Light up some Mary Jane, everyone: We’re about to get really high and talk about the smartest show on TV again. It’s the Great Mad Men Re-Watch!
There were three parties going on simultaneously in “My Old Kentucky Home,” a fantastic Season 3 episode, and all of them were burned into my memory for different reasons. First there was the Saturday work session at the office, where Peggy, Paul, and Smitty holed themselves up in Paul’s office sipping rum in the hopes that the gods of inspiration would visit them for a Bacardi campaign. When that failed to happen, they turned things up a notch and asked Mary Jane to pay a visit. You know what I’m talking about: Reefer madness. Beatnik bud. Mowie Wowie. Okay, fine, I’m talking about weed. They ordered up some weed from Jeffrey Graves, Paul’s drug-dealing Princeton pal (“Class of ‘55!”), and after Peggy insisted they share the bounty (“I’m Peggy Olson and I want to smoke some marijuana!” she says, in one of the show’s most memorable lines), they departed on their mind-enhanced journey that ended in Paul’s performance of Michigan J. Frog’s signature tune, “Hello, Ma Baby.”
Outside the office, a “so high” Peggy had a memorable exchange with Olive, her sweet, old-school secretary, who decided to stay at work late on a Saturday for some reason. Sure, the set-up was a bit forced, but seeing the liberated Peggy condescendingly reassure Olive that “I am going to get to do everything you want from me” made it all worth it.
The second party was the country club shindig thrown by Roger and Jane, where whatever happened outside of Roger’s blackface performance is frankly beside the point. Because: Oh. My. God. Just watching the whole cast—with the exception of Don—smile and applaud at such a mortifying display was just plain shocking.
Finally, there was Joan’s dinner party, where an awkward exchange about what we will later come to learn are Greg’s “stupid fingers” in the operating room led Joan to yank out an accordion and regale the couples with a French ditty called “C’est Magnifique.” And it was, as was this episode (save boring Papa Gene and his missing five dollars).
For three indelible moments as hilarious, shocking, and enchanting now (in that order) as they were when I first watched them.
This was the episode where Gene died, thank god. But what I remember it for is the scene in which Sal, disinterested in Kitty dolled up in the finest lingerie, launched into his recreation of the Bye, Bye Birdie spot for Patio diet cola—and the light finally went on for Kitty. Brian Batt was just so amazing in this scene, and really in every scene. It’s amazing that we had to go back to the early ‘60s for a nuanced, complex, and realistic portrayal of a gay man on TV, but go figure. I wish he’d return in Season 5, and who knows—he just may.
As the tedious Gene storyline draws to a close.
What can I say—I was just not a fan of Suzanne Farrell, Sally’s grade school teacher who fell for Don the minute she laid eyes on him at a parent-teacher meeting over Sally’s difficult behavior. As the season winds on, we'll realize Suzanne is a little more intense than Don’s other side-conquests. But at this point, she was just a concerned, horny educator who seems to have no qualms with seducing a man she met alongside his nine-months-pregnant wife. As the whole affair kicked into gear, the machinery struck me as creakier than usual. (Maybe I’d just grown weary of Don’s game, as I’d be similarly divorced from his Season 4 romance with Faye.)
This wasn’t a great episode, but I did love Pete’s bold foresight in tackling the spending habits of the African-American market at a time when it was still considered taboo to do so. His exchange with Hollis in the elevator was particularly engaging, like a mini, self-contained stage play about the civil rights movement: Pete wanted to talk about TVs, Hollis alluded to bigger issues on his mind, and it ended with a chuckle over the great American pastime. Then Pete got the last laugh when, after he was chewed out by Roger and Bert, Lane acknowledged that as an outsider, it seemed odd to him that black culture was treated like a dirty subject. Once again, as a prism through which to view the evolution of modern American society, Mad Men proved why it’s a show without equal.
The point of the pregnancy plot never really crystallized for me. I realize it bound Don and Betty closer as the end approached, but Betty’s growing frigidity plus a general disinterest in babies left me cold.
1. Betty and Henry met for the first time, and Henry placed his hand on her belly and made a blatant play for her. Meanwhile Miss Farrell had no problem calling Don up at home and doing the same. What is the deal? Is this what life is like for really attractive people? Really attractive people, please weigh in.
2. What was your reaction when you saw Roger’s musical performance?
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch Examines the Season 5 Poster and Delves Into Season 3!
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 9: California Dreamin'
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 8: Men Behaving Badly
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 7: God, Sex, and Irish Setters
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 6: Season 2 Begins!
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 5: Carousel of Broken Dreams
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 4: Hearts, Diseased
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 3: The Miseducation of Peggy Olson
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch, Part 2: A Basket of Kisses
– The Great Mad Men Re-Watch: Here We Go!