New Mad Men Cast Portraits

March 18th, 2015|Categories: Celebrity Editorials & Photo Shoots, TV|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

There are some juggernaut dramas all coming back at the same time in the next two months, namely Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, Orphan Black and the last episodes of Mad Men.  The anticipation of these final hours of one of the best modern television shows is high, especially answering the question of how will it end.  The cast portraits for the last half of the seventh season have these characters coming to the end of the 60s, with the woman in a mix of early hippie glam and Victorian via the 70s.   The cast portraits from THR made me realize yet again how much I’m going to miss these beautiful, beautiful faces.

Mad Men Cast by Joe Pugliese for The Hollywood Reporter, March 20th, 2015

Season 7 Part 2 promos by Frank W Ockenfels 3

Jon Hamm by Sebastian Kim for GQ, April 2015

Mad Men 701: Time Zones

April 18th, 2014|Categories: TV, Writing|Tags: , , , , , , |

My dad was Don’s age when my mom left him. Without her energy, the house we grew up in became cold. It was empty, yes, like the home Don and Megan shared; the home he bought specifically for her, so youthful and opulent, but it was also physically cold. I was 19 when they separated and living 400 miles away. I only visited my dad a couple times after mom left, and each time I felt like I was in a stranger’s home instead of my family home. Don’s broken door that won’t close and keep the safe warmth of love trapped inside is a perfect metaphor for the cold that inhabits a home without love.

My parents were only separated for a couple years, but my dad fell apart. Mom moved in with another man and created a nest with him, dad stayed single, alternating between behaving as if living alone was the best decision he ever made (mom left him), and wallowing in a frightening self-pity that led to extreme weight loss, strange religious choices, and losing everything that defined him as a person.

Eventually he lost the house. The last time I visited he was already moved into an apartment nearby and I went to the house alone to retrieve a box of childhood knickknacks he had packed up. The house was destroyed. In a rage, my dad had vandalized his own home, leaving it wrecked for the bank that was taking it from him. He had built the house, felt it was his, and took out all the emotion at losing the inhabitants that warmed it on its walls.

Holes were punched in the walls; he removed every flower from the garden from its roots; he allowed my brothers and their thug friends to graffiti the walls of our bedrooms; the eviction notice was stapled to the living room wall. It was madness, and it was the coldest building I had ever been inside. That night I tried to sleep there one last time; thinking memories and a positive attitude would keep me warm, but terrible shivers overcame me, nothing would warm me but leaving. Ever since that night whenever I’m extremely sad or frightened I grow unbelievably cold, like my body remembers how it feels to be betrayed. It’s an escape hatch my mind created – extreme cold means it’s time to leave. There’s no love left to comfort me.

So I left. I left my home, I left my town, I left my dad. Seeing him in leather pants with a closely coiffed beard, pretending like everything was going to be swell hurt just as much as seeing him unkempt and ranting, pacing, explaining why everything is for the best, and detailing how and why everyone had wronged him. He was alone, and sad, and no Pete Campbell tan, Roger Sterling sex adventure, or Don Draper quiet solitude was going to convince anyone that he was anything but completely miserable, and so terribly cold.

Mad Men 505: Signal 30

June 24th, 2013|Categories: TV, Writing|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Pete Campbell reminds me of a boy I knew in high school. He was the richest kid in our class. He lived in a large white house on a hill and it was rumoured that the house had two tanning beds and an indoor pool. I was always suspect of these claims because sometimes, on weekends, I would see the boy mowing the expansive front lawn. “They can afford an indoor pool but not a gardener?” I scoffed, before speeding by and returning home to watch horror videos with my Mom. I could never understand why the boy was popular. He was cruel, unattractive, and not especially smart. I liked being relatively unpopular and obscure. Observing my beautiful blessed classmates was exciting, and I resented his face getting in the way of all the pretty girls who looked like Seventeen models and attractive boys who were so endowed with good looks and smarts that they left us perimeter kids alone.

Pete is like that boy, but because we’re not in high school anymore, we’re allowed to dig inside Pete and discover his motivations. Why is Pete the way he is? Why is he so awkward, so sharp tongued, so eager to please and equally eager to upset?

The easiest answer to these questions is that Pete made choices he felt he was supposed to make, instead of those he wanted. Pete found a pretty girl, put a baby inside her, worked his way up at a well-paying prestigious job in Manhattan, bought some land and a home in Connecticut; he’s barely 30 and he has it all. This is what Pete is supposed to want, this is what Pete sometimes thinks he wants, yet he still longs for the busy noisy landscape of Manhattan. The sound of a quietly dripping drain in his country home is deafening. Pete is supposed to be happy though, so he puffs out his chest and pretends.

Pete feels trapped and sad, but his lovely wife feels the opposite. Trudy has everything that she dreamed and expected, and she’s content to pretend Pete is as pleased as she is with their life. Why should Pete be discontent? If he is, he’s wrong. When a person cannot admit their unhappiness and find ways to reach contentment, they will search for whatever small pleasure they can. Pete makes a ham-fisted attempt at seduction with a teenager in his driver’s education course that only succeeds in making Pete look and ultimately feel like even more of an awkward loser. So Pete pays for the quick fix he needs to feel like a powerful man. He lives for a short spell in a fantasy where a woman says everything he wants her to say, where Pete is in charge. But this is all just diversion. Pete needs to figure out why he’s unhappy at his core, but he won’t, because there is no part of him that will admit that he feels weak and broken down, and even if he does, no one will believe him. Everyone will see it as another of Pete’s weaknesses.

Pete’s anger makes him weak. He will always be bested: physically, emotionally. He’s frightened, he’s unsure, and he sees his unhappiness as a fault, something he must either disguise or blame.

“I have nothing,” Pete admits to Don while fighting back tears. Pete is a man who has recently suffered all the rejections of high school: he’s lost a girl; he’s lost a fight; he managed to get the Prom King into his home only to see everyone swoon for his easy swagger. Don’s quiet look in the elevator contains so many emotions. He feels frustrated with Pete, who has health, fortune, and a kind wife that Don likes. He feels annoyed, because Don is blessed with beauty, intelligence and grace; Pete’s blundering makes Don uncomfortable. Don sees a part of himself in Pete though; the man who had a large home with a pretty wife and healthy children, but an overwhelming feeling of discontent. Ultimately Don sees a smart boy who is drowning inside his unhappiness, who will likely allow his anger to consume him, and I think it breaks Don’s heart; mine as well. Pete breaks my heart.

A few more words here