The "Mad Men" Likeability Index: A Brothel And A Brawl
Pete finally reaches his peak disgustingness.
So last night's episode was a vast improvement on the insultingly literal dream sequence from last week. It had everything most audiences want in television these days: sex, infidelity, a fight, and a sexy John Hamm sink fixing!
Pete is an insult to the male gender. One thing that saved him from being negatively likeable this week is the beating Lane inflicted on him. Because while he was definitely the most odious character last night, at least in that scene he kind of started to get what he deserved. (Although what he deserves more than anything at this point is for Trudy to beat the crap out of him with a hot iron before leaving him for someone infinitely more attractive and nicer.) His lowest moment of the whole series — aside from impregnating and abandoning Peggy — may have been when he blatantly hit on the high schooler in his driver’s ed class. Since that other hot high school student cock-blocked him, he took his frustration out on the drunk prostitute in a supremely creepy way: after telling the poor girl he’s not that easy, he refuses to acquiesce to her advances (which he's paying for) until she says, “You’re my king.” It was a complete role reversal from the driver’s ed girl, who he had to hit on so hard it was just as embarrassing as what that prostitute endured when she got on her knees in her underpants and said that to him.
The other thing that made Pete not negatively likeable is the pea-sized amount of self-awareness he possesses. In the car ride on the way home after the brothel he gets defensive as soon as he’s alone with Don. “Why do I feel like I’m riding with a nun?” he says, as though he’s transferring his disgust for himself to Don. “You of all people.” Pete assumes that since Don was a huge infidel before Megan, he’ll let his behavior slide. But for some reason Don holds Pete in higher esteem than his old self, and Roger, who also paid for sex that night. “Roger is miserable. I didn’t know you were,” Don says. He warns Pete that he could ruin everything he has with Trudy and his baby and his house, and says that now he’s got Megan, he’s not going to “throw her away.” Pete is so caught up in his breathless self-defense you wonder if he hears Don at all. Don’t be like me — unless you’re fixing a sink. That’s Don’s message, but Pete still seems to want so much to be like Don, he completely blocks out the wisdom of his words, which is probably what Don would have done when he was Pete’s age.
Likeability score: 0%
Don is shockingly improving this season. We probably never thought last season when he married Megan he’d reform his ways, be faithful to her, and still fix other ladies’ sinks, but so he is! I was ready to kind of hate him at the beginning of the episode when he tried to get out of dinner at Trudy’s because he didn’t want to go to the suburbs on a Saturday night, but he put on his ugly plaid jacket and went and ate and socialized and fixed that sink and was the hero of the whole night. He evidently enjoyed himself more than he acted like he did because he saw how lucky Pete was to have Trudy despite all the drinking he was doing. But he still loses points for drinking and driving (the idiot already got into massive trouble for that in a previous season) and making Megan pull over so they can perform sex acts in the car. As good as he’s gotten at keeping it in his pants, he's almost worryingly reckless about whipping it out outside the house.
Likeability score: 85%
UGH POOR TRUDY. She seems like a perfectly nice woman, almost eerily happy to be Pete’s housewife, but how blind is she? How does she now know Pete is a total douchebag who isn’t being faithful to her? Is she so spoiled and devoid of life experience that she doesn’t have a suspicious bone in her body? Betty was naive but she at least suspected — and rightly so — that Don was cheating on her. How is Trudy this out of it? Especially when the people they socialize with all know about Pete’s true deep-down douchiness? Is she that lacking of intuition? For seeming that stupidly ignorant she loses a lot of points.
Likeability score: 79%
She’s gone from being the office laughing stock (bisous bisous!) to a seat filler. Don’s office seat, to be exact, which she obnoxiously occupies whenever he’s away. It’s the epitome of taking advantage of her position as the boss’s wife, which you’d think she’d want to downplay since it’s obvious why she got a huge promotion after she married him. That behavior is also creepily indicative of the father-daughter quality to their relationship, since sitting gleefully in Don’s chair is something you’d imagine his daughter doing if she ended up at the office for a day. Also belying her lack of self-awareness and supreme density is how she had no idea what Ken’s wife name was, even though she wrote her “the nicest thank-you note” for her bisous bisous bisous party. And then when she realized what it was at dinner, she shouted it out like a moron.
Likeability score: 65%
Lane wins major points for beating the shit out of Pete, that cannot be said enough. But he also loses many points for possibly ruining the nice friendship he has with Joan by kissing her in his office when she went in there to see what the fight was about. Like, what was that? He had done such a good job this whole time of not acting like he wanted to screw Joan. Their relationship was an ice cube in the warm lemonade that is the sexually charged environment all around them, where no one can do anything without looking down someone’s dress or hoping someone wants to look down her dress.
Likeability score: 88%
I’m disappointed we did not get an update on Joan’s love life this week, now that she’s broken up with that army surgeon cad. But anyway! She was again completely amazing this week when, after Lane kissed her, she played it super cool, and simply got up and opened the door to his office, rather than storm out and make it even weirder than it already was.
Likeability score: 98%
Practically a non-entity this episode though she was cute when she was running around the office enthusing about Lane beating up Pete.
Likeability score: 94%
I think Ken is the one main character in this show who has not done something totally horrible, but if I’m forgetting an incident from a past season let me know in the comments. His nice-guy streak continued this episode when the only thing anyone could find to scold him for was his side job/hobby as a fiction writer. And even then, I wonder if he only got scolded for that because he has true love and passion in his life, for his wife and a work pursuit, while most everyone else he works with doesn’t really.
Likeability score: 96%
Don’s line about Roger being excused from scorn for his bad behavior was interesting. Is that why we excuse Roger for being an ass but frown on the others? Because we know how miserable he is, feel like he should be that miserable, and assume the others ought not to be? Or maybe it’s just that he’s the only comic relief in this whole series, like when Lane says he is “going to address that insult” with Pete and Roger quips, “I know cooler heads should prevail but am i the only one who wants to see this?” And then lights a cigarette as it all goes down. To have not had that attitude about the whole thing would be like crying for happiness at the Kim Kardashian wedding.
Likeability score: 84%