A few thoughts about Helen Bishop in New Amsterdam.

She and Betty get pretty up close and personal, (though it pales in comparison with Glen Bishop’s version of up close and personal. But enough about that). With Helen and Betty you certainly never feel that they connect. Betty hears a lot about a marriage gone bad. It is probably the first time she’s ever heard these kinds of details from a divorcée.

Later in the episode, Betty tells Dr. Wayne, (aka “Mr. Personality”) that Helen is likely jealous of her.

Wait. Seriously? Umm… didn’t Helen witness Don walking out on Betty at Sally’s birthday party a few weeks earlier? More than witness it; she was part of the rescue committee, what with her Sara Lee cake.

There is this one moment I love; Don comes home late, sees Betty and Helen sitting on the couch, gives a very brief and polite hello and then slinks up the stairs. I found it hilarious. So much unspoken from Don—What the hell could they possibly be talking about? Damn, she’s my type. Wow, she knows I ran out on my kid’s birthday party. I am SO not allowed to talk to that woman.

And somehow I felt like Helen got all that subtext, and was unphased. Helen is a bit like Joan in her understanding of men and their responses to women. (more…)

In Indian Summer, Don and Rachel are in bed together. In the previous episode, Long Weekend, they had slept together for the first time. Here, we see that they have gone on as lovers, and they discuss things that reveal the kind of lovers they have become. (This is one of those wonderful bits of writing that assumes us, the viewers, to have intelligence. We don’t need every detail. We really do know how these things work; what kind of promises are made and felt.)

(Another example of that is in the Wheel, when we find Harry living in the office. I have a friend at work who is trying desperately to watch this show, but is confused by AMC’s suckful out-of-sequence episode-skipping sloppiness, and when he saw this scene, he asked me if he had missed an episode. No, I assured him, he hadn’t. Weiner simply didn’t fill in every blank for us. We don’t know if Harry ‘fessed up on his own or if Jennifer found evidence; all we know is Harry is without his wife and it’s bad. But I seriously digress.)

Don & Rachel. She is so happy, and so struggling. She tells Don it’s hard for her, but she also feels badly because it must be even harder on him.

Don: “I don’t think about it. I mean, I try not to.” (more…)

The best thing I got out of the experience of watching the New York Times Arts & Leisure do was this quote from Matt Weiner:

“The show is based on denial, and what better denial…?”

He’s talking about Peggy’s pregnancy, and I think that’s the insight we need as we contemplate what will happen for Peggy in season two.

Babies are hard to deny, but not impossible. Any action Peggy takes will have major consequences. Give it* up for adoption? Have her mother raise it and pretend she doesn’t have a baby that way? I know, I know that she won’t quit to raise it. Where does that leave her?

Denial is creating the mental state that you want, despite the reality. ‘I want to be a strong single career girl, not a timid mouse, and not a mother,’ says Peggy, and somehow she will make it so. And this is not different from Dick Whitman making himself into Don Draper, or Betty making herself into a pretty wife content to stay at home.

Interesting that Betty has the fewest exterior reasons to end denial (no secret identity, no baby) and yet she’s the one closest to breaking through.

*I cannot remember if it’s a boy or a girl. I haven’t rewatched The Wheel yet. Roberta says it’s a boy.