Home Invasions

 Posted by on April 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm  Characters, Mad Men, Themes
Apr 152015

Early on in of Mad Men episode 7.09, New Business, Don’s secretary, Meredith, tells Harry Crane that she’d be afraid to got o California because the “the Manson brothers could be running around.” Taking place in May of 1970, the The Tate-LaBianca murders committed by, as Harry quickly corrects Meredith, the “Manson FAMILY” would certainly be front and center in the minds of many. However, as nothing on Mad Men is random, it’s hard to imagine these were throw-away lines added strictly to be a period cultural reference or, as some reviewers have postulated, an inside joke about past predictions that Megan would get somehow caught up in the Manson murders of the late 1960’s. Instead, this seems to be a deliberate device in an episode that focuses on outside intruders and dysfunctional families.

New Business opens with an awkward moment between Don and Betty as Don loudly makes himself at home using Betty’s blender to mix milkshakes for the children. From Betty’s perspective, this is an intrusion of sorts and precedes a shot of Don reflecting on how his former family is no more.

mansonThe storyline of Don’s latest love interest, Diana (“Di”/”die”), is particularly dark and creates an air of foreboding. Don intrudes upon her life and finds out where she works after talking to her former manager. In an exchange during an intimate moment that, on the face of it, seems almost banal, Don tells Diane that she smells “incredible.” She replies that it’s because of the shampoo she bought from Avon — a company whose marketing strategy relied heavily on “home invasions.” Diane adds: “I bought it in my living room” At the risk of being overly analytic, it’s notable that the victims of the Tate-LaBianca murders also euphemistically “bought it” in their respective living rooms at the hands of home invaders.

Diana’s familial dysfunction is revealed by her subsequent sad admission to having lost one child to illness and abandoning the other.

A chance encounter in the elevator of his apartment building with Arnold and Sylvia Rosen reminds the audience of how Don’s invasion of their home disrupted two families.

The “Pima” Ryan character clearly invades Stan Rizzo’s world in a number of ways. She arrives uninvited (from his perspective) at the agency, at one point, appears suddenly in his office, and finally manipulates her way into his dark room. Arguably, Pima also disrupts Stan’s “family” life by seducing the art director knowing full well he is in a relationship. Furthermore, there’s something eerie about the dark hooded models quickly shown being posed by Pima for her Cinzano photo shoot.hoods
Finally, Megan’s mother, Marie, commits the ultimate act of home invasion when she arranges to takes all of the living room furnishings in Don’s apartment. At one point, Megan and Marie note a wine stain left on the bedroom carpet during Don’s tryst with the TWA fight attendant from the previous episode. The red stain could easily be mistaken for blood. That Marie is leaving Megan’s father is yet another example of family dysfunction depicted in New Business.

The episode ends with Don, who has been pushed away by Diana and formally ended his marriage to Megan, returning home to an apartment that is both literally and figuratively empty.

Author’s Note: I realized as I was writing this that I ran the risk of being as overly aggressive in interpreting the symbolism of New Business as Charles Manson himself  was in deconstructing what he saw as hidden meanings in The Beatles “White Album.” Yet, there it is.


  52 Responses to “Home Invasions”

  1. Good examples!

    I also remember earlier in the season a few characters coming home to find that someone was there who they didn’t expect to be. At least I think it was in Season 7 (unless it was Season 6)

    Pete waiting inside the house that used to be his, and then Trudy comes home and is surprised to find him there.

    Peggy coming home to find a workman there (iirc she didn’t realize he’d still be there), and she is confused when he references “her son” only to find out he’s referring to the neighbor boy who lives upstairs.

    • Both of those are indeed S7. I think Peggy was expecting her brother in law, and instead found his assistant, a sexy guy who gave her his phone number. WHERE IS HE?

      • Indeed, where? Blue Collar guy like that – uncomplicated and available (compared to city-hopping-job-seeking-attorney).

      • Ha ha – yes!!! I hope she didn’t lose his number.

      • He doesn’t want things he hasn’t seen.
        So, no.

      • YES!!

        Where is Nick!!

        “It’s so hot in here…would you like some ice tea?” What an opener…

        Note: I really hate this split season. It really is season 7 and season 8 compact style

        I feel as we are nearing the end, MM is trying to tie up loose ends for characters very quickly, instead of the usual languid style over a complete season. In one ep he managed to tie up Ken Crosgrove life and inform the audience of his choice. And given by 7.02 we are back into Peggy’s love life, the continuity seems odd

  2. Also earlier in the season, Don surprising Megan with a visit in LA.

  3. The point about there being “something sinister” about the models in the Cinzano shoot is interesting. They’re wearing black capes with hoods, yes; but that’s just to complete the look of the ad, i.e. black keys on a piano. (Why only the black keys? Because vermouth is supposed to be a counterpoint to the gin in a martini, I guess.) So, why capes and hoods, instead of gowns or cocktail dresses? Stan the art director would have the final say on that one, why not ask him…?

    • Of course, the cocktail dresses are already there; the only real question is about the hooded capes.

      • A grownup, menacing version of Little Red Riding Hood? Another instance of predator and prey, with the woman (LRRH) now playing the part of the wolf? A nod to Pima, the female predator dressed in men’s clothing?

        • And a spin on Ginzberg’s dark Cinderella ad. (I do hope we see him again).

          There was also the episode after several nurses had been murdered in their room, and Sally ended up sedated under the sofa.

  4. Very interesting reading. I picked up Diana’s comment that “she bought it at home” and thought the line was odd but that is as far as I went with my thought. While you may be “overthinking”, I am amazed how you connected that line to the Manson murders and impressed with where you took the home invasion concept– brings to mind when Grandma Ida broke into the apartment.

    I have been wondering what Don was doing in Bett’s house. I don’t recall him ever being welcome in the house before but I could have fogged out on that. While I can come up with various scenarios where Don would be in the house caring for the boys, it just didn’t sit right with me.

    • The difference here is that Sally is not around. As a teen girl, even a young teen, Sally was considered old enough to babysit for her brothers. Now Don is coming home with just his boys. By my calculations, Bobby should be 13 or 14 by now, but he sure doesn’t look it; I’m not sure the show is adding his age correctly. At any rate, sexist as Don is, he probably doesn’t consider a boy a suitable babysitter regardless of age.

      So, Don comes in with his boys because there’s no adult home and because they didn’t get dessert at the diner.

    • I think the last time Sally was left alone to babysit Bobby and Gene was in Don’s apartment in NYC when Grandma Ida came in through the unlocked service door, robbed the Draper’s blind and prompted Bobby to ask, “Are we Negroes?”

      My guess is that given that experience and Don’s penchant for guilt, he would rather have the boys than leave them to be watched by a babysitter. At least Henry didn’t ask Grandma Pauline to watch them!

      Also, Betty and Henry were at a dinner with the Dean of Fairfield University, and it is likely that Don took the boys out for dinner as part of his regular custody agreement — hence the comment about the broken blender at the diner and the boys not getting dessert.

    • Two boys hanging out with their natural father in their mother-and-step-father’s kitchen. Making chocolate milkshakes. Doesn’t “sit right”?

      The split is by now over six years old (since Dec. 1963). When will that little cold war ever thaw?

      (actually the thaw started when Don showed up for Gene’s Sunday birthday party and Betty held Henry off saying “we have everything”)

      So far as I recall Don has never been shown in the “new” house so there is little by which to check the temperature at Chez Francis. In Ep 501 he dropped the kids off at the curb after a weekend.

      OTOH, it didn’t sit right with Don either. Look how quickly he fled even after Henry extended an olive branch.

      • I don’t profess to have total recall of MM so I may have missed the melting phase but my impression is that Henry has always had an anger or resentment towards Don. While Betty may have warmed to Don, at least physically, I don’t recall Henry having done so. Maybe it’s normal for some ex-spouses to come into the “step-house” while the ex and new spouse aren’t home. I just never got the sense that Don was made to feel welcome in the Francis house and the lack of comfort stemmed from Mr. Francis. Maybe I missed the sign of reconciliation?

        • No, I don’t think you missed anything. Chilly civility seems to be the status quo, with the occasional covert dig thrown in.

          • The reconciliation is my guess for the end point of the series. Don being included in his family again, all of them having dinner together, something like that. Henry and Don going out for drinks to hash it out would be a great story for an episode. I’d also like a bottle episode of just Don talking to a shrink for the whole show.

            • Don at a shrink would represent a real grab at growth.
              But, this is DON.
              Anyone ever see the pilot episode of this program?
              Don would choose to go celibate before this, ever happened.

            • @TK:

              You refer to Don calling Dr. Wayne, who says that Betty is a “child”? A shocker, not only that Dr. Wayne would betray Betty like that, but also that he was such an A$$#0LE.

              All Don could say was to object to how much Wayne was going to pick his bones for.

        • I suppose my impression was that it would be natural for Don to hang with his sons until the surrogate (de facto) dad came home.

          I have no illusion that my impression would be shared by Henry or Betty, but would think some form of normalcy or comfort would creep in vis-a-vis that scene.

          For purposes of the narrative there has been a clear split between the ex-Draper and current-Francis home so far as Don has been concerned.

          On further reflection, Henry has always been chilly with Don (no reconciliation) – and that has not improved (too bad for everyone). At the split Betty started from such a hostile and bitter place that for her chilly civility would be an improvement – and her overnighter with Don bespoke bemused, detached acceptance.

          I’d guess that finding Don in the kitchen was much more annoying/discomfiting to the Mister than to the Missus.

          • It reminds me a great deal of my older dog who pees on the food bowl after he eats so the younger dog is “put in his place”.

            • No doubt, this was part of Don’s competitive, alpha dog, orientation. But as a pretty good dad (at least when he’s “on”, face-to-face in that role) crossing the portal is just what an attentive dad will do.

              The alpha dog metaphor reminds me of Megan’s wail to Peggy (in Zou Bisou):

              “you people are soooo CYNICAL”

          • i read the avon shampoo to also connect to different class distinctions…i cant remember for sure if any of the other women used avon products (not referencing joan’s business w co,). however, id imagine that a rachel or sylvia or betty, etc. would use high end stuff, yet don is attracted to the more working class budget thst is connected to diana n to his own roots…the class thing also is a part of pete’s shock at idea of “rented” clubs n being put off by don not wearing the “right” clothes on a golf course

            • We think of Avon as being “working class” now, but back in the MM era, you were a suburban housewife if you bought Avon. This is why Di says she bought the shampoo in her living room, in the house she lived in. Di had every woman’s dream life–the house in the burbs, children, and a husband…she’s only “working class” now because she’s left all that after the death of her child.

            • Di had every woman’s dream life–the house in the burbs, children, and a husband”

              That used to be Joan’s dream.

          • Henry Francis isn’t what anyone would call a “smart man”; but he IS a decent man, first and last, and also (as one might expect from a political operative) keenly aware of the optics of a situation, and of perception vs. reality. He therefore knew enough to steel himself against the bitterness Betty has long felt towards Don, and, being caught in the middle between his desire to present a cool and calm head and needing to at least appear to stay , in Betty’s corner, evolved from indifference to calm, frigid contempt.

          • I always think back to Don’s boxes stored at the old house and Henry clearly enjoying bumping them with his car. Of course Don later dumps the entire contents.

            On the Avon business I have a question for you guys. Was Avon considered working class or what? I remember the Avon days (mostly perfume and cosmetics I think) but we lived in a rural area and a teenage boy I never had a sense of what the cultural conotation might have been.

            I can tell you that in those days I would have been damn impressed that people would bring shampoo and soap to my door!

            • Avon as a brand, as I remember was not working class in the sense of “just getting by”, it was sold door to door by nice ladies who wore gloves. And yes, I remember it very well in the 1950’s and early 60’s. They would come to your house and show the lady of the house new make up items, give out little tiny samples of lipstick and then take the order which was delivered in a week or two. I know it cost more than the drugstore brands, and it was marketed as “customized”. It was not as upscale as going to a department store, like Macy’s and having the ladies at the cosmetic counter mix colors together to match your skin tone, and I do remember going with my Mom when she did that in the 50’s. So it was a sign of some wealth, skilled work, teachers, etc. but not Betty or Megan type money. The shampoo was vastly superior to Prell.

          • Betty STILL wishes deep down, that Don had been a better man, she is sooooooo attracted to him.
            Don could not wait to get out of there the minute the Lord and Mistress of the Manor arrived.
            Then he paused…….then the look…….and for a few seconds DD thought of what he lost when he fucked up.
            For a few seconds.

            • Lord and Mistress

              TK, you stepped on a Freudian Banana there.

              Don’t you mean: Lord and Lord and LADY?

              (yeah, yeah….She’s no lady…..)

      • 1. I did not perceive that Henry extended an olive branch. In fact, Henry’s rejection of something made/to be made by Don, was so negative, that it resulted in a meaningful facial expression/response by Don.
        2. The ultimate “invasion was Marie’s screwing Roger in Don’s Co-op.

  5. I suddenly got to flashes just now, glancing at the photo of Don in his empty apartment.

    The first – The photo made me think of the season ending episode, when Joan took the group up to scope out the expansion space, that became the second floor of SCDP at the start of the next season. For Don in this photo, the expanse of space in the apartment, portends contraction.

    The second – Anna’s line near the end of S-2, when she does the Tarot reading for Don: “The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone.”

    • Oops! Sorry. To = two.

    • Thinking strictly as a producer, I wonder if they will have any more scenes in that apartment (and that fabulous living room)?

      Thinking as a writer, that might be some benefit to seeing how Don deals with refurnishing. He plans to sell – that would go so much better with a top-notch decorating job – so his agent would tell him. It might even be a bonus – a bargaining chip – counter-offer and leave the furnishings.

      (not that any of this would serve the fading narrative)

    • Another thought. This photo brings to mind Bert Cooper’s remark to Pete, in S-1 Ep 12, Nixon Vs. Kennedy: “The Japanese have a saying: a man is whatever room he is in, and right now Donald Draper is in this room.”

      If Bert was correct, Don is running on empty. The only way from here, is up – or oblivion. We’ll see how it all plays out, in the remaining five episodes.

  6. I saw the Cinzano shoot as an homage to Stanley Kubrick. The hooded models remind me of “Eyes wide shut”. The stark white and black colors and lighting are very much in his style. Of course, Stanley was quite the photographer, too.

  7. Aren’t you afraid of the Calvet Sisters?

    No, it’s the Calvet family you should be worried about!

    I think this is a fair, and very interesting reading of these aspects of the episode and series.

    MW does load up on references and singly each reference often has multiple additional reference.

    This reminds me of how the outside world began to increasingly invade People’s homes, leaving a sense of no where being safe. No more home. And definitely no more home life like it was in March 1960, when we started.

    Viet Nam news every day, assassinations, and disruptions of expectations at every turn. Not just one a Kennedy but two? Now we have the Mansons and Richard Speck (I get my serial killers mixed up-hope that’s the right one)

    Dons had more than Ida, he almost had toxic smog, and even couldn’t even keep out bitter cold, and fever dream ex-lovers…

    • Vietnam-another ultimate invasion with very bad results.
      BTW did I miss something? How is it that after Don’s efforts and connections, Mitch ended up in the Service ( Arnold’s comment re Mitch’s CO ) ?
      Perhaps that, as much as Don’s relationship with Sylvia explains Arnold’s behavior towards Don.

      • Re Mitch Rosen: Don spoke to Ted, a pilot, who contacted his still-active military mentor. We, the audience, did not learn until now that this connection worked. Even though Mitch burned his draft card he was able to enlist and get “safe” duty.

    • Oh another invasion I just remembered:Petesmom in his “girls on the side” Manhattan apartment!

  8. The 1970 invasion I think of is Nixon’s decision to expand the war into Cambodia when he ran on a ticket promising to end the war. Which of course led to the protests across all of the college campuses in the US, Kent State included . . . Four dead in O-hi-o.

    • 1970! My God! It just dawned on me that was 45 years ago.

      Those events are so fresh in my memory. I was a socially conscious 16 year old high schooler in the DC suburbs, who participated in a huge antiwar march, in the wake of the incursion into Cambodia and the killing of the students at Kent State. The turnout that day, wasn’t as big as the Moratorium marches, the previous October and November, but it was pretty large. (at one of those events, we noticed J Edgar Hoover scowling down at us from a window, as we marched past the FBI Building. When we saw who it was and the sour look on his face, we flipped him off.)

      It still amazes me that it was organized so fast, without our modern social media and mobile phones. Somehow, we spread the word with nothing but mimeographed fliers, word-of-mouth and maybe a couple dozen underground newspapers, scattered around the country.

      Since Sally missed Woodstock, I hope the show gets her to one of the Spring 1970 demonstrations that were held around the country. Things got out of hand at some of them, so if she does go, I hope she stays safe!

      • Yes!

        I was little, but there were bombings in my small town. The down town stores windows were boarded up. The university was closed.

        One night my mom was driving my brothers to Boy Scouts and they got trapped in a riot and the students were swarmed on her car and rocking up and down. It was very scary to her, and she was so frustrated because she was on their side!

        Yes, the invasions (both in Laos and Cambodia) and at home get WORSE! At the Democratic a Convention, people like a Don could think well the students went there to protest what did they expect? Now the protests are coming to everybody.

        I feel like I should have noticed this when Rachel died. And They even said the Department stores were getting bombed. Rachel isn’t *just* the end of Dons romantic dream but also the beginning of a kind of *war at home*

        Dons furniture loss, was a battle with Marie he didn’t even know he was in!

        I forgot about this when thinking about mad men.

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