I've never talked about Mad Men here but I've been getting into this big discussion about this week's ep and just how much of a jerk Don was with Peggy (answer: a big one!). I wrote this response about the contrasting scenes between Don/Peggy and Duck/Peggy, and figured I'd put it up here if anyone who watches the show is interested.



Without taking apart the scene where Don reams Peggy out, some see Don as unbearably sexist and proving Peggy should take Duck's offer to leave Sterling Cooper. To me, Don's being an ass, but would have been much the same ass if she was a male junior copywriter he suddenly saw as too grasping. The main difference, had she been a guy, is he would have said "you started in the mailroom" instead of "you started as my secretary" and "you have a job a man twice your age would appreciate" instead of "you have a job a full-grown man would appreciate." The sexism is there, as always, but I feel like she was basically treated as a gender-neutral employee (on a day when his/her boss is taking his frustrations out on a subordinate).

I mention that just to get my own reading of the scene in there, to contrast it to what I saw with Duck. Maybe I've read too many fairy tales, but that's what it played like for me. Don's telling Peggy she's not that special (compared to other young copywriters), that she needs to "put her head down" and work hard right now and learn. Duck, by contrast, is wining and dining her, sending her expensive, feminine gifts. At his hotel room he tells her she is special, she's worth so much. He even moves into how special she is as a woman--how did he not notice her before? Indeed, yes, why did he overlook her for all that time he saw her everyday if he finds her so irresistible? Interesting.

People have noted that Don knows how to sell products (his letter to Betty asking her to take him back) but Duck is the accounts man--he woos clients by promising them the best at his firm. Which is where Pete comes in for me. Pete's also an accounts man, and he seemed to see all this as exactly that. His Cuban cigars must not be so rare if Duck's sending them as a gift. (Peggy's Hermes scarf comes from the same place as Harry's baby gifts--Hermes is a client of Grey's.)

That seems significant in an ep that subtly pointed out Peggy's naïveté about things outside the things she's learned so far. Pete, who's just as ambitious as Peggy--and more underhanded about it--looked at the bigger picture with Duck, thought about Duck's history, about his antagonistic relationship with Don, about what Duck could be angling for here beyond just a good creative/account team. (Pete's also gone through being dressed down by Don but later being told he was "ready" finally.) Peggy dismissed those things, was annoyed at Pete for bringing it up, for "infecting her with his anxiety" when she was feeling special.

But I can't help but feel like Duck's the wrong choice here. Not necessarily for sex if that's what she wants, but as the promise of a better job where she'd be more appreciated. He's an accounts man telling her what she wants to hear (the opposite of Don here definitely). When she pressed him about the job she'd have if she left SC it was actually more of a lateral move than an upward one, but he rather glossed over that as something not to think about, to just focus on the future (as opposed to Don's order for her to not think about the future right now).

Especially since this ep also showed Peggy making mistakes in this area, being clueless about other things going on in the office to the point where Pete asked her if she "lived in a cave." She was late finding out about Hilton and failed to take the temperature of the room correctly when she went in to see Don--her straightforward, honest approach that had served her in the past backfired. In fact, she may have had a skewed view of how well it had worked before, not realizing how much her timing etc. played into her success. It's not the first time Peggy's attempt to be honest and do the right thing backfired--she reported when her mad money was stolen and was then shocked by the response. (The building fired a black employee not even there that night.)

So this ep really made me feel like she was one of those heroines in a fairy tale in danger of trusting the wrong guy. Don's being beastly at the same moment Duck becomes oh so sweet and tempting (even getting all "no means maybe" when she called him), and dismissing Pete's paranoid calls to "beware" as annoyances interfering with her enjoyment. She doesn't want to think about those things, even when they're exactly what she should be thinking about when it comes to Duck. (Also I can totally see Pete as a tiny Disney animal in a fairy tale fluttering around while no one pays attention.)

So far she’s stuck with SC, so maybe she got what she wanted without leaving. But it does make me wonder about Duck's line when they're having sex: I love the taste of alcohol on your breath. Does Peggy it's a compliment to the physical sensations of being with her no matter what they are? Does she know the guy's a dry drunk and really is sucking in her alcohol fumes like a vampire? We shall see.

I just thought it was a cool vibe to get in the ep. And it certainly fits well with Don's own cautionary tale: Don't pick up creepy, high teenagers who are hitchiking Don.
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From: [identity profile] ishtar79.livejournal.com


I didn't see Don's outburst towards Peggy as sexist either (especially within the context of the show, which is sexism galore). Don was coming apart at the seams and feeling like he was losing his power, so I think that petty display would have happened with a male employee too.

Peggy's arc this season seems to be all about her attempting to try new things on for size (the 'fun' roomate, the marijuana, the casual sex) and, being Peggy, not quite having the correct instincts to get it right. I think Joan's absence in this episode was quite telling; while Peggy didn't confide in her (or really, anybody), I do think Joan would have picked up on the vibe, or the walk of shame outfit the next day.

Peggy's still trying to find who she is. She's not a female Don, though there are definite paralells, she can't/doesn't want to be Joan, and she's not one of the Sterling-Cooper small timers in a suit. I'll be very interested to see where she ends up at the end of the season. And I'm getting a serious kick out of her new dynamic with Pete. I'm not exactly *shipping* them (because, well, Pete), but every scene they share these days is pure comedy gold.
ext_6866: (Dreamy)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


I do love them interacting these days--Pete and Peggy, I mean.

And I agree about Peggy. I've no idea what she would be, but then, neither does she. There's no woman she can really point to as what she's going for. Which was probably a lot the way Don felt coming into that world, but for him he could definitely have men to look at and get an idea of what he was going to be. I love the way Peggy always seems to take in what everybody says, even if she doesn't go that way. Even her secretary.

From: [identity profile] oselle.livejournal.com


OMG, this season is totally kicking my ass.

To me Don Draper is, bizarrely, is emerging the only honorable man in a world full of seemingly respectable con men and liars. Don at least has a reason to be haunted...everyone else is just ravenous opportunist. I didn't read Don's scene with Peggy as sexist at all -- in fact, he's the only man in her sphere who treats her like a human being and not a "girl." Maybe what he says to her isn't always the kindest thing, but at least it's honest. If Don were sexist he would have kept her in the secretarial pool while making bullshit promises to her...frankly, the sort of thing Duck is doing. (I couldn't resist emailing my cable-deprived sister on Monday with: "OMG, Peggy fucked Duck!")

What really got me in this week's ep, though, was the unraveling of Don Draper. He is trying so, so hard to keep that side of himself under control (his tender scenes with his daughter last week almost had me in tears) and it just keeps dragging him down. These visions he has of his awful hardscrabble past are so starkly contrasting with his sleek, sophisticated present that they just take my breath away. He's got to be the most fascinating character on television.
ext_6866: (Don't know yet)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


I felt like I was driving people crazy talking about it, because people seemed to think I was defending Don as some 2009 feminist man, but it's a pet peeve of mine. When it comes to the workplace, the guy who tells it to you straight is less sexist than the guy who flatters you, compliments you, and flirts with you while being vague. I think also his use of the word "secretary" was being seen as sexist, because it seemed like it was considered really bad of him for pointing out what she used to be. For me it just seemed like a reality check for the point he was making. Pretending there's not a significant jump between the administrative assistant and the copywriter. I've been on both sides of that.

I was completely enthralled watching him crash in this ep as he gets more tied down. And what did you make of that teacher? She's annoyed me every time she's appeared, and here I felt like she was another Conrad Hilton dragging Don into some role she expected him to play.

From: [identity profile] oselle.livejournal.com


Case in point re: Don Draper's behavior. I have the misfortune right now of working with one of the most repulsive chauvinist pigs I've ever met -- and yet he's constantly talking about how "smart" all the "girls" around him are.

The other thing about that Don/Peggy scene was that I think Don expects better from Peggy than to be playing the sort of coy games that she was there (trying to wheedle information about the Hilton account). He deals with oily, grasping con men all day long -- to see Peggy falling into that role (and so artlessly on top if it) just set him off.

Man, I don't know WHAT to make of that schoolteacher. Every once in a while the show introduces a character (like that comedian's wife last year) that I just don't get. She's yet another character who seems normal and perfectly respectable but who is completely bananas underneath -- and who somehow makes Don look weirdly honorable in comparison. He at least knows he's a sham -- the rest of them have wholly come to believe in their own deception.
ext_6866: (Dreamy)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


That makes me think of when Peggy told him "sex sells" and he was annoyed that she was listening to that kind of thing. The thing is, Pete would have gotten a similar dressing down. Only he'd have a different reason that he shouldn't be pushy.

The teacher drives me crazy--I don't think anybody gets her. Some people think she's confident and sees through him or whatever, but I can't believe this show would write her so strangely if that was the idea. Someone referred to Don as getting too "overshare" in their conversation, but he didn't actually share anything. She just ran over and jumped at a chance to tell him that all the dads were hitting on her.

God, that guy in your office is exactly the kind of thing that I appreciate about Don.

From: [identity profile] kerosinkanister.livejournal.com


It's becoming more and more clear that I should be watching this show.

From: [identity profile] kerosinkanister.livejournal.com


A bit. But everyone's talking about it and I feel more out of the loop than usual.

From: [identity profile] slytherincesss.livejournal.com


I've harassed you several times about watching Mad Men! C'mon - it's totally worth the time (IMO).

From: [identity profile] slytherincesss.livejournal.com


I didn't know you watch Mad Men! I am thrilled!

This show always manages to completely horrify me, apparently in the good way. This episode especially was a series of huge red flags going up for all the various characters.

I can't stop shipping Peggy/Pete.
ext_6866: (Default)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


I know, right? The Pete/Peggy thing is amazing, because I love it when they're together even though it's a train wreck for Peggy!

From: [identity profile] ptyx.livejournal.com


Hey, I'm still on the 3.02, but I promise I'll come back in about... a month?... and read your post :-)
ext_6866: (Watching and waiting)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


Heh--come back any time! I was thinking of you when I wrote it but figured you'd be a little behind.

From: [identity profile] ptyx.livejournal.com


Hey, I finally watched this episode, and I totally agree with you. I loved your analysis. I don't trust Don, nor anyone in this show, but I don't think he was sexist in what he told Peggy.


From: [identity profile] elanor-x.livejournal.com


Don't watch the show, so can't comment myself, but thought may be you would be interested in Amanda's series of posts about it:
http://pandagon.net/index.php/C25/

From: [identity profile] ava-jamison.livejournal.com


Saw this, thought of you. I love the way the muppet looks like him...
ext_6866: (Watching and waiting)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


OMG, I just saw this yesterday and kept watching it. The credits alone are fantastic.

It also led me to see this: "Let's smoke indoors."


From: [identity profile] ava-jamison.livejournal.com


Heh. Okay, I give up! I'm going to start watching again.
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