throughout the series. This structure is encapsulated in the narrative machinery of Mad Men, and the seriality, repetition, and



reflection seen in the development of characters’ lives. As the series reaches its end, characters must begin to come to terms with their interior lives as, for Graour, the cyclical nature of the series merges with the linear mode and the present looks to the past. In “What Jungian Psychology Can Tell Us About Don Draper’s Unexpected Embrace of Leonard in Mad Men’s Finale”, Marisa Carroll looks closely at the show’s final moments, when Don embraces Leonard, a character at Esalen. Using C. G. Jung’s concept of individuation and his archetypes of persona, shadow, anima, and Self, she attempts to answer a question Don himself asks in Season 1’s ‘The Wheel’: ‘Who knows why people do what they do?’ Arguing that Don’s quest all along has been psychic unity, she contends that in embracing Leonard, Don is fully present in a way he was not for Adam, Lane Pryce (both of whom died by suicide), or himself. The book closes with an afterword, “Reading Mad Men in the Era of Trump”, in which Karen McNally and Teresa Forde discuss the show’s continuing relevance as evidenced by social, cultural, and political developments since the series ended, including the rise of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. David Lavery envisioned this book, but he could not be a part of it. His untimely death in August 2016 left a hole both in the scholarly community and in the hearts of his colleagues and former students. The book is dedicated to his memory, with the hope that it is worthy of his own legacy as a television scholar, teacher, and friend.

Bibliography Booker, M. Keith, and Bob Batchelor. 2016. Mad Men: A Cultural History. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Carveth, Rod, and James B. South. 2010. Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems. Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell. Cracknell, Andrew. 2012. The Real Mad Men: The Renegades of Madison Avenue and the Golden Age of Advertising. Philadelphia: Running Press. Edgerton, Gary, ed. 2010. Mad Men: Dream Come True TV. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. Engstrom, Erika, Tracy Lucht, Jane Marcellus, and Kimberly Wilmot-Voss. 2014. Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness. New York: Peter Lang. Goodlad, Lauren, Lilya Kaganovsky, and Robert Rushing, eds. 2012. Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.



Goren, Lily J., and Linda Beail, eds. 2015. Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Re-making of Modern America. London: Bloomsbury. Howard, Douglas. 2018. Mad Men. In Television Finales: From Howdy Doody to Girls, edited by D. Howard and D. Bianculli, 219–227. Syracuse and New York: Syracuse University Press. Maas, Jane. 2012. Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the ’60s and Beyond. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. Marcovitch, Heather, and Nancy E. Batty, eds. 2014. Mad Men, Women, and Children: Essays on Gender and Generation. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Niessen, Niels. 2018. Mad Men and Mindfulness. Discourse 40 (3): 273–307. Newman, Stephanie. 2012. Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show. London: St Martin’s Press. Seitz, Matt Zoller. 2015. Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion. New York: Harry N. Abrams. Stoddart, Scott F., ed. (2011). Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Vargas-Cooper, Natasha. 2010. Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through the 1960s. New York: HarperCollins.


Mad Men’s Status: Television, Reputation, Fandom

Mad Men’s Legacy in the Quality Television Tradition Gary R. Edgerton

Right Time, Right Place Once or twice a decade, a new television program comes along to capture and express the zeitgeist. Mad Men (AMC, 2007–2015) was that show in the late 2000s and early 2010s. It debuted less than six weeks after The Sopranos (HBO, 1999–2007) ended on HBO with its controversial finale, ‘Made in America’, on 10 June 2007. AMC (American Movie Classics from 1984 to 2003) launched Mad Men on 19 July, attracting wide critical acclaim and extraordinary public attention beginning with the first season despite appearing on what was then an also-ran basic cable network. Mad Men set the creative standard in scripted drama throughout its initial run. It was recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as the Best Television Drama of 2007, 2008, and 2009; the British Academy of Film and Television as Best International Show of 2009 and 2010; and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as the Outstanding Drama Series of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011—the first basic cable series ever to win this award. Overall, Mad Men won five Golden Globes, sixteen Emmys, and fifty other major awards, including honours from all of the

G. R. Edgerton (B) College of Communication, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




major Hollywood guilds plus a prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting. In addition, Mad Men became a phenomenon of contemporary culture. Its stylistic imprint was evident in TV commercials and print advertisements, magazine covers and feature articles, designer fashions and consumer products. The series was as au courant as any contemporaneous television program from the late summer of 2007 through 2011, when a seventeen-month hiatus between Seasons 4 and 5 (literally from 17 October 2010 to 25 March 2012) slowed Mad Men’s momentum as a cultural signpost and ‘damaged the show’s prestige’, in the opinion of creator, executive producer, head writer, and showrunner, Matthew Weiner (Rose and O’Connell 49). Weiner initially broke into television as a staff writer on Party Girl (Fox, 1996), The Naked Truth (ABC, 1995–1996; NBC, 1996–1998), Becker (CBS, 1998–2004), and Andy Richter Controls the Universe (Fox, 2002– 2003), before instructing his agent to mail his spec script, ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ (which became Mad Men’s pilot episode) to David Chase, the creator and executive producer of The Sopranos (HBO, 1999–2007). Weiner recalls that within ‘a week after [Chase] got it’ in 2003, ‘I was in New York on the show’, where he quickly worked his way up on The Sopranos from staff writer to one of the executive producers (NPR: Fresh Air, 9 August 2007). Weiner’s first draft of ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ was actually written back in the spring and summer of 1999. During his early years in broadcast TV, Matt Weiner grew progressively bored and frustrated with the strictures there, motivating him to start writing his Mad Men script while watching the first season of The Sopranos. After reading Weiner’s screenplay, Chase instantly recognized his talent and became a mentor to him over the next four years. On The Sopranos, for instance, Weiner learned that a series could have ‘depth and complexity’ and ‘at the same time’ be ‘commercially successful’, while also ‘seeing how the sausage was made’ (NPR: Fresh Air, 9 August 2007). Although the historical backdrop, genre, and themes of Mad Men are much different than those of The Sopranos, both of these serial narratives develop in a slow and deliberate fashion, resisting closure. They are also populated with emotionally complex characters. One simple albeit powerful lesson that Weiner learned from Chase was that the writers’ room could serve as a stand-in for the audience. Early on in their professional relationship when Weiner would question an ambiguous plot point in a script,



Chase would ask ‘do you understand it?’ If Weiner said, ‘yes’, then Chase would assure him, ‘that’s good enough for me’. Weiner later conceded, ‘Mad Men would have been some kind of crisp, soapy version of The West Wing if not for The Sopranos ’ (Chellas). Chase’s more challenging personal vision, as realized through The Sopranos, ushered in a new era of densely plotted, morally complicated television dramas, expanding the range of storytelling and character options now possible on TV. Chase’s original conception of combining an epic novelistic structure, a cinematic vocabulary, and a dystopian worldview to the traditional conventions of prime time resulted in a singular generic and serial hybrid that inspired the newest wave of television dramatists, not only Weiner with Mad Men but Terence Winter with Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 2010–2014). Chase’s professional example served as the template on which the next generation of TV writers and producers modelled their careers as artists working in television. In that way, Chase’s unexpected level of creative and popular success with The Sopranos elevated the status of showrunners in general, transforming the cable-and-satellite sector into a more creatively freewheeling environment with its own rules. Chase’s experience of only realizing his vision once he left the legacy broadcasters behind became the prototype for all of the new serialists then working in the post-Sopranos television industry (Weinman 49–50). Mad Men, in particular, benefited from and continued the momentum begun by The Sopranos, shifting the centre of gravity for breakout programming in the US television industry away from the broadcast to the cable-and-satellite sector. AMC executives consequently adopted what they referred to as ‘the HBO formula’ of developing their own edgy, sophisticated, passion project by a proven writer-producer who just happened to have a pedigree that included The Sopranos (Alston). What resulted was the gradual emergence of Mad Men as AMC’s first original hit series, generating unprecedented word of mouth and rebranding the channel as a hipper, more discriminating, alternative cable-and-satellite network. In turn, Mad Men broke the glass ceiling for basic cable in much the same way as The Sopranos had done so for pay TV some eight-and-a-half years earlier. Also audiences early on embraced Mad Men as a prestige program because The Sopranos had effectively changed viewer expectations of what was possible on television. Mad Men also benefited greatly from the emergence of multi-platform reception. Even though Mad Men’s impact on AMC was immediate and transformative, the show was at first ‘more a cultural than commercial hit’



(Keveney). Its first-season audience averaged 900,000 in 2007, but that doubled to 1.8 million in 2009 and eventually topped out at 2.5 million in 2013. Moreover, the show’s total viewership always relied heavily on multiple platforms, translating into an estimated 30 million unduplicated viewers per episode in North America alone when considering the myriad of digital devices and screen sizes on which people watched television programming then as well as today (Chozick; 92Y). By the time Mad Men’s finale, ‘Person to Person’, debuted on 17 May 2015, the series was being syndicated in over 50 countries and was available 24/7 through online streaming worldwide.

The Emergence of Quality Television Not only are The Sopranos and Mad Men biologically linked, both of these award-winning and influential programs were created within a much longer industrial, artistic, and cultural tradition that originally was christened ‘quality television’ almost a half-century ago. This generalized label gained currency circa 1984 with the publication of a scholarly anthology entitled, MTM: Quality Television, which analysed the history and development of MTM Enterprises, the independent TV production company founded in 1969 by then husband-and-wife team Grant Tinker and Mary Tyler Moore, along with the unrelated formation of a non-profit consumer activist group, ‘Viewers for Quality Television’, which successfully rescued Cagney & Lacey (CBS, 1982–1988) from three short-term cancellations because of low Nielsen ratings early in its run (Feuer, Kerr, and Vahimagi; Swanson). Few critical concepts have proven as controversial and problematic as ‘quality television’ when referring to the growth and maturation of TV programming since the 1970s and 1980s. It has been roundly criticized for the imprecise way that it encourages arbitrary, subjective, and sometimes elitist value judgements. It has also met with confusion and criticism for being applied to a host of television-related agenda items from describing industry and audience practices to defining aesthetic and generic tendencies. In the latter case, Robert Thompson promoted its usage by identifying a dozen characteristics of ‘quality TV’ as he surveyed contemporaneous innovations in prime-time drama from the debut of Hill Street Blues (NBC, 1981–1987) to the demise of Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990–1991) in Television’s Second Golden Age (1996, 13–16).1



In April 2004, Janet McCabe and Kim Akass organized an international conference at Trinity College, Dublin, resulting in a state-of-the-art anthology, Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond (2007), that took a deep dive into the applicability and efficacy of ‘quality television’ from a variety of analytical perspectives. Sudeep Dasgupta’s more recent 2012 critique, ‘Policing the People: Television Studies and the Problem of “Quality”’, is a useful updating and delineation of the pros and cons of this durable albeit imperfect concept. All metaphors have their strengths and weaknesses and ‘quality television’ focused needed attention on the profound transformation occurring in TV as an industry and an art form beginning nearly fifty years ago and gaining added momentum ever since.2 While still editor of the New York Times Book Review in 1995, Charles McGrath wrote about this emerging phenomenon in an extended commentary on what he identified as ‘a brand-new genre’ that he called the ‘primetime novel’ (53). McGrath pinpointed it surfacing with Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll’s Hill Street Blues and Joshua Brand and John Falsey’s St. Elsewhere (NBC, 1982–1988). Both series were produced by MTM Enterprises, which was originally created to produce the critically acclaimed and popular sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970–1977). Grant Tinker left the company after he and Mary Tyler Moore divorced in 1981 to become the chairman and CEO of NBC, where he was widely regarded as the most innovative and enlightened television executive of his era. All told, the typical US household was able to access five channels on average in 1960; seven channels in 1970; and ten channels in 1980 when the first examples of McGrath’s ‘prime-time novel’ started to appear. During TVI (1948–1975), the television industry in America developed according to a mass market model, emphasizing broadcasting and dominated by CBS, NBC, and ABC whose sole goal was to reach as large a viewership as possible. By 1974–1975 at the end of TVI, the popularity of CBS, NBC, and ABC would never be greater—that season the three-network oligopoly reached its peak by averaging a 93.6% share of the prime-time viewing audience (Sloane). Each network was highly profitable, competing solely against each other in what was essentially a closed $2.5 billion TV advertising market (Les Brown 1975). Within ten short years, though, all would be different. The strategy CBS, NBC, and ABC gravitated towards—targeting specific demographics with their programming—only delivered short-term success while sowing the seeds of change where the US TV industry as a whole would eventually move beyond the mass market model. Over the



next decade, a wide array of technological, industrial, and programming innovations would usher in an era predicated on an entirely new niche market philosophy which essentially turned the vast majority of broadcasters into narrowcasters. TVII (1975–1995) developed more according to a customized niche market model characterized by narrowcasting to specifically defined target audiences. The harbinger of something new and innovative happening to television as a technology and industry in the United States was Home Box Office, Inc. (HBO) delivering its content over communication satellite, Satcom 1, beginning in the fall of 1975. In one fell swoop, HBO became a national network, ushering in a new era in American television with its first full year of regularly scheduled satellite-distributed programming in 1976 (featuring uncut theatrical films and specialized sporting events) soon to be followed by CBN (the Christian Broadcasting Network) and the USA Network (a broad-based entertainment channel) in 1977; Showtime (movies) in 1978; ESPN (sports), Nickelodeon (children’s programming), and CSPAN (Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network) in 1979; CNN (Cable News Network), BET (Black Entertainment Television), and TLC (The Learning Channel) in 1980; MTV (Music Television) and FNN (Financial News Network) in 1981; and CNN Headline News and The Weather Channel in 1982. ‘In stimulating the creation of a wide variety of new satellite networks’, HBO became ‘the engine that was pulling cable’ (Les Brown 1992, 316). HBO’s own subscriber base skyrocketed over the next decade from a mere 287,199 in 1976 to 14.6 million by 1985 aiding in the adoption of cableand-satellite programming throughout the United States (Mair 26, 158). By the beginning of 1995, however, HBO had stalled at around 19.2 million subscriber households (Stevens). What was happening at HBO was indicative of the cable-and-satellite sector in general and the changing reception patterns of American audiences. The typical TV US household had gone from averaging the aforementioned ten channels in 1980 to 27 and rising by 1990 (Papazian 21). More significantly, the one-time captive prime-time audience of the legacy broadcasters—CBS, NBC, and ABC— dropped 30 percentage points to around a 60% of the prime-time share by the early 1990s. Beginning in 1976, therefore, a customized niche market model supplanted the old way of doing business in American television. Made-toorder series by an emerging younger generation of serialists replaced the



two-decade-long dominance of Hollywood’s cookie-cutter mode of telefilm production. The best and most influential new programs defied easy classification while attracting young, urban, professional audiences through their well-targeted quality appeals. The broader economic benefits of consumer segmentation also rendered the increasingly outdated mass market model of TVI obsolete. ‘Ironically or not, as network television [drew] smaller and smaller percentages of the total viewing audience, TV programming [got] better’, observed Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales. ‘Network executives [seemed] inclined to give writers and producers more leeway to pursue a vision, and slowly, prime time [became] less smothered with standardisation than it used to be’ (Shales). Enter an ever heightened ‘flourishing’ of what Charles McGrath called the ‘prime-time novel’ in the early 1990s with such noteworthy examples as David E. Kelly’s Picket Fences (CBS, 1992–1996), Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, and David Simon’s Homicide: Life on the Streets (NBC, 1993– 1999), Steven Bochco and David Milch’s N.Y.P.D. Blue (ABC, 1993– 2005), Michael Crichton and John Wells’ ER (NBC, 1994–2009), ‘and the lamentably canceled My So-Called Life [ABC, 1994–1995]’, created by Winnie Holzman, who learned her craft as one of the head writers on Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz’s Thirtysomething (ABC, 1987– 1991, 52–55). These and other distinguished TV dramas from the final years of TVII suggest that the breakthrough natures of The Sopranos and later Mad Men were not achieved in a vacuum. The Sopranos premiered at a time of unprecedented change for the television industry in the United States. The pivotal innovation in the changeover from TVII to TVIII (1995–2013) was a ‘mass digital conversion’ that was now placing consumers ‘at the very heart’ of an ever more personalized television business environment (Chernin). As a result, HBO set out to intensify its connection to its subscriber base, reinvesting in original programming like never before. The premium cable-and-satellite network set itself apart from the competition for the second time in its short history by aggressively increasing the proportion of its original programming from 25 to 40% of its entire schedule in the half-dozen years between 1996 and 2001 (‘Jeffrey L. Bewkes’). HBO transformed TV’s creative landscape during the first decade of TVIII by pursuing the atypical strategy of investing more money in program development (from $2 to $4 million per prime-time hour as opposed to $1 million for the broadcast networks), limiting output (13 episodes per series each year instead of 22–26), and producing only the highest-quality series,



mini-series, made-for-pay-television movies, and documentaries. What is forgotten is how risky this strategy was in the mid-to-late 1990s. These three tactics became normative for high-end scripted programs throughout the TV industry such as The Sopranos, Mad Men, and those series that followed these exemplars in the ‘quality television’ tradition.

The Legacy of Mad Men Literally weeks after Weiner joined The Sopranos ’ creative team in 2003, David Chase recommended the screenplay to HBO’s development department, suggesting that ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ should be the source material for the network’s next original series once The Sopranos finished its fifth and (assumed at the time) final season. HBO’s former programming chief and newly installed chairman and chief executive officer, Chris Albrecht counter-offered that HBO ‘would make Mad Men on the condition that Chase be executive producer’. Being a television journeyman and not yet a proven showrunner, Weiner understood the request and was open to this arrangement. He even invited Chase to ‘direct the pilot’. Despite being ‘very tempted’, David Chase finally decided against coming aboard Mad Men, ‘wanting to move away from weekly television’. Chase still continued to champion the script, however, as Weiner resubmitted it to HBO’s development department in 2004 (Handy 283). While admitting that ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ was ‘obviously written for HBO’, Weiner also acknowledges in retrospect that ‘he never got a straight explanation from the network for its pass’ (‘Smoke and Sympathy: A Toast to Mad Men’; Handy 283). Recognizing the groundswell of original programming on cable television, Weiner’s agent then sent the screenplay to Showtime, the USA network, and FX later in 2004 and early 2005; in short order, all three networks declined, leaving the project open for development executives at AMC who were looking to raise the channel’s profile by moving into original programming (‘Basic Cable Shows Get Emmy Nods’). AMC’s executive group, headed by Charles Collier, were all committed ‘to combining the network’s great movie library with high-end originals’ as a way of enhancing their position in the cable-and-satellite sector as ‘a quality player more than quantity’ (Becker). AMC ‘was trying to produce shows like HBO’, remembers Weiner (PaleyFest ’08). The quality aspiration at the network was therefore artistic and cultural as well as commercial. ‘We’re trying to do cinematic-television shows’, explained Collier



at the time, ‘series that stand side-by-side with the best movies on TV’ (Brodesser-Akner). He added, ‘we look at Mad Men as an asset on multiple levels, including pop-cultural relevance. Obviously it did well for the brand’ (Handy 338). Interest built slowly but steadily for Mad Men over its first few years. This heightened profile was hardly an accident since AMC’s marketing and promotion executives were hard at work crafting a multi-year strategy even before the series debuted, never mind being picked up for a second season. ‘We knew we couldn’t go a traditional route in marketing this show’, acknowledged AMC’s senior marketing vice president Linda Schupack. ‘We felt we needed to be provocative, confident, and bold’ if we were to have ‘a chance to rebrand the network with an intelligent, upscale series’ (Young). The style and content of Mad Men struck a responsive chord and the behind-the-scenes marketing and promotional campaign took the series to another level. ‘Intelligent TV can sometimes be the hardest to market’, explained Schupack, ‘relying more on critics and creative positioning’. Schupack’s colleague, Theano Apostolou, vice president for publicity, talent relations, and promotional events continued, ‘We could have gone broad and lowest common denominator by putting the emphasis on the sex and scandals, but we pushed this as a writer-driven drama, which gave the series more credibility’ (Young). The critical and institutional recognitions began coming in as early as the end of 2007 with Mad Men being named to literally dozens of top-10 best TV show lists, such as Time magazine where it was chosen ‘#1 New Show’, while The Sopranos was selected ‘#1 Returning Show’ (Poniewozik). On 13 January 2008, Mad Men won two Golden Globes for Best Television Drama Series and Best Television Actor (Jon Hamm). Then on 17 July, Mad Men received 16 Emmy nominations, the most for any dramatic series that year. By then, AMC’s executives had allocated $25 million specifically to market and advertise Mad Men, unleashing a tsunami of commercial tie-ins (Rosen). By August 2009, Frank Rich was confirming in a New York Times editorial that ‘it’s Mad Men who has the pulse of our moment’. Besides commercial considerations, Mad Men was the next best prototype within the ‘quality television’ tradition from a cultural relevance and artistic perspective. Soon after Rich’s pronouncement, Mad Men pivoted in the transition from the third to the fourth seasons from less of a zeitgeist show to a deep and unsparing psychological study of its protagonist, Dick Whitman, trying to reconcile his dual identity as Don Draper. Don is finally forced to confess everything to Betty about who he really is in ‘The



Gypsy and the Hobo’ (3.37), catapulting the Drapers’ already fragile marriage into uncharted territory between Halloween 1963 and 22 November 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed, which occurs in ‘The Grown Ups’ (3.38). One of the most distinguishing and innovative aspects of Mad Men is that the series spent 37 of the 39 episodes of its first three seasons on the front of the decade before the Kennedy assassination—a time that has been largely suppressed and long forgotten in popular culture, and with good reason. The critical nostalgia of Mad Men exposes much of the over-thetop and out-in-the-open sexism, racism, adultery, homophobia, and antiSemitism, not to mention the excessive smoking and drinking that sparked much of the ongoing reevaluation of the Sixties throughout the series. The comparative-historical sociologist, Eleanor Townsley, refers to the Sixties in hindsight as a ‘trope’ that denotes a definitive break between ‘then’ and ‘now’ (Townsley 105–106). Historian Stephan Feuchtwang similarly uses the term, ‘caesura’, to ‘refer to points of before and after that inaugurate a present and demarcate a past’. He adds that ‘such caesurae are mythic: they mark the moment of creation of a relative past, the before of a given event and the after of a new present’ (180). The Kennedy assassination is the ‘caesura’ that jump-starts the Mad Men narrative to even greater heights of conflict and change. Producing the show in the decade following 11 September 2001, Matthew Weiner and his writers employ the Kennedy assassination—indeed the whole JFK presidency with the Kennedy-Nixon presidential campaign in Season 1 and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis in Season 2—to better understand the present and discover the future. One ‘caesura’ evokes another as the hopeful optimism of the Kennedy moment comes crashing down as a kind of foreboding surrogate for 9/11. Like the black silhouetted image in the title sequence, Don Draper (née Dick Whitman) is caught in freefall, capturing the full intensity and unease of the late 2000s and early 2010s. It is no coincidence then that Season 4 of Mad Men begins with a scene of its reluctant hero botching an interview with a reporter from Advertising Age by declining to answer the question: ‘Who is Don Draper?’ From that point onwards, the series has been mainly preoccupied with that simple query. In the two-hour Season 6 premiere of Mad Men entitled ‘The Doorway’ (a combined Episodes 66 and 67), it is December 1967 and Don Draper is pictured lounging on the beach at Waikiki with his new wife, Megan. He is at another of what has become a long list of crossroads in his life reading John Ciardi’s perennially successful translation of Dante’s



The Inferno as he contemplates the opening stanza in voiceover: ‘Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray/from the straight road and woke to find myself/alone in a dark wood’ (Alighieri). Mad Men is a literate series that has always featured a wide range of contemporaneous references in art, advertising, fashion, literature, media, music, and politics, reflecting Weiner and his creative team’s ecumenical interests and sensibilities. There is nothing startling about Don’s choice of recreational reading. He’s a troubled guy, but he has always been curious and open to new ideas. The works of Frank O’Hara, D.H. Lawrence, and Michelangelo Antonioni, among other cultural signposts, make cameos in the program. More than any preceding show in the ‘quality television’ tradition, Mad Men embraces the omnivorous potential of TV to seamlessly incorporate a full spectrum of high and low cultural references from a wide array of other arts and media into its storyline and stylistics. In the current transition from TV III to the streaming-led TVIV (2013– present), serialization is the narrative key to attracting audiences often overwhelmed by so many entertainment choices (Dunleavy; Lotz; Mittell). Screen storytelling in the twenty-first century tends to fall into three broad categories: the giant blockbuster properties that can be reproduced in multiple-sequeled parts resulting in hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in revenues, such as Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise; smaller, one-of-a-kind, awards-worthy theatrical films, which are typically low-cost limited-return labours of love by creative talents; and the highend character-driven long-form narratives that have become the forté of scripted television. The vast potential of TV is thus markedly realized as this third in-between option with its roots in the so-called prime-time novel that surfaced in the early 1980s and continues unabated in the 2000s and 2010s with high-quality serials such as the 92-episode-long Mad Men. From an artistic perspective, Mad Men is at once of television and sui generis. It flirts with the language of the workplace and domestic melodrama, but it is a singular, enigmatic, and at times, alienating narrative that adapts the aesthetics of the independent art film to TV storytelling. Rather than relying on action clichés and violence, it is an inner-directed quotidian serial that slowly unfolds like a picaresque novel. Similar to its progenitor, The Sopranos, Mad Men’s hybridized stylistics merge the intimacy, immediacy, and long-form storytelling complexity of television with the more controversial thematics, wider palette of visual techniques, and much higher production values once associated only with motion pictures. Its realization as cinematic TV and its allegiance to expressive realism even



surpass the ethnographic and naturalistic stylistics of its quality television antecedents. In terms of aesthetics, Mad Men might best be described as The Sopranos 2.0. Some TV scholars still chafe at the use of cinematic television as a metaphor—as if it detracts in some way from the value and integrity of television as a medium—but series such as The Sopranos, Mad Men, and many other contemporary small-screen dramas owe a great deal of their technical and production design to the movies. Even inexact metaphors such as quality television tell us something of value and have their places. Another old saw is that serial television storytelling is novelistic. This analogy is particularly apt in the case of Mad Men, which is epic in scale and as internal in structure and point of view as anything that’s ever been produced for TV. This mixing of artistic metaphors when describing the promiscuousness of television in its ongoing relations with film, literature, other mediated forms, including now the Internet, alludes to the reason why this multi-dimensional and supremely adaptable medium has emerged in the United States as the country’s most popular and signature art form of the twenty-first century. The late author, journalist, and media critic David Carr spoke for many in his profession as well as TV executives and viewers alike when he wrote in his 10 March 2014 New York Times column that ‘the vast wasteland of television has been replaced by an excess of excellence that is fundamentally altering my media diet and threatening to consume my waking life in the process’. Long-time FX president and CEO John Landgraf likewise designated 2015 the year of ‘Peak Television’ because of the evident glut of dramas and comedies, numbering a record-setting 409 scripted series worldwide the year Mad Men ended, which nearly doubled the total of 211 in 2010 (Koblin). Mad Men played a seminal role in both continuing to raise the bar for quality TV dramas in general and further encouraging this rise in scripted programming by the undeniable impact it had on AMC in becoming ‘a player in the original series game overnight’ (Littleton). In the end, Mad Men’s success is an improbable story. Only six out of 145 networks that comprised all of American television were commissioning hour-long scripted dramas when HBO finally approved the go-ahead for The Sopranos in December 1997. Interestingly, that ratio was even more unbalanced at ten out of 531 networks when AMC greenlit Mad Men in September 2006. Beating such long odds was never a given. Taking stock, though, the membership of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted in 2013 for the ‘Best Written TV Series’ of all time. The WGA’s top-5



dramatic entries were #1 The Sopranos, #7 Mad Men, #9 The Wire, #10 The West Wing (1999–2006), and #13 Breaking Bad (Brownfield). Any way you measure it, Mad Men’s legacy among the most illustrious and inventive dramas in the history of television is widely acknowledged and firmly secure.

Notes 1. According to Robert Thompson, the dozen characteristics of ‘quality television’ are it ‘breaks rules’ (‘it is not “regular” TV’); demonstrates ‘a quality pedigree’ (the talent involved typically have notable track records); ‘attracts an audience with blue chip demographics’; often requires a learning curve for networks and audiences; has a ‘large ensemble cast’ who perform in a knitted plot structure; utilises ‘memory’ from episode to episode and across seasons; mixes genres (exhibits a recombinant style); is ‘writer-based’; is self-reflexive; deals with controversial subject matter; ‘aspires towards “realism”’; and is usually critically acclaimed and award-winning. 2. Sudeep Dasgupta interrogates the strengths and weaknesses of ‘quality television’ as a critical concept and provides a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the scholarly literature on this subject area in the body and reference section of his 2012 NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies essay.

Bibliography 92Y: 92Y Talks Podcast (May 21, 2015), Matthew Weiner interviewed by Richard LaGravenese, 71:24 minutes. Alighieri, Dante, with a new translation by John Ciardi. 1954. The Inferno. New York: Mentor Books. Alston, Joshua. 2008. TV Ratings: Get “Bad”, Get “Mad”, and You’ll Get Glad. Newsweek (January 7): 95. Basic Cable Shows Get Emmy Nods. All Things Considered (National Public Radio) (July 17, 2008), Matthew Weiner interviewed by Michele Norris, 4:29 minutes. Becker, Anne. 2008. GM Charlie Collier Raises AMC’s Profile. Broadcasting & Cable (January 19). Charlie_Collier_Raises_AMC_s_Profile.php. Brodesser-Akner, Claude. 2007. “Mad Men” Gives Wide Berth to Madison Avenue. Advertising Age (October 8): 1. Brown, Les. 1975. Fred Silverman Will Leave CBS-TV to Head ABC Program Division. New York Times (May 19): 46. ———. 1992. Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television. Detroit, MI: Gale Research.



Brownfield, Paul. 2013. By the Numbers: Checking the 101 Best Written TV Series List. Written By (Magazine of the WGA West) (Summer): 30–37. Carr, David. 2010. Barely Keeping Up in TV’s New Golden Age. New York Times (March 10): B1. Chellas, Semi. 2014. Matthew Weiner, The Art of Screenwriting No. 4. The Paris Review (Spring). Chernin, Peter. 2006. Golden Oldies. Wall Street Journal (February 9): A12. Chozick, Amy. 2009. The Women Behind “Mad Men”. Wall Street Journal (August 7). SB10001424052970204908604574332284143366134. Dasgupta, Sudeep. 2012. Policing the People: Television Studies and the Problem of “Quality.” NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies 1 (1): 35–53. Dunleavy, Trisha. 2017. Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television. New York: Routledge. Feuchtwang, Stephan. 2005. Mythic Moments in National and Other Family Histories. History Workshop Journal 59 (Spring): 179–193. Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr, and Tise Vahimagi, eds. 1984. MTM: ‘Quality Television’. London: BFI Institute. Handy, Bruce. 2006. Don and Betty’s Paradise Lost. Vanity Fair (September): 268–283, 337–339. Jeffrey L. Bewkes: Home Box Office. Businessweek (January 14, 2002): 62. Keveney, Bill. 2009. Success Suits the ‘Mad Men’ Brand: Distinctive Drama About the ’60s Ad Game Reaches Out to Today’s Style, Culture. USA Today (August 14): 1D–2D. Koblin, John. 2015. How Many Scripted TV Shows in 2015? A Precise Number, and a Record. New York Times ( December 17): B2. Littleton, Cynthia. 2009. Weiner Wins Pay Raise. Daily Variety (January 19): 1. Lotz, Amanda D. 2018. We Now Disrupt This Broadcast: How Cable Transformed Television and the Internet Revolutionized It All. Cambridge: MIT Press. Mair, George. 1988. Inside HBO: The Billion Dollar War Between HBO, Hollywood, and the Home Video Revolution. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. McCabe, Janet, and Kim Akass, eds. 2007. Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond. London: I.B. Taurus. McGrath, Charles. 1995. The Triumph of the Prime-Time Novel, New York Times Magazine (October 22): 52–59. Mittell, Jason. 2015. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: New York University Press. NPR (National Public Radio). Fresh Air (August 9, 2007), Matthew Weiner interviewed by Dave Davies, 51 minutes. PaleyFest ’08 (The Paley Center for Media’s 25th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood, CA) (March 27, 2008),



Matthew Weiner and the Mad Men cast interviewed by Matt Rousch of TV Guide, 75:21 minutes. Papazian, ed. 1991. TV Dimensions ’97. New York: Media Dynamics. Poniewozik, James. 2007. The Ten Best TV Shows. Time (December 24): 75. Rich, Frank. 2009. “Mad Men” Crashes Woodstock’s Birthday. New York Times, Sunday Opinion (August 16): 8. Rose, Lacey, and Michael O’Connell. 2015. The Definitive Oral History: Mad Men’s Last Call: Even Don Draper Couldn’t Invent This Story. Hollywood Reporter (March 20): 44–51. Rosen, Lisa. 2009. It’s Good to Be “Mad”: The AMC Show Has Gone from Cool to Obscure to Cool and All Over the Place, With Celeb Fans, Iconic Status and Awards Galore. Los Angeles Times (June 3): S10. Shales, Tom. 1988. Dark, Potent China Beach: On ABC, A Drama Series About Women in Vietnam. Washington Post (April 26): B1. Sloane, Leonard Sloane. 1975. ABC on Its Way Out of the Cellar. New York Times (November 9): F1. Smoke and Sympathy: A Toast to Mad Men. Inside Media Series. The Paley Center for Media, Los Angeles, CA (October 10, 2007), Matthew Weiner and the Mad Men cast interviewed by Brian Lowry of Variety, 56:59 minutes. Stevens, Elizabeth Lesly. 1997. Call It Home Buzz Office: HBO’s Challenge—To Keep the High-Profile Programs Coming. Businessweek (December 8): 77. Swanson, Dorothy. 2000. The Story of Viewers for Quality Television: From Grass Roots to Prime Time. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Thompson, Robert J. 1996. Television’s Second Golden Age: From Hill Street to ER. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Tinker, Grant, and Bud Rukeyser. 1994. Tinker in Television: From General Sarnoff to General Electric. New York: Simon and Schuster. Townsley, Eleanor. 2001. The Sixties’ Trope. Theory, Culture & Society 18 (6): 99–123. Weinman, Jamie J. 2007. How The Sopranos Shot Up TV. Maclean’s (April 9): 48–50. Young, Susan. 2008. How to Hook Highbrow Audiences: Peabody Honorees Used Smart Marketing Tactics. Variety (June 13). index.asp?layout=awardcentral&jump=features&id=peabodyawards&articleid= VR1117987486.

Mad Men, Maddicts, and Recapturing the Carousel Through Kodak Moments and Selfies Andrée E. C. Betancourt

Introduction: A Meta-Slide Show This chapter investigates the relationship between family and nostalgia both in Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) Kodak Carousel advertising campaign pitch and as employed historically by Kodak. Organized around the slides projected in Draper’s pitch, the sections in this essay are ‘captioned’ with online responses by Maddicts (Mad Men fanatics) selected from among hundreds studied on the AMC website, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and in articles. Draper delivers his pitch in ‘The Wheel’, the final episode of the first season of AMC’s Mad Men. Having received 1908 votes on the AMC website, it is the highest-ranking pitch featured in the series and arguably the most powerful (AMC 2017). The role of Maddicts is explored in terms of their nostalgia for the series and the ways in which they create ‘Kodak Moments’ to mark their fandom online and in ways that create a sense of community and potentially lead to communitas. Communitas is used here to refer to ‘a sense of profound and inspired comradeship’ (Lagerkvist 2014, 214). Attentive to diverse online responses, particularly those that touch on the theme of nostalgia,

A. E. C. Betancourt (B) Communication Studies, Montgomery College, Rockville, MD, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




I provide close readings of the images in the carousel and explain how Draper’s family photographs operate as ‘Kodak Moments’. The Carousel scene has motivated Mad Men viewers to preserve the images important to them and to offer fellow Maddicts tips on image preservation. It has led viewers to recognize the labour of those who photographed them and created memorable slide shows. It has also inspired some viewers to create provocative mashups. In addition, the scene has led viewers to reflect upon their own practices of consumption and production, and to question problematic practices of exclusion and inclusion historically and today. As the series neared its end in 2015, many fans returned to ‘The Wheel’ as they negotiated bidding farewell to characters they had become invested in. In doing so, fans attempted to capture the impact the series had on them, and some of their attempts echo and disrupt the aesthetics of the Kodak pitch. These approaches, often driven by nostalgia, potentially jam the Carousel ride in productive ways in an attempt to expose the complexity of memory, individual and collective, and the desire to ‘return home’, even if just for a Kodak Moment. The first season of Mad Men aired in 2007 and takes place during 1960. The Kodak Carousel pitch is a key scene of the season finale. Katrina Wong blogs: I know it’s pretty lame for an ad person to be referencing Mad Men, but this pitch for Kodak’s new slide projector on the show is seriously moving … I know it’s not always possible, but it makes so much sense to actually use the product as the pitch itself. Think how dull would this have been on powerpoint? (2009)1

I had a similar feeling of revulsion towards PowerPoint when I envisioned how I would approach my presentation of this essay at Mad Men: The Conference. Who wants to compete with Don Draper and his beautifully projected family photographs, larger than life in an ethereally smoky conference room? With the whirr of each slide, we anticipate consuming what was captured with the click of a camera. My intention was not to outdo Mad Men aesthetically with the presentation, especially as I didn’t have the $2–$2.5 million per episode budget that director Matthew Weiner did, but rather to present Don’s Kodak Carousel pictures in a new light by questioning the ways in which the episode frames nostalgia, family, and Kodak Moments, and how the range of online responses to the scene complicates attempts to dismiss it as nostalgic ‘eye candy’. Communitas, previously experienced as families gathered together around Kodak Carousels in



their homes to share memories, occurs among Maddicts gathered online to share memories of the series and their own loved ones. Building on Victor and Edith Turner’s work on communitas, Amanda Lagerkvist asserts that, ‘Through a new existential optics for media studies, we may be able to see that, despite the fragmentation of audience behaviour and the pluralization of platforms within the media cultures of the digital age, these cultural memory practices retain an important feature: They echo a basic existential quest for communitas’ (2014, 216). Ann Ciasullo provides an overview of the ways in which the term nostalgia has been used by scholars and critics of Mad Men. She uses the term ‘positive nostalgia’ to describe Mad Men’s ability to fulfil viewers’ yeaning to return to the time periods covered in the show, and ‘negative nostalgia’ to capture how the series return to the past is accompanied by painful elements such as ‘unhappiness, alienation, and oppression’ (2015, 39). While Ciasullo’s typology is useful for exploring the ‘dissonance between the narratives of the show itself. .. and the narratives about the show’, my focus is on how Maddicts’ responses to Draper’s Carousel pitch demonstrate positive possibilities of nostalgia such as creativity and communitas. Lucy Lippard and Svetlana Boym provide hopeful frameworks that can be used to better understand nostalgia. Lippard asks, ‘Is there no word aside from the overly discredited nostalgia for the complex emotions we harbor about the past, about childhood, about loss and return?’ (1999, 153). She explains that the common definition (‘severe homesickness-a form of melancholia caused by prolong absence from one’s country or home’) differs from scholarly use in which ‘The word has acquired a veneer of duplicity, of sentimental inauthenticity …’ (153). As explained in my study of the Museum of the Moving Image, Lippard provides ‘a hopeful meditation on her longtime summer home as a “nostalgia trip and trap,” through which she opposes Susan Stewart’s disabling portrait of nostalgia and reclaims nostalgia’s potential to create a past that brings “inherited significance” into the present (154, 164)’ (Betancourt 2009, 117). For Lippard, nostalgia as ‘part of [her] lived experience, … is desire unremoved from the senses … a seamless and positive part of life, a reminder of breadth and depth, a confirmation of continuity’ (164). Svetlana Boym’s (2007) typology of nostalgia distinguishes between restorative and reflective nostalgia. Boym explains that her typology allows her to ‘distinguish between national memory that is based on a single version of national identity’ as found in restorative nostalgia and the ‘social



memory’ found in reflective nostalgia ‘which consists of collective frameworks that mark but do not define individual memory’. For Boym, reflective nostalgia ‘reveals that longing and critical thinking are not opposed to one another, just as affective memories do not absolve one from compassion, judgment, or critical reflection’. Using Lippard and Boym’s understandings of nostalgia as potentially positive and productive, we can better question the viewers’ connotations of nostalgia that are apparent in the mixed emotions that some have expressed in online responses to the Carousel pitch. Rachel Hall, in her study of the Patty Hearst archive, ‘animates feminist nostalgia for Patty Hearst in order to demonstrate that encounters between viewers and cultural images are an integral if little understood aspect of subject formation and the ongoing, uneven process of coming into historical consciousness’ (2006, 347). Hall offers a useful model for studying our nostalgic relationship with images that have circulated in the media. Like Hall, I am interested in performances of memories (my own as well as those of fellow Maddicts) of my ‘changing relationship’ to an archive of images and how these performances can enable us ‘to see what inventional options can be made from old pictures …’ As I explore in the Museum of the Moving Image, ‘The desire spurred by nostalgia can be productive if not caught in what Mark Taylor and Esa Saarinen describe as the “desire desires desire” cycle; it can be instrumental in the identification of the ways in which the nostalgic encounter is problematic and in the generation of creative responses (35)’ (Betancourt 2009). Following Lippard, Boym, and Hall, a chief concern here is identifying ways in which nostalgic responses to Draper’s pitch and family photos may be productive and sometimes serve as vehicles of creativity and communitas.

Sliding into Nostalgia Don begins his Kodak Carousel pitch by bending the truth about his past experience as he recounts what he learned from Teddy, an ‘old pro copywriter, Greek’, when he worked ‘in-house’ at a fur company. In actuality, Don worked as a salesperson at a fur store and Teddy was his boss. Don’s twisting of the truth lays the foundation for his slide show that showcases a picture-perfect marriage and family. It reminds us of what he conveniently leaves out of the frame: his web of lies and deceit that is in part to blame for his failing marriage. Don tells the prospective clients: ‘Teddy told me the most important idea in advertising is “new.” It creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of Calamine lotion’. As he continues, his



pace echoes the seductive pauses of the Carousel, ‘But he also talked about a deeper bond with the product, nostalgia [pause]. It’s delicate [pause], but potent’. Cuing the secretary to kill the lights, Don says ‘Sweetheart’, and our Carousel ride begins complete with music which appears to be simultaneously diegetic and non-diegetic. According to Mary McNamara, Mad Men found ‘a strange and lovely space between nostalgia and political correctness and filled it with interesting people, all of them armed with great powers of seduction. And terrific lighting’ (2007). Many online responses to Mad Men describe it as a nostalgic show, a slippery description with numerous connotations. In his Kodak Carousel pitch, Don literally employs the term ‘nostalgia’, and a number of viewers who respond to the scene apologetically admit being hooked by the pitch. Here, a series that relies on nostalgia to hook viewers tugs at them even harder while explicitly exposing how nostalgia can be used to capture consumers.

Slide 1: Old Wounds, Kodak Moments, and Acts of Preservation Don continues his story as he projects his first slide, ‘Teddy told me that in Greek nostalgia literally means pain from an old wound’. We see his two children, Sally and Bobby, happily playing in a tree. Don and Betty are often more preoccupied with their own needs, desires, and problems than those of their children. Yet in this opening image, presumably Betty or Don as photographer focuses on their children for a change. This image of the two siblings echoes a family photograph that Don studies earlier in the episode while working on the Kodak pitch. The photograph, stored in a Foot Castle shoebox, features Don and his younger half-brother, Adam, who is on a horse which symbolically echoes a fairground carousel ride, as Don holds the reins. They are both smiling. Becoming nostalgic or perhaps just curious, Don picks up the phone to call Adam, who he had previously rejected despite his brother’s efforts to track him down and enthusiasm to reconnect. Don offers Adam, a janitor at the Empire State Building, $5000 to leave New York and never contact him again. Adam tearfully replies, ‘That’s not what I wanted, that’s not right’ (5 ‘5G’). From the motel employee who answers the phone, Don learns that Adam hanged himself. Don keeps his fresh familial tragedy and old wounds to himself, presumably plagued by some degree of guilt and regret. Would Adam still be alive if he had protectively held on to the reins like he did in the childhood photograph? Don dropped the metaphorical reins, and Adam hanged



himself with them. Not wanting to reveal his true identity, Don, now the sole surviving member of his family of origin, hid Adam’s existence from his wife and children and vice versa. By sharing slides of his wife, children, and himself in this pitch, Don invites strangers into a familial space where Adam was not only unwelcomed, but also erased. Based on a circular tray design bought from Italian-American inventor, Louis Misuraca, Kodak introduced the Carousel in the United States in spring of 1962 (Rawsthorn 2013). Alice Rawsthorn explains that ‘Millions of people used their Carousels to tell their own versions of their life stories, or their families’, just as aristocrats had done for centuries by commissioning artists to commemorate their personal landmarks.’ Approximately half a century later, the Carousel scene inspired Mad Men viewers to not only preserve the images important to them, but also offer fellow Maddicts tips on image preservation. In response to a Mad Men Facebook post that featured a link to images from the Kodak Carousel slide show on the AMC website, Susan E. Hardin comments: ‘wish I hadnt sold my Kodak Carousel during house sale, as have tons of old slides and hate paying to put them on dvds!’, Candace Christman promptly responds: ‘Susan, you can get a device for about $100 that lets you scan in your old slides and negatives yourself so they are in digital form. That could save you some money. Best Buy and Costco have them’ (Mad Men 2011). This exchange is one of many examples of communitas found in fan interactions on official and unofficial sites. As she details the attractive features the Carousel offered to consumers in the 1960s, Rawsthorn asserts, ‘No wonder so many of us (at least those of us who are over 30) have vivid memories of watching family slide shows on Kodak Carousels, and of the individual slides that came to define our perceptions of the past’. The Kodak Moment advertising campaign began later, in the 1970s, and is not explicitly mentioned in this episode—though historically Kodak marketed itself in relation to family and memory. I use the term, however, because the pitch plays on understandings of Kodak Moments. Many fans who responded online to the Carousel pitch employ the term when discussing it. Though Kodak ‘was not involved in Mad Men’s choice to include [it] in the episode … it was so impressed by Draper’s pitch that it went back and internally discussed “Kodak Moments” and their significance, which in turn led to its new photo-sharing site,’ (Konrad 2010). As explained on the Kodak website, ‘A KODAK Moment is a rare, onetime moment that is captured with a photo, or should have been captured by a photo’ (2017). The slide show images featured on the official AMC



website were intentionally used in my conference presentation, rather than images of the slides taken directly from the television episode. The magic of Draper’s Kodak Moments is stripped from the online slide show (the images are too new, too bright, too clear, too fake, too superficial, they are trying too hard and smell of newer technology). There is no sound and the written captions on the AMC online slide show are out of sync. These differences are presumably unintentional on AMC’s part; however, they offer viewers an opportunity to experience the content and aesthetics of the Kodak pitch through a contemporary lens. The images as projected in the episode are grainy, and their tone is more reminiscent of family photos passed down to me from the 1960s than are the online versions from the AMC website which appear as if they could have been taken today. Mad Men is known for its depiction of heavy smoking, and the cigarette smoke that fills the meeting room drifts beautifully through the projected light. The smoke in the Kodak pitch is reminiscent of an earlier scene that depicted Don in his office nostalgically holding slides in front of his desk lamp while his cigarette smoke drifted through the light. The online images are not cropped and reveal a bit more information than do the versions projected in the episode. By juxtaposing both sets of images, fans can experience different layers of aesthetics depending on how and where they access the slides.

Slide 2: Breaking the Rules The second slide is a humorous image of Don and Betty sharing a hotdog with a miniature golf course behind them. Continuing his reflections on nostalgia, Don states: ‘It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone’. The image is particularly resonant considering that in the preceding scene, Betty, who recently discovered that her psychiatrist, Dr. Arnold Wayne, reports back to Don, reveals her knowledge of Don’s affairs, perhaps expecting it will be relayed back to her husband. Betty gave up her modelling career after she married Don, who she met while modelling a coat. In his Kodak Carousel pitch, Don capitalizes on Betty’s photogenic looks and moments from earlier in their relationship when they were happier together, or at least appeared so. In the pilot episode (1.1 ‘Smoke Gets in your Eyes’), Don’s response to his client (who becomes his lover for a brief time) Rachel Menken’s assertion that she’s never been in love is: ‘The reason you haven’t felt it is because it doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons’. As the conversation continues,



he asserts that ‘You’re born alone, and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts, but I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one’. Part of why the Carousel pitch is so powerful is that it plays on the tension that exists between these cynical beliefs Don proclaims outside of his home and the love and affection that he feels for his family. With his pitch, Don sells familial love to his clients as if he invented it, yet in the process he falls in love with his family, or with the image of what his family might be if he were able to play by the rules. Don’s great success as an ad man is his ability to evoke powerful emotions both in other characters and in the audience. Yet, despite his mesmerizing ability to tap into others’ emotions, he struggles to open up emotionally and connect with the most important people in his life.

Slides 3 and 4: Playing with Time In Slide 3, we see the normally composed Don in a funny posture. He holds a cigarette in his mouth and pushes Bobby on a swing. Both are smiling. Having evoked the power of nostalgia, Don introduces the Carousel as a piece of technology capable of transporting us home: ‘This device isn’t a space ship, it’s a time machine’. Fan responses reveal a desire to be transported, by tracking down or preserving images from their own childhood—a process for some that involves reaching out to their own family members. Responding to John Brownlee’s blog entry (2008) on the pitch, Reluctant_Paladin (on 8 August 2008) reflects: ‘I remember sitting with my parents and sisters when I was a boy, watching slides from vacations and the like. The color of the kodachrome slides still stands out in my mind’s eye. I’m calling tonight and making sure those slides are someplace safe’. Here, Reluctant_Paladin recollects not only the colour of the slides, but also the shared ritual of viewing images in-person as a family. Social media sites have changed how and with whom we share family photographs and videos, and new technology has changed or erased old rituals. I no longer have to hold slides up to the light and place them into a Carousel by hand as Facebook can make a video of the images for me. While some may find this feature convenient, many of the online responses to the Carousel demonstrate that the experience of sharing images through social media lacks the rich presence they experienced when viewing slides with loved ones in person.



N.Sputnik creatively responds to Don’s Kodak Carousel pitch with a video shared on YouTube and describes his process: ‘I combine the Mad Men episode in which Don Draper pitches a campaign for the Kodak Carousel and its connection with nostalgia, which is a running theme in Boards of Canada’s music, along with their track Kid For Today which features the sounds of a carousel projector switching slides as one of the percussive sounds’ (2010). The video has received positive responses from the majority of the viewers. With comments ranging from simbanobel’s ‘Just amazing. What a fit. This is art’ to others that provide viewing tips, or debate fan status or the band’s skills (2011 on N.Sputnik). The video serves as an example of how fans transform scenes and in doing so can transport audiences to places quite different from those we visit in the show. N.Sputnik brings an auditory layer of nostalgia into the video through the soundtrack that allows us to experience the original scene differently. His mashup cleverly incorporates repetition of Don’s slides and interrupts the chronology of the scene. The line Don delivers during the fourth slide, ‘It goes backwards, forwards’, builds on his time machine metaphor and the fact that when using the Carousel, one may view images from different time periods in nonchronological order. The chronology of Don’s own slide show is nonlinear. For example, it begins with an image of his children, this fourth slide features Betty pregnant with one of their children, and the second to last family photo is one of their wedding pictures. Despite the order, the romantic relationship narrative that emerges from the slide show develops from traditional highlights: a fun date; pregnancy; parenthood; marriage; and a passionate New Year kiss. In Slide 4, Don lies peacefully on the sofa with his head and hand on Betty’s pregnant stomach while she sits smiling widely with her hand resting on his head. The image presents a jarring contrast to a scene that follows in which Peggy rejects her newborn son; later (2 ‘The New Girl’) we learn that Don visited her in the hospital and encouraged her to deal with her hardship the way he dealt with his: ‘This never happened’, he says. ‘It will shock you how much it never happened’.



Slides 5, 6, and 7: Invisible Labourers Outside of the Frame: Mothers, Domestic Workers, and Kodak Girls Slide 5 features Sally pulling Bobby in an iconic red Radio Flyer wagon, and it is accompanied by Don’s assertion that Kodak’s projector ‘takes us to a place where we ache to go again’. As I study AMC’s Mad Men website, Kodak Gallery advertisements flash distractedly (on the banner and the sidebar): one features a woman holding a young boy and the text: ‘Give mom a smile’. Watching Don’s slide show, I wonder who took the photos. In episode three (‘Marriage of Figaro’), Don films Sally’s birthday party with an 8 mm camera. Don appears in eight of the ten photos we see, and the remaining two feature Sally and Bobby. Therefore, Don took two of the photos at most, and Betty took as many as five. Betty appears with Don in the five photos taken by someone other than themselves. Did friends, family members, or co-workers take the photos, or perhaps even an ‘invisible’ labourer such as a housekeeper? Deborah Willis writes about how Clarissa Sligh’s series, Reading Dick and Jane with Me, transforms the standard Dick and Jane classroom readers that would have been used in US public schools, using snapshots from her family album instead and text that ‘[address] the unconscious experiences of racism and sexism’ that many people shared during the time period’ (1999, 111). We’re introduced to Carla, the Draper’s housekeeper in ‘The Wheel’, and her role highlights the racism and sexism of the era. Not surprisingly, Carla does not share snapshots of her own family nor does she appear in any of the Drapers’ family photos, though at times she is portrayed as being more maternal to the Sally and Bobby than Betty. Played by Deborah Lacey, Carla is one of the few black characters in the series, and in a later season, Betty gets remarried and fires her (though Don hires her back). In an interview featured on the Mad Men website, Lacey explains, ‘What’s so amazing about being on this show is that my mother was a maid in the ‘60s for Bob Denver. It’s not like there was a lot of opportunity for work for black women at that time. When you think about the history of what we’ve overcome, there’s no way I could turn down this role. I would have to be ashamed of where I come from to deny that’s who we were at that point in history. And how much has changed’ (Rowin 2009). Jamm54 comments in response to Lacey’s interview that ‘… for a while there in a few episodes it was almost like Carla and Don were married because Betty was out of the house so much … Then she had to turn around and kind of be the



same for Betty during the extra long Lost Weeknd period of Betty’s life’ (on Rowin, May 14, 2009). Carla’s visible absence from the Carousel slide show is a reminder of the ways in which household workers have historically been erased from family histories or incorporated into them in problematic ways. For example, Elizabeth Abel describes a photograph captioned Daguerreotype Portraits of Young Black Girl Holding a White Baby, c. 1850s: ‘The black teenager’s unsmiling face and unflinching gaze at the camera confront us with the discomfort at the role she is required to play … She is allowed only enough visibility to serve as a prop for the child she holds erect with her right arm’ (1999, 129). Yuki’s comment on the interview thanks the actress for her portrayal of Carla and explains that it has raised her awareness: ‘My dad was stationed at Little Rock AFB in 1958, just after the Central High integration’. We lived in Jacksonville, and many of our neighbours had black maids. I was too young at the time to understand what that meant, but Deborah Lacey’s portrayal of Carla has really made me think more about what life must have been like for those ladies who came and took care of one family, worked at the Ginault stores, then left in the evenings to take care of their own (on Rowin, 16 January 2011). KarenMW complains of the lack of Haley’s presence on the Mad Men website; she had to ‘search and search’ (on Rowin, 27 October 2010). She includes a link to her article (Wright 2010) that discusses her ambivalent relationship with Mad Men, and she reflects on the Season 4 finale when Betty lashes out at Carla: ‘My brain stopped right there at Carla’s children. The ones who didn’t see her as often as they wanted to because she was away, taking care of the Draper household instead of her own. It’s the love of those children that has kept Carla from bitch-slapping Betty Draper years ago’. While projecting the sixth slide to Kodak, Don intensifies his pitch by naming the product: ‘It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the Carousel’. In Don and Betty’s first scene of the ‘The Wheel’, Betty expresses disappointment that Don is not going to spend Thanksgiving with her and the children at her brother’s home due to supposed work obligations. Frustrated with his lack of availability and attention, Betty asks Don: ‘What about Sally and Bobby’s childhood memories?’ Don’s reply that she could have hosted Thanksgiving in their home comes across as weak. The scene ends with Betty’s assertion that she doesn’t understand why Don can’t make her family his family; he shakes his head and turns away from her. It is notable that there are two slides of Don playing with either Bobby or Sally, but no photos of Betty doing the same. In Slide 6, Don carries



Sally on his shoulders, and her funny facial expression echoes his. In a third photo, Slide 7, Don and Sally snooze on the sofa while Bobby plays with a Christmas gift. The only photo of Betty with a child is a baby photo of Sally that also features Don. This marks Betty as the parent who most likely performs the domestic work of capturing memories with a still camera. As Slide 7 is projected, Don explains that the Carousel ‘lets us travel the way a child travels’. This Christmas image, featuring Don, Sally, and Bobby, was presumably taken by Betty and again raises the question of how photography has historically fallen under the domestic labour duties of homemakers and household workers, in particular mothers who became responsible for documenting children while their spouses worked outside of the home. While researching the Museum of the Moving Image’s core exhibition, I was surprised that issues of Kodak Movie News from the early 1960s featured mothers filming their children. Turning to Nancy West (2000), I learned that, ‘launched in 1913, Kodakery: A Magazine for Amateur Photographers featured content by males, but was primarily read by females’ (Betancourt 2009, 141). West explains that the Kodak Girl functioned as the company’s primary sales model from 1893 through the early 1970s and ‘gradually became more domesticated as the company became “uncomfortable, perhaps, with the implications of always depicting her alone or traveling in the company of another young woman” (60)’ (Betancourt 141). Having traded her modelling career for marriage, Betty, whose looks rival those of real-life Kodak Girls like Cybill Shepherd, finds herself behind the camera instead of in front of it as her vision of domestic bliss unravels along with her marriage.

Slides 8 and 9: Absence We do not get to see the eighth slide as the camera remains on Don (it is also not featured in the AMC Mad Men website slide show). It brings to mind Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida in which he writes about the Winter Garden Photograph that featured his late mother when she was five years old (and her brother who was seven) and allowed him to finally ‘see’ her. Barthes refuses to reproduce the photo in the book, and the absence of the image makes it ‘more potent’ (Perloff 1997, 38). Is Don’s eighth slide a photo of all four family members? None of the slides we see feature all of them together. The four had family photos shot in Don’s office in a previous episode, but Don and Betty weren’t happy with the results. Might it feature extended family members, friends, or co-workers—or perhaps even the



housekeeper or other domestic workers? Who might this image include or exclude? By withholding this slide from the audience, our imagination is allowed to produce its own Kodak Moment of the Drapers. The line that Don delivers during this slide, ‘Around and around and back home again’, emphasizes the appropriateness of his term ‘Carousel’ for the device the Kodak executives had introduced as the ‘Wheel’. The circularity of the Carousel connects with the repetition of annual celebrations that often literally bring one home again. Don’s caption to his ninth slide, ‘To a place where we know we are loved’, is resonant in terms of nostalgia because it features his infant daughter, and echoes his flashback of his own roots. His birth marked the death of his mother, a prostitute who died during childbirth. From what is revealed of his childhood, love is not something he received from his father or step-parents. Reflecting on Camera Lucida, Grant Faulkner writes, ‘And so we look for ourselves and the death of ourselves when we look at photographs. Absence, forever present’ (2014). This rings especially true for Don who is actually Dick Whitman, living under the stolen identity of a dead man.

Slides 10, 11, and 12: Pictures Speak Louder Than Words Letting the images speak for themselves, Don remains silent for the rest of the pitch. Slide 10 depicts Don carrying Betty in his arms on their wedding day. The beaming newlyweds are framed by a doorway that evokes all of possibilities of a new life together. Providing a stark contrast to this image, in a scene earlier in the episode Don neglects his family to work on his Kodak pitch. Very shortly after arriving home from work, Don tells Betty that he has work to do at home and asks ‘Do you know where the slide projector is?’ Betty is especially upset about Don’s secret affairs after learning that her friend Francine confirmed her own husband’s unfaithfulness. Referencing Don’s decision not to spend Thanksgiving with her and the children due to supposed work obligations, she responds, ‘So you’re not going to see us for four days, and you’re not going to see us now’. The camera remains on Slide 11, a colourful ad for the Carousel, rather than showing Don’s expression. In his blog, Bob Gelber neatly summarizes Don’s pitch: ‘The final episode of Mad Men (Season 1) shows Don Draper coining the word Carousel for the gizmo that holds the slides on Kodak’s slide projector. And creating the Kodak Moment campaign to sell memories



instead of hardware’ (2010). Unlike Don’s life, the Carousel does not jam— with extramarital affairs, work-related drama, his stolen identity, or the suicide of his brother—the horses go round and round. The Carousel is a smooth and joyful ride through magical Kodak Moments. The ad boasts a sense of movement, and the Kodak Carousel is depicted as powering an actual carousel. Slide 12 is a final teaser image, an encore that seals the deal with a New Year kiss: a passionate Kodak Moment in which only Betty and Don exist. The other man in the picture fades into the background, unimportant (he is even less visible in the episode footage). Don, a smile playing on his face, advances the last slide, leaving a square of projected light on the screen. The scene cuts to Don’s co-worker Harry Krane who, visibly moved to tears, abruptly exits the room. Don, appearing lost in the nostalgia that he is selling, wears a look of satisfaction. The Kodak reps silently swivel away from the screen with expressions of awe on their faces. Duck smugly tells them: ‘Good luck at your next meeting’. Still caught up in the Kodak Moments, the disoriented clients nod their heads slightly. After imagining that his family would be home and he’d join them instead of working, a nostalgic Don literally returns home on Thanksgiving eve to find his family has already left town. In her memoir, Carrie Brownstein explains that: ‘Though hard to grasp, nostalgia is elating to bask in—temporarily restoring color to the past. … [it] asks so little of us, just to be noticed and revisited; it doesn’t require the difficult task of negotiation, the heartache and uncertainty that the present does’ (2015, 4). Wrapped up in his own pitch, Don, whose difficulty knowing himself is complicated by his stolen identity, embodies Brownstein’s assertion that ‘Nostalgia is so certain: the sense of familiarity it instills makes us feel like we know ourselves, like we’ve lived’. In response to John Brownlee’s (2008) blog entry about the Carousel scene, Zaren comments: ‘I’ve been sitting on my father-in-law’s slides for months now, putting off the hours I know I’ll have to put into sorting through them to put them onto dvd. It’s time to get cracking on that’ (on Brownlee, 8 August 2008). ‘The Wheel’ created a sense of urgency in many viewers, a desire to slip back into the past through deteriorating images and to preserve their magic for future generations.



Nostalgia as Generative Don’s Carousel pitch generated a lot of attention for Kodak. It also sparked a lot of interactions among fans and their photographic artefacts. The Boston Music Hack Day app ‘Carousel’, developed by Johannes Wagener, allowed users to insert their Instagram photos into Draper’s pitch, and there was an option to record one’s own soundtrack (Olanoff 2011). Presumably created prior to the Facebook Carousel app, it is possible that Wagener’s app, a fan creation, inspired or influenced Mad Men’s official app. Slate inserted images from the 7 seasons of Mad Men into the Carousel pitch and a week later reimagined it by inserting the ‘silliest, craziest, and most embarrassing’ moments of the series (2015). Their approach echoes interpretations of the Mad Men finale that frame Don’s work as his true home, and his colleagues as family members and a source of communitas. Peggy literally pleads for him to ‘come home’. Gathering to watch television together at home was a family ritual. Today we watch television on various devices, sometimes even with or next to strangers who may be watching the same programme, perhaps even the same episode. At Mad Men: The Conference (MMtC), we listened to invited speakers and watched clips of the series in darkened hotel meeting rooms and in university classrooms and auditoriums. Vivien Burr’s article about her own and other conference attendees’ experience at the Slayage Conference on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (SCBtVS) captures sentiments similar to those expressed by some of us who attended the Mad Men Conference (2005). Building on Matt Hills’s work on the fan/scholar identity, Burr is interested in how the scholar/fan and fan/scholar, ‘become liminal and transgressive identities’ and how they are performed at such events ‘where hybrid identities might be validated’ (376). Recognizing that ‘the nature of the tension between scholarship and fandom that was played out here depends on how this occasion was “read” by participants’, Burr quotes an attendee who was frustrated by the academic pull she felt at the conference banquet: ‘it seemed during the banquet that we were reaching for the kind of “communitas” I associate with exceptional experiences of worship or exceptionally good fan convention experiences, yet constantly being pulled back by reassertions of the hierarchy and competition of academia’ (379–380). The experience of writing this chapter was charged with a similar tension. It offered a rare opportunity to immerse myself in memories



of Mad Men and of a conference held in 2016 and the communitas experienced among Maddicts, while simultaneously demanding I conduct additional research. The process required a degree of obsessiveness; as another SCBtVS attendee explained to Burr, ‘An obsessive personality has to be something academics and fans share’ (378). As I clicked through the slides during my presentation at MMtC, I was struck by the generosity of feedback shared by fellow Maddicts from across the United States and abroad. Gathered together in a dimly lit room, we asked each other how digital photography is changing the landscape of memory. Gathered together for our Mad Men party, we photographed each other and ourselves as Don, Roger, Betty, Sally, Joan, or Peggy. Gathered together on our Mad Men Facebook group, we share pictures and memories of a colleague gone too soon. The fictional family album shared by Don invites us to rethink the role of family photographs, our own and others’, private and public, as cultural artefacts and instruments of ideology and how rituals of sharing them, from scrapbooks to slide shows and Facebook status updates to AMC forum discussions, produce nostalgia and foster communitas.

Note 1. With the exception of italicizing Mad Men, user names and their online content (e.g. comments) are quoted directly without any corrections made to spelling or grammar.

Bibliography Abel, Elizabeth. 1999. Domestic Borders, Cultural Boundaries: Black Feminists Review the Family. In The Familial Gaze, ed. Marianne Hirsch, 124–152. Hanover: University Press of New England. AMC. 2017. Sterling Cooper’s Ad Campaigns. AMC. Accessed August 7, 2017. Betancourt, Andreé Elise Comiskey. 2009. Under Construction: Recollecting the Museum of the Moving Image. PhD dissertation, Louisiana State University. Boym, Svetlana. 2007. Nostalgia and Its Discontents. The Hedgehog Review 9 (2): 7–18. Brownlee, John. 2017. Mad Men Pitch the Kodak Carousel. BoingBoing (blog), August 8, 2008.



Brownstein, Carrie. 2015. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir. New York: Riverhead Books. Burr, Vivien. 2005. Scholar/’Shippers and Spikeaholics: Academic and Fan Identities at the Slayage Conference on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. European Journal of Cultural Studies 8 (3) (August): 375–383. Ciasullo, Ann M. 2015. Not a Spaceship, But a Time Machine: Mad Men and the Narratives of Nostalgia. In Lucky Strikes and a Three Martini Lunch: Thinking about Television’s Mad Men, ed. Jennifer C. Dunn et al., 38–50. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Faulkner, Grant. 2014. Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida: Absence as Presence. Grant Faulkner (blog), August 10. 08/10/roland-barthes-camera-lucida-absence-as-presence. Gelber, Bob. 2010. What Does a Verizon Moment Feel Like? Not a Mystery (blog), August 24. Hall, Rachel. 2006. Patty and Me: Performative Encounters Between an Historical Body and the History of Images. Text & Performance Quarterly 26 (4): 347– 370. Kodak. n.d. What Is a Kodak Moment? Accessed August 22, 2017. http://www. Konrad, Alex. 2010. Mad Men Is Back, and So Is Product Placement., July 27. mad_men_products.fortune/index.html. Lagerkvist, Amanda. 2014. A Quest for Communitas. NORDICOM Review 35: 205–218. Lippard, Lucy R. 1999. On the Beaten Track: Tourism, Art, and Place. New York: The New Press. Mad Men. 2011. Check Out Mad Men’s Most Recent Press Round Up, Including News About the DVD and a January Jones Interview. Facebook, February 28. McCarthy, A.J., and Anne Marie Lindemann. 2015. Watch Don Draper’s Kodak Carousel Project Mad Men’s Silliest Moments. Slate, May 18. http://www. silly_redux_don_draper_s_kodak_projector.html. McNamara, Mary. 2007. Mad Men Makes a Perfect Pitch. Los Angeles Times, July 18. N.Sputnik. 2010. Mad Men: The Wheel + Boards of Canada: Kid for Today. YouTube, September 3. Video. wNHSOqV2i-g. Olanoff, Drew. 2011. Don Draper from Mad Men Tells the Story of Your Instagram Photos with Carousel. The Next Web, November 10.



Perloff, Marjorie. 1997. ‘What Has Occurred Only Once’: Barthes’s Winter Garden/Boltanski’s Archives of the Dead. In Writing the Image After Roland Barthes, ed. Rabaté Jean-Michel, 32–58. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Rawsthorn, Alice. 2013. It’s a Spaceship! No, it’s a Time Machine. New York Times, January 20. Rowin, Michael. 2009. Q&A;—Deborah Lacey (Carla). Mad Men (blog), AMC. May 5. Taylor, Mark C., and Esa Saarinen. 1994. Imagologies: Media Philosophy. London: Routledge. West, Nancy Martha. 2000. Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. Willis, Deborah. 1999. A Search for Self: The Photograph and Black Family Life In The Familial Gaze, ed. Marianne Hirsch, 107–123. Hanover: University Press of New England. Wright, Karen Malone. 2010. Didn’t You Know I Was On Mad Men? I’m Carla’s Daughter. For Harriet, October 20. didnt-you-know-i-was-on-mad-men-im.html. Wong, Katrina. 2009. The Pitch. Feedingkat (blog). September 29. http://

Mad Men and Complex Seriality Trisha Dunleavy

Introduction Mad Men, AMC’s first attempt at a multi-season example of original primetime drama, is an exemplar of the ‘high production value’ (or high-end) serial form that first emerged on American cable network HBO, its ‘template’ forged by The Sopranos (1999–2006). As a form of TV drama that I have labelled ‘complex serial’ (Dunleavy 2018), its hallmarks of conceptual novelty, morally ambiguous central characters, and complex storytelling have been integral to the attention and acclaim that its leading examples have received, as well as to the disproportionate contributions of these dramas to perceptions of a new ‘golden age’ for American television (Martin 2013, 9). It is possible to see ‘complex serials’ as an extension of the ‘American Quality Drama’ (AQD) paradigm that began in the 1980s and proliferated thereafter (see Thompson 1996; 2007). However, underpinning this chapter’s arguments is a sense that the narrative strategies and characteristics of ‘complex serials’ represent a new turn for American highend TV drama rather than a continuation of the AQD paradigm. AQD, a movement in TV drama that incorporates a long succession of programmes (including a volume of episodic ‘procedurals’), developed and expanded on

T. Dunleavy (B) School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




American broadcast television in response to the intensifying competition that characterized the era of ‘multi-channel transition’ (Lotz 2007a). In contrast, ‘complex serials’ emerged on American cable channels from the late 1990s, have been shaped by the creative conditions of non-broadcast services and platforms (these now including Internet-only networks). This chapter uses Mad Men to investigate the characteristics of what it calls ‘complex seriality’ (Dunleavy 2018), a term that encapsulates the narrative distinctions of this non-broadcast drama form.

From Narrative Complexity to Complex Seriality The increased narrative complexity of American TV fiction has been investigated by Jason Mittell (2006, 2015). ‘To call something complex’, as Mittell observes (2013, 46), ‘is to highlight its sophistication and nuance, suggesting that it presents a vision of the world that avoids being reductive or artificially simplistic, but that grows richer through sustained engagement and consideration’. ‘Narrative complexity’ is found in strategies involving experimentation with form, modality, perspective, and/or reflexivity, including what Mittell (2006, 35) calls ‘operational reflexivity’, in acknowledgment of the use of spectacle to invite audience appreciation of a text’s construction. These elements of narrative complexity can be found in many forms of TV fiction, from hour-long drama series and serials to half-hour situationbased comedies. Important in facilitating narrative complexity, however, are first a network tolerance for risk-taking and a measure of autonomy for drama creators, and second, a single-camera mode of production and budgets that allow for relatively ambitious mise-en-scène, cinematography, and/or editing than might otherwise be possible. Throughout TV history, these opportunities have been more consistently available to primetime dramas produced at the high-end extreme of the investment spectrum. Although the strategic importance of ‘procedural’ crime and medical series has earned them some of these opportunities, the above facets have gained maximum potential in high-end drama serials. High-end serials combine limited duration ‘mini-series’ like Band of Brothers (HBO, 2001) and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (BBC, 2015) with long-format serials, as exemplified by Lost (ABC, 2004–2010), and The Fall (BBC/RTÉ, 2013–2016). Already distinguished from other TV dramas by their ‘prestige’ function and time-slots, high-end serials have derived opportunities for conceptual experimentation and aesthetic ambition from their higher



production budgets and more limited number of episodes than most other TV dramas. These features are exemplified by Band of Brothers, whose visual style is directly comparable with that of feature film Saving Private Ryan, its 10 episodes averaging $US12 million each, roughly ten times the episode cost for other TV dramas produced at this time (Creeber 2013, 94–95). High-end serials are distinguished within TV drama by their tendency to tell a complete story, the ‘overarching story’, from beginning to end. As its label indicates, this ‘overarching story’ spans all episodes of the show and receives more emphasis than any other story strand. Because both the overarching and lesser stories are delivered incrementally, the episodes of a high-end serial are interdependent, must be viewed in strict order, and audience knowledge of the narrative past is vital to the interpretation of new events. In high-end serials, the larger category within which ‘complex serials’ can be located, it is possible for a single character to dominate this overarching story, core characters are less interchangeable than is possible in other long-format dramas, and the idiosyncrasies of these characters can be more fully fleshed out by writers. In the serial’s narrative context of progression and change, characters remember their history which has repercussions in the narrative present. Defining ‘complex seriality’ (Dunleavy 2018, 105), I foregrounded its deployment of serial form over successive seasons of episodes, a structure in which complexity is accrued in the context of a considerably larger narrative canvas than is possible for other forms of high-end serial, emphatically the mini-series. Within this structure, I identified a set of six narrative characteristics which work together to enhance complexity and constitute ‘complex seriality’. This chapter takes three of these complex serial characteristics and examines their respective contributions to the allure and success of Mad Men. The first is conceptual originality, a consequence not only of the use of subjects and settings without obvious precedent in television, but also of the pursuit of a particular ‘point of view’ on these (Albrecht cited in Johnson 2003). Second is a far closer integration between the predicament of primary characters and the progression of the overarching story than is possible for other long-format TV dramas, indicatively for ‘procedural’ series. Third is the ongoing psychological investigation of morally conflicted, usually transgressive, primary characters, this enabling an unusual level of moral complexity in the context of its development over multiple seasons. ‘Complex seriality’ is a shared feature of such influential Americanproduced TV serials as The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, Boardwalk



Empire, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Stranger Things . Common to these programmes, and somewhat revealing of the continuing constraints on the types of show that still dominate the hour-long dramas created for American broadcast television, is that all of them were commissioned by non-broadcast providers, initially by ambitious cable networks (see Lotz 2007b) and now by additional Internet-distributed networks (see Lotz 2017). These examples not only highlight a tendency for non-broadcast networks to commission high-end drama in serial form, but also testify to the willingness of their host networks (HBO, AMC, Showtime, and Netflix) to take risks with drama concept design, characterization, and narrative structure. The ability of non-broadcast networks to make serial drama profitable derives from the ‘first order commodity’ relationship (Nienhaus cited in Rogers et al. 2002, 46) which, as optional services, its networks cultivate with their audiences. For American subscription-funded networks, both cable and Internet-only, this relationship is explicit in the viewer’s payment of a monthly subscription. For American ‘basic’ cable networks, whose income combines advertising revenue with monthly ‘per-subscription’ fees charged to cable system operators for carrying its channels (Mullen 2003, 112), there is an accountability to viewers in the offer of shows with the capacity to increase the network’s attractiveness to cable system operators and, as it does so, to maximize the ‘per-sub’ fee incomes that basic cable networks receive. As an influential and long-running example of complex serial drama, Mad Men provides an ideal vehicle through which to investigate the contributions of the above three characteristics and show how ‘complex seriality’ is achieved through their combination, a process that begins with concept design.

Conceptual Originality and Drama with a Point of View Interviewed in 2003 as HBO’s CEO, Chris Albrecht registered the importance of creating drama with a point of view, which to him was not about the ‘adult’ content that is available to cable shows, but rather about ‘the essence’ of its concept. As Albrecht explained, What filmmakers or truly talented people usually have is a point of view about something… Broadcast networks in particular tend to flatten out points of view, because these points of view are opinion and opinions might offend



certain people. [Broadcasters] don’t want to do that because they are in the business of not offending anybody. (cited in Johnson 2003)

The conception of drama that entails the use of a subject and/or setting without obvious precedent in television, this underscored by the adoption of a specific viewpoint on the chosen subject, has been a successful strategy for several other cable networks (including FX, Cinemax, Starz, and A&E) since 2000. More recently, the drama commissions of Internet-distributed networks (notably Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus) have included high-end serials that achieve a sense of novelty through the application of much the same strategy to drama concept design. Mad Men achieves a distinctive point of view through its deployment and critique of nostalgia. It appeals to a popular nostalgia for the 1960s through meticulous attention to period verisimilitude, including periodstyled clothing and décor, popular music, and a society unusually tolerant of smoking and drinking. But simultaneously Mad Men critiques nostalgia for the 1960s by adopting the kind of revisionist perspective which contrasts with depictions of this decade in earlier screen fiction by focusing on social prejudices and inequities. Piquing Weiner’s interest in the 1960s was its importance as a formative decade for the ‘baby boomer’ generation, those born between 1946 and 1964 (Brancato 2008, 38). But as someone born in 1965, Weiner was too young to remember the 1960s first-hand, a point of contrast with Sally Draper. The fictional Sally (born 1954) is eleven years older than Weiner, which means that she is positioned for a perspective on the 1960s that is informed by direct experience. Mad Men’s critique of the 1960s and thus of nostalgia for this era is achieved through its drawing of contrasts between how its characters perceive their own society and behaviour and the ways in which a twenty-firstcentury audience—whose social and moral judgements have been comprehensively revised by ‘political correctness’—are expected to react. We see such contrasts operating through successive scenes in ‘Ladies Room’ (1:2), an episode in which Betty interacts with the then very young Draper children. Although concerned that Sally and her young guest will leave a mess in the bedroom in which they’re playing ‘Spaceman’, Betty seems almost oblivious to the dangers of the plastic dry-cleaning bag that Sally wears over her head. When Betty drives her car with Sally and Bobby in the bench-style back seat, the camera focuses on how freely the children can roam within the moving vehicle because they are not wearing seat belts.



Mad Men’s parade of politically incorrect adult characters, as Gary Edgerton (2011) highlights, is the same age as the parents and grandparents of its adult target audience, a situation in which Mad Men’s children figure as diegetic witnesses of what the show’s adult characters did when they were ‘us’. Of these, Sally Draper, Mad Men’s foremost child character, is all-important. As Beail and Goren (2015, 24) observe, Sally is ‘the most important “eye”– and “I” – in Mad Men’ because she ‘belongs to [a generation of] watchful if uncomprehending children, rather than to the badly behaved and often caricatured adults’ (ibid.). As such, Sally is also the character most representative of the revisionist twenty-first-century perspective from which Mad Men looks back at the 1960s America. Mad Men uses its setting in the same historical moment as the emergence of second-wave feminism to mount a notable critique of the continuing subordination of working women. In ‘The Other Woman’ (5:11), Peggy and Joan both confront serious problems arising from this. For Peggy, it is the failure of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce (SCDP) to promote her, as they would a man with her talent. For Joan, a long-serving and married employee, the conflict is initiated by an indecent request from Jaguar senior executive, Herb Rennet, who tells Peter Campbell that a night with Joan, if this can be arranged, will turn a possible failure for SCDP in securing the Jaguar account into a likely success. Echoing the assumptions behind Rennet’s indecent request, the Jaguar pitch asserts that even if it’s expensive, the purchase of a beautiful car returns greater value for the financial outlay than the acquisition of a beautiful woman, because a man can ‘really own’ a Jaguar car. Mad Men’s use of the Jaguar story to mount its most scathing criticism of the subordination of working women, gains force from the intercutting of two scenes—one in which Don delivers the Jaguar pitch and the other depicting Joan’s encounter with Rennet—that take place some 12 hours apart. It is here that we see how the feature that Barrette and Picard (2014) identify as ‘second-degree style’ can operate as a form of critical commentary. Crucial to this effect, as they argue (2014, 125), is that this self-reflexive, unusually ‘enunciative’ style ‘interposes a gaze between reality and the audience in order to change both attitudes and form’. The intercutting of Joan’s powerlessness and distress as Rennet lurks behind her with the objectification of women that seems crucial to the appeal of Don’s pitch to an all-male Jaguar team, exemplifies the capacities of ‘second-degree style’ to resent conflicting perspectives which effect and articulate a critical commentary. In this instance, a critical gaze is inserted ‘between reality and the audience’ through the intercutting and juxtaposition of temporally separate yet causally related events and scenes.



The Integration of Central Characters and Overarching Story Exploring one distinction in the group of cable dramas that she called ‘malecentred serials’, Amanda Lotz (2014) observes that the ‘centredness’ of an individual male character in these dramas is so prominent that these dramas are ‘essentially about’ this character, a feature that ‘enables a particular type of narrative’ in which it is possible to explore ‘the entirety’ of his life in both ‘personal and professional spheres’ (Lotz 2014, 55). If we focus more narrowly on complex serials, however, what we see is not so much a drama form that tells the story of one character, but rather one whose concept design entails an unusually close integration between a show’s overarching story and the defining conflict for the character/s at the forefront of this story. Mad Men, for example, even though it is about the work of advertising executives, was conceived around just one conflicted character. When asked about how he arrived at the concept for Mad Men, Matthew Weiner explained: I start with me, like any writer. I start with what I’m feeling, what I identify with… [L]ike Don, I’m trying to hold on to what I have. He invented himself. He is always going to be presenting something to the outside world that’s not who he is. You don’t have to be from his background to understand that. In fact, all you have to do, really, is to have any success at all and you immediately feel like a fraud, most of us, right? (cited in Handy 2009)

A second feature of ‘complex seriality’, as we see in Mad Men, is this close integration between overarching story and foremost character/s. A point of difference between complex serials and conventional long-format dramas, this level of integration between character and story suggests that ‘complex seriality’ begins with the conception of a conflicted character rather than the conception of situations of conflict (such as police stations, hospitals, law firms) that characters are subsequently created to inhabit. This type of integration is distinctive within TV fiction because it entails a degree of fusion between characters and concept that makes it possible for primary characters to actually embody the tensions of the overarching story. At the centre of Mad Men is the enigmatic yet morally flawed Don Draper, who has suppressed his real identity (as Dick Whitman) and reinvented himself for a chance at success. Although it is partly because his own reinvention was so radical that he is so successful at finding ways to reinvent



consumer products, Don Draper is a troubled, anxious man in constant fear that his secret identity will be exposed. The story of Don Draper, Mad Men’s overarching story, unfolds by placing him in the context of a Madison Avenue advertising agency, initially Sterling Cooper (SC) and finally Sterling Cooper and Partners (SCAP). Although its story extends into the 1970s, Mad Men’s narrative focus is the 1960s, the first decade in which there is finally a TV set in the majority of American homes. With their work intensified by the pervasive cultural influence of television in an ‘era of scarcity’ for this medium (Ellis 2000), Mad Men’s advertising executives aim to re-envisage consumer items so as to transform them from the nonessential objects they are into must-have commodities. In the pilot episode, for example, SC seeks a way to market Lucky Strike cigarettes despite new evidence that smoking is a health hazard. Don’s response to this, as Lilly Goren observes (2015, 43), is to ascribe a new value to the now discredited cigarette. He achieves this by convincing Lucky Strike executives ‘that what they are selling is not a cigarette’ but rather ‘happiness’ (ibid.) Having successfully reinvented himself, Dick Whitman/Don Draper is the personification of what a successful advertising campaign can achieve. As David Marc (2011, 232) so eloquently puts it, ‘Dick Whitman-as-Don Draper is a life as an advertising campaign: a child spawned in the lost America of love [who] drapes himself in the trappings of a gentleman to sell himself to the world’. Such close integration between overarching story and central character means that Dick Whitman/Don Draper, while he is also a character, also transcends the usual functions of TV drama characters, even lead characters. As such Don Draper/Dick Whitman is central to progressing Mad Men’s larger thematic interest in differences between appearance and reality. It is this larger interest that is foregrounded in Bruce Handy’s (2009) assessment of Mad Men as a ‘moving and sometimes profound meditation on the deceptive allure of surface, and on the deeper mysteries of identity’. Although other core characters and the daily work of advertising executives combine to give this mediation a wider context and significance, it is through the integration of overarching story with primary character that Dick Whitman/Don Draper functions as the embodiment of Mad Men’s ongoing fascination with the difference between what is on the surface (how things appear to be) and what lies beneath (how things really are).



The Psychological Investigation of Character A third characteristic of ‘complex seriality’ is the in-depth and ongoing psychological investigation of character, a feature that gains impetus from the narrative prominence of what is often one character, from the transgressive tendencies of lead characters in complex serials, and from the integration between central character and overarching story discussed above. Emphatically in serials in which one character fulfils all of these roles, as is the case in Mad Men, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, and Dexter, there is a necessity for audiences to understand a character’s motivations by getting ‘inside their heads’ so as to reveal their psychological state; their ‘inner life’, as Denis Potter termed it (Cook 1998, 30). In complex serials, there are three key strategies for psychological investigation. One is the use of dream sequences, subjective camerawork, and/or hostile landscapes, each which can achieve ‘psychological realism’ through its capacity to externalize a character’s internal struggle to deal with circumstances beyond his control. Another is the incorporation of extra-diegetic voice-over to allow a character’s thoughts and omniscient insights to be directly shared with the audience. A third is flashbacks and, more rarely, flashforwards, which, as departures from chronology and linear storytelling, contribute to narrative complexity and inform character motivation in the present. Flashbacks have been vital to those complex serials whose narrative gives primacy to one character. In these cases, flashbacks are not used to nuance the understanding of characters, as they might be in a conventional drama, but are instead integral to the psychological revelation of character. In view of this function, complex serials use flashbacks as narrative ‘kernels’, or pivotal events that advance and shape the main story, rather than as ‘satellites’, or lesser events which fill in and regulate the gaps between pivotal developments (see Chatman 1978, 53–54). In complex serials, these flashbacks are usually delivered out of chronological order and are deliberately fragmented and dispersed throughout the narrative, these tactics underlining that their purpose is psychological revelation rather than narrative progression. While the ‘inner life’ of complex serial characters is only available to viewers who register and remember all of the contributing narrative kernels, flashbacks contribute to narrative complexity at the level of the episode by endowing developments in the narrative present with a deeper meaning. Although other characters are subject to investigation, Mad Men gives narrative emphasis to the psychological probing of Dick Whitman/Don Draper, an investigation which bookends the serial itself. In ‘Smoke Gets



in Your Eyes’ (1:1), Don Draper denies the existence of romantic love, telling Rachel Mencken ‘What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons’. But it is not until the end of ‘Person to Person’ (7:14) that it is possible to fully understand why Don is so convinced that ‘love doesn’t exist’. What happens between these two points is that the ‘inner life’ of this foremost Mad Men character, the confident, charismatic ‘Don Draper’ on the surface and the rejected, frightened Dick Whitman deeper down, is gradually revealed. In Mad Men, two ongoing strands effect this psychological investigation. One, unfolding as the linear narrative, is the story of Don Draper, a man valued for his creative genius but undermined by his alcoholism and infidelity. In this strand, Don Draper interacts with two important figures from his past, Adam Whitman and Anna Draper. The other, a strand that is narrated in flashbacks, profiles Dick Whitman, former soldier, furrier, car salesman, and unloved ‘whore’s child’. Two examples demonstrate how these interlinked strands reveal Don’s psychological ‘inner life’. The first occurs in ‘The Gypsy and the Hobo’ (3:11), when Betty discovers the box of photos that reveals ‘Don Draper’ to be an assumed identity. Demanding that Don open the box and explain its contents, Betty is more assertive and Don more submissive than either of them have been up to this point. As Don tells Betty some details as to how Dick Whitman became Don Draper, viewers see and hear the suppressed Dick Whitman. As this scene shows, this suppressed identity is a striking contrast with the confident, decisive, and persuasive Don Draper. Although equally articulate, Dick Whitman is hesitant, ashamed, and terrified, an adult version of the rejected child whose experience is revealed in successive flashback scenes. Key flashback kernels are offered in ‘Babylon’ (1:6), which introduces Uncle Mack, the brothel, and Abigail Whitman, who gives birth to Adam, Don’s half-brother; in ‘The Hobo Code’ (1:8), where desperate poverty and alcoholism are seen to cause the death of Archie Whitman; in ‘Nixon Versus Kennedy’ (1:12) whose flashback scenes reveal Dick Whitman’s actions on a Korean battlefield, which saw him return as Lt. Don Draper; in ‘The Gold Violin’ (2:7) in which used-car salesman Don Draper is suddenly confronted by Anna Draper; and in ‘The Mountain King’ (2:12) which establishes the genuine relationship that Don develops with Anna. Accordingly, the account that Don gives Betty in ‘The Gypsy and the Hobo’ serves two purposes. Not only does it extend what viewers already know to include Betty, precipitating her decision to divorce her husband, but it also coheres a historical narrative for Don/Dick by recounting information



that was offered earlier, though only in disparate episodes and disconnected narrative kernels. The second example is from ‘In Care Of’ (6:13) the episode whose pitch to Hershey’s executives occasions an unprecedented public meltdown for Don Draper. The disastrous Hershey’s pitch is the climactic point for a series of mistakes by Don in this season, as a result of which his anxiety and drinking increases, his resilience is reduced, and his childhood consumption returns. The trigger for this downward spiral is the abrupt end of Don’s affair with neighbour, Sylvia Rosen, in ‘Man with a Plan’ (6:7). Although Don is genuinely in love with Sylvia, she is terrified by his obsessive urge to control her, which culminates in his locking her in a hotel room. It is not until the next episode, ‘The Crash’ (6:8), that Don’s destructive desire to dominate women, whatever the emotional cost, is finally contextualized via a flashback to his boyhood as Dick Whitman. Weak with consumption, the teenaged Dick is raped by Aimee, one of Uncle Mack’s prostitutes. Still devastated by the loss of Sylvia in ‘Favors’ (6:11), Don attempts to entice Sylvia back by securing a way for her son, Mitchell, to avoid the draft. But things unravel still further for Don, when Sally enters the Rosen apartment and discovers her father, trousers down, ‘comforting Mrs Rosen’ as he later explains it to her. Sally’s subsequent withdrawal from her father and drunken exploits at boarding school unnerve Don into imagining that she’s inherited the ‘Whitman family curse’ (Seitz 2015, 347). It’s the terror of this that sees Don make the rash decision to give up drinking in the hours leading up to the Hershey’s pitch (6:13) a meeting during which, as close-ups of his trembling fingers emphasise, he is suffering alcohol withdrawal. As a scene emblematic of Mad Men’s fascination with ‘the deceptive allure of surface’ and the ‘deeper mysteries of identity’ (Handy 2009), Don opens the allimportant pitch with his customary salesman’s confidence, asserting that Hershey’s ‘relationship with America is so overwhelmingly positive that everyone in this room has their own story to tell’. He begins with the kind of idealized childhood experience that he thinks will ingratiate him with the Hershey’s team. But the response of one Hershey’s executive, ‘Weren’t you a lucky little boy’, proves too much in view of the neglect and abuse that blighted Don’s youth as Dick Whitman. Compelled to deconstruct the mythology he has built around himself professionally and cognizant of the possible impacts, Don relates the memory of Hershey bars that he stored up as Dick Whitman, an unloved, brothel-raised boy. He recounts his friendship with a prostitute who bought him the occasional Hershey’s bar



to reward him for the money he stole from the pockets of her clients ‘while they screwed’. Although Mad Men investigates other core characters through its seven seasons, the most confronting are the two strands in which the ‘inner life’ of Don Draper is excavated, unearthed, and dragged reluctantly to the narrative surface. While this process begins in the first season, in the form of a yawning contradiction between two seemingly irreconcilable identities for Jon Hamm’s character, it concludes with something akin to their integration in the ultimate episode, whose title ‘Person to Person’ references something deeper than the long-distance calls Don makes in this episode. ‘Person to Person’, a title whose double meaning follows the pattern of others in Mad Men, also seems to reference the alignment of Don Draper with Dick Whitman, the former’s reconciliation with the latter (Seitz 2015, 421).

Conclusions This chapter has investigated Mad Men, a drama that exemplifies the complex serial form that emerged from the original drama commissions of a group of American cable networks, of which AMC was one. Rather than being incidental to the idiosyncrasies of the complex serial form, the nonbroadcast context in which this drama first appeared can be seen to have encouraged and facilitated its distinctions from earlier American-produced long-format TV drama, with this chapter’s discussions focusing on the narrative elements involved. It is through its narrative analysis of Mad Men that this chapter demonstrates how complex serials use narrative strategies in ways that separate them not only from the ‘procedural drama series’ that has long-dominated US-produced long-format broadcast drama but also from earlier high-end serial forms, notably the mislabelled ‘mini-series’. This case study of Mad Men suggests that the narrative distinctions of complex serial drama are not to be found in any specific use of episode ‘architecture’ (see Smith 2011), nor in any consistent approach to the deployment of ‘beats’ and ‘arcs’ (see Newman 2006), all of these elements being broadly characteristic of narrative development in long-format TV drama, even if used with some variation between ‘series’ and ‘serial’ forms as well as within different sub-genres. What does distinguish both Mad Men and the complex serial form that it exemplifies is the use of ‘complex seriality’. While narrative complexity involves a larger range of tele-fiction forms, features, and strategies (see Mittell 2006, 2013, 2015), this chapter has examined



the three that it sees as key markers of ‘complex seriality’, identifying these as: conceptual originality, augmented by the pursuit of a particular point of view on the chosen subject; the close integration of overarching story and primary character, a capacity facilitated by the use of serial form; and the ongoing psychological investigation of morally conflicted, usually transgressive, primary characters, a process that achieves and accrues unusual complexity from its development over multiple seasons. When used in combination, as they are in Mad Men, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, and Breaking Bad, among other examples, these three characteristics effect ‘complex seriality’. As a rare TV drama to be located in the world of advertising, Mad Men exemplifies conceptual originality, important to which is not only that the chosen subject is new to American TV drama but also that it entails the pursuit of a particular ‘point of view’ on this subject. As a drama not only set in 1960s America, but also self-aware of the cultural power of television in an era of ‘scarcity’ (Ellis 2000), Mad Men trains a revisionist gaze upon era-specific social and cultural norms, this allowing its episodes to critique America’s experience of the 1960s. In consequence, Mad Men re-envisions this era of American history, the colder eye of its most socially critical stories and scenes effecting the deconstruction and re-evaluation of popular nostalgia for the 1960s. As a TV drama that consistently probes the differences between what is on the surface and what lies beneath, Mad Men subjects Draper/Whitman to an in-depth psychological investigation whose ‘arc of development’ bookends the serial itself. As such, Mad Men demonstrates the pivotal contribution of sustained psychological investigation to the ability of complex serial dramas to consistently foreground morally conflicted and transgressive characters, a facet assisted by the content liberties of their nonbroadcast platform but otherwise facilitated by the use of serial form. Such characters have gained this unprecedented narrative profile not just from the appetite for risk-taking that has marked the drama commissions of ambitious non-broadcast American networks in the last two decades, but also from the complex serial’s capacity to undertake and sustain the kind of in-depth approach to the investigation and revelation of primary characters that allows their individual conflicts and transgressions to be fully developed and better understood. Perhaps the most revolutionary element of ‘complex seriality’, because it generates the narrative context for the other two characteristics discussed here, is the integration of the serial’s overarching story with the



moral predicament of its foremost character. Long-format TV dramas have conventionally been conceived around situations of conflict—an approach responsible for the lengthy predominance of institution-based ‘procedurals’ in the history of American TV drama (this including a succession of AQD examples). In contrast, as Mad Men demonstrates, the conception of a complex serial drama begins with the creation of a morally conflicted, potentially criminal, and primary character. In this way, primary characters in complex serials are devised not to serve situations of conflict but rather to operate as individual sites of conflict, exemplified in Mad Men by the enigma of Dick Whitman/Don Draper. The consequence of this integration of story and primary character in Mad Men is that Draper/Whitman’s significance extends beyond the conventions for TV drama characterization because he embodies Mad Men’s thematic preoccupation with the differences between ‘surface’ and concealed realities.

Bibliography Barrette, Pierre, and Yves Picard. 2014. Breaking the Waves. In Breaking Bad: Critical Essays on the Contexts, Politics, Style and Reception of the Television Series, ed. David P. Pierson, chapter 7. Lanham: Lexington Books. Beail, Linda, and Lilly J. Goren. 2015. Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of America. In Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern AmericaLilly, ed. J. Goren and Linda Beail, chapter 1. New York: Bloomsbury. Brancato, Chris. 2008. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Men World. The Journal of the Writer’s Guild of America (February/March). Chatman, Seymour. 1978. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. London and New York: Methuen. Cook, John. 1998. Dennis Potter: A Life on Screen, 2nd ed. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. Creeber, G. 2013. Small Screen Aesthetics: From Television to the Internet. Bloomsbury Academic. Dunleavy, Trisha. 2018. Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television. New York: Routledge. Edgerton, Gary R. 2011. When Our Parents Became Us. In Mad Men: Dream Come True TV, ed. Gary. R Edgerton, introduction. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. Ellis, John. 2000. Seeing Things: Television in the Era of Uncertainty. London: I.B. Tauris. Goren, Lilly J. 2015. If You Don’t Like What They Are Saying, Change the Conversation: The Grifter, Don Draper, and the Iconic American Hero. In Mad



Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America, ed. Lilly J. Goren and Linda Beail, chapter 2. New York: Bloomsbury. Handy, Bruce. 2009. Don and Betty’s Paradise Lost. Vanity Fair 51 (9). http:// Johnson, Ted. 2003. Great Expectations. Variety, August 24. 2003/scene/markets-festivals/great-expectations. Lotz, Amanda D. 2007a. The Television Will Be Revolutionised. New York and London: New York University Press. ———. 2007b. If It’s Not TV, What Is It? The Case of U.S. Subscription Television. In Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting, ed. Sarah Banet-Weiser, Cynthia Chris, and Anthony Freitas, chapter 4, 85–102. New York: New York University Press. ———. 2014. Cable Guys: Television and Masculinity in the 21st Century. New York: New York University Press. ———. 2017. Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television. Michigan: Maize Books. Marc, David. 2011. Mad Men: A Roots Tale of the information Age. In Mad Men: Dream Come True TV, ed. Gary R. Edgerton, chapter 15. London and New York: I.B Tauris. Martin, Brett. 2013. Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution from The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad. New York: Penguin Press. Mittell, Jason. 2006. Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television. The Velvet Light Trap 58 (Fall): 29–40. ———. 2013. Vast Versus Dense Seriality in Contemporary Television. In Television Aesthetics and Style, ed. Jason Jacobs and Steven Peacock, chapter 2, 45–56. New York and London: Bloomsbury. ———. 2015. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York and London: New York University Press. Mullen, Megan. 2003. The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Revolution or Evolution?. Austin: University of Texas Press. Newman, Michael. 2006. From Beats to Arcs: Toward a Poetics of Television Narrative. The Velvet Light Trap 58 (Fall): 16–28. Rogers, Mark C., Michael Epstein, and Jimmie L. Reeves. 2002. The Sopranos as HBO Brand Equity: The Art of Commerce in an Age of Digital Reproduction. In This Thing of Ours: Investigating The Sopranos, ed. David Lavery, chapter 6. New York: Wallflower Press and Columbia University Press. Seitz, Matt Zoller. 2015. Mad Men Carousel. New York: Abrams. Smith, Anthony N. 2011. TV or Not TV? The Sopranos and Contemporary Episode Architecture in US Network and Premium Cable Drama. Critical Studies in Television 6 (1): 36–51.



Thompson, Robert J. 1996. From Hill Street Blues to ER: Television’s Second Golden Age. New York: Syracuse University Press. ———. 2007. Preface. In Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond, ed. Janet McCabe and Kim Akass, xvii–xx. London and New York: I.B. Tauris.


Gender and Race: The Complex Management of Power

The Depiction of the Civil Rights Movement on Mad Men Rod Carveth

Capturing an Era In his review of Mad Men, Time magazine editor James Poniewozik describes how showrunner Matt Weiner went to great lengths in making sure that the series was historically accurate, down to the smallest details. Typewritten pages were actually typewritten, not produced by a computer. Homes were shown with items from other eras because people keep family heirlooms and don’t buy new furniture every year. Weiner also made sure the fruit in fruit bowls was small, as fruit is much larger in the twenty-first century (Poniewozik). Even though Weiner was dedicated to capturing the look of the era the series covers, Mad Men fails to deal with the institutionalized apartheid in the industry at the time and does little better in developing fully realized black characters. Perhaps this is because Mad Men is less a show about the advertising industry in the early-mid 1960s, and more a show about Don Draper and the middle- to upper-class white Americans living and working around Manhattan with whom he interacts. In the 1960s, the people living in Don’s world would best reflect Ralph

R. Carveth (B) School of Global Journalism and Communication, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




Ellison’s observation on being a black man during that era: ‘I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me’. Unless issues of race are thrust upon them, either because of a client’s image problem in the South or being confronted by a black mugger, African Americans are invisible to them. For example, in the episode entitled ‘The Fog’ (3.5), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) is stunned while reviewing research for a meeting with the Admiral TV people. ‘Atlanta, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, D.C.…Is it possible that Negroes are out-buying other people 2 to 1?’, he asks incredulously. To validate his interpretation of the research reports, Pete asks Hollis (LaMonde Byrd), the black elevator operator, probing but unsophisticated questions about the shopping preferences of ‘Negroes’. Because he doesn’t want to get into trouble for speaking freely with one of the white elevator riders, Hollis is reluctant to say anything. Even when Pete assures Hollis it’s OK to talk to him, Hollis is not particularly helpful about the TV buying habits of African Americans. He protests that he really doesn’t even watch TV. When Pete asks him why he doesn’t, Hollis responds, ‘Why should I? We’ve got bigger problems to worry about than TV, O.K.?’ Pete appears baffled by the response, having no reference point for being raised an African American. Pete is further stunned when he brings a proposal to Admiral that they market their Admiral TVs to African Americans. They reject the proposal out of hand. They claim it would be bad for business. Pete again doesn’t appear to understand. He sees the ‘Negro market’ as an opportunity to make money. The client sees the Negro market as a segment made up of second-class citizens who will ultimately hurt its brand. This scene demonstrates the verisimilitude of Mad Men when it comes to race relations in the 1960s. Minorities live in the world of Pete Campbell, Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm), but the latter do not understand them as people, and they certainly do not understand their issues. Mad Men portrays the racial discord emerging outside the offices of Sterling Cooper as something occurring primarily in a South where the tradition of Jim Crow still prevails—in culture, if not in laws. The TV news events that the folks at Sterling Cooper see, such as the murders of the Freedom Riders, occur in the South, far away from the more ‘enlightened’ North. For them, racism is far worse in the South than it is in the North. Yet in the 1960s racial strife was not confined to states south of the Mason-Dixon line. Race riots broke out in Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC, and San Francisco. In Mad Men, Northern racism consists simply of



rude comments and a failure to see blacks as equal to whites. The folks at Sterling Cooper do not see the reality of blacks being harassed for simply being in the wrong place after dark, or whites arbitrarily and capriciously venting their anger on blacks in subordinate positions. As seen throughout the series, the societal changes occurring in 1960s and early 1970s America were often ‘white noise’ for the ‘mad men’ at Sterling Cooper (and the agency’s various incarnations), who were seemingly impervious to the paradigm shift in race relations occurring around them. At Sterling Cooper, there was a world inside, where issues of race did not matter, at first because there were no African Americans in their agency, and later, when there were, the African Americans were secretaries, lacking any power or significance. But there was also a world outside. While we saw flashes within Sterling Cooper of an outside world changing (dress, hair, smoking pot), the major issues of the world (the Kennedy and King assassinations, the women’s movement, Vietnam and especially civil rights) rarely intruded. This chapter discusses the disconnect between the world inside and the world outside Sterling Cooper, such that we see the characters and business practices within Sterling Cooper evolve while apparently little touched by one of the most tumultuous times of change in US history. Employing Critical Race Theory (CRT), this chapter examines how the Civil Rights Movement is portrayed in Mad Men during its seven-season run both within and outside the agency.

CRT: A Brief Overview CRT arose out of a movement of left-leaning legal scholars on race and racism. The ground-breaking work of these legal theorists, led by Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell, transformed into a broader body of work from a diverse disciplinary range of authors. Drawing from its origins in legal studies, the CRT movement inspired scholars in education, history, literature and the social sciences to re-examine conventional interpretations of race and racism. Furthermore, CRT has proliferated into many ethnic sub-disciplines, each emphasizing different issues. These perspectives complement CRT’s critique of the dominant civil rights paradigm, a discourse often framed in the binary terms of black and white. Jeanette Haynes suggested that CRT has two major goals: to understand how white supremacy and the suppression of people of colour have been established and sustained; and to explore how racialized structures



are created and maintained in order to eventually overcome them (Haynes 1997). Towards that end, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic define four core beliefs of CRT: (1) racism is considered an ordinary part of everyday life in American culture; (2) the American Civil Rights Movement and anti-discrimination laws are based upon the self-interest of white elitists; (3) race is a social construction that is the product of social interactions, social thought and political relations, and (4) storytelling can be used to highlight and examine racially oppressed encounters, with the goal that all forms of oppression will be eradicated as racial injustice is abolished, and as the power and influence of race is dismantled (Delgado and Stefancic 2001). This storytelling is used to combat differential racialization; differential racialization is an ideology of the dominant society that defines the racial characteristics of minority groups in response to its own hegemonic shifting needs. This notion highlights how the process of creating racial categories reflects the interests of the majority group (which, may converge with particular minority group interests at certain times). Gloria Ladson-Billings proposes that storytelling enables a society to reinforce what is normative in the culture. In contemporary US society, television is still the dominant form of storytelling. Television viewers are exposed to messages that dictate the dominant view of appropriate, or inappropriate, values and behaviours in society. Through these images, the social realities of viewers are influenced to varying degrees. The key for CRT, then, is to critically examine those stories to determine what they say about the experiences of the oppressed in society, as well as about the structures that maintain a society’s power relations. Understanding how those stories function becomes a major step in being able to work towards dismantling those structures. CRT aims ultimately to expose and challenge the marginalization of the racially oppressed (Ladson-Billings 1998, 2000; Ladson-Billings and Tate 1995).

Race and Mad Men Race in Mad Men plays out in three ways: everyday interactions of the main characters with African Americans, SCDP’s (hereinafter used to refer to the agency) dealings with the Negro market, and episodes when the Civil Rights Movement becomes part of the storyline.



Everyday Interactions The portrayal of black characters on Mad Men is largely one-dimensional. The early recurring black characters are Carla (Deborah Lacey), the Drapers’ maid, and Hollis, the elevator operator. They are usually limited to a few lines of dialogue and seem to lack any identifiable faults. They are represented as characters who do their jobs and know their place, serving and suffering in silence. Black characters also lack backstories on Mad Men, perhaps reflecting the one-dimensional way in which the show’s major characters view them. The viewers are not even provided with the full names of Carla and Hollis. These characters are stripped of their own narratives. So, in Season 1, African Americans are occasionally seen, but rarely heard. For example, Carla, the Drapers’ maid, not only cleans the house and does the cooking, but also often babysits the Draper children. Yet she is portrayed as doing so quietly. By Season 2, however, the events of the 1960s begin to have an influence on the all-white world of Sterling Cooper. By the episode, ‘Six Month Leave’ (2.9), the virtual invisibility and silence of African Americans begin to dissolve as Hollis and Carla have significant speaking lines, which symbolically elevate their importance in the narrative. In the next episode, ‘The Inheritance’ (2.10) Viola (Aloma Wright), the maid working for Betty’s (January Jones) father Gene (Ryan Cutrona) who had cared for Betty as a child, calmly fends off Betty’s anger at her father’s declining health (‘You wanna give me your temper?’), then provides Betty with comfort (‘The minute you leave, you’ll remember him as he used to be. It’s all good outside that door.’). In this interaction, Viola is acting as a surrogate mother, keeping boundaries on Betty in the first instance, while comforting her in the second. Then there is the character Sheila White (Donielle Artese), Paul Kinsey’s (Michael Gladis) African American girlfriend, seen primarily in ‘The Inheritance’ (2.10). As much as Paul may think he is liberated, when Sheila protests Paul’s attempt to back out of visiting Mississippi to register black voters, Paul orders her not to speak about this issue at the office. In effect, Paul silences Sheila in much the same way other black characters on Mad Men are rendered silent. While the character gives the show an opportunity to explore biracial romance, Sheila is merely a plot device, functioning to show Paul’s vision of himself as a rebel, rather than engaging with her world. As Joan (Christina Hendricks) observes, Paul is ‘falling in love with that girl just to show how interesting [he is]’.



In terms of CRT, the portrayal of blacks on Mad Men best illustrates the tenet of differential racialization. Black characters on the show are there to support white characters, not to challenge their privileged positions. For example, in ‘Six Month Leave’ Carla begins to offer marital advice to her employer, Betty. Betty will have none of it: ‘This is not a conversation I am going to have with you’. In other words, stay in your place; you are black and thereby subordinate to me in terms of societal power. In the same episode, Hollis laments the death of Marilyn Monroe to elevator passengers Don and Peggy: ‘You hear about Marilyn? Poor thing’. Hollis not only knows that Don and Peggy are part of the dominant white culture that has lost one of its icons, but also relates to Marilyn being a victim of the male power structure of Hollywood. Peggy then observes, ‘You just don’t imagine her ever being alone. She was so famous’. Hollis replies, ‘Some people just hide in plain sight’. Hollis should know; he’s been hiding in plain sight of the people of Sterling Cooper for a number of years. Yet, while Hollis can talk to his white riders about the death of Marilyn Monroe, he is silent when black civil rights icon Medgar Evers is assassinated. Maybe Hollis knows that his riders will be disinterested, or even offended, if he mentions Evers’ passing. Or maybe it is this: race is a social construction, a product of social interactions, social thought and political relations (Crenshaw et al. 1996). If Hollis talks about Evers to others, especially those at the top of the dominant power structure, then he sees reflected back his own subordinate status. Thus, being silent on issues of race is a defence mechanism for Hollis. One of the most telling scenes of the invisibility of African American characters occurs in the ‘The Hobo Code’ (1.8). Peggy and Pete are having sex at the office early in the morning. Meanwhile, an unnamed black janitor, who has come up in the elevator with them, watches the silhouette of writhing bodies in the interior office windows. The camera lingers on the janitor’s face as his expression changes from bemusement to disdain. Peggy and Pete have forgotten that he is even in the building. In the same way that Hollis listens and rarely talks, the janitor will never say anything. For all intents and purposes, he’s invisible. The one example when an African American character pushes back against oppression occurs through Carla in Season 3’s ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ (3.3). When Betty’s dad, Gene, now living with the Drapers, thinks someone has stolen five dollars from him, Carla tears apart his room looking for the missing money. The following conversation takes place:



Gene: Now you’re getting ridiculous. Carla: Maybe it fell out of your pocket. Gene: It didn’t. Carla: Well, I didn’t take it. Gene: I didn’t say you did. Carla: Not yet. Gene: Will you stop it, Viola? Carla: My name’s not Viola. It’s Carla. Gene: Do you know Viola? Viola: We don’t all know one another, Mr Hofstadt.

Thus, Carla challenges a white person twice, first in correcting him on her name (her very identity), and then pointing out that not all black people are alike, no matter what old white man Gene thinks. Of course, Gene is stroke-addled, his lack of cognitive power lowering him to Carla’s social level. SCDP and the ‘Negro’ Market Throughout the series, Pete Campbell seems more aware of his times than others at Sterling Cooper. For example, Pete alone among his fellow staffers sees the humour in the acclaimed Volkswagen ‘Lemon’ advertisement. So it’s not surprising to see Pete take a more modern approach to audience demographics in his pitch to the men from Admiral TV. He presents the sales data and proposes an innovative strategy for boosting sales: targeting blacks in black media. One example Pete puts forth is to advertise in Ebony magazine: ‘This…is Ebony. By Negroes, for Negroes’. Because the folks from Admiral fail to stop Pete in his tracks right there, Pete drops the bombshell that would be a cost-saving cornerstone of the campaign: ads can feature both whites and blacks and be used for all media. This integration pitch is too much for the people from Admiral. ‘Negroes’, they assert, buy Admiral TVs because they are trying to emulate whites: ‘monkey see, monkey do’. Further, they fear that by appealing to black consumers, white consumers might be driven away. For the good folks at Admiral, blacks at best possess no original thinking skills; at worst, blacks represent a threat to business. Pete may not be a force for civil rights, but, for the higher-ups from Admiral, blacks are best when they are Invisible Men. It is bad enough for Pete that the client strongly resists the campaign. He then is roundly



criticized by both Sterling and Cooper. Cooper goes so far as to say, ‘Admiral has no interest in becoming a “colored” television company’. Still, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), the financial officer installed by Sterling Cooper’s new British parent company, Putnam, Powell and Lowe, observes that he sees an evolving attitude towards race occurring in the United States, one of which the company should take advantage, even if with another client. Thus, Lane sees what viewers already know: Pete has lost his battle, but Madison Avenue men like him will win the advertising war over time. In ‘Shut the Door, Have a Seat’ (3.13), Roger (John Slattery) and Don visit Pete at home and offer him a role at their new agency. Roger states that not only do they need Pete’s accounts, they also need his talent. ‘I want to hear it from him’, Pete insists, glaring at Don. Don concedes, ‘You’ve been ahead on a lot of things. Aeronautics, teenagers, the Negro market. We need you to keep us looking forward’. In ‘The Beautiful Girls’ (4.9), SCDP client Fillmore Auto Parts has two problems: firstly, Fillmore executives cannot decide whether to target professional or amateur mechanics with their campaign; secondly, Fillmore has a civil rights image problem due to its refusal to hire black workers in the South. The first problem is solved when everyone agrees on the concept that Fillmore Auto Parts is ‘for the mechanic in every man’. After having an argument about Fillmore Auto Parts with her boyfriend Abe (Charlie Hofheimer), Peggy thinks she can solve the second problem as well. She proposes that Harry Belafonte perform the Fillmore Auto Parts jingle, suggesting, ‘Maybe it will help them with their image in the South’. Don, while not completely rejecting the idea, observes, ‘Our job is to make men like Fillmore Auto, not Fillmore Auto like Negroes’. These two scenes demonstrate how the characters at Sterling Cooper will be forced to undergo a paradigm shift in their thinking about race, but that such acceptance will be because they are following, not leading social trends. The Civil Rights Movement and SCDP History in Mad Men is most often experienced as mass-mediated events depicted on television. For example, in the episode ‘The Grown Ups’ (3.12), the Kennedy assassination coincides with the wedding of Roger’s daughter, Margaret (Elizabeth Rice). The principals decide to go along with the wedding against their better judgment, and it turns out poorly. Few people attend, and of those that do, many sneak off to the television in



the kitchens to check on the news coverage of the event. In addition, ‘Meditations in an Emergency’ (2.13) is set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis. As the world is threatened by the game of nuclear chicken between the United States and the Soviet Union (as evidenced by snippets of TV news coverage), life at Sterling Cooper is also being threatened by a British company buying the firm. The first time that the Civil Rights Movement plays a major role at Sterling Cooper is the aforementioned episode when copywriter Paul Kinsey agrees to go with his African American girlfriend Sheila to register black voters in Mississippi. Paul is nervous about accompanying Sheila, telling her he first wants to accompany Pete to the Rocket Fair in California before he has to ‘face Mississippi, and those people screaming at me, and maybe getting shot’. He later agrees to go when Don decides to attend the Rocket Fair instead. One of the final scenes of the episode shows Paul, the only white face on the bus, providing a pseudo-Marxian analysis of advertising. Paul pontificates: ‘We must include everyone. The consumer has no color’. Paul will later describe the trip as the adventure of a lifetime, though his relationship with Sheila ended during the trip. 1963 was a year of historic events involving the Civil Rights Movement: John F. Kennedy was assassinated, four young girls were killed in a bombing in Birmingham, Malcom X was becoming popular, and Dr King delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Yet those events rarely touch the folks at Sterling Cooper. During ‘My Kentucky Home’ (3.3), Roger Sterling and his fiancée Jane throw a Derby Day party at Roger’s country club. During the party, Roger, on one knee in blackface, sings ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ to Jane. Roger revels in his performance, proclaiming ‘I did this at home for her with a little shoe polish. She thought it was a scream’. The performance and the reactions of the most of the partygoers ranging from nervous laughter to outright amusement demonstrate general attitudes towards African Americans in this era’s white, upper middle class society. Don, for example, wants to leave the party, but Betty wants to stay. Among the other members of Sterling Cooper, only Pete Campbell seems disdainful of Roger’s actions, while Bert Cooper’s reaction is inscrutable, as his character often is. Season 4 opens during 1964, and though the Civil Rights Movement is heating up, the principals of SCDP are doing their best to keep it at arm’s length. In ‘Public Relations’ (4.1), Don (now divorced) is out on a date with socialite Bethany Van Nuys. During dinner, they discuss the murders of



civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Bethany asks sorrowfully, ‘Is that what it takes to change things?’, but it appears that Don is more taken with her dress than with her idealism. The Movement doesn’t affect Don directly, so he takes scant interest in it. The boxer Cassius Clay became a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement because of his loud, brash manner that suggested he, as a black man, was not going to be kept in his place. The fight between Clay and Sonny Liston (who many white men wanted to beat up Clay) forms the basis of ‘The Suitcase’ (4.7). At the beginning of the episode, Harry Crane is selling tickets to the closed-circuit TV broadcast of the Liston-Clay fight. Don, who is turned off by Clay’s self-promotion, bets $100 on Liston. Later, Don and Peggy are discussing a new campaign for Samsonite suitcases. Don: You like Cassius Clay? Peggy: He’s very handsome. Don: I don’t think so. Peggy: You aren’t supposed to. I remember my mother talking about Nat King Cole in a way that made my father throw out all his records. Don (with a tone of disgust): He’s got a big mouth. I’m the greatest. Not if you have to say it. Muhammed Ali.

Don is clearly reflecting a white attitude of the time that blacks should know their place. Clay violates that ‘norm’ in two ways. He is a braggart, and he is throwing off his ‘slave’ name for his new Muslim name, Muhammed Ali. For whites like Don, the changes bringing about black empowerment are unsettling. The discomfort over race is not confined to the US characters. In ‘Hands and Knees’ (4.10) Lane Pryce, the British partner of SCDP, is having an affair with Toni (Naturi Naughton), an African American Playboy Bunny. When Lane visits Toni at work, he gushes, ‘You know that I love you, my chocolate Bunny’. The affair is short-lived. When Lane’s father, Robert (W. Morgan Sheppard), arrives from England for a visit, he demands that Lane return to England and his family. Lane protests, ‘Are you more distraught that I found someone I love, or that she’s a Negro?’ Robert bashes his cane over Lane’s head and steps on his hand, until Lane consents to return to England. While the Civil Rights era is bringing change, in 1965 that is not going to include interracial marriage, especially when Loving v. Virginia, the case that ruled laws banning such marriages were unconstitutional would not happen for another two years.



Season 4 takes place over the time period of August 1964 through the summer of 1965. But, aside from the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, and the Clay-Liston fight, other important events are not touched upon. There is no discussion of Martin Luther King winning the Nobel Peace Prize, nor of the march from Selma to Montgomery, nor of the debate over the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But, things did begin to change in Season 5 during the episodes ‘A Little Kiss, Parts 1 and 2’ (5.1, 5.2), which open in 1966 and herald the arrival of the first recurring African American character in the offices of SCDP, Dawn Chambers (Teyonah Parris). Her arrival at SCDP is accidental. After the executives at Young & Rubicam throw water bombs on African American protesters, Roger Sterling and Don Draper print an ad that promotes SCDP as an equal opportunity employer. While it was intended only as a dig at Y&R, it results in several dozen African American job seekers appearing in the lobby and Dawn’s eventual hiring as Don’s secretary. Two episodes later in ‘Mystery Date’ (5.3), Dawn stays the night at Peggy’s apartment to avoid the riot in Bedford-Stuyvesant that followed the murder of eight nurses in Chicago by Richard Speck. The two drink and talk as if they are about to embark on a friendship, but later an uncomfortable moment occurs when Dawn notices Peggy’s apparent apprehension at leaving her purse in the room with her guest. The moment suggests that even the increasingly feminist Peggy is not immune to briefly wondering if Dawn will steal her purse. In ‘The Flood’ (6.4), the Civil Rights Movement plays its most significant role of the season when the team from SCDP attends an advertising awards dinner headlined by Paul Newman. After Newman announces to the crowd that he is supporting Eugene McCarthy, someone yells from the audience that Martin Luther King, Jr. has been killed. Newman leaves the podium and then comes back to announce that King has indeed been assassinated. Everyone is stunned. Peggy’s journalist lover, Abe, announces that he is going uptown to cover what are expected to be riots in the streets to protest King’s passing. Pete calls estranged wife Trudy (Alison Brie) to see if she wants him to come home for support, but she declines. The rest of the SCDP team mill around, stunned, before the lights flicker back on. Megan (Jessica Paré), who is up for an award, asks if they are really going to go on with the show. Don replies, ‘What else are we going to do?’ For the first time in the series, the Civil Rights Movement has a significant impact on SCDP and its operations. While the office is open the day after the assassination, no one is quite sure what to do. Pete is at a loose end because of the assassination, having come in early because he



can’t sleep. He runs into Harry (Rich Sommer), who complains that the assassination has pre-empted regular TV programming, meaning Harry’s media schedule of advertising is disrupted. Pete finds Harry’s complaints to be ‘disgusting’, while Harry acts as if Pete is being impractical. In Don’s office, Roger observes, ‘The man [King] knew how to talk… I thought that would save him’. Peggy gives her secretary Phyllis (Ya Ani King) a hug and sends her home. Don offers the same option to Dawn, but she says she would rather stay. Though the firm decides to close early, Don and Roger stay after the closing to pitch a client. The (advertising) show must go on. By Season 7, the changes that have occurred outside of SCDP start to be reflected inside the agency. In ‘A Day’s Work’ (7.2), Peggy has a new secretary, Shirley (Sola Bamis), who dresses in a more flash style than Dawn and has an Afro. On Valentine’s Day, Peggy spots a bouquet of roses on Shirley’s desk, assumes the roses are hers, and takes them. At the coffee machine, Dawn greets Shirley by calling her ‘Dawn’ while Shirley calls Dawn ‘Shirley’. It’s an inside joke to suggest that to SCDP, African Americans are all the same. Shirley warns Dawn that confronting Peggy over the roses might impact her job. When Shirley does so, Peggy gets so upset that she goes to Joan to request another secretary. Meanwhile, Lou (Allan Havey) gets upset with Dawn for not covering her desk (though she spent her lunch hour getting Lou a present for his wife). Joan moves Dawn to the front receptionist desk but is told by Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) ‘I’m all for the national advancement of colored people, but I do not believe they should advance all the way to the front of this office’. Fortunately, Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) suggests that Joan take an office upstairs and concentrate on accounts. Joan then promotes Dawn to personnel director of the agency. So, by the last season, an African American woman has some power within the walls of SCDP. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless, paralleling that of the world outside of SCDP.

The Real Civil Rights Movement and the Reel Civil Rights Movement Because real-world events are woven into the fabric of the series, and because of Matt Weiner’s obsession with getting the look of the times so right, one of the problems is that viewers of Mad Men might mistake the historical fiction for how things actually were. The little research that has been conducted on the impact of televised historical fiction on the audience shows that viewers might confuse historical truth with historical



‘truthiness’ (as TV host Stephen Colbert terms it). Studies suggest that viewers who are least familiar with an event or issue learn the most from these docudramas (Delli Carpini and Williams 1996). As an example, for all his striving for accuracy, Weiner has clearly ignored the history of African American advertising. Viewers of Mad Men could not be faulted, if they believed that African Americans were not involved in the advertising business in the 1960s, or that they were not considered an important market. In fact, during this time, Pepsi Cola, Lucky Strike cigarettes, and Beech Nut gum all developed campaigns directed to blacks. Vince Cullers opened what is credited with being the first of the modern era African American advertising agencies in 1956. Additional agencies followed: John Small, Zebra, Vanguard, Frank Lett, Uniworld, and Burrell. Far from being non-existent, African Americans were becoming a force in the agency world in the 1960s (Fox 1997). The problem is that what viewers learn may be a misrepresentation of reality. Though TV producers may know what is fact and what is fiction, the audience may not know the reality of the history of 1960s Madison Avenue is different from what is portrayed on Mad Men. While that may be a potential concern, research reveals that collective memory is constructed over time by a community’s interactions with history. Its content is made up of various meanings of the past. How people remember history comes from a variety of sources—firsthand experiences, educational lessons, fictional narratives—that result in what Young (1993) calls the texture of memory. Young argues that our memory of events comes about from multiple retellings by a number of sources, including the media. Thus, we don’t ‘remember’ the assassination of Martin Luther King inasmuch as we draw on our collection of memories of stories that have been told about his killing. Representations of the past consist of narratives that both recreate and attempt to make sense of an historical event or era. These representations can take the form of media storytelling, such as film and television texts; they can exist on a continuum of fictionalized on one end (such as Mad Men), to factual on the other (such as documentaries). Narratives about shared history are a key part of groups’ collective identities. It should be noted, though, that those narratives are often polysemous (Fiske 2010), one version being strategic ambiguity where the author of a text creates a work that is subject to multiple interpretations. As a result, historical narratives are going to be remembered differently, particularly by different types of public. For example, the narrative of Mad Men is going to be interpreted



by white Baby Boomers in ways different from how that narrative is interpreted by African American millennials. Bodnar (1993) argues that public memory is a body of beliefs and ideas about the past, shaped by institutions such as the media, that help a public or society locate itself in a particular time. In other words, Mad Men is a show which suggests that if you can understand people at one point in time, you uncover truths about people at all points in time (Poniewozik, n.d.). Mad Men is not a record of a specific time, but a re-writing of the past, deconstructing and re-constructing as it goes along. It uses nostalgia to try to link the viewer with the past. In Mad Men, with its exhaustively researched sets and perfect costumes, nostalgia provides a means for viewers to become fascinated with the fashion, architectural styles, and even behaviours of the era. The show plays on what Stephanie Coontz calls ‘the nostalgia trap’ (Coontz 2000). Audiences enmeshed in the nostalgia trap gloss over the harmful realities of our past in order to engage in a romanticized narrative of it. The ugliness of the historical truth of an era becomes obscured or even eliminated in order to romanticize the American Dream. Happy families and supportive neighbours living in houses with white picket fences are emphasized, while the racism, sexism and other types of oppression during the era are downplayed. In ‘The Crash’ (6.7), Don tells Peggy and Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) that he has uncovered the ‘Big Idea’ for their pitch for Chevy. Don raves. ‘I have this great message and it has to do with what holds people together. What is that thing that draws them? It’s a history…It’s way bigger than a car, it’s everything.’ But Don is not really talking so much about history here as he is about nostalgia.

Conclusion While the Civil Rights Movement often appears peripherally in the series, locating Mad Men during one of the most transformative historical eras in American history can create in the viewer a sense of anticipation for how the events will play out in the series, be it political activism such as the Civil Rights Movement, or how fashion developments reflect cultural change. Because viewers have at least some sense of the history of the era, there is a window created into how people of that time may have reacted to events in such a transformative time. The last shot in the series finale depicts Don sitting cross-legged at a commune with an all-knowing smile on his face, suggesting that he has finally attained peace after all that has occurred over the lifetime of the show, from his having to negotiate a real and a



fictional identity, to dealing with his various failed personal and business relationships. Similarly, this portrayal of Don signals to the audience that for all the chaos of the late 1950s to early 1970s, people survived, and even thrived. In the end, the historical changes Mad Men tracks so vividly are not national in scope. They’re the changes its characters experience within their own world. So it should be no surprise that Don Draper and the other members of SCDP prefer to create through advertising a fantasy world free from worry, rather than the ugliness of reality.

Bibliography Bodnar, John. 1993. Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Coontz, Stephanie. 2000. The Way We Never Were. New York: Basic Books. Crenshaw, Kimberle, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas (eds.). 1996. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement. New York: The New Press. Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. 2001. Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. New York: New York University Press. Delli Carpini, Michael X., and Bruce Williams. 1996. Constructing Public Opinion: The Uses of Fictional and Nonfictional Television in Conversations About the Environment. In The Psychology of Political Communication, ed. Ann N. Crigler, 149–176. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Fiske, John. 2010. Television Culture, 2nd ed. London: Routledge. Fox, Stephen. 1997. The Mirror Makers. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Haynes, Jeannette. 1997. An Oral History of the Social Construction of Cherokee Identity. PhD dissertation, University of New Mexico. Ladson-Billings, Gloria. 1998. Just What Is Critical Race Theory and What’s It Doing in a Nice Field Like Education? International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 11 (1) (January): 7–24. ———. 2000. Fighting for our Lives: Preparing Teachers to Teach AfricanAmerican Students. Journal of Teacher Education 51: 206–214. Ladson-Billings, Gloria, and W. F. Tate IV. 1995. Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education. Teachers College Record 97 (1): 47–68. Poniewozik, J. n.d. The Time Machine: How Mad Men Rode the Carousel of the Past into Television History. Time. Available at Young, James. 1993. The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Mad Men, Women, and the Lure of Feminism Mimi White

Preview: Watching Women on Mad Men When the final half-season of Mad Men opens, Don Draper is alone with an attractive young woman in a luxurious fur. After a brief exchange about the coat—Don clarifies that it’s chinchilla, not mink—he admonishes her, ‘You’re not supposed to talk’. It’s hard to tell exactly where they are, given the framing and the spare, impersonal décor. As Don instructs the nameless woman, the scene plays out as an object lesson in patriarchal representation positioning women to look at themselves being looked at (Berger 1972, 46–47; Mulvey 1975): ‘Show me how you feel. Walk over to the mirror. Look at yourself. You like what you see’ (7.8 ‘Severance’). When I first saw the episode, I thought that Don had fully embraced his inner, creepy pervert. The anonymous woman and uncertain location, alongside his unchallenged control over the woman’s behaviour, made this a reasonable possibility. This prospect was bolstered by the echoes of his past that resonate through the scene: the child who grew up in a brothel where he watched prostitutes with their clients; the one-time fur salesman; the domineering role-play with some of the women he romanced over the course of the series. When the scene finally cuts to a wider view of the room,

M. White (B) Department of Radio/TV/Film, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




Don turns out to be hard at work auditioning models as four other SC&P principals—all men—look on, and a female assistant waits to usher in the next model. Perhaps it is reassuring that Don is just doing his job. But the seamless continuity between the personal and professional predilections of Don (and the other male executives) is also disquieting. The scene toys with viewers in typical terms for Mad Men, inviting them to both enjoy and condemn what they see, and to appreciate the show’s cleverness as it replicates and exposes the conventional dynamics of the male gaze. Mad Men is ambivalent, laying bare the patriarchal order of things while dishing it up with relish. It never fully absolves Don, or the other men, or even patriarchy; it never definitively condemns them either. Peggy Lee’s ‘Is That All There Is?’ plays on the soundtrack—a bit of ironic commentary—but it can’t undo the scene’s scopic manipulations. More generally, the show positions itself with men and patriarchy, never relinquishing the conventional pleasures of looking at women who are left to see themselves through others’—men’s—eyes.1 In the same episode, Joan and Peggy meet with their male counterparts at McCann Erickson. The sexism is egregious. The men respond to the women’s professionalism with a barrage of titters and puerile double-entendres that call attention to Joan’s body. By comparison, the oglers at SC&P almost seem like gallant gender egalitarians. But the transactions between men and women in both scenes, and the visual and dramatic dynamics of the show, are ultimately of a piece. We may feel for the women, but the ogling doesn’t stop. This is worth keeping in mind, especially because so much critical attention has been devoted to Mad Men and women. Fans, critics, pundits, scholars from many disciplines, and business professionals (among others) have avidly discussed the program, its women, and its feminism in blogs and social media; in popular, trade, and academic publications; in reviews, interviews, opinion pieces, commentary, and scholarly analyses. This isn’t surprising. After all, the program had compelling women characters and devoted careful attention to the kind of stylish costume and décor that purportedly (or stereotypically) appeal to women viewers. Two iconic women’s best-sellers from the 1960s were routinely touted as key sources of inspiration. ‘Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner has often stated that two 1960s-era classics—Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl —had an outsize influence on the show’ (Ream 2015). The presence of women in the writer’s room was widely hyped. Moreover, the program represented the pervasive, everyday sexism of mid-twentieth-century America as part of the period zeitgeist. The



meticulously rendered historical setting made it easy—to put it mildly—to ‘see’ sexism. In response to all of these factors (and others), lots of critical attention have been devoted to Mad Men, women, and feminist issues. Across the diverse range of material, it isn’t surprising that the ‘feminism’ that gets raised in the process is wide-ranging, including views that some might consider not-very-feminist versions of post- and neoliberal feminism. As a result, the work on Mad Men and women considered in toto—from popular magazines and mainstream media blogs to scholarly books and journals—is cacophonous even as it discloses a palimpsest of sexisms and feminisms, past and present, yielding disparate, complementary, contradictory, repetitive, yet incommensurate positions. Assessments of the show’s women and its feminism abound, sometimes including discussions about whether or which of the women characters are feminists, or at least portend a feminist future.2 Even a small sampling of titles from magazines and blogs substantiates a disparate range of views: ‘The Best Feminism Moments on Mad Men’ (Semigran 2015); ‘Don Draper, Feminist’ (Ream 2015); ‘Is Mad Men a Feminist Show?’ (Matlack 2009); ‘Why “Mad Men” is Bad for Women’ (Engoron 2010); ‘Why the Most Liberated Woman on Mad Men is Don Draper’s Wife’ (Donnelly 2012); and ‘Watch Peggy Olson Break Through the Glass Ceiling’ (Bugbee and Kreisinger 2013). Much of this work was published as, or shortly after, the show aired on AMC. Looking backwards, it’s possible to cut through some of the critical cacophony by considering underlying (often tacit) perspectives on women’s and feminist history. Two such approaches coalesce around retroanachronistic feminism and second-wave feminism. These are not exhaustive or definitive categories, but identify common sensibilities that emerge in many of the analyses and opinions, popular and academic, that proliferated about Mad Men and women. Retro-anachronistic feminism assesses the fictive world of the program through the prism of contemporary feminist positions, including post- and neoliberal feminism. This perspective tacitly posits a sense of feminist affinity connecting viewers to the characters and tends to focus on the personal and professional struggles and achievements of individual women characters. It includes speculation on whether (or which of) the fictive characters are ‘feminist’, ‘lean in’, or ‘have it all’. By contrast, second-wave feminist perspectives seek historical reckoning with the program, focusing on its depiction of everyday life before the emergence of the Women’s Liberation Movement. This perspective typically stresses differences between



past and present, and between the program’s fictive women and its viewers, especially when it comes to the character’s sexist condition.3 The delineation of these two tendencies, admittedly rather schematic, provides a framework for a great deal of the writing about Mad Men and women. Both ways of seeing Mad Men’s women implicate history, especially women’s history, sometimes only tacitly; they also connect to particular narrative or dramatic modes—often unacknowledged and underexplored— that carry affective resonance. A closer look at these two approaches helps explain how Mad Men prompts feminist feelings even as its aesthetic and narrative strategies may limit feminist prospects.

Feminist Continuities: The Way We’ve Always Been Retro-anachronistic feminism is most blatantly expressed when feminist and post-feminist buzzwords—the glass ceiling, leaning in, having it all— get raised as appropriate, even natural, measures for women in the world of Mad Men.4 No matter how characters are judged, the terminology projects a patently present-day outlook onto fictive characters who live in the past. It is an assertion of common ground and feminist affinity between the viewercritic and Mad Men’s women characters. This in turn has implications for understanding women’s and feminist history. Consider how the glass ceiling is invoked in Mad Men scholarship. People have written that Peggy ‘gives up her child to break the glass ceiling’ (Semigran 2015; Ream 2015; Matlack 2009; Engoron 2010; Donnelly 2012; Bugbee and Kreisinger 2013; Coontz 2010); that she has ‘difficulties in breaking through Sterling Cooper’s glass ceiling’ (Krouse 2011, 203, n.2); and that her career offers a close look at ‘the consistent limitations imposed by the glass ceiling’ (Ciasullo 2012, 20). Peggy is sometimes contrasted with Joan: ‘Though Joan hits what we now know to be the glass ceiling, Peggy manages to break through’ (Newman 2012, 62). A broader characterization of the Sterling Cooper agency proposes that, ‘glass ceilings, entrenched misogyny and casual sexism condition aspirations’ (Akass and McCabe 2011, 178). The glass ceiling is also raised in popular writing about the show. This includes article titles such as ‘Watch Peggy Olson Break Through the Glass Ceiling’ (Bugbee and Kreisinger 2013) and ‘How Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway Met the Glass Ceiling on MAD MEN’ (Hayes 2013) (Birth Movies Death). Many articles celebrate the feminist achievements of Mad Men’s women and describe these achievements in terms of glass ceilings.



One asserts, ‘It’s relatively easy to root for Peggy as she breaks the glass ceiling’ (Matlack 2009). Another proposes that ‘Both Peggy and Joan are breaking glass ceilings at work’ (Donnelly 2012). Yet another proclaims that ‘Groundbreaking characters like Joan Harris, Peggy Olson, and Faye Miller broke the glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry’ (Semigran 2015). The term ‘the glass ceiling’ emerged in the 1980s as an apt metaphor, in the wake of second-wave feminism, to designate unseen (and unforeseen) barriers for high-achieving women in the workplace, after collective activism, lawsuits, and legislation led to increasing numbers of women in professional positions. By contrast, in the 1960s, social, cultural, and legal norms sustained a more rigid, entrenched gendered division of labour. Not everyone was happy with pre-second-wave working conditions, especially not working women, and on an individual basis, women could find their way into ‘men’s work’ (Mad Men includes such women; Rachel Menken and Faye Miller are two obvious examples). But that doesn’t mean that women in the 1960s contended with glass ceilings in the sense that we use or understand the term. Raising the glass ceiling on Mad Men implicitly posits a continuity, and comparability, of working women’s experience from the 1960s to the present day; it proposes that the opportunities and challenges for career women back then were effectively the same as they are now. Using the term in the context of Mad Med tells a tacitly revisionist history, one that sugar-coats the working conditions and prospects for mid-century working women, which were far more constrained than those of contemporary working women.5 Moreover, when it comes to Peggy, the use of the term imputes a greater sense of agency and intention to her career trajectory than the show itself does. Certainly, Peggy is an aspirational character who wants more from life than a working-class Brooklyn future holds. However, it’s not aspiration but rather her spontaneous remark that attracts Freddy Rumsen’s attention and leads to her inclusion on women-focused ad campaigns under Don’s aegis. Freddy compares her ‘basket of kisses’ comment to a dog playing the piano, not to the deliberate efforts and creative ability of an ad man. Similarly, her promotion to junior copywriter at the end of Season 1 may be warranted by the quality of her work. But it is an impulsive decision made in response to Pete Campbell’s complaints after Don assigns Peggy to the Clearasil account that Pete secured from his father-in-law, a side-effect of spiteful jockeying between two men with whom Peggy is entangled.



Peggy’s move to CGC (Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough) as chief copywriter late in Season 5—also merited by her talent—is also initiated and brokered by Freddy Rumsen, not something she does on her own. In narrative terms, Peggy’s professional advances are a combination of happenstance and design, typically with male support, talent notwithstanding.6 Even her triumphal arrival at McCann Erickson, once she finally gets an office, brazenly toting Bertrand Cooper’s tentacular Japanese erotica, is prompted by Roger Sterling (‘Lost Horizon’, 7, 12). When Roger offers her Cooper’s woodblock print, as they get drunk together in the empty SC&P offices, she initially turns it down, explaining that she needs to make men feel comfortable. With a terse ‘Who told you that?’, he dismisses her concerns and suggests a different workplace mindset. To say that Peggy breaks the glass ceiling is an exemplary retroanachronistic feminist claim—one that sidesteps key plot elements while taking her as an emblem of (post)feminist identification and continuity. More generally, the assertion that Mad Men’s 1960s women do or don’t break glass ceilings (or even contend with them) tacitly places them ‘in’, or ‘after’, women’s liberation. And it does so even though none of the main women characters are engaged in the women’s movement or feminist organizing. The retro-anachronistic feminist approach thus ratifies certain understandings of women’s history and feminist/post-feminist politics, while obscuring others, tacitly offering post- and neoliberal feminist revisions of mid-twentieth-century working women’s lives as a matter of fact. This impulse is encouraged by the program, which focuses on individual women who encounter and sometimes overcome professional barriers, and pays scant attention to the fomenting women’s movement.7 This aligns the show with an emergent revisionist current in feminist history, as scholars reassess the significance of Helen Gurley Brown. For example, Jennifer Scanlon’s biography places Brown squarely on the side of feminism (Scanlon 2009). Other studies of popular film and television cite Brown’s 1962 Sex and the Single Girl and the Cosmo Girl as substantive forebears of third wave and post-feminism, what Radner has called neo- or ‘girly’ feminism (Radner 2011; Owen et al. 2007). If Brown is now seen as an important precursor of some strains of contemporary popular feminism, she was certainly not part of second-wave feminism as it developed in the 1960s, even as she crafted an enduring popular image of the independent, sexually active, working girl.8



The show stakes Brown and Friedan as equivalent accounts of women’s lifestyle in the 1960s, but with minimal attention to the collective activism of the women’s movement that Friedan pursued. Indeed, the show seems to miss that while Brown’s book was a lifestyle manual, Friedan’s was a social critique. The lifestyle emphasis makes connections to contemporary post- and neo-feminism feel more enduring, even if it belies the history of women’s liberation. This hasn’t escaped notice, despite the proliferation of glass ceilings in the critical literature. Thus, one scholar notes that Mad Men’s women live in the 1960s but ‘are designed for the twenty-first century’ (Haralovich 2011, 162). The program combines period verisimilitude and hindsight about women’s liberation; the characters represent a confluence of second and third wave feminism,9 serving as ‘strategic participants in heterosexuality [who seek] equal pay, equal work, and equal authority’. This is another way of thinking about how the program makes the past relevant by making the characters and their condition familiar, which in turn encourages viewers (and critics) to see glass ceilings, or ponder which of the women characters ‘have it all’. Elizabeth Moss assesses her character by offering contrasting versions of feminism from the 1960s. She’s not going to be a hippie, she’s not gonna start burning bras. She’s a different kind of feminist. She’s the one who works really hard, and concentrates on her job, and wants to move up in the world of her business. …and her brand of feminism — it comes in probably a bit of a more realistic way, you know? … there were more of those women than were the hippies who burned bras and picketed. Those women were the ones who were actually, you know, going in and asking for equal pay, and asking for equal rights, and demanding to be treated better in the workplace. (Yuan 2013)

By her account, Peggy is a woman who concentrates on her job and wants to move up in her profession, not a ‘bra-burning’ demonstrator or hippie. Moss opposes a twenty-first-century neoliberal, lean-in figure to an historically inaccurate caricature of second-wave feminists as ‘bra burners’ and hippies (a representation that seems hard to dispel). Despite what Moss says, Peggy isn’t the more ‘realistic’ version of 1960s feminism. Even if one is a woman, seeking a pay raise or an office for oneself is not the same as seeking opportunities, equal pay, or equality for women. Moreover, individual character gumption and self-interest are not necessarily ‘feminist’ even if they elicit (post)feminist feelings. In this regard, it’s worth remembering



that feminist organizing in the 1960s required collective action, nominally on behalf of all women, even if in practice this often meant white, middleclass, straight women. When critics raise the glass ceiling, and other slogans, watchwords, and perspectives of late twentieth-century and early twentyfirst-century feminism as a measure of Mad Men’s women, they recapitulate the program’s conflation of second and third wave feminism, and its revisionist sense of lifestyle feminism rather than exploring and exposing the program’s gender dynamics.

Historical Difference and Feminist Progress: The Way We Really Were The second-wave feminist perspective emphasizes different aspects of Mad Men. Focusing on the depiction of women’s experience before the emergence of second-wave feminism, it highlights differences between the women characters and the women who watch the show. These assessments often credit Mad Men with advancing a feminist viewpoint, or an enlightened historical perspective, because it exposes the pervasive, everyday misogyny and sexist conditions of mid-century women’s lives. The anonymous crying women in the ladies’ room at Sterling Cooper throughout the first season are a constant reminder of women’s chronic misery. In many accounts, personal experience is cited to substantiate the program’s historical truths. Feminist film critic Molly Haskell comments on the show in these terms. She is, ‘unnerved at how closely [the show] mirrors the workplace in which I came of age’ (Haskell 2011). Haskell readily identifies her younger self as ‘Peggy, with a slightly better wardrobe and at least a passing knowledge of birth control’, in an office with a ‘buxom blond Joan-like secretary who was having an affair with one of the executives’ and a Don Draper equivalent as her boss. She emphasizes the difference between the way things were and present-day conditions for women, and appreciates how the program resonates with her youthful experience. Social historian Stephanie Coontz goes even further and asserts that Mad Men is, ‘one of the most historically accurate television series ever produced’ and offers ‘a much-needed lesson on the devastating costs of a way of life that still evokes misplaced nostalgia’ (Coontz 2010). For Coontz, the program’s main appeal and its didactic value lie in its historical accuracy. She maintains that many women who lived through the era can’t bear to watch the show because of its ‘unflinching view’ of the era’s sexism.10



Other critics echo these views, especially when it comes to workplace sexism, even when their working experience came after the Mad Men era, in the 1970s or the 1980s. For instance, one Mad Men critic and blogger writes, ‘As a child of the 1950s and ’60s who entered the workforce in the still-discriminatory ’70s, I have deeply appreciated Mad Men’s frank and searing depiction of women’s lives both at home and at work. …Mad Men often feels so real and compelling to those of us who lived through those times that watching it sometimes revives painful memories’ (Engoron 2010). These (and similar) accounts routinely propose that women’s lives have improved substantially since the sexist sixties, thanks to the advances of feminism (even when the demise of workplace sexism proves to be a moving target).11 The program’s historical authenticity hereby supports a story of feminist progress. Coontz challenges critics who questioned the accuracy of show’s sexism, schooling them in the facts of women’s social, legal, and cultural status in the 1960s. This focus on the program’s authenticity holds women—fictive and real—hostage to historical sexism. It implicitly proposes that there were no alternatives for women in the past. In the process, it risks overlooking the program’s nostalgia, including the allure of the mise-en-scène, which seems awfully hard to miss (McCarthy 2007; Spigel 2013). In fact, Coontz explicitly contrasts the program’s authenticity with the ‘misplaced nostalgia’ that the era often attracts, totally ignoring an aspect of the show that figures prominently for many viewers and critics. The emphasis on women’s oppression also elides other historical prospects for women, the activities, and discourses that coalesced into the second-wave women’s movement, including the publication of The Feminine Mystique in 1963 as one obvious example. By emphasizing the historical accuracy of the program’s representation of women’s sexist condition, critics can end up downplaying the program’s nostalgia along with alternative historical possibilities—including emergent feminism—that existed for women, especially given Mad Men’s New York setting. When it comes to women’s plight, the emphasis on historical accuracy also naturalizes the performative mode of the program’s gender inequality. Insofar as the historically authentic sexism and misogyny play out in scenes of suffering that elicit sympathy for the women characters, history is dramatically rendered as melodrama. Linda Williams explains, ‘If emotional and moral registers are sounded, if a work invites us to feel sympathy for the virtues of beset victims, if the narrative trajectory is ultimately concerned with a retrieval and staging of virtue through adversity and suffering, then



the operative mode is melodrama’ (2001, 15). Melodrama in these terms is not the dominant dramatic mode on Mad Men, nor is suffering necessarily the decisive fate of Mad Men’s women. However, women characters are most likely to suffer and elicit sympathy as beset victims of their inescapable sexist condition.

Competing Feminist Frameworks/Competition Between Women These two critical perspectives—retro-anachronistic post-feminism and second-wave feminist historicism—may compete as reading strategies, but they coexist in the narrative dynamics of the show, with varying affective allure for women viewers. Mad Men shuttles its women characters between these positions. But they rarely occupy the same position at the same time. Instead, the various women characters are apposed—placed side by side—as they enact different ‘feminisms’ within the same fictive world, and thereby opposed. In the process, the show invites identification and dis-identification in uneven measure, depending on one’s investments in particular characters, in different dramatic modes, and in different ways of being feminist. With their variable and incommensurate feminist resonance, the characters compete for viewer attention and allegiance, which also makes it seem as if they are competitors within the narrative. It’s almost impossible for the women characters to recognize their affiliation or form alliances because they rarely occupy the same generic or feminist ‘space’, even while they are diegetically held together and unified by the program’s artful, nostalgic mise-en-scène. The program’s visual appeal hereby helps to naturalize its version of a familiar patriarchal narrative gambit: it keeps women apart, even turns them into rivals, and discourages female alliance and friendship. In this sense, the program’s various versions of feminist allure prove to be a lure. ‘The Mountain King’ (2.12) provides one example. Peggy asks Roger if she can use the empty office that once belonged to Freddy Rumsen at the same time that Joan shows up to introduce her fiancé to her co-workers. As an exemplary retro-feminist working woman, Peggy speaks up on her own behalf and secures an office of her own. Joan’s fiancé asks her to show him around and ends up raping her on the floor of Don’s office, as she suffers an act of which she cannot speak, with no recourse, in history or in melodrama. Her situation follows Peter Brooks’ characterization of melodrama as the moral occult—here evil takes the form of a loving fiancé—and as the text



of muteness (Brooks 1976). The next morning, as Peggy moves into her office, she congratulates Joan on her upcoming wedding and her handsome fiancé. Her stilted efforts at connecting with Joan underscore the disparity between them, and heighten Joan’s mute suffering. Joan and Peggy may work side by side, and even converse, but it’s almost impossible for them to collaborate or support one another with any consistency, because they typically occupy incongruent feminist positions and dramatic modes. As a retro-anachronistic neoliberal working woman, Peggy summons her gumption to secure an office of her own; Roger even notes that ‘you young women’ are very aggressive. Her comments to Joan the next morning signal her retro-feminist obliviousness to historical women’s sexist condition. This dynamic is repeated in various forms throughout the series. In ‘Severance’, Peggy and Joan initially commiserate about their dismal treatment by their colleagues at McCann Erickson. But Peggy quickly lashes out, blaming Joan for dressing in a way that attracts sexualized attention. Here, Peggy assumes the (caricatured) voice of second-wave feminist scold, criticizing women for conforming to patriarchal fashion and beauty norms. In response, Joan seems to embrace post-feminist ideas about women’s (consumerist) freedom to embrace fashion as personal pleasure, by going on a shopping spree.12

From Feminist Snares to Feminist Fantasies: Seeking an Alternative End The two feminist perspectives that I’ve discussed target Mad Men and Mad Men’s women as a source of particular interest, appeal, and even (self)recognition. But for women or, more accurately, for feminism, this allure can also be a snare. Both perspectives are limited by the versions of history they advance (even tacitly) and by their recourse to conventional narrative and dramatic modes. Moreover, these approaches closely replicate the program’s gender logics, foreclosing prospects for feminist contestation, dissent, and alliance. One might expect better from a show that so widely touted its own feminist bona fides. More generally, feminist criticism should do more than leave us celebrating or wringing our hands over history or conventional (and patriarchal) narrative gambits that pit women against one another. After all, history and historically dominant modes of mainstream representation are often constraints for women. Sometimes feminism needs more than the lessons



of history and can profit from a creative reimagining of the past. Consider the short-lived Pan Am (ABC 2011–2012), also set in the 1960s, critically panned and widely considered an insipid Mad Men imitator. Admittedly, Pan Am was full of sledge-hammer exposition, thick with intrigue, romance, and references to major historical and political events—more happened in the pilot episode than in any three episodes of Mad Men. One typical review asserted, ‘I don’t know if the makers of Mad Men are sitting on their sofas clinking champagne glasses and laughing their asses off or gazing in disbelief at the horror they have inadvertently spawned’ (Mangan 2011). But the prevailing negative evaluations by the critical establishment missed some key points. Pan Am put four women stewardesses centre stage. They were attractive and intelligent, fluent in multiple languages; one of them was a CIA recruit, and another understood political philosophy better than her graduate-school roommate. Their work afforded global mobility and adventure, travelling to international capitals (London, Berlin, Rome) as well as to dangerous global hot spots (Cuba and Haiti). If it was all slightly over the top, it also offered many feminist satisfactions, as long as you took it for the fantasy it was. In one episode, one of the male pilots reads The Feminine Mystique to better understand (and improve his luck with) women. This feels like a glaring mistake; for his purposes, Sex and the Single Girl would seem more appropriate. Perhaps this was a pandering nod to feminism, or a joke at Mad Men’s expense. But imagine what things might be like today if lots of men had taken feminist writing of the 1960s seriously. Here, Pan Am evinces an indulgent feminist imagination and offers pleasures which occasionally extend to the ways of seeing encouraged by the show. Pan Am knowingly plays with point of view and gendered conventions of looking, just like Mad Men does, but in terms that favour women. At the end of the pilot episode, the stewardesses walk through the Pan Am terminal at JFK airport in New York in sinuous abstract synchrony. They are objectified in their abstraction, but also connected to one another in their synchronicity. As the stewardesses board their aircraft, the camera reveals a young girl with her mother watching them intently, and one of the stewardesses turns her head and looks back at the girl. The stewardesses are hereby positioned by a (young) female gaze and become participants in a mutual exchange of looks, a decisive shift from the more conventional dynamics of gendered looking offered by Mad Men, however knowingly.13



Mad Men does afford glimpses of alternative feminist possibility. This includes the rare occasions when Peggy or Joan manages to clearly articulate their sexist condition, even though they can’t change it, and characters such as Peggy’s lesbian friend Joyce or Joan’s roommate Carol when she confesses her feelings for Joan. These minor characters present possibilities for other forms of community and friendship, possibly even love, though neither stays around for long. Through them, the show teases viewers with the prospect that the women might live otherwise, only to revert to a more familiar status quo. There are also feminist prospects that come from more wilful historiographic revision. My imagined feminist modifications of Mad Men are not far-fetched, as they hew to women’s history; but they are beyond the boundaries of the program’s vision or understanding of women’s history. For example, it’s easy to envision Joan succeeding in soap opera advertising, one area in American broadcasting where women held prominent positions starting with radio and continuing in television. Joan’s talent—as established on the show—could quite reasonably lead to career advancement, instead of to melodramatic misery, as she silently endures training the male who is hired to continue the work she initiated. At the very end of Mad Men, in 1970, Joan has just started her own company, producing industrial and advertising films. She invites Peggy to join her as a partner in the business, but Peggy chooses to stay at McCann Erickson. At the end of the series, Peggy is rewarded with a textbook romcom happy ending. After years of being her friend, confidante, co-worker, and sometime nemesis, Stan Rizzo declares his love and demonstrates his willingness to support and commit to a woman who is also his superior at the office. Unsurprisingly, Joan’s story ends differently, continuing the program’s strategic apposition of its female characters. Her interest in building a business leads her boyfriend, Richard, to leave her. He is retired and doesn’t like it when Joan’s work intrudes on his fun and opportunities for spontaneous adventure; he sets the terms for a relationship wherein Joan has to choose between love and career. After Richard walks out of her apartment, she frowns, briefly assuming the countenance of melodramatic loss. But she quickly regains her professional demeanour and resumes the business call she had interrupted to talk with Richard. In her final scene in the show, she is working in her apartment with a younger woman as her assistant, running Holloway-Harris, a company doubly marked by her own two names. With this brief scene, I imagine—or hope—that Joan makes connections with women filmmakers in New York,



and that she links up with Women Make Movies, a feminist production collective and distributor of independent women’s films which started in the late 1960s. I am pretty sure that this won’t happen. After all, Joan is a pragmatic businesswoman; she is busy making promotional films for Dow Chemical and Nathan’s Hot Dogs, not working in a collective to offer new representations of women’s experience and redress women’s representation. Wilfully read, the final image of Joan at work with her young assistant hints at other possible stories, tied to women’s history and women’s activism in New York in the 1960s. This is, of course, strictly a projection of my imagination. Mad Men ultimately presents working women (and frustrated bourgeois housewives) as representatives of different lifestyle choices, who suffer as melodramatic victims or succeed as contemporary (neoliberal) post-feminists, concerned with their own fates more than with the rights of women in general.

Notes 1. This perspective is established from the start. In the first episode, on Peggy’s first day at work, Joan advises her to go home, put a paper bag over her head (with holes cut out for her eyes), and assess herself ‘objectively’ in the mirror. 2. As noted, there is an extensive range of work. Here is a representative selection of books that include consideration of gender, women, and/or feminism in Mad Men: (Booker and Batchelor 2015; Edgerton 2011; Goren and Beail 2015; Marcovitch and Batty 2012; Engstrom et al. 2014; Stoddart 2011). 3. Since this sexist past includes representations of sexual harassment, there is no small irony writing and thinking about the program in the wake of #metoo. Current events suggest that the disparity between the past and present is not as substantial as we might like to think, especially in the media industry, and raises questions about the cultural stakes of representing sexism and sexual harassment as closed off in the past. 4. To be fair, many of the popular critics who use these terms indicate their awareness that they express contemporary perspectives that aren’t quite apt for the Mad Men era; but they use them nonetheless. 5. I’m not arguing that there aren’t similar quandaries—the ‘second shift’, unequal pay, sexual harassment, etc. But normative assumptions about gender, women’s place, and work—including laws and educational and professional opportunities for women—were different. As a result, women’s experiences and avenues of redress were fundamentally dissimilar. In the early 1960s, even classified ads differentiated between jobs for men and jobs for women.



6. It is worth recalling that Peggy has sexual liaisons with a number of work partners, including Pete Campbell, Duck Phillips, and Ted Chaough. She is often contrasted with Joan in terms of how she uses her sexuality in the workplace. While she is less flagrantly or conventionally ‘sexy’, Peggy and Joan both sleep with men they work with, even if they have different reasons and attitudes about what they do and its consequences. 7. Joan mentions the women’s strike at Newsweek magazine, hoping to remedy her second-class, sexually objectified and exploited status at McCann Erikson, only to have her comment dismissed—accurately—as an idle threat. 8. As a broader symptom of retro-feminist revisionism, Betty Friedan’s eponymous phrase—the feminine mystique—has been appropriated in the past decade-plus, with virtually no irony, as a headline for fashion journalism and blogs, affiliating it with Brown’s ‘girly’ feminism. 9. The program’s version of ‘third wave feminism’ is a mix of contemporary feminist positions; it does not neatly differentiate between what scholars have variously distinguished as post-feminism, girly feminism, and neoliberal feminism. This is also a symptom of differences between academic and popular meanings and trajectories of feminism. 10. She bases this on research she was doing, interviewing women about their lives in the 1960s that happened to coincide with Man Men’s run on AMC. 11. This is another point where the #metoo movement haunts both of the feminist perspectives on Mad Men, insofar as workplace sexism persists rather than being neatly contained in the past. 12. Other examples of this dynamic of female apposition are readily apparent in ‘The Summer Man’ (4, 8) and ‘The Other Woman’ (5, 11). 13. Other Pan Am scenes similarly play with point of view, often giving women the last—or most salient—look.

Bibliography Akass, Kim, and Janet McCabe. 2011. The Best of Everything: The Limits of Being a Working Girl in Mad Men. In Mad Men: Dream Come True TV, ed. Gary R. Edgerton, 177–192. London: I.B. Taurus. Berger, John. 1972. Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin. Booker, M. Keith, and Bob Batchelor. 2015. Mad Men: A Cultural History. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. Brooks, Peter. 1976. The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Bugbee, Stella, and Elisa Kreisinger. 2013. Watch Peggy Olson Break Through the Glass Ceiling. The Cut, June 21.



Ciasullo, Ann. 2012. What Do a Meaningless Secretary and a Humorless Bitch Have in Common? Everything. In Man Men, Women, and Children: Essays on Gender and Generation, ed. Heather Marcovitch and Nancy E. Batty. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Coontz, Stephanie. 2010. Why ‘Mad Men’ Is TV’s Most Feminist Show. The Washington Post, October 10. article/2010/10/08/AR2010100802662.html. Davidson, Diana. 2011. ‘A Mother Like You’: Pregnancy, the Maternal, and Nostalgia. In Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series, ed. Scott F. Stoddart. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Donnelly, Liza. 2012. Why the Most Liberated Woman on Mad Men Is Don Draper’s Wife. Forbes, May 7. 2012/05/07/why-the-most-liberated-woman-on-mad-men-is-don-draperswife/#4cbbb38551cb. Edgerton, Gary R. 2011. Mad Men: Dream Come True TV. New York: I.B. Taurus. Engoron, Nelle. 2010. Why ‘Mad Men’ Is Bad for Women. Salon, July. https:// Engstrom, Erika, Tracy Lucht, Jane Marcellus, and Kimberly Wilmot Voss. 2014. Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness. New York: Peter Lang. Goren, Lilly L., and Linda Beail (eds.). 2015. Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern American. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. Haralovich, Mary Beth. 2011. Women on the Verge of the Second Wave. In Mad Men: Dream Come True TV, ed. Gary R. Edgerton, 159–176. London: I.B. Taurus. Haskell, Molly. 2011. The Mad Men Account, Letter. The New York Review of Books, March 24. Hayes, Britt. 2013. How Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway Met the Glass Ceiling on MAD MEN. Birth. Movies. Death, June 25. 2013/06/25/how-peggy-olson-and-joan-holloway-met-the-glass-ceiling-onmad-men. Krouse, Tonya. 2011. Every Woman Is a Jackie or a Marilyn: The Problematics of Nostalgia. In Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series, ed. Scott F. Stoddart, 186–204. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Mangan, Lucy. 2011. TV Review: Pan Am; Who Do You Think You Are? The Guardian, November 16. 2011/nov/16/tv-review-pan-am-buscemi. Marcovitch, Heather, and Nancy E. Batty (eds.). 2012. Mad Men, Women, and Children: Essays on Gender and Generation. New York: Lexington Books.



Matlack, Tom. 2009. Is Mad Men a Feminist Show? Huffpost, August 13. McCarthy, Anna. 2007. Mad Men’s Retro Charm. The Nation, August 29. https:// Mulvey, Laura. 1975. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Screen 16 (3): 6–18. Newman, Stephanie. 2012. Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show. New York: Thomas Dunne Books and St. Martin’s Press. Owen, Susan, Sarah R. Stein, and Leah R. Vande Berg. 2007. Bad Girls: Cultural Politics and Media Representations of Transgressive Women. New York: Peter Lang. Radner, Hilary. 2011. Neo-Feminist Cinema: Girly Films, Chick Flicks, and Consumer Culture. New York: Routledge. Ream, Anne K. 2015. Don Draper, Feminist. New Republic, April 20. https:// Scanlon, Jennifer. 2009. Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown. New York: Oxford University Press. Semigran, Aly. 2015. The Best Feminism Moments on Mad Men. VH1.Com. May 15. Spigel, Lynn. 2013. Postfeminist Nostalgia for a Prefeminist Future. Screen 54 (2): 270–278. Stoddart, Scott F. (ed.). 2011. Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Williams, Linda. 2001. Playing the Race Care: Melodramas of Black and White From Uncle Tom to O.J. Simplson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Yuan, Jada. 2013. Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss on Peggy as the New Don, Top of the Lake, and Orgasm Acting. Vulture, April 5. 2013/04/mad-men-elisabeth-moss-interview.html.

The Performativity of Labour and Femininity on Mad Men Maryn C. Wilkinson

Mad Men is in many ways a show about women. Even though it pivots many of its actions around its ‘stoic’ male characters, Mad Men ultimately traces and emphasizes the transformation of its three leading female characters most centrally, amidst the rising emancipation of women and the civil rights struggles of 1960s America. Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss), Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks), and Betty Hofstadt/Draper/Francis (January Jones) are initially positioned as three distinct female ‘identities’ in the show—of ambition, female sexuality, and motherhood respectively—but in the end, the series’ trajectory underscores the complexity of these female characters by marking how all three women in fact pursue similar desires and perform similar roles in the landscape of 1960s America. All three are revealed to be ambitious, sexual, and maternal in their own ways, as they mark voice, territory, and identity within this patriarchal landscape—and this complexity and layering is precisely what makes the show so rich and progressive in terms of its representation of women. Mad Men is also a show about work and, by extension then, about women and their relation to work—about women finding their work. Mad Men presents its working women or ‘working girls’, so to say, in all three

M. C. Wilkinson (B) Department of Media and Culture, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




senses of this latter term. It features (1) girls at work, (2) girls working their femininity, and (3) the sexual labour that is implied, at times euphemistically and at times quite literally, by the term ‘working girl’ as well. What interests me in this chapter is to take a closer look at the complex ways in which all of this operates; how do the female characters in Mad Men evolve and manage to take on different roles within this specific landscape? How does the show render possible the transformations and developments of its women and layer their complexities? And how, specifically, does the representation of female work (or female labour) inform the construction of these characters and what role does work play in these characters’ development across the series? It is my contention that Mad Men affords its female characters the potential for great transformation because it conflates the performance of femininity with the performance of affective labour—all the while highlighting the ‘performative’ as the central tenet of women’s work. In order to explain this further, I first want to briefly make clear what I mean by affective labour and how this relates to the broader mantle concept of immaterial labour. In traditional Marxist theory, labour refers to the productive work that produces material, functional goods that can then be exchanged for a certain monetary value and subsequently be exploited in service of capital (Marx [1867] 2013). By this definition, labour refers predominantly to a specific type of work: the manual and 9–5 office work of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that was mostly done by men. The labour theory of value then defined the exchange value of the produced commodity as one determined by the amount of (hard) labour it represented. It is this traditional and relatively ‘patriarchal’ definition of work that the concept of affective labour attempted to circumnavigate and disrupt, by expanding our understanding of work to include women’s roles within the capitalist mode of production (Weeks 2007). Kathi Weeks (2007) has suggested there are two specific lineages to the term, as it developed in critical theory between the late 1960s and the 1980s. The first was the socialist feminist effort to add a critical account of reproductive labour to the Marxist analysis of productive labour, and the second was Arlie Hochschild’s addition of the emotional labour of ‘pink collar, service workers’ (Weeks 2007; Hochschild 1983). Both of these theories can be read as feminist interventions in the Marxist analysis of work, because their aim was to highlight the exploitation of the unpaid female labour that sustained capital. This included domestic labour and specifically the idea of reproductive labour,



which refers both to the literal reproduction of workers by producing children and to the reproduction of the right kind of emotions, through care and service, that provide the foundations at home to maintain consistent male, productive labour. This is where the term affective labour comes in; affective labour refers to the type of work that revolves around the production of affects, the intangible commodities that create and manipulate feeling, procreation, sustenance, and well-being. The concept of affective labour was subsequently expanded to include all kinds of service work, from health services and elderly care, to education, entertainment, and all forms of labour ‘in the bodily mode’ (Hardt 1999, 96; Smith 1987, 78–88). Michael Hardt argues, alone and in his work with Negri and Virno, that since the post-Fordist transformation, we have moved to a time where immaterial labour—labour that does not produce material goods, that is not driven by hands but mostly by minds—actually produces more ‘value’ than the traditional notion of productive labour (Hardt 1999; Hardt and Negri 2001, 2004; Hardt and Virno 1996). Lazzarato (1996) concurs. After agriculture and the production of raw materials, and the rise of industry and the manufacture of durable goods, what produces most value in our current times is service work and the manipulation of information (Hardt 1999). Within this category of immaterial labour, Hardt and Negri absorb computerized technologies, networked communication, as well as affective labour, and more, placing affective labour within a much broader perspective (2001, 2004). In so doing, the feminist character and productive potential of the original concept are lost. I will come back to Hardt and Negri’s conception of immaterial labour briefly at the end of this chapter, but for now, I want to move forward by taking the term affective labour back to its original definition—as it was devised within critical theory as a feminist intervention in the 1960s–1980s, where it was meant to expand the traditional notion of work in capital— because this is partially the time period and labour mode that Mad Men itself directly addresses and because this is where the feminist potential of the concept is most apparent and productive. Affective labour in its original use, I reiterate, refers to care and service work, in both the domestic sphere and outside it (in the health and education sector, for instance), and to the production of affects that drive specific cultural and commercial ventures. It refers to the labour that revolves around the manipulation of feelings or the steering of tastes and emotions; the work that (re)produces a sense of well-being, ease and satisfaction, or excitement and passion, through entertainment, labour in the bodily mode, or social communication, as



well as to the creation of affects that drive and circulate in cultural sectors such as fashion, the arts, and, most importantly, advertising. This chapter explores the ways in which the concept of affective labour informs the representation of women in Mad Men. Through close analysis of the series’ aesthetics, characterization, and narration, it will illustrate how the representation of female labour in the show, in contrast to the male labour, is entirely ‘affective’—not only for its leading women, but also for auxiliary characters such as Rachel Menken, Megan Draper, Dawn Chambers, Trudy Campbell, and Sylvia Rosen as well. The chapter will then argue that this affective labour is consistently marked as ‘performative’ in nature. The series thus conflates the performance of femininity with the performance of female affective labour. It is important to re-examine this structural facet of the series for two main reasons. On the one hand, by underscoring the performativity of (affective) female labour, the series seemingly continues to undermine—in spite of the show’s meta-modernist, feminist critique1 —the value produced by female work. This reading, therefore, proposes a new and rather critical take on the show’s representation of women. On the other hand, however, by highlighting the transformative, collective, and creative character of the female performance of affective labour, the series can again be read as progressive. Ultimately, Mad Men offers valuable and refreshing perspectives on the nature of female work and female adaptability and, by extension, could further critical thought on the relationship between the representation of femininity and affective and even immaterial labour in our current times.

Women of Service The three principal leading women introduced in Mad Men are initially presented to us as three specific female types, each taking on a distinct role within the category of affective labour. Betty Draper is the homemaker who offers reproductive care in her mothering, homemaking, and educating within the domestic sphere. Joan’s mere image produces stimulating, sexual pleasure for her environment, while she supports her superiors’ male labour by organizing all sorts of practical matters for them at the office. Peggy’s first entry into work shows her quickly moving from a similar support service as a secretary to a career in advertising itself—a promotion for which she not only has to ‘sell herself’ in more ways than one, but for which she ultimately, quite literally, still steers the emotions and tastes of her clients, colleagues, and prospective consumer customers. Over the course



of the series, the three women shift in their roles along the surface, as they come to occupy different positions within the category of female affective labour. Betty shifts from one home to the next, as she continues her care, society, and volunteer work and eventually pursues a degree and career in psychology (another primary form of affective labour). Joan becomes both a mother and homemaker and a partner in advertising (as the direct result of performing sexual labour), and Peggy too bears a child, but chooses not to raise it, as she instead rises in the ranks, across agencies, to eventually find love and the promise of domestic fulfilment among the desks. Alongside these three central characters, Mad Men introduces its viewers to many other women throughout the series (from Midge Daniels and Rachel Menken, to Carla, Bethany van Nuys, Dawn Chambers, and Sylvia Rosen, to name but a few), who work as models, actresses, secretaries, as nannies, maids, and teachers, as shopkeepers and store managers, as homemakers, prostitutes and Playboy bunnies, artists, psychologists, waitresses, and stewardesses, and so on. Their ‘carouselling’ appearances are exemplified best perhaps by the changing faces of the switchboard introduced in Season 1, a group of elusive and transitory muses, connecting calls and steering communications, at a subsidiary level to the main labour performed by the men. These women pass by mostly unnoticed and remain relatively insignificant in their roles, working ‘behind the scenes’—yet at the same time, they are defined as the driving heart of the firm; pleasing these women with gifts and keeping them ‘oiled up’ are what the agency needs to keep everything else going, Joan suggests (1.1 ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’). My first argument then is that all female labour, all of women’s work, in Mad Men falls resolutely within the category of affective labour. In a way, the majority of all labour in Mad Men falls within this category— most of the men’s work too, in their advertising and the attracting and selling of business, can be defined as immaterial . But my point would be that ‘women’s work’ in Mad Men is marked as such much more broadly and consistently, in contrast to the men. The range of different jobs we see women perform, as suggested above, is much wider and varying than that of the men, the majority of whom can be directly linked to the advertisement or selling business (with a few exceptional encounters of men working for the military or politics). These men have ‘settled’ positions of influence and power and are shown to make decisions that carry influence—even if they are still striving to get higher up the ladder. Women in Mad Men, on the other hand, are consistently connected through the labour they perform in positions of support, care, entertainment, and emotional resonance or



steering; their work resides at a level of precarious servitude. Although the show introduces a few examples of tentative female power (Rachel Menken has taken charge of her father’s business, and Faye Miller confidently offers marketing reports on test audiences for the firm), these are mostly marked as temporary and carefully framed within structures of surrounding and ‘superior’ male dominance and labour. In spite of the three female leading characters’ evolution and their increasing sense of agency over the course of the seven seasons, the series never quite breaks free of this pattern of gendered representation. This is likely, of course, due to the series’ intense commitment to the correct historical representation of the advertising field and labour market in the early 1960s. The show is simply reflecting ‘how it really was’ and offers viewers the opportunity to take a critical perspective on this history. Nevertheless, it needs to be noted that the series’ indulgence in the spectacle of female affective labour, marked by the sheer number of waitresses, actresses, models, stewardesses, and secretaries that make their brief actes de présence on screen, does more than just underscore but actually re-validates the essentialist nature of this divide.

Performativity The women in Mad Men are quite overwhelmingly beautiful and stylish; they are there to-be-looked-at (Mulvey 1989, 14–26). The representation of women’s work on the show is purposely directed towards pleasing the male gaze throughout, both diegetically, within the world the characters inhabit, and extra-diegetically, beyond the frame. The female affective labour we encounter services not only the male ‘superiors’ within the narrative, but the viewers too. The camera lingers from above on the pretty secretaries gathered in the typing pool, before hungrily revealing this week’s arm candy with Roger and Don or indulging in an array of shots of young women putting on their lipstick or lingerie. We see these women mostly through doorways, glass walls, or two-way mirrors, further emphasizing their to-belooked-at-ness (even out of focus or shot through the glass, early shots of Megan are always placing her within a frame). The women are generally presented as unaware that they are being looked at; the narration instead prioritises the male judgement of their performances by quickly cutting back to the more ‘knowledgeable’ perspective of the male voyeurs, as they roam and command their panopticons. In the brief moments where the women are shown to be aware of the power dynamic involved in such a set-up, the reverse shots merely imply



that they enjoy their positions as objects in these scenarios, as they tentatively attempt to take advantage of their to-be-looked-at-ness by dressing and moving to impress. We see Betty revel in the effects of her good looks in Italy as she tempts Italian onlookers, before ‘play-acting’ her way through a seductive encounter with Don, pretending she has never met him before (3.8 ‘Souvenir’). Joan carefully manipulates her gestures during the Belle Jolie tryouts, as she leans forward across a desk to give the men she knows are behind a two-way mirror the very best view of her buxom behind (1.6 ‘Babylon’). And in spite of Peggy’s vocal objections to the ‘male gaze’ she detects in the ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ campaign (3.2 ‘Love Among the Ruins’), both Peggy and Megan are shown to dance seductively for Pete and Don (respectively in 1.8 ‘The Hobo Code’, and 5.1 ‘A Little Kiss—Part One’), at different parties, attempting to seduce them with their moves and appearance. The viewers are made aware of the relative female agency in such scenes because the women’s performances are revealed to be an active construction; Mad Men emphasizes how the women attempt to manipulate their own image, their own femininity, in order to achieve a specific goal, namely to attract, play with, and retain male attention. But their agency is consistently shown to be only fleeting and temporary; ultimately, the women are returned safely within the confines of male power and desire. These performances serve the pleasures and wills of the men, and it is their opinion of these acts, their reaction to the women, that matters for the narrative’s progression. Female affective labour in Mad Men is marked as profoundly performative throughout the series in many different ways and at different levels. We firstly encounter female, affective work in actual performances, in the more theatrical sense of the term: Joan follows her husband’s orders and plays ‘C’est magnifique’ on the accordion for her dinner guests (3.3 ‘My Old Kentucky Home’), and she and some of the girls take part in the performance of Paul’s play at the office (1.12 ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy’); Betty performs the role of the perfect house wife in the Coca-Cola campaign (1.9 ‘Shoot’) and play-acts in Italy (3.8 ‘Souvenir’); Ann-Margret’s performance is doubled in the recreation for the Bye, Bye Birdie advertisement, which Peggy herself then emulates in a mirror (even though she is shown to question it in a prior scene) (3.2 ‘Love Among the Ruins’); Megan acts on television and sings ‘Zou Bisous Bisous’ for Don’s party (5.1 ‘A Little Kiss—Part One’); Sally’s performs her ballet moves for the viewing pleasure of her parents’ guests (2.1 ‘For Those Who Think Young’), and so on. These performances are direct and quite deliberately staged. But we also



encounter female ‘performances’ more indirectly as well, unmarked and merely as part and parcel of their labour: Peggy has to dress up a certain way to ‘blend in’ at the strip club, to be one of the guys, and then sit on a man’s lap and smile (2.6 ‘Maidenform’); Betty acts as the perfect hostess of a ‘round the world dinner party’, unwittingly getting her lines just right and promoting Heineken to her guests (2.8 ‘A Night to Remember’), and Joan performs a range of sexual favours for work, including sleeping with a client (5.8 ‘The Other Woman’), in order to get the firm what it wants (she is even referred to as the ‘performing manager’ by Hooker in Season 3). The ‘pitches’ of campaigns straddle the more direct and indirect forms of performances as well—these are semi-staged and carefully prepared, yet supposedly just a ‘natural’ part of the business. Peggy is shown to struggle with these instances initially, appearing hesitant and nervous as she searches for words to sell the ‘Relaxicisor’: ‘You’ll love the way it makes you feel’ (1.11 ‘Indian Summer’). The other ways in which female affective labour is marked as performative in Mad Men are more complex, since they build and expand on the previous two. The women are shown to play with their own performance of femininity throughout—both covertly and openly—as we have seen in some of the examples mentioned above. Performances become attempts at seduction and are manipulated and directed to carefully promote the women’s being-looked-at. The performance of femininity therefore is intricately interwoven with all the kinds of affective labour we see the women perform. The careful construction and outward communication of femininity imbue every aspect of their work. Within their roles as 1960s American women, we observe our female leads in countless ‘mini-performances’ subsumed within their characters’ daily, habitual tasks too. The show presents their routines and social interactions as laced by moments of fakery, of telling lies, of manipulating and steering their own or other characters’ emotions. The women are consistently shown to act a certain way to please a certain audience, to maintain appearances, seduce, conceal information, hide their emotions, take back what they’ve said, and so on. The men too lie, manipulate, and ‘perform’, but in Mad Men, we are most consistently made privy to the fact that the women are doing so, because the way the scenes and shots are cut together provides that very information to the audience in advance; these female ‘mini-performances’ typically follow a set-up that underscores and reveals the precise nature of their construction. We see Peggy prepare to lie to a client about Don fully approving a campaign, while he is away in California (2.12 ‘The Mountain



King’). We see Betty as she learns from Don that her former roommate is now a call girl, before she reframes the entire encounter to Francine (2.1 ‘For Those Who Think Young’). We see Faye Miller announce how she will introduce herself a certain way to her test audience and explain why, before she meets the group (4.4 ‘The Rejected’). We observe Joan cleaning herself off after her rape, before she pretends all is well once more (2.12 ‘The Mountain King’). There are many more examples. Again, the men lie, perform, and manipulate too, but because the series does not often provide the knowledge the viewers need to identify the performance as such beforehand, the male performances remain shrouded in mystery and appear to just come ‘naturally’ to the men. Their background information is often left particularly clouded; Don’s backstory is revealed only very slowly and in parts throughout the series. In contrast to the struggling learning process Peggy endures with the pitching of campaigns, Don seems to have been given a ‘natural’, innate gift for the task; his selling performance of the Kodak carousel pitch (1.13 ‘The Wheel’) is placed in stark opposition to Peggy’s Relaxicisor, ketchup, or Heinz pitches. The women are never shown to play it quite as effortlessly or straight as the men; female affective labour is consistently marked as performative and as constructed—the work requires performance and the performance requires work—and it is always tailored specifically to meet the standards of a particular ‘set’ demand, catering to the male superior, the male gaze, the male client, the male lover, the male colleague, and so on. The show suggests then that performativity is inherent to all female/affective labour—domestic, sexual, and otherwise—and by extension conflates affective labour with the performance of femininity. Now herein again lies a complex double bind when it comes to the politics of the series, because it is the point of the show, of course, to expose these very frameworks as typical of the conservative values of the 1960s. It is the point of the show to make evident that this was how women were perceived at the time, that these were the confines of their roles, and the limits of the opportunities they had; these were the performances they had to meet, construct, repeat, and so on. That is where we find the show’s critique and its (historical) tracings of the foundations of the Women’s Liberation Movement. But in repeating and upholding this construction so consistently, the show again makes a spectacle of the limited female experience (a melodramatic one even?) and undermines the potential value of the female labour on display. By marking women’s work in Mad Men as ‘merely’ performative within a male-dominated world, and by binding



these performances up with the performance of femininity and the women’s persistent ‘willingness to serve and please’, it becomes unclear where the critical break from, or the conservative sustenance of, this type of imagery begins and ends. Female affective labour and the culturally constructed (or demanded) performance of femininity are represented here as one and the same thing. Women’s work becomes quite indefinable. By reproducing the very power relations that hold female labour and performance at the mercy of male desire, and insisting upon it remaining confined within that rigid framework, the show actually undermines the value of women’s work.

Affective Labour and Female Transformation The direct value of women’s work in Mad Men may be elusive, but perhaps therein lies the key to its powers for transformation. Much of the performative, affective female labour in Mad Men is rooted in the showing of emerging female experience itself; female labour is explicitly presented as guided by imitation, repetition, learning, constructing, and mirroring. We see the women perfect the right look, the right performance, across a range of scenarios and scenes, as they move from a Jackie to a Marilyn, or from a Grace Kelly to an Elizabeth Taylor, and back again. The series thereby suggests that the skills the women acquire from their affective labour are transposable. Female work is represented as performative and as relatively futile, but also as flexible and mobile, easily applicable elsewhere within the arena of affective labour—within another role, another image. It is because Allison (Alexa Alemanni), one of Don’s early secretaries, ‘knows’ how to take care of her boss, which we see when she carefully puts him to bed drunk, that she is positioned to become his sexual partner that night (4.2 ‘Christmas Comes But Once a Year’). Her care and service work fluidly transpose her to ‘labour in the bodily mode’ (similar lines of development apply to other characters as well, including Jane, Roger’s second wife, and Joan). Megan’s knowledge and skill set are also exceptionally transposable; it is because she has younger cousins (that she mentions she has taken care of at home) that she automatically ‘knows’ how to take care of Don’s three children and is best suited to become their nanny. She shifts along the surface effortlessly, from the typing pool to secretary at the front desk, to Edna’s position as Don’s personal secretary, to his sexual partner, to nanny, to wife, to singer/artist, to copywriter, and to successful actress. It is the ‘performance-of-femininity’ aspect, or quality, of her labour that allows for such fluidity. Faye Miller’s skill set, by contrast, is notably less portable.



She insists she is not a child psychologist, and not a mother, and struggles with her conscience when asked to choose Don’s career over her own, which ultimately leads her to a dead end on the show. Throughout the series, flexible, transposable, precarious female affective labour wins out, both romantically and professionally. In the end, it is through their performative adaptability and transposable ingenuity that Joan, Peggy, and Betty are all kept standing, so centrally within the frame, over the course of the entire series. What to make of all of this, in terms of a political reading of the show? Women are presented ‘safely’ within the confines of affective labour in Mad Men. Their work is marked as highly performative, constructed, and as conflated with the performance of their femininity and thus as quite unboundaried (or undefined?) and precarious. And yet, this kind of female labour is also presented as transposable, fluid, adaptable, and oddly consistent in its nature as such. Where do we locate the agency that this implies? How does the series comment on the female transformation and adaptability it presents? The answer, I would argue, lies in the show’s self-referential, meta-textual, and meta-modern character (by which I mean, in short, ironic yet sincere—again, please see also Vermeulen and Van Den Akker 2015). Female performance and affective labour appear to be bracketed in ‘quotation marks’ throughout the show. Not only because the narrative presents it this way—constantly highlighting the theatricality of the construction of female labour—but because it is characterized as such by the exceptionally precise mise-en-scène as well. The women in Mad Men are framed in aesthetically tight compositions throughout, in three principal ways. The first way is through carefully composed symmetry. The scenes of the Belle Jolie tryouts, of the typing pool floor, the shots of Betty in the doctor’s office (before she discovers she is pregnant with Eugene), or the shot where she waits for her audition, are good examples of perfectly composed, symmetrical, and almost ‘still’ frames. These are moments of classic portraiture, recalling paintings or immaculately directed advertisement photography; beautifully aligned and composed, nearly breaking the flow of the narrative in order to celebrate the process of its own construction and symmetry. Such instances doubly highlight the performance of femininity and the affective labour within it, by marking the frame itself as just that, as performative. Secondly, the miseen-scène engages meticulous and tight ‘framing within the frame’ throughout. A great many shots in Mad Men have an open door in them (I would argue it is the single most important visual motif in the series), and we



often see the women through doors, in doorways, through glass frames, through peepholes, in mirrors and reflections, framing their image within the frame, and trapping them within Hitchcockian linear play. The framein-frame doubles their image of sorts, making it seem as though we are looking at a second layer of constructed image—a television show, a film, an artistic rendering, and a carefully crafted composition of the female image—within the screen. And lastly, and most remarkably perhaps, the mise-en-scène frequently mimics, or repeats, the outline of the woman on display by doubling her silhouette at a slightly wider scale within the set design. The picture frames on the wall in Peggy’s office, for instance, trace the shape of her figure’s outline, offering a larger marking of the shape of her neck and shoulders as a repeat image in the background of the set. Betty’s poses too are echoed and outlined by her kitchen cabinets, and Joan’s outer silhouette, as she talks on the phone at home, is contained and ‘held up’ by a doorway and a lamp in the background that directly counterweight her posture and curves, tracing their shape. This outlining not only emphasizes the idea that these women’s roles and performances may be entrapping them, but it literally repeats and transposes the silhouettes of the women onto the context of the frame, as though it is placing them between brackets or quotation marks. (And the show does not do this in the same way for the men; linear play may occasionally box the men in or place them in relation to bars on screen, but it never quite repeats the outline of their figures, as it does so very consistently for the women.) This outlining in the mise-en-scène draws the eye back and forth between the performance and the image of the figure to the context they are in, outwards from the surface appearance of the woman into their surroundings. This outward movement accentuates the affective appearance of the performance, and conceals (or rejects even) that which resides, and might possibly be fixed, under the surface. The visual bracketing or ‘quotation marking’ of female performance is a superbly interesting aspect of Mad Men’s aesthetics, because it offers fruitful connections to the field of performance studies. If we think, for instance, of what happens in speech acts when we place a term, word, or concept, in between quotation marks, the implied bracketing prevents a ‘natural understanding’ (Röttger 2012, 10) of the original definition. We are not meant to understand the meaning directly in such speech acts, but rather, we have to consider the word’s façade and its performance, its relation to its meaning (or to the role that plays) within this specific context. When placed in quotation marks, a word ‘performs’ its own definition as it repeats it and



alters it ever so slightly—thereby marking a slight shift along the surface and bringing with it a change, a demand to place it in a certain present context, a certain new light, and to understand its particular, individual meaning, for this particular instance. The aesthetic play with lines, angles, composition, props, and mirrors in Mad Men performs a similar function. It marks this world a stage for the women, their labour and their performances, while denaturalizing their direct meaning—instead placing further emphasis on the added layer of performance at play in the image. The ‘affective’ labour of the show at large, which unites these women together as a group, becomes the quotation mark-bracketed performance, not only of their femininity, but of all the work they do, which exposes its own theatrical construction, while evading any real anchoring or setting of definition. To summarize then, a close reading of the construction of female affective labour in Mad Men helps us understand the show’s complexities and contradictions when it comes to its representation of women. It explains how and where the show allows for female fluidity and transformation, for if female affective labour in Mad Men is at its core one of ingenious ‘performance’, and this is subsequently placed in between quotation marks by the series itself, this allows for a layering of surface and depths that opens up spaces in between. It is within this space—this assumed distance—that we find room for active adaptation and interpretation, for hybridity and confluence, and even agency, underneath the image, as well as within it. No performance, after all, is ever quite the same as another (Röttger 2012, 3); the female performance on display here is much like the experience of it, marked by a sense of play, of learning, of transition and mobility (and a potentially upward one at that!). Moreover, with this performance comes an opportunity for pluralities (for being both and neither at the same time), and this brings forth multiple access points and opportunities for collaborative, creative, and collective shifts. The female labour we find represented in Mad Men is ultimately infused by a strong, affective connection between the women, as they shift along the surface into different roles; their performances bring about moments of exchange, mirroring, and learning that connect them to one another within an all-woman, transformative, communicative network (perhaps again best symbolized by those transitory switchboard muses in the first series, working on a different plane). The working girls of Mad Men are all one and the same in their labour—they are working it for each other, and with each other, as much as they are working it for themselves.



In spite of my earlier critical notes, it has not been my intention to undercut the feminist potential of Mad Men in this chapter, but rather to explore how its representation of women works and how these women get to be such strong female characters. ‘Mad Men is consistently smarter than people who fancy themselves smarter than Mad Men, always operating on three or four levels…’, argues Matt Zoller Seitz (2015). If we examine and dissect its representations of women, particularly in relation to their labour and performances, this seems very true. Mad Men works because its audiences are invited (provoked even) to bring to bear the knowledge and context of our current neo-liberal times onto 1960s America; to look at it ‘double’, if you will. As our society has come to privilege immaterial labour over productive labour and places its focus ever increasingly on the value of ‘the performative’ and ‘the a/effective’ within our culture (from manual labour to work of the mind, it is said we are now moving towards a world defined by work of the heart), it becomes important to re-examine the distinct character of affective labour within it—and this is something Mad Men appears to be interested in as well. Understanding the full potential and reach of affective labour and its relationships to performance studies may well allow us to rethink not only the complex representations of women in Mad Men and other popular imaginings, but of work itself, especially of women’s work, as well as potential resistance strategies, in our current times of post-Fordist mode of production. I know I will keep returning to Mad Men in search of the answer.

Note 1. For an exploration of the term meta-modernism, please see Vermeulen and Van Den Akker (2015, 55–67).

Bibliography Hardt, Michael. 1999. Affective Labor. Boundary 2 26 (2), 89–100. Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2001. Empire. Boston: Harvard University Press. ———. 2004. Multitude. New York: Penguin. Hardt, Michael, and Paolo Virno (eds.). 1996. Radical Thought in Italy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Hochschild, Arlie. 1983. The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press.



Lazzarato, Maurizio. 1996. Immaterial Labor. In Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, ed. Hardt and Virno, 133–147. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Marx, Karl. 2013. Capital: Volumes One and Two. Wordsworth Editions Limited. Mulvey, Laura. 1989. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In Visual and Other Pleasures, 14–26. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Röttger, Kati. 2012. ‘Preface’ and ‘Introduction: Gender and Performance at Odds? How to Deal with Paradoxes, Paralysis and Provocations’. In Gender and Performance—Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis, 1–29. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. Smith, Dorothy. 1987. The Everyday World as Problematic: A Feminist Sociology, 78–88. Boston: Northeastern University Press. Vermeulen, Timotheus, and Robin Van Den Akker. 2015. Utopia, Sort of: A Case Study in Metamodernism. Studia Neophilologica 87 (sup1): 55–67. Weeks, Kathi. 2007. Life Within and Against Work: Affective Labor, Feminist Critique, and Post-Fordist Politics. Ephemera 7 (1): 233–249. Zoller Seitz, Matt. 2015. How the Mad Men Pilot Predicted the Final Episodes of the Series. Vulture, May 14. Accessed March 2, 2017. http://www.vulture. com/2015/05/mad-men-pilot-predicts-the-final-episodes.html.

Mad Men, Corporate Culture, and Violence Against Women Tracy Lucht and Jane Marcellus

In an episode provocatively titled ‘The Other Woman’ during the fifth season of Mad Men, up-and-coming Sterling Cooper advertising agency1 is desperate to secure an account with luxury automobile firm Jaguar. In the office, male creative executives brainstorm tag lines likening the car to a man’s mistress. Meanwhile, in a restaurant, account executives Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove try to woo Herb Rennet, the portly head of the Dealer’s Association, into supporting the agency’s bid (5.11). During an earlier office tour, Herb had noticed office manager Joan Harris, whose red hair and curvaceous figure typically draw more attention than her skills and intelligence. Herb makes it clear to Ken and Pete that he will help them get Jaguar only if they arrange for him to spend a night with Joan. ‘You’re talking about prostitution’, Joan exclaims when Pete suggests the idea to her.

T. Lucht (B) Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA e-mail: [email protected] J. Marcellus Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




‘I’m talking’, Pete says, ‘about business at a very high level’.

Although prostituting Joan is one of the most obvious examples of how violence against women functions in relation to business on Mad Men, it is hardly the only one. Physical force is rare, but women are exploited in numerous ways in the interest of corporate competition and moneymaking. This becomes particularly clear if we expand our definition of ‘violence’ to include its etymological kin, ‘violate’. As the Oxford English Dictionary says, the most common definition of ‘violence’ is ‘The deliberate exercise of physical force against a person, property, etc.; physically violent behaviour or treatment’. However, it can also mean ‘Violation or breach of something’ (s.v. ‘Violence’, italics original). Violate, meanwhile, is not only ‘To rape or sexually assault (a person, esp. a woman)’ but ‘To interfere with (another’s property) by taking or using it as one’s own; to appropriate’. And, importantly, ‘To treat (a person, a person’s feelings, etc.) with contempt or disrespect; to offend, affront. Also: to use or treat inappropriately or without due regard’ (s.v. ‘Violate’). Viewed this way, violation is a form of violence. On Mad Men, violence against women in the form of violation occurs regularly, demonstrating that scholars must expand their definition to understand the spectrum of violence against women on television and in the workplace. We use ‘symbolic violence’, articulated by Pierre Bourdieu, paired with Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s framework of corporate work roles, as heuristic lenses through which to examine Mad Men’s representation of women in corporate culture. Like the OED etymology, Bourdieu invites us to consider violence beyond its physical manifestations, as a set of social relations that confer power or capital on a dominant group through exploitation or manipulation. Bourdieu argues that symbolic violence occurs when women are denied their subjectivity within a market of symbolic capital that makes them objects of exchange: ‘symbols whose meaning is constituted outside of them and whose function is to contribute to the perpetuation or expansion of the symbolic capital held by men’ (Bourdieu 2001, 43). Kanter (1977) contends that women in corporate culture are assigned roles that reinforce masculine power, with ‘“masculine” and “feminine” images embedded’ in roles that are ‘inherent neither in the nature of … tasks themselves nor in the characteristics of men and women’ (5). Arguably a manifestation of symbolic violence, these roles reify male-centred perspectives, inviting violation of women. When viewed through these paired theories, the narrative arcs of female characters illustrate how women’s labour,



appearance, social position, sexuality, or material property are appropriated and exchanged for male gain in the workplace. Linking gender, status, capital, power, and social practice, Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic violence and Kanter’s framework of corporate work roles illuminate how hegemonically naturalized forms of violence subjugate women. Although rarely physically assaulted, the women of Mad Men are victims of routine violence. Nevertheless, unlike shows that uncritically reinforce violence and traditional gender roles, Mad Men critiques the hegemony it depicts. Our goal, thus, is not to uncover hegemonic representations; rather, it is to use critical theory to offer a deeper understanding of ways the show illuminates subtler forms of gender violence in relation to business.

Bourdieu’s Symbolic Violence Bourdieu’s work on symbolic violence articulates the presence of invisible structures that guide individual behaviours, prioritising power in social relations. Symbolic violence occurs when overt domination would be unacceptable. It takes the form of gifts, loyalty, promised protection, loans, gratification, or ‘enchanted relationships’—seemingly benign, often consensual practices that undermine the authority or subjectivity of the oppressed party, creating a deficit in legitimacy. Euphemistically overpowering or exploiting another, it serves the same structural function as physical violence—sometimes operating in tandem with it—although more insidiously because it is socially sanctioned, requiring ‘a collective denial of the economic reality of the exchange [that] is only possible because … there is neither deceiver nor deceived’ (Bourdieu 1977, 196).

Kanter’s Corporate Work Roles Unlike Bourdieu’s theory, Kanter’s work is based on a social scientific study done in a large corporation not long after the time Mad Men depicts. Kanter (1977) argues that ‘women populate organisations, but they practically never run them’ (16). Her research found that managers were almost always male, a role imbued with a ‘masculine ethic’, because men were seen as naturally ‘tough-minded’ and analytical, with ‘cognitive superiority in problem-solving and decision-making’ (22). Seen as more emotional, women were relegated to auxiliary (usually secretarial) roles, where their relationship with male bosses was ‘patrimonial’ (73).



Besides the Secretary, Kanter (1977) identifies two other female roles: the Corporate Wife, whose job was to provide a sign of ‘stability and maturity’ (104) for her husband, appearing at corporate dinners and social occasions while sacrificing her own ambitions, and the Token High-Level Woman, who served as a symbol of ‘how-women-can-do, stand-ins for all women’, at once highly visible and a lonely outsider (207). Erika Engstrom (2014) notes that Kanter ‘provides a framework for exploring the depiction of women in the business setting as envisioned on Mad Men’ (15). We build on her work, using the business roles ascribed to women in the show’s narrative structure to examine different forms of symbolic violence. To move beyond individual personalities, we focus on pairs of women in Kanter’s roles, analysing how prescribed roles enable women’s autonomy to be violated for corporate gain. Specifically, we pair Peggy and Joan, who both start as the Secretary and become the Token High-Level Woman; Betty and Trudy as the Corporate Wife; and Rachel and Bobbie, whose attempts to take the role of Token High-Level Woman a step further—actually subverting male dominance—are ultimately dangerous. Applying Bourdieu’s theory of symbolic violence to each pair, we see how violence/violation functions in relation to each role. Joan and Peggy Although both Joan and Peggy end up as the Token High-Level Woman, they begin as the Secretary, with Joan as head secretary/office manager and Peggy the new hire. As secretaries, they are expected to sublimate their needs and desires, personal and professional, to those of male bosses. This begins with their bodies. As Joan tells Peggy on her first day, she should not only think about her ‘darling little ankles’ and how to ‘make them sing’ but go home, take her clothes off, put a bag over her head with eyeholes cut out, and evaluate her body. Helping Peggy secure birth control from her own gynaecologist (who warns Peggy not to be a ‘strumpet’), Joan stresses that a secretary must anticipate her boss’s needs and be prepared to meet them (1.1. ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’). The interchange illustrates how the Secretary is situated. Her authority, subjectivity, and creativity undermined by the job’s gendered structure, she is promised both her male boss’s protection and potential release from the role through marriage to him or another businessman. In this sense, she functions as an Office Wife, a term coined in the early twentieth century (Kanter 1977, 89–91; Marcellus 2011, 72–74) to describe the ‘corporate domesticity’



(Kwolek-Folland 1994, 118) of the boss–secretary relationship. Like Kanter’s Corporate Wife, an Office Wife was expected to be what Marjorie Davies calls a male boss’s ‘loyal extension’ (1982, 155), exhibiting what Kanter calls ‘fealty’ (84). Thus, the Office Wife role can be seen as training for the Corporate Wife role. As Joan tells Peggy, if she makes the ‘right moves’, she eventually will be married and won’t have to work at all (1.1). Because the role of Secretary empowers men, women’s creativity and needs are never part of the equation. Early in the series, Joan sees attracting men as a form of empowerment and uses her body to do so. Joan’s views are similar to that of Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown (Ouelette 1999; Scanlon 2009), who urged women to ‘make the most of their feminine assets in order to achieve financial and professional security’ (Lucht 2014, 71–72). As Brown (1964) writes in Sex and the Office, ‘By being a deliciously successful career girl you can collect fabulous men as lovers and friends’, explaining how one ‘tycooness’ did so (59). Joan seems to have followed this advice. She has an affair with agency owner Roger Sterling and until she is promoted to Token High-Level Woman in Season 5—a promotion she negotiates in exchange for sex with Herb Rennet in the episode that leads this chapter— she functions as a kind of über-Secretary, prescribing and policing other secretaries’ behaviour. For example, when Peggy approaches Joan for advice on how to be taken seriously, Joan tells Peggy to ‘stop dressing like a little girl’ (2.6 ‘Maidenform’). The episode ends with Peggy sitting on a client’s lap at a strip club, earning her entrance to the literal and figurative ‘men’s club’ in the only way possible. The scene illustrates the requirement that women allow themselves to be objectified if they hope to succeed, though ‘success’ is male defined. Both Joan and Peggy bear the consequences for the power imbalance and implicit sexuality embedded in the Secretary role. On the evening of Peggy’s first day on the job, Pete Campbell comes to her apartment seeking sex (1.1). Although she consents, she has little choice. This type of submission, Bourdieu argues, could be described as ‘both spontaneous and extorted’ and can only be understood if one takes into account the social order (Bourdieu 2001, 38). If Peggy refused, Pete could—and likely would—have retaliated, costing her the job. In a world where the term ‘sexual harassment’ had not been coined, Peggy is violated in the most personal way as a result of her work role, becoming pregnant.2 In Season 2, Joan is raped. One of the few acts of overt physical violence against women on Mad Men, the rape occurs when she brings Greg, her new



fiancé, to the office. After the other staff leave, he forces himself on her in Don Draper’s office. The location is no accident. ‘Pretend I’m your boss’, he tells her, pinning her to the floor despite her protests. Although there is nothing sexual between Don and Joan, Greg correctly identifies Don as the office’s sexual alpha male. In response, he marks his territory in an act of masculine hegemony that has everything to do with Joan’s role in ‘corporate domesticity’ (2.12 ‘The Mountain King’). Joan is objectified throughout the series. Although she is essential—her office is literally in the middle of the agency—her labour and sexuality are in the hands of male executives. Her feminist consciousness is gradually raised as she realizes ‘Cosmo Girl’ power is not real power. Her shifting awareness is clear when Joey, a junior copywriter, displays a pornographic cartoon of her having sex with Lane Pryce, paradoxically one of the few men who value her professionally. Yet it is Peggy, not Joan, who complains to Don. ‘Boys will be boys’ he replies and then tells Peggy to fire him. When she does so, Joan is angry. ‘No matter how powerful we get around here’, Joan says, ‘they can still just draw a cartoon. So all you’ve done is prove to them that I’m a meaningless secretary, and you’re another humorless bitch’ (4.8 ‘The Summer Man’). Whatever women do, they are disempowered by a gendered structure that reinforces symbolic violence. Both Joan and Peggy move from Secretary to Token High-Level Woman. Peggy does so first, when Don promotes her to junior copywriter, though the change does not ensure respect. Brought in whenever an account needs a ‘girl’s’ perspective, she is otherwise marginalized. The men violate her in multiple ways. After ridiculing her body throughout her unacknowledged pregnancy with Pete’s baby, they assume she was promoted because the baby is Don’s, not because she has talent. Negotiating for the Playtex account, they ask what kind of bra she wears, as if her body is agency property (2.6). When they seek an Ann-Margret lookalike to star in a diet cola commercial, her insights are silenced when she suggests feminine, rather than masculine, fantasies might be better suited to advertise a product for women. Don paternalistically explains the rules: Men want to look at the model, while women want to look like the model (3.2 ‘Love Among the Ruins’). Peggy suffers other indignities at the hands of Don, who refuses to give her a raise and literally throws money in her face after she proposes an ad be shot in Paris and assumes she will oversee it. ‘You want to go to Paris? Here, go to Paris!’ he yells. Don’s eruption represents the darker threat of physical violence that manifests when corporate women assert themselves outside the bounds of masculine authority—a point that



will become clearer in the discussion about Rachel and Bobbie. Pushed to her limit by these behaviours, Peggy finds a better job at another agency (5.11). Joan’s considerable behind-the-scenes power is tied to her objectification. She gets little credit for her work—a common problem for the Secretary at a time when job ads were legally segregated and, as Scanlon (2009) writes, ‘“secretary” actually encompassed many different job titles and many different job descriptions’ (126). After Joan becomes partner and assumes the role of Token High-Level Woman, she is marginalized just as much, if not more, since the men are threatened by her professional role. They already have, after all, a token in Peggy. When Joan brings in Avon, creative supervisor Ted Chaough assigns the account to Pete (6.10 ‘A Tale of Two Cities’). Losing her status when the agency is taken over by McCann Erickson, Joan finds herself again valued only for her body when Dennis, assigned to oversee her accounts (a humiliation the men do not have to endure), fumbles a phone meeting, and makes sexual innuendoes. Her consciousness raised by this time, she complains to agency head Jim Hobart. ‘I wonder how many women around here would like to speak to a lawyer’, she says, referencing Betty Friedan and the burgeoning liberal feminist movement. Finally taking a feminist stand, she is fired (7.12 ‘Lost Horizon’). Again, workplace structure denies her legitimacy: Tokens appear powerful, but only as long as they enforce male dominance. Throughout the series, symbolic violence perpetrated against women takes multiple forms. Joan is repeatedly violated sexually—her body objectified and traded like currency among men in the corporate environment— while Peggy is frequently silenced, her subjectivity constrained through the denial of her voice. Heterosexual male fantasies are reproduced, with women serving as the objects of men’s imaginative pleasure. Betty and Trudy Mad Men further illustrates male appropriation of women’s labour and sexuality through its depiction of the Corporate Wife, best exemplified by Betty Draper and Trudy Campbell. Polished and educated, each serves as an accomplice to her husband’s career ambitions, using beauty, grace, and social connections to secure accounts, facilitate office relationships, and enhance his image (while, of course, ensuring paternal heredity by bearing his children). Whether adorning her husband’s arm or bringing allies together at a dinner party, the Corporate Wife’s job is to increase her



husband’s social and symbolic capital, her only reward being his success. Both Betty and Trudy are exceedingly competent in this role, though they are taken for granted. With her education, taste, and beauty, Betty is a social asset to Don and to second husband Henry Francis. When it suits him, Don reminds Betty of her important role as ‘the glamorous Betty Draper’ who accompanies him to galas (3.10 ‘The Color Blue’); hosts dinner parties (2.8 ‘A Night to Remember’); and woos and soothes clients at home and abroad (2.3 ‘The Benefactor’ and 3.8 ‘Souvenir’). Indeed, Don needs Betty to keep up the false identity that is so profitable for him—a point not lost on Betty’s father, Gene, who lets it be known that he sees Don’s disregard for Betty: ‘Nobody has what you have. You act like it’s nothing. My daughter’s a princess, you know that?’ (2.10 ‘The Inheritance’). This father–daughter dynamic is echoed in Trudy’s storyline, since her father’s position helps Pete secure the Vick Chemical account. Unlike Don, Pete comes from ‘old money’, although his name is primarily a source of social rather than monetary capital, and it is Trudy’s ‘nouveaux riche’ parents who help the couple financially. Emulating Don’s dysfunction, Pete steps out on his marriage, showing blatant disregard for Trudy. They maintain appearances until Pete’s infidelities literally show up on their doorstep. After Pete’s tryst with a neighbour, the woman’s husband finds out and beats her. She flees to the Campbells’, where it is Trudy, not Pete, who tends to her injuries and insists Pete drive her to a hotel rather than home to her abuser (6.3 ‘The Collaborators’). The sight of a physically battered woman presents a concrete portrayal of the symbolic violence that female characters suffer on Mad Men. It also provides Trudy the evidence she needs to leave Pete. Shortly after, he learns the professional cost of his actions when Trudy’s father pulls the Vick account after seeing Pete in a brothel—though of course they’re there for the same purpose (6.6 ‘For Immediate Release’). Pete has lost a crucial social and financial partner in Trudy, whom he treats like a prop in his performance of masculinity. Eventually, Pete does process the personal cost of losing his marriage. In their last scene of the series, they disembark from a private jet to start a new life in Wichita, Kansas, where Pete has procured a coveted job at Lear Jet and Trudy will again play the role of Corporate Wife—though presumably with her eyes open (7.13 ‘The Milk and Honey Route’). While Betty and Trudy occupy positions of privilege and affluence, the strain of maintaining the illusion of matrimonial harmony manifests on their bodies. Early in the series, Betty develops a nervous tremor that leads her



to psychoanalysis (1.2 ‘Ladies’ Room’), while Trudy has difficulty conceiving a child (2.10). Betty’s figure demands she forgo meals, often in favour of cigarettes, ultimately costing her life when, at series’ end, she contracts lung cancer. Her food restriction is made explicit when Don spontaneously invites Roger Sterling to dinner and Betty is forced to nibble at salad so Roger can enjoy the steak that should have been hers. Significantly, it is in the kitchen—the site of Betty’s deprivation and labour—that Roger makes a pass at Betty, apparently testing how securely Don’s assets are controlled (1.7 ‘Red in the Face’). Betty rejects Roger but Don yells at her anyway, blaming her for his boss’s aggression. The verbal battering leads Betty to make a connection between symbolic and physical violence: ‘Do you want to bounce me off the walls? Would that make you feel better?’ The scene illustrates the double bind of the Corporate Wife, who must present her body as ‘at once offered and refused’ in order to add ‘the price of exclusivity to the effect of “conspicuous consumption”’ crucial to her husband’s masculine credibility (Bourdieu 2001, 29–30). A Corporate Wife’s allure adds to her husband’s symbolic capital in the eyes of his male colleagues. While wives are seen, they are scarcely considered. Their sexuality does not belong to them; it belongs to their husbands. For example, when Pete wants to get a short story published to compete with his office nemesis Ken Cosgrove, he asks Trudy to approach a former beau who works in publishing (1.5 ‘5G’). Trudy dutifully arranges the meeting, where she has to refuse her ex-boyfriend’s advances, and gets her husband’s story accepted to Boys ’ Life. She is hurt when Pete views this publication as a failure. ‘I could have gotten you in The New Yorker or in the Encyclopedia Britannica if I wanted to’, she retorts. Pete responds coldly: ‘So—why didn’t you?’ In horror, Trudy realizes his implication. ‘Why would you do that to me? Why would you put me in that position?’ This episode illustrates another way patriarchy uses ‘the legitimate circulation of legitimate women’ (Bourdieu 2001, 44) as a symbolic exchange that benefits men. Rachel and Bobbie Rachel Menken and Bobbie Barrett occupy unique positions on Mad Men. Involved sexually (though at different times) with Don Draper during his marriage to Betty, they not only play the role of the adulterous ‘other woman’, but are made ‘Other’ in ‘a system that has historically asked [women] to choose between work or sex, creating internal conflict’ (Marcellus 2014,



125). Along with Don’s other ‘other women’, Midge Daniels and Suzanne Farrell, they are ‘Other’ not only because they partake in extramarital affairs, but because they refuse to be defined by society’s prescriptions … negotiating sexuality and independence in a world where they are expected to choose between the two’ (Marcellus 2014, 134). Although neither is a Token High-Level Woman, they seek to claim their own power rather than shoring up men’s, a move that proves dangerous for both. Just as Joan’s and Peggy’s roles are structured by their initial role as the Secretary and later as Tokens, and just as Betty and Trudy are Corporate Wives, Rachel and Bobbie play roles structured by symbolic violence. Unlike Midge, an artist, and Suzanne, a teacher—both of whom construct their lives outside corporate culture—Rachel and Bobbie operate in a maledominated world where they must struggle between their own desires and their ability to wield power in a culture that defines it (Kanter’s ‘masculine ethic’). Business power is seen as masculine, Rachel and Bobbie are women, and therein lies the tension. Token High-Level Women in the sense that they are among the few women in managerial roles (Rachel manages her family’s department store and Bobbie manages her husband’s media career), they are both ‘highly visible’ and ‘lonely outsiders’ (Kanter 1977, 207). Yet unlike Kanter’s Token, Rachel and Bobbie truly challenge masculine hegemony. This is unusual. As Daly (1978) writes, men in power typically ‘choose their token women to represent the ‘female half of the species’ in the territories of male prerogative’ so they are ‘tokenized, cosmeticized, and most identified with male purposes’ (335). Although they share some characteristics with the traditional Token, Bobbie and Rachel seek genuine power in business. Bucking male domination, they suffer the consequences. Women like Bobbie and Rachel have historically been reviled. In the 1920s, when more women entered the workplace, popular magazines ran headlines such as ‘I Won’t Work for a Woman! Woman Does Not Like Her Sister as a Boss’ (Rollins 1924, 43). In 1962, The Nation decried the persistence of ‘career woman’ stereotypes, blaming a ‘cultural lag’ for the argument that career women ‘steam-roll’ men, dislike other women, and neglect their families (Merriam 1962, 564). Given long-held antagonism, it is not surprising that violence against women like Bobbie and Rachel would be more vehement than the relatively covert violation of the Secretary, the typical Token, and the Corporate Wife. ‘Enchanted relationships’ and other consensual practices that Bourdieu articulated are ineffective here. Whereas the traditional Token’s power is undermined when she attempts to



equal the men’s contributions, the woman who seeks autonomous business power beyond tokenism finds herself in true danger. Rachel’s independence is apparent from the outset. Seeking a forwardthinking agency to create ads for her family’s department store, she makes an appointment at Sterling Cooper, where she is treated with contempt as a woman and a Jew. Don stumbles when he mistakes the low-level male employee brought in to have another Jew in the meeting for the client. (‘You were expecting me to be a man. My father was, too’, Rachel notes coolly.) When she objects to suggestions for the store’s campaign, Don storms out, shouting, ‘You’re way out of line here. I’m not going to let a woman talk to me like that!’ Anticipating the respect afforded any client, Rachel is particularly offended when the creative executives suggest coupons, an unimaginative approach that would reify gender and ethnic stereotypes. She is offended again when Don, who has invited her for drinks to apologize, asks why she is not married. ‘Are you asking what’s wrong with me? If I weren’t a woman, I wouldn’t have to choose between putting on an apron and the thrill of making my father’s store what I think it should be’ (1.1). Rachel’s independence is incomprehensible to Don. As a store owner, Rachel is not the Secretary, and she has no aspirations to become the Corporate Wife. She is a Token, yet she does not see her value in the male-centred corporate structure that undermines women’s creativity. As she says, working in her family business is a ‘thrill’—literally in her blood. She thus positions herself outside corporate work roles in a direct challenge to masculine dominance. Don grows to respect Rachel and then to fall in love with her. When he suggests they run away together after Betty learns his identity, Rachel rejects him, horrified that he would leave his family. They meet again when he is in a bar with Bobbie and she is there with her husband (2.5 ‘The New Girl’). In the final season, Don learns that Rachel has died of leukaemia. When he drops by to pay his respects, Rachel’s sister tells him she ‘lived the life she wanted to live. She had everything’ (7.8 ‘Severance’). Her statement is ironic. Although we never learn about Rachel’s continued work in the department store or whether she became a Corporate Wife, the implication is that she has compromised at least some of her independence to conform to expected roles. That she dies of a type of cancer formed in the blood and bone marrow suggests symbolically that she no longer felt that ‘thrill’ in her bones. In the prevailing business and social structure, there is no place for women like Rachel. Intriguingly, while Betty learns she has cancer at the very moment she is reclaiming her power by returning to school, Rachel



dies, also of cancer, after apparently sublimating hers. With their mirrored experiences, Rachel is ‘other woman’ to Betty in more ways than one. That Don encounters Rachel while he is in a bar with Bobbie is paradoxical, for the women are both alike and different. As noted above, each seeks to transcend the traditional Token role to claim actual power. Yet while Rachel’s power is inspired by her desire to combine love for her family and love for business, the loveless Bobbie uses hers to promote the sardonic wit of her obnoxious husband, comedian Jimmy Barrett. She is thus a perversion of the Corporate Wife, whose role Kanter (1977) describes as traditionally discreet, serving as gracious hostess when need be and yet remaining ‘on the other side of the door’ to the business (104). Bobbie is neither discreet nor gracious, and she does not stand outside any man’s door. Once they become sexually involved, Don comes back to his office to find she has literally let herself in. Although Bobbie is ultimately violated, she also violates, as if playing out the role suggested by 1920s magazine stereotypes. Besides the rape of Joan in Don’s office and the domestic violence waged against Pete’s neighbour, one of the few women treated with overt violence is Bobbie. Her husband, hired to star in an ad for Utz chips, compares the client’s obese wife to the Hindenburg and a buffalo. Seeking to apologize and secure the account, Don arranges a dinner with the client and the Barretts. Betty is there, playing the Corporate Wife, though she becomes Jimmy’s prey, too, when he flirts with her. Knowing that Bobbie can make Jimmy apologize, Don urges her to do so. She refuses, and in a scene outside the ladies’ room, he shoves her against a piece of furniture, pulls her hair, and reaches under her skirt in a way that is clearly a sexual violation. Subdued, she gets Jimmy to apologize (2.3). The scene is disturbing. As Maureen Ryan (2008) writes in the Chicago Tribune, ‘His action solved several problems for him: It made Bobbie back down and toe the line, it produced Jimmy Barrett’s apology to important Sterling Cooper clients, and thus it prevented Don and other Sterling Cooper employees from getting into serious hot water with their bosses’. That is true, and because Bobbie is incorrigible, it is tempting to applaud. Yet this is overt sexual violence. That it might be applauded stems from misogynistic attitudes towards women who seek power outside Kanter’s ‘masculine ethic’. Although Rachel also seeks power outside that structure, she is more conflicted. For example, she resists the affair with Don until she gives into her attraction and burgeoning love for him. Bobbie instigates the affair to gain the upper hand and then uses her power manipulatively.



That said, Bobbie is a complex character. When Peggy, now a junior copywriter but still calling Don ‘Mr. Draper’, takes Bobbie into her apartment to recuperate after Bobbie and Don wreck his car, Bobbie seeks to mentor her. Rebutting Peggy’s claim that she is loyal to ‘Mr. Draper’ because he made her a copywriter, Bobbie objects: ‘I’ll bet you made yourself a copy writer’. She offers advice: ‘You’re never going to get that corner office until you start treating Don as an equal. And no one will tell you this, but you can’t be a man. Don’t even try. Be a woman. Powerful business when done correctly’ (2.5). Business power and femininity are not opposite for Bobbie. Nor are they for Rachel, but while Rachel’s drive for autonomous business power is grounded in her sense of family, Bobbie seeks power for its own sake. In the end, she pays the price. One afternoon in bed, she tells Don that she has been bragging about his sexual prowess. Angered by her sardonic attitude, he ties her to the bed, a move she confuses with sadomasochistic role-playing. ‘I want the full Don Draper treatment’, she says (2.6). He, however, leaves her there—bound and laid bare, a reassertion of masculine hegemony.

Conclusion Offering a window into corporate and domestic life just before Women’s Liberation, Mad Men shows how overt—but more often covert—forms of violence systematically work to undermine and marginalize women, helping viewers understand both the period in question and the revolution beginning to brew. As Haralovich (2011) notes, Mad Men’s female characters ‘exhibit moments of solidarity as women, although not with the feminist consciousness characteristic of the Second Wave’ (161). By series’ end, they are conscious, articulating their needs for equity and respect, with varying consequences. By illuminating symbolic violence and establishing the historical need for feminist activism, Mad Men demonstrates the relationship between the material world of the corporation and symbolic forms of violence and oppression. By expanding our definition of violence to include violation, we contend that even in situations where women are not battered or raped, deep damage is done to their autonomy and sense of self-worth. Such violence is not necessarily planned. As Bourdieu (2001) argues, symbolic violence does not happen at a conscious level, but rather makes up a pattern of reflexive discriminatory acts, such as excluding women, focusing



only on their appearance, treating them less formally than men, or ‘reducing their demands to whims that can be answered with a mollifying word or a tap on the cheek’ (59). As Kanter shows, roles created within workplace structure make such acts natural, expected, and difficult to avoid. Moreover, this structure naturalizes more overt forms of violence, such as prostituting Joan, and makes the violation of women who try to work outside prescribed roles appear acceptable. Violation of and violence against women not only empowers men but constructs masculinity in relation to business so that women cannot construct autonomous selves. Those who try pay the price, sometimes with their lives.

Notes 1. The agency is known at various times as ‘Sterling Cooper’, ‘Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’, and Sterling Cooper & Partners’. We use ‘Sterling Cooper’ for simplicity. 2. The earliest use of ‘sexual harassment’ in the OED is from 1971 (s.v. ‘Sexual harassment’).

Bibliography Brown, Helen Gurley. 1964. Sex and the Office. New York: Bernard Geis Associates. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice, trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ———. 1991. Language & Symbolic Power, ed. John B. Thompson and trans. Gino Raymond and Matthew Adamson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ———. 2001. Masculine Domination., trans. Richard Nice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Coontz, Stephanie. 2010. Why Mad Men Is TV’s Most Feminist Show. The Washington Post, October 10. article/2010/10/08/AR2010100802662.html. Daly, Mary. 1978. Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. Boston: Beacon Press. Davies, Marjorie W. 1982. Woman’s Place Is at the Typewriter. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Engstrom, Erika. 2014. The Women of Mad Men: Workplace Stereotypes Beyond Kanter. In Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness, ed. Erika Engstrom, Tracy Lucht, Jane Marcellus, and Kimberly Wilmot Voss, 13–30. New York: Peter Lang.



Haralovich, Mary Beth. 2011. Women on the Verge of the Second Wave. In Mad Men: Dream Come True TV, ed. Gary R. Edgerton, 159–176. London: I.B. Tauris. Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. 1977. Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Basic Books. Kwolek-Folland, Angel. 1994. Engendering Business: Men and Women in the Corporate Office, 1870–1930. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Lucht, Tracy. 2014. Sisterhood in the ’60s: Joan, Peggy, and a Feminist Awakening. In Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness, ed. Erika Engstrom, Tracy Lucht, Jane Marcellus, and Kimberly Wilmot Voss, 71–87. New York: Peter Lang. Marcellus, Jane. 2011. Business Girls and Two Job Wives: Emerging Media Stereotypes of Employed Women. New York: Hampton Press. ———. 2014. ‘Where the Truth Lies’: Gender, Labor, and ‘Other’ Relationships. In Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness, ed. Erika Engstrom, Tracy Lucht, Jane Marcellus, and Kimberly Wilmot Voss, 123–141. New York: Peter Lang. McNay, Lois. 2000. Gender and Agency: Reconfiguring the Subject in Feminist and Social Thought. Cambridge: Polity Press. Merriam, Eve. 1962. Ogress in the Office. The Nation, June 23. Myles, John F. 2010. Bourdieu, Language and the Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Ouelette, Laurie. 1999. Inventing the Cosmo Girl: Class Identity and Girl-Style American Dreams. Media, Culture and Society 21 (3): 359–383. Rollins, Mabel. 1924. I Won’t Work for a Woman! Woman Does Not Like Her Sister as a Boss. Colliers, 29 November. Ryan, Maureen. 2008. That Scene from Last Week’s ‘Mad Men’ and a Look at Sunday’s Episode. Chicago Tribune, 15 August. http://featuresblogs. Scanlon, Jennifer. 2009. Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ‘Sexual Harassment.’ 2015. OED Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ‘Violate, v.’ 2015. OED Online. Oxford University Press. ‘Violence, n.’ 2015. OED Online. Oxford University Press. Weiner, Mathew, prod. 2007. Mad Men. AMC Television.


Mad Men’s Intermediality: Film, Music, Poetics

Don Draper and the Enduring Appeal of Antonioni’s La Notte Emily Hoffman

With the notable exception of The Sopranos, Mad Men is a television show steeped in the influences of film rather than its small-screen predecessors. Matthew Weiner required his staff to watch a list of ten films to help acquaint them with his conception of the show’s world and its characters. Many, like The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960), North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959), and The Best of Everything (Jean Negulesco, 1959), are time capsules of mid-century fashion, décor, and social mores. As Christine Sprengler demonstrates, mid-century films provide vital points of reference for Mad Men’s scrupulous surface realism and deliberate archaism. For instance, Mad Men’s fondness for cinematic, rather than televisual low angles and deep focus, echoes The Apartment ’s depiction of an office space dominated by ‘a vast grid of overhead fluorescent lights’ accentuating ‘the essence of high modernism’ (Sprengler 2011, 240). Narratively, Weiner has in mind the likes of The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972), Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), and 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963), all of which he discusses in a Paris Review interview with his occasional cowriter, Semi Chellas. He appreciates the narrative imbalance of The Godfather, the way ‘the wedding takes up the first half hour of the movie’

E. Hoffman (B) Department of English and World Languages, Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, AR, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




(Chellas 2014). Apocalypse Now has only a loose allegiance to traditional three-act structure. ‘[W]e’re heading toward a climax’, Weiner says of Mad Men, ‘but there are so many digressions. To me, those digressions are the story’. 8 ½, which keeps the audience ‘scared and laughing and on the verge of tears’, is ‘everything you need to know about writing’, mainly that ‘there are no rules, the audience is not as rigid as you think’. Watching any episode of Mad Men, say, ‘The Suitcase’ (4.7) or ‘Far Away Places’ (5.6), reveals the extent to which Weiner has embraced these models. Mad Men’ s characters are also avid film consumers and use movies to understand themselves and their world. Joan (Christina Hendricks), for instance, laments that she feels like Doris Day but wants to be Kim Novak (1.10 ‘Long Weekend’). Meanwhile, her bosses make ads, like the Bye, Bye Birdie commercial for Pepsi’s Patio Cola, that mimic recent box office hits (3.4 ‘The Arrangements’). Most importantly, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is a legitimate cinephile, seeking out such disparate films as Gamera: The Giant (Noriaki Yuasa, 1965) and Model Shop (Jacques Demy, 1969). His eclectic tastes clearly veer from the mainstream. Gamera: The Giant inaugurates a kaiju franchise featuring a prehistoric, turtle-like monster with enormous tusks. Model Shop is the first English-language film of Jacques Demy and shares a cinematic universe with several of his French films. It is essentially a French New Wave film—complete with naturalistic cinematography and a high level of self-reflexivity—shot in Hollywood. These films are too obscure to inspire future ad campaigns, unlike Bye, Bye Birdie, making it likely Don seeks them out for self-edification and entertainment. And Weiner seeks them out because they somehow parallel Don’s mental state. Given Mad Men’s overall saturation in film, no direct movie reference on screen should be ignored. The mention of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1961 film La Notte in Season 2’s ‘The New Girl’ (2.2) has hardly gone unnoticed by scholars and online pop culture commentators. During dinner at Sardi’s, Don names La Notte when he answers Bobbie Barrett’s (Melinda McGraw) accusatory question, ‘What the hell do you like?’ Its plot should sound familiar to Mad Men viewers. At its centre is a marriage atrophied beyond revival. The married couple are affluent and educated, yet they suffer from severe discontentment as well as an inability to meaningfully communicate with one another. Giovanni has sought to fill the emotional void by pursuing other women. Antonioni’s relevance to Mad Men typically gets addressed in terms of parallels like these. Discussion, however, has been limited primarily to online listicles on pop culture websites and blogs. They typically link La Notte to Don Draper through



obvious similarities in theme and character. For instance, one website listicle notices that ‘Season 3 of Mad Men [portrays a] similarly surgically precise picture of a marital breakdown’ (Lattanzio 2015). We can sense the director’s influence when ‘Don and Betty’s trip to Italy complements a season full of Antonioni-like images of ancient wonders overtaken by the new and shiny’ (Nowalk 2015). And, like La Notte, Mad Men is ‘an existentialist drama about a writer’s midlife crisis and subsequent marriage malaise’ (Chen 2015). Robert A. Rushing provides a more sustained and sophisticated analysis. He asserts that ‘Mad Men really shares with Antonioni…three fundamental concerns’, which he summarizes as ‘superficiality, identity exchange, and disappearance of the subject’ (Rushing 2013, 194). However, no one has fully considered the ramifications of this rare glimpse into what Don genuinely likes. The commonly cited similarities between La Notte and Mad Men draw attention to negative aspects of Don’s life. It would be reductive to assume that he likes it because he is a handsome, discontented, promiscuous man and the film features a handsome, discontented, promiscuous man. More thorough consideration of La Notte’s appeal for Don reinforces an artistic/professional struggle he endures throughout the series. Further, it accentuates a bond between Don and Matthew Weiner. It enables the viewer to see Mad Men as an overtly autobiographical meta-text on the pleasure and pain that comes with telling unconventional stories. Don likes La Notte because it sustains him in two contradictory yet connected ways. On the one hand, it offers refuge from advertising’s repetitive, clichéd stories that deny and silence stories like his. Mad Men portrays Don Draper’s quest to tell his unconventional story and other unconventional stories without professional or personal recrimination. On the other, it validates his future-oriented philosophy adopted to keep the past and his secrets at bay. This, too, is a rejection of traditional narrative strategy. As Don well knows, stories of the present gain in emotional resonance when poignantly linked to the past. Don captivates because his professional success and this personal desire are always at odds. The more slickly proficient he becomes at crafting simple, affirming stories advertising requires, the more the risk of him losing the ability to subvert those narrative conventions as well as maintain contact with the truth of his own story increases. The danger exists because he clearly knows that casting himself in the stories he tells clients will enhance their rhetorical effectiveness. For any audience, the personalized ‘I’ creates a more immediate, intimate, and true connection than a hypothetical third person ‘he’ or ‘she’. In this context,



his various boundary-pushing pitches throughout the series make perfect sense. These less acceptable/conventional stories become temporary and unfulfilling substitutes for the story he cannot tell about himself. In particular, La Notte offers Don validation if we consider his guiding philosophy and what is going on in his life at the time he declares his fondness for it. ‘The New Girl’ comes less than halfway through Season 2. In the latter stages of Season 1, Don feels increasingly anxious as his Dick Whitman/Don Draper deception seems destined to become public knowledge. First, he is blindsided by his half-brother Adam Whitman (Jay Paulson), who shows up at his office (1.5 ‘5G’). They meet at a diner where Don won’t be recognized, but he abruptly disengages, telling Adam, ‘I’m going to walk out that door. That’s it. I’m not buying you lunch because this never happened’. Soon after, Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), eager for leverage, approaches Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) with the truth of Don’s identity only to receive Bert’s blasé reply, ‘Mr Campbell, who cares?’ While this largely defuses the power of his secret at a professional level, Don remains uneasy. He later forces Adam to take $5000 and promise to never see him again. When his callous treatment precipitates Adam’s suicide, Don, anguished, sits at his desk with his head bowed, presumably wondering if his charade has been worth it. Fittingly, in ‘The New Girl’ we learn that Don visited Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) in the hospital following the birth of her son. He famously tells her, ‘Get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened’, words echoing those directed at Adam Whitman. ‘The New Girl’ takes place approximately three months later, in May 1962. About eighteen months have passed since Adam Whitman’s suicide, and with the question of Don’s identity a non-factor in the season’s storylines to this point, he is confidently adhering to his strategy of intentional forgetting. Antonioni’s trilogy of films—L’avventura (1960), La Notte and L’eclisse (1962)—break from the past of post-war Italian neorealism. Although neorealist films like Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945) capture Italian life in the present, the war cannot be forgotten because of the ruined buildings and daily challenges of surviving that resulted from it. Neorealist films cast an unflinching eye on Italy’s urban poor, while Antonioni chronicles a new Italy represented by an upwardly mobile middle class. La Notte foregrounds this new Italy by beginning with traffic passing in front of an old building. The camera briefly pans up the building to showcase its classic grandeur, but then comes a jump cut to the architectural centrepiece of mid-century Milan, the Pirelli building. The camera slowly glides down



the side of the building, its glass exterior reflecting the other high-rises under construction. Antonioni’s world is one committed to leaving the past behind. This is reiterated later in the film when Lidia revisits a part of town where she and Giovanni first fell in love. What remains is unused railroad tracks overgrown with weeds. La Notte, then, is an ideal reinforcement of Don’s future-oriented philosophy: ‘I have a life, and it only goes in one direction: forward’. In Antonioni, Don also finds a kindred spirit, a man who succeeds not only by disregarding the past, but by wilfully disregarding two basic attributes of narrative: plot and closure. Although this is best exemplified in films like L’avventura, in which the search for the missing Anna is dropped, or the end of L’eclisse when the film is abandoned by its own protagonists, Vittoria and Piero, when they abandon each other, it surfaces in La Notte as well. At first, the impending death of Tommaso, Giovanni and Lidia’s friend, seems of paramount importance, yet it is largely forgotten, especially by Giovanni, once he leaves the hospital. None of the early scenes, such as Giovanni’s book launch party or the visit to the nightclub, seem to resonate beyond the present moment. As we get immersed in each new scene, it is easy for us to forget the ones that came before. (You’ll be shocked how much they never happened.) Chatman refers to this as ‘contingent’ (Chatman 1985, 75) rather than causal plotting. He explains that ‘event B may be said to be contingent on event A if it succeeds it in the chronology of the plot and if both events can be understood to contribute to a more general state of affairs’. For instance, he contends ‘there is no particular reason why Giovanni and Lydia should not have gone to the cocktail party first and then to the hospital’. Contingency, then, inherently leads to endings lacking traditional closure: ‘the end is only one more event and no less accidental than any other’ (Chatman 1985, 78). In essence, La Notte’s plot has been ‘dedramatized’ (Chatman 1985, 73) because ‘the conflicts are not shown in a direct and conventionally theatrical way’ (Chatman 1985, 74). Antonioni strays far from the style of classical Hollywood cinema that privileges ‘causality, consequence, psychological motivations, the drive toward overcoming obstacles and achieving goals’ (Bordwell et al. 2005, 12). Deviating from these traits has been seen as ill-advised because ‘Coincidence and haphazardly linked events’—not to mention events that do not appear to be linked at all—‘are believed to flaw the film’s unity and disturb the spectator’ (Bordwell et al. 2005, 17). No wonder then that Chatman describes Antonioni’s films as ‘lacking in comfort’ (Chatman 1985, 55). Not only does Antonioni adopt these unorthodox approaches,



he receives critical acclaim for it. At the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, L’avventura earned a special jury prize and a Palme d’Or nomination. La Notte premiered at the Little Carnegie in New York on 19 February 1962. It had already won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and in a 20 February review, Don would likely have seen, Bosley Crowther of The New York Times offered a largely positive assessment, praising Antonioni for ‘a skill that is excitingly fertile, subtle, and awesomely intuitive’ (Crowther 1962). Crowther pointed to the director’s gift for capturing the interior turmoil of his characters, noting that this, not plot, is the film’s priority. As mentioned earlier, Don Draper is a true cinephile. Occasionally, he may go to the movies ‘to take the pulse of contemporary American culture so that he can immediately know the kinds of things that American audiences respond to in the here and now’ (Booker and Batchelor 2016, 92). But La Notte is a foreign arthouse film that ‘demands a large measure of sophistication and sensitivity in its audience’ (Crowther). It distances him from mainstream culture and his impoverished upbringing. Indeed, ‘Antonioni’s films were, during the 1960s, absolutely essential to the cultural life of the educated elite around the world’ (Brunette 1998, 1). For Don, they reinforce his invented, past-free self. ‘The New Girl’ highlights his elitist tastes by showing him expressing zero interest in the two mainstream entertainment successes mentioned during the episode. His Sardi’s reunion with Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff) is brief because she and her husband have tickets to a Broadway performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Bobbie gushes, ‘It’s wonderful’, but we see no reaction shot from Don, nor does he reply. Likewise, when Bobbie cites Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960) as a movie she likes, Don does not reply. Both A Funny Thing and Spartacus feature slave protagonists in ancient Roman settings, linking them geographically with La Notte. A Funny Thing is a ridiculous farce, while Spartacus presents the Roman Empire on an epic scale. The epic and the farce are ancient literary forms, ones that through their perpetuation place each new generation of audiences in a comforting continuum of taste that blurs boundaries between the present and the past. Farce, with its more lowbrow sensibilities, would be especially unappealing to Don, as it brings him dangerously close to the unsophisticated Dick Whitman. Both A Funny Thing and Spartacus have positive narrative closure sure to satisfy mainstream audiences. Pseudolus ends up with his beloved Gymnasia and wins his freedom in A Funny Thing. And although Spartacus is martyred, he dies knowing his son will not grow up in slavery.



La Notte, on the other hand, defies simple genre classification and narrative expectations, solidifying its niche appeal. Don essentially invents the Antonioni playbook back in Korea before Antonioni leaves behind his neorealist documentary roots exemplified by Gente del Po (1947). In the moment he appropriates the real Don Draper’s name after causing his death, he pioneers the strategy of abandoning a plot in progress without any hint of closure and with the intent of never revisiting it again. He instantly outgrows conventional narrative. And this may be the source of La Notte’s greatest appeal. By choosing a career in advertising, though, Don essentially enslaves himself to the most banal and conventional narratives imaginable—like the Kodak pitch at the end of Season 1’s ‘The Wheel’, in which he packages his own family as the AllAmerican embodiment of wholesome happiness and love—while yearning for Antonioni’s subversive ‘extreme honesty’. That La Notte could be a kind of Rosetta Stone for understanding the deep connection between Don Draper and his creator, Matthew Weiner, becomes apparent upon examining their careers as ‘creatives’, storytellersfor-hire. Throughout Mad Men’s seven seasons, Don and his agency win clients by retelling a wholesome stock story of family connectedness that is strengthened by Popsicles, Heinz baked beans, Cool Whip, and Burger Chef. Don can’t help himself though, so he sometimes pitches subversive narratives with varying success. In ‘The Hobo Code’ from Season 1, Don bullies hesitant Belle Jolie representatives into accepting Peggy’s ‘Mark Your Man’ campaign that inverts gender roles, casting the woman as the aggressive possessor and the man as the submissive possessed. We again see Don’s frustrations with the extremely limited narratives available to him in the defiant campaign he pitches to the conservative father and son executives of Jantzen swimsuits (4.1 ‘Public Relations’). He loses his cool and the client when he will not compromise his provocative approach, one that positions a large rectangle across the model’s chest so the audience can’t be sure whether she is wearing a top or not. In Season 5’s fourth episode, ‘Mystery Date’, Don continues to struggle with easy, audience-pleasing stories versus more difficult, audiencechallenging stories. After selling Butler Shoes executives on a campaign focused on the mildly subversive idea of ‘a woman and her secrets’, Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) reveals that they had decided against a Cinderellathemed campaign. An executive responds with excitement and disappointment. ‘Really?’ he says. ‘We were kind of hoping for it.’ Ginsberg proceeds to resell the client on a ‘dark’ reworking of Cinderella. Despite satisfying



the client, Ginsberg is excoriated by Don later for reverting to cliché. It isn’t until Don’s disastrous Hershey’s pitch that he truly reaches his breaking point. The pitch opens with hyperbole, the claim that Hershey’s chocolate bars are a ubiquitous prop in the happy stories America tells about itself. Don then tells his own story: ‘Mine was my father taking me to the drugstore after I’d mowed the lawn and telling me I could have anything I wanted…But I picked a Hershey bar’ (6.13 ‘In Care Of’). The executives who have come from Pennsylvania nod in agreement around the conference table. ‘The wrapper looked like what was inside’, Don continues. ‘And as I ripped it open, my father tousled my hair, and forever his love and the chocolate were tied together.’ One of the executives thinks they should use Don’s story in their campaign. Unprompted, Don then admits that those Hershey bars were ‘the only sweet thing in my life’. Don continues, describing his ‘whorehouse’ upbringing, his dream of escaping to Milton Hershey’s school, and his bond with a girl who had him steal money from her john’s pockets and would occasionally use it to buy him a Hershey bar. These, he reveals, were the only times he felt wanted. The men around the conference table are hypnotized into an incredulous silence. Honest storytelling that acknowledges the complexities of life is taboo in advertising. That Don commits the ultimate narrative transgression becomes apparent in the pitch’s aftermath when Roger (John Slattery) says to Don, ‘You know, you shit the bed in there’. His personal revelations are so toxic when compared to the narrative norms of advertising that they lead directly to the agency’s partners ordering him to take an indefinite leave of absence. According to Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin), Don’s transgression is ‘beyond explanation’. No wonder then that Don often escapes from the office to seek refuge in art house theatres where subversive narrative honesty can be savoured. One can imagine Don identifying with Giovanni when Gherardini, the wealthy industrialist hosting the party that consumes most of La Notte, tries to hire him as an in-house writer. Gherardini’s employees ‘know nothing of the company’s history, or about me, its founder’, and he wants Giovanni on staff ‘to set up a department for handling press, advertising, public relations, and especially internal relations’. He wants people to know his story, to appreciate his hard work and business acumen. Working for Gherardini would require Giovanni to craft a narrative that casts his employer as a kind of industrial epic hero. It would require a descent into simplistic hagiography. Like Don, Giovanni finds himself at the tipping point, poised between creative freedom and enslavement, artistic integrity, and paid hackwork.



At this point, Don Draper, Matthew Weiner, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Giovanni Pontano collapse into a single figure: the alienated and alienating rebel artist. The result is a television series with another identity, just like its troubled anti-hero, that of autobiographical meta-text. Although he has not spoken of it as extensively as other cinematic influences, Weiner has publicly expressed his admiration for La Notte. Speaking at the Forum des Images in Paris in 2011, Weiner voiced his amazement that a movie could be about the loss of a lover’s enraptured gaze, not a quest to ‘get the gold out of Cairo’ (‘Recontre’). He and Don like La Notte for precisely the same reason. Weiner, as seen above, privileges digression and character development (a story about a lover’s lost gaze) over careful, event-driven plotting (a story about sneaking gold out of Egypt). Mad Men, in fact, originated as an ‘eighty-page picaresque’ (Chellas 2014). Weiner defends the episodic against its critics, claiming that ‘anything that is epic in structure, whether it’s Lawrence of Arabia or The Godfather’ is episodic. Don Draper and Matthew Weiner’s love of La Notte reveals a shared internal conflict. Don Draper’s struggle to tell stories not beholden to mainstream formulas parallels Matthew Weiner’s struggle to graduate from sitcom staff writer to prestige drama showrunner. Don Draper is a direct descendant of Weiner’s adult career frustrations. ‘[He] knew what commercial filmmaking was and knew [he] didn’t like it. In the nineties there was a stranglehold of formula on the movies’. Writing for the CBS sitcom Becker (1998–2004) proved dispiriting because the moment for M*A*S*H-style experimentation had passed, and television executives focused exclusively on ‘How do we re-create Friends ?’ Only the more permissive world of cable offered something approximating creative freedom. Weiner sees Mad Men as ‘very confessional’ and ‘super personal’. He describes writing the pilot as ‘an excuse to exorcise my demons, to write a story about somebody who’s thirty-five years old, and who is miserable’ (Chellas). Yet selling that pilot to cable network AMC did not free Weiner from expectations of traditional televisual narrative. AMC and Lionsgate disapproved of the second episode, one that flaunts his love for episodic structure. What caught everyone off guard was the fact that ‘Pete Campbell, a major figure in the pilot, was totally absent…Conversely, the episode lingered primarily in Ossining, with Betty Draper, a character who had barely appeared in episode one’ (Martin 254). Here is the ‘contingent’ plotting Chatman attributes to Antonioni. There is no particular reason why the pilot should marginalize Betty (January Jones), just as there is no reason why the second episode, in an Antonioni-esque way, should ‘forget’ about



Pete Campbell. To return again to Chatman, AMC and Lionsgate wanted the comfort of a second episode that preserved the ‘rules’ established in the pilot. The characters of most importance, based on screen time, would retain that importance because that is how pilot episodes typically work. Weiner refused to yield to other, more basic conventions of televisual narrative, like act breaks that correspond to commercial interruptions. In Mad Men, commercials disrupt ‘haphazardly, almost awkwardly, as though being punished for their presence’ (Martin 281). Just as Don’s devotion to his concept of artistic integrity often puts him at career-threatening odds with clients and employers, Weiner repeatedly battled AMC over control of the show, the most infamous occasion being the bitter and protracted contract negotiations that resulted in a seventeenmonth gap between Seasons 4 and 5. (Neither a Clio for Glo-Coat, nor a slew of Emmy awards is enough to earn their recipients total creative control.) Major points of contention included reduced episode length, product placement, and budget reductions, all of which threatened the show’s artistic cachet. In a move that mirrors Don’s flair for the belligerently dramatic, Weiner would admit to quitting the show in a New York Times interview. ‘“In the most protective and demanding way,” he said, “I did not feel that it was worth going back to work to make a show that was not the show I’d been making”’ (Itzkoff). He was especially protective of episode length, asserting that longer episodes are ‘part of its commercial uniqueness’. To make them shorter is ‘like changing a novel into a short story’. The corporate aversion to artistic experimentation becomes especially acute in Mad Men’s final episodes. When it does, Don (predictably) absconds to the West, with its mythological freedom. He succumbs to the allure of a plane jetting across a vast expanse of sky, spied during his first meeting at McCann Erickson, where he is one creative director among many. The room is too crowded, the story spun by the Miller Brewing rep too rote. In Oklahoma, Don finds himself the centre of attention among a group of men gathered around a table, a set up not unlike the Hershey’s pitch. Here, though, the men around the table do not want a performance. Rather, they demand authenticity and honesty. The men of the Veterans of Foreign Wars are bonded together by grisly, violent stories unsuitable for ad campaigns. Assimilation into the group demands that Don shares his own unique story. As Jerry, the only other Korean War vet at the table tells Don, ‘You’re not allowed to say “I don’t want to talk about it” in this place’ (7.13 ‘The Milk and Honey Route’). Don says this is why he has never joined the VFW. Jerry senses his apprehension: ‘You’re not listening



to me. You’re among friends’, he says. The veteran’s model for Don what it is like to tell a traumatic, feel-bad story—the kind of story Antonioni tells in La Notte and Weiner says he was telling in Mad Men’s pilot—to a sympathetic audience. Another veteran, Floyd, tells a harrowing tale of starvation in the Hürtgen Forest during World War II. The others remind him to include key details and offer support when memories overwhelm him. After Floyd finishes, Don abruptly volunteers, ‘I killed my C.O.’. He tells how the original Don Draper died, hinting at the guilt and shame he still feels. Unlike in the Hershey’s meeting, Don receives a positive response. Floyd nods, and Jerry claps him on the shoulder. Liberated, Don joins them in singing an impromptu rendition of ‘Over There’, as if he has been a fixture at the VFW for years. This marks a climactic moment for the series and Don. The content of Don’s extremely honest story is not revelatory to the audience; neither was the Hershey’s story. Rather, Don willingly telling the story qualifies as the revelation. This moment of contentment previews Don’s ultimate breakthrough in the series finale (7.14 ‘Person to Person’). Upon first seeing the image of a serene, meditating Don give way to a diverse collection of faces singing ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’, viewers likely register a combination of bemused recognition at Weiner’s cleverness and thrilling reassurance. The unmistakable similarity between Don’s Pacific Coast cliff and the Italian hilltop where McCann Erickson actually filmed the commercial, coupled with Don’s smirk, conveys to us that Don Draper/Dick Whitman has resurrected himself again. While at the Big Sur retreat, he overcomes his past and makes peace with who he is, an ad man. That giddy, first-blush optimism obscures something more nuanced, even conflicted. To find professional (and perhaps personal) salvation in this most saccharine and idealistic of ads implies that Don may have regressed to the myth-making of the Kodak wheel pitch. Prolonged introspection has arguably led him to at last abandon that part of him that so closely identifies with Antonioni and his films and that complicates his work as a professional storyteller. Something similar happens with Weiner and the $30 million contract he signs in 2011 to resume production of Mad Men. He concedes two minutes of programming, lowering episode length to exactly 47:05 while also allowing AMC to dictate the broad structure of Mad Men’s two-part final season and acknowledge product integration in the end credits (Sandberg). He, like Don, can return to his work as storyteller after a long hiatus. For Don, such a regression would mean that an escape to a counterculture hippie enclave has paved his way back to corporate America and



mainstream consumer culture. If so, a second irony follows: by turning his Big Sur experience into an advertisement, Don has broken his ‘this never happened’ code. That is part of what supplies viewers with an initial burst of pleasure. He has created something that endures as a cultural touchstone, a deftly orchestrated ‘bottling’ of the zeitgeist through a weaving together of counterculture iconography, song lyrics, and product image. Moreover, he has, by association, commodified the Big Sur setting of his reawakening. It is therapeutic because of its blankness. The commercial world has not been allowed to encroach until Don mines it for inspiration. That makes for a more despairing ending to the series, but if we accept that Don Draper and not Bill Backer masterminded the commercial, the grammar of its song lyrics offers a knowing critique of itself and evidence that Don has leveraged the Big Sur retreat to say something subtle but noteworthy about advertising’s stories. The hypothetical Hershey’s ad based on Don’s fabricated memories aims to show that the chocolate bars signify loving father–son relationships built on the passing down of values such as hard work and responsibility. Similarly, the old Belle Jolie ad of Season 1 aims to show that ladies who wear this lipstick will be assertive and alluring. They sell the transformative nature of the product through the promise of factual certainty: this will happen, if you buy the product. In the Coca-Cola ad, though, the certainty of ‘will’ becomes conditional through the truncated appearance of ‘would’ in the repeated contraction ‘I’d’. As a result, the idealistic realm of the imagination dominates: I’d like to buy the world a home And furnish it with love Grow apple trees and honey bees And snow white turtle doves I’d like to teach the world to sing In perfect harmony I’d like to buy the world a Coke And keep it company

The lyrics conveniently omit the other implicit component of a conditional statement, the ‘if’ clause. Taken literally and grammatically, the lyrics must be saying, ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, if I could, but I cannot’. Or, ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company, if I could, but I cannot’. The hyperbole conveyed through the scope of



the ‘world’ and the aspiring to ‘perfect’ evokes utopia, making such a goal impossible, even foolish. Grammatically, this is different from a repeated statement included in the lyrics: ‘Coca-Cola is the real thing’. Here, the soft drink’s veracity is incontrovertible. It does not receive the conditional treatment. It exists as a tangible thing, as evidenced by the bottles in the singers’ hands. The lyrics expose the disparity and therefore the tension, between product and advertising narrative, reality and fantasy. With its exaggerated utopian vision, the commercial functions as a meta-critique of advertising for those who choose to look closely. The product is real, it says, but the story used to sell it will always be a fraud. Mad Men concludes with a commercial articulating the inconvenient truth of advertising that has dogged Don Draper since Season 1. ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’ is a sneakily subversive narrative proving that Don has not sold out to convention. Antonioni toys with the tension between traditional and subversive storytelling when he ends La Notte with that crowd-pleasing convention of classical Hollywood cinema: the kiss and embrace. Only Giovanni and Lidia are not affirming their love. Their embraces are a writhing, desperate end to a marriage played out in a golf course sand trap without Lidia’s consent. Similarly, Matthew Weiner ends Mad Men in a way that replicates then rejects the conventions of series finales. (Like Don, perhaps he has not sold out as much as the multi-million dollar contract might indicate.) We get the obligatory montage showing many of the characters emotionally and professionally satisfied. But that is not the end. While it may not be The Sopranos ’ shock cut to black, Mad Men ends with its most audacious pop culture allusion. It is a rewriting of history that, through a match cut, attributes a real ad campaign to its fictional protagonist. Weiner is asking for the ultimate suspension of disbelief, and the closure of the preceding montage is flamboyantly negated. The tension between traditional and subversive storytelling is exacerbated through Mad Men’s conclusion, but articulating it through the Coca-Cola commercial assures Don that extreme honesty and advertising can coexist, and perhaps this is the source of his final, enigmatic smirk.



Bibliography Booker, M. Keith, and Bob Batchelor. 2016. Mad Men: A Cultural History. London: Rowman & Littlefield. Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson. 2005. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge. Brunette, Peter. 1998. The Films of Michelangelo Antonioni. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chatman, Seymour. 1985. Antonioni, or, The Surface of the World. Berkeley: University of California Press. Chellas, Semi. 2014. Matthew Weiner, The Art of Screenwriting No. 4. The Paris Review, May 28. Chen, Nick. 2015. From Godzilla to La Notte: The Many Movie References in Mad Men. Grolsch Canvas, May 15. from-%E2%80%98godzilla%E2%80%99-to-%E2%80%98la-notte%E2%80%99the-many-movie-references-in-mad-men. Crowther, Bosley. 1962. Screen: Antonioni Offers “The Night”: Story of a Lost Union at Little Carnegie Jean Moreau and Mastroianni in Cast. The New York Times, February, 20. 9D0CE6DD1331EF3BBC4851DFB4668389679EDE. Itzkoff, Dave. 2011. The “Mad Men” Season That Almost Wasn’t: An Interview with Matthew Weiner, Part 1. New York Times, March 7. https://artsbeat. com. Lattanzio, Ryan. 2015. 5 Cool Arthouse Classics That Influenced the Style and Substance of Mad Men. IndieWire, April 2. 04/5-cool-arthouse-classics-that-influenced-the-style-and-substance-of-madmen-188211/. Martin, Brett. 2013. Difficult Men. New York: Penguin. Nowalk, Brandon. 2015. The Tao of Don: 17 Pop-Cultural Predecessors to Mad Men. A.V. Club, March 15. ‘Recontre avec Matthew Weiner (VF).’ 2011. Dailymotion. http://www. Rushing, Robert. 2013. It Will Shock You How Much This Never Happened. In Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style & the 1960s, ed. Lauren M. E. Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, and Robert Rushing, 192–212. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Sandberg, Bryn Elise. 2017. “Mad Men”: Details of Matthew Weiner’s Legendary $30 Million Deal Revealed in “Walking Dead” Suit. The Hollywood Reporter,



July, 14. Sprengler, Christine. 2011. Complicating Camelot: Surface Realism and Deliberate Archaism. In Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series, ed. Scott F. Stoddart, 234–252. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Mad Men’s Mid-Century Modern Times Zak Roman

A man steps into a strange and desolate world. It is completely silent. Technological artefacts of this age have been abandoned mid-use, standing as relics of a previous existence. The man makes his way through this contiguous space, remembering its layout, but not recognizing its current idiom. From above, he begins to hear the faint sound of voices. He ascends a staircase to discover the entire population of this place gathered to exalt the arrival of ‘the monolith’. While it would be logical to read this scene as something pulled directly from an eerie work of science fiction, it is, in fact, the ominous opening montage from ‘The Monolith’, the fourth episode in Mad Men’s seventh season. The titular ‘monolith’ causing such a disruption to the normal rhythms of SC&P is not an alien totem, but the mammoth IBM 360 computer. It has a HAL-like aura, but unlike the ethereal demigod of 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968), this entity is the progeny of the body corporate. Upon first glance, the computer is an easily accessible metaphor for change, but a deeper analysis reveals more about exactly who/what constitutes an ‘employee’ and where managerial priorities lie within a technologically evolving capitalist landscape. While ‘The Monolith’ contains clear allusions to Kubrick’s film (artfully beginning with the distinctive shape of

Z. Roman (B) University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




a rectangular, inky black, monolith-like door facing Don from across the hallway as he steps off the elevator the first time we see him), there is an even earlier cinematic ancestor that illuminates how we think about working and workers in our media: Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film Modern Times. Even more than Kubrick’s 2001, Chaplin’s film serves as a salient mirror with which we can better understand how Mad Men’s IBM 360 computer is merely an updated version of the kinds of dehumanizing technologies that capitalism has always installed as a conduit for maximizing efficiency and profits. Both ‘The Monolith’ and the episode that immediately follows called ‘The Runaways’ (hereafter referred to as ‘The Monolith arc’) reveal several important homages and parallels to Modern Times that undergird this dynamic. This chapter offers an intertextual perspective on how Mad Men and Modern Times, texts in different media, from different eras, and with seemingly different anxieties, are strongly in dialogue with one another. Far more than a clever homage for the viewing intelligentsia, the intertextuality at play here underscores how distinct and disparate media can at once examine a singular theme or metaphor, with allusion functioning as a binding agent, despite decades of chronological separation. The nature of visual references and larger connotations at work is also examined in order to illuminate how these elements serve to shape and inform the particular narrative of the IBM 360-based episodes explored here. Ultimately, both texts explore themes of dehumanization through the techno-displacement of human agency, as well as industrial fears over technology as panacea. This chapter specifically analyses the common antecedents of labour that enable a revivalist narrative of sorts to traverse both medium and era so seamlessly. Edgerton (2011) and others have written about how Mad Men collectively jars us into realizing that ‘the good old days’ were never quite as halcyon as our cultural mythology often reinscribes them or how they are historically ventriloquized. I contend that the narrative events of ‘The Monolith’ story arc particularly serve as reminders of the types of conditions and patterns that are repeatedly produced within a capitalist labour paradigm. Finally, this chapter concludes by positioning technology as a timeless and bifurcated avatar: deus ex machina for management and foreboding antagonist for the subaltern. Just as Chaplin found himself caught up in the cogs of industry, and the SC&P rank and file feared the IBM 360, workers today face an IBM descendant either automating a formerly human-centred job or using its analytic power to reduce their working



worth to some multivariate statistic formerly reserved for the likes of moon landings and batting averages.

Chaplin’s Labour Thesis in Modern Times At the beginning of Modern Times, we see scores of men racing to punch in at the Electro Steel factory, while high angle shots of imposing machinery linger as oppressive reminders of the hard labour ahead of them. This is all contrasted with the introduction of the President of Electro Steel Corp. (Allan Garcia) insouciantly poking at a puzzle, and reading the funny pages of the newspaper, thus illustrating the ways the film comments on the precise lack of work by the managerial class, while the proletariat toils for little compensation in an unstable workplace. The Big-Brother-esque (Mellen 2006, 41) president of the steel factory might exist in leisure most of the day; however, he is still interested in invading all areas of the working space (even the bathroom) and extinguishing any hint of a break during work hours. The Billows Feeding Machine—designed to eliminate the lunch hour by quickly cramming food down a worker’s throat—only serves to undergird capitalism’s obsession with maximum efficiency at almost any cost. Mechanized eating is antithetical to the human condition for Chaplin; thus, the feeding machine serves as a potent symbol of how technology can dehumanize even the most basic of human functions within a capitalist labour paradigm. Just as we will see Ginsberg become unnerved by the presence of the IBM 360 seventy-eight years later in Mad Men, Modern Times posits that, at best, modernity simply makes it more difficult to relax—and at its worst, it can be a grievously disruptive phenomenon. There is also a salient (although extra-textual) connection between Chaplin’s Tramp and IBM that bears mentioning. In his piece, ‘Work, Ideology, and Chaplin’s Tramp’, Charles Musser (1988) reminds us that during the late 1980s, IBM: appropriated the screen persona [of the Tramp] soon after its creator was dead and against the wishes of the estate. Playing with the public’s memory, the advertisements rework the character in ways that achieve not only various commercial, promotional, and marketing goals but additional ideological ones. (63)



Musser continues to describe a kind of bizarre, brainwashed version of the Tramp in IBM’s corporatized iteration: He has become a happy, well-adjusted white-collar worker who, sitting on a huge stack of papers, inputs various reports. Instead of creating chaos, he organizes it. IBM’s commercial aims are clear. Even this old-fashioned tramp, who has always had trouble with technology (as in Modern Times ), can easily master the IBM computer. (63)

This appropriation is an important one. That IBM is clearly championing the very technological tools that would have been seen as oppressive towards workers in Chaplin’s films is more than ironic. Moreover, we see Mad Men’s fictitious firm of SC&P performing exactly this kind of ‘creative’ advertising work for their clients. The deeper message of the Tramp IBM ad seems to be one subtly threaded throughout the arc of ‘The Monolith’; hegemony wears us down. In retrospect, Musser’s analysis of the IBM commercials seems to point out how the ghost of Chaplin was unable to fully ever escape those iconic cogs of Modern Times ’ corporate machinery. In ‘The Monolith’ arc, a similar picture of inescapable fungibility is presented. Like in Modern Times, buttoned-down members of the managerial class welcome and applaud the technology of efficient positivism, while the proletariat slowly becomes less certain of its beneficence.

The Violence of ‘The Monolith’ In his 1972 opus, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, Studs Terkel offers the following observation: Work, is, by its very nature about violence—to the spirit as well as to the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as well as kicking the dog around. It is, above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of us. (xi)

Terkel’s meditation could arguably serve as a broad thesis for the entirety of Mad Men as a series. SC&P was often a place filled with strife, threats, anxiety, and even the occasional injury by lawnmower. However, the excerpt is also an especially salient primer for the ‘The Monolith’ arc. Terkel’s notion



of working ‘violence’ is both perceived and actuated in these episodes—particularly in the way they illustrate capitalism’s insatiable quest for increased profits through the efficiencies afforded by technological innovation. As the antagonist, the IBM 360’s real trick lies in its pernicious packaging of ‘progress’. The computer is an easy PR score for the likes of Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) and Harry Crane (Rich Sommer), but introduces real stresses and threats for almost anyone lacking a key to the executive washroom. Throughout ‘The Monolith’ arc those in the creative department are left wondering about their place in a working world situated around a new and alien technology. Even the privileged Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is not immune from its influence. And although the first half of the narrative poses the pleasures of the pastoral, the end of the ‘The Monolith’ arc ends on a much more sterile and much less sanguine note. In his piece, ‘Technology and Its Discontents: On the Verge of the Posthuman’, Joel Dinerstein (2006) disputes Technological Visions editors Marita Sturken and Douglas Thomas (2004) who posit that ‘in the popular imagination, technology is often synonymous with the future’ (6), by qualifying that ‘it is more accurate to say that technology is synonymous with faith in the future’ (569). This rhetorical notion of the unknown, of an uncertain faith, is, in part, why the storyline begins with Don entering a jarringly desolate office environment. Here, Weiner and company plant the thematic seed of our collective and latent fear of being deemed obsolete. The visual language is clear—this future is indeed uncertain. However, there is one element of certainty surrounding the advent of such a heralded business asset: it gets what it requires. The first signal of malevolence from ‘the monolith’ is the consumption of the creative lounge in anticipation of its arrival. This decision not only displaces the ‘below-the-line’ human workers, but also, in doing so, tacitly asserts the dominance of the technological. Jim Cutler explains that, ‘The footprint of the machine was prohibitive [for keeping the lounge]—and then it occurred to us, why not let every client who sets foot in that door know that this agency has entered the future!’ Efficiency, practicality, and positivism are the watchwords of corporate progress. Relaxation and socialization—even sustenance—are easily left behind when increased profits are to be had. In fact, the mere appearance of progress (that is ‘letting the clients know’) is valued over preserving an element of humanity. Creative John Mathis (Trevor Einhorn) laments that the lounge ‘was what was unique about this place’. That it was a ‘unique’



factor for advertising firms of the day (even in this fictitious context) is itself a marker of the endemic dehumanization within the corporate ethos. This by-the-numbers managerial style is also a perfect Mad Men avatar for what Chaplin was commenting on with the aggressively efficient Billows Feeding Machine in Modern Times . Moreover, Dawn Chambers (Teyonah Parris) (acting as the corporate mouthpiece) clinically announces that any personal items must be removed from the creative lounge or they ‘will be assumed garbage’. The specific word choice of ‘garbage’ goes beyond a message of practicality; it indexes a blow to the human element of the workplace, conjuring an aura of obsolescence and disposability. The next harbinger of SC&P ill-ease is the construction noise that invades the office space throughout much of the episode. In preparing the computer’s ‘layer’, as Ginsberg would later call it, building crews produce a cacophony—interrupting the daily life and physical peace within the office. This steady clamorous backdrop is in direct opposition to the precomputer silence that Don enters into at the beginning of the episode. It is also salient to note that the opportunistic and antagonistic Harry Crane champions the computer, further coding it as something to be wary of. In fact, it is during a discussion with Harry that Don meets an important agent within the IBM 360 narrative.

‘Human Existence Is Finite’ The first half of the ‘The Monolith’ arc is marked by a Miltonian contrast: the fecundity and purity of the pastoral world, with the sterile, allconsuming world of the technological. Roger Sterling’s (John Slattery) generation-gapped mission to retrieve his daughter on the hippie commune symbolizes that which is ‘natural’ and that which is unveiled. This, of course, is in opposition to the realm of the IBM 360. However, it is not merely the displacement via the physical hardware of the new machine that threatens tranquil conceptions of stability; it is also the corporate apparatus that accompanies it. Early in ‘The Monolith’, Don finds himself in a conversation between Harry Crane and a clean-cut newcomer who we quickly come to learn is the computer installation supervisor, Lloyd Hawley (Robert Baker). At first, Don schmoozes as his affably cool self. Any potential malice Don feels towards him is veiled in friendly jabs such as asking ‘Who’s winning…who’s replacing more humans?’ when Hawley mentions that his company (called Lease Tech) both sells IBM products and competes with them. Hawley



even ingratiates himself with Don by sincerely saying, ‘I apologize about your work area [the lounge]—it wasn’t my idea’. Don says nothing, but directs his gaze towards Harry, who then defensively tells Don, ‘I’m sorry you lost your lunchroom; it’s not symbolic’. To which Don replies, ‘No, it’s quite literal’. As Harry walks off, Hawley lights Don’s cigarette, and the two continue conversing amidst the symphony of construction racket floating in the background: Hawley: I go into businesses every day, and it’s been my experience that these machines can be a metaphor for whatever’s on people’s minds. Don: Because they’re afraid of computers? Hawley: Yes. This machine is frightening to people, but it’s made by people. Don: People aren’t frightening? Hawley: It’s not that. It’s more of a cosmic disturbance. The machine is intimidating because it contains infinite quantities of information, and that’s threatening, because human existence is finite. But isn’t it godlike that we’ve mastered the infinite? The IBM 360 can count more stars in a day than we can in a lifetime. Don: But what man laid on his back counting stars, and thought about a number? Hawley: He probably thought about going to the moon.

Later in the episode, Hawley enters Don’s office in search of a lighter after making the ‘human error’ of forgetting to fill his up, and the two continue to wax both philosophic and commercial: Don: How did you get into this business? Hawley: Well, I was at IBM for a few years Don (interjecting): I knew it. Hawley (laughs): Yes, and I saw that they have got a great product. But they don’t trust it. Now I’ve worked with these machines, I know how resilient they are. I don’t want to find them in a junkyard in two years. Don: So you’re betting that they’ll last longer than even IBM thinks? Hawley: Yeah. But the problem is, so are a bunch of other companies. Don: They don’t have you. And they don’t advertise. Hawley (impressed): Very nice. Don: What’s IBM like?

Before he has the chance to answer, Harry bursts in the door to take Hawley out to lunch.



This scene serves several purposes. It further codifies Hawley as the technophilic crusader, seeming to express earnest despair over computers being prematurely discarded, left to die an unfitting death. We also never get an answer to the conspicuous question of ‘What’s IBM like?’ That Harry barges in just prior to Hawley describing the inner workings of the birthplace of ‘the monolith’ only further ensconces the shroud of mystery and menace around its presence. Lastly, this scene also progresses the relationship between Don and Hawley. They have an easy back and forth. Moreover, Hawley’s expression of technological practicality and pathos piques Don’s interest. The very next scene involves Don telling Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) ‘that whole industry is exploding’ and that they should make a pitch to represent Lease Tech while Hawley is conveniently in their office. However, true to Mad Men’s core, this new professional glimmer in Don’s eye soon takes a bizarre turn. After having spent a number of afternoon hours drinking stolen booze hidden in Coke cans, a drunken Don sees Hawley directing the construction of the room-sized repository for the IBM 360. Although old friend Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray) implores Don to stay focused on the task of leaving for Shea Stadium, he enters the computer construction zone, looks around, and changes his outlook on Hawley: Hawley (surprised to see Don glaring, but friendly): Don, I didn’t hear you. Don (truculent): No, I didn’t hear you. Freddy: C’mon Don…we’re gonna miss the game. Don: You talk like a friend but you’re not. Hawley: I, I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Don: I know your name. Hawley: It’s Lloyd. I told you. Don: No, you go by many names! I know who you are. Freddy: Don, let’s go. Hawley: Why don’t you listen to your friend? Don: You don’t need a campaign. You’ve had the best campaign since the dawn of time.

‘Since the dawn of time’ is a particularly salient line as it evokes the ‘The Dawn of Man’ onscreen text introducing the prehistoric prologue of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hawley’s insistence on the IBM 360’s ‘godlike’ power in his initial meeting with Don reflects the same omnipotence and timeless ubiquity of Kubrick’s own monolith. Don’s professional rut and personal



demons also serve to embitter everything Hawley and IBM seem to stand for. Hawley wants to master ‘the infinite’, while Don struggles to master sobriety at the workplace. The ‘dawn of time’ line also serves as a tacit transmedia reminder that figures like Chaplin have experienced these ubiquitous fears of technologically based dehumanization beginning much earlier than either the 1960s of Mad Men’s setting, or even the contemporary period in which it was produced.

‘That Machine Came for Us’ Perhaps the most telling barometer of the computer’s effect on the office ecology of SC&P can be seen through its effect on Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman). Shortly after Cutler’s announcement, he asserts, ‘They’re trying to erase us!’ He increasingly becomes unhinged, but by the end of ‘The Monolith’ arc, his ranting is framed to be hauntingly less specious than we originally might have thought it to be. Ginsberg is an eccentric character throughout his tenure in Mad Men. However, ‘The Monolith’ arc creates a portal through which he passes into madness. The subtle cleverness of the show is that the inciting incident into this descent is based in the very real anxieties that can accompany the apparatus of dehumanization. Ginsberg, whose dark curly hair, moustache, stature, and ill-fitting clothes all bear a strong resemblance to a 1930s Chaplin, grows incrementally, and visibly, upset about the computer’s presence (whose physical evolution is now redolent of a mini-version of Kubrick’s HAL 9000) throughout ‘The Monolith’ arc. In her analysis of Modern Times, Joan Mellen (2006) notes that, ‘Being treated as if he were a machine causes the worker to lose control of his body’ (42). She references the assembly line scene in which Chaplin continues the repetitive motion even off the line and ‘shakes so much, as if he’s been occupied by the machine’ (42). This notion of being ‘occupied by the machine’ is a crucial motif with ‘The Monolith’ arc, specifically as depicted through the prism of Ginsberg. While looking upon the newly installed IBM 360 suite, Ginsberg yells out: ‘Stop humming, you’re not happy!’ He tells Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), ‘That machine came for us, and one by one…’ as he walks off in nervous frustration. Later, we see Ginsberg working alone in his office, stuffing tissue into his ears to block out the ambient hum that the computer produces, echoing both the audible drone of machinery and the ubiquitous mechanized voice of the President of Electro Steel in the factory section of Modern Times. His paranoia grows as he stumbles upon a seemingly



covert meeting between Lou Avery (Allan Havey) and Jim Cutler in the computer suite. Ginsberg then (looking increasingly dishevelled) rushes to Peggy’s apartment to discuss his interpretation of the computer’s influence. He recounts the ‘secret meeting’ in the ‘air conditioned layer’ (something ostensibly not afforded to any other part of the office). Ginsberg reveals to Peggy that the reason for such a secret meeting on a Saturday is that ‘they’re homos’. Essentially standing in for the reaction of the audience, Peggy openly laughs in shock at this response. Ginsberg tells Peggy ‘that machine makes men do unnatural things’, and eventually, she allows him to stay at her apartment to get some work done outside the presence of the IBM 360. However, after falling asleep watching TV, she awakens to find Ginsberg staring at her: Peggy (to Ginsberg): Time to go. Ginsberg: There’s this pressure in my head, like there’s a hydrogen bomb that’s going to go off. And yet I realize, it’s that hum in the office. It’s getting to me. I caught myself looking at Stan’s shoulders, and getting, you know…excited. Peggy (mildly intrigued): Really? Ginsberg: That’s the computer’s plan. Turn us all homo. Peggy, we gotta reproduce. If there was a way to do it without having sex, I’d do it. Peggy (angry and fighting him off): Stop it! You have to leave! Ginsberg: Great. What am I doing? It’s building up. Peggy: Well maybe you should see a doctor or something. Ginsberg: Why? ‘Cause I want you? Peggy: No, because you’re not right. Ginsberg: Did you notice the radio doesn’t work in there any more? That’s not my imagination! Peggy (incensed): It’s just a computer!

Ginsberg exits and we see Peggy lock the door. We now fully realize Ginsberg’s psychotic issues, but despite his homophobia (or latent homosexuality), his reaction does speak to the invasive and disruptive force of the computer’s presence. For Ginsberg, the hum of the computer is as unshakable as the repetitive trauma of line work was for Chaplin. Both ‘The Monolith’ arc and Modern Times offer a conceptual exploration regarding the fears of becoming an automaton and/or erasure through technicized means. On Monday morning, Ginsberg enters Peggy’s office carrying a small box. He reports that he is feeling like himself again and reiterates his romantic feelings for Peggy. She magnanimously deflects, but Ginsberg interjects, telling her that his previous issues were due to the ‘waves of data’ that were



‘filling me up; I had to find a release’. He informs Peggy that he ‘removed the pressure’ and hands her the gift. Peggy gasps when it is revealed that in a Van Gogh-style incarnation of body horror, Ginsberg has presented her with his severed nipple. He tells Peggy ‘it’s the valve’. Stunned, Peggy then calmly tells him to wait in her office as she exits. A few scenes later, we cut to Ginsberg strapped to a gurney being wheeled out by orderlies while a bewildered office crowd, including a tearful Peggy, look on. ‘Get out while you can!’ Ginsberg cries as he exits the building and the series, in a kind of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel, 1956)—‘They’re here! You’re all next’—moment. A sobering thematic beat follows: we cut to a close up of Peggy, whose gaze reveals a more complicated and troubling narrative than her previously exasperated ‘It’s just a computer!’ sentiment. Now her face implies fear, frustration, and sadness as she stares at the spinning whir of the computer’s apparatus. The machine emanates a sense of callous indifference, as if it were some early ancestor of Kubrick’s unblinking, red-lensed monstrosity. Peggy’s pained expression also hints at her difficult navigation of the ‘Quit stalling. Get back to work!’ ethos that Chaplin heard in the Electro Steel factory and that she implicitly also must operate under within the hypermasculine, hierarchical environment of SC&P. Business efficiency dictates that there is no time for tears.

Dehumanizing the Workplace in Our Modern Times The Tramp-based IBM commercials from the 1980s had a common phrase: ‘a tool for modern times’. Those carefully chosen words contain the industrial worries that Chaplin was expressing in his eponymous film, and although the ads aired roughly a decade after the events of ‘The Monolith’ arc, they channel the kinds of dehumanizing capabilities that unhinged Michael Ginsberg. As denizens of the information age, our collective and reflexive reaction to living with the ubiquity of digital technologies would seemingly be one of acceptance and even a kind of hegemonic inevitability. Arguably, most of us carry personal ‘monoliths’ almost everywhere we go via our smartphones. Millennials are largely digital natives, and the generations to follow will be even more seamlessly integrated into the online, automated and interconnected world. This is to say that the fears that Peggy, Ginsberg,



and Don had about the presence of computerization in the workplace logically would not be shared by workers of our era. However, there are signs that the Billows Feeding Machine is beginning to pervade labour in digital form. Dan Lyons’ memoir, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, provides a salient case study of the new kinds of pernicious ‘monoliths’ that now permeate modern workplaces. Lyons helps to edify the positivistic trend towards reducing the value of human labour to a quantifiable statistic. Anyone outside of upper management is subject to quotas and statistical computations such as VORP (‘Value Over Replacement Player’: a statistic most associated with baseball that quantifies individual performance against what the ‘average’ player, or in this case, worker, would score), all under the banner of being a ‘data-driven organization’ (Lyons 2016, 47), which hews all too closely to Jim Cutler’s entering ‘the future’ logic upon introducing the IBM 360. Some within the media landscape are beginning to notice this trend. HBO’s Silicon Valley and, to a lesser extent, CBS’ The Great Indoors traverse some of the anxieties and absurdities of these mission-dominated, ‘data-driven’ workplaces with varying degrees of critique. If VORP scores and their ilk seem like outliers, or trendy bleeding edge management tools of the information age that will fall by the wayside, consider the following remarks from advertising executive Bob Welty in 1969. A headline in the 31 January 1969 issue of the J. Walter Thompson Company News reads ‘Welty: “The computer as a tool used in media planning is here to stay (3)”’. The story details how J. Walter Thompson ‘Manager of Media Planning’, Bob Welty, gave a speech at a trade conference in which he predicted that the computer is ‘here to stay’. He was obviously correct in his prediction, but this section of the newsletter also points to some of the thematic tensions at work in Mad Men when Welty states that, ‘The computer can do all the tedious analytical work for us, it can arm us with information that makes us a lot smarter, which in turn, leads us to more intelligent decisions (3)’. Here, Welty reads as a real-life avatar of Hawley. The nebulous ‘do all the tedious analytical work’ remark seems like an easy sell to other managers revelling in the promise of increased efficiency, but also serves as corporate code for cost-cutting and downsizing. Welty also recognizes the inherent anxieties attached to the idea of integrating computers when he says, ‘There seems to be some emotion connected with our shiny, new machines…The term “computer” seems to have struck a tone of George Orwell’s 1984 brought into the 1960’s



prematurely’ (3), presciently considering the very notion that was channelled in Apple’s famous dystopian ad for Macintosh. That 1984 Apple ad also helps to galvanize the links in ‘The Monolith’ arc to Modern Times and 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the ad, a messianic runner (supposedly the avatar of a ‘good’ corporation) arrives to smash the monoliths, cogs, and mechanized voices that oppress the demos. However, instead of existing as some kind of transcendent entity to free the people, the 1984 Apple ad is merely a more artful device to encourage the consumption and adoption of the kinds of commercial technologies that aid in the structural survival of the very institutions that produce the monoliths, cogs, and mechanized voices in the first place. It seems that despite the era, technology (and those in power wielding it) maintains the same impulse: control. New technologies aid in controlling workers’ bodies, their time, and even their attitudes about where they work and what they do. In the best of cases, such as Modern Times and Mad Men, our media can serve to resist these impulses, to offer a counter-hegemonic position against the normalizing of such phenomenon. In the worst cases, such as the 1980s IBM Tramp ads, our heroes of opposition are turned against us. At the conclusion of Mad Men, the narrative architecture is presented in such a way that it is a safe bet to assume that Peggy Olson is firmly strapped into what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (2012) described in a speech to the Harvard Business School as the metaphorical ‘rocket ship’ of success. Because she stands as a symbolic straddler of the past and the future, one haunting question then remains: Would Peggy be the kind of CEO who saw how the IBM 360 consumed the humanity of the office and remember how she felt as the computer whirred coldly while a tortured Ginsberg was taken out on a stretcher? Or would that image have become a kind of Darwinian, fighting fire with fire moment, only existing as a faint memory as she scrolls through a spreadsheet of her employees’ VORP scores? When describing the IBM 360, Lloyd Hawley tells Don that ‘this machine is frightening to people, but it’s made by people’. In this respect, Mad Men, like Modern Times before it, illustrates that dehumanization may be perpetual, but unlike Kubrick’s primeval demigod, the machines are our own (though often corporate) creations. ‘The Monolith’ arc seems to suggest, however, that if we increasingly possess the tools to master ‘the infinite’, perhaps on our way to conquering the cosmic, we will first engineer future monoliths to be defenders of lunchrooms.



Bibliography Dinerstein, Joel. 2006. Technology and Its Discontents: On the Verge of the Posthuman. American Quarterly 58 (3) (September): 569–595. Edgerton, Gary R. 2011. Introduction: When Our Parents Became Us. In Mad Men: Dream Come True TV, ed. Gary R. Edgerton, xxi–xxxvi. London: I.B. Tauris. Lyons, Dan. 2016. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble. New York: Hachette Books. Mellen, Joan. 2006. Modern Times. London: BFI Publishing. Musser, Charles. 1988. Work, Ideology, and Chaplin’s Tramp. Radical History Review 41: 36–66. Sandberg, Sheryl. 2012. Harvard Business School Class Day. 23 May 2012, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, MA. Keynote. Sturken, Marita, and Douglas Thomas. 2004. Introduction: Technological Visions and the Rhetoric of the New. In Technological Visions: The Hopes and Fears That Shape New Technologies, ed. Marita Sturken, Douglas Thomas, and Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach, 1–18. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Terkel, Studs. 1974. Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. New York: The New Press. Welty: “The Computer as a Tool Used in Media Planning is Here to Stay.” The J. Walter Thompson Company News, 24 (5) (31 January, 1969): 3. p15957coll4/id/12233/page/0/inline/p15957coll4_12233_0.

Dualities and Ambiguities: Mad Men’s Use of the Beatles, Nancy Sinatra, and Judy Collins in Seasons Five and Six Rachel Donegan

As a television series, Mad Men is a show consistently constructed with the utmost attention to detail. Nothing about the show is accidentally chosen, including the musical choices. There have been many poignant and important uses of both period and contemporary music throughout Mad Men’s seven seasons, from Peggy dancing to ‘The Twist’ in 1.8 ‘The Hobo Code’ to the ‘getting dressed for work’ montage set to The Decembrists’ ‘The Infanta’ in 2.6 ‘Maidenform’. The sophisticated and clever musical choices in Mad Men ‘artfully match the basic logic of Mad Men’s narrative:…its unspoken existential dread, and its fetishistic historical temporality that both suspends and propels time forward in the same contradictory gesture’ (Sandberg, 2017, 4). However, the songs creator Matthew Weiner has chosen to close 5.8 ‘Lady Lazarus’, 5.13 ‘The Phantom’, and 6.13 ‘In Care Of” echo Don’s (and to a lesser extent, Pete’s) inner turmoil while emphasizing the various dualities and ambiguities that make viewing Mad Men such a rich, satisfying experience. In 5.8 ‘Lady Lazarus’ (written by Matthew Weiner and directed by Phil Abraham), Weiner uses music as a device to emphasize how Don lives in stark contrast against 1960s popular culture, a realization prompted

R. Donegan (B) Department of English, Georgia Gwinnett College, Lawrenceville, GA, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




by shifting mindsets in both his professional and personal lives. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s adverting pitch for Chevalier Blanc, a minor agency client, involves a television ad shot in the style of the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, and the firm needs a Beatles sound-alike to accompany the ad. Even in the series context of 1966, licensing a Beatles original recording is both expensive and practically impossible, so Don has Stan and Ginsberg listen to dozens of bands in hope of finding a suitable sound-alike. This task launches Ginsberg and Stan into an intense discussion of what bands might work best for the ad (Ginsberg suggests The Zombies), a personal investment in the aesthetic choice that puzzles Don, prompting him to ask Megan later, ‘When did music become so important?’ For Don, a song serves a more utilitarian purpose—it is harmonic background noise used to finish an ad, not something people enjoy in and of itself. The ultimate point of music in commercials is to get people to buy the product, a means to an end. What possible purpose could music serve unless it makes the firm more successful? After much deliberation, Ginsberg and Stan settle on a song to pitch to Don. The song chosen is nondescript and unthreatening, with a light pop melody, making it perfect for commercial use. As soon as he hears it, Don assumes the song is an authentic Beatles recording. Ginsburg quickly mentions that not only is this track not a Fab Four original, but it is actually a newer cover of a much-older song. Eric Thrum, in a feature on Mad Men and music, notes that the disconnect between Don and the music of the 1960s should come as no surprise, as a key aspect of Mad Men is the fact that none of the characters fit particularly well within their time period. Don is an artefact, stuck in time and unwilling to change, whereas music and youth culture are by their very definitions constantly evolving and morphing into something else. The struggle to accept change is a prominent theme in the episode, one that stretches to supporting characters as well. At this point in Mad Men’s seven seasons, Pete and Don’s personal trajectories have reversed: by season five, Pete is the suburban family man, living with Trudy and Tammy in Cos Cob and making the long daily commute to Manhattan by train. In this way, Pete’s earlier quest to become Don Draper is complete. Meanwhile, Don is the carefree newlywed, living with Megan in a stylish and modern city apartment. Much like Don in earlier seasons, life in the suburbs makes Pete feel restless and confined. At the start of 5.8 ‘Lady Lazarus’, he learns that Howard, his train commute acquaintance, is cheating on Beth, his wife, with a ‘spectacular side dish’ living in the city. That night at the train station,



Pete spies Beth, who has locked her keys in her car, waiting for Howard’s train to arrive. Knowing that Howard won’t be returning anytime soon, Pete seizes an opportunity to give Howard’s wife Beth a ride home as a moment to seduce her. However, like most of Pete’s schemes, this does not turn out as planned. Pete and Beth have sex, but Beth makes it clear that their tryst was a one-time affair, something Pete struggles to comprehend. He spends the remainder of the episode feeling emasculated and struggling with the fact that he is not in control of the sexual dynamic, an unfamiliar position for him. Don (and to a lesser extent, Pete), the Beatles, and the larger theme of change converge again in the final montage sequence of the episode. As Don arrives home, Megan, who, earlier in the episode, quit working at SCDP to pursue her acting dreams, happily leaves for her acting class. She hands him the latest Beatles album, Revolver, a gift intended to help update him on current musical trends. On her way out the door, she recommends a song to Don, who dutifully complies. As he drops the needle onto the record, the hum of a sitar starts to fill the living room with the opening strains of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, the closing track of Revolver and arguably the most experimental track on the album. Weiner’s choice of song here is a smart one—the Beatles of 1966, with Eastern influences, a new-found electric feel, and lyrical musings about the nature of existence, are worlds away from the breezy, carefree, and innocent feel of their earlier songs, especially ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. Even the Beatles, whom Don reviles, have had the flexibility and willingness to grow, experiment, and evolve over the past decade. As the warmth of the music permeates through the apartment, Don takes off his blazer, grabs his drink, and moves to his chair, gliding perfectly in sync with the opening lyrics: ‘Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. It is not dying…It is not dying’. He stares off into a point invisible to the viewer as the scene fades into Peggy (‘Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void—it is shining…it is shining’) as she shares a joint with Stan while they work late into the night. Like Megan, Peggy, and Stan are products of the newly formed youth culture, in tune with music and artistic trends, and, like Megan, have learned to bend and change relatively well with the times. Aesthetically, the personal styles Megan, Stan, and Peggy have in this episode are quite different from their first appearances in Mad Men (as is fitting of 1960s style) whereas Don stands frozen in time. The montage continues with a fade into Pete Campbell, who is walking to the train station parking lot with Howard. Pete climbs into his car, as



‘yet you may see the meaning of within—it is being…it is being’, echoes behind him. He forlornly starts the car, glances over to his left, and spies Beth sitting in her car with Howard. By now ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ has reached the instrumental break midway through the song, so there are no words to direct and fill the space, just the emotions of the scene. While Howard fumbles to start the car, Beth looks over to Pete and traces the outline of a heart on her car window’s condensation, with sitars and guitars furiously clatter in the background. All Pete can do is stare at her, his eyes beginning to glaze over with tears. But the moment is a fleeting one—as soon as Beth sees that Pete has noticed her message, she quickly rolls her window down and up again (thus erasing her message) and she and Howard drive off into the night. The camera turns back to Pete, who still hasn’t moved. With another fade, the montage moves to Megan (‘Love is all and love is everyone—it is knowing, it is knowing’), lying on her back, eyes closed, and in her dimly lit acting class. Her serene face and spread arms give the impression of openness, as she blissfully soaks in every moment of her new life and a dream that is truly hers. As soon as the viewer can absorb this image of Megan, Don violently rips the needle up from the record midsong, grabs his drink, and slowly walks off to his bedroom. The episode fades to black, and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ echoes again over the closing credits. As abrupt as Don’s actions are, they should come as no surprise to even a casual viewer of the show. Don is completely static in terms of his aesthetic. He wears the same 1950s style suits, dons the same fedoras, and has the same style haircut year after year. Don’s wardrobe in the later seasons is practically indistinguishable from that in season one. At no point in the series does he express any fondness for music or art, which makes sense given his Depression-era poor, rural upbringing, one disconnected from the outside world. Though Don is a voracious reader, reading Dante’s Inferno, William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather through the course of the series, reading lacks the same cool, hip, youthful vibe that music has. Music, as compared to books, is arguably more freeing and emotional and therefore fundamentally foreign to Don. Don’s needs are much baser—financial, emotional, and physical—than art or music, which he views as merely decorations for living and not anything of consequence. In a feature about music and Mad Men, Eric Thurm notes ‘Don is profoundly incapable of grasping the intangibles of music, the things that inspire people to write about it professionally and allow at least



a few people to succeed’. And it’s this attitude towards music and culture that comprises the tension he feels in 5.8 ‘Lady Lazarus’. Don is living in a world that does not exist anymore, while the world keeps spinning and moving along without him. These same tensions resurface a few episodes later in the season finale, 5.13 ‘The Phantom’ (written by Jonathan Igla and Matthew Weiner and directed by Matthew Weiner), where Nancy Sinatra’s ‘You Only Live Twice’ provides a fitting musical thread to weave several plotlines together. Many of the same plot lines from 5.8 ‘Lady Lazarus’ have extended to the season’s final episode. Pete is still smitten with Beth, who visits him at a hotel for one last tryst as a way of saying goodbye. Don is still struggling with reconciling Megan’s dreams of becoming an actress with his own ambitions and insecurities, but he eventually helps her land her first acting job in a commercial for Butler Shoes. Aside from addressing several key themes of the season, the combination of striking cinematography, seamless editing, and expertly chosen music provides for one of Mad Men’ s most breathtaking and signature musical moments. The final sequence begins with Don visiting Megan on the set of her commercial shoot, and as she begins to rehearse her part, he turns and walks off the set. It is at this moment that ‘You Only Live Twice’, which opens with a crescendo and a stirring violin arrangement, begins. The cinematography and camera angles are stunning here: the commercial set in the background is bathed in light, while in the foreground Don is completely shadowed and moving across an empty soundstage, proceeding further and further into the darkness. Seamless editing transports Don from walking through a darkened soundstage to gliding into an unnamed red-and-black hued bar, effortlessly moving through the crowd and taking a seat at the bar. The bar, like the soundstage, is dimly lit, a continuation of the same contrast from Megan, on her light-drenched set. It is here that Sinatra’s vocals croon into the scene: ‘You only live twice, or so it seems—one life for yourself, and one for your dreams’. Weiner’s choice of song here is especially apt given the many similarities between Don Draper and James Bond, as Sinatra’s ‘You Only Live Twice’ serves as the theme song for the Bond film of the same name. With his handsome persona, raw talent, self-assured charm, and success with women, Don Draper is in many ways an Americanized version of James Bond. But Bond similarities aside, the lyrics of ‘You Only Live Twice’ are still an appropriate vehicle for analysing Don Draper. Don contains multiple dichotomies; he



has been ‘living twice’ throughout the entire series. He’s lived as the elegant and handsome Don Draper and as the unwanted and awkward Dick Whitman, as a family man with a home in the suburbs and as a newlywed in the city, as a charismatic, successful ad, and as an unstable and emotionally fragile war veteran. The various doubles present within Don Draper are numerous from the onset of the series, and only seem to grow, overlap, and complicate each other as the seasons go by. However, the greatest ‘second life’ is the life Don has been living in season five. At the end of season four, Don has seemingly passed the worst of his post-marriage storm of drinking and womanizing and is poised to settle down and be tied to one woman—Megan. Don’s marriage to Megan represents a second chance at stability and happiness, a symbolism that Don is keenly aware of in season five. The Don Draper of season five is, on some levels, radically different than any other version we see in Mad Men. His drinking is more or less under control, and Don remains faithful to Megan, refusing to even entertain the idea of an affair. Despite this intense self-control, Don’s anxieties over his faithfulness rattle him in 5.4 ‘Mystery Date’, (written by Victor Levin and Matthew Weiner and directed by Matt Shakman) after he and Megan endure an awkward elevator ride with Andrea, a past lover of Don’s, on the way to SCDP. Later that day, a sick and feverish Don leaves work early, and, in a haze, hallucinates a tryst with Andrea at his apartment. As the phantom Andrea dresses and prepares to leave, a weak Don warns her, ‘I’d better not see you again. You’re not going to ruin this’. Phantom Andrea assures Don that he ‘loved it, and you’ll love it again because you’re a sick, sick—’. Before she can finish her thought, Don launches out of bed, throws Andrea to the ground, and violently strangles her to death. The moment is unflinching, raw, and horrifying—after Don realizes that she is dead, he recoils in terror at his own violence, hastily shoves her body under the bed (leaving one leg hanging over the side), and crawls back under the covers, trembling. He awakens to Megan bringing him some juice and glances down to an empty floor. The violence and infidelity with Andrea may have been imaginary, but Don’s fear of messing up his second chance is quite real, as he still wrestles with his deeply entrenched, yet damaging, coping mechanisms. In the following episode, 5.5 ‘Signal 30’, (written by Frank Pierson and Matthew Weiner and directed by John Slattery) Don follows through on his intentions to take advantage of this ‘second life’ with Megan, to do things differently in this marriage than he did when he was married to Betty. When the SCDP executives (minus Lane Pryce and Bert Cooper)



spend an evening courting Edwin Baker, a Jaguar executive, the evening’s frivolities lead the men to stop at a high-end brothel. Don remains at the brothel’s bar during the course of the visit and is the only man who doesn’t bed a prostitute. On the way home, he shares a cab with a despondent Pete, whose existential sadness stems from his dissatisfaction with family life in the suburbs. Don, who has made no secret of his hatred for the suburbs over the course of Mad Men, warns Pete to take stock in what he has and to be careful to not let it slip away. This is, to quote ‘You Only Live Twice’, the life Don is living for his dreams, his dreams of feeling secure and feeling loved. Back in 5.13 ‘The Phantom’, Don grabs a seat at the bar, orders his signature drink (an Old Fashioned—also another subtle nod at his inability to get with the times), and the scene fades into Peggy, in a hotel on her very first business trip. Earlier in 5.13 ‘The Phantom’ she runs into Don at a movie theatre and excitedly tells him of the business trip she is taking to Virginia as a part of her new position as Copy Chief at Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough. Her excitement is palpable—finally, Peggy will get to fly on a plane, experience the glamour of travel, and perhaps even earn some professional respect from her peers. But alas, in the world of Mad Men events rarely unfold as expected, and high expectations are almost always followed by moments of disillusionment. As Peggy emerges from her bathroom in a bathrobe, she spies movement outside her window as the song continues (‘You drift through the years and life seems tame…’) in the background. What does Peggy see as she gazes outside her glamorous hotel room? Two stray dogs frantically mating in the parking lot, a banal, pedestrian scene that reeks of the everyday, a scene she could have easily seen back in Brooklyn. Not willing to let the sight ruin her mood, Peggy contentedly settles into her bed with a glass of liquor as the scene fades off. Pete is next to appear in the montage, sitting sadly and still in his living room, headphones on, eyes closed, while the song continues (‘And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on…’). Without him even moving an inch, it is clear through context that Pete is mournfully thinking of Beth, a momentary facet of a possible second life, who he knows is lost to him forever. His brief moment in the montage fades into a close-up of Roger’s serene face. Much earlier in the episode, Roger calls Marie Calvet, Megan’s mother, and asks her to come to his hotel and take LSD with him, or at least to be in the room with him while he trips. She immediately refuses. However, it seems that Roger was undeterred by her refusal. A smile slowly creeps over his lips as Sinatra sings, ‘don’t think of the danger…or the stranger is gone’



and soon the viewer sees a naked Roger from behind, standing on a chair, arms spread open wide, facing an open window and proudly displaying his manhood for all of Manhattan to see. At this point, the scene shifts back to Don, sitting in the same bar as before, being approached by a much younger woman asking for a cigarette light. Sinatra is still singing in the background, ‘this dream is for you, so pay the price’, which in context is much more of a warning to Don than a concession. The dream of love, acceptance, and family—all dreams Don has been searching for his entire life—are within his grasp right now, but it comes at the cost of curbing his baser, self-destructive instincts, namely his life of excessive womanizing and drinking. Just after this line in the song, the younger woman thanks Don for the light and reveals her true intentions for approaching him—her friend at the end of the bar (a young, attractive brunette) was wondering…is Don there alone? The scene seems to pause and wait for Don’s answer. Don slowly turns his head towards the woman next to him (as Sinatra sings again that ‘love is a stranger’) with just a hint of an amused smirk on his face, and both the scene and the season cut to black. Though there is no proof that Don takes the woman’s friend up on her presumed offer, it is no stretch to assume he pursues her. (It goes without saying that the Don of earlier Mad Men seasons would not hesitate at the prospect.) This assumption is so widely accepted that the unnamed woman appears as a part of ‘The Women of Don Draper’, a creative project by illustrator Hannah Choi that chronologically depicts all the women Don has bedded over the course of the series. If anything, this scene with the women at the bar raises questions about the state of Don and Megan’s supposed domestic bliss. If Don were truly supportive of Megan and her acting dreams, why isn’t he on set watching her perform? Don cannot stand the thought of her succeeding without him, so he flees to the bar, back to his comfort zone, to feel some semblance of control. And as viewers see in season six, Don does trade in the ‘second life’ of a wife and family in favour of the first life—a life dedicated to himself, where Don answers to no one and nothing but his own desires, a sad form of hedonism. Throughout the course of season six, Don spirals out of control to the greatest degree that viewers have seen from him on Mad Men. He has a one-night stand with Betty on a visit to see Bobby at summer camp and has an extended affair with Sylvia Rosen, the wife of a friend who lives one floor below the Drapers in their Manhattan apartment building. This affair with Sylvia sparks a series of misfortunes and unleashes Don’s



recklessness. In 6.8 ‘The Crash’ (written by Jason Grote and Matthew Wiener, directed by Michael Uppendahl) Sylvia ends their affair, and Don spends more and more time lingering in her doorway, leaving his cigarette butts as calling cards, which Sylvia has to take the blame for to prevent her husband’s suspicion. Don (assisted by Jim Cutler’s dangerous cocktail of ‘vitamins’) utterly consumed by his efforts to regain control and win back Sylvia, leaves the back door of his apartment open, resulting in his apartment being robbed and his children being momentarily held captive by Ida, a black woman who poses as Don’s mother. At the end of the episode, Sally explains to Don how she used everything she knew about Don to test Ida’s claims, but to no avail. ‘Then I realized I don’t know anything about you’, she tells Don, a claim that he cannot deny. A few episodes later, in 6.11 ‘Favors’ (written by Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner, directed by Jennifer Getzinger), Don uses his professional connections, at Sylvia’s request, in order to prevent her son from being drafted, and Don uses this favour as a way to reunite with Sylvia. This ulterior motive only leads to further emotional and relational decay for Don. Unfortunately, a horrified teenage Sally accidentally stumbles upon Don and Sylvia having sex, which shatters Sally’s desire to trust or speak to her father again. Don’s self-destruction rapidly intensifies from this point on. Multiple intersecting layers of guilt begin to eat Don alive, and the effects of this stress reach a boiling point in 6.13 ‘In Care Of’, (written by Carly Wray and Matthew Weiner, directed by Matthew Weiner) the season finale. The combination of Sally’s discovery and increased tensions in his relationship with Megan cause Don’s already-heavy drinking and desperation to escalate even further. This, unsurprisingly, affects his work and prompts an emotional breakdown in the middle of one of the biggest pitches in Sterling Cooper and Partners’ history—a coveted pitch to Hershey’s chocolate. Initially, the pitch is a success: Don creates a perfect family-friendly advertisement based on a touching, yet entirely fictitious childhood memory with his father. However, as the executives from Hershey and Don’s fellow partners discuss the potential of this ad campaign, Don suddenly snaps. He interjects with the story of his real Hershey’s childhood memory: getting a candy bar as a reward from the prostitutes in the whorehouse after he picked the pockets of their clients. Following this outburst, Don feels some level of relief over finally telling the truth about himself instead of running from lie after lie, but the professional damage has been done. The severity of his actions prompts his fellow partners to call an emergency meeting on



Thanksgiving morning and forces him to take an indefinite leave from the agency. All of these moments have led up to the final moments of 6.13 ‘In Care Of’. After the disastrous Hershey’s pitch, Don has finally hit rock bottom and reached a point where the convenience of lying is more painful to him than owning up to the failures and blemishes of his past. In a last-ditch effort attempt to right his wrongs and win Sally back, he picks up his children and drives them to Pennsylvania right after his meeting with the partners. (Don wears the same tie in both scenes, aiding this assumption.) He stops the car with no real information about their destination, though Bobby immediately notices that they’re in ‘a bad neighborhood’. Don, however, prompts them all to get out of the car and follow him. The four Drapers—Sally, Gene, Bobby, and Don—slowly walk towards a still unseen location. They stare momentarily in silence until Don plainly states, ‘this is where I grew up’. It’s then that Weiner reveals the house, a dilapidated, crumbling Victorian-era house surrounded by housing projects. Viewers instantly recognize this house from Don’s flashbacks as the whorehouse where he grew up after his father died. Trash covers the yard, and an old recliner and a broken baby carriage—two symbols of domestic comfort and stability—sit together on the curb, just outside of the yard. It is at this point that the closing song begins—Judy Collins’s rendition of Joni Mitchell’s ‘From Both Sides Now’. As the song starts, Collins sings of an idealistic, flowery view of the world, one where she once viewed clouds as ‘ice cream castles in the air’ and ‘feather canyons everywhere’ instead of seeing clouds for what they really are, dark objects that block the light from the sun and bring storms to their destinations. This first verse is paired nicely with the subtle action in the scene that of Sally reacting in shock that this house could be where her once-beloved father grew up. Sally turns to Don in disbelief and he glances back at her. They turn back towards the house, and the episode and season end. Compared to the abrupt conclusion of 5.13 ‘The Phantom’, this final moment in 6.13 ‘In Care Of’ defies clear interpretation and leaves the viewer to fill in the gaps—is Don’s trip with his children to the abandoned whorehouse a moment of real honesty or a manipulative ploy to win back Sally’s trust? Or is taking three children to see an old brothel on Thanksgiving Day merely another instance of Don’s increasingly reckless behaviour? Concluding the season in this manner is a complex narrative for Weiner



to make, as it ultimately prompts multiple viewings and multiple interpretations. The lack of definitive resolution in this scene validates and even encourages multiple points of view—a more optimistic viewer might see this as an important step in Don and Sally mending their strained relationship, or a more cynical viewer could easily interpret this as a last-ditch effort made by a failing father to win his child’s love back. By pairing an emotionally revealing song with an absence of dialogue which fuels the ambiguity, Weiner gets to have it all narrative possibilities at once, and viewers can enjoy a multi-faceted, rich episode that provides a slightly new viewing experience each time. On a thematic level, Weiner’s choice of song in this brief, yet important scene works well because ‘From Both Sides Now’ can easily apply to both Sally’s and Don’s shifting emotional dynamic in season six. In his review of 6.13 ‘In Care Of’, Todd VanDerWerff states that in this final scene, ‘both Don and Sally are working out …the separation between the truth and the lie….the central lie about behind everything, the idea parents try to sell their children as long as possible that things will be okay’. Sally learns to see both sides of her father, a complicated effort, as Don is a someone who, time and time again, eludes black and white interpretations. In previous seasons, she has viewed Don with unflinching admiration, the Good Parent to Betty’s Bad Parent, an idealistic and infallible hero, a view that is not uncommon for young girls to have of their fathers. However, after she witnesses his irresponsibility, the selfishness of his affair, and his futile attempts to cover it up, she sees the darker sides of Don for the first time. After spending much of the latter part of the season avoiding Don, Sally, in this brief scene outside the old whorehouse, finally learns something true and real about her father. Though Don’s true motivation and Sally’s reaction are unknowns, without ‘From Both Sides Now’, much of the emotional resonance of this scene is lost. ‘From Both Sides Now’ easily applies to Don outside the whorehouse as well. In many ways, the song works as a response to Nancy Sinatra’s ‘You Only Live Twice’ in the season five finale. Both songs deal with the weight of dualities, choices, and shifting vantage points, but unlike ‘You Only Live Twice’, ‘From Both Sides Now’ deals with the aftermath, the moment of reconciliation and comparison between what a person used to see and what a person sees now. Now that Don has seen the lie of his ‘first life’ cause his ‘second life’ to falter and crack yet again, he has (to some extent) learned to see both sides, to see that the green grass of his ‘first life’ is artificial at best. Because of his drinking and womanizing, his work, title,



and status have been stripped away from him, his children no longer idolize him, and his marriage to Megan, his great second chance, is yet again in shambles. Don is as clueless about life and love as ever, as evidenced by his action in much of season seven, but a possibility remains that maybe, just maybe, things won’t turn out as badly as they did leading up to the season six finale. Don can at least see both sides of his life now, even if he does not know how to reconcile the two. Or, perhaps, he learns nothing at all, and the moment outside the brother is merely another attempt at manipulation. By providing no clear stance, Weiner effectively validates all possibilities. Examining these episodes’ closing song choices generates a new appreciation for not only the music itself, but also the care and detail that goes into each episode of Mad Men. Without such carefully selected music, the emotional heft of these scenes—and, quite possibly, the series as a whole— would be easily lost. Mad Men is a show about small moments as well as big ones, and these three well-chosen songs help these small moments—listening to a record, drinking at a bar, and viewing an old house—a greater sense of poignancy and a strong thematic thread to link across seasons. These are subtle, internal moments made external through carefully chosen musical pairings. Without the songs, the scenes feel flatter, emptier. If anything, the beautifully chosen music represents a greater attention to detail, which in and of itself is another detail illustrating just what makes Mad Men such a rich and unique viewing experience.

Bibliography The Beatles. 1966. Tomorrow Never Knows. Revolver, Parlophone. Collins, Judy. 1967. Both Sides Now. Elektra: Wildflowers. Grote, Jason, and Matthew Wiener. 2013. The Crash. AMC: Mad Men. Igla, Jonathan, and Matthew Weiner. 2012. The Phantom. AMC: Mad Men. Levin, Victor, and Matthew Weiner. 2012. Mystery Date. AMC: Mad Men. Pierson, Frank, and Matthew Weiner. 2012. Signal 30. AMC: Mad Men. Sandberg, Mark. 2017. Mad Men’s Serially Falling Man. The Velvet Light Trap 79: 4–20. Sinatra, Nancy. 1967. “You Only Live Twice,” You Only Live Twice: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, United Artists. Thurm, Eric. 2015. What We Learned From the Music of Mad Men. Pitchfork, 15 May. Accessed 6 February 2017.



VanDerWerff, Todd. 2013. Mad Men: ‘In Care Of’. A.V. Club, June, 24. http:// Accessed 6 February 2017. Weiner, Matthew. 2012. Lady Lazarus. AMC: Mad Men. ———. 2013. In Care Of. AMC: Mad Men.

Using Bakhtin’s ‘Third Ear’ to Hear Mad Men’s Adspeak in the Everyday Honora Kenney

Introduction One of Don Draper’s great iconic quotes is, ‘If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation’ (3.12 ‘Love Among the Ruins’). But what happens if you don’t speak the language? Mad Men engages memorably with issues of foreign language: Megan Draper and her family speak French; Salvatore Romano speaks Italian with his mother; Betty Francis reminds Henry Francis, ‘I’m not stupid, I speak Italian’ (7.5 ‘The Runaways’). But beneath the landscape of foreign language barriers, subtler language tensions simmer: those caused by variations solely within the English language. It is through these variations, I argue, that Mad Men paints its richest portrait of stratification. We already know that Mad Men presents the de rigueur dichotomy: one between those who work in the Manhattan corporate world (aristocratic, profit-driven, white males) and those who do not (women, racial, and religious minorities, etc.). My interest lies in the subtle ways Mad Men uses language to reinforce the dichotomy. Specifically, I draw from Mikhail Bakhtin to illuminate one particular feature of the heteroglossic nature of Mad Men’s English language—‘adspeak’—and the ways it infiltrates everyday dialogue taking place between characters outside of advertisements.

H. Kenney (B) University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




Taking into account Mad Men’s interest in themes of power and control, I argue that when adspeak is leveraged in everyday speech, it is done so towards goals of subjugation and self-promotion. Yet importantly, it is only one side of the dichotomy that has ready access to this weaponized form of language. Adspeak becomes, therefore, a powerful means through which one group in Mad Men’s dichotomy colonizes the other. I begin by discussing the significance of advertising in post-war America to contextualize the intrusion of adspeak into everyday language that Mad Men presents. I then gauge if characters demonstrate awareness of adspeak’s intrusion, and if so, how they react to it. We see, for example, the acuity with which Rachel Menken and Midge Daniels perceive Don’s use of adspeak outside of the workplace—and then mock his reliance upon it. Moments such as these, especially early in the series, train viewers to be sensitive to adspeak being deployed outside of advertisements, to critique its occurrence, and to hope, perhaps, for a series resolution that might flip the script for those excluded from its cultural capital or belittled by its scorn.1 I conclude, however, that despite early cultivation of an audience that recognizes adspeak being used by characters to subvert others, the series slackens its critique as it progresses. This is epitomized in the show’s finale: individuals from one side of the dichotomy (from different faiths, races, and genders) are united in song (7.14 ‘Person to Person’). Yet their voices raise not towards songs of self-expression and individuality, but a jingle—devised by a prototype of the dichotomy’s other side: an upper-class straight white male trying to generate profit. The series, in other words, does not deliver the vision of a progressive utopia, or even just of an inclusive workspace, that it originally trains viewers to expect.

Background: Post-war Capitalism and Bakhtin Bakhtin’s language theories focus primarily on novels but are relevant across genres and have challenged pop culture consumers of the last few decades to more sensitive receptions. As John Kijinski points out, within mass culture products like films and television shows, ‘multiple voices are often brought decisively under the control of a single, hegemonic voice. And this, of course, generally occurs for some very powerful economic reasons’ (1987, 68). A Bakhtinian framework can empower consumers to identify whether non-normalized and traditionally marginalized voices are being allowed to speak autonomously, or whether they are being subsumed into larger voices, especially those silencing others in service of economic agendas.



As Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist write, ‘Bakhtin seems to have had a third ear’—similar to the ‘third eye’ of Tibetan Buddhism—‘that permitted him to hear differences where others perceived only sameness’ (1984, 5). Harnessing Bakhtin’s third ear, and some of the terms through which he describes what the third ear hears, we come to realize the heteroglossic nature of speech across genres, from novels to everyday conversation. That is, we realize that even within one character’s lexicon there are multiple voices, arising from the ‘internal stratification present in every language at any given moment of its historical existence’ (Bakhtin 1981, 263). Further, homing in on the smaller unit of an utterance, Bakhtin defines the ‘hybrid construction’ of a character’s utterance as that which ‘belongs, by its grammatical (syntactic) and compositional markers, to a single speaker, but that actually contains mixed within it two utterances, two speech manners, two styles, two ‘languages’, two semantic and axiological belief systems’ (304). He emphasizes that ‘the division of voices and languages takes place within the limits of a single syntactic whole, often within the limits of a simple sentence’ (305). These concepts dovetail with an idea he earlier treated: polyphony (literally ‘many sounds’) as it relates to literature. Discussing Dostoevsky, he spoke of polyphony as ‘not a multitude of characters and fates in a single objective world, illuminated by a single authorial consciousness; rather a plurality of consciousness, with equal rights and each with its own world, [that] combine but are not merged in the unity of the event’ (1993, 6). Bakhtin’s observations of the heteroglossic and polyphonic natures of discourse, and of the hybridized constructions of even the smallest utterances, challenge us to be defter listeners. If we can identify areas of discontinuity within larger textures of discourse, we can uncover the ideologies that may be driving these discontinuities. We can also assess if a single, domineering voice is subsuming all the other diverse voices into its own, and if so, why. The language awareness Bakhtin provides is particularly useful when examining Mad Men’s era. 1960s America was home to an advertising boom corresponding with the blooming of American consumer capitalism and media innovations like colour television. The beginning of the twentieth century had witnessed global capitalism evolving from its earlier industrial format to the consumer-driven iteration we know today (Hobsbawm qtd. in Batchelor and Booker 2016, xviii). It also witnessed the American economy finally rising to the power of those in Western European countries, avoiding the turn-of-the-century depression to the extent Western Europe experienced it (Batchelor and Booker 2016, xviii). These



elements were joined by a final ingredient, a vestige from World War II: the conviction that consumerism was patriotic in its stimulation of the national economy (Cohen 2003, 8–9). Together they formed a robust mid-century consumer economy—one that could symbiotically sustain a developing industry designed to reinforce it: advertising. So, while advertising did not single-handedly engender American consumer capitalism, it certainly cultivated a powerful and trenchant effect on Americans’ personal experiences (Lears 1994, 10–11; 2). Booker and Batchelor draw from William Leach to report how, ‘at the beginning of the twentieth century, business began, via the discourse of advertising, to pursue and colonize the imaginations of Americans in an unprecedented way’ (Leach qtd. in Batchelor 2016, xix). The colonizing effect of advertising discourse—what I will call adspeak2 —on the individual psychological landscape is one that continues through the twentieth century, as mid-century advertisers were penning billboards, scripting radio announcements, and drafting magazine copy. Its invasion into the personal psyche can be examined in illuminating ways through language. Mad Men paints a vivid portrait of the development of adspeak and its intrusion into the everyday lexicons of the advertisement professionals who created it. Further, it explores the effects of this intrusion on the advertisement professionals’ psychological landscapes, as well as those of their families and communities who have little or no access to the offices and boardrooms ‘[where] the sausage is made’ (1.4 ‘New Amsterdam’). In so doing, Mad Men provides us with a dichotomy: the ‘normative’ profitdriven white male executives who practice ‘adspeak’ every day and everyone else: the minorities largely barred from the advertising world and thus ill-equipped to employ its language. Through characters like Rachel and Midge, the show provides a social critique of this culture, in which only one group has access to a language with powerful subjugation capabilities, and it teaches viewers to be alert to sites where this occurs. Yet where it trains viewers to expect a series conclusion that will flip the script and give powerful language abilities to the non-normative half of the dichotomy, it ultimately falls flat. In the last scene of Mad Men, voices intended to signify the non-normative half of the dichotomy are raised together in technicolour, upbeat song—yet only to be subsumed into the hegemonic, profit-driven normative voice.



Season One The very first scene of Mad Men signals that a complex social hierarchy will pervade the show, through the tense exchange between the African American server (Sam), his white boss, and their upper-class client (Don). The exchange endears us to Don, as he provides a satisfying beat-down of the racist boss and sympathizes with Sam. But a closer listen complicates Don’s heroism. Don sneeringly assures the server’s boss that he and Sam are ‘actually just having a conversation’, yet, at the time he says this, the conversation has thus far been almost completely one-sided (1.1 ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’). Sam has only said two words (‘Finished, sir?’). So, Don, the white, male, upper-class professional scribbling ideas on a napkin towards the goal of selling cigarettes and generating profit, has provided the sole voice of what he seems to believe, thus far, is a ‘conversation’. Don’s misconception is perhaps just as problematic as the boss’s treatment of Sam, but is a lot harder to catch. Upon an alert hearing of the scene, listeners must ask themselves whether this subtler issue—that of the normative voice thinking that it is part of a ‘conversation’ with someone from a race underrepresented on Madison Avenue, instead of realizing it is the only voice speaking—will become thematic throughout the series. When Sam finally does speak, he tells Don he loves smoking. ‘I love smoking ’, Don responds, scribbling the words on a napkin. ‘That’s very good’. Though Don has identified his exchange with Sam as a conversation, he is merely assessing Sam’s words as a potential slogan rather than as an individual opinion through which shared understanding and relatability can occur. He then appropriates them, rendering them into adspeak and subsuming the voice of a lower-class, racial minority character into a larger, hegemonic voice of advertisement. He is oblivious that he subjugates Sam through a language born in Madison Avenue skyscrapers that Sam could not possibly know. In other moments in the first season, characters develop cognizance of subjugation through language. When Betty Draper tells Francine Hanson that walking into Sterling Cooper is ‘like walking into another country where I don’t speak the language’, Francine confesses similar experiences: ‘At Carlton’s I feel like I’m stupid. All that Manhattan talk’ (1.5 ‘5G’). In the next episode, while brainstorming a female-targeted campaign for Belle Jolie, Freddy Rumsen says to male colleagues, ‘I don’t speak moron. Do either of you speak moron?’ (1.6 ‘Babylon’). The statements from Betty, Francine, and Freddy reveal that although the show’s characters are all



speaking English, it is a heteroglossic English—and the different textures within its larger heteroglossic fabric are locations for stratification. The socalled moron language that Betty and Francine allegedly speak by nature of being women is not just the language of ‘women’, but the sociolect of suburbia, which, unlike the urban office, has not yet been suffused with the snappy, mock-sentimental, cliché-ridden adspeak that has begun to permeate Sterling Cooper, starting with the ad executives and creative writers and extending to the secretaries who orbit them. Later in ‘Babylon’, Freddy is stunned when Peggy Olsen hands him a trashcan of tissues used for testing lipstick. ‘Here’s your basket of kisses’, she says. Her catchy description of mundane items shows Freddy that she can speak a language he thought only higher-tiered members of the office hierarchy knew. And so it is through language that her astonishing transcendence of the office’s gender and class boundaries begins. The fact that Freddy likens her acuity to ‘watching a dog play the piano’ only further confirms that the version of English one speaks in Mad Men’s heteroglossic English is tied to one’s position in the social caste. Mad Men portrays these moments of adspeak’s effect on everyday conversations with varying degrees of awareness—and thus, varying likelihoods that viewers will grasp hegemonic language’s propensity to muffle voices that do not fit the norm. In Don’s treatment of Sam, for example, he seems oblivious to language’s power to subjugate individuals from demographics that do not have access to the corporate sphere. Later, the exchanges involving Betty, Francine, Freddy, and Peggy each feature escalating awareness of language’s power to stratify. Rachel and Midge, however, provide powerful self-awareness of the darker aspects of hegemonic language. Their reactions to adspeak invite Mad Men viewers to notice the subduing consequences of language. As both characters display explicit comprehension of subjugation through language and then mock its occurrence, they expose it for other characters (and viewers) to see. In episode one, when Don asks Rachel why she isn’t married, she says she’s never been in love. ‘She won’t get married because she’s never been in love’, Don retorts in a mock-announcer voice. ‘I think I wrote that. It was to sell nylons’ (1.1). Here, Don uses language, specifically the adspeak language to which only his caste has access, to shame Rachel—to tell her that she is idealistic, and that if she could speak adspeak, she would understand love doesn’t exist. Rachel, however, ends the scene with the last laugh. After receiving a conventional lecture from Don about love-as-social-construct,



she responds that ‘for a lot of people, love isn’t just a slogan’. In this statement, she communicates that she understands the language subjugation Don is trying to enact, leaving his carefully architectured suaveness visibly shaken. She displays awareness of the heteroglossic nature of sloganpermeated language, and the way it helps people assert class or hierarchy over others, and she mocks Don for engaging in the practice. Her reaction to Don helps set the tone for the show’s viewers and other characters to be alert for adspeak with ulterior motives within the heteroglossic fabric of the show’s soundscape. Midge also demonstrates awareness of adspeak’s suppressive powers, and, like Rachel, promotes viewer awareness by mocking it. In the same episode, she wryly informs Don she is drawing puppies for ‘Grandmother’s Day’ (1.1). Her tone implies that ‘Grandmother’s Day’ is a capitalistic ploy exploiting sentimentality for profit—one in which she and Don are both complicit. Yet unlike Don, who was unaware of the ways he used language to subjugate Sam, Midge is consistently aware of language’s deriding powers. She sees in Grandmother’s Day how fabricated sentiment drives profit from unassuming masses wooed by punchy, cutesy language. As Don leans towards Midge to kiss her, he asks, ‘What’s your secret?’ Smirking, she replies, ‘Nine different ways to say “I love you, Grandma”’. Her response demonstrates her awareness of adspeak infiltrating everyday speech, and it holds the infiltration up to the light for viewers to see and critique. Like the other seasons of Mad Men, Season One addresses how the infiltration of adspeak into advertisement professionals’ everyday lexicons affects those with whom they interact outside of Madison Avenue. While hegemonic adspeak’s propensity to muffle voices from minority characters often occurs in moments that pass subtly and without comment, such as in the exchange between Don and Sam, Season One still succeeds, through Rachel and Midge, in training viewers to hear dialogue suspiciously. The soundscape of Mad Men is consistently polyphonic, but these two characters help viewers notice some of the different sounds—and the motives driving them—within the polyphony.

Proceeding Seasons Season Three includes one of Mad Men’s most memorable portraits of adspeak permeating domains beyond traditional advertisements. As Don and Salvatore visit London Fog, Don witnesses an affair between Salvatore and a male bellhop (3.1 ‘Out of Town’). Up until this point, Salvatore has



hidden his sexual orientation, understanding that homosexuality would be unacceptable at an elite mid-century corporation (Wallace 2012, 211). Thus, his fear that Don will reveal his secret and compromise his career is palpable. Yet while Don and Salvatore are on the return flight to New York, Don reveals his hand: ‘I’m going to ask you something, and I want you to be completely honest with me’, he says. There is a dramatic pause and a pan of Salvatore’s petrified face as Don describes an advertisement he is envisioning. ‘Limit your exposure’, he says, delivering the punchline and looking Salvatore meaningfully in the eye. Thus, Don uses a slogan to address the affair, communicating to Salvatore through inflection that while he will not reveal Salvatore’s secret, Salvatore should remain closeted. Though Don’s response would seem callous by today’s standards, it comes across as compassionate and protective given historical context. He goes on to assign Salvatore a high-profile project in the next episode, confirming his acceptance of Salvatore despite a sexual orientation misaligned with mid-century corporate standards. Upon a closer analysis of language, however, this scene actually functions rather similarly to the scene between Don and Sam. Don’s apparent warmth towards a character who does not fit the elite stratum’s norm— in Sam’s case because he is African American, and in Salvatore’s because he is gay—leaves viewers with an impression of Don as heroic, compassionate, and open-minded. Beneath the surface of both scenes, though, Don has pretended to desire dialogue—the exchange of voices—while in reality letting his voice subsume the other. Just as he called his scene with Sam a ‘conversation’, he begins his scene with Salvatore by telling Salvatore ‘to be very honest’ with him. This implies that the two will discourse in the etymological sense of the term: they’ll have discussions that ‘run or extend in different directions’ towards the goal of shared understanding (Discourse, v. 2016). In reality though, Don simply wants to communicate his own message. Corroborating this reading of the scene, Salvatore’s only line after Don’s delivery of the pitch and request for Salvatore to be ‘honest’ is a bridled ‘that’s it’. ‘Good’, Don responds, satisfied with Salvatore’s compliance. As in the exchange with Sam, Don’s use of adspeak ultimately functions to oversimplify the plight the other character faces. He does not learn about the nuances of being African American or gay in 1960s America because his voice—representing the hegemonic, profit-driven voice of white, heterosexual corporate America—muffles the others. Season Five provides another example of the ways in which Bakhtinian analysis can illuminate below-the-surface oppression. ‘A Little Kiss’ opens



with a public protest: a group of African Americans march beneath Sterling Cooper Draper Price (SCDP) competitor Young & Rubicam, brandishing picket signs (5.1). Calling for equal employment opportunities, they chant, ‘O-E-O, O-E-O. We got the poverty, where is the dough?’ The scene cuts to four Young & Rubicam executives complaining about the protestors and pelting them with water bombs from their office windows—prompting the protestors to ascend the building and confront them. ‘Is this what Madison Avenue represents?’ one asks. The incident at Young & Rubicam illustrates racism and oppression so overtly it almost makes SCDP seem egalitarian. After all, as the SCDP executives discuss the incident, they do not make explicitly racist comments, and Pete Campbell shows especial repulsion at the behaviour. However, SCDP’s laughter—even while delighting more in their competitor’s misfortune than in that of the protestors—trivializes the protestors’ oppression. Further, SCDP turns the protestors’ experience into an opportunity to mock Young & Rubicam. They place an advertisement in the New York Times stating that SCDP is an equal opportunity employer: ‘Our windows don’t open. We are committed to proving that Madison Avenue isn’t all wet’. Using adspeak, they render an unemployed community’s pain into a corporate joke between job holders, muting the oppressed from being heard. The mock-advertisement is certainly insensitive, yet a subtler instance of minority voices consumed into hegemonic language also occurs within the episode. When Peggy pitches the ‘bean ballet’ to Heinz Baked Beans, the client, Raymond Geiger, complains that it will not reach younger generations. ‘[Beans] have to be cool’ in order to entice his target market, he explains. ‘Maybe it’s someone with a picket sign saying, “We want beans!”’ Juxtaposed with the Young & Rubicam incident, the line offers a sobering substantiation of what the New York Times advertisement already communicates: that the circumstances of oppressed minorities are not taken seriously. Whereas Roger and Don subsume the protestors’ voices into an adspeak-laden joke, Raymond, though unintentionally, thinks of protesting as a ‘cool’ fad, dismissing the protest’s complaints, which, unlike fads, have endured for decades. His idea also turns the medium of the picket sign into a tool for selling products and generating profit, thus trivializing the medium, and by extension, its message (‘HUMAN DIGNITY IS PRICELESS’, one sign reads). It is an added layer of grim irony that the picket sign medium is being commandeered towards the goal of making money when the picket sign’s bearers are trapped in poverty. The exchange



between SCDP and Heinz Baked Beans is not overtly sinister—rather it demonstrates how oftentimes, the incorporation of marginalized voices into adspeak’s hegemonic language occurs not through intentional iniquity, but simple unwillingness to consider others’ experiences. In response to the question about ‘what Madison Avenue represents’, it proposes an answer: lack of self-awareness for its own privilege. Season Six provides another example of subjugation of minority voices through adpseak. In ‘The Doorway’, Megan and Don visit the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, owned by SCDP’s client Sheraton (6.1). As they share a traditional Hawaiian meal with the hotel’s executives and discuss strategies for succeeding in the competitive hotel market, the feast’s emcee, a native Hawaiian, introduces different meal items to guests. Explaining the dish ‘poi’, he tells the guests, ‘we Hawaiians say that it’s ono, which means tasty. But you might just say, “Ono, I’m not eating that!”’ The line is received with laughter, yet it also testifies to darker machinations beneath the surface of the humorous speech. A minority culture and language is being adopted by corporate America and appropriated towards humour—specifically adspeak humour. As ‘ono’ becomes a punchline, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel gains footing to ‘stand out in Paradise’, as Megan puts it, and win profit for Sheraton. Finally, while Mad Men’s seven seasons have chronicled the Women’s Liberation Movement, a scene in Season Seven uses language to draw final conclusions about the discrimination women experience into 1969. Whereas Peggy’s arc allegorizes the advancement women experienced in the 1960 s corporate world, Joan’s arc attests to the reality that advancement often involved two steps forward and one step back. Throughout the series, Mad Men viewers watch Joan become the first female partner at SCDP—but only after being coerced to sleep with a client, they watch her finally channel her talent into a promotion from office manager to account executive—only to see her heckled by new colleagues at McCann-Erickson. In ‘Time Zones’, she visits Professor Podolsky at Columbia to gain insight related to Butler Footwear (7.1). When she asks Podolsky the cost to obtain the information in writing, he inquires benignly whether she has ‘anything to trade’. Joan’s response, however, demonstrates that she thinks Podolsky is seeking sexual favours: ‘This is a business school. Doesn’t money work here?’ she retorts. The misunderstanding elucidates the way adspeak has foisted its way into everyday lexicon, and how this has negatively affected Mad Men’s female characters. Because of adspeak’s usurpation of language,



Joan is hypervigilant for puns and double entendres—to the extent that she misreads a well-meaning exchange with a professional collaborator. Through these moments and others, viewers encounter the many sounds and voices—the polyphony—of Mad Men. The careful listener can perceive ways in which adspeak pervades into the everyday lexicon—and how often, when this occurs, it muffles minority and female voices in service of a hegemonic, profit-driven agenda. In Season One, Rachel and Midge helped Mad Men viewers see this occurring. Through these characters, the show was able to hold the phenomenon to the light for viewers to see and decry. In the proceeding seasons, though, Mad Men slackens its critique of adspeak’s despotic effect on everyday lexicons. Moments where adspeak cannibalizes language from minority characters, like those I have discussed above, pass subtly, undetected and without commentary—and viewers miss the opportunity to critique their occurrences.

Conclusion: California Carnivalesque? One of Bakhtin’s other contributions is his study of Francois Rabelais, which emphasizes the significance of Medieval and Renaissance folk culture. In it, he elucidates the concept of the carnivalesque—that which characterizes the specific humour and festive practices that emerge from the lower classes as a result of their suppression beneath feudal and religious hierarchies. Understanding the carnivalesque provides richer and more luminous readings of class and humour not only in Rabelais’s literature but also in creative works of today. Some of the carnivalesque features that Bakhtin discusses include the inversion of traditional class structures, the privileging of lower-class attitudes, a sense of both variety and collectivity, and traditional motifs of festivity such as feast and fertility. In many ways, the time period in American history Mad Men documents, 1960–1970, could be viewed as a distilled allegory for the transition from the Medieval period into the Renaissance. The series begins with overt vestiges of 1950 s America—an era of conservatism and tradition reminiscent of medievalism—and ends with one foot in the 1970 s, in which, as in the Renaissance, libertinism blooms. But even without this understanding of mid-century America, the carnivalesque is still relevant for analysing Mad Men’s final episode with respect to Bakhtin’s language theories. In so doing, an obvious question becomes whether or not the final scene, Don’s



vision of the ‘Hilltop’ Coca-Cola commercial, reflects a landmark carnivalesque event. The last portion of this chapter will shed light on this final and mystifying scene by attending to this question. Indeed, at first glance, ‘Hilltop’ seems almost aggressively carnivalesque. As Don meditates at a sunny California retreat centre, the show cuts from his tranquil face to the blond-haired, blue-eyed woman who initiates the ‘Buy the world a Coke’ jingle in the real Coca-Cola commercial from 1971. The advertisement then pans over a large group of singers—a group characterized by its variety. The commercial is conscious in its bringing together of different racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds, connoting diversity through the juxtaposition of stereotypical cultural markings, such as Heidistyle braided pigtails, a brightly coloured African head wrap, or a Hindu bindi. This emphasis on variety fits Bakhtin’s description of the carnival crowd, which is always ‘motley’ in nature (Bakhtin 1984, 191; 220), just like ‘the richness and variety of the forms drawn into the vortex of Rabelais’ novel’ (454). Yet just as the Coca-Cola commercial is deliberately diverse, it also intentionally uses diversity—the collection of diverse individuals— to construct a narrative of unity and inclusiveness. This is signified by the group’s sung desire ‘to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony’ (7.14 ‘Person to Person’). Like diversity, harmony, too, fits Rabelais’ vision, for his carnival ‘has a universal spirit; it is a special condition of the entire world…in which all take part’ (7). Extending the carnivalesque connection, the commercial’s main plot is the call for feast. The singers wish to imbibe beverages and share fellowship: ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company’. The invocation is dressed with spring-like images suggesting fertility—‘apple trees’ and the idiomatic ‘birds and bees’ suggested by ‘honey bees and snow-white turtle doves’. It also features the earthy image of a ‘home’ accoutered not with furniture but ‘with love’—espousing a folk sentiment the Beatles put best: ‘All You Need Is Love’. Finally, fitting the carnivalesque program, the commercial hints at subversion of power by starring the age group most classically associated with authority clashes, adolescents. The carnivalesque nature of ‘Hilltop’ is ignited into its brightest distinctness when the commercial is contrasted with Mad Men’s earlier CocaCola advertisement, the one for which Betty auditions in Season One (1.9 ‘Shoot’). ‘Shoot’ is permeated with concepts that directly contradict folk sensibility, aligning closely with the American mid-century equivalences of the religious and class-based structures the peasants subvert in Rabelais’s



carnival. Betty first learns of the modelling job while consuming an upperclass form of entertainment, a Broadway production. Jim Hobart tells Betty that because of her similarity to Grace Kelly, she’s perfect for the ad. ‘Think about it’, he says. ‘Your colouring with a green bottle and an Irish setter’. The photo ultimately portrays Betty as a wife and mother, seated at a picnic in a manicured park, providing crudité and bottles of Coke for a husband and two children. Her gown and pearls communicate the family’s affluence, and her role as maternal food provider fits patriarchal expectations. Even her dog speaks to her noblesse: her ‘European face’ reminds the viewer of the Irish Setter’s traditional association that of hunting dog for English and Irish gentry. Finally, it is the ad’s emulation of Grace Kelly that most strikingly pits it against folk sensibility: not only is Kelly a wealthy actress whose film career archetypes the rigid 1950 s ideal for female characters, but also she became the Roman Catholic Princess of Monaco—the very epitome of the religious and class-based aristocracy of Rabelais’s schema. The episode hints that a progressive shift is in store (‘More Audrey Hepburn, less Grace Kelly’ Ronnie Gittridge tells Betty when he fires her). But that Betty’s modelling dreams are ultimately undermined by Don, who sees her career as a threat to the traditional family structure, serves as final confirmation that ‘Shoot’ is the antithesis of folk sensibility—further casting ‘Hilltop’ as a topsy-turvy carnivalesque dénouement. Yet despite these reasons for ‘Hilltop’ seeming like the perfect carnivalesque dénoument, there is one crucial disqualifier: in suggesting that Don conceives of the Coke advertisement while meditating, the series sustains Don’s commitment to materialism. ‘In seven seasons, “What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons” ha[s] evolved into, “What you call enlightenment was invented by guys like me to sell cola”’ Maureen Ryan writes (Ryan). For just as Don reduced love to a marketing construction in his conversation with Rachel, he here reduces another ideal, ‘enlightenment’, to a means for generating sales—all in the service of the same system, capitalism, the show has vilified since Season One when the Greenwich Village Marxist bohemians first called its adherents ‘ants [going into their] hive’ (1.8 ‘The Hobo Code’). It is this same omnipotent system (and the show’s equivalence of the Medieval nobility) that Don would have to finally reject in order for ‘Hilltop’ to be Carnivalesque. As Ryan concludes, Don’s failure to do so ‘feels like the show at its most cynical, rather than at its most open-hearted’ (2015).



Perhaps we could have predicted this ending—the show’s failure to deliver on the dichotomous role-reversal through language that its earlier seasons trained viewers to expect. It seems ominous, after all, that the final season provides a significant inversion: Rachel, once the harbinger of adspeak’s capabilities to construct power, appears in ‘Severance’ as a tool of the very powers she once unmasked, donned in fur and staring seductively at the camera. Rather than deconstructing adspeak as she once did, she submits to the powers it aims to uphold, powers that will enact the ‘Hilltop’ ad in the final scene. And while perhaps viewers don’t need a resolution that goes as far as to present a Marxist utopia like the Greenwich Village bohemians may have liked, they would likely appreciate an ending that doesn’t essentially re-enact the show’s very first scene (when Don’s voice subsumes Sam’s), all while posing as a celebration of individuality and authenticity. In Jamesonian terms, we approach ‘Hilltop’ expecting Picasso’s peasant shoes, suffused with the beloved folk sensibility and emotion of Bakhtin’s carnivalesque, but instead we’re presented with Marilyn Monroe: a technicolour visage masking the hollowness of postmodern materialism (Jameson 1984, 58–63). Is Mad Men aware of its own non-sequitur? Or does it believe, perhaps, that its ending, for those who can understand it, is the most honest way to retain historical accuracy in the portrayal of an era that thinks it has discovered ‘free love’, yet is unaware of race and gender tensions that remain unresolved?

Notes 1. The term cultural capital refers to a form of social wealth comprised of one’s store of knowledge, behaviours, skills, and mannerisms that can be leveraged to signal higher class and/or socio-economic standing (Bourdieu, 80). 2. I adopt the Oxford English Dictionary definition of adspeak: ‘the style of writing and speaking typically used in commercial advertisements’ (Ad, n.3 2016), as well as Mary Cross’s characterizations of adspeak as expedient, manipulative, splashy, and laden with puns, metaphors, neologisms, and buzz words (1996, 2–5).



Bibliography ‘Ad, n.3.’ Oxford English Dictionary Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Bakhtin, M.M. 1984. Rabelais and His World, 1st Midland Book Ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ———. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. University of Texas Press Slavic Series; No. 1. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981. Bakhtin, M.M., and Caryl Emerson. 1984. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. Booker, M. Keith, and Bob Batchelor. 2016. Mad Men: A Cultural History. The Cultural History of Television. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Clark, Katerina, and Michael Holquist. 1984. Mikhail Bakhtin. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cohen, Lizabeth. 2003. A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America, 1st ed. New York: Knopf: Distributed by Random House, Knopf. Cross, Mary. 1996. Reading Television Texts: The Postmodern Language of Advertising. In Advertising and Culture: Theoretical Perspectives. Westport, CT: Praeger. ‘Discourse, v.’ Oxford English Dictionary Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Jameson, Fredric. 1984. Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. New Left Review 146 (August): 53–92. Kijinski, John L. 1987. Bakhtin and Works of Mass Culture: Heteroglossia in Stand By Me. Studies in Popular Culture 10 (2): 67–81. Lears, T.J. Jackson. 1994. Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America. New York: Basic Books. Ryan, Maureen. 2015. Mad Men Finale: What Was Awesome, What Was Frustrating and Why It’s Hard To Let Go. Huffington Post, May 18. http://www. Wallace, Lee. 2012. Fag Men: Mad Men, Homosexuality and Televisual Style. Cultural Studies Review; Carleton 18 (2) (September): 207–222.

Mad Men and the Staging of Literature via Ken Cosgrove and His Problems Aaron Shapiro

At the risk of stating the obvious, a lot of books appear in Mad Men. In fact, there are so many that the New York Public Library actually catalogued them, clocking just over one hundred appearances of real-world titles over the course of the show’s seven-season run (Parrott 2012). For the most part, the books are ancillary to the action; they serve as part of the mise en scene: a reflection of sixties’ reading habits and of the general cultural milieu. Nevertheless, there are titles—O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency, Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man, Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, for example—that serve a deeper function, aiding the show’s writers to establish character traits such as Don Draper’s hidden depths, Roger Sterling’s frustrated egotism and Bert Cooper’s orientalism. They can even be used, although rarely, in establishing a plot point as when Don mails his copy of O’Hara’s chapbook to a mysterious recipient who we learn only later to be Anna Draper, the wife of the man whose identity Don has stolen. The richness of the show’s literary references creates a wide range of opportunities for analysis. One might examine the historicity of Weiner and co.’s portrayal of the print world of the sixties, or the way in which Weiner’s deployment of literature negotiates contemporary mythologies of

A. Shapiro (B) Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




sixties’ reading; one could even take a close look at how the show figures the emerging tensions between print and electronic media since, as Philip D. Beidler points out, print-literacy in America reached its apotheosis ‘exactly as it became swept up in the new, non-print communications revolution that would render it obsolete’ (Beidler 1994, 7). There is, however, a potential problem with each of these approaches: scope. There is an excess of books in Mad Men, and any study of them would require an exhaustive search, not only through the series’ many episodes, but through every frame of the mise en scene. Yet there is another avenue to take: one that is more specific while still allowing many pertinent issues to be broached and one which may therefore offer critics entry into the broader question of how Mad Men frames literature. For, if books are plentiful in Mad Men, authors— especially literary ones—are not. Certainly, the show features a handful of hopefuls. Roger Sterling, Paul Kinsey, and Pete Campbell each try their hand at authorship: Roger with his rejected memoir, Paul with the unpublished one-act play Death is My Client , and Pete with a short story published, rather pathetically, and only through the machinations of his wife Trudy, in Boy’s Life magazine, but one would hardly call these abortive forays into the literary sphere successful. One might also consider Abe Drexler as a candidate. He is a committed journalist whose work operates in the personal, expressionist, yet astutely critical mould laid down by Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer. But if Drexler’s writing fascinates as a gesture towards the sixties’ erosion of modernist distinctions between high art and mass culture (Jameson 1993, 313–314), Mad Men offers its audience too few examples of his writing to allow for effective study. In fact, it offers only one example, of which we know nothing aside from the title: ‘Nuremberg on Madison Avenue’. The same problem bars from consideration the unnamed woman who, in the ‘Babylon’ episode (1.6), appears at the Gaslight reading a pretentious, quasi-surrealist, and pseudo-Freudian sex ode to Fidel Castro. Here too, critics lack sufficient material for study. In the end, only Ken Cosgrove provides enough of a sustained portrait of authorship to function as a lens through which to examine the show’s staging of literary production and of the figure of the literary writer. In Ken, critics have access to a comparatively well-developed character and body of work. Though scant information is given about any of Ken’s publications, the amount of material available for critique far outstrips that produced by any other character: two novels and over thirty short stories are mentioned, and of those, both of the novels and five of the stories are at least partially



described. Moreover, what we know of Ken’s publication record—at least one piece in the Atlantic, a number in small, genre-specific magazines, and a Collected to be published by Farrar Straus and Giroux—allows us to place his oeuvre within the accepted bounds of literary authorship. This chapter, then, aims to examine how the show’s treatment of Ken’s character negotiates with contemporaneous and contemporary notions of authorial identity, as well as with the mythologies of value that have accrued around the act of literary writing. Ultimately, the chapter will argue that the show’s portrayal of Ken mirrors the turn from modernism to postmodernism and in so doing opens up an unsettling critique of both authorship and the cultural function of literature. To begin this analysis, it is useful to turn to Dana Gioia, who notes in ‘Business and Poetry’ (1983), that there is, and has been for some time, a marked divide in the American cultural imaginary between the world of business and the world of literature. The gap is most apparent in American poetry, which, according to Gioia, tends to exclude business, rendering it, by implication, ‘everything that poetry is not – a world without imagination, enlightenment, or perception. The world from which poetry is trying to escape’ (1983, 148). The same polarizing characterization occurs, Gioia notes, in popular and ‘serious’ artistic renderings of the poet, who, we tend to imagine, must be quite out of the ordinary: an eccentric scholar or bohemian vagabond ‘living outside the economic and social systems which characterize our nation’ (1983, 153). Gioia’s observations on poetry and the poet may be applied across the entire field of literary authorship. Indeed, Pierre Bourdieu, in The Rules of Art (1992), makes the case that it is only this opposition, this supposed antagonism between art and commerce that generates the category (and value) of literature in the first place (162). Thus, it is that in the broad swathe cut by American letters, the writer is first and foremost an alienist in a double sense: he is a figure ill-fitted to the psychological and socio-economic structures of the dominant culture, and, due to his alienation, he is perfectly positioned to diagnose the various diseases of his cultural moment. Traces of this notion of the author as alienist surface in the characterization applied to Ken Cosgrove by the editors of the Atlantic, who, in the bio that precedes the text of Ken’s ‘Tapping a Maple on a Cold Vermont Morning’, claim that ‘Working for the advertising firm of Sterling and Cooper puts Mr. Cosgrove in a unique position to observe and study the trends that shape America today’ (‘5G’ 1.5, 4:01). The diction in this passage is telling. Its emphasis on scientific detachment—‘observe and



study’—speaks to the author-as-alienist’s diagnostic role while also driving a rhetorical wedge between Ken and his colleagues at Sterling Cooper, implying that, rather than being wholly complicit in producing and manipulating the sociocultural trends mentioned by the editors, Ken is at once involved and apart. Characterizing Ken in this way allows the Atlantic to pre-empt the potential for contradiction generated by readers’ awareness of his dual roles and to reify his status as an alienated and therefore properly artistic, subject. He is not, it turns out, an ad man at all, not an agent of commodity fetishism and post-industrial capitalism; he is instead ‘uniquely positioned’ as a double-agent, a literary mole in the mass culture industry. Or at least, this is what the Atlantic would like its readership to believe. However, as Gioia argues, the perceived incompatibility between the artistic and commercial spheres is more a structuring mythology of literary production than it is a reality. Any number of writers, American and otherwise, have maintained simultaneous positions in the business and literary communities (Gioia 1983, 156). And it is into this group, which Gioia calls businessmanpoets (154), but which we might expand to businessman/woman-writers, that Ken Cosgrove falls. A savvy account executive at McCann Erikson and at Sterling Cooper (in all its various iterations), and later the head of the advertising department at Dow Chemical, Ken is demonstrably as committed to business as he is to writing. Like Wallace Stevens, who Gioia identifies as the archetypical businessman-writer (1983, 154), Cosgrove’s successes in literature and business go hand-in-hand, each career flourishing in tandem with the other. As such, his character arc belies the notion that artistic and commercial production should not mix. Also, the fact that he marries during season five and has a child during season seven, and that his family makes a stable, contented home for itself in Queens (a detail established in season five) belies the claim that the writer/artist must, by his very nature, reject membership of the bourgeoisie. Yet, as the Atlantic’s subtly slanted bio proves, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the businessman-writer to escape at least partial imbrication with the alienist mythos. A certain tension persists in the figure, whose career is too often treated with a wilful and decidedly uncritical, or anticritical, naiveté: an ‘innocent amazement that [a businessman] could actually write poetry, not to mention good and even great poetry’ (Gioia 1983, 157). Though Ken is a fiction writer, he is far from immune to this sort of reception. Pete Campbell and Paul Kinsey, for instance, evince exactly this response when, meeting with Ken and Don Draper to discuss Sterling Cooper’s campaign for Liberty Capital Savings, Don reveals what he



has only just learned: that Ken is a writer and has placed a story with the Atlantic. The news is followed by a short, strained silence, during which both Pete and Harry appear briefly frozen in incredulity. Pete voices the attitude a moment later: ‘You’re kidding’, he says, and then, with forced bonhomie: ‘Congrats, indeed. A thing like that’. Paul is even more blunt: ‘You’re a writer… you… write’, he says, and when Ken responds by explaining that, actually, short fiction is not his strong suit, and that he has written two novels, the plots of which he briefly outlines, Paul’s foot-in-mouth reply is: ‘Those don’t even sound stupid’ (1.5. ‘5G’). The thing is, they should sound stupid because, from the perspective of the alienist mythos, the businessman-writer is an oxymoron. To borrow from Marcuse, where the businessman appellative calls up an existentially flat, ‘one-dimensional’ subjectivity, one fully integrated into the surrounding culture and finding therein all ‘development and satisfaction’, the writer appellative calls up a contrary subjectivity defined by the cultivation of existential depth: of ‘an inner dimension distinguished from and even antagonistic to the external exigencies [of]…. public opinion and behavior’ (1966, 19). It is for this reason that Paul stumbles when he says, ‘You’re a writer. You… write’. He physically cannot bring subject and verb together. He cannot conceive of any subject, any ‘you’, who might, like Ken, so well acquit himself to the office culture of Sterling Cooper, and by extension to the culture of advanced industrial capitalism, while also maintaining the requisite interiority to write literature. Mad Men doubles-down on this idea with its treatment of the other would-be literary writers at Sterling Cooper. Paul falls victim to it with his play Death is My Client, which, when it is performed at the office Christmas party in ‘Nixon and Kennedy’ (1.6), reveals itself to be nothing more than a lightly scrambled re-enactment of the existing work/life relationships of Sterling Cooper’s employees. This is write-what-you-know with a vengeance, in that, while the play may have some shock value (it deals loosely with the hushed-up office affair between Roger and Joan), it also demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt Paul’s total incapacity for literature: he cannot, as Eliot claims the literary writer must, ‘digest and transmute the passions which are [his] material’ (2001, 959); instead, he can only appropriate and repeat them, writing not just what he knows, but what he knows everybody else already knows. To borrow from Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria (1817), Paul’s is a work of fancy rather than imagination: it superficially rearranges whatever elements are to hand; it does not ‘create them anew’ (313).



Roger Sterling, too, is trapped by fancy; his tell-all memoir is rejected for publication on the grounds that it is a carbon copy of Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Ad Man, which Roger had, ironically, already criticized as unoriginal, calling it: ‘the book everyone writes’ (3.7. ‘Seven Twenty Three’). Pete Campbell, though, fairs the worst. Initially, his short story, whose title we never learn, feels categorically different from Roger and Paul’s work. Almost Faulknerian in its ambition, the tale narrates the interior monologue of a hunted bear, with the twist that the bear’s thoughts are, in fact, the projections of the man hunting him. On its face, at least, the story promises something of modernism’s psychological depth, a play with the pathetic fallacy not unlike Steven’s ‘The Snowman’ or the Melville inspired ‘Bear’ sequence in Faulkner’s Go Down Moses. In reality, however, the theme is so garbled that Pete’s wife and first reader take it literally as the tale of a talking bear, evaporating its pretensions and flattening it into a cartoon (1.5. ‘5G’). Trudy’s editor friend Charlie Fiddich (an ex-lover) reads it similarly, agreeing to publishing it, but only in the adolescent magazine Boy’s Life, where a terribly disappointed Pete pictures it running ‘next to some ad for exploding cigars’ (1.5. ‘5G’). Still, Pete’s tale does at least, at the level of content, avoid the obvious rehashing of external circumstance to which Paul and Roger’s writing falls prey. However, on another level, it is guilty of the same crime. Consider that Pete pursues the publication of his story as a direct result of learning that Ken has been published. His literary ambitions are based neither in a burning desire to be an artist, nor in a real commitment to the art of fiction—a fact Trudy confronts him with during her review of his story (1.5. ‘5G’). What truly drives Pete, here and throughout the series, is his pathological need for legitimation; in this moment, it is legitimation within the upper crust of society wherein his ‘old-money’ family resides and where his business success is looked down upon as gauche. Pete himself lets this slip when, responding to Trudy’s query as to why he suddenly wants to publish a story he has been ‘dickering’ with for a year (1.5. ‘5G’), he answers ‘Do you know who Ken Cosgrove is? He’s an account executive, just like me. Did you know that? My father reads the damn Atlantic….’ (1.5. ‘5G’). What has happened is that Pete, ever the man of capital, has reduced his own literary endeavour to an extension of the ad man’s game: translating the primarily symbolic value inherent in the act of literary writing/reading into a fungible form of sign value which can be leveraged to infuse his personal ‘brand’ with distinction and thus make it, make him, more appealing to a



specific target demographic: in this case, his blueblood parents (Baudrillard, ‘For a Critique,’ 2001, 62–63). The critique inscribed in Mad Men’s treatment of Paul, Roger, and Pete’s writing thus largely reiterates the alienist model of authorship, arguing in essence that when the businessman writes he does so without access to his own interiority, without the ability to avail himself of the process of internalization and transmogrification avowed as the very precondition of artistic production by the Romantics and moderns alike; as such, he remains (as Marcuse has it) helplessly one-dimensional, doomed to perpetually reinscribe or re-articulate the ideological conditions that at once give rise to and delimit his capacity for self-expression and self-realization. It is essential to recognize that this critique cuts both ways: barring the writer from conducting business as much as it does the businessman from writing. For, as Gioia notes, the writer figure as typically imagined must on all counts differ from the man of business: he must be ‘an impractical, dreamy sort of fellow incapable of holding down a real job … Too bored with business to pay attention to [its] most basic details …’ (1983, 154). This, indeed, is the vision of the artist upheld by the bohemian crowd at the Gaslight, who, during their ersatz beatnik poetry reading, heckle Don for his grey flannel soullessness while congratulating each other on maintaining a countercultural pose that, Don chides, is itself simulated (1.6. ‘Babylon’). But where Don, and arguably Mad Men itself, is critical of the manufactured antagonism built into the alienist mythos, the characters ensconced in that ethos embrace it quite willingly. Even characters who seem positioned to bridge the gap between art and commercial production—characters like Midge Daniels, who is both a commercial illustrator and a painter, or like Joyce Ramsey, an art photographer and assistant photo editor at Life magazine—typically choose a side. Both Joyce and Midge, for instance, make it clear that, whatever their commercial activities, their true loyalties are given over to the anti-establishment, High Art camp. And so we come to the most fundamental problem Ken faces in his role as businessman-writer. The governing dynamic of artistic production, the entire system of cultural oppositions that defines the boundary between art and commerce, and between literary authorship and mass-market hackery, has no room for him: he is rejected by both sides (Gioia 1983, 161). Ken’s strategy for dealing with this problem is to insulate himself from it. That strategy, meanwhile, involves two tactics. The first is economic insulation. This Ken achieves through his position at Sterling Cooper, which provides him with the financial stability necessary not just for survival, although



this is a factor, but to avoid being made subject to the codes of artistic subjectivity inherent in literary authorship. True, Ken allows the Atlantic to position him in the expected manner—as the alienated artist, disaffected at his day job—but he need not position himself this way. At no point in the show does Ken take on the insufferable pretensions of a pseudo-bohemian like, say, Paul Kinsey, or of a mock countercultural revolutionary like the Castro poet in the Gaslight sequence. Why should he? His financial selfsufficiency, his possession of actual capital, shields him substantially from the need to accrue and display the various kinds of virtual capital—particularly the social capital of belonging to a particular social group and the symbolic capital of one’s relative prestige within that group—that are so often seen as essential to the success of the literary writer, or for that matter, to the success of anyone employed in the field of cultural production (Bourdieu ‘Forms of Capital,’ 1986, 248–252). Ken’s economic insulation has a further benefit, as well. It shields him from the need for an audience. As Gioia explains, the businessman-writer, because he does not require a readership to maintain his livelihood, is free to experiment, and to experiment wildly (162). Thus, it is that businessmanwriters like Stevens could afford to develop such intensely private symbolisms and idiolects (Gioia 1983, 162–163). Ken’s writing is never as experimental as Stevens’, but it does develop along a trajectory that moves increasingly away from the commonalities of experience stressed by literary realism—the dominant mode of Ken’s earliest work, ‘Tapping a Maple’— and towards a kind of highly personal fabulism, wherein what is recognizable and familiar is refracted into a sci-fi inflected, Cheeveresque surrealism: as when, for example, Ken reimagines himself as the world-smashing robot X4, Peggy as ‘the girl who lays eggs’, or Pete as ‘The Man with the Miniature Orchestra in “Signal 30”’ (5.4). In fact, Ken’s whole ability to shift between and even mingle genres is arguably enabled by his economic insulation from the exigencies of a self-consciously respectable literary marketplace, which does not take kindly to genre fiction at all, and which typically demands that a writer maintain a recognizably unified voice and style. Here, then, Mad Men’s portrayal of Ken also echoes Gioia’s assertion that, for businessman-writers, the 9–5 gig operates to protect their artistic integrity, affording them the freedom to follow ‘their own direction and sensibilities’ regardless of the expectations of either the publishing industry or the reading public (1983, 169). The second tactic in Ken’s insulating strategy involves compartmentalization. Though his work life and his writing life may meet in his fiction



(albeit obliquely), they are not allowed to overlap. Admittedly, Ken does share his Atlantic publication with his colleagues, but this is the first and last time he will do so. From here on, Ken will go underground, inventing the pen name Ben Hargrove to separate his office persona from his writerly one and suppressing as much as possible any discussion of his writing life at Sterling Cooper. When Ken is asked to account for his writing in mixedcompany, as happens during the dinner party Pete hosts at his home in Cos Cob—a function attended by Pete, Ken, Don, and each of their wives—he becomes evasive and self-deprecating, claiming, in response to a question about how long he has been a writer, that ‘I starting screwing around in High School … by the time I got a job I thought it would go away, and it mostly has’ (5.4. ‘Signal 30’). Ken takes an identical tack later when, confronted by Roger about the supposed conflict of interest between his writing and his work as an accounts manager, he responds: ‘It’s nothing. I only do it because my wife likes it’ (5.4. ‘Signal 30’). In these moments, though, Ken’s strategy of insulation appears to fall apart. He has, to all intents and purposes, recapitulated the double dismissal endemic to the alienist model of authorship. Recognizing that his own hybridity is anathema to both the literary and commercial camp, he has split himself in half. In this, he resembles other characters on Mad Men, most notably Don, whose identities also undergo a traumatic break—and we know, from Don’s example, exactly how well that tends to work out. Compartmentalization, then, we might assume, is a dubious move at best. And yet, what is intriguing about Ken is how easily he negotiates his own split-persona. We can see this in his response to the demand, articulated by Roger in the scene mentioned above (5.4. ‘Signal 30’) that Ken quit writing. Ostensibly, Ken acquiesces, killing off Ben Hargrove in a move that recalls Don’s erasure of both Dick Whitman and the original Lt. Draper (5.4. ‘Signal 30’). However, in the wake of this symbolic suicide, Ken instantly and effortlessly resurrects himself; in the episode’s closing scenes, we see him scribbling away in a notebook, composing a new short story under the aegis of a brand new pseudonym: Dave Algonquin (5.4. ‘Signal 30’). It is perfectly plausible to read this moment as echoing the image of the creative writer driven by an unstoppable inner need for expression, and indeed, this may even be the show’s preferred interpretation. Ken has, once again, compartmentalized his identities so as to protect his writing. But I suspect that what Mad Men is implying here is something more dangerous: a protean flexibility that surpasses normative models of artistic and writerly



subjectivity and that challenges the claim to interiority upon which the dominant conception of artistic and/or literary production rests. To see why this might be so, it is useful to turn again to Eliot and the Romantics. Despite the tensions between Modernism and Romanticism, both schools of literature share a commitment to something we might call the depth model of artistic genius, wherein the interior space of the artist’s self— call it mind or secondary imagination—operates as ‘a receptacle for seizing and storing up numberless feelings, phrases, images’ and transmuting them into something radically other, at once new and sublime (Eliot 2001, 959). Whether that interior space is considered to be commensurate with the artist’s ego, as is the case with the Romantics, or somehow opposed to it, as is the case with Eliot and the other modernists, there is a general agreement between the schools that it exists and that it is instrumental in the production of great art. For if it is true that everyone, every individual, possesses interiority, it is the peculiar talent of the artist that he cultivates it sufficiently to render it transformative. But does this presumptive model of the artist-subject really work when applied to Ken Cosgrove? What great claim to interiority, after all, can we say that he has? He is a writer, yes, but this is simply a fact. From what sensibility, from what deep passion or inexpressible desire does his writing spring? The truth is: we don’t know. Mad Men’s characterization of Ken is wholly deficient in this regard. In a curious reversal of Eliot’s complaint about Hamlet—in effect that Hamlet’s internal psychology can find no objective equivalent in which to express itself, that it exceeds the facts of his situation (‘Hamlet and His Problems’, 1920, par. 8)—Mad Men presents us with a writer character the fact of whose writing is in every way in excess of what we know of his interior life. So if, with Hamlet, we witness ‘the buffoonery of an emotion which can find no outlet in action … [or] in art’ (Eliot ‘Hamlet’, 1921, par. 8), with Ken Cosgrove we witness the buffoonery of an action, an art, which has no emotional root, no interior psychological corollary: or, to coin a phrase, no subjective correlative. This is Ken’s other problem, and it is far more serious, in fact, than the apparent incommensurability of his business and writerly selves. There is nothing, nothing on the show that can be made to account for his being a writer at all. Ken’s entire situation, then, the whole conflict embedded in his character, arises from nowhere. It is invented and applied to him by the show ad hoc, a drama without psychology, without origin or necessity except in the exigencies of the show itself. Eliot would go berserk. But perhaps Eliot would be incorrect. Perhaps this is precisely the point Mad Men



wishes to make. After all, it is only the alienist model of writerly subjectivity that demands of its subject an absolutely other interiority as it imagines authorial (and authentic) subjectivity to be defined by a felt incongruity between internal psychological and external social realities. And it is only from the alienist perspective that depthlessness becomes a crime. We have already seen the way in which Mad Men positions itself as mostly critical of, if not entirely hostile to, such models. It is for this very reason that the show is interested in Ken as a businessman-writer in the first place. Indeed, though the show does—as with the writings of Pete, Roger, and Paul—occasionally employ an alienist approach, it is possible to argue that it does so only instrumentally, so as to more nakedly stage the paradox of legitimating Ken’s writing without first establishing any qualitative difference (other than prestigious publication) between him and those other would-be writerly characters. Is there, then, an alternate model of authorship, of the literary-subject, available on Mad Men that might better account for Ken’s status and his body of work? Of course there is. It is rooted in Ken’s continual adoption and abandonment of various pen names. What we have in these noms de plume is not only a dissembling of identity (which could be read as a strategy of insulation, a way of buttressing an actual core self against the distortions appended to it by the surrounding culture) but also gradual evacuation of identity into its own pure semblance. The parade of names—from Ken Cosgrove to Ben Hargrove to Dave Algonquin—inscribes a movement away from modernist or structuralist notions of signification, in which the signifier bears a direct relationship to the signified. Ken begins from this point, certainly, employing the name, Cosgrove, that is most denotative, most tied by linguistic and cultural convention, directly to his person. He then transitions into a name, Hargrove, that masks his own but that is nevertheless clearly derived from it, bearing within it a clear connotative trace of its origin. Intriguingly, both names also contain allusions to geographical place, a grove, which might be read as evoking stability: a fixed relation between figure and ground, signifier and signified. The final name, however, Algonquin, which Ken adopts after symbolically killing himself, is categorically different. It draws its meaning, its quality of identity, not from any relation to its supposed signified (i.e. Ken), but from a literary historical allusion, that is to say, a reference back into the system of signs, into the text of culture. Thus, as Derrida explains, allusion ‘mimes reference’, playing at the relations of signification, but doing so ‘without exteriority’, and hence, without interiority either (‘The Double Session,’ 1991, 188).



This is the definitive moment in Mad Men’s portrayal of Ken and of its investigation into and critique of the figure of the literary or authorial subject. There is in Dave, as in Ken, no ‘real’ authorship, no transcendentally other identity which, by dint of extreme interiority, precedes and necessitates the expressions of text; instead, Ken/Ben/Dave is himself revealed to be an effect of his texts: necessitated by them and existing solely in their service. So it is that Mad Men arrives at last at postmodernity, inhabiting the position staked out by Roland Barthes in ‘The Death of the Author’— a position the show literalizes not once but twice: first in the symbolism that accompanies Ken’s killing off of his pseudonymous double, Ben, and second in the shooting accident that costs Ken his eye. Here again, Ken is ostensibly ‘killed’ (we actually see the shot and watch his body fall), only to survive in an altered guise. He is, as noted, half blinded, and will from here on out wear an eye patch over his wound. That patch is important. It both conceals and reveals the absence of self (the loss of the eye/I) that defines Mad Men’s most provocative position on writerly identity, figuring literally, on Ken’s very body. It signals an operational depthlessness (the eye injury would flatten depth perception) which, by way of allusion to Homer’s blindness, subjects the entire Western tradition of authorship to the logic of simulation. Read this way, the issue of Ken’s authorial status is revealed as a chimera; Ken is not an author, per se; he operates instead as the sign or trace of an authorship that has long since sailed. It remains to account for the final scenes of Ken’s story arc, the most important of which occur in the episode ‘Severance’ (7.8)1 . Early in the episode, Ken and his wife Cynthia argue over whether or not he ought to remain at SC&P now that the company has been sold to McCann Erickson. Cynthia’s advice is for Ken to leave. ‘You’re bored and angry’, she says, ‘because you know in your heart it’s not what you want to do’. Ken replies that he ‘hasn’t got much writing done in a long time’, to which Cynthia retorts: ‘then start now … you could quit your job; you could buy that farm; you could write your book … something sad and sweet for all the people that don’t have the guts to live their dream’ (7.8. ‘Severance’). The problem, as we have established, is that Ken doesn’t actually have the dream Cynthia imagines for him, nor does he have a heart—an interiority— in which to harbour such a dream. There is simply no there, there. It seems especially telling in this regard that, after being fired from SC&P, Ken paints a picture of this conversation quite at odds with reality. In the original scene, Ken does not respond kindly to Cynthia’s suggestion



at all. In fact, he insults her father, a non-sequitur that might nevertheless be read as another iteration of Ken’s rebellion against the structuralist model of authorship, which depends largely on what Lacan called the Law of the Father, a symbolic order in which a signifier’s representative power is authorized by its relation to an origin (a signified) outside the system of signs. This depth model of representation is duplicated in the notion that the literary text proceeds from its origin in the soul of the author. Ken’s insult might be read as a dismissal not only of Cynthia’s father, but of the symbolic father, and therefore as a reiteration of Ken’s turn away from modern logics of representation (such as the Law of the Father) and towards the postmodern logic of simulation, in which, as noted, the signifer/son supersedes its referent’s/father’s status as origin, and in which ‘the author’ is no longer understood as an actual person, but refigured as a symbolic product of the text. Now, though, Ken tells Don: ‘you know what, I think I was going to do it’, that is, quit and ‘write that novel’ (7.8. ‘Severance’). This is absurd. Ken does not have it in him. What we are seeing here is the performance, the pastiche, of a desire Ken has never really had: i.e., the desire to set aside the illusions of advertising and realize his true nature. The problem is that Ken does not have a true nature. He is a collection of gestures and texts, signifying interiority. That is his, and our, primary problem. What Ken represents, as far as authorship goes, is an inversion of the dominant model of literary production and, by extension, of identity itself. For him, and for the show, the author is a hallucination of the text, subjectivity a hallucination of the culture. Madison Avenue extends everywhere, and literature is merely another pitch, reproducing—ad infinitum—our longing for interiority, for identity, for the always already absented soul.

Note 1. Kenappears in two other episodes, ‘Time and Life’ (7.11) and ‘Person to Person’ (7.14) but only briefly; for all intents and purposes his storyline, and certainly his narrative’s investment in notions of authorship, ends here.



Bibliography Baudrillard, Jean. 1994. The Precession of Simulacra. Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser, 1–42. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Print. ———. 2001. For A Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign. Trans. Jacques Mourrain. In Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster, 60–100. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Print. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. Forms of Capital, trans. Richard Nice. Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. J. Richardson. Web. August 8, 2015. ———. 1992. The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, trans. Susan Emanuel. Stanford: Stanford University Press. GoogleBooks. Web. 8 August 2015. Beidler, Philip D. 1994. Scriptures for a Generation: What We Were Reading in the Sixties. Athens: University of Georgia Press. Print. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. 1985. Chapter XIII. Biographia Literaria: or Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions. Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Major Works, ed. H.J. Jackson. New York: Oxford University Press, 307–313. Print. Derrida, Jacques. 1991. From ‘The Double Session’. In Dissemination. A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds, ed. Peggy Kamuff, 172–199. New York: Columbia University Press. GoogleBooks. Web. 8 August 2015. Eliot, T.S. 1921. Hamlet and His Problems. The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. July 1996. Web. August 8, 2015. ———. 2001. Tradition and the Individual Talent. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, ed. Vincent B. Leitch, 955–961. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Print. Gioia, Dana. 1983. Business and Poetry. The Hudson Review 36.1 (Spring): 147– 171. JSTOR. Web. July 30, 2015. Jameson, Fredric. 1993. Excerpt from Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. A Postmodern Reader, ed. Joseph Natoli and Linda Hutcheon, 312– 332. New York: SUNY Press. Print. Parrott, Billy. 2012. The ‘Mad Men’ Reading List. New York Public Library, Februrary 27. Weiner, Matthew, creator. 2007. Mad Men. Lions Gate Television, Inc. Netflix.


Endings and Legacies: The Final Season

Mad Men’s Finale and the Making of History Marjolaine Boutet

In his analysis of ‘Time and Life’ (7.89), Matt Zoller Seitz ‘realize[s] that this final batch of episodes has amounted to a metanarrative about the death of a TV series as capital-D Death’ (403). Indeed, death and the feeling of time going by have never been so prevalent in this overall nostalgic-yetcontemporary fashionably depressed series (Stoddart 208) than since the end of the first half of its last season (7.85). Matthew Weiner was very aware that even if his main character stated by the first season finale, ‘No one knows why people do what they do’, the meaning of his work would be scrutinized, discussed, and evaluated based on whether the series finale was judged satisfactory, disappointing, or worse, predictable (Huver). He wrote or co-wrote the last seven episodes and directed the mid-season finale (7.85) and the last two episodes of the series (7.91 and 7.92), making the ending deeply personal and claiming his authorship (see Dunleavy 94–96 for a discussion of this concept). Zoller Seitz has written that Mad Men found ‘unconventional ways to end conventionally’ (403), giving closure to the viewers about where most of the characters are heading next. ‘I wanted it to feel that there was a vision and a point to the entire thing’, said Matthew Weiner on 20 May 2015 (Lee). Dunleavy defines complex serials by a ‘close integration of character and story’, where a primary character

M. Boutet (B) Department of History, Université de Picardie-Jules Verne, Amiens, France © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




can ‘embody the kind of overarching story that frames the show from the first to the last episode’ (Dunleavy 117). It is clearly the case with Mad Men since Don Draper is not just a character, but one of two chore elements comprising Mad Men’s overarching story. He embodies Mad Men’s interest in the difference between what is on the surface (how things appear to be) and what lies underneath (how things really are) that is central to this show’s concept and is also interrogated through its advertising agency milieu. Accordingly, the ongoing investigation of Don Draper works hand-in-hand with Mad Men’s critique of advertising and its contribution to the formation of consumer desires. (Dunleavy 117–118)

Hence Don Draper embodies what ‘a successful advertising campaign can achieve’ (Dunleavy 166), which is arguably the American Dream itself, at least in its 1950s consumerist version. Inheriting from a long tradition in American literature and film, ‘Don Draper is an American “nobody”, like Jay Gatsby, who has somehow managed to generate a “Platonic conception of himself” out of his vague, shifty, hardscrabble temperament and the good fortune of possessing the right look and voice. This conception, which is not merely fraudulent since everything that America is backs it up, springs full-blown from his assumed name and invented history’ (Toles 156). So, even if the show has multiple flawed and very interesting characters whose storylines have to find a conclusion, ending Mad Men is foremost ‘ending’ Don Draper’s mystery, trying to give closure to a man who has been living under an assumed identity for nearly two decades, ‘running away from himself instead of looking inward to try to figure out why he runs’ (Zoller Seitz 423). That is why this paper argues that the main purpose of the final arc of the series, from episode 85 to episode 92, is to ‘end’ Don Draper as a character, which is the only way of ending the series. But this end doesn’t mean destruction and despair, on the contrary, it is full of hope. It’s the end of a journey (Dick Whitman’s as Don Draper), the end of a 92-hour-long narrative, new beginnings for Dick and all the other characters of the series. But most importantly maybe, it is also for the viewer the moment to go back to reality with a real ad from 1971, ironically selling Coca-Colas and hippie culture as ‘The Real Thing’.



From Riches to Rags Watching Mad Men, we learnt, mostly through flashbacks, the ‘rags to riches’ story of Dick Whitman impersonating Don Draper and saw him fight to win money, clients, arguments, and women. Yet nothing was ever enough, and the final teaching of the series about admen, the consumerist and corporate world probably starts with the dream sequence at the end episode 85, ‘Waterloo’, written by Carly Wray and Matthew Weiner, directed by Matthew Weiner: Bert Cooper comes back from the dead to sing ‘The Best Things in Life Are Free’. Zoller Seitz has written that ‘dream sequences […] reveal layers we didn’t know were there’ (427). Here, it seems to shed light on something we always felt was there. This mid-season finale is indeed filled with narrative references to every previous season : as in season one, Peggy has to let go of a child she loves; as in season two, the episode ends with everyone focused on a world-changing event in the news (the moon landing); as in season three, Don’s marriage is dissolving and he plans to save Sterling Cooper and Partners; as in season four, they are working for a tobacco company; as in season five’s finale, Don sees a ghost and as in Season 6, Don’s partners try to push him out (Zoller Seitz 380). Earlier in the episode, we witnessed Bert’s death right after watching the 1969 Moon Landing on television, his last word being ‘bravo’. Now we see him, or rather Robert Morse, the 1960s Broadway star impersonating him still in costume but not exactly in character, perform ‘The Best Things in Life Are Free’ surrounded by young dancers. Zoller Seitz qualifies the scene as ‘the most purely cinematic moment in an episode filled with cinematic moments’ (379). This dream sequence echoes the historic reality outside Mad Men’s diegesis: Robert Morse was the star of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying , a 1961 choreographed by Bob Fosse whose title can be read as an ironic commentary of Don’s professional career. This echo between the fictional and the real-world foreshadows the last sequence of the series finale, albeit on a completely different mode. This dream sequence feels particularly ‘unreal’ to the viewer, or out of sync with the general tone of the series, because ‘this musical number is for us’ (Zoller Seitz 380). Matthew Weiner is reminding us that we are watching a fiction with a mix of ambition and humility that is inherent to Mad Men. The sequence also foreshadows the reconciliation of Dick Whitman and Don Draper: The Best Things in Life Are Free is a song written in 1927, which could be the year Dick was born, and it was revived in the late 1940s, right before Dick left for Korea and became Don. The lyrics refer



to the cost of love (pain and/or money) and are direct hints to Dick’s birth and childhood in a brothel, as well as in inability to be vulnerable (except, sometimes, with Peggy). They also announce Don’s path in the last halfseason, when he will progressively leave the material world to find himself, or maybe more to the point to ‘end’ being Don and find Dick again. ‘Do you ever think there’s actually less to actually do, but more to think about?’ he asks in episode 88. Dream sequences and flashbacks become more and more present in the narrative, as ways to tell the viewers that the characters, and especially Don, are turning inward. Diana especially, Don’s last flame, has a distinctly ‘dreamy’ aura, especially because no one, except Don, seems to notice her. Di, short for Diana, with an obvious echo to the upcoming ‘death’ of Don Draper, ‘seems like a dream figure, and talks to Don like a dream figure. Di is of the same basic physical type as many of Don’s significant girlfriends—and his stepmother, and his mother (…), even her bone structure and pale skin and dark brown hair, are Draper-esque, or maybe Whitman-esque; he’s dating a dream doppelganger’ (Zoller Seitz 389 and 393). In a deep conversation about Rachel Menken’s death in episode 86, she tells him ‘when people die, everything gets mixed up’, and that is what is happening, in an episode filled with ‘mirrors and faces, memories and voids’ (Zoller Seitz 386): with the inevitable death of the series and of Don Draper’s character, fiction, and reality will get more and more mixed up, inside and outside of the diegesis. Three times during this episode, and at length during the end credits, we hear the 1969 Grammyawarded performance ‘Is That All There Is?’ by Peggy Lee. The song is about resilience (‘Let’s keep dancing/Let’s break out the booze and have a ball’), about overcoming trauma (a house-fire, a heartbreak), but also about the inevitability of death (referred to as ‘the final disappointment’). Perhaps also this song is a cue to the quest inward Don is about to take: his ‘progress in season seven divests him from all outward signifiers of “Donald Draper”, including both his wives, his children, his apartment, his job, and, at the end, his car and his suit’ (Zoller Seitz 420), in order to see for himself if that is ‘all there is’ to him. That’s one of the meaning we can see in the episode’s title ‘Severance’. The next episode is entitled ‘New Business’, giving a sense of a new beginning when in fact it is the finalization of Don and Megan’s divorce. He accepts her anger with a simple and heartfelt ‘you’re right’, cuts her a million-dollar check as an apology, and doesn’t even fight her mother’s vindictiveness when he comes back to his apartment deprived of any furniture. Zoller Seitz finds that ‘there is a sense of a recovering addict (…)



deciding to live in reality, at long last’ (393) and maybe that’s the ‘new business’ the title is referring to. Yet it won’t be a ‘milk and honey route’ (the title of episode 91) just yet, and like any other addict Don needs to hit rock bottom to really take action and responsibility. Losing Betty and Megan was probably in his mind quite predictable since he never believed in love, but seeing disappointment in his daughter’s eyes when he flirts with a friend of hers is a completely different thing. ‘You can’t control yourself’ she says, putting his dad’s addiction into words. In a moment of wisdom and clarity, free of all the anger he lived with until then, Don/Dick tells her ‘you’re a very beautiful girl. It’s up to you to be more than that’. It seems that Don has learnt a lot this past decade, probably mainly thanks to Peggy even if, in a very Draper-esque way, in the same episode he dismisses her professional goals as ‘not grand enough’: ‘I didn’t realize until the end that Don likes strangers. He likes seducing strangers, which is just like advertising. […] And once he gets to know you, he doesn’t like you. It’s gonna turn once they feel exposed. That’s why he picked Megan over Faye. He just tells Peggy, just move forward—that’s his philosophy in life’, explains Weiner (Lee). The desire of seeing past the surface of things and people, of going deeper inward, explains his own professional boredom that he is not even trying to hide in this episode. That is probably why the next episode ‘Time and Life’: begins and ends with images of erasure. The episode starts with a wide shot of Ken Cosgrove seemingly sitting by himself, frame right, as a waiter, center frame, pours a glass of wine; then the waiter moves to reveal Pete Campbell. Until the waiter steps aside, we don’t know that Pete is there, and in a sense his presence is irrelevant. […] As the camera pulls back to a wide shot at the end of the episode, diminishing Don and Roger in the frame until they become mere pieces of the production design, we realize that this final batch of episodes has amounted to a metanarrative about the death of a TV series as capital-D Death: an inevitability that must be accepted with grace. (Zoller Seitz 402–403)

The episode’s title refers to the Manhattan building, named after the two most significant and successful US magazines of the twentieth century, that houses Sterling Cooper and Partners, but it is also what Don realizes he has been missing (the shot where he watches Betty, Henry, and his children from a distance in the previous episode is quite telling).



Death of a Salesman Episode 90 is entitled ‘Lost Horizon’, like the novel by James Hilton from 1933 where the hero is on a quest for a Himalayan utopia. In the series, aircrafts have been metaphors of escapist desires (in 2.24 and 7.79 especially). Here, while at a meeting he does not pay attention to, Don watches a jet fly by the Empire State Building. It may trigger his memory of the plane crash into the famous building in 1945 he probably read about, and it for sure triggers the viewers’ memories of 9/11 that are reconvened with each opening credits and the anime sequence of a man falling from a skyscraper (Edgerton [a]: 10–11). The opening title sequence is all about death and resurrection of a man in a grey flannel suit, a company man whose black silhouette could be Don Draper’s. George Toles considers: The haunting graphics that accompany the Mad Men credits at the beginning of each episode present Don’s immaculately tailored silhouette in desperate, though graceful, slow motion freefall. All the lavish trappings of his office domain fail to solidify and contain him. They gently scramble, dissolve and sink beneath his feet before he begins his plummet. We catch up with him in mid-air as he drops past skyscrapers and billboards covered with images of pleasure and security (…). More sturdy than he, the images stand impervious and continue to broadcast their promises as he tumbles earthward. But, crucially, the silhouette somehow draws strength from this array of remote images […]. As Don regains his equilibrium, restored by a kind of mesmerism to a shielded repose, the music offers a tinkling cascade to allay the disquiet of the lingering bass line. The tinkle coverts the shuddering descent into the plink of cubes in a whiskey glass. The revival of spirit emerges, musically, through a liquid haze. (148–149)

Don’s narrative arc in these last episodes mirrors the series opening sequence. In a very Kerouacian move, Don decides to hit the road and drive west, chasing Diana. Yet his coast-to-coast road trip rather looks like a free fall. The man who impersonated the consumerist American Dream of the 1950s is confronted in episode 91 to the falsehood of the nineteenthcentury American Dream: the Jeffersonian small town. Matthew Weiner admitted he wanted ‘to do an episode of The Fugitive where Don comes into town and can be anyone’ (Lee). Rather than finding good hardworking and decent citizens at the end of a ‘milk and honey route’ (the



episode’s title), Dick, still wearing Don’s clothes, is the victim of their bigotry, narrow-mindedness, crookedness, and brutality. However, he doesn’t try to fight them, giving in to their revolting blackmail with a bag of cash and offering his car to the young hitchhiker who reminded him of his hobo youth (1.8 and 3.37). Having even lost Don Draper’s suit, Dick Whitman finishes his journey by bus. He now knows that the answer he is looking for is in no one else but himself. This could have been the last image of the series, as Matt Zoller Seitz writes: ‘there’s no main action anymore. Don’s not really connected to the main action now, either. Nobody is. That’s because Sterling Cooper & Partners doesn’t exist. […] There’s a sense of the center giving way, of things falling apart, and of everyone dealing with it in their own way. Multiple machines, and one body-as-machine, break down: Don’s car, the motel’s soda machine, the TV in his hotel room, the motel’s owner’s wife’s typewriter, and Betty’ (415–416). Yet Dick/Don’s journey is not finished: in the opening sequence, the black silhouette finds its way back into an office couch; in the last episode, Dick joins Stephanie, Anna Draper’s niece, in a California Zen retreat modelled after the Esalen Institution in Big Sur, Northern California (Lee). Stephanie soon leaves him with himself, among strangers. ‘Be open to this’, she advises him. And we indeed see Dick open up, first through longdistance calls to Sally, Betty, and Peggy, and then through his genuine embrace of a stranger he emotionally connects with during group therapy. ‘I hope the audience would feel either that he was embracing a part of himself, or maybe them, and that they were heard. I don’t want to put it into words more than that. … I liked the idea where he’d come to this place, and it’d be about other people and a moment of recognition. I don’t think I can put it into words, but I knew’, says Matthew Weiner (Lee). For Matt Zoller Seitz, this hug symbolizes the reconciliation of Don Draper and Dick Whitman (421). So in any case it seems to mark the end of Don Draper as a character (in the series, but also as a character Dick Whitman has impersonated). The other characters’ storyline end in ‘happy endings’ (even Betty seems to welcome death with peace and grace and getting closer to her daughter) once Don is no longer in the picture (literally): there’s no drama, no disruptive element, so no stories to tell. The series can/has to end. The very last scene shows Dick meditating among a group of strangers. The leader of the group says: ‘The new day brings new hope. Lives we’ve led, the lives we get to lead. New day, new ideas, and new you’. Dick



listens with intensity. Then a chime indicates the beginning of the morning meditation. The camera zooms in on Dick’s face while he is chanting the Buddhist ‘om’. And then we hear a second chime and a cryptic smile lightens Dick/Don’s face.

Back to Reality This second chime sounds slightly different than the first one. In an almost cartoonish fashion, it evokes the sound of a ‘new idea’ coming to mind (which brings a smile on Dick/Don’s face), but also the sound of a cash machine. It also echoes the tinkling at the end of the opening title sequence George Toles wrote about, when the black silhouette takes its place back on the office couch. As Matt Zoller Seitz puts it, ‘what matters on a show like this is the finale note that it strikes, and how it sustains’ (417). This final note introduces us after a smash cut to the historically accurate 1971 ‘Hilltop’ television advertisement for Coca-Cola, created by Billy Backer for the advertisement agency McCann Erickson. McCann Erickson is ironically the agency who tries to hire Don Draper since the start of the series and who finally managed to buy Sterling Cooper and Partners in episode 85. Billy Backer said he got the idea for this ad when his plane was stranded in Ireland and noticed other passengers, from different nationalities, finding reassurance, and killing time by chatting over bottles of Coke. When he finally got to London, he told the Coca-Cola music team: In that moment [I] saw a bottle of Coke in a whole new light… [I] began to see a bottle of Coca-Cola as more than a drink that refreshed a hundred million people a day in almost every corner of the globe. So [I] began to see the familiar words, ‘Let’s have a Coke,’ as more than an invitation to pause for refreshment. They were actually a subtle way of saying, ‘Let’s keep each other company for a little while.’ And [I] knew they were being said all over the world as [I] sat there in Ireland. So that was the basic idea: to see Coke not as it was originally designed to be – a liquid refresher – but as a tiny bit of commonality between all peoples, a universally liked formula that would help to keep them company for a few minutes. (Ryan)

This epiphany is the official reason with which the Coca-Cola Company explains its change of tagline from ‘Things Go Better With Coke’ to ‘It’s the real thing’. Historian Kathleen Franz thinks that there is more to it, especially the fact that Pepsi Cola was at the time winning more and more market shares among young peoples and minorities with ‘countercultural



images and themes—music, trippy graphics, “peace and love,” and beautiful people with flowers in their hair’. She further explains: In a world where a lot of things are bad—in the late ’60s and ’70s, you have riots, Vietnam, there’s a counter culture pointing to commercialism and saying it’s all false. Coke changes its strategy, with McCann’s help, to “It’s the real thing” in a world full of things that are made up. The company was trying to get to that youth market that is searching for truth. On top of that, the younger generation is looking for peace, love and harmony in a world that’s pretty dark. This commercial hits all the right notes, literally. The song went “viral,” in our terms today—people called radio stations wanting to hear it. McCann made Coke not just a product, but an instrument of world peace. In a world full of divisions, fraught by all kinds of strife, Coke put its product at the center of it all. […] We use the commercial in the [American Enterprise] exhibition [at the Smithsonian] as a late example of the “creative revolution” in advertising that starts in the ’50s and makes branding and advertising less about the product and what it can do for you, and more about larger themes about how it makes you feel good. (Wolly)

For Matthew Weiner, this ad is ‘the greatest commercial ever made’ (Lee) and he fought two years to include this ad, for free, at the end of the series (Rosen). Most of the chatter online after the finale focused on whether Don or Peggy is the author of this ad. The zooming in on Don’s face and the smash cut strongly suggest that a dream sequence is coming next: we are entering Don’s psyche, like we did so many times before, especially over the last season. A young woman at the institute wears the same red ribbons in her blond hair as an extra we see in the ad, and the strangers meditating around Don are a mix of hippies from different ethnicity just like the ones we see in the Coke ad. ‘As presented, it seems clear that the Coke ad is Don’s. But I think the idea came from Dick Whitman’, concludes Zoller Seitz (422). Matthew Weiner is less categorical in a May 20, 2015 interview: ‘I have never been clear, and I have always been able to live with ambiguities. […] But it was nice to have your cake and eat it too, in terms of what is advertising, who is Don and what is that thing?’ (Lee) What is that thing indeed: it is the first time in the series that a real ad is included into the diegesis, and it’s not fortuitous since Weiner admitted to have fought two years for it. All the other ads we saw earlier were strongly inspired by vintage ads but re-fabricated for the purpose of the show. This last ‘dream’ is—literally and figuratively—‘a real thing’, reminding us of the fact that what we have seen before is fiction. The second chime we



heard right before Dick/Don’s grin can also be interpreted as a ‘wake-up chime’ you hear at the end of a hypnosis session, just as if Weiner wanted to wake us up from the fantasy he told and put us back into reality. But even if the series is filled with contemporary echoes (Edgerton [b]), we are shown an historical artefact, a video archive, a TV commercial from 1971. And Weiner was very clear he chose it for its historical value: ‘Five years before that, black people and white people couldn’t even be in an ad together! And the idea that someone in an enlightened state might have created something that’s very pure—yeah, there’s soda in there with a good feeling, but that ad to me is the best ad ever made, and it comes from a very good place. […] That ad in particular is so much of its time’ (Lee). This ad is about reinvention, it reminds the viewers how much America—not just Don—has changed in a decade (the fact that Blacks, Whites, and Asian people can sit and meditate together and can be shown holding hands-on television), but still remains the leader of the free—and capitalist—world. It is also, mirroring Don’s destiny, about reconciliation: consumer culture meets counter-culture, a mere year after the Kent State shootings. It is not a small thing that such a high-end quality drama ends with a tribute to the cultural and historical relevance of advertisement while having been the first of its kind to be broadcast on basic cable, i.e. with commercial breaks (Dunleavy 34). Even if Matthew Weiner received from AMC Network CEO Josh Sapan the direct instruction to pursue critical success rather than ratings (Sepinwall 303), the showrunner still claims ‘I made them a billion dollars—AMC went public, a billion dollars’ (Lee), seemingly forgetting that in 2013, the surprise success of The Walking Dead in the ratings (more than 10 million viewers in 2012–2013, while Mad Men peaked at 3.5 on 25 March 2012) also played a big part in the financial frenzy. Still the cultural impact of the show went far beyond its ratings and put for sure AMC on the map as a place for innovative series. In any case, Mad Men’s last sequence undeniably proves its cultural relevance as one of the great tales about what America is and also about how people go through history and social change. It has contributed for sure to nuance and complicates our vision of the Sixties.



Bibliography Dunleavy, Trisha. 2018. Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television. New York: Routledge. Edgerton, Gary, ed. 2011. Mad Men: Dream Come True TV. New York: I.B. Tauris. ———. 2016. A Mad Men Pot-Pourri. CST Online, 17 May. https://cstonline. net/a-mad-men-potpourri-by-gary-edgerton/. Huver, Scott. 2015. Matt Weiner on “Mad Men” Finale: “I Had a Ton of Doubts”. Variety, 29 May. Lee, Ashley. 2015. “Mad Men” Creator Matthew Weiner Explains Series Finale, Character Surprises and What’s Next, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 May. https:// Rosen, Christopher. 2015. Mad Men Finale: Matthew Weiner Spent Two Years Trying to Clear Coke Ad, Entertainment Weekly, 24 June. article/2015/06/24/mad-men-finale-matthew-weiner-coke-ad/. Ryan, Ted. 2012. The Making of “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke”. Coca-Cola, 1 January. Sepinwall, Alan. 2012. The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever. New York: Touchstone. Stoddart, Scott, ed. 2007. Analysing Mad Men, Critical Essays on the Television Series, 207–233. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. Toles, George. 2013. Don Draper and the Promises of Life. In Television Aesthetics and Style, ed. Jason Jacobs and Steven Peacock, 147–174. London: Bloomsbury. Wolly, Brian. 2015. American History Museum Scholar on the History of the ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’ Advertisement., 18 May. american-history-museum-scholar-coke-advertisement-180955318/# TVjHzxW8c3G3L8DC.99. Zoller Seitz, Matt. 2015. Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Compilation. New York: Abrams.

Ending an Era and the Dismantling of Narrative ‘Machinery’ in Mad Men’s Finale Kristina Graour

Speaking in an interview about the final season of Mad Men, creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner (2015a) remarked on the fact that what he termed the ‘machinery’ of the show had become worn out. The comment presents an appealing metaphor for series finales. Instead of framing the final episode as the ‘completion’ of a previously ‘incomplete’ narrative, the notion of machinery instead suggests that the very means of its continuation are being brought to a halt. For ‘wholeness’ is a complicated notion as far as long-running series are concerned, since they are created and initially consumed in a contingent and ongoing fashion. Nonetheless, Weiner’s metaphor still allows the finale to be a privileged space for ‘reflection and remembering’, as Amy Holdsworth puts it, a space where patterns are revealed (2011, 36). It invites the question of what narrative ‘machinery’ kept Mad Men going for seven seasons and what changes to this machinery precipitated the end. ‘It is one of the peculiarities of the imagination’, writes Wallace Stevens, ‘that it is always at the end of an era’ (1960, 22). As Stevens’ observation suggests, our imagination is inclined to seek out endings and the sense of structure they may provide. Or, as Frank Kermode puts it, we have

K. Graour (B) Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




a human desire to ‘project ourselves […] past the End; so as to see the structure whole, a thing we cannot do from our spot of time in the middle’ (1967, 8). Kermode here was speaking about apocalypse and the need it fulfils for ‘intelligible Ends’, but his comment may be also fruitfully applied to the construction of long-running television series. Between the pilot and the potential finale, we, as viewers, often exist in an incalculable narrative middle, unsure of when the end will come and, when it does, whether it will be intentional and rewarding. Instead, a series could end with what Jason Mittell calls a ‘cessation’, a ‘wrap-up without a definite finality’ (2015, 321), or simply an abrupt cancellation. So, when a series does get the chance to conclude ‘on its own terms’, the finale gives audiences and scholars alike an occasion to reflect back and ‘see the structure whole’, as Kermode puts it. In Mad Men, one crucial part of its narrative machinery is time. The show’s engagement with both personal and historical conceptions of temporality informed its plotlines, themes, ideology, and form. On the one hand, there is a neat temporal symmetry and linearity to Mad Men’s beginning and end, since the show began in 1960 and ended in 1970. But this tidy rounding off of a decade masks a much more complex treatment of time. Like the unwavering progression of historical time, the characters in Mad Men seem compelled to move forward—from one year to another, from one goal to another. Simultaneously, however, these same characters remain wary of such unrelenting linearity, not least because their determinate goals come into tension with the indefinitely extendible passage of time. Consequently, the characters’ personal experiences of time come to mirror the tension between linear and cyclical temporality that is a shared characteristic of many serial narratives. In this chapter, I would like to use Mad Men’s finale, ‘Person to Person’ (7.14), as a vantage point to reflect back on this temporal ‘machinery’ and to examine in detail how it came to be ‘disassembled’ so as to bring the show’s forward momentum to a stop.

Moving ‘Forward’ ‘It’s your life. You don’t know how long it’s gonna be but you know it’s got a bad ending. You have to move forward. As soon as you can figure out what that is’, proclaims Don Draper in the episode ‘Six Month Leave’ (2.9). Don’s reflections on life possess an important parallel with many television narratives in that the latter are also of an indeterminate length. And like our lives, television narratives have to keep moving forward. But forward



motion, in life as in television, is a complex matter. As multiple scholars have noted, time in television narratives often evades any strict linearity. Instead, time is described as an ‘ebb and flow’ (Holdsworth 2011, 64), a ‘headlong rush toward dawdling’ (O’Sullivan 2011, 126), or characterized as building up and ‘thickening’ (Tischleder 2017, 120). In many respects, the fictional lives of the characters in Mad Men come to mirror these nonlinear possibilities of the serial form. Simultaneously, however, they also embody the tension between these possibilities and the indefinite, economically necessitated multiplication of episodes and seasons. Therefore, to understand how Mad Men dealt with its cessation, it is helpful to first look back at how it dramatized the demands of its own continuation. The propensity of serial narratives for fragmentation and repetition has led both film and television scholars to draw on the language of poetry to describe this form (O’Sullivan 2010; Holdsworth 2011, 53; Mayer 2017, 23). The comparison is especially useful for articulating the ways in which television narratives unfold over time, encouraging forward movement while simultaneously necessitating a reflection on what has come before. Jonathan Culler (1975, 184) describes line-endings in poetry as producing ‘syntactic ambiguity’, a process of reading which requires the ‘postulation and repostulation of wholes’ (Culler 1975, 92). A similar point is made by O’Sullivan with regards to television and, indeed, Mad Men specifically. For him, serial television, like poetry, is founded on the ‘process of interrupting and reconnecting […] syntactic units’ (O’Sullivan 2011, 120). Drawing on these theoretical precedents, we might then ask whether the study of poetry has anything to contribute to an analysis of how television series end. In her book on poetic closure, Barbara H. Smith emphasizes the temporal dimension of poetic structure: It will be useful to regard the structure of a poem as consisting of the principles by which it is generated or according to which one element follows another. The description of a poem’s structure, then, becomes the answer to the question, “What keeps it going?” (Smith 1968, 4)

Smith further notes that this allows the possibility of a corollary question, namely, “What stops it from going?” (1968, 4). Similarly to Culler and O’Sullivan, Smith draws attention to the role of the reader (or viewer) in the structuring process, a process that she describes as ‘retrospective patterning’ (1968, 10).



Smith’s definition also parallels Matthew Weiner’s allusion to a dynamic nucleus within Mad Men that has kept the series going and must also bring it to a stop. And as with Mad Men, Smith notes that a poet may ‘use the passage of time as a structural principle’. But with respect to closure, Smith argues that this structural principle is of limited use: The passage of time, however, is continuous; and although temporal sequence provides the poet with an excellent principle of generation, it does not provide him with a termination point. He – his story, his poem – must, at some point, stop; but the conclusion, with respect to time alone, will always be an arbitrary one. (1968, 117)

Mad Men’s historical setting certainly foregrounds the continuous passage of time as one of its structural principles. And our tendency to categorize the historical passage of time into decades perhaps diminishes the arbitrariness of Mad Men’s end point in 1970. However, does anything else occur in the finale that makes the continuation of Mad Men’s narrative into 1971 unlikely? The answer lies in the way Mad Men has repeatedly turned this structural ‘problem’—the continuous passage of time—into a thematic tension to be resolved. ‘I have a life. And it only goes in one direction—forward’, Don tells his half-brother, Adam, early on in the series (1.5 ‘5G’). This will be a maxim that he, and many other characters, will frequently repeat. And, of course, Don is not entirely wrong. The chronology of the series reminds us, as viewers, that 1964 will follow 1963 and we also know, although the characters do not, some of the events that they will have to live through. The attitude of the characters themselves towards this linearity fluctuates greatly. Sometimes it alarms them, as when Roger asks his therapist: ‘What are the events in life? […] Turns out the experiences are nothing. They’re just some pennies you pick up off the floor and stick in your pocket. You’re just going in a straight line to you know where’ (6.2 ‘For Immediate Release’). In the first season, Betty asks her therapist a similar question. Remembering her mother’s aspiration for her to be beautiful in order to find a man, and now having achieved this ‘goal’, she asks Dr Wayne, ‘But then what? Just sit and smoke and let it go till you’re in a box?’ (1.9 ‘Shoot’). Betty’s question—‘But then what?’—speaks to an inherent tension that exists in the series between goals and desires and the continuous passage of time. After all, goals may be met, desires fulfilled, but time will continue to march forward. Indeed, the series begins with most of the characters having



achieved many of the goals that drive traditional narratives, both fictional and real—they have good jobs and the good pay cheques that come with them, they have married well or are soon to be, and some already have children. When Don’s neighbour, Carlton, tells him that ‘We got it all’ (1.3 ‘Marriage of Figaro’), his words are an echo of dozens of similar proclamations that will be made throughout the series. What makes this friction between determinate goals and the indefinitely extendible passage of time especially interesting is that it connects the problems of these characters with the very form in which their story is being told. For the dilemma they face is essentially a question of narrative and one that is especially pertinent to television, in which a series’ contingent run-time may outlive the goals that define particular plotlines. Examining poems that are generated by series that could be ‘extended indefinitely’, Smith (1968, 112) notes that they often possess a concurrent sequence that ‘has an implicit terminal point’. But the economic mandate of television shows to continue makes the presence of such terminal points much more problematic. In Mad Men, this structural problem is, yet again, transformed into a productive tension. This tension is both ideological, as it throws into question the aspirations of the characters and the society they are a part of, and narratological, as the series continues to destabilize what easily could have been ‘implicit terminal points’ in other narratives. When a goal is fulfilled but lives—and the narrative—need to keep going, the characters go off in search of ‘more happiness’ or to use Roger’s words (1.2 ‘Ladies Room’)—new romantic entanglements, new clients, promotions, and purchases. In these instances, a fear of the continuous passage of time becomes ironically transformed into the compulsion to move forward. But as Don tells Roger, before you can move forward you need to figure out what that means. For Don, moving forward usually becomes equated with erasing the past. In Season 1, Don ends his reunion with Adam with these words: ‘I’m gonna walk out that door, that’s it. I’m not buying your lunch because this never happened’ (1.5). Exactly one season later, Don shares this philosophy with Peggy after she has had her baby (2.5 ‘The New Girl’). Nor are these the only instances of characters attempting to create a fresh start in the series. Mad Men is filled with new beginnings, both professional—with Sterling Cooper reinvented at least four different times—and personal—as old relationships end and new ones begin. And in order to forge new beginnings, endings are necessary. To return to Wallace Stevens: ‘It is one of the peculiarities of the imagination that it is always at the end of an era’ (1960, 22). Or, as Kermode puts it, ‘When we survive,



we make little images of moments which have seemed like ends; we thrive on epochs’ (1967, 7). A prime example is Mad Men’s Season 3 finale, an episode that marked the end of many of the series’ givens including Don and Betty’s marriage, the offices of Sterling Cooper, and, indeed, Sterling Cooper itself. The episode plays out with Roy Orbison’s song Shahdaroba, the lyrics of which could serve as an expression of nearly every major character’s desire, at some stage in the series, to begin anew. ‘Face the future and forget about the past’, Orbison sings, ‘Fate knows what’s best for you’. But this advice, though appealing, proves almost impossible to realize. Although the characters attempt to shape their experiences of time into a teleological linearity, their newly minted futures continue to be informed by the past. Moreover, the past has a tendency to repeat itself as characters make the same mistakes, failing to learn from what has come before. Consequently, second marriages become second divorces, new homes are sold off just like the old ones, and reorganized companies meet the familiar fate of being bought out by larger ones. So, as the characters attempt to create and re-create their identities, they are pulled not only forward but backward in time—a motion that was most famously expressed in the Season 1 finale, ‘The Wheel’ (1.13). No matter how much they try, the characters cannot escape their ‘serial condition’ (O’Sullivan 2011, 115) in which the push forward, just like in poetry, is accompanied by a turning back. Thus, for seven seasons, the characters in Mad Men have been locked, to a greater or lesser degree, in a pattern in which the fear of a ‘bad ending’ fuels the desire to move forward that in turn leads them to repeat the mistakes of the past. These ‘failures’ then produce more narrative material, ensuring the forward momentum of the series itself as it moves, like the characters, towards an indeterminate end. But as the mandate of the show changes from continuation to closure, the characters’ simultaneous suspicion of and desire for forward motion becomes replaced by a gradual turn inward: a process that culminates in the finale through the characters’ reconciliation of linear and cyclical experiences of time.

Accepting the Past, Achieving Stasis If we accept that the tension between linear and cyclical time has been a key structural force in Mad Men’s narrative machinery, then the release of this tension can provide the show with a terminal point. Smith describes closure as ‘a modification of structure that makes stasis, or the absence of further



continuation, the most probable succeeding event’ (1968, 34). Visualizing the characters’ experiences of time as an elastic band being pulled in two different directions—forwards and backwards—we can imagine two alternatives for the release of this tension: either the band will snap, or it will be released, achieving stasis. Mad Men’s characters have continually visualized their pasts and futures as being in opposition with one another. Consequently, moving forward has often been synonymous with running away. But as the series begins to move towards the finale, the binary oppositions that have come to define Mad Men’s temporality start to dissolve as each of the main characters begins to find a way of welcoming the future while simultaneously accepting the past. Instead of the conflict between linear and cyclical time ‘breaking’ the characters, we see a reconciliation of these two experiences occur. The characters’ desire for relentless forward motion becomes offset by introspections of serially accumulated identities and histories. What exactly this reconciliation between past and future means for each character varies. For some characters, bringing together the past and future is signified by an ability to learn from previous mistakes. Pete is a good example of such a character, even though and perhaps because he struggles to put his thoughts into words. In the penultimate episode, ‘The Milk and Honey Route’ (7.13), Pete hopes to reunite with his ex-wife Trudy and grapples with expressing himself to her. When Trudy tells him that the past cannot be undone, he disagrees: Pete: Says who? We’re not even through half our lives. And even if we are, we’re entitled to more. Trudy: Of what? Pete: Then we’re entitled to something new.

Perhaps a reason why Pete finds it difficult to articulate his proposal is because he wants something that is both more and new. He wants a continuation of his marriage to Trudy, an extension of the past into the future, but he also wants this second attempt to be different: Pete: I want to start over. And I know I can. I’m not so dumb anymore. I’m not ignoring the fact that I could actually lose your love.

The future can be different because it is both an extension of the past and a modification of it. Pete doesn’t so much want to ‘undo’ the past as to learn from it. In earlier episodes he expressed his anxiety about the ‘narrative’ his



life was taking to Don: ‘You think you’re going to begin your life over and do it right, but what if you never get past the beginning again?’ (7.9 ‘New Business’). Hence Pete attempts to solve this problem by both beginning again and picking up where he left off. Another couple struggling with the definition of new beginnings is Joan and her lover, Richard. In the finale, Richard complains about the idea of sharing Joan’s attention with her new business. She tries to appease him by suggesting marriage, but he doesn’t find the solution favourable: Richard: No, I don’t want to be back where I was. Joan: This can be different. We’re different people.

Much like Pete, Joan is envisioning a future that is informed by lessons learnt from past mistakes. Richard, on the other hand (like many Mad Men characters before him), wants a clean slate, having previously called Joan’s life ‘undeveloped property’ (7.14). But as long-time viewers, we know that this is far from the truth, having witnessed the developments Joan has gone through as a character. Already in Season 2, we saw Joan distracted from her domestic duties and fiancé Greg because she was so engrossed with the task of reading scripts (2.8 ‘A Night to Remember’). The conflict is paralleled in the scene with Richard, where a ringing telephone (most likely a work call) distracts her from their conversation. In the years that have passed between these two scenes, Joan has learnt that she can’t ‘turn off’ that career-minded part of herself, as she tells Richard. Whereas Joan once tried to comfort Greg by telling him that ‘there is no before’ (2.12 ‘The Mountain King’), her words to Richard are very different. Like Pete, she is optimistic about reconciling the new (a relationship) and the old (the continuation of her career). While for some characters the resolution of temporal binaries is defined by learning from past mistakes, for others it becomes chiefly about accepting the future. Or, to be more precise, it is overcoming the fear of the continuous passage of time and where it leads. This is most evident in the two characters facing their mortality quite directly: Roger and Betty. For much of the series, Roger has struggled with anxieties about his age. In the finale, however, he seems to have at last accepted it. ‘You get to a point in your life where it’s last chapter’, he tells Joan calmly and acts in accordance with this new acceptance by drawing up his will to provide for his son’s future as well as marrying a woman his own age. For Betty, death becomes much more imminent in the last two episodes as she receives a terminal



cancer diagnosis. But she, too, learns to accept her fate. Betty’s refusal to undergo treatment is not only an assertion of her wishes, something she has struggled with previously as she often conceded to the opinions of the men around her, but it is also a refusal of forward motion for the sake of forward motion alone. Having more time is no longer the priority, as she explains to her daughter: ‘I don’t want you to think I’m a quitter. I’ve fought for plenty in my life. That’s how I know when it’s over. It’s not a weakness. It’s been a gift to me, to know when to move on’ (7.13). Betty’s words apply to much more than her own situation; they have thematic resonance for every major character as they highlight the vast difference between simply carrying on by moving forward and ‘moving on’. Peggy, although in a different context, has to learn much the same lesson. When Joan presents Peggy with the opportunity of a partnership in her new business, Peggy is torn between having her name on the door and continuing work at McCann. Stan advises her to stay: ‘You have such a rare talent. Stop looking over your shoulder at what other people have’. When Peggy responds by accusing him of not having ambition, Stan replies, ‘I’m just very happy being good at my job. I’ve got nothing else to prove’ (7.14). For Peggy, who has had to struggle greatly to achieve what she now has, the prospect of climbing the corporate ladder and moving her career forward is tempting. But Stan’s comments suggest than she may have another lesson to learn: appreciating what she has achieved rather than focusing solely on what she has yet to accomplish. Thus, we have five different characters achieving ‘stasis’ in various ways, leaving one character left to discuss: Don. For him, the tension between the pull of the past and that of the future has been the greatest, as depicted in his flashback sequences, and his struggles with it have been emblematic of Mad Men’s themes as a whole. In the finale, Don finds himself at a Californian retreat with Stephanie, who has recently given up her child to his father and is left dealing with the consequent emotions. When Stephanie breaks down crying during a seminar, Don tries to comfort her with words very similar to the ones he spoke to Peggy after she gave birth: ‘I just know how people work. You can put this behind you. It will get easier as you move forward’. But unlike Peggy, who embraced Don’s philosophy, Stephanie calls him on it. ‘Oh Dick, I don’t think you’re right about that’, she tells him. The very act of Stephanie calling Don by his real name emphasizes that his past identity is still a part of his present and will continue to be a part of his future. And on some level, Don understands this himself. As he said to a flight attendant at the start of Season 3: ‘I keep going to a lot of



places and ending up somewhere I’ve already been’ (3.1 ‘Out of Town’). The comment suggests the manner in which characters’ experience of their identity may become trapped in a temporal loop. It also alludes, however, to how experiences of time can inform relationships to place. For a significant aspect of the way that characters in Mad Men attempt to move forward to new futures is through the relocation to new spaces.

Changing Places ‘A man is whatever room he is in’, Bert Cooper remarks early on in Mad Men’s run (1.12 ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy’). Seasons later, Don professes a very different attitude to place: ‘When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him’ (4.8 ‘The Summer Man’). While Bert’s comment envisions the possibility that a new space will provide its occupant with a new identity, leaving the past at the door, so to speak, Don’s remark, in contrast, emphasizes that the past—one’s cumulative identity—will shape every new space it comes into contact with and thus suggests the futility of trying to outrun it. If the tension between linear and cyclical time is a driving force behind Mad Men’s narrative machinery, then the characters’ attitudes towards place is one way in which that machinery becomes visible. It is of course ironic that Don is the one who states that a man cannot simply reinvent himself in each new space, with each new moment, when he has tried to do just that at several points in his life. Nor has he been the only one. I have already mentioned that there have been many ‘endings’ and ‘new beginnings’ in the characters’ lives, and these have often been accompanied by and represented through new spaces—new homes for new relationships and new offices for new companies. This contrast between ‘old’ spaces imbued with history, and ‘new’ ones unmarked by memory, became a part of Mad Men’s narrative on a larger scale as the series chronicled the impact of time on one of its most important locations—New York. Matthew Weiner (2015b) once commented that ‘in 1960 New York City was the world centre’ for everything from finance, to drama, to advertising, but that ‘by 1977 the city’s actually bankrupt’. Throughout its run, Mad Men mapped this slow decline. The early seasons saw New York valorized by many characters, from Bert calling it a ‘marvellous machine’ (1.4 ‘New Amsterdam’), to Joan exclaiming that ‘the city’s everything’ (1.10 ‘Long Weekend’). But by Season 3, a shift had begun to occur, as the season’s second episode, ‘Love Among the Ruins’, emphasized. Beginning with small details, such as a shot of garbage at Peggy’s feet as she exists the



subway and Betty chastising Don for not leaving his dirty coat downstairs, the episode underscores the effect that the passage of time is having on the city. Part of this is a plotline dealing with the demolition of Penn Station so that Madison Square Garden may be erected in its place. While Paul Kinsey laments the event, reproachfully proclaiming that ‘this city has no memory’, Don attempts to win the arena’s business by asserting that ‘New York City is in decay. But Madison Square Garden is the beginning of a new city on a hill’. To complete the pitch, Don juxtaposes New York with California, where ‘everything is new, and it’s clean. The people are filled with hope’. Through this comparison, the binary that defines Mad Men’s temporality is imposed upon the two locations, with Don once again acting as an advocate for new beginnings, even when they entail erasing the past. Indeed, as New York followed the trajectory of ‘decay’, an old city trying to become new again by erasing the past, California became its narrative ‘other’, a symbol of that ever-elusive clean slate. Referenced almost from the start of Mad Men, its presence increased as the narrative moved towards the finale. Specifically, California becomes representative of a fresh start for several characters including Paul Kinsey, Ted Shaw, and Pete Campbell. Although we are not told about Paul’s eventual fate, we do know that both Pete and Ted’s attempts to improve their lives through a move to California are ultimately unsuccessful and they end up moving back to New York. This return to the place where you began is a physical reminder that trying to leave behind one’s mistakes will only lead to their reprise. In ‘Lost Horizon’ (7.12), the relationship between New York and California is condensed and amplified as Don begins a road trip that will take him from the former to the latter. On the one hand, the road trip can be seen as a personal journey, a process of self-discovery emphasized by associations with road-movie conventions. On the other hand, we question to what extent Don is using his road trip as a process of self-discovery and to what extent he is simply trying to run away from himself, as he has done several times before. Preparing for a pitch to American Airlines in Season 2, Don links forward motion with American culture: ‘There is no such thing as American history. Only a frontier’ (2.4 ‘Three Sundays’). Through the road trip, we watch Don attempt to live out this slogan, driving cross-country until there is nowhere left to go and no more highway left to follow. He finds himself at the Californian retreat with Stephanie, a truly unplanned destination, stuck somewhere between history, as it is here that Stephanie confronts him about running away from the past, and



a frontier—a new place, a new cultural experience. Stuck in a new room, listening to a stranger named Leonard talk about his loneliness, Don ‘brings his whole life with him’ into this moment and seems finally able to confront his old wounds. And as Don achieves ‘stasis’ by reconciling past and future, his continual physical movement emphasized in the final episodes culminates in a moment of repose as he sits meditating at dawn.

A New Don? ‘The new day brings new hope. The lives we’ve led, the lives we’ve yet to lead. A new day, new ideas, a new you’ (7.14 ‘Person to Person’). These last words of dialogue in Mad Men, spoken by meditation instructor Vince, encapsulate a philosophy that has been at the core of the series’ narrative from the very beginning. The mantra promises the possibility of a fresh start, of redefining oneself with each new day. But seven seasons of viewing have repeatedly demonstrated that new beginnings are not that simple. Nevertheless, Mad Men’s finale does end with several new beginnings. But what makes these new beginnings different to those that have come before is that they are founded on a reconciliation of the tension between linear and circular experiences of time, a tension that has impacted upon the characters’ identities and informed their attitudes to place. It is also a tension that has fuelled Mad Men’s narrative machinery. As such, the release of this tension offers closure and a reason for why the machine is stopping when it is. The final moments of the series are marked by mergers between the old and new, between moving forward and looking back. We see Pete and Roger beginning new stages of their lives, represented by new physical locations but defined by an appreciation of meaningful relationships, an appreciation that has come with learning from the past: Pete is on his way to Wichita with his re-formed family, while Roger and Marie are presumably on their honeymoon in France. The women, on the other hand, have come to understand that they cannot and should not merely be defined by their personal relationships and are shown working towards goals in other spheres. Building on the accomplishments of the past, Joan is starting her own company and Peggy is furthering her career as copywriter at McCann Erickson. And even Betty, though terminally ill, continues with a recent undertaking—a master’s degree in psychology. Thus, while new spaces can come to symbolize new beginnings, they are not a prerequisite for them. Instead, new ventures can change the nature of old spaces, such as Joan’s



apartment transforming to accommodate her fledgling business or Betty’s kitchen table becoming a desk for studying. And while a feminist reading of Mad Men is not my focus here, it is interesting to note that it is the women who remain in New York while the men are pictured elsewhere. The city may be in economic decline, but it is also being shaped by positive changes such as the opportunities these women are fighting for in the workplace—a sign that Mad Men’s depiction of historical progress, just as its portrayal of personal experiences of time, is not simply linear. And then there is Don, whose future is less clearly spelt out for us. Sitting in the lotus position, serene, his white collared shirt loosely unbuttoned, Don appears a changed man. But then, of course, the scene cuts to the 1971 Coca-Cola’s Hilltop ad. The juxtaposition is both a progression and a return. As the narrative of Mad Men edges forward into a new decade, the last image we see of Don is an inverse of the one that opened the show: while Season 1 began with a shot of the back of Don’s head, Season 7 ends with a full-frontal close-up. Not only does this bring with it connotations of knowing Don better as a character, it also summarizes the narrative trajectory of the series. We end in a place that is both different and the same: different because Don, along with the other characters, has resolved inner tensions rooted in an experience of time and symbolized by an attitude to place, but also the same in that Don is doing the same thing he was in the pilot—thinking up an ad campaign. Indeed, the shot bares a close resemblance to the one in which Don had his big idea for the Lucky Strike campaign, half an hour into Mad Men’s first episode. Both shots begin as medium shots and move in to a tighter close-up, while the soundtrack gives way to a background melody of non-diegetic score in the pilot and diegetic humming in the finale. These parallels suggest that Don has found a way to move forward by going back to what he knows, but this time with a new self-acceptance. Episodes earlier, before the merger with McCann and before his great escape, Peggy asked Don to explain what he does when he’s unsure about an idea for an ad. ‘Show me how you think’, she tells him. ‘I start at the beginning again’, Don explains, ‘See if I end up in the same place’ (7.6 ‘The Strategy’). There is no more succinct way to describe Don’s actions in the final episodes of the series. Stripping his life of everything that defines it, from relationships to possessions, Don attempts to ‘start at the beginning again’ and finds that in one crucial way, he does end up in the same place— being an ad man. It may be a new day, and he may have had a new idea, but this is still Don doing the one thing he is truly good at. For Don and



the other major characters, ‘the lives we’ve led’ and ‘the lives we’ve yet to lead’ are no longer two separate entities, but a continuum that it has proven futile to try and break apart. ‘This is the story of the sixties’, Weiner says, ‘the revolution failed and people turned inward’ (Hamm and Weiner 2015). And so too with the resting point of Mad Men’s narrative machinery. The series finale depicts resolutions that are neither entirely linear transformations nor completely cyclical returns, but rather an amalgamation of the two. The characters learn to move forward by reflecting back. And these personal resolutions, in turn, facilitate a release of the temporal tensions that have been at the heart of Mad Men’ s narrative machinery, thereby providing a structural justification for why the series must end. The characters finally seem to accept their serial condition, even as the machinery that produced it grinds to a halt. Acknowledgements The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation (NRF) towards this research is hereby acknowledged. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at, are those of the author and are not necessarily to be attributed to the NRF.

Bibliography Culler, Jonathan. 1975. Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics and the Study of Literature. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Hamm, Jon and Matthew Weiner. 2015. Audio Commentary: 7.14 ‘Person to Person’. Mad Men: Season 7 Part 2, DVD. USA: Lionsgate Television. Holdsworth, Amy. 2011. Television, Memory and Nostalgia. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Kermode, Frank. 1967. The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press. Mayer, Ruth. 2017. In the Nick of Time: Detective Film Serials, Temporality, and Contingency Management, 1919–1926. The Velvet Light Trap 79 (Spring): 21– 35. Mittell, Jason. 2015. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York and London: New York University Press. O’Sullivan, Sean. 2010. Broken on Purpose: Poetry, Serial Television, and the Season. StoryWorlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies (2): 59–77. 10.1353/stw.0.0012.



———. 2011. Space Ships and Time Machines: Mad Men and the Serial Condition. In Mad Men: Dream Come True TV, ed. Gary R. Edgerton, 115–130. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. Smith, Barbara H. 1968. Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Stevens, Wallace. 1960. The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words. In The Necessary Angel, 3–36. London: Faber & Faber. Tischleder, Babette B. 2017. Thickening Seriality: A Chronotopic View of World Building in Contemporary Television Narrative. The Velvet Light Trap 79 (Spring): 120–125. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost. Weiner, Matthew. 2015a. Mad Men: The Final Season with Matthew Weiner. Interview by Allison Hope Weiner. Media Mayhem, TheLipTV (February 26). Filmed, 24:45. ———. 2015b. Mad Men Season 7 Matthew Weiner Interview. TVweb, 24 March. Filmed, 1:45.

What Jungian Psychology Can Tell Us About Don Draper’s Unexpected Embrace of Leonard in Mad Men’s Finale Marisa Carroll

In the last episode of Mad Men’ s first season, after Betty Draper learns that her friend Francine’s husband has been having an affair, she pointedly asks her husband, Don, ‘How could someone do that to the person they love?’ Don, Betty, and the viewing audience know what Betty is really asking: How could Don cheat on her? He responds in his typically cryptic and evasive Don Draper way: ‘Who knows why people do what they do?’ (1.13 ‘The Wheel’). Indeed. Who knows why Don does what he does? Why, transfixed by the image of a jet crossing the Empire State Building, would he decide to exit a meeting and leave the job he had started days earlier (7.12 ‘Lost Horizon’)? Why would he attempt to pawn off his late wife’s engagement ring to her niece (a ring that returns to him no matter what he does), lying that he’s following his wife’s wishes (7.13 ‘The Milk and Honey Route’)? Or why, when confessing the nature of his wrongs, would he fail to mention the two decisions that perhaps haunt him the most, his rejections of his brother, Adam, and his business partner, Lane? Possibly most confounding, why, at a retreat seminar, would he be stirred from despondency by the words of a stranger named Leonard and then embrace that man in a tearful hug (7.14 ‘Person to Person’)?

M. Carroll (B) The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




Many of Don’s behaviours, particularly in the final episodes, are incomprehensible on the surface, perhaps even to Don himself. But when they are examined via Jungian psychology, a certain logic emerges. To elucidate the puzzling twists in Don’s path as he nears the end of his journey, I will rely on C.G. Jung’s conception of individuation and his archetypes of persona, shadow, anima, and Self. Critiques by post-Jungian scholars and clinicians will help enrich Jung’s original formulations. To paraphrase the lesson of a Jain parable (Holloway 2016, 33–34), I realize this is just one way to ‘grasp the elephant’ (i.e. interpret Don’s trajectory), but I hope it will offer provocative insights into why a character as conflicted as Don does what he does. First, a sketch of Jung’s theory: Jung observed basic tendencies of the human psyche, which he called archetypes—the tendency to present a socially acceptable ‘mask’ to the world (the persona) (Stevens 1994, 63); the tendency to repress, deny, and/or project onto others the aspects of ourselves that trigger shame, anxiety, or disgust (the shadow) (Stevens 1994, 66); the tendency to project yet-to-be actualized ‘contrasexual’ qualities within ourselves onto others (the anima/animus) (Stevens 1994, 71); and the drive towards full consciousness (the Self) (Stevens 1994, 61). While Laura Carney has used Jung’s original ‘contrasexual’ formulation of anima/animus to argue that Don achieves a transcendent balance of his masculine and feminine sides by the series’ end (Carney 2015), here I invoke Gareth Hill’s reformulation of the anima as ‘an expression of essential aspects of the Self that are underdeveloped in our consciousness and which we unconsciously seek in the quest for fulfilment and completeness’ (Hill 1992, 179). Jung’s essentialist views of gender have been justly challenged for being too limiting, and Hill’s broader understanding of the anima/animus offers a fruitful corrective. So to sum up the archetypes, the persona is what we want people to see, the shadow is what we want to hide, the anima/animus is what we seek, and the Self is our whole psyche. Individuation transpires when ‘consciousness realizes itself as a split and separated personality’ and endeavours to unite with the Self and ‘becom[e] what one “is” or rather “is meant to be”’ (Whitmont 1991, 221). Anthony Stevens provides a blueprint for this agonizing process: To individuate, a person must ‘divest oneself of “the false wrappings of the persona” …abandon one’s ego-defences, and rather than projecting one’s shadow on to others, strive to know it and acknowledge it as part of one’s inner life’ (Stevens 1994, 83). Individuation also requires recognizing ‘the [anima] living within the personal psyche and



attempt[ing] to bring to conscious fulfillment the supreme intentions of the Self’ (Stevens 1994, 83). The slick Don Draper persona is easy to spot, but the projections of his shadow and anima are less obvious. Jung argued that archetypes are expressed symbolically in dreams and myths, and with his patients, he teased out unconscious yearnings by connecting the images that transfixed them with personal associations as well as mythological ones. Doing likewise for Don, we will see that to integrate his shadow, Don must grapple with his grief and guilt over the deaths of Adam and Lane, and to activate his anima, he must recognize the capacities that his Don Draper persona denies— learning to hold and be held in unconditional love, a quality represented by his late first wife, Anna. By accomplishing both shadow integration and anima activation—symbolized by his embrace of Leonard, the stranger in the series finale—Don achieves a deeper level of psychic wholeness, i.e. individuation or Selfhood. As Carney observes, after this embrace, Don is ‘ready to move on to a new state of consciousness’ (Carney 2015). The process of individuation begins with ‘a wounding of the personality and the suffering that accompanies it’, M.-L. Von Franz writes, and this ‘initial shock amounts to sort of “call”, although it often isn’t recognized as such’ (Von Franz 1968, 169). Don’s first call of this kind comes in Season 4, when he learns of Anna’s death (4.7 ‘The Suitcase’). Upon hearing the news, Don is perhaps the most distraught viewers have ever seen him—or will, at least until the series finale. In Don’s loss of, in his words, the ‘one person who really knew [him]’, we witness both a deep personal wounding and the suffering that results. With Anna gone, it is now incumbent upon Don to know himself, and this call to Selfhood becomes symbolized by Anna’s engagement ring, delivered to Don a few episodes later by Anna’s niece, Stephanie (4.13 ‘Tomorrowland’). According to Murray Stein, in Jungian thought, ‘the appearance of self symbols means that the psyche needs to be unified’ (Stein 1998, 159). One such self-image is the gemstone, ‘like diamonds and sapphires, stones that represent high and rare value’ (Stein 1998, 161). Anna’s engagement ring, which she bequeathed to Don before she died, contains a diamond, rendering it a Jungian symbol of the Self. Selfhood, according to Jungian theory, is a lifelong task that is not about achieving perfection, but rather about approaching wholeness. As Mario Jacoby explains, ‘Perfection excludes all that is shadowy, disturbing, and imperfect, whereas completeness or wholeness must, by definition, include all that is dark, shadowy, and imperfect’ (Jacoby 1993, 105).



Anna’s engagement ring was given to her by the original Don Draper, the man whose identity our Don Draper (né Dick Whitman) stole. This ring is not only a reminder of Don’s crime, a ‘dark, shadowy, and imperfect’ choice from his past, but it is also a testament to Anna’s unconditional love for him in the face of this crime. It embodies her assertion that she ‘know[s] everything about [Don] and still love[s] him’ (4.13 ‘Tomorrowland’), and it calls him to do the same. That capacity, to know and love himself, is what is underdeveloped in Don and what he needs to actualize. Raised by a father who beat him and a stepmother who, as Don says, ‘looked at him every day like she wished [he’d] disappear (6.13 ‘In Care Of’), he never had a model for this kind of love. However, at the time of Anna’s death, Don is unprepared to accept the invitation to Selfhood that her ring embodies. ‘Psychic maturation requires that we become capable of recognizing the one-sidedness of our distorted complexes and the projections connected with them’ (Whitmont 1991, 129), but instead of engaging in this project, Don distracts himself with the advertising agency, with women, with booze. As David Tacey says, refusing the call ‘force[s us] to invent escape routes. Any form of sensation will do’ (Tacey 2006, 110). Soon after receiving the ring, Don presents it to his then-secretary, Megan, proposing marriage after a lightning-fast courtship. Although Don warns her he’s ‘done some things’, Megan insists she ‘knows Don now’, which he takes as permission not to integrate his shadow (4.13 ‘Tomorrowland’). Megan’s love, as Don tells her, makes him feel like himself ‘but the way [he] always wanted to feel’—i.e. not as he truly is. Whitmont articulates the self-defeating logic behind Don’s words: when one refuses to accept the shadow or actualize the anima, ‘[the Self’s] demands and urges will be projected….We want to be filled with love by someone else when we have been unable to tap the sources of the ability to love within ourselves’ (Whitmont 1991, 230). Projecting responsibilities onto others wreaks havoc on those relationships and sabotages our path towards Selfhood. Only through an integration of these unconscious elements does Don have any hope of liberating his loved ones from disastrous projections and himself from isolating patterns of neurosis, a condition Jung described as ‘the suffering of a soul that has not discovered its meaning’ (Jung 1958, paragraph 497). When Don is married to Betty in the first three seasons, he expends so much psychic energy shrouding his origins and cultivating his Don Draper persona that he has little chance of individuating. Megan’s acceptance of his past presents Don with an opportunity to divest energy from his persona and



direct it towards deeper psychological progress, but he does not take it. (He would have had an even better chance had he not picked Megan over Dr. Faye, who also knows of Don’s past but encourages him to be accountable [2.13 ‘Tomorrowland’].) Instead, he hopes Megan’s love will do the work he needs to do alone, which makes his marriage proposal a bad faith effort towards feeling whole. Ultimately, he only forestalls his individuation process, which amounts to a messy detour for him and Megan. The last time Megan and Don see each other, she returns Anna’s ring, but he still isn’t ready to answer this call towards Selfhood (7.9 ‘New Business’). He leaves the ring in his office at the Time & Life Building, though his new secretary Meredith makes sure it gets back to him (7.12 ‘Lost Horizon’). After it gets purloined, briefly, by a stranger, he tries to persuade Stephanie to take it, spuriously claiming Anna always wanted her to have it, but she refuses (7.14 ‘Person to Person’). No matter how he attempts to shake it, Anna’s ring always finds its way back to him, continually offering Don the chance to, in the words of Stein, ‘potentially mov[e] the psyche forward in a development toward greater wholeness…’ (Stein). Despite refusing the ring’s call, Don is galvanized by another symbolic image, one that compels his journey towards integration. During a McCann Erickson meeting, Don spies a jet crossing the Empire State Building, an image that exerts a personal and archetypal pull on him. Like a dream image, as Jung describes one, it contains ‘so much psychic energy that [he’s] forced to pay attention to it’ (Jung 1968, 33). Remember, the Empire State Building is a reminder of two shadowy situations from Don’s past (Barbara 2015). First, it’s the site where Adam works when he stumbles upon evidence of Don’s continued existence—a newspaper photo of Don and his boss Roger receiving an award (1.5 ‘5G’). Adam’s job at the Empire State Building is what leads him to Don, a meeting that sets off a catastrophic decision by Don to abandon his brother for then the second time. Second, the Empire State Building is a reminder of Lane’s death. On the window ledge in Lane’s office—visible as Don, Roger, and Pete cut down Lane’s body after he dies by suicide—is a figurine of the Empire State Building (5.12 ‘Commissions and Fees’). Margaret Lyons has noted the parallels between the deaths of Adam and Lane: ‘both suicides, both hangings, both very soon after significant and damaging conversations with Don’ (Lyons 2015), and Matt Zoller Seitz has described them as brothers in rejection, two of Don’s ‘secret shame[s]’ (Seitz 2015, 290). Significantly, it is a visual reminder of both these characters (whose deaths Don has never



fully mourned or forgiven himself for) that triggers the journey that will end with Don’s embrace of Leonard. But what of the jet? According to Joseph Henderson, symbols of transcendence ‘point to a man’s need for liberation from any state of being that is too immature, too fixed, or final…. They concern man’s release from—or transcendence of—any confining pattern of existence as he moves toward a superior or mature stage of his development’ (Henderson 1968, 146). The transcendent function, he explains, arises ‘through a union of the consciousness with the unconscious contents of the mind’ (e.g. the shadow and the anima), and it’s the mechanism ‘by which a man can achieve his highest goal: the full realization of the potential of his individual self’ (Henderson 1968, 146). He says ‘the bird is the most fitting symbol of transcendence’ (Henderson 1968, 147) but suggests we could ‘speak as well of jet planes…for they are the physical embodiment of the same transcendent principle’ (Henderson 1968, 156). Prior to the McCann Erickson meeting, Don receives a plane-related call in the form of a dream, in which his late former lover Rachel says to him, ‘I’m supposed to tell you that you missed your flight’ (7.8 ‘Severance’). But he won’t miss this flight: the intersecting images of the jet and the Empire State Building hold so much psychic energy (archetypal and personal) that he is forced to pay attention to them. When Don leaves the meeting, he is not running away again. This time, he is answering the call towards integrating his conscious and unconscious sides, and the stirring image suggests that the path of transcendence, symbolized by the jet, can only be reached by the acknowledgement of his shadow, symbolized by the Empire State Building. Once on the road towards transcendence, Don makes false starts, wrestling with anima and shadow projections rather than focusing inward. He heads to Wisconsin to rescue his latest lover, Diana, who is a misguided anima projection in the traditionally Jungian sense—a woman he ‘falls for…so helplessly that it looks to outsiders like complete madness’ (Von Franz 1968, 191). He tries to save a young thief who shares a few of his shadowy impulses (7.13 ‘The Milk and Honey Route’). He even attempts to achieve transcendence outwardly, by racing cars. His inspiration? The men who broke the land-speed record in Bonneville, driving a vehicle that, as Don informs his daughter, Sally, looked ‘like a jet’ (7.14 ‘Person to Person’). Eventually, Don’s emotional phone calls to Sally, Betty, and (later) his protégée Peggy—all women who love him despite what they know—will



reroute him towards an internal path of integration (7.14 ‘Person to Person’). The first two conversations recall ‘The Good News’, when Don last sees Anna (4.3). In that episode, Don learns that Anna has advanced cancer, a secret Stephanie reveals. When Don confronts Anna’s sister Patty about her keeping Anna’s diagnosis a secret, Patty snaps that Don ‘has no say in the affairs of this family’. In ‘Person to Person’, once again a younger female family member, this time Sally (7.14), reveals a late-stage cancer diagnosis about another of Don’s ex-wives—Betty. Again, he tries to take control, saying he’ll come home to raise their children, but Betty refuses. ‘I want to keep things as normal as possible, and part of that means you not being here’. Though she says she appreciates his intentions, in spirit she echoes Patty’s bottom line: ‘You have no say in the affairs of this family’. With this reminder of Anna’s illness and death, Don heads to see Stephanie— perhaps not surprisingly, as she is his only remaining connection to Anna. But first, as he weeps over the phone with Betty, the word that springs to Don’s mind is his old term of endearment for her. ‘Birdy’, he says, evoking a symbol of transcendence. Although Stephanie invites Don to accompany her on a retreat, she rejects him at the retreat centre, catalysing his integration process. First, she challenges the Don Draper ethos—not buying into his belief that the solution to life’s problems is pretending things never happened and starting over somewhere else (7.14 ‘Person to Person’). Then, she literally abandons him—a reminder of all the times he’s been abandoned before and all the times he has abandoned others. Afterwards, Don complains that ‘people can just come and go as they please, and no one says goodbye’, but then he sees—and this is crucial—that he is guilty of the same behaviour. He telephones Peggy, saying he’s calling because he realized he never said goodbye to her. Here, a sign of progress: ‘It takes nerve not to flinch from or be crushed by the sight of one’s shadow, and it takes courage to accept responsibility for one’s inferior self’ (Whitmont 1991, 163). Instead of letting Stephanie alone carry the mantle of this inconsiderate behaviour, Don recognizes his similar failings and takes steps to atone for them. Moreover, he reveals to Peggy aspects about himself that he finds the most shameful: ‘I broke all my vows. I scandalized my child. I took another man’s name and made nothing of it’. Peggy, alarmed by the tone of selfloathing in Don’s voice, urges him not to be alone, sensing suicide as a possibility and for good reason. As Stevens says, ‘The encounter with the shadow [which he defines as the “humiliating, despicable parts of oneself”] is invariably experienced as a mortification’ (Stevens 1994, qtd. in



Dougherty, 237). In encounters of this kind, ‘feelings of guilt and worthlessness have to be suffered, taken on and worked through’ (Stevens 1994, qtd. in Dougherty, 237), which Don appears to be doing. But he hasn’t faced the exact nature of his wrongs, not yet. Like Freud, Jung believed that a patient may ‘give himself away and reveal the unconscious background of his ailments, in both what he says and what he deliberately omits saying’ (Jung 1968, 9–10). It is important to note that Don does not say, ‘I abandoned my brother as a child and rejected him so brutally as an adult that I may have driven him to suicide’. He does not say, ‘If I had been more compassionate to Lane when he confessed embezzling, he might still be here’. So while Don’s admissions are candid and forthcoming, his omissions are just as significant, in particular the two sins that may haunt him the most: his abandonment of Adam and Lane. In many cases, Jung says, ‘the patient who comes to us has a story that is not told, and which as a rule, no one knows of…. It is the patient’s secret, the rock against which he is shattered’ (Jung 1989, 117). While Betty knows the story of Adam, as Seitz notes, no one knows the details ‘about the meeting between Don and Lane that sealed Lane’s fate’ (Seitz 2015, 290), and no one is aware that Don has visions of Adam after Lane’s suicide. When Adam and Lane are alive, Don clearly experiences both as shadow projections. Stevens says, ‘there is usually something alien or hostile about [a shadow projection], which gives rise to powerful feelings of distrust, anger, or fear’ (Stevens 1994, 64). When Don casts Adam out of his life, he does so because he is terrified Adam’s existence will destroy his pictureperfect life with Betty; but of course, Don’s lies and infidelities were always the bigger threat to his marriage. Don fires Lane because he is afraid clients will leave if they learn of Lane’s embezzlement; but of course, Don’s stolen identity and rogue decisions, like running a letter rejecting big tobacco in The New York Times (4.12 ‘Blowing Smoke’), were always the bigger threat to the agency. Adam and Lane’s connection to Don’s shadow only deepens after their suicides. Beyond reflecting the dangerous traits that Don doesn’t want to see in himself, they are bound in his unconscious by grief, guilt, and trauma—emotions that result precisely from Don’s casting them out. For Don to face his shadow in earnest, he must suffer, take on, and work through these complicated feelings about Adam and Lane. John Izod explains suffering that has been ‘integrated holds the possibility of consciously expediting a person’s individuation if he or she is psychologically and spiritually prepared. The process of grieving, no less than other forms



of anguish, can spur individuation’ (Izod 2015, 3). This is the work that the image of the jet crossing the Empire State Building calls Don to do. After hanging up with Peggy, Don physically and emotionally collapses. To the woman who asks if he needs help, Don numbly says, ‘I can’t move’. At last, Don is truly stuck. As Carney (2015) and Seitz (2015, 420) have noted, Don steadily releases the physical trappings of Don Draper as Season 7 progresses. But in this moment, Don learns he can no longer follow the highest directive of the Don Draper persona—to keep moving forward. Perhaps more important, he can now fully understand how Adam and Lane must have felt before they died by suicide. Hitting rock bottom as they both did, he can’t envision a way to build a new life for himself, as he’d advised Adam to do before Adam killed himself (1.5 ‘5G’); he can’t find an ‘elegant exit’ for himself, as he’d advised Lane to do before he’d killed himself (5.12 ‘Commissions and Fees’). Jolande Jacobi explains, ‘every transformation demands as its precondition “the ending of the world”— the collapse of an old philosophy of life’ (Jacobi 1968, 363). Whitmont says, ‘anything repressed or lacking in the individual will make itself felt sooner or later in some manner if it is at all vital to his development’ (Whitmont 1991, 107), and during a harrowing period of this kind, ‘a psychological problem that is taking shape within may concurrently find its enactment symbolically or directly through external events’ (Whitmont 1991, 219). Not coincidentally, this is the moment before Don meets Leonard. Leonard’s appearance marks what Stein would call a ‘correspondence between inner psychological preparedness…and the outer appearance of a person, inexplicably and unpredictably, [that] is synchronistic’ (Stein 1998, 219). Having accompanied the helpful woman to a seminar, Don sits within a circle, another Jungian symbol of the Self (Jaffé 1968, 266). Don is despondent, but what Leonard shares snaps Don to attention. His eyes fill with tears as he crosses the room to embrace Leonard and the two sob with abandon. This ‘strong emotional reaction’ indicates that ‘a complex has been constellated or activated’ (Izod 2001, 215), which Stein describes as a ‘network of associated material – made out of repressed memories, fantasies, images, thoughts’ (Stein 1998, 39). Several critics have argued that when Don embraces Leonard, he is figuratively embracing his Dick Whitman identity (Dean 2015; Seitz 2015, 421). But our Jungian reading suggests that in Leonard, Don may not see Dick Whitman—but Adam and Lane. Primed by his own collapse minutes earlier, Don may find in Leonard a man reminiscent of both his late brother and his late business partner, physically



and emotionally. Like Adam and Lane, Leonard has fair skin, light-coloured eyes, and red hair. And like Lane and the Adam of Don’s memories (1.12 ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy’) and dreams (5.13 ‘The Phantom’), Leonard wears his auburn hair parted to the side. But beyond his appearance, Leonard also speaks Adam’s and Lane’s language—the language of not being seen, of not being acknowledged. Like them, he is a man whom the world has closed the door on and forgotten. These associations become more evident as we dissect Leonard’s monologue. He says, ‘People walk right by and I know that they don’t see me. And I go home and I watch my wife and kids, and they don’t look up when I sit down’. Don has heard sentiments like these before. When Adam seeks out Don in New York in ‘5G’, Don refuses to meet his gaze at first. ‘You can’t even look at me’, Adam remarks (1.5). When Don and Lane dine alone together in ‘The Good News’, Lane tells Don that he reminds him of a chap from school: ‘We followed him around in a pack. He didn’t notice we were there’ (4.3). (After that dinner, Don invites Lane to his apartment along with two prostitutes, effectively turning his home into a brothel in miniature. Notably, he creates an environment that mimics the conditions under which he and Adam grew up, suggesting that Don may associate Lane with Adam even before Lane’s suicide.) Leonard goes on, ‘I don’t know. It’s like no one cares that I’m gone’. Adam, who at the time of his death has no living relatives except Don, could have said the same. And once McCann Erickson absorbs Sterling Cooper & Partners, what becomes of Lane’s memory? His initial in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce brand is lost in the merger with Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough, but for a period, his office remains in the Time & Life Building. Once SC&P’s floor at Time & Life is shuttered (7.12 ‘Lost Horizon’), traces of Lane’s existence at the agency are lost. Leonard next recounts a dream: ‘I was on the shelf in the refrigerator, and the door closes and the light goes off. And I know that everyone out there is eating and then they open the door, and you see them smiling and they’re happy to see you, but maybe they don’t look right at you and maybe they don’t pick you and then the door closes again and the light goes off’. These words are reminiscent of another sentiment of Lane’s, also expressed at his solo dinner with Don. ‘My wife convinced me that you’d all [his business partners] gone on holiday without me’. Furthermore, Leonard’s words could easily narrate the scene when Don last sees Adam as a child. Don has a flashback to the day when, by train, he and another officer delivered Dick Whitman’s body (actually the original Don Draper) to the



Whitmans (1.12 ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy’). From the window, he spies his stepparents and young Adam on the platform, but he doesn’t disembark. Soon, Adam sees Don aboard and excitedly points to him, yelling, ‘There he is, I see him! Dick, he’s on the train!’ His step-parents dismiss Adam’s assertion as fantasy, and Don backs away from the window. Suddenly, the conductor slides the train door shut with a thud. How closely Leonard’s description matches Adam’s experience in this moment: Maybe they don’t pick you and the door closes and the light goes off. A woman passenger on the train notices Don’s distress (mistaking it for grief) and advises him to ‘forget that boy in the box’. She then offers to buy him a drink, and though Adam runs after the train, shouting Dick’s name, Don follows the woman, failing to acknowledge or respond to his brother’s cries. When Don’s fellow passenger tells him to forget ‘that boy in the box’, she is speaking of the late, original Don Draper, but she may as well be speaking of Adam. When this flashback is shown, the audience knows Adam has killed himself that he is another boy in a box. Lane, by the time of the ‘Person to Person’ episode, is also a boy in a box. Leonard dreams of himself inside a refrigerator, yet another boy in a box. Perhaps, then, it is not a shock that Don embraces Leonard, who has been on the receiving end of the kind of pain that Don had inflicted on Adam and Lane. Don is ambush-hugged on separate occasions by his accountant (5.1 ‘A Little Kiss’) and Pete (7.1 ‘Time Zones’), but the only men before Leonard whom Don willingly embraces are Adam and Lane. In ‘5G’, Don emotionally hugs Adam before he leaves Adam’s life forever (1.5); in ‘Commissions and Fees’, it is Don who insists on taking down Lane’s corpse—against the coroner’s orders and to the bafflement of the other partners—by wrapping his arms around Lane’s body as Pete cuts the rope (5.12). When his ‘old philosophy of life [collapses]’ and he is no longer defending his Don Draper persona, he can do things differently and embrace Leonard in an act of connection, not farewell. When Don holds Leonard, he does for Leonard what he was unable to do for Adam or Lane. In the face of Leonard’s vulnerability, loneliness, and turmoil, Don doesn’t turn away; he doesn’t judge Leonard or tell him to move forward. Instead, he demonstrates the qualities that David Richo describes as the hallmarks of mature love: ‘attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing’ (Richo 2002, 26). He attends to Leonard’s pain, accepts it, and allows it to unfold in its own time. By tenderly holding Leonard, Don offers him a brand of affection and appreciation that Leonard probably never received before. In so doing, he provides Leonard, who has felt unseen and unloved, with



what he most needs. The kind of love Adam was looking for. And Lane. And Don himself. When ‘the persona archetype fails as an existential option’, Frances Gray tells us, the anima has a chance to be activated (Gray 2008, 166). In this moment, in this embrace, Don lets himself become the rightful heir to Anna’s ring. He is now capable of the kind of love in which you know everything about the person and still love him. Leonard’s reciprocation only intensifies this healing transformation, for he accepts Don’s love and returns it. For all the culpability Don feels about Adam’s and Lane’s suicides, he also feels abandoned by them. In the aftermath of Lane’s death, Don has a vision of Adam (5.13 ‘The Phantom’), and as he watches Adam walk away, he says, ‘Don’t go. Don’t leave me’. As Lyons has noted, Don ‘could have said the same thing to Bert or Anna, or to Betty or Peggy, or Megan or Joan or Roger or Sally or Rachel or Bobby or Bobbie or Sylvia’ (Lyons 2014). So while Don doesn’t abandon Leonard, Leonard also doesn’t abandon Don. He does for Don what Adam and Lane and a host of others from Don’s mother through Stephanie couldn’t or wouldn’t do. He stays. Once Don accepts his shadow side and actualizes the loving anima energy typified by Anna, he achieves a new-found psychic unity. After Don disappears from McCann Erickson, Meredith says that she hopes he is ‘in a better place’ (7.14 ‘Person to Person’), the exact phrase that Stephanie uses to describe where the late Anna exists after death (4.13 ‘Tomorrowland’). In the wake of Don’s encounter with Leonard, it seems he is in a better place and closer in spirit to Anna. Under a California sky, he meditates serenely and conceives of Coca-Cola’s iconic ‘Hilltop’ ad. The commercial’s parting shot is an aerial view of the singers below—their formation the shape of a diamond that one might find nestled in a ring—its positioning invoking the point of view of a bird, again one of our symbols of transcendence. Von Franz explains that unconscious integration can turn a ‘stale and dull’ life into ‘a rich, unending inner adventure, full of creative possibilities’ (Von Franz 1968, 209). The ad, considered one of the most effective ever, may be read as the outgrowth of Don’s integration. It can also be read as a commemoration of Anna. Before Don and Anna part for the last time, the two share a final drink—and that drink is a Coca-Cola (4.3 ‘The Good News’). This ad may be a toast and tribute to her. Beyond birds’ capacity to fly, ‘it is also their song that makes birds so remarkable…. The birds’ singing wakes us up in the morning, they call us to our lives…. And we respond in turn with our own singing’ (The Archive for Research in Archetypal



Symbolism 2010, 240). Don’s song expresses a desire to teach the world to sing—and we should not forget that Anna herself was a music teacher (2.12 ‘The Mountain King’). Perhaps this is her song too.

Bibliography Barbara. 2015. Comment on Anne B’s ‘Responses to “Mad Man Recap: Lost Horizon, My White Whale.”’ Basket of Kisses (blog), May 8. http://www.lippsisters. com/2015/05/04/mad-men-recap-lost-horizon-my-white-whale/. Carney, Laura. 2015. Good Housekeeping’s Throwback Thursday, Mad Men Edition: Person to Person. Fashion and Grammar Gripes (blog), May 26. Dean, Will. 2015. Mad Men Recap: Season Seven, Episode 14—Person to Person. The Guardian, May 17, 2005. 2015/may/18/mad-men-recap-season-seven-episode-14-person-to-personwarning-spoilers. Dougherty, Mary. 2011. The Shadow: Constriction, Transformation, and Individuation in Campion’s The Piano. In Jung and Film II: The Return—Further PostJungian Takes on the Moving Image, ed. Christopher Hauke and Luke Hockley, 227–242. New York: Routledge. Gray, Frances. 2008. Plato’s Echo: A Feminist Refiguring of the Anima. In Dreaming the Myth Onwards: New Directions in Jungian Therapy and Thought, ed. Lucy Huskinson, 156–167. London: Routledge. Henderson, Joseph L. 1968. Ancient Myths and Modern Man. In Man and His Symbols, ed. C.G. Jung, 95–156. New York: Dell Publishing. Hill, Gareth S. 1992. Masculine and Feminine: The Natural Flow of Opposites in the Psyche. Boston: Shambhala. Holloway, Richard. 2016. A Little History of Religion. New Haven: Yale University Press. Izod, John. 2001. Myth, Mind, and the Screen: Understanding the Heroes of Our Time. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ———. 2015. Cinema as Therapy: Grief and Transformational Film. New York: Routledge. Jacobi, Jolande. 1968. Symbols in an Individual Analysis. In Man and His Symbols, 323–374. New York: Dell Publishing. Jacoby, Mario. 1993. Shame and the Origins of Self-Esteem: A Jungian Approach. London: Routledge. Jaffé, Aniela. 1968. Symbolism in the Visual Arts. In Man and His Symbols, 255– 322. New York: Dell Publishing.



Jung, C.G. 1958. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 11: Psychology and Religion—West and East, ed. Gerhard Adler and R.F.C. Hull and Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ———. 1968. Man and His Symbols. New York: Dell Publishing. ———. 1989. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, ed. Aniela Jaffé. New York: Vintage Books (First published in 1961 by Random House, Inc.). Lyons, Margaret. 2014. What Has Each Death Meant on Mad Men? Vulture, May 27. ———. 2015. Don Draper Sees Dead People. Vulture, April 6. http://www. Richo, David. 2002. How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving. Boston: Shambhala. Seitz, Matt Zoller. 2015. Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion. New York: Abrams. Stein, Murray. 1998. Jung’s Map of the Soul: An Introduction. Chicago: Open Court. ———. No date. Symbols and the Transformation of the Psyche. http://www. Accessed April 26, 2016. Stevens, Anthony. 1994. Jung: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press. Tacey, David. 2006. How to Read Jung. New York: W.W. Norton. The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism. 2010. The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. Von Franz, M.-L. 1968. The Process of Individuation. In Man and His Symbols, 157–254. New York: Dell Publishing. Whitmont, Edward C. 1991. The Symbolic Quest: Basic Concepts in Analytical Psychology. Princeton: Princeton University Press (First published in 1969 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons).

Afterword: Reading Mad Men in the Era of Trump Karen McNally and Teresa Forde

One of the key arguments made about the significance of historical film and television drama is that its themes relate as much to the present as to the histories they represent, aligning with the broader concept that ‘historiography is much more about telling stories inspired by contemporary perspectives than recapturing and conveying any kind of objective truth about the past’ (Edgerton 2001, 3). As Gary Edgerton suggests, both producers and audiences find value in television’s ability to create a ‘useable past’ that promotes understanding of national histories and, in turn, ways ‘to clarify the present and discover the future’ (2001, 4). The cultural ties to the present are therefore as central to such dramas as they would be to fictional depictions of the contemporary world, and that present is not limited to the time of production but is necessarily renewed in each period of viewing, pointing to the cultural legacy of the historical drama bound up in its waves of relevance, from past, to present, and future. For

K. McNally (B) School of Computing and Digital Media, London Metropolitan University, London, UK e-mail: [email protected] T. Forde School of Art, University of Derby, Derby, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




Mad Men, such a legacy has revealed itself since the show’s close in 2015 immediately prior to the exposure of America’s shifting political climate. The politics of the Trump era has, unsurprisingly, been represented across screen drama since the election of President Trump in November 2016. Due partly to the practical possibilities for narrative change available in television production, the introduction of the Trump era as both explicit narrative topic and unstated cultural backdrop has occurred with greater alacrity and pervasiveness on the small screen, evident in dramas as diverse as Homeland (Showtime, 2011–), The Good Fight (CBS, 2017–), Scandal (ABC, 2012–2018), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, 2017–), and House of Cards (Netflix, 2013–2018). A June 2017 article in Variety pointed to the particular place within this landscape of the historical drama, placing Mad Men in the midst of shows such as The Crown (Netflix, 2016–) and The Americans (FX Network, 2013–) that, released from the need to explicitly acknowledge the uniqueness of the present, have been able to make subtle reference to American mythology through the past or, more obliquely, demonstrate awareness of the viewers’ altered reception of the drama in the light of their changing real-world experience (Hayes 2017). Unlike the above shows, Mad Men fully preceded the Trump era, its final episode airing on AMC on 17 May 2015 just prior to Trump’s announcement of his presidential run on 16 June. While the proximity of the dates seems to reinforce a sense of closure, suggesting Mad Men’s commentary was on a present now passed, on the contrary the show appears almost prescient, depicting across the course of its seven seasons a nation moving through various stages of indifference, concealment, challenge, and denial in relation to its gender and racial inequalities. Mad Men treads a similar path to that of America’s recent history, moving through the 1960s and its ties to the determined masking of America’s cultural flaws inherent in the previous decade, through their unceremonious unveiling in the late 1960s accompanied by protest and violence that continued into the 1970s, despite political attempts to calm the waters with limited political responses to issues of race and gender. When the show premiered on 19 July 2007, the Republican presidency of George W. Bush was nearing its conclusion, soon to be replaced by that of Democrat Barack Obama sworn into office in January 2009. The two terms served by both presidents provided for extended cultural impact. Bush’s conservatism punctuated by 9/11 and the second Iraq War harked back to ideas of American Exceptionalism in foreign affairs married with cultural traditionalism at home. The shift that seemed to occur with the election of Obama in November 2008 was made



more pronounced by the obvious fact of his initiation of an African American line of presidential power, suggesting the United States embodying its myth of democracy and equality. The election of Trump in November 2016, however, laid bare some of the remaining attitudes and realities of inequity that Obama’s victory had somewhat obscured. The public exposure and realization of deep-rooted American misogyny and racism have, in turn, prompted a political and cultural backlash that, at the time of writing, has become central to the fluid climate of the Trump presidency. An essential revelatory aspect of Mad Men’s first season lays in viewers’ growing realization that the show was representing cultural attitudes and inequalities that were not confined to America’s past. The New York Times ’ description of the pilot episode’s depiction of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and homophobia as ‘those cruel, antiquated mores’ (Stanley 2007) speaks to a cultural complacency evident in the eras of Presidents Clinton and Obama that the Trump age has exposed. The notion that the election of an African American male to the country’s highest office might serve as proof of a post-racial America or that the successful political career of a former First Lady demonstrated the victories of feminism seemed explicitly counteracted by the campaign rhetoric of Donald Trump, his subsequent election, many of his early policy decisions, and broader political and voter support for his attitudes and stated agenda.

The Gender Divide This parallel journey between the contexts on which the show draws and those of both its original reception and the subsequent Trump era is easily identifiable through the show’s consideration of gender. The explicit sexism displayed from the first season was initially one of the most remarked upon aspects of the show, particularly since the lack of characters of colour moved those conversations into ones of absence. The astonishment which greeted the pilot episode’s open displays of sexism, when Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), as one example, is reduced to a possible sexual conquest on her first day by Sterling Cooper’s young executives (‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ 1.1), pointed to the perception of a ‘post-feminist’ contemporary era in which such blatant misogyny had been all but eradicated. The revelations of the early Trump era, however, seemed a blatant contradiction of such assumptions. Candidate Trump’s remarks on the infamous Access Hollywood tape bragging about sexual abuse, allegations by former Miss Teen USA contestants that he would wander into their dressing rooms, the various negative



comments made about women’s looks, and the numerous accusations of sexual harassment all failed to impede him in his path to the presidency. Such an incongruous outcome suggested an underlying cultural acceptance of misogyny that had been denied through several decades of positive national self-imaging not dissimilar to that of the post-war era. Further evidence of a patriarchal America, including the extensive allegations of sexual abuse made against film producer Harvey Weinstein followed by a raft of other high-profile cases, and the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice, despite Professor Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony of abuse, have both reinforced the notion of decades of superficial gender equality masking consistent traditions and misuse of power and a remaining gender divide. Images drawing parallels between the Professor’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the women of Gilead requesting reading rights before the all-male council of The Handmaid’s Tale emphasized the impression of an insistent patriarchy reasserting itself and demonstrated the contextual impact of televisual stories. The response to such revelations, moreover, suggests potentially transformational cultural change. The worldwide ‘Women’s March’ that immediately followed Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, aimed at ending the silencing of abuse victims and addressing structural change, and the record-breaking number of female candidates elected to Congress in the November 2018 midterm elections signal a potent backlash against the unashamed misogyny that Trump’s election appeared to represent. As Paul Waldman in a September 2018 Washington Post opinion piece put it: ‘Trump has made women so distressed, so angry, so fed up that they are driving political change in ways we’ve never seen before’ (Waldman 2018). In Mad Men, Peggy Olson is the obvious representative of such active resistance, her feminist credentials rightly deriving from her resolution to transcend her allotted position as, in Joan Holloway’s (Christina Hendricks) terminology a ‘supplicant’. Peggy’s rejection of gender role expectations, familial disapproval, professional limitations and a culture which both structurally and in personal relationships seek to delineate her experiences makes her a character of both identification and inspiration for female audiences. The iconic Season 7 image of Peggy striding into the offices of her new employment at McCann Erickson, with a box of work paraphernalia, red lipstick, dark sunglasses, and a cigarette hanging disdainfully from her lips (‘Lost Horizon’ 7.12), seems fitting for the character’s image as modern



urban woman and feminine boundary-breaker. The female-focused postMad Men projects of actress and producer Elisabeth Moss, such as Top of the Lake (2013–2017) and The Handmaid’s Tale, only reinforce this image of Peggy on subsequent viewings of the show. However, while Peggy might be said to represent the female audience’s wish fulfilment of the cliché feminist dream of ‘having it all’, Joan’s character arc appears to mirror with more veracity the female experience from the eyeline of 2019. Joan’s path to resistance and self-reliance is more complex than that experienced by Peggy, and the constant hurdles to progress she encounters that mean consistent reversal prior to progress are both more egregious and more representative of women’s desires and compromises, successes and failures, revealed in the contemporary context. Joan commences Mad Men as a conflicted character, partly drawn to the tradition of marriage and motherhood idealized by post-war culture, yet instinctively relishing her modern urban lifestyle that includes a career and sexual freedom. Joan’s attempts to move beyond her designated professional limits are constantly frustrated, from her temporary role as television script reader being permanently passed to an inexperienced new male colleague (‘A Night to Remember’ 2.8), to her independent acquisition of Avon as a client coming under censure (‘A Tale of Two Cities’ 6.10). Following an acknowledgement of the false promise of her marriage to a handsome doctor, the wholesale nature of Joan’s unequal opportunities appears to culminate in her agreement to a sexual encounter with a Jaguar executive in exchange for a partnership in SCDP (‘The Other Woman’ 5.11), no other route to financial security visible to her. This narrative journey, intensified by Joan’s initial confidence in the import of her femininity, reverberates with the unmasking of the various gendered inequalities and power dynamics still in play and illuminated during the Trump era. Similarly, Joan’s final season active resistance is positioned explicitly alongside a feminist movement of protest and change. She threatens McCann Erickson with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and American Civil Liberties Union following another demand to trade a working relationship for sexual favours, referencing Betty Friedan, the ‘Women’s Strike for Equality March’ in August 1970, and the protests at Newsweek and Ladies’ Home Journal (‘Lost Horizon’ 7.12), and seeks a resolution in ‘sisterhood’, suggesting to Peggy that they collaborate in their own firm. Peggy’s rejection of her invitation in favour of corporate advancement and marriage to best friend Stan (Jay R. Ferguson), while Joan rejects a life of leisure with a millionaire divorcee in favour of establishing Holloway



Harris Productions (‘Person to Person’ 7.14) suggests it would be Joan rather than Peggy striding up Fifth Avenue as part of the Women’s March or running for Congress in the current climate. Beyond the heightened recognition of the continuation of structured inequality as part of the female experience that comes with revisiting Mad Men in the context of Trump, the underlining of white middle- and upperclass male privilege represents a parallel theme. That evidenced by the widespread culture of abuse exposed through the #MeToo movement, the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh following Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reassurance that Republicans would ‘plow right through’ the process of considering Professor Blasey Ford’s testimony, and the explicit misogyny apparent in attitudes towards Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign exemplified by Trump’s ‘nasty woman’ comment during the final presidential debate tracks a continuous patriarchal culture that Mad Men both critiques and, arguably, at some points underplays. Peggy’s professional rise is accompanied by recurring depictions of male underestimation of her abilities and umbrage taken at her success, such as Paul Kinsey’s (Michael Gladis) look of surprise as he watches Peggy’s talent on display crafting an idea into a pitch (‘The Color Blue’ 3.10), and the general male consternation when Peggy secures Freddy Rumsen’s (Joel Murray) old office by simply asking for it (‘The Mountain King’ 2.12). Yet, while the audience is primed to express horror at the undermining abuse of Joan by a young copywriter who displays a sexually explicit drawing of her in the office (‘The Summer Man’ 4.8), or the juvenile jokes made by male clients at her expense (‘Severance’ 7.8), and even to finally empathize with Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and his drive to counter familial expectations, the show demonstrates an ambivalence towards the uninterrupted privilege of Roger Sterling (John Slattery), couching the character’s unassailable position in humour and a child-like self-indulgence. Roger’s retirement in Paris with Megan Draper’s mother, Marie Calvet (Julia Ormond), and the proceeds of a company takeover exemplifies how his instinctive enjoyment of overwhelming male privilege continues unabated and perhaps betrays the show’s own passive acceptance of it. The sexual harassment accusation by former Mad Men writer Kater Gordon that arose in 2017 only adds to these questions of ambivalence. Overlooked by these discussions, of course, is the overlapping issue of race in relation to gender representations in the show. Much of the Trump era backlash against gender inequality and abuse in American culture has been framed in relation to the white female experience and addressed



through a white feminist narrative. Voting patterns in the 2016 election indicate a racially divided gender perspective, with 47% of white women voting for Donald Trump and 82% of non-white women voting for Hillary Clinton. (Pew Research Centre, 2018). The issue of the different positions occupied by white and black women is raised most explicitly in the later seasons of Mad Men following the introduction of African American characters into the professional environment in Season 5. When Dawn Chambers’ (Teyonah Parris) engaged friend tries to convince her that she should assume she has no friends among her white colleagues, Dawn’s association of the other characters’ traumatized lives with her own becomes somewhat of an erasure by the show of their difference: ‘Everybody’s scared there. Women crying in the ladies room, men crying in the elevator. It sounds like New Year’s Eve when they empty the garbage there’s so many bottles’ (‘To Have and to Hold’ 6.4). Dawn’s elevation to the office management role vacated by Joan goes further to suppress the notion of the double bind of the African American woman.

Race, Power and Visibility Mad Men’s main characters often avoid wider cultural and political issues, creating one of the underlying tensions and a revealing aspect of the series. Many of the main characters do not exhibit a great sense of political or social awareness in relation to events happening around them. This is evident in the responses to the assassination of President Kennedy as a national tragedy (‘The Grown Ups’ 3.12) as opposed to that of Martin Luther King (‘The Flood’ 6.5). The various reactions to the assassination of King highlight the ability to shield oneself from social change. They are not, to use a currently contested phrase, ‘woke’, in terms of developing a political awareness, particularly in relation to African American oppression. Woke, a term first coming to prominence in the 1960s, establishes African American consciousness-raising as a state from which you cannot go back into the unawareness of oppression. Whether these characters could be truly woke as they are not African American might be contested; however, their ability to avoid dealing with the social issues around them is very noticeable. Dawn and Shirley are two of the most prominent black characters at the agency, although they are still secondary to the main plots. Both have gained employment from SCDP’s supporting of equal opportunities, although the agency’s primary objective is to stand out from their competitors in doing so (‘A Little Kiss’ 5.1; 5.2). SCDP do not intend to



employ African American ad executives but do hire black female secretaries and are inundated with interest in these vacancies. Dawn later gains further responsibility in the agency, although Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) exerts his racist attitude in not wishing her to be too visible in the office (‘A Day’s Work’ 7.2). It is important to recognize that ‘(B)y the 1960s, Jews, ItalianAmericans and women began to open doors at the formerly White agencies, as civil rights groups like the Urban League and the NAACP pressured the industry to include more African-Americans’ (Blount Danois 2015). Weiner’s decision to emphasize white male privilege excludes these inroads in order to emphasize the prevailing status quo. In discussing white male privilege, Weiner argues: ‘I’ve always said this is a show about becoming white. That’s the definition of success in America—becoming a WASP. A WASP male’ (Chellas 2014). This marker of success and aspiration is clearly problematic and illustrates the struggle of some of the characters to fit in. The historic election of President Obama as an African American signalled hope for the future. The Obama era was celebrated for its potential for addressing inequalities, although often frustrated by the balance of power. In contrast, Donald Trump’s racist comments and defensive rhetoric have further highlighted the divisions within American society and an emphasis on the potential corruption of office. Trump responds defensively to criticism and uses rhetoric to criticize individuals who are seen as a threat. This negative approach is intended to undermine his ‘enemies’ and discredit challengers to his power and celebrate the white male as paramount. Although Mad Men preceded Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House, it did not precede his burgeoning campaign for the presidency, early attempts by Fox to support him, and the questioning of Barack Obama’s nationality after his election. Trump’s campaign comments regarding Mexicans fuelled events in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2016—at the time of the Mad Men conference in Tennessee—where protestors clashed with Trump campaigners over the planned building of the border wall with Mexico. The divisions were later expressed most starkly and tragically in the conflict at Charlottesville in 2017 where white supremacists clashed with antifascists in a stark representation of social conflict. Fifty years after the events of the 1960s, Charlottesville encapsulated the immense social tension in the United States, fuelled by racism and bigotry. Characters do attempt to negotiate discrimination and respond to it. However, while recognizing the potential of African American consumers (‘The Fog’ 3.5) and confronting colleagues who are racist, Pete is also



shown early on as anti-semitic in attitude. It could be assumed that this response is due to his WASP upbringing, but perhaps it is also due to the potential of more ad executives coming in to threaten his standing as he struggles to find his place in the agency. After World War II, Jewish ad agencies were established, often advertising products specifically to Jewish customers, a strategy that initially proved to be a profitable endeavour. Eventually, the increasing integration of Jewish staff into mainstream ad agencies heralded the discontinuation of this segmented advertising in the late 1960s and would signal further integration into agencies such as SCDP (Steinberg 2015). The theme of the outsider pervades the series, from Don to Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff), and Peggy to Pete himself, and it is this insecurity that partly seems to drive exclusion, alongside the ongoing influence of those who have social capital and power. Even Weiner has received criticism about his approach as a showrunner, and the extent to which his overbearing approach has affected some of the women he has worked with (Press 2018). Mad Men acts as a metaphor for social change that is largely happening elsewhere, off-screen. Social change affects the boundaries of this world, and its lack of depiction can be both frustrating and sobering. Yet there is recognition of a world beyond that is changing. Paul Kinsey’s foray to the South to support the registration of voters exemplifies this change, although characters who work outside of the agency’s main focus disappear to other places, emphasizing that SCDP is in its own cultural bubble that will not begin to burst until the final episode. When Peggy tells her journalist boyfriend Abe (Charlie Hofheimer) that she is in a similar situation to those who experience black oppression, in terms of experiencing exclusion in negotiating a man’s world, he scoffs and mockingly suggests that they should maybe write an article about her problems. Increasingly, recognition of privilege and exploitation, as well as intersectionality, has now become crucial within social movements. One of the originators, queer black activist Alicia Garza describes Black Lives Matter as the contemporary Civil Rights Movement. As Fessier recognizes in an interview with Garza, ‘What’s more, it laid the groundwork for today’s women’s movement, the Women’s March, the rise of #MeToo, and other sociopolitical, digitally native social justice movements’ (Fessier 2018), highlighting the influence of intersectionality as well as the need to specifically focus on race. After discovering that Fillmore Auto are openly racist in Southern branches, Peggy suggests bringing in Harry Belafonte to sing for the Fillmore Auto ad, to combat any criticism of racism. Don argues that Fillmore



Auto do not need to prove that they are non-racist, because ‘Our job is to make men like Fillmore Auto, not make Fillmore Auto like Negroes’ (‘The Beautiful Girls’ 4.9). In contrast, a number of contemporary media campaigns align themselves with wider movements in order to improve public relations and ethical standing. In opposition to #MAGA (Make America Great Again), already an often laboured campaign approach in Mad Men in the 1960s, companies like Ben and Jerry’s have supported #BlackLivesMatter, as a movement that challenges institutional racism and raises awareness about the treatment of African Americans in society. This trend of hashtag allegiance highlights the desire for companies to take a stand on social issues and the role of advertising in promoting ethical causes. However, ‘(T)aking a stand on public issues of moral and societal significance and advocating for justice and equality are also important pursuits of public relations’ (Ciszek and Logan 2018, 125). Essentially, the advertising industry currently incorporates, and potentially diffuses, ethical and social accountability as a market differentiator in a politically volatile climate. Although still a significant minority, there were a number of African American creative and executives in the industry in the late 1960s. The somewhat ambiguous finale to Mad Men, implying Don’s spiritual growth and inner peace, ends with a shot of him with his eyes closed, looking inward while meditating, followed by the Coca-Cola advertisement of 1971, which implies that this is Don’s creation. Billy (Roquel) Davis, formerly of the Four Tops, was co-credited with creating the song used in the ‘Hilltop’ Coca-Cola advertisement (‘Person to Person’ 7.14). Davis was one of a small number of African American writers and executives working at McCann Erickson in the 1960s. As Susan Irwin from McCann Erickson recognizes: ‘He remains a legend here. He is given credit for popularizing song form in advertising’ (Blount Danois 2015). Davis’ involvement in the song depicts a more racially diverse advertising industry than anything we have seen in Mad Men, where there are no black characters at executive level, although this was still far from the norm. Weiner intended to depict this exclusion: ‘I do feel like I’m proud of the fact that I am not telling a wish fulfillment story of the real interaction of white America and black America’ (Wakeman 2018) and intends that the audience will notice the absence of black characters for themselves. However, this is a potentially risky endeavour if the aim is to reveal underlying racism. The focus on the Coca-Cola ‘Hilltop’ advert signals a vision of multiculturalism that may seem as distant and ideal as it did in 1971. As Dyer recognizes, ‘(W)hite power none the less reproduces itself regardless of



intention, power differences and goodwill… whiteness needs to be made strange’ (Dyer 1997,10). It is this challenge that seems to be the legacy of Mad Men in relation to race: Weiner chooses to highlight the issue by providing a focus on the WASPish male and white privilege as the problematic yet ongoing ideological goal of the American Dream. In the end, ‘the belief that whiteness is and should remain the norm and that white supremacy is an immoveable and non-threatening platform on which to advocate for incremental change’ (King 2018) is still seen as an obstacle to challenging social discrimination and prejudice within the United States today.

Conclusion Mad Men has assured its place in television history in a myriad of ways. Its multi-layered storytelling and complex characterization that demand between-the-lines readings by its audience have extended the boundaries that define the meaning of quality television. Its depiction of American life through the 1960s, weaving significant cultural and historical moments through its characters’ stories, has shown in masterful fashion the possibilities open to the long-form drama. Mad Men remains a remarkable study of the American character, and as the national is played out through the personal, the show acts as an unparalleled model for combining historical context with complex storytelling in television drama. Mad Men’s legacy, too, reaches beyond the time frames of its narrative and initial reception. As the era of Donald Trump’s political campaign and presidency have illustrated, issues of gender and race continue to be central to both division and debate in American culture. Considering Mad Men through the lens of this alternative context, in which the persistence of racial and gender inequalities has been unequivocally confirmed, loosens the ties that bind the show to the decade or so of its narrative. Mad Men is, instead, a show that reaches into the depths of American culture to display a nation continuously forced to confront its own myths. Its characters are no longer distant cousins in a nation’s past, but represent today’s America, its attitudes and experiences, and the essential dilemmas symbolized by the presidency itself. As such, Mad Men promises a legacy that endures.



Bibliography Blount Danois, Ericka. 2015. Why So White, ‘Mad Men’ Finale? Ebony, May 18. Chellas, Semi. 2014. Matthew Weiner: The Art of Screenwriting No. 4. The Paris Review, Issue 208, Spring. Ciszek, Erica, and Nneka Logan. 2018. Challenging the Dialogic Promise: How Ben & Jerry’s Support for Black Lives Matter Fosters Dissensus on Social Media. Journal of Public Relations Research, 30 (3): 115–127. Dyer, Richard. 1997. White: Essays on Race and Culture. London: Routledge. Edgerton, Gary R. 2001. Introduction: Television as Historian: A Different Kind of History Altogether. In Television Histories: Shaping Collective Memory in the Media Age, ed. Gary R. Edgerton and Peter C. Rollins, 1–16. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. Fessier, Leah. 2018. My Life, My Choice: How the Leader of Black Lives Matter Defines “Power”. Quartz, September 16. yyameogq. Hayes, Dade. 2017. TV Adjusts to New Creative Challenge: Constant Trump Drama. Variety, June 1. King, Jamilah. 2019. How Black Lives Matter Has Changed US Politics. New Internationalist, March 5, 2018. black-lives-matter-changed-politics. Press, Joy. 2018. Matthew Weiner in the Mirror. Vanity Fair. yyameogq. Stanley, Alessandra. 2007. Smoking, Drinking, Cheating and Selling. The New York Times, July 19. television/19stan.html. Steinberg, Kerri P. 2015. Jewish Mad Men: Advertising and the Design of the American Jewish Experience. Chicago: Rutgers University Press. Wakeman, Jessica. 2018. Where Are the Black Folks on “Mad Men”? Matt Weiner Explains. The Frisky, March 9. Waldman, Paul. 2017. Donald Trump Is Moving Us Toward Gender Equality. No, Really. The Washington Post, September 12, 2018. https://www. 558d3b1d39d0.


0-9 1.1 ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ adspeak and, 181–183 affective labour and, 103 on love, 54 as pilot, 14, 20, 35 psychological investigation of character, 55 Rachel and Don, 125 Secretary role situated in, 119–120 sexism in, 253 1.2 ‘Ladies Room’, 51, 123, 141, 225 1.3 ‘Marriage of Figaro’, 38, 225 1.5 ‘5G’, 123, 136, 181, 195–199, 224, 225, 241, 245–247 1.6 ‘Babylon’, 56, 105, 181–182, 199 1.7 ‘Red in the Face’, 123 1.8 ‘The Hobo Code’, 56, 70, 105, 139, 163, 189 1.9 ‘Shoot’, 105, 188–189 1.10 ‘Long Weekend’, 134, 230 1.11 ‘Indian Summer’, 106 1.12 ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy’, 56, 105, 197, 230, 246, 247

1.13 ‘The Wheel’, 29–31, 38–39, 42, 107, 139, 226, 237. See also Kodak Carousel pitch 1.14 ‘New Amsterdam’, 230 2.1 ‘For Those Who Think Young’, 105, 107 2.2 ‘The New Girl’, 134–136, 138–139. See also La Notte (Antonioni) 2.3 ‘The Benefactor’, 122 2.4 ‘Three Sundays’, 231 2.5 ‘The New Girl’, 125, 225 2.6 ‘Maidenform’, 106, 119, 163 2.7 ‘The Gold Violin’, 56 2.8 ‘A Night to Remember’, 105–106, 122, 228, 255 2.9 ‘Six Month Leave’, 69, 222 2.10 ‘The Inheritance’, 69, 73, 122 2.12 ‘The Mountain King’, 56, 90, 107, 120, 228, 249, 256 2.13 ‘Meditations in an Emergency’, 73 3.1 ‘Out of Town’, 183–184, 230

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 K. McNally et al. (eds.), The Legacy of Mad Men,




3.2 ‘Love Among the Ruins’, 105, 120–121, 177, 230–231 3.3 ‘My Old Kentucky Home’, 70–71, 73 3.4 ‘The Arrangements’, 134 3.5 ‘The Fog’, 66, 258 3.7 ‘Seven Twenty Three’, 198 3.8 ‘Souvenir’, 105, 122 3.10 ‘The Color Blue’, 122, 256 3.11 ‘The Gypsy and the Hobo’, 22, 56–57 3.12 ‘The Grown Ups’, 22, 72, 257 3.13 ‘Shut the Door, Have a Seat’, 72, 225–226 4.1 ‘Public Relations’, 73, 139 4.2 ‘Christmas Comes But Once a Year’, 108 4.3 ‘The Good News’, 243, 246, 248 4.7 ‘The Suitcase’, 74, 134 4.8 ‘The Summer Man’, 95n12, 120, 230, 256 4.9 ‘The Beautiful Girls’, 72, 260 4.10 ‘Hands and Knees’, 74 4.12 ‘Blowing Smoke’, 244 4.13 ‘Tomorrowland’, 239–241, 248 5.1–5.2 ‘A Little Kiss—Parts 1 and 2’, 75, 105, 184–186, 247, 257 5.4 ‘Mystery Date’, 75, 139, 168 5.5 ‘Signal 30’, 168, 200–201 5.6 ‘Far Away Places’, 134 5.8 ‘Lady Lazarus’, 163–167 5.11 ‘The Other Woman’, 52, 95n12, 106, 115, 255 5.12 ‘Commissions and Fees’, 241, 245, 247 5.13 ‘The Phantom’, 163, 167–170, 172, 246, 248 6.1–2 ‘The Doorway’, 22–23 6.2 ‘For Immediate Release’, 224 6.3 ‘The Collaborators’, 122 6.4 ‘To Have and To Hold’, 257 6.5 ‘The Flood’, 75–76, 257

6.6 ‘For Immediate Release’, 122 6.7 ‘Man with a Plan’, 57 6.8 ‘The Crash’, 57, 78 6.10 ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, 255 6.11 ‘Favors’, 57, 171 6.13 ‘In Care Of’, 57–58, 140, 163, 171–173, 240 7.1 ‘Time Zones’, 186, 247 7.2 ‘A Day’s Work’, 76, 257–258 7.4 ‘The Monolith’, 149–150. See also computerization in ‘The Monolith’ arc (7.4–7.5) 7.5 ‘The Runaways’, 150, 177. See also computerization in ‘The Monolith’ arc (7.4–7.5) 7.6 ‘The Strategy’, 233 7.7 ‘Waterloo’, 209, 211–212 7.8 ‘Severance’, 81–83, 91, 125, 190, 204–205, 242, 256 7.9 ‘New Business’, 212, 228, 241 7.11 ‘Time and Life’, 205n1, 209, 213 7.12 ‘Lost Horizon’, 86, 121, 214, 231–232, 237, 241, 246, 254 7.13 ‘The Milk and Honey Route’, 122, 142–143, 213, 214, 227–228, 237, 242 7.14 ‘Person to Person’ (series finale) adspeak and, 188–190 Anna’s ring, 241 Antonioni’s La Notte and, 145 Don’s long-distance calls to women, 58, 215, 242–243 Hilltop Coca-Cola ad, 143–145, 188–189, 216–218, 260–261 Joan’s career in, 256 Ken in, 205n1 Leonard in, 8, 232, 238, 245–248 love and, 56 road trip, 214–216 temporality and, 222, 231, 232–234 title of, 58


unconventional conventional ending, 209

A Abe Drexler, 194, 259 Abel, Elizabeth, 39 Abigail Whitman, 56 Adam Whitman Don’s rejection of, 136 Don’s shadow and integration and, 239, 241, 244–248 Don’s vision of, 248 flashbacks and, 56 temporality and, 224, 225 ‘The Wheel’ (1.13), 33–34 Admiral TV pitch, 71–72 adspeak Bakhtin on language and, 178–180 the carnivalesque, ‘Hilltop’ Coca-Cola ad, and, 187–190 defined, 190n2 in first season, 181–183 heteroglossia and polyphony in discourse, 179–180, 182, 187 postwar capitalism and, 180–181 power and control themes and, 178 in proceeding seasons, 183–187 social dichotomy in culture of Mad Men and, 177, 180–181 affective labour, female affective connection between women, 111 all female labour as, 103–104 fluidity, transposability, and transformation, 108–109 levels of interpretation and, 112 meaning of, 100–102 mise-en-scène and quotation-mark bracketing, 109–110 performativity and being-looked-at, 104–108


switchboard scene and unnoticed women, 103 three female types in the show, 99, 102, 102–103 African-American advertising agencies, history of, 77 African-American characters. See race, African Americans, and Civil Rights Movement airplane motif, 142, 214, 242, 245 Akass, Kim, 17 Albrecht, Chris, 20, 50 alienist model of the author, 195–197, 199, 202–203 Allison, 108 ‘All You Need Is Love’ (Beatles), 188 AMC battles between Weiner and, 142 Carousel slide show on website, 34–35, 38, 40 development, marketing, and promotion of Mad Men, 20–22 HBO formula and, 15 launch of Mad Men, 13 Mad Men as first hit series for, 15–16 quality aspiration at, 20 success of, 218 American Civil Liberties Union, 255 American Quality Drama (AQD) paradigm, 47 The Americans (FX), 252 Andrea, 168 anima/animus. See Jungian interpretation of Don Anna Draper cancer diagnosis, 243 engagement ring of, 239–241, 248 flashbacks and, 56 O’Hara chapbook sent to, 193 spirit of, 248 anti-Semitism, 253 Antonioni, Michelangelo



L’avventura, 136–138 L’eclisse, 136 Gente del Po, 139 plot and closure, disregard for, 137–138, 141, 145 as reading choice, 23 See also La Notte, 6 The Apartment (Wilder), 133 Apocalypse Now (Coppola), 133 Apostolou, Theano, 21 archetypes, 238–239. See also Jungian interpretation of Don authorship. See complex seriality; Ken Cosgrove L’avventura (Antonioni), 136, 138

B Backer, Billy, 216 Bakhtin, Mikhail, 178–180, 187–188, 190 Band of Brothers (HBO), 48–49 Barrette, Pierre, 52 Barthes, Roland, 40–41, 204 Batchelor, Bob, 4, 180 Batty, Nancy E., 4 Beail, Linda, 4, 52 the Beatles, 163–166, 188 Becker (CBS), 141 Beidler, Philip D., 194 Belafonte, Harry, 72, 259 Bell, Derrick, 67 Belle Jolie ad, 105, 109, 139, 144, 181 Benedict, Ruth, 193 Bert Cooper back from the dead, 211 computerization and, 156 death of, 211 Don’s identity and, 136 orientalism of, 193 place, time, and, 230 race and, 76, 257–258

The Best of Everything (Negulesco), 133 ‘The Best Things in Life Are Free’, 211 Beth, 164, 166, 167, 169 Bethany Van Nuys, 73, 103 Betty Draper (Hofstadt; Francis) 1960s and, 51 adspeak and, 182 affair question, 237 affective labour and, 102–105, 109 audition for Coca-Cola ad, 187–189 cancer diagnosis, 243 Carla and, 39, 69 composed symmetry, 109 in Corporate Wife role, 121–123 death of, 215, 228 Don Draper persona and, 241 Don’s affairs and, 41 Don’s one-night stand with, 170 finale and, 215 Kodak Carousel pitch and, 32–33, 37–42 mimicked silhouettes of, 110 mini-performances, 106 minor in pilot, 141 speaking Italian, 177 temporality and, 224, 232 black characters. See race, African Americans, and Civil Rights Movement Black Lives Matter movement, 259 Blasey Ford, Christine, 254 Boardwalk Empire (HBO), 15, 50, 55 Bobbie Barrett, 123–127 Bobby Draper, 33–34, 36, 38–40, 51, 172 Bochco, Steven, 17, 19 Bodnar, John, 77–78 Booker, M. Keith, 4, 180 Bourdieu, Pierre, 116–117, 119, 124, 127, 195 Boym, Svetlana, 31


bracketing, visual, 109–110 Brand, Joshua, 17 Breaking Bad (AMC), 25, 50, 55 Brown, Helen Gurley, 82, 86, 95n8, 119 Brown, Les, 18 Brownlee, John, 36, 42 Brownstein, Carrie, 42 budget per episode, 30 Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB/UPN), 3, 43–44 Burr, Vivien, 43 Bush, George W., 252 Bye Bye Birdie (Sidney), 134

C caesura, 22 Cagney & Lacey (CBS), 16 Camera Lucida (Barthes), 40–41 capitalism, midcentury, 179–180 ‘career woman’ stereotypes, 124 Carla (Draper housekeeper), 38–39, 69–71, 103 Carlton, 225 Carney, Laura, 238, 239, 245 carnivalesque, 187–190 Carol, 93 ‘Carousel’ app, 43 Carousel pitch. See Kodak Carousel pitch Carr, David, 24 Carveth, Rod, 3 centredness, 53 Chaplin, Charlie, 149–152, 154 character integration of central characters and overarching story, 53–54, 209–210 psychological investigation of, 55–58 Charlie Fiddich, 198 Chase, David, 14–16, 20


Chatman, Seymour, 137–138, 142 Chellas, Semi, 133 Chevy pitch, 78 Choi, Hannah, 170 Christman, Candace, 34 The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (Benedict), 193 Ciardi, John, 22 Ciasullo, Ann, 31 cinematic television as a metaphor, 24 Civil Rights Movement. See race, African Americans, and Civil Rights Movement Clark, Katerina, 179 Clay, Cassius, 73–74 Clinton, Bill, 253 Clinton, Hillary, 256, 257 Coca Cola ad, 144–145, 188–190, 216–218, 233, 260–261 Colbert, Stephen, 77 Coleridge, Samuel T., 197 Collier, Charles, 20 Collins, Judy, 172 communitas, 29, 31, 43–44 complex seriality American Quality Drama (AQD) vs., 47 conceptual originality and drama with a point of view, 50–52 definition and characteristics of, 49 integration of central characters and overarching story, 53–54, 209–210 from narrative complexity to, 48–50 psychological investigation of character, 55–58 computerization in ‘The Monolith’ arc Chaplin’s Modern Times and, 154, 161 Chaplin’s Modern Times and, 149–152, 157–159



dehumanization of the workplace, 159–161 Ginsberg, Peggy, and, 157–159 Hawley and, 154–157 IBM ads appropriating Tramp Chaplin’s persona (1980s), 151 Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and, 149, 156, 159, 161 violence of work and, 152–154 conceptual originality, 50–52 Confessions of an Advertising Man (Ogilvy), 193, 198 contingent plotting, 141 Coontz, Stephanie, 78, 88–89 Coppola, Francis Ford, 133 Corporate Wife role, 121–123 Cracknell, Andrew, 4 Crichton, Michael, 19 Critical Race Theory (CRT), 67–68 Cross, Mary, 190n2 The Crown(Netflix), 252 Crowther, Bosley, 138 Cuban Missile Crisis, 73 Culler, Jonathan, 223 Cullers, Vince, 77 cyclical time. See time and temporality Cynthia Campbell, 204–205

D Daly, Mary, 124 Dante, 22 Dasgupta, Sudeep, 17, 25n2 Davies, Marjorie, 119 Davis, Billy (Roquel), 260 Dawn Chambers, 75–76, 103, 154, 256–257 Delgado, Richard, 68 Demy, Jacques, 134 Dennis, 121 depth model of artistic genius, 201–205 Derrida, Jacques, 203

Dexter (Showtime), 50, 55 Diana ‘Di’, 212, 214, 242 Dick Whitman. See under Don Draper differential racialization, 70 Dinerstein, Joel, 153 Disrupted (Lyons), 159–160 domestic labour and photography, 40 Don Draper, 186 adspeak and, 181–184, 188–190 affective labour and, 105, 108 Betty as Corporate Wife and, 121 bond between Weiner and, 135, 140 childhood and backstory of, 41, 107 Choi’s ‘The Women of Don Draper’, 170 closure to, 210 compared to James Bond, 167–168 computerization and, 161, 153–157 conventional vs. subversive storytelling and, 137–140, 145 ‘death and resurrection’ of, 214–216 as Dick Whitman, 53–57, 136, 138, 168, 211, 215–217, 245 divorce from Megan, 212 on enlightenment, 189 finale, 5, 187–190 frozen in time, 165 future-oriented philosophy of, 135–137 Hilltop Coca Cola ad, 143–145, 188–190, 216–218, 233 house where he grew up, 172–174 integration of central character and overarching story, 53–54, 209–210 Jungian interpretation of, 238–248 Kennedy assassination and, 22 Kodak Carousel pitch, 32–42 in Korea, 139, 142 on love, 35, 55, 189 Megan, marriage to, 165–169, 171


music and art, disconnect from, 164, 166 La Notte (Antonioni) and, 143–145 as outsider, 259 Peggy on, 212–213 Peggy’s son and, 136 race and, 70, 72–76 Rachel and, 125, 127 rags-to-riches story, 125–211 as reader, 22, 166 reading choices, 22–23 as recovering addict, 212 road trip, 214–216, 231–232 ‘second life’ of, 168–174 sexism, feminism, and, 81–82 temporality and, 222, 224, 225, 228, 230 temporality and, 233. See also La Notte ‘Who is Don Draper?’ question, 22 ‘Who knows why people do what they do?’, 8, 209, 237 Don Draper (original), 143, 240, 247 dream sequences, 55 dream sequences, 212–213 Dunleavy, Trisha, 209–210 Dyer, Richard, 260

E L’eclisse (Antonioni), 137 Edgerton, Gary, 3, 52, 150, 251 Edna, 108 Edwin Baker, 169 8 1/2 (Fellini), 133 Eliot, T.S., 197, 201–203 Ellison, Ralph, 66 Empire State Building, 237–242, 245 Engstrom, Erika, 4, 118 episode length, 142, 143 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 255


equal opportunity employer ad (New York Times ), 75, 185–186 Evers, Medgar, 70 F Facebook group, Mad Men, 44 Fairclough, Kirsty, 3 The Fall (BBC/RTÉ), 48 Falsey, John, 17 fan/scholar identity, 43 Faulkner, Grant, 41 Faulkner, William, 198 Faye Miller, 85, 104, 107, 108, 213 Fellini, Federico, 133 The Feminine Mystique (Friedan), 82, 89, 92 feminisms alternative feminist possibility and willful historiographic revision, 90–91 competition between frameworks and between women, 90–91 conceptual originality and secondwave feminism, 52 critical to Mad Men and, 82–83 gender divide in Trump Era and, 253–257 levels of interpretation and, 112 male gaze, 82, 104, 107 #MeToo movement and, 93, 95n11, 254, 256, 259 patriarchal gaze, 81–82 post-feminism, 86, 90, 91, 253 power, female, 104, 123–127 race, intersectionality with, 256–257 retro-anachronistic perspective and glass ceiling narrative, 83, 84–88 second-wave perspective and historicism, 83, 88 third wave, 88–90, 95n9 Fessier, Leah, 259



Feuchtwang, Stephan, 22 Fillmore Auto Parts pitch, 72, 259 finale. See 7.14 ‘Person to Person’ ‘first order commodity’ relationship, 50 flashbacks and flashforwards, 55–57, 247 Floyd, 143 Fontana, Tom, 19 foreign languages, 177 frame-in-frame, 109–110 Francine Hanson, 107, 181, 182, 237 Franz, Kathleen, 216–217 Freddy Rumsen, 85, 156, 181–182, 256 Friedan, Betty, 82, 87, 95n8, 121, 255 ‘From Both Sides Now’ (Collins)’, 172–174 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, 138–139 FX, 20

G Gamera: The Giant (Yuasa), 134 Garza, Alicia, 259 gaze, female, 92 gaze, male, 82, 104, 107 Gelber, Bob, 41 Gene Hofstadt, 69, 70–71, 122 Gente del Po (Antonioni), 139 Ginsberg. See Michael Ginsberg Gioia, Dana, 84–88, 195–197, 199–200 glass ceiling, 84–88 Goddard, Michael, 3 The Godfather (Coppola), 133, 141 The Good Fight (CBS), 252 Goodlad, Lauren, 4 Gordon, Kater, 256 Goren, Lilly J., 4, 52, 54 Gray, Frances, 248 The Great Indoors (CBS), 160

Greg, 119, 228 H Hall, Rachel, 32 The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), 252, 254, 255 Handy, Bruce, 54 Haralovich, Mary Beth, 127 ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (the Beatles), 163–164 Hardin, Susan E., 34 Hardt, Michael, 101 Harry Crane, 74, 153–156 Haskell, Molly, 88 Hawley. See Lloyd Hawley Haynes, Jeanette, 67, 68 HBO, 14, 18–21, 47. See also The Sopranos Heinz Baked Beans pitch, 185–186 Henderson, Joseph, 242 Henry Francis, 122, 177 Herb Rennet, 52, 115, 119 Hershey’s pitch, 57–58, 139–140, 172 Herskovitz, Marshall, 19 high-end serials. See complex seriality Hill, Gareth, 238 Hill, Matt, 43 Hill Street Blues (NBC), 16 Hilltop Coca Cola ad, 144–145, 188–190, 216–218, 260–261 Hitchcock, Alfred, 133 Hochschild, Arlie, 100 Holdsworth, Amy, 221 Hollis, 66, 69–70 Holquist, Michael, 179 Holzman, Winnie, 19 Homeland (Showtime), 252 Homicide (NBC), 19 homosexuality, 157–158, 183–184 House of Cards (Netflix), 252 How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying , 211


Howard, 164, 165 Howard, Douglas L., 4–5

I IBM 360 computer. See computerization in ‘The Monolith’ arc Ida, 171 ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’, 143–145, 188, 260 immaterial labour, 101, 103, 112 independent art film aesthetics, 23 individuation. See Jungian interpretation of Don integration of central characters and overarching story, 52–53, 209–210 interiority, Ken Cosgrove and, 202–205 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel), 159 Irwin, Susan, 260 ‘Is That All There Is?’ (Peggy Lee), 211–212 Izod, John, 244

J Jacobi, Jolande, 245 Jacoby, Mario, 239 Jaguar pitch, 52 Jameson, Fredric, 190 Jamm54 (screen name), 38 Jane, 108 Jerry, 142 Jewish ad agencies, 259 Jim Cutler, 140, 153, 157–158, 160, 171 Jim Hobart, 121, 189 Jimmy Barrett, 126 Joan Holloway adspeak and, 186


affective labour and, 102–103, 104–106, 108 mimicked silhouettes of, 110 Peggy and, 90–91 Pet, 255–256 prostituted to Jaguar executive, 52, 115, 255 race and, 76 rape of, 90, 107, 119 in the Secretary corporate role, 118–120 sexism, feminism, and, 1, 52, 82, 84–85, 93–94, 255–256 sexuality and, 95n6 temporality and, 228–229, 232 in Token High-Level Woman corporate role, 120–121 Joey, 120 John Mathis, 153 Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (BBC), 48 Joyce Ramsay, 93, 199 Jung, C.G., 238, 241, 244 Jungian interpretation of Don Adam and Lane as shadow projections, 244–248 Anna’s ring as invitation to Selfhood, 239–241, 248 basic Jungian concepts, 238–239 calls to women who love him and the shadow, 242 Don Draper persona, 239 jet crossing the Empire State Building and integration of conscious with unconscious, 241–242, 245 Leonard and psychic unity, 245–248 K Kaganovsky, Lilya, 4 Kanter, Rosabeth Moss, 116–118, 124, 126, 128



KarenMW (screen name), 39 Kavanaugh, Brett, 254 Kelly, David E., 19 Kelly, Grace, 188–189 Ken Cosgrove alienist model of the author and, 193–197, 199, 202–203 art-commerce antagonism and, 195–197 compartmentalization tactic of, 200–201 economic insulation tactic of, 199–201 Herb Rennet and, 115 interiority, depth-model of the artist, and depthlessness of Ken, 201–205 other would-be literary writers at Sterling Cooper and, 197–199 pen names of, 200–201, 203 Pete and, 123, 213 publications of, 194–195, 201 Kennedy assassination, 22, 72, 257 Kermode, Frank, 221–222, 225 Kijinski, John, 178 King, Martin Luther, Jr., 73, 75–76, 77, 257 Kodak Carousel pitch absence of image and circularity of the Carousel (slides 8–9), 40–41 on AMC Mad Men website, 38 AMC online slide show, 34–35 breaking the rules (slide 2), 35–36 conventional narrative and, 139 invisible laborers outside the frame (slides 5–7), 38–41 Maddicts and, 29–31 nostalgia and, 31–33 old wounds, Kodak moments, and image preservation (slide 1), 33–35

pictures speak louder than words (slides 11–12), 41–42 playing with time (slides 3–4), 36–37 Kodak Girls, 40 Kodak Moment advertising campaign, 34 Kozoll, Michael, 17 Kubrick, Stanley 2001: A Space Odyssey, 149, 156–157, 160–161 Spartacus , 138

L labour, affective. See affective labour, female labourers, invisible, 38–40 labour thesis of Chaplin, 151–152. See also computerization in ‘The Monolith’ arc Lacan, Jacques, 205 Lacey, Deborah, 38–39 Ladson-Billings, Gloria, 68 Lagerkvist, Amanda, 31 Landgraf, John, 24 Lane Pryce death of, 241, 248 Don’s shadow and integration and, 239, 244–248 race and, 72, 74 violence against women and, 120 language, hegemonic. See adspeak Lavery, David, 3, 8 Lawrence, D.H., 23 Lawrence of Arabia (Lean), 141 Lazzarato, Maurizio, 101 Leach, William, 180 Lee, Peggy, 82, 211–212 Leonard, 8, 232, 237, 245–248 Levinson, Barry, 19 linear time. See time and temporality Lippard, Lucy, 31–32


Liston, Sonny, 74 literary references, 193–194. See also Ken Cosgrove Lloyd Hawley, 154–157, 161 Lost (ABC), 48 Lotz, Amanda, 53 Lou Avery, 158 Lucht, Tracy, 4 Lyons, Dan, 159–160, 248 Lyons, Margaret, 241

M Maas, Jane, 4 Maddicts, 29–30, 36, 39 Mad Men (AMC) 17-month hiatus (2010–2012), 14 cultural impact of, 218 films influencing, 133–134 Gordon sexual harassment suit, 256 launch of, 13 marketing and promotional campaign strategy, 21–22 as metaphor for social change, 259 place in television history, 261 quality television and, 15–16, 20–25 recognition and awards, 13, 21, 142 stylistics, 23 See also specific characters by first name and episodes by number Mad Men: The Conference (Middle Tennessee State University, May 2016), 3, 30, 43–44 Mad Men website (AMC), 35, 38, 40 #MAGA (Make America Great Again), 260 male gaze, 82, 104–105, 107 Marc, David, 54 Marcellus, Jane, 3, 4 Marcovitch, Heather, 4 Marcuse, Herbert, 199 Marie Calvet, 169, 232, 256


The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS), 17 mass market model, 17, 19 McCabe, Janet, 16 McCann Erickson Don and, 142 Hilltop Coca Cola ad and, 143, 216 Peggy and Joan at, 86, 91, 93, 95n6, 186 Peggy’s threat against, 255 sexism at, 82 Sterling Cooper sold to, 204, 246 McGrath, Charles, 17, 19 McNamara, Mary, 32–33 medievalism, 187–188 Meditations in an Emergency (O’Hara), 193 Megan Draper adspeak and, 177 affective labour and, 104–105, 108 divorce, 212 marriage proposal to, 240–241 marriage to Don, 165–169, 171 at Royal Hawaiian Hotel, 186 youth culture and, 165 Mellen, Joan, 157 memory collective, 77–78 Kodak Moment advertising campaign, 34 performance of, 32 texture of, 77 See also Kodak Carousel pitch; nostalgia Meredith, 248 #MeToo movement, 93, 95n11, 254, 256, 259 Michael Ginsberg, 139, 154, 157–159, 161 Midge Daniels, 103, 124, 182–183, 187, 199 Milch, David, 19 mise-en-scène



books as part of, 193–194 composed symmetry, 109 frame-in-frame, 109–110 mimicked silhouettes of women, 110 Misuraca, Louis, 34 Mittell, Jason, 48, 221–222 Model Shop (Demy), 134 Modern Times (Chaplin), 149–150, 151–152, 154, 157–159, 161 Monroe, Marilyn, 70 Moore, Mary Tyler, 16, 17 Morse, Robert, 211 Moss, Elizabeth, 87–88, 255 MTM: Quality Television (Feuer and Vahimagi), 16 Museum of the Moving Image, 31, 40 music the Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, 163–164 the Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’, 188 the Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, 165–166 ‘The Best Things in Life Are Free’, 211 ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’, 143–145, 188, 260. See also Hilltop Coca Cola ad Judy Collins’s ‘From Both Sides Now’, 172–174 Nancy Sinatra’s ‘You Only Live Twice’, 167–170, 173 Peggy Lee’s ‘Is That All There Is?’, 211–212 Roy Orbison’s ‘Shahdaroba’, 225–226 Musser, Charles, 152 My So-Called Life (ABC), 19 N narrative complexity, 48–50. See also complex seriality

Negri, Antonio, 101 Negulesco, Jean, 133 neorealism, Italian, 136 network television, 17, 18 Newman, Paul, 75 Newman, Stephanie, 3 niche market model, 18–19 Niessen, Niels, 4 North by Northwest (Hitchcock), 133 nostalgia Boym’s restorative vs. reflective nostalgia, 31 caesura and, 22–23 Ciasullo’s positive vs. negative nostalgia, 31 distinctive point of view and, 51 feminism and, 89 Hall’s model of feminist nostalgia, 32 Kodak Carousel pitch and, 30–33, 41–44 Lippard on, 31–32 trap of, 31, 78 La Notte (Antonioni) conventional vs. subversive storytelling and, 136, 141–143 Don’s fondness for, 134–136 future-oriented philosophy and, 135–137 Mad Men finale and, 143–145 Weiner and, 135, 139, 141, 145 novelistic analogy, 24 N.Sputnik (screen name), 37

O Obama, Barack, 252–253, 258 Office Wife role, 119 Ogilvy, David, 193, 198 O’Hara, Frank, 23, 193 open door motif, 109 Or, 200–202


Orbison, Roy, 225–226 Orwell, George, 160 O’Sullivan, Sean, 223, 226 overarching story complex serials and, 49 integration of central characters and, 53–54, 209–210 P Pan Am (ABC), 91–92 past and future, reconciliation of, 226–230. See also time and temporality Patty, 243 Paul Kinsey Civil Rights Movement and, 68, 72–73, 259 Ken and, 196–197 Peggy and, 256 place and, 231 play Death is My Client , 194, 197 as pseudo-bohemian, 200 Peggy Olson adspeak and, 182, 186 affective labour and, 102–103, 104–106, 109 beginnings and, 233 on black and female oppression, 259 Bobbie’s advice to, 127 computerization and, 157–159, 161 finale and, 215 first business trip, 169 Heinz Baked Beans pitch, 185–186 Joan and, 91, 255–256 long-distance phone call from Don, 215, 243–244 male under-estimation of, 256 mimicked silhouettes of, 110 Moss on, 87–88 as outsider, 259 pregnancy and birth of son, 37, 119, 120, 136


race and, 70, 71–72, 74–76 in the Secretary corporate role, 118–120 sexism, feminism, and, 52, 82, 84–88, 93, 253, 254 sexuality and, 95n6 temporality and, 225, 229, 232 in Token High-Level Woman corporate role, 120–121 trajectory of, 1 vulnerability of Don with, 212 youth culture and, 165 performativity of female affective labour, 104–108 persona. See Jungian interpretation of Don Pete Campbell absent from second episode, 141 affective labour and, 105 African American characters and, 70 anti-Semitism and, 259 Beth and, 165–167, 169 Don’s identity and, 135–136 Herb Rennet and, 52, 115 Ken and, 196, 213 Lane’s death and, 241 ‘Negro market’ and, 66, 71–72 as outsider, 259 Peggy and, 119, 120 place and, 231 race and, 73, 76, 185 sexism, feminism, and, 85 short story by, 194, 198–199 as suburban family man, 164–165, 169 temporality and, 227–228, 232 trajectory of, 1 Trudy as Corporate Wife and, 122, 123 violence against women and, 116, 119, 121 Peter Brooks, 90



Picard, Yves, 52 Picket Fences (CBS), 19 place, characters’ attitudes toward, 230–232 Podolsky, Professor, 186 poetic structure, temporal dimension of, 223–224 point of view in complex seriality, 50–52 Poniewozik, James, 65 portraiture, classical, 109 Potter, Denis, 55 power. See adspeak; feminisms; race, African Americans, and Civil Rights Movement; violence against women prime-time novel, 17, 19 productive labour, 100 projection. See Jungian interpretation of Don psychological investigation of character, 55–58

Q quality television American Quality Drama (AQD) paradigm, 47 cinematic and novelistic analogies, 23 criticism of concept, 16 emergence of, 16–20 HBO’s program development investment, 19 Mad Men, 15–16, 20–25 The Sopranos , 14–15, 19–20 Thompson’s characteristics of, 25n1 TVIV, streaming era, and, 23 Quality TV (McCabe and Akass), 17 quotation-mark bracketing of women, 110

R Rabelais, François, 187–189 race, African Americans, and Civil Rights Movement Critical Race Theory, 67–68 differential racialization, 70 everyday interactions with black characters, 68–71 gender representations and, 256–257 Hilltop Coca-Cola ad and, 217–218 history vs. historical fiction and collective memory, 76–78 invisibility and silence vs. visibility and voice, 65–66, 69–71 the ‘Negro market’, 258 protest against Young & Rubicam, 184–186 Sam, Don, and adspeak, 181–182 Sterling Cooper and the Civil Rights Movement, 66–67, 72–76 Trump Era and, 258–261 white supremacy, 261 ‘woke’, 257 world inside vs. world outside and, 67 Rachel Menken adspeak and, 182–183, 187, 190 affective labour and, 103 death of, 212 Don and, 125, 127 in Don’s dream, 242 female power and, 104 love and, 35, 56 as ‘Other’ and seeking real power, 123–127 as outsider, 259 sexism, feminism, and, 85 Radner, Hilary, 86 Rawsthorn, Alice, 34 Raymond Geiger, 185–186 Reluctant_Paladin (screen name), 36 Renaissance, 187–188


reproductive labour, 100–101 retro-anachronistic feminism. See under feminisms Richard, 228 Rich, Frank, 21 Richo, David, 247 Roger Sterling adspeak and, 185 affective labour and, 104 daughter on hippie commune, 154 frustrated egoism of, 193 Hershey’s pitch and, 140 Joan’s affair with, 119 Ken and, 201 Marie Calvet and, 169 memoir of, 194, 198 Pete and, 72 privilege of, 256 race and, 73 sexism, feminism, and, 86, 90 temporality and, 224, 225, 228, 232 trajectory of, 1 violence against women and, 122 Ronnie Gittridge, 189 Royal Hawaiian Hotel, 186–187 Rushing, Robert A., 4, 135 Ryan, Maureen, 126, 189

S Saarinen, Esa, 32 Sally Draper affective labour and, 105 Don’s ‘second life’ and childhood home and, 170–174 finale and, 215 Kodak Carousel pitch and, 33–34, 38–40 revisionist perspective on 1960s and, 52 Whitman family curse and, 57 Salvatore Romano, 177, 183–184


Sam, 181–182, 183, 184, 190 Sandberg, Sheryl, 161 satellite television, 18 Scandal (ABC), 252 Scanlon, Jennifer, 86, 121 Schupack, Linda, 21 ‘second-degree style’, 52 second wave feminism. See under feminisms Secretary corporate role, 118–120 Seitz, Matt Zoller, 3, 112, 241, 244, 245, 209–217 Selfhood. See Jungian interpretation of Don seriality, complex. See complex seriality Sex and the Office (Brown), 119 Sex and the Single Girl (Brown), 82, 86, 92 sexual orientation, 157–158, 183–184 shadow. See Jungian interpretation of Don ‘Shahdaroba’ (Orbison), 223–226 Shales, Tom, 19 Sheila White, 69, 73 Shirley, 76 Showtime, 20 silhouettes of women, mimicked, 110 Silicon Valley (HBO), 160 Simon, David, 19 Sinatra, Nancy, 167–170, 173 Sixties distinct point of view of Mad Men and, 51 reevaluation of, 22 Weiner on, 234 Slayage Conference, 3, 43–44 Sligh, Clarissa, 38 Smith, Barbara H., 223–224, 225, 226–227 social media Facebook, 44



Maddicts and Kodak Carousel pitch, 29–31, 34, 36, 39 songs. See music The Sopranos (HBO) benefits to Mad Men from, 15 complex seriality and, 47, 49 ending of, 145 finale, 13 Mad Men compared to, 15 psychological investigation of character, 55 as quality television, 14–15 Weiner on, 14 in WGA best series list, 24 South, James B., 3 Spartacus (Kubrick), 138 Sprengler, Christine, 133 Stan, 164, 165, 229, 255 Stefancic, Jean, 68 Stein, Murray, 239, 245 St. Elsewhere (NBC), 17 Stephanie, 215, 229, 231, 239, 243, 248 Stevens, Anthony, 238, 243, 244 Stevens, Wallace, 196, 198, 200, 221, 225 Stewart, Susan, 31 Stoddart, Scott F., 3 Stranger Things (Netflix), 50 Sturken, Marita, 153 Suzanne Farrell, 124 Sylvia Rosen, 57, 102, 103, 170 symbolic violence, 116, 117, 121, 122, 124. See also violence against women symmetry, composed, 109

T Tacey, David, 240 Taylor, Mark, 32 Ted Chaough, 121

Ted Shaw, 231 Terkel, Studs, 152 ‘third ear’ (Bakhtin), 179 thirtysomething (ABC), 19 Thomas, Douglas, 153 Thompson, Robert, 16, 25n1 Thrum, Eric, 164 time and temporality finale and new beginnings, 232–234 linear-cyclical tension, 222 linearity and structural problem of continuous passage of time, 222–226 ‘machinery’ and, 221–222 place and, 230–232 poetic structure and, 223–224 reconciliation of linear/cyclical and past/future, 226–230, 232–233 Time’s Up movement, 254 Tinker, Grant, 16, 17 Token High-Level Woman corporate role, 119, 120–121, 124 Toles, George, 214, 216 ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ (the Beatles), 165–166 Toni, 74 Top of the Lake (BBC/Sundance), 255 Townsley, Eleanor, 22 Trudy Campbell, 121–123, 194, 198–199, 227 Trump, Donald, 252, 253, 253–254, 256, 257, 258 Trump Era Mad Men’s place in TV history and, 261 gender divide and, 253–257 historical drama and cultural ties to the present, 251–253 race, power, and visibility, 257–261 Turner, Edith, 31 Turner, Victor, 31 TVI (1948–1975), 17


TVII (1975–1995), 17–19 TVIII (1995–2013), 19–20 TVIV (2013–present), 23 Twin Peaks (ABC), 16 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick), 149, 156, 159–160, 161

U USA network, 20

V VanDerWerff, Todd, 173 Vargas-Cooper, Natasha, 3 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), 142–143 Viola, 69 violence against women Bourdieu’s symbolic violence, 116, 117 the Corporate Wife role (Betty and Trudy), 121–123 Kanter’s corporate work roles, 116, 117–118 ‘Other’, Token, and seeking real power (Rachel and Bobbie), 123–127 the Secretary role (Joan and Peggy), 118–120 the Token High-Level Woman role, 120–121 violation as, 116 Virno, Paolo, 101 voiceover, extradiegetic, 55 Von Franz, M.-L., 239, 248

W Wagener, Johannes, 43 Waldman, Paul, 254 The Walking Dead (AMC), 218 website, Mad Men, 35, 38


Weeks, Kathi, 100 Weiner, Matthew 1960s and, 51, 234 on AMC’s success, 218 on arriving at concept for Mad Men, 53 on ‘becoming white’, 258 battles with AMC, 142 bond between Don and, 135, 140 budget per episode, 30 career frustrations of, 141 Chase, relationship with, 14 feminism and, 82 films and, 133 on finale, 214–215 on Hilltop Coca-Cola ad, 217 La Notte (Antonioni) and, 135, 141, 145 on ‘machinery’ of the show, 221 as Mad Men writer, 22 music, use of, 163, 165 on New York City, 230 race and, 66, 76 ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ screenplay, 14, 20 on The Sopranos , 14–15 as staff writer, 14 vision and, 209 Weinstein, Harvey, 254 Wells, John, 19 Welty, Bob, 160–161 West, Nancy, 40 The West Wing (NBC), 25 white male privilege, 256–258. See also race, African Americans, and Civil Rights Movement white supremacy, 261 Whitmont, Edward C., 240, 245 Wilder, Billy, 133 Williams, Linda, 89 Willis, Deborah, 38 Wilmot-Voss, Kimberly, 4



Winter, Terence, 15 The Wire (HBO), 25, 49 women, violence against. See violence against women women’s labour. See affective labour, female Women’s March (2017), 253–254, 259 women’s movement. See feminisms Women’s Strike for Equality March (1970), 255 Wong, Katrina, 30 Working (Terkel), 152 Writers Guild of America (WGA), 24

Y Young, James, 77 Young & Rubicam, 75, 184–185 ‘You Only Live Twice’ (Sinatra), 167–170, 173 Yuasa, Noriaki, 134 Yuki (screen name), 39

Z Zaren (screen name), 42 Zeller-Jacques, Martin, 4 Zwick, Edward, 19