Mad Men: The Minor Characters in Season 5
The online recaps and analysis that followed every episode of Mad Men, particularly this season, have been nearly as enjoyable for me as the moment on Sunday nights that the intro credits begin. Slate, AV Club and Television w/o Pity were the first sites I visited on Monday mornings, and the insightful style recaps from Tom & Lorenzo gave me an entirely new and fascinating way to study the fashion within the scenes of each episode.
One of the other things I tried to pay close attention to this season was the show’s seemingly minor characters. Some, I hope, are never seen again, but we all know that others will inevitably play a role in Mad Men’s final two seasons. As we’ve seen, a character’s growing presence can sometimes sneak up on you.
This is Don’s secretary — you know, not Allison, the one after Miss Blankenship.
This is Megan Draper, aspiring actress. She likes ye-ye, dry spaghetti and angry sex.
Trudy isn’t really a minor character. She’s Pete’s wife and she’s been around since the beginning. But this season, in part because of Alison Brie’s role on Community, we’ve seen little of Trudy outside of the suburban Connecticut home she’s made with Pete. She’s the hostess of dinner parties and the doting mother of the little girl she wanted so much.
Pete, who is attracted to vulnerable women and has cheated mercilessly on his smart and self-possessed wife since his wedding, is clearly not in love with her. By next season, they will probably have returned to the city. I’m rooting for the liberation of Trudy in 1967.
Tumblr to follow: Texts from Trudy Campbell
Michael Ginsburg: ”Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.”
Stan Rizzo: You should read the rest of that poem, you boob.
Everyone is more interested in talking about Ginsberg, but Stan appears to have more going on between his ears than his brawn and chauvinistic quips would suggest. He worked on LBJ’s 1964 campaign and recognizes Ginsberg’s line from "Ozymandias." (I didn’t.) Is he also desperately in love with Peggy?
Tumblr to follow: Stan Loves Peggy
Pauline may have offered Sally a Seconal to alleviate nightmares, but as a straight-shooter and Sally’s only (step)grandparent who actually seems to notice her, Pauline may be the closest thing to a role model this poor girl has. Pauline knows Betty is a “silly woman,” and Sally is beginning to realize it too.
Tumblr to follow: The Life of Sally Draper
He observes that Don’s manners are studied and he’s absolutely right.
Bobby - How old are you gonna be?
Don - Forty. So when you are forty how old will I be?
Bobby - You will be dead.
Don’s son was replaced for the fourth time in five seasons this year. He didn’t get many lines, but he had this one. Try imaging what a mess Don Draper’s middle-aged son would be like by the 1990s.
To everyone’s relief, Don didn’t actually strangle former lover Andrea and stuff her body under the bed he shares with Megan — in fact, his fever dream indicated that in his own mind, he was trying to resist temptations to cheat on his new wife.
We probably won’t see Andrea again, but the most interesting thing about her to me is that she was a lover of Don’s that the viewers didn’t see in earlier seasons. Much has been said about the Lincoln Center comment that adds debate to when exactly the tryst took place, but I find it more fun to contemplate how many more affairs Don had off-screen.
One more thing about that episode: The fever dream involving Andrea’s first “visit” shows Don rising from bed to answer the door. After dismissing her, he gets back into bed and shuts his eyes. This latter scene is literally the same footage of Don waking up minutes before, aired in reverse.
Pete’s rifle — only mentioned in conversation at Trudy’s dinner party — is its own reoccurring character in this show. I think some of us thought it might play a bigger role this season, but after everything else that happened, I’m so glad it didn’t.
I feel like it was unnecessary to see Adam in this last episode — I get it, everyone gets it. Lane’s empty chair in the conference room was much more powerful than seeing this guy standing over Don in a dentist’s office.
Joan’s Fur Coat
In a heartbreaking scene, Joan arrives to the Jaguar slimebag’s hotel room wearing the same fur coat Roger bought for her at the beginning of their love affair. Let’s hope she never wears it again.
Megan’s friend is another aspiring actress, always dressed in bright neo-hippie colors, and has no reservation crawling around on an office desk in front of the SCDP creative team nor introducing Sally to the “Do the carpets match the drapes?” entendre. She also kind of told off Megan at one point this season, so I guess I like her. She serves as “Don’s wife’s redheaded friend/frenemy” much like Betty’s friend Francine did in earlier seasons.
The new SCDP or (as I suppose it is now, sadly) SCDH executive board meeting secretary is Scarlett, who seems to be doing her best to imitate Joan in manner and appearance. Scarlett hasn’t appeared to have slept with anyone in the office yet, and seems to be capable enough to handle the task of executive assistant. Remember Jane’s first episode? Joan initially liked her — it wasn’t until Jane started unbuttoning her blouse at her desk that there was any bad blood between the two of them. I’m assuming that Scarlett’s been behind the scenes long enough to know better than to sleep with any of these people, especially the partners. Keep your distance, Roger.
The Movie Theater
I’m in favor of weekly movie dates between Don and Peggy as a way to keep them connected throughout the rest of the series. Cool Hand Luke, The Graduate, and In Cold Blood all came out in the last half of 1967. Which matinee will open the sixth season?