Teyonah Parris (L) as Don Draper’s secretary Dawn Chambers in an April 22 episode of AMC’s “Mad Men”
*With this season’s “Mad Men” set in 1968, you knew this was coming.
Turns out the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hit viewers just as unexpectedly Sunday night as it did the characters in the episode.
In the early evening of April 4, most of the characters were together at an advertising-awards ceremony when an anonymous voice in the crowd shouted out that Martin Luther King had been shot.
The only African-American characters of note, Don’s secretary Dawn and Peggy’s secretary Phyllis, are in one scene apiece, and their presence is merely to demonstrate how far removed the main characters are to their black secretaries’ experience.
Don, thinking he’s being thoughtful, tries to send Dawn home the day after the assassination, when in reality, all Dawn wants is a bit of normalcy – so she insists on staying at the office. Office manager Joan awkwardly tries to give her a sympathetic hug.
As riots literally break out in the following hours and days around the New York City ad agency, tempers also flare inside the SCDP offices. One of the more memorable scenes takes place between Pete and Harry, who get into a shouting match over how the King assassination has disrupted their day-to-day lives.
Harry is upset that the special news bulletins have pre-empted so many of their clients’ commercials, while Pete slams him for his lack of sensitivity, calling him a racist.
Of course, Pete’s anger comes off as displaced frustration over Trudy kicking him out of the house, but that’s another plot line. Still, King’s murder made Pete realize his mortality and his love for his wife and daughter. His parting shot to Harry is reminding him that King was a man with “a wife and four children.”
Watch an inside look at last night’s episode below:
*President Barack Obama’s appearance on” The View” this week gave the show a 15-month ratings high, according to Deadline.com.
His Tuesday visit, where he spoke about topics like Wall Street reform and his recently announced support for gay marriage, drew 4.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
It was his fourth visit to the ABC morning talk show and the first of his re-election campaign.
During the hour, Obama also took a Pop Culture quiz from co-host Joy Behar. An admitted fan of Showtime’s “Homeland” and AMC’s “Mad Men,” Obama was up to speed on Kim Kardashian, who he mentioned during his routine at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and “Modern Family.” Announcing he’s seen the movie, the president could name the members of “The Avengers” but he didn’t know about the erotic best-seller Fifty Shades Of Grey.
*The cable hit show “Mad Men” was hotly criticized for its lack of diversity in the cast.
Viewers complained that the AMC -TV series portrayed an all-white world. So as a result, the producers decided to get on the multicultural bandwagon, by force possibly, and cast Teyonah Parris to play Dawn Chambers, the first black employee at the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
In a recent interview with the LA Times, the actress shared her thoughts about the character in the storyline and how she got to be the token Black person in the series.
So in the fifth season of the show, “Mad Men” will introduce their first African American cast member. She explains a scene in the coming debut:
“It was a scene with Dawn and her cousin, she met up with him at a diner. And she was talking about her new job at the agency and just how it’s different and hard and even when she sees black people in Midtown, how they kind of can’t even acknowledge one another without feeling awkward about it because they feel like just by talking to one another, white people will feel threatened. It was a pretty amazing scene, actually.”