Monday, May 26th

Mad Men: Waterloo

Last night we were treated to the midseason finale of Mad Men, and indeed, what a treat it was!

Peggy on Mad Men

The moon landing set the tone and we got to watch this momentous piece of history through the eyes of the characters. Even old Burt is giddy during the launch.

Don's Secretary on Mad Men

Don receives a breach of contract notice for crashing the cigarette client meeting. (His secretary makes a big dramatic scene out of it and kisses him when she delivers the letter. It’s hilarious and Don’s face is priceless. I can’t help but think the old Don would have fired a secretary for this. New Don is a bit softer and has a sense of humor.) Remember, a stipulation of Don’s contract states that he can no longer speak to clients without prior authorization and a script. They lost that cigarette business, by the way, and Lou poops his pants over it. Jim calls Lou the hired help and puts him in his place. Hurrah!

Jim on Mad Men

Don starts screaming for all the partners to gather so he can confront them. Jim calls him a bully and a drunk, a football player in a suit. Turns out, no one else knew about the letter and they aren’t happy with Jim acting alone on their behalf. They put it to a vote and most vote for him to stay; Jim and Joan vote for him to leave. WTF, Joan? Why all the bitchiness?

Megan is sunning herself in California when Don calls her to let her know the agency is pushing him out. She suggests that maybe it’s better for him to move on and he agrees, saying now he can move to California. Confronted with the possibility of a full time marriage again, Megan’s wishes are clear. They break up. The marriage is over. Don quietly accepts it, knowing it would always end this way. Shit. Am I the only one who is sad about this?

Poor lonely Peggy is having building work done and hitting on the repair man. It seems the only man in her life is the ten-year old neighbor kid who hangs out, watches TV, and eats popsicles. Peggy asks him for fashion advice for the Burger Chef pitch. He tells her he’s moving and the look of anguish on her face is devastating. She enjoyed having this little boy to come home to and it’s clear that she’s a real mother figure for him. She cries and we feel her heart break.

Don and Pete on Mad Men

Eventually the gang heads to Burger Chef for the pitch. They watch the moon landing together in a hotel room. The Francis-Draper household watches with their houseguests, the family of one of Betty’s old friends. The hot older boy comments that the landing is expensive and unnecessary, and then Sally reiterates the snotty teenage comment to Don on the phone. He tells her to stop being so cynical so she goes outside for a cigarette and kisses the hot houseguest’s nerdy younger brother. Interesting choice, Sally.

Roger on Mad Men

While the landing is still on TV, Roger gets the call that Burt died. Roger is deeply saddened and heads to the office. Joan meets him there and the two embrace. Jim comes in and immediately starts making plans to move on, including ousting Don. Says he has a vision for the future with Harry and the computer. It’s calculated and callous, but Jim knows without Burt’s vote against him, he can do what he wants now. Roger calls Don to share the news about Burt and let Don know that he won’t be able to save him. Don insists that Peggy lead the Burger Chef pitch now, since it won’t be his business to win. She balks. She’s not prepared, but he makes her do it anyway and it’s a thing of beauty. They win the business.

Peggy pitches Burger Chef

Roger doesn’t want to lose the agency he built. Before he died, Burt frankly told him he wasn’t a leader. Yet he does what a leader does and swallows his pride for the good of the company. He arranges for rival agency McCann to buy them, while retaining their name and autonomy. It’s a good deal for McCann because they won’t have to compete with the superior creative at SC&P. It’s a good deal for SC&P because…I’m rich, bitch! The buyout will make them all millionaires, except Harry, who hadn’t signed his partnership paperwork yet. OMG, that’s totally something that would happen to me.

Joan and Pete on Mad Men

The deal is contingent on keeping Ted, who really wants to quit advertising altogether. Earlier in the episode he takes the Sunkist execs up in his little plane and cuts the engines with talk of ending it all, while the plane free falls for a few minutes. Don convinces him that as a creative, he needs to work. They vote to go through with the deal.

The partners join the rest of the company for an office memorial party for Burt and Don heads back to his office to work. He hears Burt’s voice and witnesses a song and dance number. Although it’s a weird way to end the episode, and the year, it’s a nice farewell to Burt. Actor Robert Morse has an esteemed broadway background and at 83, can still cut a rug. Each season closes in a place of optimism, and this midseason finale is no different. Because the show is so dark, I’m appreciative of the lighthearted ending.

Burt on Mad Men

So there we have it. What did you think of the episode and final season so far? Do you have any predictions for what’s to come next year?

Friday, May 23rd

Melvin’s Deli Comfort

Melvin's Deli Comfort, Austin, Texas

Long have the masses cried, “Where can I get a decent sandwich in this town?!” And they have a point. Austin is so masterful with tacos that we’ve become spoiled by the many places that create Picasso-like works of art on a tortilla. But when it comes to putting something between two slices of bread, that’s where we fall short.

Melvin’s Deli Comfort is changing all that, helping to elevate the sandwich landscape and meet Austin’s high standards. Owners Melinda and Kevin Ennis (hence the name Melvin, get it?) realized a need in the local cuisine and set out to satisfy it. And in December 2012, sandwich-seekers found a new love on the corner of 53rd and Duval.

Melvin's Deli Comfort, Austin Texas

Remember when George Costanza tried to incorporate food into his bedroom antics? His meal of choice was the pastrami sandwich. Turns out the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats can cast a spell on even the toughest of cowboy hipsters, whose moustaches tingle at the thought of a well-executed Reuben. For his highly-regarded pastrami and corned beef, Kevin butchers and cures more than 200 pounds of brisket each week which is slightly less than enough. But running out is a good thing, as any restaurateur will attest. It cuts down on waste and creates demand. Sometimes, it creates a sensation. See: Franklin Barbecue.

Deli sandwiches this good have all the authenticity of New York City…by way of Alaska. Kevin and Melinda might have a background in fish, but you’d swear they’ve been serving Woody Allen his favorite lunch their whole lives. The passion in the creation of deli meats is clear, but these two radiate talent and it’s not really a stretch to say they’d command any genre of food.

Melvin's Deli Comfort, Austin Texas

What makes Melvin’s Deli Comfort so much better than the average sandwich is the attention to detail. There are no shortcuts taken here. The Hot Italian Beef has calabrese peppers which can only be procured through one distributor and are fetched from San Antonio. The tomatoes are always heirloom. Multiple vendors are required so that each sandwich has just the right bread. During cooler months when heat and humidity aren’t a factor, even the chips are made from scratch.

Critical response has been overwhelmingly positive, largely in part to the Pork Confit Sandwich, a heavenly creation of seared pork belly, brie, and mustard greens. The tender, succulent meat is less salty and smoky than the typical pork belly, letting the cheese and warm vinaigrette sing on the hearty roll. It simply must be tasted to be believed.

Melvin's Deli Comfort, Austin Texas

Melvin’s is keeping it real with prices fit for a deli. Sandwiches run from about $7-$9, and customers have the option to get it stacked (extra meat and cheese) for a couple bucks more. These sandwiches are made for the blue collar lunch lover and will provide sustenance for a hard day’s work. But lazy Costanza-types will enjoy them just as much.

Melvin's Deli Comfort, Austin Texas

501 E. 53rd Street, Austin, TX 78751

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 am- 2:00 pm

This article originally appeared in Austin Food Magazine.

Wednesday, May 21st

A Better Workout: RELAYS Giveaway

I’ve been hitting the gym a lot lately. I like to hide out in the dark bike studio and hold my own private spin class during off hours. Why do I ride on my own? Because I’ve been to enough classes to have developed my own tough routine and frankly, I want my own music. The teachers at my gym tend towards either techno or Kenny Logins. I mean…just…no.

Lately my workouts have been improved by my earbuds. Sol Republic sent me a pair of RELAYS to try out and you guys, they are fantastic. They are specifically made for working out and they don’t fall out. No matter what you do, those suckers stay in!

Sol Republic RELAYS

 

You can sweat like crazy, lay on the floor for crunches or stretching, or shake your head around. They’ll stay in. And the sound quality is tight, too. They retail for about $80, so these are premium in-ear headphones that will last. Also useful when you’re not working out, the three-button operation gives you control over your music, the mic, and your phone. They come with four cushions so you can customize the fit that’s best for you. (I use the second-smallest cushions.) You pull the back of your ear a bit, gently insert it until it feels comfortably secure and go about your business.

Sol Republic RELAYS

 

So how can you win a pair? Just leave me a comment and tell me one workout song that gets you pumped. I’ll randomly draw a name on June 4th. (Like Sol Republic and Mad Betty on Facebook for extra chances to win!)

*I received a free pair of RELAYS for review purposes, but I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

Monday, May 19th

Mad Men: The Strategy

Don and Megan on Mad Men

Only one episode of Mad Men left in 2014 and the episodes are still going strong. Whether it’s the shortened season or the fact that we are almost at the very end of the series, I can’t help but feel a wave of sadness wash over me as the credits roll each week. Peggy, don’t leave me!

Peggy on Mad Men

Peggy is killing it at work. She’s thrown herself into the research of Burger Chef and discovered that the moms that buy their children fast food for dinner feel guilty. She builds a campaign strategy around alleviating their guilt and (whoa, insult) having the dads give them permission. It just always comes back to the men in this show, doesn’t it? An even bigger insult is when Pete Campbell suggests that Peggy let Don run the presentation for the client. It’s a huge slap in the face but she relents. I can almost see the giant bruise on her head as she crashes into the glass ceiling.

Pete and Bonnie Mad Men

When not insulting Peggy at work, Pete is over-the-moon in love with his girlfriend Bonnie, who accompanies him on the trip to New York. They have all kinds of NYC fun planned, but first he must visit his daughter Tammy. Being back in his old house triggered some asshole switch in Pete and he waits for Trudy to get home from her presumed date and picks an ugly fight. He lets it ruin the whole trip and Bonnie ends up flying back to California by herself.

Pete and Trudy Mad Men

Also visiting from California is Megan. It’s clear how much Don misses her. And it’s also clear that her life and happiness are on the West Coast. She’s slipping away. I mean, she’s even bringing her fondue pot with her.

Bob Benson and Joan Mad Men

Bob Benson is in from Detroit with the Chevy guys who seem as rowdy as ever. After picking one up from jail, Bob is told that the agency will be losing Chevy and that Buick is going to offer him a fabulous in-house job. He’s happy for the security and offers it to share it with Joan in the form of a proposal. But Joan is old-fashioned and would rather wait for love than marry her gay bestie. I love that he asked and I love that she declined. It’s a sweet moment. Also, Joan’s mother is awful. How is she still living there? Is there no other form of childcare in Manhattan?

The Partners Mad Men

Apparently his bitching has paid off, because the partners vote to make Harry Crane a partner. Joan and Roger are against the idea. I guess I am okay with it. Harry’s annoying, but he’s smart, innovative, and loyal. Still though…annoying.

Peggy and Don Mad Men

Meanwhile, Peggy can’t get past the strategy for Burger Chef. Don suggested framing it from child’s point of view and that seed of doubt blossomed into an obsession for Peggy. The account people are happy and the client will be happy, but Peggy wants to do better work. She and Don hole up in Lou’s office and drink from his tiki bar and hash it out. It’s a wonderful scene and I feel for the first time that they are truly on the same page and on equal ground. They are forever bound by their history, their creativity, and their misery. Their relationship is so complicated, but pure.

Peggy and Don on Mad Men

With roles reversed, Don shares insights into his creative process and they both share their fears that life and family have passed them by. She mentions that she turned 30 recently and Don gravely responds, “Shit.” Then they dance to Frank Sinatra and Peggy lands on the new strategy: Family.

Peggy, Don, and Pete at Burger Chef, Mad Men

In the final scene, Peggy brings Don and Pete to Burger Chef. She explains the new concept, that every table there is a family table. We can see that it’s true. She nailed it. The camera pans back and we watch them talk and laugh over burgers. Those three seemingly tragic and lonely individuals are a family. Tear.

 

Friday, May 16th

Fried and True

Fried and True Austin Texas

The acronym for Fried and True is FAT, something that’s not lost on owners Arielle and Jesse Henson. “We don’t count calories here. We NEVER use the word diet!” And why should they? Despite being one the healthiest cities in the country, Austin is lining up for battered, fried, carnival nostalgia. This is pure guilty pleasure.

Fried and True Austin Texas

The original concept was fritters and it didn’t really take off. Austin just doesn’t get fritters. You know what we get? Fried Oreo’s. Corndogs. Pickles. Funnel cake piled high with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. There’s no subtlety hidden within the context of each bite. The flagrant indulgence flies in the face of everything we know to be good for us.

Fried and True Austin Texas

In the age of small plates, micro bites, and farm-to-table organic everything, it’s refreshing to see a bit of old fashioned hedonism. Located in the funky trailer park on East 6th and Waller, hungry patrons line up before, after, and halfway through barhopping to enjoy their favorite fried treats. Arielle wanted to explore the notion that Texans really do love their fried food. She leans in with a stage whisper, “They do!”

This exploration has taken on a life of its own. On any given night you can find her battering and frying up the tasty eats of her fellow food trucks, on demand. Just for the hell of it. That means battered fried pizza, ice cream sandwiches, Cadbury Eggs, and pretty much anything that’ll fit in a fryer. This open-minded enthusiasm is contagious and I found myself shouting things like, “You should fry Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!”

Fried and True Austin Texas

Aside from the novelty of finding the weirdest things to fry, it’s the signature dishes at Fried and True that keep people coming back. They only use quality ingredients, which means the hot dogs are Nathan’s and the pickle spears are homemade. The batters are formulated to adhere to their subjects, ensuring every item is cooked evenly. Each dish is fried perfection, making it light and airy, not at all greasy. A remarkable standout is the candied bacon, which satisfies all the late night cravings: sweet, salty, smoky, and crunchy. The bacon has such a cult following that people call to make sure it’s available before driving from far distances. Yes, it IS that good.

Fried and True Austin Texas

They may be newcomers, joining the food court in February 2012 after a brief stint on Rainey, but they are a crucial piece of the eclectic weirdness that dominates East Sixth. The truck’s vintage décor and the wild items being served up all contribute to their popularity. This unique truck is cranking out whimsical dishes that please the taste buds and just maybe, make you feel like a kid again.

Fried and True Austin Texas

1104 E. 6th Street, Austin, TX 78702

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 am- 2:00 pm, 7 pm-Midnight, (till 3 am Friday and Saturday)

This article originally appeared in Austin Food Magazine.

Wednesday, May 14th

Fashion Wish List: Clover Canyon

The following is a sponsored post for which I received compensation.

How often do you ladies lust after fashion? The Project Runway of my heart beats for new designs each season. My alter ego lives in New York and has a budget to shop at all the cool shops, like Scoop, one of Nina Garcia’s favorites.

Right now Clover Canyon is one of the coolest lines out there. The bright boho vibe belies its LA home, but its edginess screams New York chic. I’m crazy for their graphic prints and youthful spirit. Some pretty fierce ladies are listed as muses for the brand: Alicia Keys, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Obama, and (all hail the queen) Beyoncé.

The relatively young line emerged in 2011 and has quickly gained a loyal following with its lighthearted mixing of bold patterns. The name is all California, with views of clover-covered Laurel Canyon providing inspiration and continued optimism for the team of hardworking designers. Creative director Rozae Nichols guides the collections along of the theme of joy and life journeys, letting the prints inform the cute silhouettes.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces accessorized with some other fabulous items, all available at Scoop.

Scoop NYC
Scoop NYC by madbettyblog featuring Clover Canyon

Would you wear any of these? What are your favorite trends happening in fashion right now?
Monday, May 12th

Mad Men: The Runaways

Don Draper on Mad Men

The latest episode of Mad Men shocked me to my core. And then it did it again. I love the bravery and just…the sheer audacity of the writers. I mean, who the hell do they think they are?! They think they can do anything they want? Well, last night proves that they can.

Stephanie on Mad Men

When Don gets a call from “niece” Stephanie, he has her go to Megan’s. Even though Megan knows that Don considers her family, she’s threatened by Stephanie’s hippie, pregnant beauty. She shows her plenty of hospitable kindness she could before showing her the door. At least she gave her a thousand bucks. Stephanie seemed okay with it.

Don didn’t even get to see Stephanie as he was delayed a day when Lou made him work late. Why? Well we can blame this one on Stan.

Stan on Mad Men

When he finds Lou’s hand-drawn cartoons on the copy machine, Stan leads the creative team in some behind-his-back ribbing. Only Lou catches them making fun of him and gives them a big lecture about Underdog and Bob Dylan and living your dreams. So his dream is to be a cartoonist? That should make Lou lovable, but I just hate him even more. He lumps Don in with the other “flag-burning snots” and rebuffs his advice on dealing with the creatives.

Megan Draper dancing on Mad Men

Eventually Don makes it back to California and while he missed Stephanie, he made it in plenty of time for Megan’s blowout party. Her acting friends danced, played music, and smoked plenty of pot. When Harry Crane walked in, Don jumped at the opportunity to get the hell out of there. They went to a dark bar and Harry spilled the beans that the agency is trying to get business with Philip Morris. Don’s public anti-cigarette tirade years ago will haunt him forever and this new business would be the opportunity the agency needs to get rid of him.

He heads back to Megan’s with the heavy news weighing him down. Megan and her California BFF (Amy) lift him out of his bad mood with a spirited ménage à trois. Whaaaat?! For me, this is a little gratuitous. Is Megan trying to save the marriage? Wasn’t she ready to throw in the towel just a few episodes ago?

Peggy on Mad Men

Okay. Whatever. We need to move past that because my beloved Michael Ginsberg is finding it impossible to concentrate at work with the constant hum of the giant computer. He is unraveling before our eyes and I hate it.

He shows up at Peggy’s to use her typewriter and work in an environment where he can concentrate, much to her dismay. Despite the fact that she’s wearing the most hideous ensemble we’ve ever seen, Michael tells her they must procreate to combat the computer. Um…okaaaaay. She kicks him out and isn’t too phased by the whole thing. On Monday at work he brings her a gift and said he’s learned to live with the computer. The gift is HIS FUCKING NIPPLE. He cut it off and put it in a box! Now Peggy knows how that Van Gogh girl must have felt. Michael is taken away on a stretcher, presumably to a mental hospital.

Michael Ginsberg on Mad Men

Shit. So that’s it? My favorite copywriter and character is gone? I hope he comes back but with only two more episodes of this year, it’s unlikely we’ll see him again.

Sally and Bobby on Mad Men

Things are grim in the Francis household. Betty and Henry are constantly fighting. Betty isn’t the pleasant little housewife he needs her to be. When he tells her to “leave the thinking to him” she retorts that she’s smart and is fluent in Italian. Get out of there Betty! Go move to Rome and start a new glamorous life on your own. Her own children hate her, too, and we see Sally and Bobby bond over their miserable childhood. Oh, and Sally damaged her nose sword fighting with golf clubs. Ha ha. Awesome.

Philip Morris meeting on Mad Men

At the end of the episode Don surprises Jim and Lou by showing up at the Philip Morris meeting. Either he just saved his job or tanked it. He confidently hails a cab, at peace with what he’s done.

What did you think of the episode? What body part would you cut off for your crush? (I’d pick a baby toe. Because it’s cute.)

Monday, May 5th

Mad Men: Monolith

Stan, Peggy, and Ginsberg on Mad Men

Mad  Men got techie last night. Harry’s bitching finally paid off and they got him a computer. The world’ largest computer, it seems, as the entire agency is turned into a construction zone and the creatives lose their lounge to house the giant thing.

Peggy loudly complains that Lou knows nothing about the creative process. Of course he overhears it and is none too pleased. He retaliates by giving Peggy a raise of $100 a week. Huh? Oh, and Don has to report to her for Burger Chef, a new account lead brought in by Pete Campbell. Lou is effectively screwing both Don and Peggy in this move. Oh, Lou…you’re the worst.

Don’s transition back to work could not be better. It’s like he never left and he glides back into his old office, picks up right where he left off creatively and has the support and respect of his colleagues. FALSE. His transition back to work is horrible. He is trapped in the saddest place in the world, Lane’s old office and suicide chamber. He resents having to report to Peggy and flat out refuses to do the work. Great. Like Peggy needs another reason to act like a jerk these days.

When he suggests pitching work to the computer company, Burt shuts him down and pretty much lets him know that he’s not trusted or welcome at the agency. It’s an ugly, demeaning conversation. It’s hard to blame Don for stealing a bottle of liquor and downing it in his office. He gets Freddy to pick him up for a Mets game (some kind of twisted homage to Lane) and Freddy wisely brings Don home where he passes out till the next morning. Freddy tells him his choices are to continue along this path, essentially leaving him without a job, or “Do the work, Don.” So he suits up, goes to work, and starts writing his tag lines for Peggy. It looks like this was another episode of humility for Don.

Now onto Roger’s story. His daughter (who was acting oddly last time we saw her) ran away to live on a hippie commune. Mona and Roger end up traveling to get her and speculate how she could leave her husband and son. Is it another man? Drugs? Looks to be a little of both. Roger partakes in some pot-smoking and bonds with his daughter (now called Marigold. Puke) in a barn under the stars.

The next morning he tries to bring her back home and the two have a blow-out which leaves them both sad and muddy. She coldly tells him he was an absent father and for now at least, it looks like he’s lost her. The look on his face as he leaves is beyond heartbreaking. I have to hold my breath for a second so I don’t cry. Grim episode.

I’ll leave you with a happy image of Harry. Because we all enjoy getting a new computer.

Harry Crane on Mad Men

Thursday, May 1st

Szechuan House

Sliced Fish in Fiery Sauce at Szechuan House, Austin, Texas

East Coasters who have relocated to Austin typically have two cuisine gripes: A lack of good Italian and Chinese. Not to say Austin is a total desert, it’s just that back home there are tons of both. Everywhere. I can make some pretty decent Italian at home, but the Chinese? I depend on the restaurants for the good stuff. But where can you get the good stuff?

Szechuan House, baby. They’ve got the good stuff, all right. My first experience at Szechuan House was a fun one; I attended a dinner with about 20 other people right before the holidays. Some were friends, some were strangers. We ordered tons and tons of food to try and it was a warm cozy night of laughter and good conversation, everyone giddy and spice drunk. I’ve been wanting to return ever since, so it was a stroke of good fortune when Foodie is the New Forty and South Austin Foodie set a date to go. Don’t I have the coolest friends?

I couldn’t remember much of what I ate that first visit, but one dish rang clear in my mind and I wanted it again: Soup Dumplings! The pork dumplings are steamed until the aspic melts into a “soup” and the wrapper is tender and a bit sticky. These are very, very good.

Soup Dumplings at Szechuan House, Austin Texas

Another highlight and hands down favorite of the table was Stir-Fried Three Kinds of Mushrooms. The name is simple, but the dish is complex. The umami mushrooms are perfectly cooked and coated in a savory brown sauce. Is there anything more luxurious than a large plate of mushrooms? I highly recommend trying this dish.

Stir-Fried Three Kinds of Mushrooms at Szechuan House, Austin Texas

I’d like to eventually work my way around the many seafood dishes on the menu, but on this occasion we had the Sliced Fish with Fiery Sauce. It’s really more of a soup, the flaky fish (no idea what kind) floating in a light, brothy sauce, red with spices. And yet, the dish is not as flavorful or as spicy as I’d like. But would I eat it again? Yes.

Sliced Fish in Fiery Sauce at Szechuan House, Austin, Texas

Dry Fried Green Beans is a simple side, showcasing the natural flavor of the beans, crispness intact. Savory ground meat (I’m guessing pork?) jazzed it up and made it a little heartier.

Dry Fried Green Beans at Szechuan House, Austin Texas

Our spiciest order was the Ma-Po Tofu. Traditionally the dish is not vegetarian, with tofu and some type of meat suspended in a fiery chili and fermented black bean sauce. The silky texture of the soy balanced well with the heavier sauce. Like puffy little clouds floating in volcanic lava. Again, I highly recommend trying this one if you check out Szechuan House.

Ma-Po Tofu at Szechuan House, Austin Texas

The Twice Cooked Pork is a staple, so much so that we saw it on the buffet. Pork belly is first simmered in water with spices and then sliced and pan-fried. It’s an unusual texture for pork belly, which I usually like to see crispy, but it was not unpleasant and the flavors were robust and satisfying.

Twice Cooked Pork at Szechuan House, Austin Texas

Most of the dishes fall in the ten dollar range and Szechuan House is BYOB, making it an ideal spot for a group dinner. Service is fast and efficient, and while the ambiance is nothing to speak of, with the right friends and the right food no one will care.

I look forward to many more friend-filled evenings at Szechuan House. A new favorite!

Monday, April 28th

Mad Men: Field Trip

Don Draper of Mad Men

It’s painful to watch Don Draper circling the drain, but I’m appreciative that the Mad Men writers aren’t afraid to play with the dynamics. After all these years, the show still feels fresh.

When Megan’s agent calls Don to see if he can talk some sense into her, he hops on the next flight to LA. At first she’s happy for the surprise visit, but when he gently coaches her on dealing with rejection, she loses it. Of course, she had already lost her mind when she kept demanding new auditions and hunted down a director in person. (In today’s Hollywood, would Megan be the type to ruin herself with too much plastic surgery? What lengths will a crazy actress go to for a role?)

Megan and Don on Mad Men

Once Megan’s anger ignites, she unleashes a fury on Don that we haven’t ever seen before. She knows he hasn’t been calling her from work and insists he’s having an affair. She was his secretary after all and knows his ways. When he finally admits that he hasn’t been working she is unsympathetic. She tells him to leave and ends the marriage.

Okay, I want to take a minute to discuss this. I know Megan isn’t a crowd favorite, but I always liked her as Don’s wife. She was light and airy, youthful, and more importantly, called him on his shit. She forced an honesty in Don that Betty never did and I think their relationship gave Don dimensions we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I think the lighthearted moments between Don and Sally are due to Megan’s influence. So yes, I’m Team Megan. Haters to the left.

Betty on Mad Men

Team Betty-ites will be happy to see her interest in motherhood renewed. When she volunteers as chaperone for Bobby’s class trip to a farm, we get to see a fun side of her. She smokes on the bus with the kids and makes comments to Bobby about his teacher’s slutty attire. How fun! When no one wants to drink warm milk fresh out of the cow, Betty jumps in and drinks it straight from the bucket with a smile. Oh, this is delightful! I hope no one messes it up, by say, trading Betty’s Very Important Sandwich for a bag of gumdrops.

Damn you, Bobby! How could you be so selfish? Welp, the day is ruined as is their relationship and possibly motherhood. Forever.

Bobby and Betty on Mad Men

Back at the agency, the insults keep coming. Peggy’s not getting any CLIO nominations even though she’s doing some of her best work. Michael Ginsberg (who I just freaking love so much) is getting recognized, however. And Harry Crane still isn’t getting the respect (or computer) he deserves. Harry’s arrogance in the office cracks me up. I’m kind of surprised that he hasn’t been fired by now. Peggy, too, since Lou is an immature, threatened dirtbag of a man.

Don and Roger on Mad Men

Okay, back to Don. He’s attempting to get his life back on track. He takes a meeting and gets a job offer. He brings the offer to Roger and the two finally have it out. Roger tells him to come back if he wants; he can start Monday. Yay! But when he shows up Monday it’s a series of really awkward interactions. No one knew he was coming. No one knows what to say to him. No one knows he still works there. And where the F is Roger?!

Don, Jim, Joan and Burt on Mad Men

Eventually Roger shows up, drunk and all casual, like, My name’s on the door, baby. I don’t need to run nothing by nobody. Of course, the partners are pissed and they have a heated discussion. In the end, their decision to keep Don is financial. (Um, hello? He’s a creative genius. Why doesn’t anyone remember that? He has one emotional meltdown in front of a client and now he’s an untouchable? Freddy peed his pants at work. Roger threw up oysters in the office. Ken brought in a riding lawnmower that led to a coworker losing his foot. I mean, shit happens.)

They simply can’t afford to buy out his shares. But his return to work is conditional.

1. Don is not allowed to be alone with clients.

2. When he does speak to clients, he must stick to a pre-approved script.

3. No drinking.

4. He has to sit in Lane’s old office.

5. He will report to Lou. Fucking Lou!

Failure to abide by these rules means Don forfeits his shares. This is SO INSULTING. He ponders for just a moment before saying, “Okay.” I shriek. Mr Betty gasps. And then Jimi Hendrix closes out the episode.

What did you think?