It was a typical Sunday night my Upper West Side apartment. My 19 roommates decided to go out for beers, but I, still suffering from an all too eventful Halloween, decided to take things easy. I gathered up all the spare Snuggies in my apartment (~217), stacked them on top of last season’s “boot pile”, and began my Sunday evening television tradition. First, The Amazing Race kept me on my toes (not literally, I was sleeping on a Cherry Garcia neck roll), as yet another excited episode left me all too convinced that the Harlem Globetrotter team is the greatest thing to happen to America since bread was invented (sliced, rolled, any style really). Then, that dreaded 9 to 10 PM hour had me on the phone with my dear Mother, who engaged me in a rousing discussion that covered topics from “What’s more than numerous? Umpteenth?” to Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade”.
Finally, 10 PM had come. All phones were thrown out the window and I settled into my fleece bunker for the second to last Mad Men episode of the 3rd Season. Things were going smoothly — Pete Campbell was drinking cocoa, then subsequently was denies a promotion, Roger’s daughter was being a whiny bitch (seriously, just take your Van Cleef earrings like the old woman on the subway in Coming to America and be on with your business.)
Then, it happened.
Harry turned the TV on, and the next thing we know, Kennedy was assassinated (again, on a fictional television show.) And as though our shortness of breath were not confusing enough (after all, we knew the guy died, but it was like reliving it all over again), Matthew Weiner threw in some bonus footage of Duck crouching with no clothes on. It all happened so fast. I called my Mother again to make sure she was OK (and seeing that she was watching an old episode of House Hunters and doesn’t even watch Mad Men, thankfully, she was fine), and tucked my knees into my chest. Is this what it was like back then? Beautiful, wealthy people, rocked to their very foundation?
Meanwhile, Henry proposed to Betty after a light make session in her car. Is this how pretty people live? Just getting marriage proposals by older, slick salt n’ peppers everywhere they turn? Assassination, Shmassassishmashion, she needs to get in on that offer. When he was undressing her with his eyes at that wedding? Whoo, chile, it was like Kennedy got shot all over again (and then again).
Where were you when Kennedy got shot on Mad Men, Dan?
DH: I remember it too vividly — I was watching the World Series and DVRing Mad Men, waiting until around 10:20 to watch the episode without commercials, and then suddenly, there it was: Archival footage of Walter Cronkite announcing that President Kennedy had been shot.
It seemed so surreal — was this actually happening? Was Mad Men really doing an entire episode about the Kennedy assassination? I mean, I know the show incorporates momentous 60s events all the time, but when it’s actually right in front of you, as those characters really are watching coverage of the Kennedy assassination and trying to take it all in, it’s just…it’s just really tough to take it all in.
I wrestled with the idea of staying home from work the next day, shaken and disturbed at the shocking historical turn that Mad Men had taken, but then I decided, you know what? This is American television. And on American television, there’ll be another episode next week, and more seasons after that, and we’re just gonna have to move on with our lives. I know a lot of our favorite characters were distressed by this, and they may never fully get over it, but the show will go on, and that’s what makes American television so great.
Alright, commenters — Where were you when the Mad Men Kennedy Assassination happened? How did you grieve? Who did you call? Did you work today? Let it all out in the comments.