The end is certainly near, and though it seemed that Mad Men ended a chapter that would be followed with trips down memory lane instead of an actual transition, creator Matthew Weiner threw a curve ball by giving audiences the new and the old. The new: An unhappy Don riding an elevator with a bunch of McCann Erickson strangers and a Peggy Olson actually spending time with Roger Sterling. The old? Sexism, and lots of it.
The transition from SC&P and its independent partners to big –time money machine McCann Erickson, doesn’t goes smoothly, but hey, can anything ever go smoothly when Don Draper is involved? Welcomed with open arms and creepy compliments-also a flat, unnecessary impersonation- Don walks out on a meeting with Miller Beer, instead searching for Diana, the “male Don.” He drives to Wisconsin in search for a woman he will likely ditch one day, as she did to him, but not without being visited by Burt Cooper, who A. Never read “On the Road” and B. Apparently knows Don better than anyone by commenting on Don’s preference of being a stranger.
The trip doesn’t give Don any results; according to Diana’s ex-husband, many men come looking for her, and ultimately never truly find her. Don doesn’t say he gives up out loud, but it seems so when he picks up a hitchhiker (who looks like a serial killer), with David Bowie’s playing “Space Oddity” in the background.
Don’s journey is truly just a sideshow; the real treat is a Peggy Olson completing her transformation for bad bitch to BAD BITCH. After being mistaken for a secretary, and having to wait until her new office at McCann is ready, she spends her time at the empty offices of SC&P, where she slowly grows comfortable with both the past, her present and possible future at McCann Erickson, and Roger Sterling, who her joins her in her SC&P limbo. The two shoot the shit; Sterling shares a war story, Peggy expresses her take on the whole McCann mess, and Sterling and Olson partake in therapeutic exercises, like Peggy roller blading the empty offices and Sterling showing some music chomps on the organ. Their time together ends when Peggy’s office is finally ready for her to move, but not without Sterling giving Peggy the “octopus pleasuring a woman” painting that hung in Cooper’s office- A ode to her graduating from SC&P dependent, to a fearless sunglasses-wearing Peggy, complete with cigarette, walking down the halls of McCann.
Peggy’s confidence might be short-lived at McCann’s, though, especially after the sexism Joan endures, which include some creepy advances and a “fuck off” from her new employer. Joan has always been a brutally honest woman, so her not being taken seriously my her male coworkers came to no surprise to her, but the extent of sexism aimed at her when she tries to professionally deal with the issue is just mind blowing. It’s like Joan is back in her first years at SC&P, told to just deal with the advances and to pretty much shove it because her and her partnership are of no concern to McCann. Her status has changed, she is told, and any threats or fists she puts up (she mentions some feminism advances that have been reported in the media, and even threatens to sue) are dismissed. She is offered money and employment in exchange for her cooperation, which though is not what she would want to settle for, is what she ultimately settles for because what else can she do? It’s a sad defeat handed to viewers; but though Joan gives in, doesn’t necessarily mean she is still no stronger than she was at SC&P. No tears fell down her porcelain skin, and I doubt any every will- She’s just too smart for her own good.
Only one episode is left before the series finale, and so far Mad Men has still a lot of ground to cover. The preview for next week’s episode was of course unhelpful, but it did feature a lot of Sally Draper and Pete Campbell. More Pete means more douchiness, and more Sally means more rebellious antics, so maybe Woodstock is finally underway?
SEXISM NEVER REALLY LEFT THE 6OS- HERE ARE SOME DISRESPECTFUL SITUATIONS PEGGY AND JOAN ENDURE, ALL STREAMING ON NETFLIX.
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”
S 1, Ep 1
The first episode of Mad Men really was a blast from the past, providing viewers a world where everyday sexism was not only shrugged but even normal. Lines like “they made the typewriters easy enough for us women to understand”, and Peggy warned not to take advantage of her birth control, or she will get this privilege taken from her from by her gyno, are just the beginning of a series that documents the actual sexism of the 60s.
S 4, Ep 13
Draper does a, well, “Draper” and gets engaged to his hot secretary. Peggy wins the first account in a while for the struggling ad agency, but this doesn’t gather as much attention as Don’s engagement. In one of the best scenes between Joan and Peggy, the two independent women have a heart-to-heart about the frustration that what they do will never be as important as getting married.
“The Other Woman”
S 5, Ep 11
Both Peggy and Joan are caught in between the sexism and the desire to continue to be a career woman in this episode. First, Don throws money at Peggy’s face, one of the most disrespectful things Don’s ever done (and he’s Don!). Second, Joan succumbs to pressure and sleeps with the Jaguar account man in exchange for partnership. It’s sad, hard to watch, and ultimately inevitable for a single mother trying to make a living.