August 16, 2010

Mad Women: Your Problem Is Not My Problem

Filed under: Gender,Mad Women,Media,Recaps — Tags: — Rachel @ 9:33 pm

While most recaps focus on the entire aspect of a show, this one’s going to be a little bit different.  As this is a feminist blog deconstructing images and portrayals of women in pop culture, why spend an entire post rambling on about the men of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price.  Instead, these recaps will focus on the women of Mad Men – the main ladies: Peggy, Joan, and Betty, and any new additions or guest stars – hence the title “Mad Women.”

Peggy (and Joyce)
This was the second big episode for Peggy this season.  After the departure of Kinsey, I was wondering if the progressive social side of the 60’s would just be tossed by the wayside, so I’m glad they brought that aspect back.  I’m curious where her friendship with Joyce is headed; I feel like Joyce is interested in her.  The “he doesn’t own your vagina” “No, but he’s renting it” exchange was great.  She also confronted the “real art” vs. mass media attitudes that started to show up during the time (and that still exist today.)  I can’t decide if I like Joyce or not, but I think she’ll be a good friend for Peggy to have, if only because I think we’ll see Peggy explore the social progressive movements of the time in very direct ways.  I like seeing Peggy waver back and forth between being progressive, and being conservative to meet the expectations of the time.  I wonder if she’ll find feminism via Joyce?  I think that would make for great storyline.

We saw Peggy playing with Dr. Miller’s engagement ring (further confirming her “I want to get married” statement from the last episode) and I loved her reaction when she saw Don looking at her.  She had another another great exchange with Don’s secretary, and while her “You should get over it” line seemed pretty harsh at the time, I later realized she likely felt frustrated that while she spent time as Don’s secretary, and moved up, this young woman ended up sleeping with her boss, and being mad that he didn’t care.

Peggy’s awkwardness at finding out about Trudy’s pregnancy is exactly what I would’ve expected from her.  She showed herself to be incredibly gracious and mature, in congratulating Pete.  (Despite the fact that Pete is a little weasel, I feel like they should totally be together.)  I found the final shot when she’s leaving the office, and they look over at each other to be really sad – I feel like Pete really likes her (loves her maybe?) but that’s something I don’t ever see happening on the show.  I felt like it was a great contrast as well – Peggy walking out of the office for lunch with all the young, hip, casual people, while Pete stood in a suit, talking to a bunch of old white men in suits.

Oh, and her peeking over the window into Don’s office was one of the funniest moments I’ve ever seen on the series.


  1. Great post! I love your emphasis on the ladies of Mad Men – that’s the part of the show that’s always interested me the most.

    As far as Don and Peggy’s hesitation at using marriage to sell cold cream, I think Don’s statement sums it up, “This isn’t the 1920s” (or something like that). Sterling Cooper Draper Price prides itself on its cutting edge “Creative,” while using marriage to scare girls into buying cosmetics is decidedly old fashioned (besides being effed up by modern standards).

    I’m a little disappointed that Peggy is getting so fixated on marriage. It seems like such a conventional desire for such a daring, exceptional lady!

    Comment by Melanie — August 17, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

  2. @Melanie, I understand your disappointment with Peggy’s fairly recent fixation on marriage but I think it adds complexity to her character. She shunned the conventional “feminine” pursuits to focus on her career and I think that decision is posing the reality of limitation imposed on women, especially at that time. On one hand Peggy is becoming more and more daring, breaking out of her square mold yet she longs for marriage. It’s not surprising given the socialization of the time (or even know). I think many women, even feminists, battle with the desire for independence and a successful career and how a relationship can or should fit into the equation. It’ll make for more great material.

    @Rachel- I agree with you re: Don’s statement about the power of advertising. I thought that was a great bit wherein he blatantly describes the power of advertising to construct normative values.

    Comment by Melanie — August 17, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  3. PS: Yeah, the peeking over the wall was hysterical- Melanie2

    Comment by Melanie — August 17, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

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