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Suzanne is a floor wax and a dessert topping!

December 4, 2009

"A picture is a worth a thousand words"

 Lurking around the InterTubez I see much criticism and disdain for Ms. Suzanne Farrell, school teacher and recently abandoned paramour of philandering ad man Don Draper, the meaty existential center of the tasty TV Beef Wellington that is Mad Men. Many ardent fans of the show would easily describe Suzanne as either the flaky puff pastry that distracts us from thoroughly savoring the beef or the chopped liver (ewww!) that ruins an otherwise fine cut of cow.

I think Suzanne is misunderstood and sadly unappreciated.

Remember The Gold Violin?

Suzanne is the Rothko.

The office is abuzz because Cooper has purchased some art. A few of the crew sneak into his office to get a look. On the wall is a Rothko.  An abstract painting primarily composed of a few orange and brown rectangles.  The college graduates ponder.  The art student is confused and says it must mean something. The writer is reflective and says maybe it’s just meant to be experienced.  The TV guy shrugs.

Some viewers watched Suzanne and felt conflicted. At first she might a hippie earth-mother type.  Then she’s a concerned teacher type. Then she’s a drunk, horny, marriage-wrecking type.  Then she’s a man-hating, psychotic, passive-aggressive type. Then she’s a weird, suspicious, radical type. Then she’s a depressed, lonely, boring type.  Oooo! Wait, now she’s a loving sister and baker, cool!!   Oh but now she’s a pathetic, deserted suicidal type.  What?? Who cares?

Suzanne is the abstract work of art, designed to reflect the viewer’s projections.  She is a simple canvas brushed with a couple of earthy colors. Play with the light; we’ll see a certain image.  Look askance, we’ll feel a different emotion. Stare at it after a bad day at work, we’ll be frustrated.  Study it after a fine meal, we’ll feel fulfilled.  If you’re bored, she’s boring. If you’re seeking truth, she’s satori.

But what is Suzanne supposed to mean?

What are any of us supposed to mean?  She means everything and nothing; she just is. She’s not a cipher or some dramatic archetype or some plot device.  She’s a very human character, possibly the most ordinary human character on the show.  She’s one of us. She’s stunningly simple and conflicted and complex all at once, at any moment.  Are not we all?

More ways to appreciate Suzanne in the following days, I promise.

Feel free to comment. I don’t have a policy yet, I love sarcasm and wit and there’s never enough creative cursing for me.

Only rule:  No ad hominems.  Surest sign of no reasonable argument is to call people names. (Learned that from a fetching English Comp teacher named Denise; not aware if she baked though)  Keep that shite outta here please.

UPDATING THE COMMENT POLICY: upon reviewing other blogs’ comment policies, LOM has decided to adopt a relatively Free Market approach to personal expression within this room.  Sometimes you just have to call a jerk, You jerk!  If someone, including LOM, types out some half-baked goop and she/he deserves to be baptized with a crude epithet because of it, let the ad hominems fly; we’re all adults here (I hope they’re still carding at the door).

Try to make them appropriate to the offending opinion, rather than their person and funny can never be wrong.*

*I still reserve the right to change my mind though.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. gypsy howell permalink
    December 6, 2009 3:06 pm

    LOM you ignorant slut!

    (just testing the comment policy)

    I struggle with Suzanne because, frankly, I just can’t get my arms around why Don is attracted to her, and I never felt the chemistry between them on the screen the way I did with Midge, Rachel and even (in a somewhat destructive sense) with Bobbie. I leave out Joy & Shelley, because they were just flings in my mind, not relationships.

    I don’t know if it’s because of the actress (I’ve never seen her in anything else, so it’s hard for me to judge whether she’s wonderful or simply “eh” in other roles) or the chemistry between her and John Hamm (seems less likely -I think there are too many other issues with how her character is drawn for it just to be that) or maybe, the way she’s written.

    I “get” who Midge, Rachel and Bobbie are as people, and why Don would be attracted to them. But with an equal amount of screen time (or so it seems, as I’ve never actually done a direct comparison) I just don’t “get” Suzanne. And apparently, lots of fans don’t “get” her. What’s the point of having a recurring and IMPORTANT character that so many people don’t understand? Isn’t one point of a drama to enable us understand?

    You can say we are all complex and complicated creatures, but that doesn’t mean we are incoherent as persons. All the other characters on the show, even the ones I dislike (Duck, Betty at times, Trudy when we first met) are at least coherent to me – I don’t feel that anything they do is completely out of character and coming form left field. With Suzanne I felt that way all the time. So I ponder why that should be. Was it intentional? If so, what’s the point of the intention?

    Mostly, I’m frustrated because I WANTED to like Suzanne, and I WANTED to understand her, in the sense of wanting to like the person a good friend is seeing (yes, Don is my BFF) and being frustrated when you just don’t get what they’re doing together.

    I did have an issue with the way the “post that shall be nameless” presumed to lecture the writing staff of MM how to properly draw a character. I imagined the MM writers reading that and shaking their heads. But then, I’m not a very good writer myself, and don’t fancy myself one. Wishing to respect the comment policy there, I chose not to address that in my comments there. But here it’s a free-for-all! 🙂

    Anyway, glad to pop the cherry of your comments here, assuming no one else has beat me to it in the time I wrote this. (Apologies in advance for the icky metaphor, but then I’m the one who thought the Method video was hilarious.)

    I’ll be back. Yes, that’s a threat.

    • December 6, 2009 6:16 pm

      Welcome gypsy howell, where is Thurston, out in the boat? You soooo stole my opening line. When I was teasing out how to let AB know I was Serious and Not serious about my displeasure with her post, I went looking for a YouTube link of Point/Counterpoint, and I think I would have been OK to use it at BoK, but there was a small kerfuffle just before if you didn’t notice and I chickened out. You though get free virtual drinks at the bar all day, if I can get somebody to get more ice. Well played madam, well played!

      I know you want to like Suzanne but can’t. I sympathize and I’ve been trying to find the right way to explain why I think fine wealthy socialites like yourself and many others just can’t get there. I am on the JOB, working the scene of the alleged writing crime. But I have a job alas and at home a slow modem and a quickly becoming obsolete RAM capability. So the progress is less than ideal. I’m refraining from publicly offering dribs and drabs of the theory (except for the partially baked one above) until I can paint it all out. We have time though. August feels so far out there.

      But I’m re-watching S1 and I’m almost crying tears of joy about how good it is. The profound thought occurred to me that if you know anyone disaffected with Betty, for example, tell them to clean out of their heads what they think they feel about her now and go watch “Ladies’ Room” again. I don’t believe anyone can ever completely dislike Betty after they really watch that again. No matter what we know she does or does not do after that point to help herself or the kids, some empathy we have to have generated for her from that episode almost certainly gets carried with us into season three.
      Anyone not carrying that down the road to her in S3 is a cold-blooded socio-loon, most likely mean to small children and puppies. ( make that . . fuckin’ puppies. just for fun. er. . I mean that strictly as an adjective in the context of the sentence. Don’t getthat idea of LOM, (though since you opened with it, slut puppy was a popular pet name too. Ha!)

      I was reading some of the dust-up over the What? more than just scrubbing bubbles but I didn’t watch it. I guess though that finding it hilarious has earned you some scorn. I’ll watch tomorrow at my quicker computer in the Cube.

  2. dancewosleeping permalink
    December 16, 2009 1:52 pm

    Not going to get into the Suzanne thing, since I don’t want to incur the wrath of LOMLBFTSMOH (Less of Me’s Lightning Bolt from The Spaghetti Monster on High), but I do have one TEENSY question…
    What you got against chopped liver? A GOOD homemade chopped liver made with real scmaltz can be a work of art and a joy to the palate…
    Jus’ sayin’…

  3. dancewosleeping permalink
    December 16, 2009 1:52 pm

    That’s schmaltz of course.

    • December 16, 2009 3:28 pm

      Yiddish is must easier to pronounce than spell for me. Try to make schlemiel look right the first time, I dare ya. See I could not. Wait! maybe that was right. Whatever. And not that anyone on this page is a shlemiel, I’m just making a point. Is that spelled right??

      I love liver myself, and sweetbreads, and haggis the one time I tried it wasn’t too shabby. I mean it was edible, it wasn’t awful offal. ack. that pun was though.

      dancewosleeping– welcome. and I welcome your pate to the party too. (an aside– do you know the HTML tag to put an accent mark above a letter, I am lost, and i did not wish you to think I was welcoming the top of head too.) And I’m on the outs with the FSM. I tried to provoke some supreme deity jealousy by deciding to celebrate Festivus this winter but the FSM truly could not care less about less of me, and what I choose to celebrate. I have no lightening to toss around alas. But that doesn’t mean it’s open season on the teacher either. LOM will find other ways to wreak vengeful, gratuitous retribution so mind your p’s and Suzie q’s round here, my friend.

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