Kinsey, The Sellout

August 24, 2009

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Paul Kinsey serves as Mad Men’s obligatory 1960s-era liberal.  Without him, we really have no window into 1960s social history; with him, we learn about the 1961 Freedom Rides, interracial dating, and other “hippie communist radical” things of the era.

In last night’s episode, he voices opposition to Sterling-Cooper’s Madison Square Garden account, agreeing with local New York protesters that the project undermines a core tenet of NYC’s community cohesion: Penn Station.  How could these new architects destroy the station’s beautiful, historic architecture, he publicly laments.  But after he blows up, he regains his composure.  He remembers that he’s an employee, and quickly begs Campbell not to tell Don about his outburst.

As the show wrapped up, Kinsey was sitting in Don’s office, instructed to “keep a low profile” as he worked on the project, so as to not upset Sterling-Cooper’s newest client. Kinsey obliges, with little reluctance or trepidation.  Like many liberals of the time, when push came to shove, he rescinded his lofty claims for social justice.

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