Yes, I know. Yet again I’m filing my Mad Men recap at the 11th hour.
One thing’s for sure — this week I can’t blame my tardiness on a lack of Jewy material.
Earlier this season I ruminated over the question of whether Roger’s second wife, Jane, was a Yid, a secret Yid or not a Yid:
With that exchange, I think the writers are settling what has already been the subject of plenty of blogosphere speculation — yes, Roger Sterling’s trophy wife is Jewish (or at least has Jewish roots). At the same time, the fact that we get there through a string of drug-induced moments of self-reflection suggests that whatever the extent of her Jewishness, it was essentially under the radar at work, and even to some degree in her own psyche.
Well, not exactly. At the start of last Sunday’s episode (“Dark Shadows”), Burt Cooper pushes Roger to take his “Semitic” wife to a prospective client dinner with a Manischewitz executive named Rosenberg (no relation to the spy, ha ha). So I guess it wasn’t a secret after all. (Wait, did we all find out that Roger’s first wife, Mona, is also Jewish? Or am I just getting old and confused like Burt and Roger? I’m going with the old and confused option. And maybe Megan is Jewish too… how else to explain a woman who wakes up next to Don Draper and desires… bagels?)
That’s not to say Roger didn’t want it to be a secret. Here’s Jane in the cab ride after the Rosenberg outing:
"So you suddenly have no problem telling people I’m Jewish."
Problem with it? You kidding me? Turns out Roger loves Jews, and especially Jewesses. Just ask him (during a business dinner with the Rosenbergs of Manischewitz, N.J.):
“Lord knows there is plenty of prejudice in this country. But growing up in Manhattan I’ve always envied the humor, the closeness, the way your people keep track of each other.”
“So you married your way in.”
“I always thought Jewish women were the most beautiful women in the world.”
Before we go on… for the record… I call bull … — how is it that we haven’t heard any of the requisite snickering until now from the other folks at the firm formerly known as Sterling Cooper? Not one stray comment? And don’t tell me they want us to believe she’s been calling him bubeleh all along (no Roger, that’s not German). Or was Jane joking with that bubeleh comment?
OK, now a crack at the big picture.
Is there anything that says “Welcome to the New America” more than watching Burt Cooper and Roger Sterling needing to bribe the shmendrick copywriter so that they will able to claw for Manischewitz’s business in order to preserve one last sliver of professional dignity?
Or, to put it another way…talk about the WASPy pot calling the Jewish kettle sneaky and cheap. [[READMORE]]
First we have Roger picking Ginsberg’s brain for ideas:
“Can you keep a secret?”
“You’re not going to dinner. What I need from you are a couple of ideas for a company called Monarch. The brand is Manischewitz.”
“You assume that I’m Jewish?”
“Stop talking. They make wines for Jews and now they are making one they want to sell to normal people. … You know what I mean — people like me. I think they are open to anything. But it has to be cheap — no surprise — and impactful. Bring me your best by sundown Friday (I have been doing a little research).”
Then at the end we have Ginsberg pushing his way through the closing elevator doors to give Don a piece of his mind. “I thought you were hiding from someone,” Don quips.
We also have Don and Harry Crane (he who told Jane’s cousin not to be such a “cheap Jew”) telling Ginsberg to get over his pique at having his idea shelved in a Don ego/power play — because this is all just about making money.
Oh, and almost forgot about Roger telling Peggy to lay off the you’re-not-loyal guilt trip since these days it’s every man for himself. That and his longing for the old building with an executive elevator — those were the days.
So earlier this season Don was looking down the elevator shaft into the abyss. But this week, for Ginsberg and Peggy, the elevator is all about breaking in and moving on up.
And, no, Roger, Ginsberg can’t keep a secret. He wears who he is on his (ugly blazer) sleeve. And on a similar note…Hey, Don… sure, Ginsberg might have been pushy about getting on the elevator. But you’re the one who was hiding when you first got on board.
So… the Sterling Cooper folks (and, for that matter, the Mad Men writers) might like playing the Jews-are-cheap card. But, while Ginsberg might be worried about getting paid back $15 in lunch loans, when it comes to being real about himself and being true to the work, he’s still the purest of the bunch.
Sorry to tread over old ground, but again… I think we’re seeing the difference between someone (Don) motivated by a deep-seated insecurity and someone (Ginsberg) spurred on by something more ennobling (or at least something greater than one’s self). Don is running from himself, Ginsberg is running from Hitler — while also looking for the chance to hit him with a sno(w) ball.