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UCSB Gets a Taste of Weiner



Matthew Weiner spoke to a well-dressed crowd on Sunday at the Granada Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara.

Interviewed by the bewigged Lynda Weinman at an event joint-organized by UCSB Arts and & Lectures and Lynda.com, Weiner discussed the evolution of “Mad Men” from concept to production and touched on some aspects of television theory along the way.

The most interesting part of his conversation was about Don and Betty Draper’s relationship. He talked about the Draper children providing an access point for the show’s viewers into Don and Betty’s world. In retrospect, this seems almost obvious: We’re not supposed to see Don as an equal, we’re supposed to see him as our dad. Throughout the show, and especially the first two seasons, Don has an answer (and a ridiculously on-point improvised speech touching on the heart of the American dream) for everything, including his wife’s accusations he has been less than faithful. And of course, he has, but that’s beside the point, according to Weiner.
“It’s not enough that he’s been unfaithful,” Weiner said. “She has to not love him anymore.”

That we see the show through the children’s eyes — Weiner said he always took care to include the children surreptitiously watching whenever the two fought — makes their split and Don’s subsequent breakdown all the more traumatic. Nobody wants to see their more-than-perfect father come apart at the seams.
Weiner also talked about his treatment of divorce throughout the show.

“Everybody that was divorced [during that time] recognizes [Don’s] apartment,” Weiner said.

Weiner used season four of the show to dissect an early example of what has become quotidian American experience. Although he wanted to have Don join Betty, her new husband and the kids for Thanksgiving dinner, one of his staff shot the idea down as “ridiculous” for that time period. And I think that’s what we love about “Mad Men”: If something or some action would be out of place for the time period, it’s not in the show.

While some people may complain about slight font anachronisms, for the most part the styling and behavior is dead-on. Weiner discussed the wardrobe of the characters, and how it’s suited to fit their personality. Pete Campbell, for example, is dressed younger than the other executives at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce to reflect his youth and junior status. The crew dresses Peggy Olson in styles around a decade out of date, in keeping with her character.

Weiner discussed Peggy and Don’s relationship: They are both strivers who cannot fathom anything beyond doing what they feel they need to in order to get what they want. Both Don and Peggy display a single-minded fascination with furthering their careers that only Don’s alcoholic womanizing and Peggy’s complete social ineptitude can derail. For example, Weiner referenced the first episode when, upon hearing Don lost interest in his last secretary because of her lack of sexuality, Peggy puts the moves on him on the first night. He rebuffs her, but that moment perfectly elucidates her character: She’ll do anything to get where she wants to go. And her dalliance with Pete Campbell explains her even further; she’s not sure what to do to get there.

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One Response to UCSB Gets a Taste of Weiner

  1. dane Reply

    April 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    NEAR DEATH OF SEVERAL STUDENTS SPARKS INVESTIGATION OF AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS AGAINST WHAT WITNESSES DESCRIBE AS A HALF MAN HALF RACCOON

    Walking home from a party during the early morning hours of saturday, March 26th, a group of five UCSB students were attacked by something they were unable to confidently describe. “It was like nothing I’ve ever seen” said one victim who just barely survived the incident. The attack occurred just between the DLG and Santa Cruz residence halls, in a spot recently recognized as a raccoon hotspot. According to the group of students, the figure that attacked them was unlike any raccoon they’ve ever seen. All being very familiar raccoons on campus, each student involved gave an identical identification of what they believed to not be a raccoon but a half man half raccoon given the attacker’s brute strength, size, and raccoon like posture. Lucky to be alive, each one of the five students attacked were also robbed of their electronic access cards which allow students to open the doors to their residence halls. “It was like a scene out of a movie,” said another victim, recovering from several broken bones and a severe scratch across the face. “First it jumped from a tree on to my back, slamming me into the sidewalk, then it began clawing savagely at the rest of the group before rummaging through our belongings with its large beast like snout and scampering off into the night. It was awful”
    However rouge this violent incident is in UCSB’s history, strange raccoon behavior has in fact become more frequent this year in the Isla Vista area. According to local fish and game representatives the raccoon population has all but demolished all other critter populations in and around UCSB over the past year alone, shifting their diet almost completely over from trash to meat. During the height of their mating season, January through April, it is estimated that UCSB’s raccoon’s diet grew to be three times what it was recorded at this time last year. To make matters worse, raccoons have also been seen attempting to enter the residence halls during the night. Given the recent raccoon activity in part with last friday’s violent incident, authorities have begun to look into the possibility of what some people may call a population of half men half raccoons.
    In response to this scare regarding what may be a super raccoon living somewhere on or nearby campus, authorities have locked the residence hall doors for the weekend and dispatched an increased amount of police officers in the area, focusing much of their attention on the beach access point where some say the super raccoon may preside.

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