If you found yourself watching the final seasons of Mad Men and really vibing with Don Draper’s swinging Manhattan bachelor pad, here is the apartment for you.
The Daily Mail points to a listing that recently popped up on Zillow. It’s for a Chicago penthouse, 1,877 square feet, listed at $158,000 by Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Starck Real Estate. It was built in 1972 and apparently hasn’t been changed since, and frankly it is magnificent.
Inspired by the 1965 book Decoration USA, by Jose Wilson and Arthur Leaman, and the bestselling books of Betty Pepis, this is pop design, no high modernist masterpiece. It’s about pretending you’re happy, rather than about civilisation. In a small indicator of depravity, the living room is over twice the size of the dining room. Who cares about table manners when your wife is half your age?
Perhaps the most retro design decision, one that would never be made today, is screening off the kitchen from the living and dining spaces. Thanks to the popularity of the island, today’s kitchens are about public performance. This kitchen, which neither Don nor Megan spend much time in, was designed for efficiency. The most social thing about it is the bar which Draper, in his spiral into alcoholism, utilizes often.
Betty, before starting to reject the role of politician’s wife, announces that she’ll be serving Crab Louie at their party. The dish, said to be created in San Francisco in the early 1900s, basically consists of mayo, crab meat, hard boiled eggs, tomato, asparagus, and iceberg lettuce.
They relate the design and clothes on the show to the characters and themes.
A major theme of Mad Men seems to be exactly the same as The Sopranos: Can a bad man redeem himself? The answers seem to be working out differently. Matthew Weiner, who created, writes, and runs Mad Men, wrote for The Sopranos.
Like I said, I love the T&L analysis, but I disagree with them on a few points:
They say it’s bad writing for the agency to be treating Don so stupidly. Bert is turning away perfectly good business simply because Don’s the one who brought it in.
But this is by no means out of character. The agency in all its incarnations has been stupidly run. It’s a smalltime agency that got carried into the mid-leagues on Don’s shoulders. It has had ambitions for the bigs, but was never going to make it. Look at who’s running the place now: A guy in California who spends all his time daydreaming at his desk, another guy who fantasizes he’s John Galt, a lush who only shows up half the time, and a guy who seems to be only interested in office politics. Of the partners, only Joan seems to have it on the ball.
They say Joan is behaving out of character for being cruel to Don, when he friended her. But she’s ruthless. She’s fed up with being treated badly by handsome, charming, feckless men: Roger, her ex-husband, now Don.
They say Peggy is behaving out of character for being so easily upset and bitchy. She’s become almost like an antifeminist cliche. But Mad Men has always used its characters as both archetypes and fully rounded people in themselves. And Peggy’s characteristic this year is she’s desperately lonely. She doesn’t have a man, she doesn’t have friends that we’ve seen, and she’s alienated from her family. Desperate loneliness makes a person nasty and stupid. (Julie came up with the point about Peggy, which surprised me because she doesn’t usually go in for fanwanking as much as I do.)
Tom and Lorenzo make the point that we see the world of Mad Men through the eyes of its main characters, who are white, wealthy, and insular. That’s why there have been few nonwhite characters, and the ones we’ve seen have been so one-dimensional. And that’s why the hippies in this episode are portrayed the way they are, while Roger and Mona “look spectacular together.”
But if this scene had been shot in 1969, they’d have been made up to look ridiculous and the people on the commune would have been beautiful flower children.
Instead, those are some of the filthiest hippies you ever did see. The show has made a habit of not romanticizing the counterculture of the period, from the pretentiousness of the beatniks leading to Midge’s pathetic downfall and heroin addiction, to the pointlessness of the squatters that rocked Betty’s world last season. It’s partially because Weiner wants to write a less-often-told version of the decade; the one that the grownups lived through. In other words these are hippies as seen through the eyes of wealthy, mature establishment types. “These people are lost and on drugs and have venereal diseases.” Much like how the black characters went from invisible to barely visible to having agency in the story – because that’s how the white people at the center of this story saw them over time.
I’m still not in love with the black characters on Mad Men. They’re a greek chorus rather than actual characters. They say what the audience is thinking. If the show really treated the blacks as characters, those characters would be as messed up and badly behaved as everybody else; instead they’re wise and patient. But that’s arguably realistic for a show that takes the viewpoint it does.
It’s exhilarating and scary being out in the world as your authentic self, after putting up a facade for much of your life. That’s true even if you haven’t been hiding the fact that you grew up in a whorehouse. But once you’ve started doing it, you never want to go back. That’s what Don is doing now. He’s had mixed results: He lost his job and his wife, but gained back his daughter.
Don’s face going into that final meeting was scared and resolute, not an expression we’re used to seeing Don wear at all. His true self. In the words of a recovering addict on a different show – Nurse Jackie – “Is this it? Am I going to have feelings now?”
Why’d Don take the deal? He’s tired of running away and making a fresh start. He’s going to return to the mess he made and clean it up if he can. And besides, he’s no Peggy. He’ll eat Lou before breakfast. He knows this is a door that’s only going to open for him once, and even if it’s open the tiniest crack he can get all the way in.
Why was Joan such a bitch about him? He was always a friend to her. I think it’s a leftover of the way he treated her in the aftermath of the Jaguar deal, and the way that she sealed it. Also, she’s all businesswoman now.
Peggy’s bitchiness is more explainable — she’s just bitter to everyone now. They’ll have it out and be partners again.
Roger drunk is a Klingon in meetings.
Nice to see Betty back. “Why don’t they love me?” I don’t know, maybe because weird Oedipal Bobby was so happy to have his mother with him on a field trip and you threw it in his face?
Who was the girl in the bar? Was she just a setup from the other agency, as Don suggested?
Will Don and Roger peel off and start yet another agency? If so, who comes with them? Certainly the creative team, maybe even Pete, Harry is ready to go (and he’s had quite a transformation from the timid salaryman he was early in the season). Peggy? Joan? Or do they both go and start their own agency?
The clothes are just going to keep getting uglier and uglier, aren’t they? Funny: Back then, Don would have looked hopelessly square and out-of-date, but to our 21st Century eyes he’s the only one who doesn’t look ridiculous.