September 21, 2010

Mad Women: Nobody Seems To Care

Filed under: Gender,Mad Women,Media,Recaps — Tags: — Rachel @ 10:01 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.”

I find it more and more difficult to be a fan of Betty as this season progresses.  I understood where she was coming from by leaving Sally with Don after he called her, but I completely disagreed with the approach she took.  Her annoyance at every single thing Don does is getting tired.  I think the writers are spending too much time on the surface of her behavior, and not enough with the issues that lie underneath.

It was interesting to see Joan’s reaction to her husband (Mr. Asshole) going off to war.  Also, while Joan was chastising Roger for wanting to take her out after buying her the at-home spa treatment, she was wearing his “favorite dress.”  (He made a comment to her during the Christmas party episode, telling her to wear the red dress with the bow.)  It made it somewhat unsurprising that they got together again a few hours later.

It was incredibly sad, while listening to Peggy’s sentiment about what it’s like for a woman in the corporate world, to realize almost nothing has changed in that regard in the last 45 years.  I wonder if during the rest of this season we’ll see her rebelling at work, or trying to find a way out.  She’s working in an environment where the top priority has been, is, and likely will always be, money.  The people she works with aren’t interested in social issues, the bottom line is whether they’re getting paid, and if an account is from a company that has a sexist, racist policies, actions, and behaviors – as long as they’re writing a check to Sterling Cooper Draper, Price, who cares?

Sally and Faye
Sally’s storyline on last night’s episode was absolutely heartbreaking.  She’s so desperate to spend time with her father that she ran away from home, and hopped the subway.  I was hoping when Don took her to the lobby that he would end up telling Betty that Sally would stay with him from now on.  From the portrayals of Sally’s relationship with her mother and Henry, it’s really not surprising that she wants out.

I don’t think Don was testing Faye by having her talk to Sally, but rather it was a symptom of a personality flaw – when he panics, he defers to the issue to a woman, rather than actually addressing the problem of why Sally is screaming in his office.  I like the fact that there are now two female characters in the office who have decided not to take the “traditional” life path expected of them.

I was shocked that Mrs. Blankenship died, and it was interesting to see Bert’s and Roger’s reactions – this season has dealt a lot with Roger’s issues with growing older, and her passing made him face it directly.

Leave your thoughts on Sally’s meltdown, Peggy’s moral dilemma, and anything else from this week’s episode in the comments.


  1. My favorite scenes from the last 2 episodes were the conversations that provided further insight to women’s constricted opportunities and impinged opportunities. The elevator scene between Peggy and Joan and the conversations between Peggy and that liberal dude interested in dating her were awesome! This week’s closing scene with the 3 women in the elevator proved that this show is truly about the women. As for Mrs. Blankenship, I felt the producers felt Don had an older secretary long enough and it was time to fill the chair with another young hottie. Anyone, anyone? As for Don and Faye- I agree that he wasn’t testing her and it was a sign of a character flaw on his part. I’ve also never seen him as open or affectionate with a women and I predict the potential Peggy pairing will not be explored for several seasons. I knew after that Don-Peggy episode we wouldn’t be revisiting that storyline for quite some time.

    Comment by Melanie — September 21, 2010 @ 10:20 pm

  2. I just wanted to say how much I love writing your comments on the women of Mad Men. I appreciate it greatly.

    I also wanted to say something about Betty. I also have struggled to like Betty in this season, but that’s the point. It’s a perfect set-up for much deeper thinking, don’t you think? I think that the writer(s) are doing a great job at depicting the mother/daughter relationship of this era. Susan Faludi, in the most recent issue of Harper’s discusses how at this time girls grew up hating their mothers because of the exact way Betty parents. Mad Men continues to impress me with references such as these. My mom was Sally’s age at the same time of this season and she says she can relate.

    Thanks again for your run-downs each week!


    Comment by Jessica — September 24, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

  3. Oh side note, I just want to clarify that S. Faludi isn’t talking about Mad Men in Harpers – she wrote an article on the generational differences/divides of feminism. It’s a great read.

    Comment by Jessica — September 24, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

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