“Time” in Time & Life

 Posted by on April 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Mad Men, Season 7
Apr 302015

UPDATE: See end of post. One of the things I work pretty hard at is finding out exactly when each Mad Men episode takes place. In general, there’s a calendar visible somewhere, or somebody mentions a news event…something.

I am delighted to discover that the only indicator in episode 7.11, Time & Life, is…Time. The magazine, that is. It’s visible on Peggy’s coffee table when she takes a meeting with a headhunter. The image is unclear, but I searched an archive of every Time cover in May, June, and July of 1970, and it’s clearly the June 29, 1970 issue.

Note the magazine, lower left. Image courtesy of Tom & Lorenzo

Note the magazine, lower left. Image courtesy of Tom & Lorenzo

Now, that doesn’t prove to me exactly when this episode takes place. First of all, Time publishes over a week ahead of the cover date. As I write on April 30, the current issue of Time, with Baltimore rioting on the cover, is dated May 11, 2015. Since Peggy works in the Time & Life building, I imagine she gets issues as soon as they come out, meaning it could be the week of June 15, 1970. On the other hand, did the Mad Men production crew actually look up when Time is released, or just go by the cover date? Since there isn’t a little stack of Time on the coffee table, my money says it’s the current issue–she throws old ones away or stores them elsewhere. And yes, I do believe that the production crew thinks through things like that–homes reflect the characters who live in them.

Time Magazine, June 29, 1970, from the Time.com archives

Assuming that the use of the magazine is accurate to the actual publication scheduled of Time, we know that the meeting with the headhunter took place on a weekday somewhere between June 19 and 25, 1970.

UPDATE: More than one Basketcase pointed out that a calendar behind Trudy indicated August 4. At first I was dubious, but then I found a shot of Peggy’s calendar that clearly shows a 6. It can’t be Monday, July 6, because that 6 is visible on the third of three consecutive weekdays. The day that people think shows August 4 is two days before the 6 is visible, and that makes the three days Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. August it is.

Never let it be said I can’t admit when I’m wrong!


  34 Responses to ““Time” in Time & Life”

  1. June 21 was a Sunday that year. So . . .

  2. As I understand it, the date on the front of magazines is normally the date when the issue should be pulled from the shelves, not the date it is issued, for what it’s worth.

  3. I read somewhere that it’s August 4th according to Trudy’s kitchen calendar.

    • It can’t possibly be August. Let’s look at the timeline:

      In The Forecast, Sally has just gotten out of school for the summer but has not left on her summer trip. That makes it June. Public school in some parts of the country ends much earlier, but in New York, it’s late June. Boarding school tends to close earlier than public school–early June. Don sold his apartment and has a 30 day close.

      In Time & Life, Don’s apartment has not yet sold.

      Trudy is finding out about Tammy’s school for the fall, which wouldn’t wait until August–June is about right. In addition, Pete says he’ll be able to get Tammy into Greenwich Country Day in a month–if it’s August, a month is too late.

  4. The week of my bar mitzvah (June 27, 1970).


  5. Someone on reddit noticed a calendar behind Trudy when she’s calling Pete. It’s a fabric one so hard to see but it looks like a Tuesday in August?

  6. Were you able to find anything in The Forecast to help you zero in on the dates of that episode? It appears Time & Life begins within days of that. As I stated previously, Meredith’s “in 30 days you won’t have an office or an apartment” comment was very specific. She didn’t say “soon” or “in a few weeks,” she said 30 days and the Realtor was and would have been ready with showings for a new place for Don knowing his apartment would close in 30 days.

    It still doesn’t make sense that Joan indicated they had “until the end of the month” to vacate, if it was mid-month. Maybe June 29 or 30 through July 1 or 2?

    • The Forecast gives us a pretty tiny window: From the end of school, before summer programs begin. Plus we know the previous episode ended on May 27, and you are right that it couldn’t be long after.

      I disagree that it doesn’t make sense for Joan to say that. In fact, it makes more sense mid-month. Why say “end of the month” if you’re already there?

      In addition, I stand by my belief that Peggy only has the most current Time in her apartment and she picks up the latest one in the lobby of the building where she works. It cannot be past 6/28.

  7. Bravo for both the magazine and the calendar catches.

    This “time” question’s been at the top of my mind, especially considering MM titles usually have multiple meanings. Before it aired, I was betting late July/early Aug, since they’ve jumped ahead around a month at a time since Episode 8.

    My bet is that Peggy does sees Time magazine at SC&P, and most copies stay there. This might be an older issue she brought home for some reason. If Peggy subscribed or brought them all home, more would be around. MW has said repeatedly she’s a slob.

    Roger, The Devil (aka Jim Hobart), et al signed the deal in late July/early August of 1969 and there are plenty of clues a year has passed. (Joan says we have 4 more years on our contracts; Don echoes Burt Peterson’s first firing scene: “They waited so long, I thought we were safe.”)

    I think Don is pushing his 30 days in the apartment, and that it was late June/early July when Sally left on the bus. That’s why Melanie was pushing him to see the two apartments. A part of his current search for Diana might be to rescue her by letting her choose a place for them to live together. That way, he doesn’t have to decide. (Betty picked Ossining; Joan picked the Village man cave; Megan picked the Penthouse & Laurel Canyon.) If Don can’t find Diana, he should send Meredith out with Melanie. What a great scene that would be.

    As for Tammy’s day school admission, it makes Trudy look even more needy the later in the summer this happens. Pete mentioned that in 30 days money would solve the problem, which for me means we’re about 30 days out from Labor Day (Sept 7). I was shocked when Pete said he was going to call Trudy; I even wondered if, after he dropped Joan off, he might have told the cabbie: “Cos Cob, and, yes, I know I have to pay both ways.”

    Whoever noticed that fuzzy calendar and figured out the pattern is a wonder. After lots of study, I agree that it reads early August, although deciphering the date on the right is nigh impossible. That 70s crewel work fits perfectly in Trudy’s “rustic” decor.

    • That thing behind her is a calendar? I can’t even imagine. The top thingy appears to be on the 7th thing down, so if those are months, it’s July.

      Personally, if I had 4 years and 2 months left on a contract, I’d say “4 years”.

      • I have an awful feeling that Joan knew about the lease cancellation before hand. She instructed Dawn not to pay the lease. She is following orders from Hobart now. Hobart may have promised her a sweetheart deal when McCann takes over.McCann wants to cut costs and shut down the agency. There is a recession brewing in 1970. Roger will be”retired” with a buy out. Everyone except Don Draper, Ted, Pete and Harry will be fired or bought out. Dawn would have paid the lease regardless unless she was told not to. Joan will reward Dawn for her silence. Peggy, Stan and everyone else will be out of work July 31st which is a Friday. This is the real reason Joan was not mentioned when Hobart told the others about the accounts they would have. Hobart may show Joan a lot of respect in the future.

        • Joan had a pretty good game face when she told Roger she would get to the bottom of the lease mystery (and so did Dawn – IF Joan was in on it).

          No clues there.

        • that seems unlikely, given how heartbroken Joan seemed to be about it.

        • I took it that Joan read something in the letter that made her realize that the letter was not saying what Roger thought it was saying: that they missed a rent payment.

          I thought Joan realized there was something more to it, and said she’d get to the bottom of this.

  8. I just wanted to note that the Lipp sisters and the people who visit this blog know more details about Mad Men than half the critics writing reviews and people doing podcast. (Some of the podcasts are fantastic, but there are a few that make you wonder how much they actually watched the show.)

    • Yes! And I hope the Fabulous Lipp Sisters will write the definitive book about the Mad Men experience, after the series is done.

      • I would buy that book!

        • Me too. People over at Tom and Lorenzo’s site have been clamoring for a book as well. I can’t decide if I want one giant book that’s a co-production, or two different books.

  9. End of July, 1st week of August. 1 year after the buyout was negotiated, which was on the day of the Moon Landing. Satan and his minions waited a year before launching phase 2 of their plan to absorb SC&P. The whispered “Coca Cola” to Don, and expression on Don’s face indicates that Hobart plays a deep game. In this case, he has plotted to buy Don Draper since 1960.

    • That’s right. Betty was Mrs. Perfect Blond – modeling with a Coke in her hand.

      Did Hobart intone the name in that episode? No doubt Don saw the glossies later (or the ad in a magazine).

      • The ad never appeared. Hobart sent Don the glossies and Don didn’t bite. So they let Betty go and she shot the birds next door.

        • I always had the impression that Betty didn’t really shoot at the birds, actually killing them with a rifle, She was using Bobby’s toy pop gun and acting out her frustrations. She didn’t get past the tryout stage with McCann for the Coca-Cola account and was back to being “just” a suburban housewife. She told Don that she wasn’t disappointed by it, but my sense of it was that she was acting out with a toy gun, against the birds, as an expression of what she was actually feeling. A close viewing of that scene shows her not even aiming carefully, operating the gun rather haphazardly.

          • I thought she was trying to live up to the “good mother speech” Don had given her the night before. (In addition to finally venting her anger)

            A kind of fuck you to the neighbor who threatened her kids with killing their dog.

            An avenging “angel”

            Don called her an angel in his mother speech, and I think the ending song while she was shooting was “you are my special angel” iirc

  10. This is off the topic, but the photo included with this article reminded me of it: The actor who plays the headhunter also played Jimmy from Seinfeld, the guy who would refer to himself in the third person.

    • I didn’t recognize him without the plyometric basketball shoes (but he doesn’t get them until 1995)

    • Jimmy doesn’t think Anybody would want Peggy.

      Jimmy thinks Peggy should go to McCann…

  11. Now that I’ve seen Lost Horizon, I’m conflicted. It certainly seems like Lost Horizon is taking place in late August, what with taking Sally back to school (I looked up Miss Porter’s current calendar, they end in late May and start up right after Labor Day). This seems to give credence to the August 4 theory, especially since we learn in Lost Horizon that Don is living in a hotel (e.g. the 30 days on his apartment close could have passed).

  12. I noticed that Peggy cleaned up her typically messy apartment for the meeting with the head hunter. Therefore, I think the intention of the set designers was that the Time issue be current because she wants to make the best possible impression to the headhunter – Time is an intellectual magazine and she would want the most recent issue.

  13. Maybe the set designers liked the head line “Tories Take Over”? The rebel SC firm has been taken over by the stalwart firm McCann.

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