Classic TV – ‘Roseanne’ recap: “Language Lessons”

As the third season of Roseanne moves along nicely, we get more insight to the relationships that define the show. While Roseanne Connor is the obvious center for the stories – the tent pole, the other characters are distinct enough that each supporting player has a key moment throughout these early episodes. Last week’s “We’re in the Money,” short changed Jackie and the kids a bit, but it’s understandable – with a cast of six, it’s not always easy to integrate each actor in a meaningful way. In “Language Lessons,” though writer Laurie Gelman manages to gracefully fold in the lesser characters – in this case, it’s Becky – without making the episode feel out of balance. And Ellen Falcon is back as director, and she keeps the episode at a good pace, and extracts some fantastic performances, especially out of consistent MVP John Goodman as well as his close contender for the title, Laurie Metcalf. Roseanne Barr is still rather green as an actress, and Falcon and Gelman wisely keep her within her comfort zone, which is essentially expanding her stand-up act into scenes. Barr may not be all that versatile at this point, but she does have crack timing and can land a one-liner better than anyone.

In “Language Lessons,” we see Dan and Jackie work through their contentious relationship. As in the other episodes, Dan and Jackie have a rather prickly repartee, that is somewhat lightened because each falls back on kidding or joking to mask feelings of resentment. On the surface, it appears as if Dan is resentful of Jackie’s constant presence in the house, while Jackie minds Dan’s constant harping – but in reality, what they’re really fighting for is the top spot in Roseanne’s heart. Jackie feels that as her sister, she deserves to be placed first, while Dan feels that as the husband, he should take precedence. Roseanne is caught in the middle because she loves both of them so much, and yet she’s also called on to take sides.

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The episode opens with Dan on the phone with a friend, hoping for a job. It’s here that Gelman truly excels at showing us just what kind of man Dan Connor is – with a few brief lines, we understand that Dan’s contracting work means he’s unsure of a steady paycheck. Because he’s a man that prides himself as being the breadwinner, and he wraps his identity around being a provider, it’s frustrating and emasculating to be out of work and staying home (especially, since his wife is not only working a full-time job, but also taking care of the house and three kids). With so much time on his hands, he’s cooking chili, a popular favorite among the Connors.

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When reminded that Jackie is coming over for her usual Saturday visit, Dan is annoyed and disappointed. After he says that he didn’t think Jackie would be coming over every weekend, Roseanne quips, “Oh, hell, I didn’t think I’d be here every weekend.” She’s able to defuse his mounting discomfort with her wit – something that she does throughout the episode. Dan also uses humor to lessen tension, but because he’s more on edge in the episode, his attempts aren’t nearly as successful – all of which leads to the major conflict. But before we see that happen, we’re treated to some playful roughhousing between the two, as they pretend to fight and play matador with a pair of Dan’s Valentine’s Day boxers.

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Jackie’s entrance then increases the tension and anxiety in the scenes. It doesn’t help that she has a bag full of laundry slung over her shoulder like she’s Santa bringing everyone gifts. Though Jackie is a great character, Gelman increases her feelings of entitle and Jackie is much more self-centered, and much less self-aware in this episode than she’ll ever be again (Sandra Bernhard’s character Nancy will take over these traits a few seasons later). Jackie bulldozes through the kitchen, putting an end to the intimate exchange between Dan and Roseanne. She takes potshots at Dan’s chili (never insult a cook in his own kitchen), invites herself to dinner and then announces that she’s staying the night because the pipes in her apartment are frozen. All of this is done with no nod toward Dan’s comfort and she doesn’t even think to ask if he’s okay with this. Because we’re too early into the series to know, we don’t know if Jackie’s boorishness is merely a pattern of behavior that Dan and Roseanne tacitly enable, or if Jackie’s simply a world class mooch, but either way, as Gelman writes her, she’s rather unpleasant and spoiled, and comes off almost as bratty as one of the kids.

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In one of her few scenes in the episode, Becky walks in with Teenage Life magazine, and shows off an article about body language – another important detail that will be expanded later. Becky’s merely a plot device, but Gelman’s careful to make her brief appearance worthy, and Lecy Goranson’s very natural in her performance. The scene also allows for Roseanne and Jackie to reminisce about Teenage Life magazine and goof on the silly advice that girls’ magazines give. While not an explicitly feminist episode, this brief nod is another instant of Barr’s sharp social critique of mass media culture – but done in a funny, breezy way that doesn’t feel preachy or didactic. While discussing body language, Jackie professes herself an expert. Dan’s in the background constantly needling his sister-in-law, and the two of them mirror the relationship between D.J. and Darlene, who are in the next room building a cardboard castle.

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Initially, I was impressed with this scene because I always like to see Darlene do something productive. In later seasons, she emerges as a sharp, witty intellect, but in the first season, she’s still a disaffected adolescent who hates school because she’s probably smarter than the teachers. Roseanne immediately spots something fishy about Darlene’s project, and draws out a confession: the castle is extra credit work, so that Darlene won’t fail history. Instead of berating her, Roseanne wisely leaves her daughter be, knowing that the project is punishment enough. I love watching these early seasons with Darlene because it’s obvious that if the girl applied herself, she’d kill it in school. But she’s also a misfit in a midwestern town – a tomboy who doesn’t fit into what girls are supposed to be. What makes Roseanne such a great show is that these kinds of oddballs are given a voice – Darlene isn’t merely a tomboy in the two-dimensional way (all tough, without hints vulnerability), but she’s a real character, and her expression of femininity is genuine and her own. It makes all kinds of sense that in this universe, a brilliant kid like Darlene would be failing history because she’s probably left bored and unchallenged at school.

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As Roseanne is mothering her truant daughter, Jackie monopolizes the telephone, gossiping with a friend. Again, Jackie’s irritating behavior is turned up a few notches. Ignorant of Dan’s work anxieties, she blithely chats away while Dan paces the house, positively fuming. Goodman is a cuddly actor, but his large frame can also make him seem a bit frightening. When she finally gets off the phone, Dan gets the phone call he’s been waiting for, and unfortunately, there’s no work for him. He’s practically deflated as he sits down, crushed, knowing he won’t work for another week. Roseanne immediately comes to his aid, encouraging him, which has a temporary calming effect, until Jackie marches back into the kitchen with Becky, insisting that everyone try the body language test from Teenage Life. Roseanne and Dan won’t take the test seriously and mess around some more, pretend fighting. As the test progresses, Dan starts to let some of his feelings of resentment toward Jackie boil over, always careful to disguise the quips as jokes, until Jackie has had her limit and confronts him about his behavior. Instead of a cathartic expression of repressed feelings, though, Dan merely lists petty microaggressions like fishing the nuts out of their Rocky Road ice cream, or walking in without knocking.

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Without realizing the kind of pain she’s inflicting, Jackie sneers, “”Well, Dan, if you had a job, you wouldn’t notice so much.” I wrote about Jackie’s feelings of entitlement and privilege before. In the “We’re in the Money” episode, Jackie berates Roseanne for not indulging enough. It happens here again, because Jackie is unaware of the pressure Dan is under to take care of his family and pay the bills. This ignorance comes from a place of sheer egotism: Jackie, single with no children, doesn’t worry about feeding three growing kids and paying a mortgage. And when she does face real life issues, no matter how minor, like pipes not working or a washer being broken, she always has her big sister to turn to. Obviously, the Jackie character grows exponentially throughout this season even, and she quickly becomes a loving and responsible character. But this early in the game, Gelman writes Jackie as an adversary to Dan, vying for the affections and loyalty of Roseanne, while continuously trying his patience.

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Because Dan manages self-restraint, he doesn’t explode, instead stalking out of the house and into the garage in a rage. Instead of being abashed by her comment, Jackie is insulted and insists that Dan is the aggressor. She refuses to apologize until he does so first. And Roseanne is caught in the middle. She has to do some more mediating, when D.J. accidentally destroys Darlene’s castle. There are obvious parallels – some may even say, heavy-handed – between the two fights, but there is one major distinction: D.J. and Darlene are children. Roseanne reasons with Darlene that even though D.J. accidentally destroyed her castle, the situation is her fault because she slacked off in school. Darlene is stubborn, and refuses to share the blame, though her anger at D.J. is somewhat abated, as she plans to rebuild her project. She storms off though, because like Jackie, she feels that Roseanne is never on her side.

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The final, restorative argument takes place in the garage, as Roseanne tries to convince Dan to calm down. Jackie, stung by Roseanne’s refusal to back her up, offers to go to a motel. This does little to appease Dan, who offers a snide remark that inspires another rushed exchange of grievances that finally drive Roseanne to her limit. Fed up with her feuding loved ones, she berates the two of them and as she leaves the garage, she commands them to get over their mutual dislike, and screams that they’re worse than the kids. And she’s right. It’s a little frustrating to watch Dan and Jackie go at it, when their behavior mirrors that of D.J. and Darlene. Confronted with their childishness, both Dan and Jackie call a truce.

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What’s interesting about watching Dan and Jackie bicker so much is that as the show grows, so does their friendship: in fact, there are a few lovely moments sprinkled throughout the show’s 9-year run that show just how much the two love each other: in one episode, Jackie takes over Roseanne’s mothering duties, and Dan admits that he had a slight crush on her in high school; in another episode, Dan tears apart an abusive boyfriend who sent Jackie to the hospital; and in their most touching scene together, Dan walks Jackie down the aisle. There will always been a slight pull between the two where Roseanne’s concerned, and often they’ll resort to comedic bickering, but it rarely gets as moody as it does in “Language Lessons.”

Some random thoughts:

  • “You only married me for my cooking,” Dan. “I married ‘cuz you need a date for your wedding,” Roseanne
  • “You’re really spoiled, you live with me, you’re used to perfection.” Roseanne
  • When told that through body language, couples can communicate without words, Roseanne crows, “This is great, Dan! We never have to speak again!”
  • Roseanne’s frustrated after Jackie insults Dan: “Gosh, you simply must come over more often, sis!”
  • “They just fight for the same reason you fight with Darlene…To torture me.”
  • Michael Fishman and Roseanne Barr look alike (at least in the first season before her many physical transformations)
  • When Jackie announces she’s going to a motel, Roseanne asks, “Anyone we know?”

 

 

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Classic TV – ‘Roseanne’ recap: “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”

Given that most marriages end in divorce, it’s a given that a family show like Roseanne – especially a show that’s predicated on realism and naturalism, would tackle the issue. But like every other serious topic, divorce is handled with a lot of grace and humor in “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” the third episode in the show’s first season. Directed by Ellen Falcon and written by Lauren Eve Anderson, the episode sees Dan and Roseanne on date night, enjoying each others’ company, and cracking the usual sarcastic jokes. While eating, the two see a friend who announces to them that she’s divorced, and that it was Roseanne’s advice that led her to that decision. The news leaves Dan a bit insecure, until Roseanne assures him of their love.

What is so great about “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” is that it gives the characters and the viewers a brief respite from the grinding working class struggle of the other two episodes. Money is barely mentioned in the episode, only a quick nod to the Connors’ finances, when Dan is worried that Roseanne’s choice for date night – the Lanford Inn – is to chi-chi for their budget. Other than that, the episode leaves behind financial matters and instead explores the relationship between Dan and Roseanne a bit more. Interestingly enough, aside from the brief opening scenes, we also don’t see a whole lot of parenting, either, which is great, because viewers are reminded that Dan and Roseanne are parents, sure, but they’re also people. Too often sitcom parents – and this is true more for sitcom moms than dads – but too often, sitcom parents are depicted as nurturing satellites to their kids, whose whole lives revolve around raising their children. It’s great that Roseanne shows its viewers that both Dan and Roseanne have lives and identities outside their children’s – and even more interesting is how Dan discovers that his wife is a bit more complex than he imagined.

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The episode opens with Roseanne giving D.J. a homemade haircut. And growing up in a working class household, I can attest that there has been many a time that I perched on a kitchen chair, draped in a bath towel, while my mom did her best to cut my hair with a pair of scissors (this practice ended though, when she tried to do my bangs, and they ended up looking like a ragged row of teeth). Jackie is at the table reading some trashy tabloid and laughingly recounts a story of a Utah housewife who stabbed her husband 37 times. Roseanne’s retort: “I admire her restraint.”

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The two discuss Roseanne’s date night, and Dan walks in, exhausted from his job. He and Jackie banter – and we’re given a view of the contentious relationship the two share. Later on in the series, Jackie and Dan become close friends (he even pummels her abusive boyfriend), but at this point, the two are still vying to be the center of Roseanne’s world (she’ll become a mediator between the two throughout the early seasons). Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman are acting geniuses in my book, and the brief exchange in which they sling insults at each other work great because while on the surface, it looks like all fun, the two actors manage to still inject a slight hint of malice, to make the scene just a tiny bit uncomfortable.

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As Roseanne gets dressed for her date, Becky flies in, begging to be left in charge. At 13 she is deemed too young to babysit, but is promised the job if Jackie fails to turn up later in the evening. There’s a great bit where as Roseanne leaves, Darlene insists that if “Becky has a heart attack, I’m in charge.” When Roseanne agrees to this, D.J. pipes up with, “Mom, if Darlene has a heart attack, I’m in charge,” to which Roseanne says, “That’s right D.J., if both your sisters are dead, you’re in charge.” The audience responds to this with a loud laugh, which is a shame because it stepped on D.J. enthusiastic, “yay!” to his mom’s consent to be left in charge in the tragic occurrence of his sisters’ deaths.

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As mentioned before, Roseanne is hyper-realistic, which is why I was overjoyed when I saw the set for the Lanford Inn. Instead of dressing up a restaurant set to look like an overpriced place that served haute cuisine, the settings designer chose to make the place look like a nicer Applebee’s. In an earlier scene, Roseanne calms Dan’s worries about affording the Lanford Inn by mentioning a two-for-one coupon. Places like Spago or Le Cirque don’t offer coupons, but places like the Lanford Inn do. It’s the kind of place where middle-management and possibly lower-management level people go – it’s still out of the price range of working class folks, but not ridiculously so, that it would stretch credibility. We also have to believe that Lanford is a tiny town in Illinois that is dependent on Wellman Plastics for the majority of its jobs, which connotes a blue collar economy, so a restaurant like Le Cirque would look ridiculous and fail in a place like Lanford. But the Lanford Inn works because it’s the kind of place that a working family would take its kids out on a special occasion, once in a while.

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It’s at the restaurant that Dan and Roseanne spot a friend – Patsy (played by actress Patricia Gaul, who was once married to Jeff Goldblum). The two see that she’s not with her husband, Bob, and immediately start to gossip, assuming she’s having an affair. Patsy spots her friends and walks over to their table to say hi and to let them know she and Bob have split up. They try to do a postmortem on the marriage, Dan expressing surprise because Patsy and Bob were so affectionate with each other. Roseanne points out that the PDA was a big sign of the impending collapse of their marriage because it’s the “fighting that keeps the marriage together.”

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The two take this news well, which makes me think that Patsy and Bob weren’t all that tight with Dan and Roseanne. They start to joke around about what they’d do if the two of them ever split up. It’s this kind of playing that Goodman and Roseanne Barr excel at – each trying to outdo the other, at one point Dan threatening Roseanne with leaving her all the kids. “I’d give ’em to Jackie,” she shoots back. “Hell, even I don’t hate ’em that much,” he reasons. The teasing continues and it’s all in good fun, until Patsy returns to say goodbye. As she leaves she thanks Roseanne for inspiring her, telling her that when the two spoke at a barbecue a few months earlier, Roseanne shared her dreams of being a writer, which left Patsy with an epiphany: if Roseanne can do it, so can I – and so Patsy decided to go back to school, which angered Bob. Roseanne, touched that she was able to help her friend, thanks her.

What I think is great is that we’re introduced to a more complex Roseanne, and we’re given a peek into Roseanne, the frustrated writer. This theme would return sporadically throughout the show – though Roseanne never went to college, she was extremely well-read and she wanted to be a writer. She gave up her dreams when she married Dan and had a family, which is depressing as hell. We’re still too early in the show to watch Roseanne’s understandable disappointment with her decision, but Lauren Eve Anderson wonderfully slides that bit of back story in.

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Instead of continuing the jocular tone of their conversation, Dan gets worried. It’s here that Goodman excels as an actor. Dan is scared to learn that Roseanne has still some unfulfilled hopes and dreams that aren’t directly related to being his wife. He’s also worried that her feelings of discontent may push her away from him. But he can’t bring himself to ask her outright, so he hedges and he procrastinates, a shy and nervous smile hiding his internal feelings. As Dan squirms in his chair, occupying himself with his coffee, you can see the blushing embarrassment of having to bring up this serious issue with his wife.

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It’s here that I wish Anderson prodded Roseanne’s motivations a bit more. She seems content, sure that she still has time to pursue her writing career. I know we’re only three episodes into a show that would last nine years, but at this point we’re to understand that Dan and Roseanne have been married for quite a bit of time – at least for as long as Becky’s been alive, so she’s put off her dreams of writing for over a decade. But she doesn’t seem too fazed by it, and assures Dan with a line that’s classic Roseanne in that its sweet, but barbed with her sarcasm:””Face it, this marriage is like a life sentence, with no hope for parole.” Moved by his wife’s devotion, Dan does the one thing he vowed he wouldn’t, despite his wife’s persistent begging: he asks her to dance.

There’s another, very minor subplot that has Becky babysitting Darlene and D.J., with Jackie late from the mall. When she finally arrives, the three snots don’t let her in, thinking she’ll just toddle off home, but are surprised because she somehow magically appears in the house. I didn’t like this smaller story because it wastes Metcalf, and it doesn’t do anything to develop the kids more. One of the many things that Roseanne excelled at was creating interesting and three-dimensional child characters, but there’s little complexity in this episode when it comes to the children (or Jackie, for that matter). It wouldn’t have hurt the episode at all if all of the kids at home nonsense was excised for more Dan and Roseanne at the Lanford Inn.

Some random thoughts:

  • Dan to the waiter: “May i see a wine list, please? And I’ll have a beer while we’re waiting.”
  • Dan to Roseanne: “I’ve been thinking.” Roseanne: “Don’t do that.”
  • Though I didn’t care much for the kids in this episode, I did get a kick out of seeing Darlene try to pop popcorn on a heating pad.
  • Barr gets a great bit of minor physical comedy when Roseanne, tired of waiting for their overworked waiter, gets up to get some coffee herself. As she walks back to her table with the pot, she starts to pour coffee for the patrons at the restaurant.
  • “Well, Cindy Clark’s mother is a drunken slut.”
  • There’s a fantastic blooper clip with Sara Gilbert and Michael Fishman, during which Gilbert flubs the line about being in charge when Becky dies, and Fishman gives her grief. It’s great to see just how restless Fishman is, and just how professional Gilbert is despite her youth. And Fishman’s delivery of “yay” is heard by the audience and is given the laugh it deserves.

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Classic TV – ‘Roseanne’ recap: “We’re in the Money”

Parents do a lot for their kids, sacrificing and doing without – this is especially true for working class parents. Doing without can mean not indulging in little luxuries, which when you’re working a dead end job and struggling, can be difficult and trying. I know when I was a tiny tot in France, and we were broke as hell, my parents dieted and scrimped and saved to get me a hobby horse for Christmas.

$R1Z38Z5In “We’re in the Money,” finance is a major theme. Written by David McFadzean and directed by Ellen Falcon, the episode deals with what happens what broke people do when they have a little bit of money – do they do something responsible with the cash, or should they spend it on something fun? If life is a series of drab nothings, don’t you deserve a bit of fun? It’s a good question to ask in light of all the cuts that are being proposed to food assistance benefits (no fish! no potatoes! no beef!) Is the point to make poverty as soul-crushing and punishing as possible?

$REZPCDNThese questions come up when Dan gets a job with a $500 bonus. The Connors have rarely had this kind of cash in their hands before, which sets off a chorus of hoots and hollers. Being responsible, Dan and Roseanne agree to pay off their outstanding bills and then see what they have left over: unfortunately, the leftover would come to a paltry $11. Disappointed, the two agree to stick with paying bills, instead of rewarding themselves for all their hard work. Roseanne wants perfume and Dan wants a brass captain’s bell for the boat he’s building in the garage, and though they tease each other a little bit, they both agree it would be best to just stick with bills.

$RT4783SAt Roseanne’s job, her single sister Jackie doesn’t understand the strain of trying to make do while raising a family of five. She’s single, and though she doesn’t make a mint at the plastics factory, she has far more disposable income than Roseanne. So when she lectures Roseanne on how she doesn’t manage money well or when she teases her for being too dutiful, it all wrings – rightly – false. Again, the realism of the show – the naturalism – comes out when the writers creates genuine moments like the exchange between Jackie and Roseanne. McFadzean creates a sympathetic Jackie who is just clueless about Roseanne’s financial situation: she wants Roseanne to have fun and indulge, but doesn’t get the full picture of the strain her sister       is under: it’s a classic situation many people have with family or close friends – no matter how intimate you are with  someone, you still keep stuff hidden, and so when a friend gives unwarranted advice, without knowing all the facts, the advice is usually pretty crappy.

$RLG4PUHSo Jackie bullies Roseanne a bit (it’s so funny to see how in this very early episode Roseanne is cowed by Jackie), and we find Roseanne at the perfume counter at Fiddick’s eying the perfume (called Submission, a possible take on Calvin Klein’s Obsession?) Despite her reticence, Roseanne buys the perfume. The dialogue between Roseanne and the saleswoman (played by veteran British character actress Christina Pickles) is great because McFadzean spoofs all of the dopey tag lines and cliches that mark women-focused advertising – particularly perfume ads. When told that the perfume will make Dan crazy, Roseanne sarcastically professes, “That’s what I live for, to excite that man.” Roseanne also displays some of her mordant wit when answering the saleswoman’s, “You know the fastest way to a man’s heart?” with a surly, “Yeah through his chest.”

We see inklings of the touch, almost-frightening Roseanne Connor that would alter emerge in the show. At this point, in its second episode, Roseanne is much more tame and mellow. Unlike the pilot, “We’re in the Money” doesn’t give Barr space to play or to display some of her stand-up prowess. Instead, she plays it mostly straight, while John Goodman gets to do some great comedy throughout the episode – most notably when he’s trying to hide the fact that he cheated and bought the brass bell.

$RBD9225Hidden in his garage, he’s interrupted by a snooping Darlene. I love Sara Gilbert’s ability to tell a one-liner and in the earlier seasons, before the writers give Darlene a season-long battle with depression (which was very well-written), she was a bit of a scamp. Gilbert and Goodman have a great and fun back and forth, as she presses him about the bell. Goodman’s a master of physical comedy and I love the condescending way he pats her head as he shows her out of the garage.

$RODG4T9When Roseanne and Dan later meet in the kitchen, neither knows the other indulged in the impulse buy. This sort of misunderstanding and duplicity is great for comedy – even if it is threadbare. Dan catches Roseanne in her lie and tries to spin it so that he can be a martyr – he’s willing to buy the bell, to even out the score and so no one will feel guilty: what’s great is as he’s saying this, D.J. waltzes into the scene, ringing the bell like a town crier.

$RG276O7In the satisfying closer, both Dan and Roseanne are sprawled like freshly-laundered clothes on the couch, he rubbing her feet. It’s these quiet scenes that give Barr and Goodman some nice back and forth. I love Roseanne when it’s snarky and mean, but I also like it when it’s loving and sentimental.

Some random thoughts:

  • So Becky got some new tight jeans from the $500 – I wonder what treats D.J. and Darlene got.
  • Speaking of D.J. – Michael Fishman replaces Sal Barone as D.J. He’s ridiculously adorable at this point.
  • Roseanne may not be the feminist Valkyrie at this point, but I do love some of her mothering digs. When she sees Darlene constructed a catapult to launch D.J. into the sky, Roseanne whines, “What did I tell you about killing your brother in the living room?”
  • When Roseanne barks at Darlene to clean her room, Darlene answers that it’s clean. Roseanne calls back, “then go clean my room.”
  • Dan brings home $500 and crows, “You deserve a kiss…Becky kiss your dad.”

 

 

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‘Mad Me’ recap: “Person to Person” – the series finale

Series finales are always tricky to judge because they’re meant to do so much. And when you have a sprawling cast like Mad Men does, it becomes more difficult to satisfy each character’s arc – which may be why I was left a tiny bit “meh” after last night’s “Person to Person.” It’s still, by all accounts, a well-written and beautifully-acted episode, but the choices that Weiner made for the characters’ endings seemed often questionable. I’m still trying to figure out just exactly how last night’s episode left me – I’m still mulling it all over in my head.

Don is still on his cross-country tour. On the phone with Sally, he’s boasting about how fast he was able to drive a car, but she has other more important things on her mind. He notices how cold she is, and when he finally gets the truth out of her, he’s unmoored. Interestingly enough, when Sally first discloses Betty’s grim diagnosis, Don dismisses it with an eye roll, saying his exwife was a “hypochondriac” When it finally sinks in that she’s dying, Don jumps into “gotta be a good dad mode” which is patently superficial and ridiculous. He cannot be a father to Sally, Gene, or Bobby – it’s clear that he willingly let that part of his identity go. Sally’s desire to stay with Henry, as opposed to being shipped to her uncle William is powerful because slowly Sally is taking on the role of mother figure to her little brothers; though, it’s clear that Betty would not want that, which is why she is hoping William and his wife can offer a semblance of a stable family life, one that the kids would not have if they stayed with Don (though, I’m a little miffed that Henry’s feelings aren’t being considered – after all, I’m assuming he’s fallen in love with the kids, too).

When Don calls Betty for their final goodbye, he approaches the situation like he did with Sally: steamrolling over their wishes. These moments show just how delusional Don can get – he still thinks he can run things, even when he’s thousands of miles away in some divey motel. The two share a sweet moment, as Don breaks down in tears, finally understanding that Betty is dying. Betty, newly mature, is grateful and touched for the gesture (that’s all it is), and even calls him “honey,” but warns him not to let his pride get ahead of her wishes. It’s a great moment, one that both Jon Hamm and January Jones play beautifully.

Don ends up in a commune in Los Angeles with Stephanie. Unable to help Bdetty and Sally, he tries to help Stephanie, but she rejects his offers as well. Instead they travel to a commune, where Don is obviously out of his comfort zone. Don, never an introspective person, doesn’t sit well with all of this naval-gazing. The show’s put Don in these kinds of situations before – and each time, he’s tempted, but eyes it all warily. Stephanie, who gave up her kid to his dad, is going through feelings of guilt and despair over her decision, and during a rap session, she’s guilted by another participant, a woman whose mother abandoned her. Don tries to reason with Stephanie, but she flees, unable to deal with her guilt. Leaving Don alone in this environment brings a new self-awareness to Don, that he’s never had before. During his “retreat” he calls Peggy “just to hear her voice. Their goodbye is short and sweet, and one that fills Peggy with dread because she’s worried he’ll hurt himself.

I wish there was more to their goodbye as Peggy and Don shared probably the most complicated relationship on the show. She was a protegee that eventually outpaced him, not because she was more talented, but because her debits weren’t as destructive as his. When reassessing how he messed up his life, he turns to Peggy, because unlike everything else in his world, Peggy turned out beautifully. He took credit for her success in earlier seasons, and in some way, Peggy is a both a daughter and a parallel of Don – her life has a foundation of deceit, like Don’s, and it follows her, but she doesn’t let the burden take her down (and for most of the show’s run, neither did Don – so maybe when Peggy’s Don’s age, she’ll have a similar breakdown).

After saying his goodbye to Peggy, Don’s left bereft: no friends, no job, no one. When at another round of sharing at the commune, Don’s no longer the annoyed outsider, but instead he’s much more attuned to what’s going on. A sad sack, Leonard talks of his alienation from his family and friends – the world goes on without him. When talking with Peggy, Don asked, jokingly, if the place fella part without him – it was a joke, but one that tellingly shone a light on how important it is that McCann-Erickson has moved on from his defection. He sees something similar with his family life as both Betty and Sally are making plans for Gene and Bobby, and excluding Don. He’s watching it all move ahead without him.

So, Leonard shares his feelings of inadequacy and loneliness and starts to cry. Don gets up and embraces the guy, and has a cathartic release of his own. The image of both men sobbing in each others arms is a powerful one because Don finally made a connection, or a difference in someone’s life. When he tried with Betty and Sally, the two rebuffed them – as did Stephanie. His feelings of impotence were heightened by the realization that though he was an important figure at McCann, he wasn’t essential (not anymore). But with Leonard, he was able to provide some kind of comfort and release. It was a great moment.

Which is why I felt cheated when we see Don, cross-legged and barefoot, chanting with a mediation leader on a cliff. The camera zooms in on his face, and his mouth stretches into a beatific smile. I understand that Don’s had a breakthrough – I’m not sure what this means. Lots of folks think he’ll be returning to McCann – I don’t think so. I think Don Draper’s really dead this time. Finally he’s put to rest after being dug up, and paraded around as an ad man. I think Don’s moment of zen is really a rebirth of Dick Whitman.

With Don’s moment of peace, we move onto Joan’s story line. I was glad that we didn’t leave with Joan quivering in rage over being sexually harassed and bought off. Instead, she settled into a life of domestic bliss with Richard (snorting cocaine and everything! By the way, did anyone else but I think that poor Richard’s gonna die after doing coke and eating 12 eggs?). But Joan’s not kept woman, nor are her ambitions in life tied to one man. Working as a partner at Sterling Cooper means she has something besides her ridiculously good looks to live on. When Ken Cosgrove meets with her looking for a producer to helm a corporate video, Joan immediately sets on it – and brings in Peggy as a freelancer. The two do such a great job, that Joan sees a new venture in this: Harris Olson – a production company that would finally liberate the two women from working under sexist and unappreciative men. When Joan pitches the idea to Peggy, the latter is flattered, but also a little stunned. She doesn’t feel as yoked as Joan did; in fact, her diligence is simply part of a multi-layered plan to become Don. In a sweet moment, Joan stresses, “the partnership is for you.” But Peggy doesn’t take the job. Joan instead creates Holloway Harris, and though Richard leaves her (was there a real future in that relationship?), she manages to carve out a real life for itself.

But Peggy staying at McCann has another bonus: Stan Rizzo. Folks were shipping those two for a while now, and I have to be honest, Stan and Peggy’s meet cute was kinda disappointing and totally out of sync with Peggy’s story arc and the tone of the show. I’m sorry, I was also swept up by Peggy’s monologue on the phone, during which she actually sells Stan to herself, like a pitch, but it felt way too Nora Ephronesque (no disrespect to the great Nora Ephron). Elisabeth Moss performed the speech beautifully (it’s about time she goes home with an Emmy), but I felt cheated by the ending – a little too pat for a show like Mad Men.

And because Peggy’s journey was so compelling for the past seven seasons, and her relationship with Don has been so integral to that journey, their goodbye felt a little underdeveloped. I also wish that Roger and Don had some sort of decent scene. Instead, Roger’s running off to get married to Don’s ex-mother-in-law, Marie Calvet. Roger ceased being a real character and sorta became the Urkel of Mad Men and his interactions with Marie are pure schtick – that doesn’t mean it isn’t satisfying, but it all feels light.

But back to Don. When trying to talk Don off that ledge, Peggy brought up Coca-Cola. The episode ends with the classic Coke commercial which featured a cast of multicultural thousands warbling “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony).” It’s funny because that ad was supposed to be uplifting and lovely, but all I thought about was Jonestown and the Peoples Temple. There’s something insidious about the Coke commercial – as if we’re being brainwashed into believing that drinking Coke is a socially-conscious act. And because I found the commercial creepy, I couldn’t help but think that despite the pat endings for the characters, we’re meant to leave the show ambiguously. Which, given how complex and anxious Mad Men was throughout its run, I’m sure was a conscious choice.

 

 

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Classic TV – ‘Roseanne’ recap: “Life and Stuff”

This is a new segment I thought I’d try out – a recap of every episode of Roseanne, one of the greatest sitcoms of the 1980s and 1990s. Positioned as an answer to the gentility of The Cosby Show, Roseanne depicted a working class family struggling to make ends meet. Set in a decidedly unglamorous fictional Illinois town, the show was the closest thing to naturalism that a sitcom could be. Starring stand-up comic Roseanne Barr, the show worked hard to make the struggles of an average American family funny and relatable.

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In the first episode, “Life and Stuff,” we’re introduced to the Connor family. First thing viewers will notice is just how normal everybody looks. As the titular character Barr is pretty, but her costume, makeup, and hair are realistically average and unassuming. As her husband, Dan, John Goodman also looks like an archetypical everyman, in a uniform of flannel shirts and jeans.

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“Life and Stuff” sets the tone for the show, which showed Dan and Roseanne as loving parents, who don’t kid themselves into thinking that their kids are fantastic. As a rule, I hate child actors, but the casting director struck gold with Lecy Goranson and Sara Gilbert. Interestingly enough, the pilot did not feature Michael Fishman who played the eccentric youngest child D.J., but instead had some child actor named Sal Barone, who left the show immediately after the first episode.

So writer Matt Williams took Barr’s stand-up act and expanded it into a half-hour sitcom. Barr’s comedic persona was the Domestic Goddess, a sarcastic and witty woman who was disgusted, yet trapped, by the feminine mystique. Williams was able to craft a pretty strong episode, weaving one-liners that sound like Barr into a cohesive episode that didn’t feel too much like a series of jokes strung together.

The simple plot introduces the characters and the various dynamics that define their relationship – namely, love, humor, and sarcasm. Viewers are also introduced to the different issues that Roseanne will confront during its nine-year run, mainly the difficulties in raising a family on a severely-limited budget. Both Dan and Roseanne work too much – he’s a contractor and she works at Wellman Plastics, one of TV’s most realistic depictions of a shitty, soul-sucking job.

At Wellman, Roseanne has a network of friends that parallel her family at home. Her sister Jackie (a brilliant Laurie Metcalf) and best friend Crystal (Natalie West), along with the other women at work provide a kind of support system that Roseanne needs as she pounds away the hours on the assembly line. In one of the best scenes in the episode, Roseanne and her girlfriends chat about men during her lunch break. In the exchange, we get a glimpse of Crystal’s complicated relationship with Roseanne (she’s nursing a crush on Dan), and we also see Roseanne’s abrasive form of feminism.

While explaining relationships between men and women, Roseanne uses a doughnut as an example. When Crystal pines for Dan, Roseanne grouses, “Crystal, do you think he came that way? It’s 15 years of fighting that made him like that…A good man don’t just happen, they have to be created by us women…A guy’s a lump like this doughnut. Okay, so first, you gotta get rid of all the stuff his mom did to him. And then you gotta get rid of all that macho crap they get form the beer commercials. and then there’s my personal favorite: the male ego, ” and then she takes a satisfying bite of the doughnut.What’s great about the scene is it uses Barr’s comedic persona in a really efficient way. In the early seasons, Barr’s limits as an actress tend to stick out: she seems a bit forced and wooden. But unlike many other comedians-turned-sitcom stars, Barr grew exponentially, and became a fine actress. In “Life and Stuff,” though Goodman does the real acting (in fact, Goodman, Metcalf, and Gilbert did most of the heavy lifting of the show). Yet, her limits aren’t that troubling because the script doesn’t stretch her beyond her capabilities. Other moments that use Barr well are when she has to spar with Goodman. The two have an easy chemistry – it’s almost instant. The two have a lived-in kind of relationship, and have a loose and casual repartee. It helps that Goodman is a strong comedian, as well, and works as a great straight man, setting up Barr for some of her fantastic one-liners, while also slipping in some laughs of his own. Roseannepic5When he bustles into the kitchen in the morning and asks “Is there coffee?” What follows is a brilliant duet, that encapsulates the frustrations and mini-aggressions that every housewife must have felt in her life. Roseanne is sick of hearing “Is there coffee?” everyday, and answers with, “Is there coffee every morning? In the fifteen years that we’ve been married is there ever been one morning when there wasn’t any coffee?” In her stand-up routine, Barr vents about how husbands always nag their wives to find missing things, musing that men must think that a “uterus is a tracking device.” Few sitcoms featured a staunchly feminist point of view – one that could be deemed “strident.”Roseannepic4Along with her verbal fencing with Goodman, Barr also has some great moments with the children, establishing Roseanne as the one show with child actors who aren’t annoying or teeth-rottingly cute. Becky and Darlene are prickly, sullen, demanding teenaged girls, but they’re also assertive, strong, and very intelligent. And unlike other family sitcoms, Roseanne’s mothering style is dripping with sarcasm and fuck-this-nonsense deadpan. Instead of imparting banal words of uplift and inspiration, she trades pot shots and insults with loving zeal. Roseannepic3In “Life and Stuff” the relationships between Roseanne and her daughters are quickly established by the fantastic wordplay. After Darlene apologizes insincerely for a slight, she fusses, “I’m sorry, what do you want me to do, throw myself off a bridge?” Roseanne quickly shoots back, “Yeah, and take your brother and sister with you.” And when do-gooder Becky starts to raid the family’s pantry for a food drive for poor people, Roseanne urges her to “Tell them to drive some of that food over here.” And when Becky’s dopy girlfriend calls for the umpteenth time? Roseanne answers the phone with a cheery, “Oh, hi. I looked in the mirror and I’m getting boobs!” And after her daughters’ bickering gets too much for her, Roseanne grumbles, This is why some animals eat their young.”Roseannepic6Because Roseanne is about family, the passages about parenting resonate the most. Despite the meanness and sarcasm of the characters, Matt Williams still makes sure that we understand that Dan and Roseanne love their children. After an epic fight about who does more in the house (more on that in a second), Dan and Roseanne rush to Darlene’s aide, after she cuts herself. The two work as a perfect team, convincing Darlene to visualize a demolition derby, while cleaning Darlene’s cut. She hops off, happily, running into the next room, leaving her parents to forgive each other, after getting a dose of perspective. A little bit about the fight: Dan and Roseanne both work too hard and have to juggle family responsibilities with their dead end jobs. When Roseanne finds out that Dan didn’t go to work that day, but biffed around at a friend’s garage, she’s naturally pissed because she was running around like a mad woman that day, trying to get all her shit done. Roseanne attacks Dan’s sense of privilege by fuming, “You think this is a magic kingdom where you just sit up here on your thrown. And you think everything gets done by some wonderful wizard. Oh, Poof the laundry’s folded. Poof dinner’s on the table!” When Dan offers to make dinner, Roseanne blasts back in her air raid siren voice, “Oh, but honey, but you just fixed dinner three years ago!” What’s great about the fight is that the two are so evenly matched: both Dan and Roseanne are very intelligent people and though the fight is about something very serious, it’s a joy to watch.

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Janet Mock shares her story with ‘Redefining Realness’

It’s tempting to hang all of our concepts of contemporary trans issues on Janet Mock’s shoulders. After all, she has become one of the few faces of the trans community because of her media platform and press following. What is so important about Mock’s message – as well as her wonderful book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More – is that no story is universal. Mock’s book tells the story of one woman’s life. And while it’s easy to burden the author with the title of Ambassador of the Trans Community, Mock’s story is compelling enough on its own, and doesn’t need to be a blanket, generic representation of trans lives as a whole.

Whenever cis folks approach trans issues, they inevitably focus on the physical, particularly genitalia, not interested in the fluidity of trans identities or the violence and prejudice that trans folks must face. Latching on to the physical at the expense of the issues of anti-trans bigotry allows for a reductive view of trans people, that often tips into sensationalism or misinformation (a quick YouTube view of the blundering way that Piers Morgan, Katie Couric, and Wendy Williams approached trans issues in interviews is a great illustration of this problem). With Mock’s Redefining Realness, readers will get a better understanding of one woman’s individual journey.

Mock was born in Honolulu, and grew up in Oakland. She had a difficult, but loving relationship with her parents. It would be a mistake to write that Mock was born a boy and then became a girl (yeah, I’m looking at you, Piers). Instead as Mock put it, “I was born in what doctors proclaim is a boy’s body.” She grew up affirming her right gender identity in the face of prejudice and confusion from those around her, including peers and family members. Mock writes of these moments with an unflinching eye for details, no matter how painful. She’s candid about her parents’ failure – her mother and father, while both written by a loving voice, are nonetheless taken for task at certain failures. It’s difficult to write about one’s parents critically, especially if those parents did their best. Mock understands that her parents failed because they’re human and have frailties and certain factors, both internal and external played a part in their failure. She writes of her parents with a refreshing lack of bitterness and she doesn’t indulge in self-pity.

When writing about herself and her struggles, Mock writes with the same clear, unadorned voice. She shares a lot of her experiences, some harrowing, and spares the reader little. She’s careful not to exploit the sadder elements of her life for pity, but instead includes them to present a well-rounded portrait of the woman she is today. And the quick wit with which she handles her interviews so deftly translates easily onto the page. She also has a great eye for detail, and paints a thorough picture of her surroundings – her take on Hawaii, especially are beautifully written, as is her coverage of sex workers, which shows off her journalistic flair.

While Mock’s book is important, it’s just one voice of many – and Mock takes great pains to make that point. She does not claim to have the universal experience of all trans women. But her book is key in beginning the dialogue about gender identity, race, and class – Mock does not ignore intersectionality, and points how how class and socio and economic inequality exacerbates the already-fraught world of many trans individuals (there were some major parts of her adolescence in which Mock and her family struggled with income inequality, financial instability, and economic insecurity). It’s also important to read Mock’s book in context to the epidemic of anti-trans violence, particularly against trans women of color (Mock herself writes about instances of violence, from harassment to physical assault). Redefining Realness is a must for any reading list for those interested in moving toward a world informed by social justice and equality.

Click here to buy Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More on amazon.com.

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‘Mad Men’ recap: “The Milk and Honey Route”

Watching last night’s episode of Mad Men – the penultimate episode – I found myself shaking my head sympathetically, murmuring, “Poor Don…Poor Betty…Poor Sally…” “The Milk and Honey Route” is another devastating episode, following last week episode that had Joan quit McCann-Erickson after being sexually harassed. Well, this week, McCann loses another former Sterling Cooper staffer, this time Don. Don left last week, just simply cut out, enraging Hobart, who was seeing his empire threatened and challenged by spoiled brats of Sterling Cooper.

Because Don left, he doesn’t get $2 million, which gives us a clue of just how much money he still has. Leaving McCann makes complete sense because Don helped built up Sterling Cooper – he used his charm, intelligence, talent as well as his assumed identity to help make Sterling Cooper one of the most in-demand boutique ad agencies in Manhattan. When McCann ate it up, Don’s place disintegrated, and suddenly he wasn’t one of the core players anymore. He was one of many suited men in the office (albeit with a lot more money).

When the episode opens, Don’s being pulled over. Suddenly he knows that the jig is up – the years of stealing a dead man’s identity has finally caught up with him. But quickly we see that Don’s actually in a roadside motel, and was dreaming. Interestingly enough, we rarely got the guilt, or should I say the existential guilt and angst of being another person. We got earlier notes of how Don’s secret identity was difficult to keep up sometimes, only in how it related to his relationships with other people – namely Betty and his coworkers. All of this is Don looking at the outward consequences of his deception. But Don isn’t especially introspective, nor does he like to examine his feelings (he tends to runaway from sincere emotion, especially when it gets ugly). It’s great that he finally has time to think about what it means to be someone he’s not – it’s an almost-queer storyline, one which gives him a lot in common with Sal (remember him?).

So Don’s in Oklahoma in a roadside motel. His car is busted and he’s waiting to get it fixed. In the meantime, he’s charmed the proprietors, so much that he’s invited to a Legion night with other war vets. Don’s worried that his past may catch up with him finally, when among the WWII veterans, a fellow Korean war vet appears (Roy from The Office!). Despite Don’s initial reluctance to pal around with these guys, he lets his guard down and the men drunkenly share recollections of the war. Don tells the story of how the real Don Draper died. This is after an old timer goes into detail about how his unit killed surrendering German soldiers. The story is intentionally disturbing, and the vet’s recollection of how blue the Germans’ eyes were is indicative of how at the core of all war, the players are all too human. None of the men express regret, but the rah-rah jingoism from earlier in the night has muted into a bleary-eyed rueful detachment.

Though Don was embraced by the fellow vets, he’s an outsider, and as such, he’s the primes suspect when the Legion’s coffee can of donation money goes missing. The real culprit is the weird kid working at the motel – the kid who sees Don as an aspirational role model. Don gets the tar kicked out of him, and he leaves, the genial spell broken. He takes the thieving kid along, who sees Oklahoma as quicksand, drowning him in mediocrity. He lectures the kid on “starting over” as someone new, almost acting like a father figure (though his terse grammar lessons were kind of irritating), seeing the kid’s hustling as a dead end. Don should know about dead end hustling, as he discovered that despite his money and success, even his meticulous planning resulted in him ending up in a roadside motel in Oklahoma.

In the episode’s other major story, Betty finds out she has lung cancer, which has spread, leaving her prognosis grim. Mad Men fans will remember that a few years back Don was battling a consultant who was warning Sterling Cooper about the ruinous health effects of smoking; at the time, Don and the others thought it would be best to downplay the potential problems of cigarette smoking in order to produce enticing ads. That Betty – a smoker who was perennially puffing away at a cigarette – is slammed down with cancer seems cruel – and to be frank, unnecessary.

Before I go on, I have to say Betty wasn’t a favorite of mine. January Jones did a solid job, but the writers failed the character after she left Don and married Henry. In the firs few seasons, Betty was one of the most compelling – if villainous – characters on Mad Men. There were glimmers of hope, though in the past two seasons, when Betty started to shed some of that outrage.

But this is Betty we’re talking about, so her reaction to her diagnosis: petulant impatience and angry resignation is no surprise. Betty has always wanted things on her own terms, even death. Henry approaches her diagnosis like a political campaign – call in favors, pull resources, and get high profile friends on the job. When Betty tries to knock some sense into him, he responds by breaking her trust and going to Sally.

I understand Henry’s impulse, but it’s a lot to put on Sally’s shoulders, given the contentious relationship she has with her mother. As he breaks down in sobs in her dorm room, Sally offers a tentative pat on his back, unused to being sympathetic. When she comes home, Betty greets her with hostility and no one should be surprised. Later on, Betty finally opens up to her daughter, resulting in some of the best television Mad Men ever presented.

The reason why Sally and Betty are always fighting is because the two women are too similar, and there is little-to-no balance to soften their relationship. Betty’s life has always been about presenting a perfect image of motherhood, wifedom, beauty, and womanhood. Despite the fact that her personal life was rife with disappointment, she was a master at putting a high sheen of gloss (except for the weird season when she put on all that weight).

Sally, on the other hand, is an eccentric, despite having two utlra-cool parents who are obsessed with image. Sally was rarely concerned with how people would react to what she said or did. Even during her tete-a-tete with Betty last night, Sally couldn’t resist dismissing her mother’s resignation as a “love of the tragedy.”

And though Sally is preternaturally astute, she’s dead wrong about Betty’s glacial reaction to her dying. She warns Sally that it isn’t quitting. She rightly points out that she’s had to fight her whole life for her decisions. She wants to die on her own terms, unlike her parents. Because she knows Henry’s essentially unprepared for any of this, she writes a long letter to Sally with instructions on her death. There’s a great line: “Sally, I always worried about you because you march to the beat of your own drum. But now I know that’s good. Your life will be an adventure. I love you.” In that one line, we understand that Betty finally got Sally and all of her strangeness. The two never got along, but neither is disappointed in the other, either. Sally’s no Bobby, pining for the kind of warm, demonstrative mother that doesn’t exist.

What makes Sally’s reading all the more poignant is that while she’s reading the letter, Betty’s back at school. Her determination, despite being in obvious pain isn’t that of a two-dimensional martyr or someone who is being brave. Instead, it’s the behavior of a headstrong woman who refuses to let anything – including cancer – dictate how she lives her life. She insists that her ability to deal with her impending death is a blessing: “It’s been a gift to me, to know when to move on.” Like the fictional Virginia Woolf in The Hours, Betty has a hard-earned appreciation for life, as well as, a definite awareness of when it’s time to accept an ending. Again, this isn’t brave nobility, but simply Betty-ness. Ultimately it’s always been about appearance to Betty, so quitting school would be an admission that she doesn’t get to call the shots, something that she’s not willing to do. This isn’t delusional nor iis it sad – instead it’s very Betty. As I wrote earlier, I don’t think this was a necessary plot, and in fact having Betty figure her shit out and go back to school, only to have it all cruelly snatched away by cancer feels a bit like a stunt. Thankfully, the writing and acting manage to transcend any ghoulishness – Jones does herself proud, holding her own against the always-brilliant Kiernan Shipka.

Because Don and Betty were gifted with such momentous and dramatic storylines, it’s easy to ignore Pete’s plot, which has him tolerating Duck Phillips, who tricks Pete into a job interview with an exec from Lear. Not only is Pete wooed, but Lear Jet wants to buy him out of his contract and send him to Wichita. The always-weclome Alison Brie makes a return as Trudy, Pete’s brilliant wife. Sporting Marlo Thomas hair, Trudy has settled into single motherhood, taking the small slights of her tiny community. Unlike Pete, she refuses to wax poetically about their marriage. When Pete’s offered the job, he takes his growing friendship with Trudy as a moment of reconciliation and asks her to move with him. In the episode’s only truly false note, she agrees, thereby undoing all of the sharp characterization of Trudy Campbell in one scene. What made Trudy so great was her clear-eyed view of the world: despite being a spoiled and pampered princess, rich and privileged, she was always aware of how the world worked – she never fooled herself into thinking that the world wasn’t a series of negotiations. Trudy would’ve made a fantastic businesswoman (her instincts were often much sharper than Pete’s).

Some random thoughts:

  • No Peggy
  • No Joan – I guess last week was Mrs. Harris’ swan song
  • Unintended irony: Don chiding Sally about her lack of financial responsibility, while he blithely walks away from $2 million
  • I was soooooooo scared that the shapely brunette Don was ogling at the pool was our least favorite morose diner waitress Diane
  • Is it just me or is Pete not sad enough that both Joan and Don are gone?

 

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