Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mad Men, Peggy, and Chicken Kiev

As alarmed as I am by Food Network stars---from The Complacent Contessa to The Always Ecstatic Though Seemingly Foreshortened Giada—I’m thanking god that the Mad Men are back so I can allow them to alarm me instead. 

Mad Men, of course, covers the era before food as we now know it existed. This is why the increasingly drunken Don Drooper must seduce his dates over such awkward fare as Chicken Kiev. And why Joanie orders up equal parts deli and take-out Chinese to serve at the office Christmas debacle. Who among them can taste food anyway? Lucky Strikes have scorched every palate and gin martinis have numbed every bud. Indeed, Freddy Rumson could dump his Pond’s Cold Cream into a chafing dish and pass it off as a pallid fondue.

Speaking of Freddy, let’s speak of Peggy, a woman for whom no man ever buys Chicken Kiev. I suppose the odious Duck might have ordered her some from room service once, but since he is so odious, I highly doubt it. No, Peggy can’t get Chicken Kiev because Peggy’s a girl who tells men the truth, and truth is never girly, to wit:

Freddy to Peggy as they discuss how to advertise Pond’s Cold Cream: “Isn’t it about making old ladies look good?”

Peggy (pause): “Nothing makes old ladies look good.”

And when Peggy isn’t telling a truth, you can see by her face that she’s in the horrendous process of realizing one. Take the last scene of this season’s episode two, when she’s finally succumbed to her boyfriend, the Sex Nag, a lad so clueless he thinks she’s a virgin when she’s actually given birth to Pete Campbell’s baby. (Oops, I guess Peggy isn’t always telling the truth—bring her a platter of those steaming Kievs!) Peggy doesn’t want to be lonely, but being stuck with a Sex Bore for life might, she senses, be even worse.

And how does she know this? Here is my thought: As ancient and evil as Duck Phillips is, he did tell Peggy that he longed to (let me paraphrase here) take off her clothes, throw her onto the bed, and give her the “best go-around" she’d ever had.  The best go-around she'd ever had.  Ponder this statement a moment.  It might not be romantic, but it’s still quite a promise. And who knows? Maybe he kept it.

In which case, Peggy could be maritally doomed. Unless, that is, she can find a way to send Mark the Youth to Ducky the Devil for several sessions of Go-Around Tutelage. Now that’s an episode I want to see. I’ll watch it while snacking on scotch and rumaki. Or some new-fangled buffalo wing per a recipe from  Down Home with the Squeelys, yet another show that completely alarms me.


  1. Dear Ms. G ... glad to read you again. Missed you.


  2. Dear Ms. Gonick,

    I haven't watched Mad Men, having given up mindlessly sitting in front of the TV screen.. opting instead for sitting mindlessly in front of the PC screen. However you certainly seem to have captured what I can recall of the culinary senses of every one that I knew from back in the period where we were both drinking and smoking to excess. Our palates were easily amused in those times.

    Your alarm at Down Home with the Squeely's was extremely contagious, until Google told me that you were just pulling our collective leg. Hey!.. what's a fella to believe. The last I noticed, such a show was not out of the realm of possibility! Sometimes I feel as though the whole human race is nearing the point where we all 'jump the shark'!

    Thank you once again for your insights, Ms. Gonick.. that help us to keep in mind the fact that life can't be taken too seriously!

  3. Mad Men is a poor caricature, and the tints used in filming are, I think, supposed to allude to the cartoonishness of the show. Nice to see you back, Gonick.

  4. Oh My God, Jim--I had to Google "jump the shark" and now I am horrified. By the way, it's delightful to hear from you again. And, not to be too grammatically pompous, The Squeelys has no apostrophe. Just sayin'.
    As ever,
    Ms. G