MAD MEN RECAP: The One Where Blackface Was Awesome


Bacar D EisenhowerThis is a Recap of Mad Men Season 3 Episode 3, “My Old Kentucky Home.” Spoilers and thirty-five random musical numbers within.

Pete and Trudy cut a choreographed rug, Kinsey seeks out A Capella redemption, Joan shines in the talent portion of the pageant, and new copywriter Sebastian sings “Under The Sea” in its entirety; last night’s Mad Men was a truly musical adventure that caused me to wonder “is this a dream sequence? Cause this can’t really be happening” about seven different times.

Through the absurdity, I still dug the episode, and because Michelle’s all post-L.A. jetlagged n’ such, you’re stuck with my painful jokes for your Mad Men Recap this week. Feel free to commence pre-wincing now.


The weightiest exchange in the episode, a moment of actual friendship-threatening hostility between Don and Roger:

“My mother was right — you should never be conspicuously happy, people don’t like it.”

“People don’t think you’re happy, they think you’re foolish.”

Roger Sterling BlackfaceRoger ambiguously applies his mother’s (awesome) quote, innocently describing his new life — drunken twentysomething wife, blackface-tastic garden party, carefree frolicking with business elite — as true happiness. Don bitterly attempts to Debbie Downer his good pal, acting partially on behalf of societal norms and partially on behalf of his own jealousy, although, knowing what we do about Don’s insatiable affairs, who is truly more foolish: the man who acts in secret and maintains the illusion of family, or the man who just brings everything out into the open?

I’m not asking that rhetorically, I want a direct answer. I expect the next episode to end with the line “And the winner is…ROGER!” Vegas currently has Don as a 5:4 favorite, with an Over/Under of 4 Whiskey-Fueled Office Arguments.


Jane and Joan — Roger Sterling’s respective current-public and former-secret squeezes — met face-to-face and traded catty passive aggressive barbs back and forth, with Jane happily utilizing her newfound status lift by demeaning Joan’s choice of apartments and instructing her to send a secretary to meet her driver. Joan shoots back, “Oh yeah? Well yo mamma’s ass is so big, airplane seats complain about the size of HER!”

Joan Lip SyncJoan then carries her status-frustration into her dinner party with her medical resident husband Greg, first failing to convince him to sit at the head of his own table, and later withstanding backhanded compliments from the Chief of Staff’s wife, who’s encouraged that Greg actually managed to “land a woman like her.” The wife doesn’t actually speak this compliment to Joan, though, she writes it on the back of her hand with a magic marker and literally smacks Joan with the back of her hand repeatedly until the words enter Joan’s brain.

A drunken conversation later reveals that Greg recently botched an operation, furthering Joan’s bubbling disappointment, then the group plays Yahtzee and Greg stupidly uses Ones for his Four of a Kind, then the three guys measure their penises and Greg’s is half the size of the other two.

Joan then performs a French accordion song, and the show very awkwardly cuts to an audio track of her singing synced up with her lips. The entire movie Moulin Rouge then occurs.


Meanwhile, Paul Kinsey continues to out-beatnik himself by the week, calling up an ex-Princeton chum for some pot to fuel a weekend work session. Peggy Olson grows a fifth ball and demands to be included in the pot party, and after a couple rotations, blissfully exclaims “I am so high.” I can’t tell if that line is an accurate depiction of what a rookie smoker might exclaim to try to seem cool, or if a ninth grader scribbled it to a friend in the middle of bio class and it somehow got included in the script.

The group ends up getting little work done — aside from glossing over the best slogan ever, “Bacar-D. Eisenhower” — and tensions eventually boil into a full-on a Capella fight, with Kinsey throwing out an impromptu “Hello my baby…” to prove his Tiger Tone worthiness to his skeptical ex-peer.

Peggy Looking DownMeanwhile, Peggy’s self-confidence continued to swell pridefully during her time with the fellas, eventually causing her to snap back at her secretary’s patronizing concerns about her pot smoking with demeaning, guys-in-the-offce-like orders. Needless to say, she’s come a long way since her lady on the desk days at the beginning of Season One; if this trend continues, by next season, she’ll also be cheating on Don Draper’s wife.


I’m all about symbolism and foreshadowing, but was anyone really buying Sally Draper reading The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to her grandfather? That’s the book Betty’s semi-senile father casually peruses through before bedtime? And Sally struggles with literally one word of it then gets through the rest fine, even though she’s like two?

Next week, Sally foreshadows Don’s metaphorical “funeral” with a dramatic reading of Finnegan’s Wake, her grandfather’s book of choice while lounging at the beach.


We’ve seen a lot of reckless misogyny and desperation in 2+ seasons of Mad Men, but last night braved a new frontier: A man unabashedly hitting on pregnant Betty. Not only hitting on her while she’s pregnant, but asking to feel her baby bump, and internally weighing the pros and cons of going lower but ultimately opting not to (at least, that’s how I interpreted it — I guess he COULD have actually been feeling for a kick).

Not that Betty didn’t seem intrigued; she was in no rush to leave Compliment Towne, and played dumb when she and her male suitor were re-introduced. Could this finally be the season where a Mad Men woman cheats on her man when they’re not separated? Will Betty Draper be the Jackie Robinson of female affairs? Either way, score one for the ladies. (Mad Men Ladies 1, Guys 85,678).

Also, in the spirit of the weekly Rose/Bernard Recap questions: Where the hell is Duck Phillips?

Thoughts on the episode? Favorite / least favorite parts? Best lines? Predictions? Leave ‘em all in the comments.

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