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MAD MEN Season 6 — So Far…

So it seems no one around here has been talking Mad Men. Did you guys miss me that much? I’ll take that back. I believe it’s just me missing Mad Men and the fact that I spent the last three weeks binge watching previous three seasons (it’s what I could fit in) probably shows that my devotion to Matt Weiner and his work that keeps me up at night.

Regardless… I sit lay here pondering how I can manage to bring you all up to speed on the last four hours of television without devolving into a 5000 word article that I’m sure would only hurt your brains a lot more than I can possibly imagine. However, if we want to get through the bare essential plot points so far here’s how it went:

  • Don and Megan were on a vacation in Hawaii where pretty much nothing happened
  • Don is cheating on his wife, now Megan, with the Doctor’s wife in his building
  • Megan’s moving on up in her acting career
  • Betty went all the way to the village in search of Sally’s friend who’s run away for a bit which was really sad, but also good to see Betty is starting to become a better Betty
  • Roger’s mother died; which ended in a wake where Don showed up drunk
  • Stan is still talking late nights with Peggy
  • Peggy has become the Don Draper of her new job, and we love it
  • Trudy lets us know that she’s always known that Pete is a dirt bag (how many ways can I say I loved this scene)
  • Megan had a miscarraige
  • Don dived a client meeting because customers are dumb

Mad Men - destroy

I think that might be it leaving us just this week’s episode, “To Have and To Hold” to discuss:

If I had to pick a theme of this episode, which would be a stretch as this is something we’re constantly reminded of throughout this series, is the lack of power that women hold over men in the show. We see Megan struggle with attempting to sugar coat the fact that her progression professionally carries a heavy cost as she would be asked to do things that may not be so easily accepted by her husband, even though we see him cheating on her on a (pick a time period)-ly basis. Also we see Joan who’s completely laid bare by Harry (a second-tier character for the show) in one fell swoop.

Megan has finally found some traction as her character in the soap opera she’s working on is going to be given a much more focussed arc as she walks into a love affair. Worried of how Don will feel she tries to ease into it but Don catches on quickly forcing her to just spit it out. After all the odd quiet lull of thought Don responds the calm cool, “I can’t tolerate this, but I can’t encourage it” which never really answers the question but gives a passive feel to Megan that satisfies her. Only towards the end of the episode Don manages to appear on set as the scene is being filmed, and while we were given a sense of security that daytime television has it’s limits and is shot tastefully when the scene is ongoing it feels like forever. We’re unsure of whether what we were told was a lie and are acutely aware of everything that Megan is allowing her male partner privy to. It’s almost relief when the director stops the scene and says they’ve got it. Scenes like this are the moments that allow the show to be complacent in how it handles it’s tone. Don furious and judgemental is quick to scorn Megan and Megan is quick to lash out her frustrations against Don which then leads him further away from her. It’s like the writers of Game of Thrones and how they treat Theon Greyjoy; it’s just one whipping after another for Megan here. It wasn’t bad enough when the writers threw in a miscarriage last week we have to watch her deal with this.

Mad Men 604Joan on the other hand has been a woman of power throughout the series. She’s been at the top of the female paradigm of the show from the series première till today. Her power has been reduced from time to time reminding us “she’s only a woman” kind of moments as we say her married, divorced, with Roger,  and even when she decided to sleep with someone to get the firm a client in order to secure her role of power as partner in the firm. Now it seems that little tid-bit is out as Harry alludes to how he’s more deserving of the stature of partner at the firm and tired of being left out of the meetings. Somehow it’s an awakening to the fact that while Joan has always had the respect of all the men of power in the show she’s still seen with a second class eye. She still feels as if she’s just the powerful woman as opposed to the powerful partner. Even when we see her in action it’s always in managing women, or helping men as a woman as opposed to being able to assist in a way that Pete and Don would when an account is in dire straights. And when she does that it’s in a distractory manner, where she’s there to make the client more at ease because her bust is that of visual interest and men won’t want to anger the pretty lady. Harry goes further to undermine her direct power as partner by unfiring Scarlett, the secretary that cheated the company of a few hours of pay by asking Dawn (Don’s secretary) to punch her out later then she stayed.

Where this odd thought comes most interestingly into play is with Peggy. After her leaving the firm last season she now finds herself leading a creative department elsewhere and now finding herself pegged against Don for the business of Heinz Ketchup, and she wins. We even hear her use the trademarked (I hope she has the royalties lined up already) Don Draper line, “If you don’t like what people are talking about change the conversation” line to sell it. Unlike Joan or Megan she began her stint in the show in a position of no power, but over years has gained it through respect of work. When we remember her introduction with Joan telling her to put a bag over her head and be critical of her body so that she would know how to dress and see her now there is no question as to who is the winner in life (Joan or Peggy). It’s amazing how much we root for her because she’s right. She’s the professional we miss in Don. We still love Don when he can sell, but we love Peggy more because we know she spent the last 96 hours not sleeping to make sure that it was just right before giving that great sale.

What did you think of this week’s Mad Men?

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Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson

I love movies, I love TV so obviously I blog. You can read all my other ramblings on this and that over at http://gmanreviews.com