When I’m not busy illuminating the world with my thoughts on pop culture here on KQED Pop, I’m usually busy planning theme parties. Theme parties are what separate us from animals; as my sainted Grandmama used to say: “There’s never anything so wrong with the world that some crepe paper decorations and a crystal punch bowl can’t fix.” Some of my past successes in this area include: The Class of 1984 Prom, Wes Craven Meets Wes Anderson Halloween, A Tilda Swinton Christmas (now in its third year!) and of course, A Very Jeff Koons Kwanzaa. For this Sunday’s Mad Men premiere, I can only assume you’ve been working overtime planning the perfect gathering to celebrate the return of America’s Downton Abbey. Just in case some of you have been slipping in this department (slipping like the late Lane Pryce, poor man), here are some helpful hints to make a gathering even Henry Francis’ dour mother would approve of.
Costuming: The decade is moving on and, as Megan Draper’s swinging style has indicated, so are the fashions. Go for paisleys, psychedelic prints and the London look. Of course, no one ever looked bad in a classic skinny suit or shift dress and, if you don’t have time to scour the vintage boutiques for the real deal, Banana Republic has the nouveau versions readily available.
Grub On Fun Finger Foods: The ’60s were all about cocktail dining (basically anything you could eat on a toothpick). Pigs-in-a-blanket. cheese-puffs, canapes, and marshmallow kabobs are all fun, authentic mid-century hors d’ouvres that don’t require an overwhelming amount of prep work. If you’re on a diet, just eat the brandied cherries out of a Manhattan or, for a savory treat, the olive out of a martini.
Discuss Whether You Are A Joan, Betty, Megan Or Peggy: This is perhaps the greatest question of our century. I personally am somewhere between ambitious actress Megan and ambitious woman-trying-to-make-it-in-a-man’s-world Peggy. That said, I won’t deny the occasional slip into sultry Joan territory or frosty, complicated bouts of Betty every now and then. How about you? For Mad Men viewers, this is our “Beatles or Stones” debate.
Pay Homage To HoJo’s Orange Sherbet Punch: Here’s a quick and easy recipe that doesn’t taste “perfumey” at all, like Megan found the Howard Johnson’s orange sherbet (which, as you may recall, sparked an enormous fight with Don). You’ll need: 1 container of Orange Sherbet, 1 two liter of Ginger Ale, 1 bottle of Champagne. Combine ingredients in large punch bowl. For extra style, add orange rounds to the bowl. For extra kick, add gin.
Invent Your Own Mad Men Drinking Game: I would say “drink every time they drink,” but I care about your livers too much, gentle readers, to suggest that. How about drink every third time someone on screen drinks (trust me, this will still get you loaded, er, so I’ve heard), or just drink every time Don lies about his past or every time something sexist happens. Bottoms up!
Use Betty Draper Francis’ Season 5 Fat Suit For Extra Seating: You saw how cushy and well padded January Jones was so you just know that fat suit would be comfortable to recline on if more guests show up at the last minute. Also, her prosthetic chins would be great coasters.
Decor: Even if you don’t have a perfect Danish Modern credenza or a conversation pit in your living room, there’s still time to dress up the pad! Never underestimate the impact some floor pillows and a little throw shag carpeting can bring to a room.
Invite A Silver Fox In Honor Of Roger Sterling: Every party needs one! If a true silver fox isn’t readily available, a silver wig on a regular fox will just have to do. Or a cardboard cut-out of Anderson Cooper.
Try And Feel A Little Sympathy For Pete: I know he’s worked so hard at being unlikable, but didn’t that affair/electroshock therapy storyline earn him a few points? I mean, sure, he was cheating on Trudy with his train seatmate’s wife, but, given everything that’s come before, this was actually a moment where he gained a little likability. Also, did you know Vincent Kartheiser and Alexis Bledel are now engaged in real life? That makes it a sort of happy ending…
Try And Figure Out Whatever Happened To Gay Sal: We’re getting closer and closer to the Stonewall Riots in 1969… I’m just saying, do you think we’ll see him on the streets with his fellow, newly liberated gay brethren?
Make A Boozy, Lounge-y Playlist: Don’t scrimp on the Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzegerald, Dinah Washington and Dean Martin.If you have the money in your budget for the rights, make a nod to the late ’60s and include one Beatles song. And of course, you must “Zou Bisou Bisou.”
And of course, don’t forget the swizzle sticks, those drinks aren’t going to swizzle themselves! Happy viewing!