I like the fact that "Mad Men" is increasingly about the shifting identities of women. But at first, "The Beautiful Girls" seemed kind of choppy, and less graceful and dazzling, than previous installments. Then I took a look at Bert Cooper's role in this particular show, and the genius become more apparent. All of the episodes can't be about fluidity and rebirth: this one is about being tied-down and stuck. And being stuck feels bad. And then you die.
Backed by the use of Don as narrator and the loud, modern sound of the Rolling Stones, "The Summer Man" represents a sea change, in style and tone, from the usual "Mad Men" episode. At first, each seems like an alien affectation. The combination of showing Don doing laps in the pool while we hear his voiceover reminded me of "Sunset Boulevard" -- would someone end up floating dead at the end?
Matthew Weiner's script this week was genius, even if it was the most scrotum-nal and scatological episode ever. Indeed, contemplating all of man's vulnerable private parts and/or explosions of the GI tract brought new meaning to the idea of bathroom humor. Ball jokes aside, watching the show was sheer pleasure, from the brilliant writing and direction to the evocative performances by Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss as they plumbed their characters' essences through the long night's journey into day.
So the art-imitating-life award goes to Matt Weiner. Along with Erin Levy, a young female protégé on the "Mad Men" staff, he was seen accepting an Emmy for TV writing just around the same time that Don was shown up at the podium receiving his Clio, advertising's Oscar, in the category of floor polishes and waxes.