Mad Men Midweek Fix: Lady Lazarus

Mad Men Midweek FixHere we go with this week’s take on the latest Mad Men from the Feministing crew. Let’s jump in and get discussing.

As always, tons of spoilers follow.

The title of the episode

Named after the famed Sylvia Plath poem, I guess this episode is about almost dying but then being revived. -Samhita

Megan’s career change

I’ve had pretty mixed reactions to Megan, but I gotta give props to anyone who makes the difficult choice to be an artist. Of course, the decisions quite a bit easier when you’ve got a rich spouse to support you. -Jos

I thought they did great job showing why this was such a hard decision for Megan on so many levels. Not only because she’s struggling to be what Don wants, while also staying true to herself, but also because she appreciates the support Peggy’s given her. And she really does seem to be good at advertising–and it’s super hard to turn away from a path you’re good at and that’s sorta easy for all these reasons and instead do head off on your own to do something with absolutely no security or guarantee of success. After all, Megan’s already got the husband and the job and the house. And I think they really captured the discomfort–but ultimately relief–she feels about admitting that it isn’t enough. As Don says when he tells Roger that he’s gotta support her following her dreams, “I don’t want her to end up like Betty or her mother.” -Maya

I felt conflicted as well, since the way Megan looks has so much to do with what her career options are or even the praise she got over Peggy (who’s done the same calibre of work, if not more). If Peggy was nailing Don, she would probably have gotten a lot more love on some ideas that were successful. And that line that Joan says to Peggy about, “that’s the kind of woman Don goes for,” suggests that ultimately Don doesn’t want to be with a working woman. It’s complicated, that sentiment, but you can see where Joan might be coming from. But Don seems to be changing because he wants to be supportive of Megan it’s just confusing for him–since he’s like obsessed with her and if she’s not there he’s gonna start boinking a secratary. -Samhita

The Cool Whip ad

Oof this scene was so well-done and painful. Peggy and Don’s awkward, tense interaction illustrated how lacking Peggy is in Megan’s feminine charms when it comes to Don. -Lori

I love that Peggy is the stark contrast to Megan in terms of “feminine charms.” This was the scene I’ve been waiting for all season! Peggy’s character is the pioneering woman of this time period, fighting to establish women’s equal position in the workplace. Up to this point, she fought her way up to copywriter, where she’s even interviewing new recruits. She doesn’t have the privileges Megan does of being a conventionally attractive woman and marrying the Creative Director. And this season, she’s reached the glass ceiling. When she pulled “a Don” by yelling at the Heinz baked beans guy, she was reprimanded and lost a lot. (Of course, the beautiful, kept wife of the Creative Director ended up saving that account.) I was so afraid when she yelled at Don in the Cool Whip kitchen that it was going to be the same consequences as Heinz baked beans. She straight up told him to “SHUT UP!” at the end. (Loved it!) And he didn’t yell back at her! Albeit, he had to remain professional since a Cool Whip lady was there, but still. She finally stood up to him and it was amazing! We’ll see what the real consequences to that explosion are in the next episode… - Anna

Peggy had a good point–she’s done everything right and he’s still mad at her. I love when Peggy calls it like it is, and I don’t know if there is going to be a major consequence to this, since Peggy has such a close relationship to Don–but it was such an awkward scene. Peggy was trying to protect Don from Megan leaving and/or lying to him–so it’d be cool if the big spoiled man-baby could give his bro some props. -Samhita

Alexis Bledel/Pete’s new lover

OMG it’s a Rory Gilmore/Connor hook up! Though honestly I would have preferred the verbal sparring of a Lorelai/Spike get together to, well, anything involving Angel’s annoying son. Rory’s character was a sad reminder that there are still Betty Drapers out there, even as the 60s are getting underway for real. How are people feeling about the heart she drew on the window? I think Rory wanted to keep the fantasy alive, but Pete’s incompetent at reading other people, or managing his own emotions, or not being completely creepy (I feel more like I’m watching a young Lane than a young Don). So of course he sees her as a tease, even before she teases at all. (Also, why was Rory wearing her grandmother’s pink suit and pearls and hairdo when Pete called her?) -Jos

Lorelai/Spike! Oh man, great TV loves colliding! Although their banter might actually be too much for me to handle. But, aaanyway, to the TV show at hand…Yeah, I dunno about the heart. I think it seems like she’s perhaps looking for the same fantasy escape as Pete is. But, like you say, Pete doesn’t know how to read people–and also is clearly in this waaaaay self-destructive phase where he’s just throwing himself at every impulse he has because he’s SO depressed. I’m curious to see where they take this. Given the suicide/rebirth theme of the episode, the heart at the end seems like it could be a sign of hope for Pete–though I can’t see how fucking the neighbor’s wife can be a good thing unless things get super messy first. -Maya

Peggy’s reaction

The scene between Peggy and Megan in the bathroom showed me how intensely they both try to appease Don. They both kept referring to “him,” both knowing who they were talking about.

And that scene between Peggy and Joan was every feminist conversation about Megan since she and Don got married. I totally get Peggy’s half jealous, half impressed take that Megan’s good at everything, and I’m also 100% on board with Joan’s read of who Don marries. Nothing to add there, really. -Jos

The fight between Peggy and Don after the Cool Whip fiasco was also really revealing. They clearly both felt so invested in Megan–they’re like two parents blaming each other when their kid makes the choice they don’t approve of. But there’s the added layers of Don being both boss and husband and of Peggy feeling both obligated to mentor Megan as the only other woman copywriter but resentful that she’s had it so much easier as the boss’ wife. Peggy’s right though that Don’s not really mad at her–Don, as always, tends to take things out on Peggy when his life isn’t going as planned. -Maya

Although I’m sad that there hasn’t been a lot of Joan these past few episodes, the few scenes she’s been in have demonstrated how much more wise and mature she is than a lot of the other people in that office. She is completely on point when she says Peggy has every right to be hard on Megan since all of Megan’s privileges guarantee the rest of the world won’t. Also, I’ve been really impressed by Peggy’s reaction to Megan’s success/departure. She’s done nothing but support Megan in everything she does, despite the fact that Peggy has had it so much harder than Megan has. And when Megan secured the Cool Whip ad, she did nothing but sing her praises. -Anna

Yeah, where the hell has Joan been? Need her back. -Maya

The Beatles
Someone get me a gif of Ken dancing kthxbai.-Samhita

Yes. Yes, yes, yes!!! I need this gif!!! - Anna

I was wondering how much the show paid for the song, since I’ve never heard The Beatles on TV except in clips from Ed Sullivan. Apparently, $250,000. Matt Weiner keeps downplaying the role of money in the behind-the-scenes operation of the show, which I find kind of odd, since class privilege clearly plays a role in the particular ways Mad Men’s characters are depressed as hell (seriously, this is a show about some very moody rich people).

I thought Tomorrow Never Knows was a perfect song choice for the acid season – meaning the season where what we think of as the 60s really kicks into gear. “Turn off your mind relax and float downstream. It is not dying,” lines up nicely with Roger’s, “Relax. It’s good. It’s what I’ve always wanted. Sit back, let the business roll in while you pass the jug with some schmoe from Lutherville, Maryland.” Former egomaniac Roger has managed to let go of his vision of who he’s supposed to be. Last season Don managed to incorporate some trauma into his self-image, but he couldn’t let go of the idea of who he’s supposed to be – hence marrying Megan. So Don, who’s supposed to keep the pulse of pop culture, is closed off to the music of the 60s because he’s closed off to the loss of self that was central to so much of the decade’s spiritual exploration. He also seems not so happy about a relationship that’s not following the script he had all planned out. - Jos

Thank god it hasn’t all planned out like he wanted. Don Draper is gross and pisses me off. So far, he’s been nothing but condescending, controlling and manipulative to Megan. That scene where he chases her and throws her to the ground? He’s always been emotionally manipulative, but after that, he officially became physically abusive! When Don said he grew up in the 1930s, I was reminded of just how old he really is. At this point in time, the “Don Drapers” of the world are beginning to fade out as the younger generation really starts to stake their claim in the world. - Anna

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    “So far, he’s been nothing but condescending, controlling and manipulative to Megan.”

    Anna, are you sure you’re not just seeing the show you want to see here? Yes, their relationship isn’t totally stable and has some really scary and explosive moments, but I think it’s also the closest thing to a truly loving relationship that’s been on the show (granted there’s very little competition…maybe cosgrove and his wife, but you almost never see them). It seems pretty clear to me that Don really does care deeply about Megan, and it seems like he is actually trying to overcome his personal flaws to varying degrees of success. Even though he wasn’t thrilled about Megan leaving, he has grown enough to understand he can’t hold her back from what she wants to do, even if it’s not what he wants.

    Also I don’t think the statement, “He’s always been emotionally manipulative, but after that, he officially became physically abusive!” is true at all. I’d say he officially became physically abusive after the whole fingerbang incident with bobbie barrett.

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