Tuesday, September 11, 2007

'Mad Men' and the Chekhov Rule

Speaking of "Mad Men" (see preceding post), I'm wondering when newlywed junior exec Pete is going to start shooting--and at whom.

To recap, in Episode 7, "Red in the Face," arrogant young (oh wait, all the men in the show are arrogant and young...except the ones who are arrogant and old) Pete exchanges the garish Chip 'n' Dip tray he'd gotten as a wedding present for a 22-caliber rifle*. To the vast amusement of the guys crowded into his office, he takes aim at "the girls" in the secretarial pool and pretends to pop each one off. Despite his wife's resulting fury (or maybe because of it), Pete doesn't return the rifle and it remains propped against a wall in his office. It's the sole background object during his clinch with secretary Peggy.

To mix metaphors, that rifle is a ticking bomb. According to the immutable laws of drama, as laid out by Anton Chekhov (courtesy of Wikipedia):
  • "One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it."
  • "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there."
So I'm wondering when that gun is going to go off. Anyone want to lay odds?

*You could buy a rifle in NYC in 1960? And blithely parade with it through the streets and into an office building?? Really???

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Oh my gosh, you are absolutely right! I have been so fascinated with the interactions between Pete and Peggy, Pete and his wife, Don and all of his women, etc. that I forgot about that rifle. I missed the last episode (which I'm told was incredible) but will catch it "on demand" this weekend. This show is just incredible!