Mad Men: Sandwiches, Gumdrops, and Milk

More metaphors about buildings and food. Mostly about food.

On last week’s episode of Mad Men, “A Day’s Work,” Don told Sally the truth: he no longer works for SC&P, and last night he finally told Megan. In both cases, the women in his life knew that something wasn’t right.

Normally, in these sorts of situations, Don would just continue the lie–it’s what he’s good at. Over the years many people have spoken out about how Madison Avenue sells lies to the American public, and there is a lot of truth to that arguement. But then again, we are willing customers.

Don doesn’t get his job back until he comes clean to Sally and Megan, but that is not the reason he got to return to SC&P. One could argue that this is a “the truth will set you free” moment, but telling the truth got him into this mess.

Don sells lies for a living, and the living is good. He tells lies at home and it causes no end of trouble. Over the course of the series we have seen Don Draper rise up from the ashes of Dick Whitman only to flame out. Or you could say that like Icarus he flew too close to the Sun.

Much of modern storytelling is nothing more than a remix of stuff from mythology and/or Shakespeare. Sons of Anarchy is “Hamlet on Harleys,” and it is very smart and well made. One could argue that Don is like the story from the Bible about the house that was built on sand–the foundation couldn’t support the weight. Then again, Don could be like that guy on TV who tries to keep half a dozen plates spinning all at once–eventually they come crashing down. Sometimes it’s one plate at a time, sometimes it’s all at once.

I know that I don’t know a lot about the art of storytelling. There are a lot of things that either I don’t notice, or they just go over my head. Then there are times when I misinterpret things. And sometimes I see things that aren’t there. But, I do that in everyday life as well.

It seems to me that the relationship between Betty and Bobby is a mirror image of the Don/Sally relationship. I feel that Don loves Sally, and that he wasn’t lying to her when he said that he loves Megan. I still wonder if Don ever really loved Betty, but that’s another story.

Last week Don bought Sally a sandwich that she didn’t ask for. He did this while she was on the phone, and away from the table. Sally returned and it was just there. He felt she needed it in the way that parents do. It’s that way in a lot of relationships: sometimes you know that the other person needs something, whether they know it or not.

Last night at the farm, Betty walks away for a moment, only to return and find out that Bobby had traded her sandwich for gumdrops; which he really didn’t want. The fact that he made this trade with a girl is just icing on the cake. You could say that during their marriage Don cared more about other women’s gumdrops than Betty’s sandwich. Metaphorically speaking of course.

Some would say that Don saw Betty not as a sandwich but as a gumdrop. I believe the term is “arm candy.”

And don’t think that the idea of going to a dairy was lost on me. I am all too familiar with the story about free milk and a cow. Then there was the part about the woman who wasn’t wearing a bra, and of course Betty couldn’t let that go without comment.

I didn’t even get to the part where Dawn offered Don a sandwich, or when “Room Service” brought Roger a BLT. I’ll let you discuss that amongst yourselves.


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