Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Mad Men: Sterling Cooper Draper Downsizes to Reflect Our (Not Their) Times


Matt Weiner did something interesting in last night’s “Mad Men” episode: “Blowing Smoke.”

A couple of things actually.

In the penultimate episode of the season, directed by John Slattery, we got a curve ball: though times were prosperous enough in mid 1965, Weiner has caused a financial upheaval at Sterling Cooper Draper etc. Last night they downsized, firing employees and cutting way back because they’ve lost their biggest client, Lucky Strike cigarettes.

In doing this, Weiner has cannily mirrored our times in 2010. Watching the staff pack up at SCD was all too reminiscent of what’s happening right now at so many small companies. It’s a very clever, and sensitive move. It’s also the stuff of good drama, and lets Weiner shake up the cast for next season.

There was also a sensational guest shot from Rosemarie DeWitt. Rosemarie was in the first six episodes of “Mad Men” back in 2007 as Midge Daniels, Don’s kooky mistress. Then she went off to fame–if not fortune–in the film “Rachel Getting Married.” It was great to see her back again. She is really terrific. She has a bunch of feature films coming up and is a regular on “United States of Tara.” But she was perfect in her return.

Meanwhile: Sally Draper is getting better, says her therapist. Betty is getting worse. It does look like Henry Francis may figure this all out soon. For Sally’s sake, let’s hope so.

restaurant of the week: the much missed La Caravelle, it was on West 55th St. The late New York Times “60 Minute Gourmet” Pierre Franey–whose books I worked on as a publicist in the early 1980s–lived above it. We had lunch there often. They had the broccoli puree in the world. It was nice to hear its name again.

Finally: Don’s anti-smoking ad/letter in the Times was spot on for 1965. The whole heroin/smoking addiction thing was a little heavy handed, but that was the time when there was an initial serious effort to get people to stop smoking. Somehow, though, I’ll miss the cloud of smoke that envelops “Mad Men.” But at least now the characters have a chance at living longer lives.

Let’s just hope they don’t give up drinking and sex. What will be left?

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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