During the fourth season of Mad Men Feministing writers will offer some of our thoughts on feminist moments, scenes, and themes in the new episodes in order to start a discussion about these topics in our community. This year we’ll help you get through the middle of the week wait for the next episode. *WARNING: Lots of spoilers follow.
Glenn and Sally.
This is shaping up to be an amazing season for Sally Draper. She’s starting to grow up, and she’s learning how to be a woman from her mother’s example. We saw her imitate Betty’s stance, the slight tilt of her head, her way of speaking, and saw it work for her in getting Glenn to take action (10 year old Kiernan Shipka deserves a lot of credit for her performance this week). We saw her enjoy the special attention, but we also saw that, in the divorce, waiting up for the absent Don has transferred to Sally (I thought the moment of her looking out the window was a little on the nose for this show, but the message certainly was not lost). – Jos
I heart Sally. Her new bf? Not so much. I know it’s supposed to be a creepy kid love story, but I find him a bit too stalkerish for my taste. But Sally is great; she’s definitely negotiating how to fit in vs. standing up for herself (ralphing the sweet potatoes was just too awesome) and it’s really fun to watch. – Jessica
Glenn is a serial-killer-in-training. I bet the lock of hair he took from Betty is braided up in that lanyard he left on Sally’s pillow. Shudder. – Ann
What Ann said. - Samhita
The return of Freddy Rumsen.
I’m sure it’s no mistake Lee Garner, Jr. was in the episode where an absent character from previous seasons returned. Yes, I wanted it to be Sal. It’s striking that getting drunk enough to pee down your leg at work is more forgivable than being gay (or refusing to do anything Lee Garner, Jr. says, as we saw in some embarrassing moments with Roger Sterling). But it was nice to see a recovering alcoholic on this show, to see that in this way Freddy Rumsen really has changed.
Where Freddy hasn’t changed is his advertising sensibilities, which really showed how much the work our characters do has changed. Freddy was proposing campaigns very similar to the lipstick ad that gave Peggy her big break, but Peggy’s work is so far ahead of that now. - Jos
The dynamic between Peggy and Freddy is interesting, because Peggy’s work isn’t the only thing about her that has progressed. Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve changed until we spend time with people we haven’t seen in awhile. Freddy’s return sparked a realization for Peggy about how confident she has become in herself and her professional abilities since the days when she relied on him as one of her few workplace allies. She’s evolved. And, at least when it comes to his views of her, Freddy hasn’t. – Ann
Peggy wants a husband.
I’m a little irked about this. Peggy has always seemed to care more about propelling her career than finding a man. I assume that’s why she got so pissed when Freddy made that comment; she realizes she’s fallen into the marriage trap: she’s playing the role, acting the virgin, and she knows it’s just not her. – Vanessa
Yes, Peggy has always been more career-focused than marriage-focused. But social pressures on women to partner up are nothing to scoff at. That were especially strong in the ‘60s, and certainly still exist today. – Ann
Completely agree, Ann. No scoffing here! I guess I’m just curious to see how strongly she succumbs to those pressures with this dude over the course of the season, as she’s seemed to avoid in the past. – Vanessa
“This never happened. It will amaze you how much it never happened.” Does Peggy hiding her sexual history mean she’s actually considering marrying this complete cipher of a guy? – Jos
That presumptuous moment that Peggy is a virgin was just priceless. And I really hope what you say is not true Jos! - Samhita
Perhaps I’m too much of an optimist, but I can almost see Peggy going along with the “virginity” nonsense because she realizes that’s what she has to do to play the game. (I was just waiting for her to give a fat eyeroll or something when he kept bringing it up.) In the same way that Peggy hid the birth of Pete’s kid, her playing virgin could be just another way that she’s creating a narrative for herself that allows her to get what she wants. In this case, a kinda skeezy guy. – Jessica
“Civil rights is the beginning of a slippery slope.” “If they pass Medicare they won’t stop until they’ve banned personal property.” “Storm our houses and rape our wives.”
For some reason I expected more from Bert Cooper…. – Samhita
“In a nutshell it all comes down to what I want versus what’s expected of me.”
Well if there were ever a slogan for the show… – Jessica
Or for life in general. – Ann
Don and Dr. Fay Miller.
Dr. Fay is the new Rachel Menken. Remember Don and Rachel had a similar dynamic, where she was looking for his professional opinion and he was expecting mere flirtation. The difference is that now Don is in a very different place — which makes me very curious to see how their dynamic is going to play out. – Ann
What Ann said. – Jos
The return of Lee Garner, Jr.
He’s still gay! - Ann
Don and his neighbor Phoebe.
While Don has prided himself on his manly manhood and independence, it’s interesting how helpless he is as a single dude. Not that he wasn’t reliant on Betty when they were together too, he seems more dependent (on women) than ever in the last two episodes: on the woman who cleans his house and makes him dinner, his neighbor Phoebe and his secretary. – Vanessa
I think you’re right, Vanessa, except that Don has always been reliant upon women — for basic necessities like food and housekeeping, and also for affection and validation. Watching Don fall apart and attempt to reconstitute his female support system is a real refutation of the notion that, even in the 1960s, women just relied on men for everything. – Ann
Don and his secretary.
I just didn’t think Don’s character could get any worse, but this was so uncomfortable to watch. Just awful. And then the “bonus.” Just, no, wrong. Don needs a timeout. – Samhita
Agreed – although Don was always sort of sleazy, he never looked twice at the women he worked with in his office. And that whole scene and the morning after was fucking horrible. I think this is an indication of just how rock bottom he is. – Vanessa
I hope she quits. Watching this dynamic play out will be painful, and Don could definitely use a properly delivered “I quit because you’re a total sleazeball” speech right about now. – Lori