Two key Spinoff writers share a dirty little secret: they’ve never seen any of the defining ‘important’ TV shows of our time. They launched Catch Up Club to save them (and possibly you), beginning with the smoky glory that is Mad Men. //
Alex: It was the launch of Catch Up Club, a glorious opportunity for us televisual tortoises to get stuck into Mad Men and lift our fancy television game. And by gum, what a roaring start it was off to. Firstly, Joseph forgot:
And then fell asleep:
I must confess my experience had been similar. But it wasn’t my work that was distracting me, it was the sheer weight of the task, the dipping of a toe into what you know is a giant seven season ocean full of scary smoking squid and giant sea slugs called Pete. I eventually managed to overcome that anxiety and dive in, and Joseph managed to watch the whole episode without forgetting or falling asleep. This is what we thought of Mad Men S01E01:
Joseph: Shut up Alex, go to hell! Sorry I can’t help myself, I am a big ol’ sexist now thanks to my new favourite show Mad Men. How are you?
Alex: Help me I can’t read this due to the paper bag that I have placed firmly over my small female head.
Joseph: I understand, also we are doing this on computers. VERY complicated piece of technology.
Alex: I’m only just getting the hang of it.
Joseph: Why had you never watched Mad Men until now?
Alex: I’ve always been a bit scared of it for some reason, I have an adverse reaction to period pieces.
Joseph: I never watched it before because it kept beating my favourite show Lost at the Emmys and I was angry at it. Not watching it was my revenge.
Alex: You bloody showed them! I also think I preferred to know Jon Hamm as the hook-handed dummy in 30 Rock.
Joseph: Yeah, big fan of Hamm on 30 Rock. Like, seeing him play this debonair intelligent man for the first time seemed to me like he was playing against type.
Alex: I kept expecting to see his tiny metal claw clutching at a Lucky Strike. By the way, how good is smoking?
Joseph: I mean, it seems GREAT. Can’t think of any downsides.
Alex: I must admit, when Drapes finally nailed his “it’s toasted” Lucky Strike pitch, I got a weird shudder down my spine and went “shit that’s yum, I want it.” It’s possible I was thinking of marshmallows.
Joseph: I was just straight up thinking of toasters, like imagining my toaster popping up in the morning and a delicious cigarette being in there, ready to smoke!
Alex: Either way – I’m buying.
Joseph: So, this show looked very expensive and good!
Alex: Amazing right? I was truly agape. And boy oh boy, “the costumes” is also something I feel like I have to say.
Joseph: Like when it started, all I could think was, “whose idea was it to set this in the ’60s? Seems like a really dumb idea, it’s going to be really expensive to keep it in the ’60s the whole time.” Maybe that’s why I’m not in charge of a fancy TV show.
Alex: Maybe there was just a big sale on at Fuzzy Vibes and they went “yeah, this will work.” It’s a New Zealand show, right?
Joseph: “Great script, guys, let’s change it to be set in the modern day in my flat and shoot it on iPhones and I think we’ve got a winner” – me.
Alex: “Oh no, but I wanted it to be sexist without people getting upset!” – ambitious scriptwriter
Joseph: “Okay, well hopefully there is a sale at Fuzzy Vibes.”
Joseph: I tell you what though, the ciggy budget on this show must be crazy big. Those things are, what, $17 a packet? Maybe three packets worth smoked per episode. It adds up, Alex.
Alex: I think there must have been a sale on at Sharky’s as well (welcome to the most K’rd-centric Mad Men recap of all time).
Joseph: I think they got all their whiskey from Whammy.
Alex: What else happens? Don is trying to peddle major ciggies and sleeps with an arty lady wearing a shirt (progressive).
Joseph: And of course we meet Peggy. The new girl. And the men say horrible things to her
Alex: Everyone is like, “WHERE ARE YOUR LEGS? YOU ARE IN THE CITY NOW!” Everyone knows, even back in the old days, that city = legs.
Joseph: Nothing like a stroll down the streets of the CBD to check out the pins.
Alex: She also tries to go on the pill and the doctor (who seems a lot like 30 Rock‘s Dr Spaceman) calls her a strumpet and says fanny a lot.
Joseph: Basically the 60s just looks like the worst and I’m glad I never went there. I did like how Don Draper had a draw full of white shirts in his office. That was very aspirational for me, really into clean white shirts.
Alex: “Fresh never goes out of style”
Joseph: To sum up the character of Don Draper-
- puts work before family
- generally deeply flawed
- drawer full of white shirts
Alex: Peggy character summary-
- covered-up legs
- is a strumpet
Alex: What are her pros?
Joseph: I liked it when she just banged the horrible drunk at the end. Straight up third wave feminist, ahead of her time.
Alex: Dirty ass Pete.
Joseph: You bang all the awful drunk guys you want, Peggy. You do you.
Alex: Nek minnit, everyone has a wife by the way.
Joseph: Oh yes, I believe Hitchcock coined the term “nek minnit” as a dramatic device.
Alex: It’s very effective.
Joseph: It was weird how they played the reveal of Don Draper’s wife/family as like “the big twist”.
Alex: Why? I was bloody shocked.
Joseph: I guess I knew he had a wife. From like, the Emmys and stuff.
Alex: Alright Hitchcock’s apprentice.
Joseph: Which is why I suppose it pays to watch the fancy shows when they come out!
Alex: And not wait to talk about them literally 7 years later!
Joseph: Will you keep watching it? I watched it at one in the morning, and was legit keen to watch another one straight after. And I am a grown-up with a job to go in the morning (listen to me I’m a regular Don Draper).
Alex: Yep, I want to see how many more wives they all have! I reckon Draper has got to be like Akon-level wives. In short yes, I will keep watching.
Joseph: Spoiler alert: Mad Men is the prequel to Big Love.
We were both sold on Mad Men like a stupid consumer in the ’60s falling for cigarettes on toast, and will continue to watch it and discuss it here. Next week we will be tackling the dizzy heights of House of Cards S01E01, you are welcome to join us by watching it here.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.