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Mad Men S07E02: "A Day's Work"


It was just another day at the office on Mad Men this week. Don slept until noon on a Thursday. Cutler casually promoted Joan to an upstairs "account man" office. Peggy continued to steadily spiral toward a nervous breakdown—and while, to some extent, it's been a long time coming for her, I'm having a hard time enjoying much of anything that Peggy gets up to this season. The Valentine's Day flower mix-up was slap-sticky, and Peggy's over-the-top response was petty. But since Peggy hasn't been in her right mind yet this season, in a roundabout way, Batshit Crazy Peggy works. 

"A Day's Work" was a busy episode, featuring an extended secretary shuffle and a 100-percent more racist Bert Cooper. Dawn may no longer be the only black employee at SC&P, but Shirley's addition to the team is hardly a symbol of a more progressive working environment—at least not a willing one, anyway. It's easy to sometimes forget that the reason Dawn was hired in the first place was basically a publicity stunt gone wrong, and "A Day's Work" went a long way toward reminding us that Dawn and Shirley's presence at SC&P isn't always seen as a positive thing by their co-workers. On the surface, they appear to take things in stride: joking with one another about how the rest of the staff apparently gets the two of them confused, putting up with the whimsical relocations at Peggy and Lou's requests. However, their willingness to simply go with the flow for the sake of keeping their jobs is waning. They know how crummy their co-workers are, and while it's awesome that Joan apparently bestowed Dawn with her old Head of Personnel title—complete with an office and everything—I hope it was a sincere gesture and isn't later revealed to be a backhanded effort to shuffle Dawn out of sight of the elevators, per Bert's request. 


At the heart of SC&P's Valentine's Day of Misery, the question of honesty colored everything, from Peggy and Shirley's sitcom-esque confusion with the roses to Don and Sally's accidental father-daughter day. The rule of thumb in elementary school was always "Honesty is the best policy," but in the world of Mad Men, it's oftentimes really not—which, in a way, is a different kind of brutal honesty and the foundation for the life that Don Draper has built over the years. 

Subsequently, that life has started to crumble, and as we've seen with the sleeping-'til-noon, pitching ads via Freddy Rumsen, the roach-infested bachelor pad, and listless bicoastal existence, Don doesn't know what to do with himself. When the old way of doing business failed him, he tried the honesty thing, and that blew up in his face, too... except with Sally. Don described his mistake to Sally, claiming that he said the "wrong thing to the wrong people at the wrong time" (which is also a pretty succinct summary of "A Day's Work" itself). Don was talking about telling people the truth, but in Sally's case, the times when Don has said the wrong things to her have always been in instances in which he's lied. Sally craves honesty, particularly from her parents, and she doesn't seem willing to let Don even lie on her behalf, as evidenced when he asked her what to write in his note to her school and she said, "Just tell the truth." Currently, Sally is the one character on Mad Men who isn't repulsed by or afraid of the truth. 

Despite her current "sour teenager" shtick, Sally represents hope in the future. She always has, and of all the Draper children, not only has she always been the one Don seems closest to, but she's also the one who most understands Don in return. She doesn't always want to, and even though gets Don more than most people do, she certainly isn't willing to blanket-forgive all of the crappy things he's done lately, including the affair with Sylvia. However, she is able to interact with her father, despite everything she knows about him. This flies in the face of everything Don believes about the world, and at the end of the day, when he dropped Sally off at school and she actually said that she loved him, you could readily see how startled Don was, as if he'd never considered that someone could know all of his bad traits and not run the other way. But who can blame him, really?

In California, Pete's delight at bringing in a new account was short-lived, as the New York office decided it should be run through by Bob Benson first. Ted was hardly a shoulder to cry on, and his, "Just cash the checks. You're gonna die one day," smacked of a more cynical version of Don's "THAT'S WHAT THE MONEY IS FOR" to Peggy a few years earlier. Ted has lost the ability to put on a happy face and lie his way through the day, though it's debatable how much longer he can grump his way through work. More and more, Ted mirrors Don in his experiences, his desires, and his demeanor. Is he going to eventually experience Don's mental health crisis as well? Maybe. I could see it. Don has tentatively begun the process of rebuilding his life (again) and seems to have someone resembling an ally in Sally. Ted, so far as we know, has no one.

"A Day's Work" was another wandering episode, expanding on the journey that last week's season premiere embarked on without taking many steps to drastically change the scenery. We're still in the process of "getting there," wherever "there" may be.



ACCOUNT NOTES

– Kiernan Shipka is so awesome.

– Lou Avery is such a dick.

– Was anybody feeling the Peggy story this week? It just seemed so cartoonish to me.

– LOL @ "masturbate gloomily," though.

– Don is marking the levels in his booze bottles. That seems healthy.


What did you think of "A Day's Work"?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/17/2015

Season 7 : Episode 14

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One aspect of this review that I strongly disagree with is the characterization of the roses mix-up as “slap-sticky” and “sitcom-esque”. I think that, with the exception of the stuff concerning Peggy’s erroneous assumption that Ted Chaough sent her the flowers, the material between Peggy and Shirley had some realistic things to say about assumptions among co-workers in that environment concerning job positions and race, the latter of which brings additional assumptions about class. The episode also showed an accurate depiction of who often bears the brunt of the consequences when people in power positions within office relationships f*ck up or get their egos bruised. Someone with less sense than Joan may well have fired Shirley without a second thought if Peggy had requested it (or Dawn, if Lou had requested it), with no explanation other than “I can’t work with her anymore”, in the Peggy/Shirley case, basically because it never occurred to Peggy that those roses on Shirley’s desk were sent to Shirley.
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Though the overall review was good, I just want to put some perspective regarding the young reviewer’s take on the office dynamics. Because it’s easy to sometimes forget that Mad Men is set in the late 1960s.

Dawn & Shirley – The advertising industry had been the whitest, male-ist business in America until about the mid-90s. It was the antithesis of a “more progressive working environment.” The only reason “A Day’s Work” showed these two women of color are not always seen a positive by co-workers is because these two women usually get less then a few minutes of airtime in other episodes. And the show didn’t need to go a long way to remind us that African-Americans had to put up with a lot of shit in all-white offices. So Dawn and Shirley aren’t “willing” to go with the flow, it was simply a fact of life in order to keep a career (which the majority of people of color did not even dream of back in the ‘60s) in a field that didn’t ask you to join.


Burt Cooper – He wasn’t “100-precent more racist.” He embodied the attitudes of executives in advertising (and most other businesses) held. And still do. I have sat in many an interview for receptionist where when a candidate entered the room she was immediately judged on “too fat,” “too short,” “too old,” “unattractive,” etc. Considering a minority or even a male candidate wasn’t even part of equation. I was told early in my career that it matters who the first person of the agency the client sees when he walks through the doors. I had liberal, Democratic, open-minded bosses tell me to my face (btw, I’m black) there was no need to cast black actors in commercials because “black people will buy what white people do. Besides, the client won’t sign off on it.” I almost got torn apart for asking a big soda client (starts with a letter that rhymes with “G”) why, with over 20 young people in the commercial, there were no one of color. And this was in the late 1980s.

The only thing that surprised me was how Joan was briefly taken aback by the request. A woman that smart would already know how the white men would react (though thumbs up for trying).


Pete & Ted + Lou – There’s a reason advertising was known as “Cutthroat City,” and its unofficial motto was: “You’re only as secure as your client’s last retainer check,” because it’s all true! Pete’s anger over the decision to obtain Detroit’s blessing to sign the new account is totally understandable, but it is also a bit unbelievable. Pete is smart enough to at least seriously consider that option being done minutes after the new account agreed to sign. The fact Bob doesn’t like him makes sense. His power over the account can be stripped away in seconds. Pete, in my opinion, followed the form his character has done since the first episode: (in Rodney Dangerfield’s voice) “I can’t get no respect!” That is why Pete is ALWAYS angry.

Ted is just the embodiment of what advertising does to nearly everyone in it long enough: burnout (it’s why I got out). He just has the pragmatic approach of “do your job,” “take the big money,” and “hope it doesn’t all collapses before you can jump ship and stay afloat.”

Lou is an asshole. Gee, what a surprise! How many people who read this site everyday can honestly say they never worked under, with, or around an asshole? Thought not.
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This episode made me want to spend time with my dad and tell him that I love him :(
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It's funny how Ted has gone from schtick to deadly serious. And it's working. He's a parallel counterpart to Don Draper that struggles to cheat and cross that line. He's the boy scout of the show.
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Pete just can't ever be happy for long. He's just one of those people that always finds something to be unhappy about. He's the "unhappy guy in the office" among a bunch of spoiled, pent up, alcoholics. Now THAT's saying something.
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Loved seeing the LA office (not even sure if it was technically an "office"). Was hoping they'd have something more permanent looking. Hopefully they continue pursuing it; I think it's a good direction to go in and makes it interesting so far.
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If you were told to draw an old fart, you'd draw Lou. There's just no way of liking that guy. And that was obviously the intention of producers. So.........good casting on their part. Great job, team!
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Surprised to see Jim referring to Don as the firm's ex-wife. Could have sworn Don would be back in some capacity. Originally I assumed he was going to be helping Ted and Pete in LA (based on all the airline themed advertisements). When exactly will Don get back to the office?

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I kind of feel like the kinks have finally been worked out from last season; the merger finally feels like it's been settled into place with Jim against Roger. So far, I'm impressed and I'm beginning to feel excited about the show like I used to. The question is will they keep it up?

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Hopefully Bob will finally make an appearance in next week's episode......the stage's been set for an epic confrontation with Pete.
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As Sally grows and matures, so does Don, and their relationship will most likely "save" Don from his past demons and future losses (Is Megan Sharon Tate?).

I appreciate the slow burn of Mad Men, often depicting the struggle that Creative-types fight every day - constant demand for new ideas that can fit within the budget. Don is ALWAYS working, and Peggy now experiences the same malfunction.

We're seeing a genuine effort to change the workplace as well. Joan is moving up the corporate ladder in a more public manner. while Dawn seems to be given more power (albeit hidden in a windowless office). At some point, Lou will be cast aside and Peggy will be allowed to take off (this week's tantrum was derived from the "holding pattern" of her personal and professional lives). Maybe if/when Don returns, they can BOTH find that balance between home and work that can stabilize their sanity.

Oh, and no Betty = a winning episode, no matter what.
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It's surprising Betty's a regular to begin with. There's really no need for her anymore.
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Peggy reaction was very realistic. I seen lots of it in real life even get fired. Don and Sally story was good. Joan has just thrown the shitty personal work to someone else and moved up. Pete is the same Pete no matter which city he lives in. He is always the victim. I just loved it when the new girlfriend let him knows what sales and rejection really means.

Lou Avery is such a dick.

Worse than Don ever was at least in his treatment of his subordinates. Again lots of Lou in the offices around the world.

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Every episode that has more Sally Draper in it is a better episode.

Maybe Season7A will set the stage for 7B, like Breaking Bad did with season 5. If they keep giving us episodes like this then I'm completely okay with it.
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I need more of Mr. Masturbate Gloomily. Loved Don's face when Sally said she loved him.
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Wow, I actually really liked this episode. The Peggy storyline was probably the weakest, but it was funny, if nothing else. I cracked up after the conference call when Ted cluelessly said, 'They never mentioned which account Peggy lost.' LOL.

I loved the Sally and Don storyline, which is probably why I liked this episode so much. I was also really glad Joan got to move up, and that Dawn was essentially promoted, no matter how/why she got there. I actually thought Joan giving her her old job was kind of a way to smack Bert and Lou in the face for insisting Dawn be moved in the first place for such stupid reasons.
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So, what was actually different at the end of the episode to at the beginning? The secretaries were shuffled and Joan is now upstairs.
Did I miss anything?
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Don realises that some might love him.
Pete realises he isn't an important player anymore.
Joan got a promotion.
It established the rivalry between Jim and Roger.

And several other seeds that have been planted that will sprout later on in the season. If you think nothing happens in Mad Men, the show just isn't for you.
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We'll see. We may look back at the end of the season and think, wow, episode 2 was really important. Or we might think nah, it was just filler and could have been skipped.
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So boring and slow…
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Yes, maybe slow, but never boring, if you find this episode boring, Mad Men is clearly not for you.
It had the same speed as any other episode and the same speed of the majority of other cable shows.
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That is what most of MAD MEN is about.
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The slow burn is definetely something you have to learn to appreciate. I like it but I can see why people feel that way.
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I admit I first watch the show because it won awards. I liked the earlier season where there were a lot of focus of the team working together creating advertisement and punchline. I almost gave up on the show on that season when they focus on the back story of Don. Still I persist through and I must say watching all 7 seasons was an enjoyable experience overall and it brings nostalgia that no other shows can created.

I also loved it that every adult smokes on the show:-)
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That's interesting. Well, whatever floats your boat. I really used to like the way they told his story but lately the flashbacks aren't working anymore. I'm tempted to say they should start to move on from them.
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@mrjimmyjames : Perhaps I should rephrase. It is not that I did not like his story. I guess it was the way it was told. That was when I felt the show was the slowest.
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Yeah, I partly watched it because of all the awards and buzz too. Interesting that you don't like the backstory of Don. That's my favorite part of the show; the idea of an advertising exec who's biggest creation was himself. It made me fall head over heels for the show.
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Yeah Peggy was acting strangely. It might be a little over the top but at least it speeds up the process she's going through.

Look "half seasons" are an atrocious idea in general and they've hurt every show they've touched, up to and including Breaking Bad and I've no reason to think Mad Men will be immune. I'm not sure the show has got what it takes to fashion two eventful half seasons, it's been so dependent on the full season structure. Now we're expecting something thrilling for episode 7 but with only 5 episodes left you wonder if that can really be expected.
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Well I think the writers are capable of making this season like 2 mini sesons. hey there are a ton of shows that have short seasons and do perfectly fine. I personally see this as being season 7 and the second half as being season 8 cuz really with a year gap no one is going to remember what happens. Then again they might just treat it like a regular 13 episode season and just have some big cliffhanger at the end? Either way I agree with what your saying.
as for Peggy don't you think that they might be building up to some sort of major breakdown? over these past two episodes shes has really been on edge and idk if its due to the season being split.
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Maybe it will presented as a full season structure split in two.Breaking Bad filmed the first 8 shows of season 5 starting in March and began filming the final 8 in December so I'm confused as to how that would hurt the show.Bad writing not when it's written would hurt the show.If they were to air the final season as 14 consecutive shows would you be expecting a thrilling episode 7,it would seem wiser to me to have an opinion on such things when all 14 episodes have been viewed.

I think it's a cheap and disrespectful way to treat the viewers by both AMC and the producers of the show to split the final season in two and I think as consumers of their product the viewers should vehemently complain about the practice.
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I guess the point I was making is that splitting seasons unavoidably changes the format of the show. These cable shows have had their success based on 13 episode seasons. When they're split they become mini seasons. When you have a long gap between the two halves then it basically becomes necessary for the mid-season finale to be a finale itself or at least a cliffhanger, the writers are consciously aware that they need to leave a lasting impression before a break to ensure their viewers return. It doesn't matter how good the writers are, this forces the show to be faster paced and to build too quickly.

Breaking Bad's final season was damaged by being split in two and the split clearly had an enormous effect on the structure of that season. The Mad Men split might be even worse as it would probably struggle more than Breaking Bad to speed things up. Mad Men's relaxed rhythms are crucial to its success and tampering with those could be disasterous. And in the unlikely event that they don't build to a mid-season finale the show will still be damaged because then the break will serve no purpose at all.
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All I can say is that Lou is the worst. Lots of people complained about how horrible other characters (Pete for example) are but at least they show a good side. Seriously when a young girl shows up looking for her father you dont just shoo her away and get mad at everyone else because she happened to go to the one place she thought her dad would be. I want Don back in the office but it seems like me might not return. However the Sally/Don story line was very good this episode. Part of me wishes they actually dined and dashed.

Pegs just seems to be having a slow mental breakdown. It actually got to the point where I was having second hand embarrassment when it came to her and those flowers.

Yay for Joan for actually moving up finally! and it good to see Dawn take over Joan's job (so I guess Lou was good for one thing...maybe) . Though one question, I think it was last season where Joan gave Dawn a master key to the files or the rooms to the offices, so wouldn't she be able to find a way to get her hands on a copy of that client's file that Don wanted?

Over all I liked this episode a lot more than last weeks And I hope they do something memorable before they hit the halfway point, Also was it just me or did they reuse some of the clips for this weeks previews? (like the ones with Harry)
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Erm? Not great at all, they have 7 episodes only this year and they have half the time they usually have. Too be honest the sh*t needs to explode now or in the very next episode.

This episode just meandered along so painfully slow. The office shuffles around, Burt cooper is brought in just to be racist, roger fights with Jim, Peggy just pines over Ted, don tries to tell the truth to his daughter, pete complains, Ted looks unhappy....WTF? None of this is new? None of this is ground breaking.

i think the show lacks heart, it always has and I think Weiner is just going to make these characters suffer to the bitter end.

The only thing that made me happy is Dawn getting an awesome promotion! Awesome! I mean sincerely.
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That was good for both Dawn and Joan...I'm assuming that Joan's thought process was along the lines of, 'you don't want a black woman at the front desk? Fine. I'll promote her. Hah.'
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Matthew Weiner stated that unlike AMC's other split-lastseason Breaking Bad, here they shot all 14 last episodes at the same time, so the writers treat it as 1 season, so I don't think that we we'll get some big season finale or anything. I think in the first half season they're just setting up the end.
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