September 21, 2010

Mad Women: You Want Respect? Go Out And Get It For Yourself

Filed under: Gender,Mad Women,Media,Recaps — Tags: — Rachel @ 9:45 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 always use a quote from one of the female characters of Mad Men for the title of the recaps.  However, Don’s line to Peggy during last week’s episode was too good not to use.

During last week’s episode I couldn’t help but think that Betty has married a cross between her father and Don.  Instead of getting to the root of her issues, she keeps marrying controlling men who treat her like a little girl, so she continues to act that way.  From the end of the episode it seemed clear she’s desperate for the picture perfect suburban life that only exists in the advertisements Don creates for a living.  I think from the dinner, it’s obvious that she still isn’t over Don.  While she divorced him, and moved on, it pained her to see him doing the same.  From her conversation with Francis I think she’s beginning to become concerned that Henry is just another Don in a different suit – she’s spending her time being the trophy wife at important dinners for his career, and waiting in the kitchen for him to get home.

I think Peggy is my new favorite character of the series.  Her reaction to Joey’s sexist behavior and attitude was excellent.  I was surprised that she gave him a chance to apologize to Joan, and I was glad that she fired him.  It was fantastic that Don told her to do it herself, I think it was power she didn’t realize she had yet.

Joan’s storyline was definitely the most interesting of last week’s episode.  The last few episodes have shown women progressing in the workplace, this showed they’re not even close to achieving equality.  The things Joey said to Joan made me cringe; it was some of the worst, most sexist dialogue of the series.  While the men were being misogynistic assholes, I kept waiting for Joan to retaliate; I had no idea it would be so epic.  I was glad to see that she has her own office, and is telling people to stop treating her like she’s just a secretary.  I really disagreed with Joan’s reaction to Peggy firing Joey; I think Peggy’s assertiveness is showing the men that they can’t just act like sexist pricks.  There’s something to be said for not backing down on the basis of being viewed as a “humorless bitch”.  It’s something that’s thrown at feminists a lot, and it was disappointing to hear the sentiment coming from Joan.  I don’t think Peggy was just standing up for herself; I viewed her actions (confronting Don, talking to Joey, and subsequently firing him) as feminist.

Bethany, Faye, and Francis
I couldn’t figure out Bethany’s reaction to seeing Don’s ex wife.  At first I thought she felt intimidated by seeing Betty, but later I think she felt emboldened for being with him.  Don’s assessment that he already knew everything about her by the end of their first date summed it up perfectly.

Although I’d still like to see Peggy and Don together, I feel like Faye could be very good for him.  She’s mature, smart, and independent.  I think he’s really turning his life around, and Faye could be an important part of that.  The fact that he refused to take her home last night says a lot after the first seven episodes of him trying to take any lady who crossed his path home.

I was thinking a few weeks ago about how it’s been forever since we saw Betty’s friend Francis, so it was nice to see her return last night.  The conversations they had at the Draper home in the first season were some of the best portrayals of “the problem that has no name” of the series.

Leave your thoughts on Peggy firing Joey, Betty’s relationship with Henry, and anything else from last week’s episode in the comments.

1 Comment »

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