On “Creepy Glen” of Mad Men; Matthew Weiner only you can fix this

Oct 20, 2010 by

UPDATE: @CreepyGlen sent me this link further explaining that it was actually Matthew Weiner who walked in on a woman named Peggy and asked her for a lock of hair.  Even @CreepyGlen, Marten, told his dad he was weird.)

UPDATE:  An I apologize for the formatting issues.  WordPress has been doing this a lot lately and I’m not sure why.

I’m not sure if you saw The New York Times transcript of the recent interview with AMC’s Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and the discussion about his casting his son, Marten, as Glen Bishop, (@CreepyGlen and @Glen_Bishop on Twitter) but Weiner’s response I find more and more puzzling the more I think about it.  Dave Itzkoff asked him about the amount of time we saw of his son, who got a lot of air time in Season IV, almost exclusively in dealing with Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), and on two occasions, Betty Draper (January Jones).

Q.We even got to see more of Glen Bishop this season. What does it say that you cast your son Marten as this creepy, off-kilter character?

A.  I know people use the word creepy, I don’t understand it. I don’t find him to be off-kilter. I’m very proud of their conversations, because anyone who has seriously eavesdropped on children, that is the way they talk to each other. Glen’s always going to be defined by the fact that he asked [Betty] for a lock of hair and he walked in on her in the bathroom, and I know that. But we have a delusion, I will say, in this country, that children are not people. People forget the thoughts they had when they were 6 and 7 years old, and how much of them was in there already.  As a dad, the anxiety I have is that he’s going to get some public retribution for being a peculiar person, and he’s not like that at all. He’s got very big eyes and very thick black hair and that may be part of why people think he’s so intense. But he’s a doll and he loves doing it. My worst fear is that he’ll read some of the [things] that people write about him on the Internet, which he never will. That’s all I care about.

Why is Glen (Marten) considered Creepy?

But let’s stop a minute and think about who really has helped create the perception that Glen, the character is creepy.

The answer: His father.

This youthful character has done some fairly odd things.  Weiner says they’re more normal than not, but sleeping over in the neighbor’s doll house, asking for Betty’s lock of hair, (even creepier, her giving him one), walking in on her in the potty, this season, he broke in and vandalized the Draper/Francis home, and then there is just the way he acts.

Contrast that with the lines Sally has in her interactions with him.  She’s more talkative. Lighter. Glen is almost always probing, more knowledgeable.  A few times this season I felt like he was going to slip Sally the tongue or something else. Would you rather be called Creepy by the world or a Doll in the NY Times by your dad?

If he’s the “doll” his dad says he is, (I think if I were Marten I’d rather see people calling my character Creepy than my dad calling me a doll in the NYT), then maybe in Season V, Weiner gives his kid some lines and opportunities to show he’s not so creepy after all.

He’s clearly a very perceptive character and knows much for a boy his age back in the early to mid-196os.    Of course, my suspicion is that since the Francis family has moved so far a way, it’s going to be hard to write Glen back into the Sally interaction script unless he begins taking after Sally and boarding trains and buses.

And it’s clear that while Sally might send Glen postcards because she “knows his address,” no mail Glen sends to Sally ever is going to make it into her hands.  It’ll either be thrown away on the spot, stamped return to sender, or put into a special drawer for Betty to savor out of her jealousy of Sally and Glen.

But back to real life for a second.

Weiner says: “My worst fear is that he’ll read some of the [things] that people write about him on the Internet, which he never will. That’s all I care about.”

The only way that happens is if Marten stays back in the 1960s before Al Gore invented the Internet.  My own kids read this blog, which at times I wish they didn’t because of the topics I deal with, but to say that your kid is never going to see people calling his character “Creepy” on the Internet is just bizarre.   If there are jokes on the Mad Men set that a countdown begins for a female character when she becomes tied to Draper, is it not logical to think that Sally, Bobbie, or someone isn’t going to say something to Marten about people calling him Creepy?  After all, if, as Weiner says, you’ve ever “seriously eavesdropped on children,” (mildly of creepy) you’d know, this is just the sort of thing they’d talk about.

In summary, Matt Weiner, if you want your kid to be able to play much of anything in the future besides “Creepy” Glen Bishop, you probably need to change the way he’s thought of in Mad Men or more than likely, professionally that’s all it’s ever going to be.  And he probably is a very nice kid. But stereotypes in Hollywood are hard to break out of, particularly for children actors.

Matt, as his dad, shouldn’t you do something to fix that?

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The Chrysanthemum and the Sword; Mad Men

Aug 29, 2010 by

I’ve tried to let the meanings of last week’s Mad Men, the Chrysanthemum and the Sword, sink in before writing anything about it.  And gosh there are volumes of comments already that have been made online about the show already.  So many have built the show around shame and how people do or do not deal with it.  Yes, there was a lot of it.

But here are some things that really stuck with me about the show:

It’s obvious Sally Draper is seeking an audience.  The problem Don and Betty and Henry are going to find is that where they have not been able to, or have not tried to provide such, Sally Draper is going to find attention and they’re not going to like what it looks like.

I’m struggling with the disasters formed because of my divorce in 2003 in my own three girls.  I’ve never been one to claim I’m perfect, though that sentiment has constantly been projected at me.  It’s clear from watching the episode that Betty Draper is truly a nut case that she is and that because of his own haste and blindness to rush into a marriage with her, Henry Francis, is sleeping with a walking-time bomb and doesn’t have a clue.

The fact that she lied to him about how recent it’d been since she’d seen a psychiatrist, “It was years ago,” and even his reaction to her telling him it’d even happened, shows there are still many things to left for Henry to unravel about his wife.

I thought it was classic when Sally’s counselor  suggested that Betty needs to see a counselor of her own.  And her denial; frankly I’m surprised she didn’t almost get up and walk out.   No, from Betty was the presentation that all in life is good. She’s the perfect mom.  It’s her kid that’s messed up. It’s because of Don that Sally cut her hair or is playing with herself.  The world according to Betty is that she’s perfect and the only problems in the world are shared by everyone but her.

And with how Betty reacts to Sally’s cutting her hair, with the slumber party mom who clearly was wanting to see Sally doing more than she actually was, visiting her once at the bottom of the stairs, it suggests that that scene has been previously played out in Betty’s life, with her being the operative Sally.

Betty says wants Don dead.  She now has a dad/crutch of a husband there to help calm her down.  Thank God Henry doesn’t act out in response to what Betty’s doing by calling Don at work and delivering his projected-produced anger at him, or calling friends of Don’s telling them they don’t need to be his friend, either.  But I can’t decide at what level Henry is really her puppet.  I guess we’ll see as we move forward.

And the irony continues about the Francis’ continuing to live in Don Draper’s home, basically being financed by him as though they’re obviously dependent on him.  Betty tells the counselor she had to go through with the divorce so she could offer her kids stability.  Yet with Henry and the whimsical ups and downs of political life, I can assure you, there’s nothing stable of living in four-year political cycles.  And so the irony is there.  At one point last season Henry is boasting that he doesn’t want Betty to be dependent on Don for anything, but they keep mooching off of him and living off his money and his house as though it’s some sort of an entitlement.

And then there’s the hypocritical nature of Betty’s accusations.  She is so wound up about Don’s activities, she is blind to the fact that she was having  multiple affairs–the guy in the bar, Henry, even the tempting of the horse jockey–and yet she’s so quick project Don as the slut.

She says she doesn’t want to know what’s going on in Don’s life. Maybe so, maybe not.  But you have to wonder, if she’s such a super mom to her kids, why are they coming out so bassackwards?  She tells Sally if she plays anymore solo tunes on herself in public that she’ll cut her fingers off.

It’s clear that so much that is Betty Draper is a lie.  She’s so dressed up in double-looped pearls when she goes to the counselor’s office, and even at first meeting, the counselor can see right through the phony.  And if Betty were so focused on what was right for her kids, wouldn’t she have been the one to take Sally to the counselors instead of the maid?  Wouldn’t Betty have been all about what was really going on in Sally’s life?

But no.  It’s better to perpetuate the lie.  She doesn’t work.  The kids are in school.  We’ve not been going to the stables in two seasons.  You’ve got to wonder what it is Betty Draper does during the day but sit around and bask in the surroundings provided by her former husband and think about how she needs to get more out of him. And then when it comes to dealing with Don in a proper way, say like deciding Sally needs to see a counselor, he properly points out, “It sounds like you’ve already made a decision, why are you calling me?”  Why did she call Don?  Simply so later on she could twist the truth again to say, well, I did call him.  Oh yeah, she did twist the truth in telling the counselor that “I don’t think you’ll ever see him,” dismissing him as not interested in the well-being of his kids.

I’ll let all the others explain to you about all the shaming that went on in this episode.  I got a lot more about how Betty Draper is just a nutty bitch who needs to get back to a shrink, one that might actually cut through the shit of her life and try to find if there really is a person in there after all.  What I really wish is that Don had his stuff together a little better and wasn’t living in an apartment and could spend more time with his kids.   But if he didn’t work all the time, what with the mooches Henry and Betty do?

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Mad Men Season IV; Some not being wowed, but it is very real

Aug 16, 2010 by

I had a good chat with one of my good friends today.  We were talking business and once finished with that she said, “Mad Men.  I’m not feeling wowed.”

Honestly, I will admit that Season IV of Mad Men hasn’t been like any of the other seasons.  Don has lost his charm for seduction.  He’s, as Alison put it last night, “a drunk.”  He has no stability in his life, and when he turns to women who are able to help him, e.g. Pheobe, his nurse neighbor, and Alison, his now ex-secretary, he can’t close the deal, or he does and then it gets all awkward and blows up in his face.

Henry and Betty obviously are on the rocks.  The dog sounds like it’s on the way to the pound or about to be given away to a nice home out in the country where he can run and play.  (There’s a step-family issue and a half there.  Pets come with step-families and that’s just how it is.  Deal with it.)

Henry’s mom thinks Betty is what she is, “a silly woman.”   I think in the previews for next week she’s even now wanting Don dead.

Sally Draper, she probably will be burning her bra somewhere, is not bothered by weird Glenn and his vandalism of their house.  And she’s still innocent enough to not know what it meant when Glen says Betty and Henry are “doing it.”

Peggy growing outward, Pete growing up

We see Peggy Olson coming out of a shell and trying risks; well, she’s always been a risk taker, but now it’s a little freer.  Are we going to see her at some point hurling a bra somewhere in a ’60s protest?  I doubt it, but it seems to me like she’d at least think about it.  She knows now that at least Alison thought she’d done it with Don, and probably everyone else assumed that, too.  And yet in light of her adventure, and daring will to stand on her desk and peer into Don’s office, she still had the dignity to go up to Pete and offer congratulations about the new Campbell baby.

Pete, the guy who once visibly detested the thought of having a little kid around, now is enthusiastic at the idea that it’s finally happened.  (I remember Gov. Fob James getting up to congratulate me in 1996 when we found out DD Chandler was coming.  It’s one of those great, great moments.)

Roger seems happy with Jane.  Bert Cooper seems to be biding his time sitting on a couch in the reception area.

Joan

Joan is desperately trying to make something of her marriage to her doctor husband.  Last week’s message with him sewing up her hand and him saying, “I may not be able to fix everything else, but I can fix this,” really spelled out the whole meaning of at least that episode: There are just a lot of things in life we cannot control.  Take joy in what you can fix and quit sweating the rest.

Season IV

No, the only episode to me in Season IV that’s ended like any of the others was the first one, when Don had had enough of being beaten down by the first advertising magazine that he went and sat down with the Wall Street Journal.   Last night’s ending of the old man asking about pears and his wife ignoring his questioning with a final, “we’ll discuss it inside,” still has me shaking my head a little. Was that to help remind him of what he’s not missing being back at the red-doored home with Betty?

In the Same Boat

But aside from having become an alcoholic or chasing women like Don, I can relate to how he is feeling.   Apartment life isn’t life in your own home.  Changes in work and cutting your teeth on new projects to get money coming in and the lights on is daunting.  There’s no other way to say it.  It can really drag you down.  Not being around your kids, having your ex keep you from seeing a kid, them being taken far away so you’re not with them on a regular basis, that’s all real shit that happens, and it is painful. 

Yes, many of you can say Don deserves it.  And you’d be right, many of us wished Alison’s aim had been a little better with that paper weight last night.

But life without the things you have grown accustomed to is miserable.  Don drinks.  I eat too much.  Don feels like he’s falling off that building and in many ways, there have been times when I wished that with all that’s been thrown at me, I’d just hit the ground and it’d be over with.

But you have to remember, Don Draper is a survivor.  He’s overcome hard situations all his life and my guess is he’ll get back some of who he wants to be in the end, whether we have a season V or VI or beyond.  Yes, this show is cast in the 60s, but the real, raw emotions and situations that happen are just as real today.   And if you can’t relate to them, bless you.  Because being able to relate to them just really, really sucks.

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