Generation gaps, the hiring of a new brash copywriter, a reference to “Bewitched” and an overweight Betty Draper were among the topics and storylines on view in Week Two of the new season of “Mad Men” Sunday night.
It was the reappearance of Betty that will be most talked about on Monday, for one very conspicuous reason: She’s gained weight.
It is true that in real life, January Jones, 34, was pregnant and had a baby, a son, last Sept. 13. But we’ve detected no reports that she gained significant weight during her pregnancy.
We hear her “Mad Men” weight gain was achieved with prosthetics and makeup. And, in the scene where Betty was seen nude, from the back, climbing out of the bathtub, a plus-sized body double reportedly stood in for the actress.
Meanwhile, Betty’s storyline had her seeing a doctor in the hopes of gaining a prescription for diet pills. While examining her, he detected a lump on her thyroid (it’s a gland in her neck) and she was left to consider the possibility that she had cancer.
So who’d she tell first? Well, when her husband, Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley), wasn’t around, she phoned her ex-, Don Draper (Jon Hamm). He tenderly called her “Birdie,” his old nickname for her, and the audience was left to wonder if these two still had feelings for each other. In the end, her lump was benign, and she was last seen eating two ice cream sundaes for dessert, a sign that all is not well in Bettyland. Was it ever?
Meanwhile, other storylines and ’60s pop culture references in Sunday’s episode, titled “Tea Leaves” and directed by Jon Hamm:
1) With the return of a big client, Mohawk Airlines, Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) was assigned the task of hiring a new copywriter to handle the client’s work. She wound up hiring a guy named Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman), who lied on his resume (he said poet Alan Ginsberg was a relative) and insulted Peggy when they first met, mistaking her for a secretary. But he got hired anyway, on the basis of his portfolio and also because his eccentricities appealed to Don. The hiring of the new guy, who is Jewish, and an African-American secretary for Don, were both evidence that the times they were a-changin’ for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, albeit glacially.
2) Newly powerful Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) played head games with Roger Sterling (John Slattery), first agreeing to “allow” Roger to handle the newly acquired Mohawk account and then, by episode’s end, taking it way from him at a meeting of the entire staff. This had Roger fuming, which we hope will motivate him to go after the devious Pete.
3) But as much as anything else, the episode had to do with the lengthening gap between generations in the mid-’60s. It was alluded to repeatedly: Betty complaining to a friend that Don’s new wife, Megan (Jessica Pare) is “20″ (she’s actually 26), Megan playfully calling her 40-year-old husband a square when he puts on a suit for a possible backstage meeting with the Rolling Stones at a concert in Queens, and a pair of teenyboppers at the concert whose only awareness of the advertising business came from watching “Bewitched” (the second time in the show’s history that this sitcom about ’60s admen has been referenced).
The generation gap came up in another scene when Megan and Don had dinner with a Heinz executive and his wife. Megan knew the title of a Rolling Stones song — “Time is On My Side” — while the Heinz guy, who has a teen-aged daughter, did not.
In one of the episode’s final scenes, Roger lamented to Don: “When is everything going to get back to normal?”
Probably never, Roger. This is the 1960s, after all.
Catch Up on the Season Premiere of “Mad Men”: