Posts tagged Megan Draper
Posts tagged Megan Draper
Some Thoughts and Observations:
-A Feminist awakening. It is one of those things where our modernity and sense of progress really wants to see it inhibited by the characters on the show, especially a show where things are becoming even more familiar as it ends the 1960s and the show itself is ending. Where this urge to see that modernity and progress are directed are mostly the female characters- though we want to see the male characters really make progress in their lives too. Matthew Weiner considers the major movement of second-wave feminism to happen in the 1970s (we have not even made it to 1969 yet), despite fans demanding to see Peggy start her own agency; many fans drawing from the inspiration of Mary Wells Lawrence. The problem with that is Weiner considers Mary Wells Lawrence to be a groundbreaking outlier of her era; it would feel like a character of his creation would suddenly just be transposing from history and become a composite when Peggy’s rise in the storytelling from Seasons 1-6 is one of the great pleasures of the show. I absolutely agree with Weiner’s refusal to really indulge into that and Peggy is my favorite character on the show, for the record. People also want Joan to be wheeling and dealing with clients as an account person alongside Ken Cosgrove and Bob Benson. Weiner thought he was clear that Joan got the Avon account. He was not to a lot of fans including myself- and I actually find his conversations free of spoilers to be fascinating and obnoxious all at once- even if Ted said she was on ‘The 5-yard line’ but that was an account never brought up again.
With Joan and Peggy, we have to settle to see them come to face with the rather feminist version of the ‘Serenity Prayer’. Peggy has worked her way up in the agency and finds herself wearing the pants in Don’s office. It is temporary- even if Don never returns you have to think the partners want a male creative (lest we forget how Bert Cooper referred to Peggy as ‘the little girl’ in Season 5’s “Far Away Places”)- but working and adapting to the cards she has been dealt is going to be really fascinating.
The show has always been about two characters, Peggy and Don. Don’s perfect, pleasing construct of himself to inner-turmoil and Peggy’s rise and independence from her mentor is the series. Sorry, I will never tire of either. But asking Peggy to basically rule the world for the final season is like asking Don to completely change or crash and burn for the final season. There is more nuance, richness, and depth involved with those two that I frankly cannot definitively say has an ‘endgame’ (if Weiner even wants the end of series to feel like an endgame) that immediately springs to mind. Peggy could finish the series single, with Stan, reconcile with Ted, find another guy- pretty much a lot of possibilities with exception to her getting with Don. But I see her real victory within the agency as a possible junior partner and creative director.
Now with Joan, let’s remember that this is an old-fashioned woman who played by the rules. Peggy was already calling out the bullshit office politics in Season 1 and got the most wrath of her outspokenness from Joan. Joan acting remotely feminist has occasionally been the four-leaf clover of the series. In this Season’s “A Tale of Two Cities” she seemed to show a flash as well as in “For Immediate Release” as she literally let her hair down and was deep in the pre-merger agency’s attempt to go public. But there is always a mix bag with Joan. She still acts like a secretary out of habit yet again displays the not-so-silent partner in very much being involved in Don’s ouster. But she seemed more tied to Roger in the finale (I would say out of the regulars he had the most disposable story-line sans his great moment to charm Chevy) and also the mystery of the talented Mr. Bob Benson.
NOTE: My Other Thoughts of Note Will Be Its Own Separate Post Later in the Week. This episode gave me a lot of feelings.
MAD MEN #6.13
"IN CARE OF"
"In Care Of" was a necessary cap-off to a deliberately chaotic season. Not because quality dipped (over time, this season has grown to be right up there with Seasons 5 and 1 for me) but because the self-immolating, mono-mania this season wrought on its central protagonist, Don Draper, gave us a glimmer of hope. I hear a record scratch as I type that. In episodes upon episodes, and seasons upon seasons really, of Don being completely in control of his rise and destruction came to a head when he could no longer operate under a fresh start, a new leaf, a second chance. He had to confront the past, but he needed to hit a bottom, personally and professionally. It is almost revelatory in how so much Don reveals to himself without saying his real name, Dick Whitman. And yet, he has pretty much announced that is the real him to everybody in this episode.
EP. #4.12 “THE QUALITY OF MERCY”
You thought last week was a wakeup call? You thought Don Draper was going to get out of this inferno? You thought Sally Draper catching her father in the act would shame Don to some self-introspection and the self-realization that he needs to get his shit together? You were wrong. Don is not just running in circles, he is waving around a flamethrower as he reaches his bottomless ninth circle. With Don getting isolated by Sally and Don isolating Megan in this episode, the Draper penthouse would not the stage for Don’s most despicable demons to come out (though hiding a morning screwdriver while your wife is telling you to use this day off as a cleansing was pretty bad). Don decided to re-direct his energies to work and to the people who were once or could have been his strongest allies: Ted and Peggy.
Let me just say, I definitely believe Bob Benson is gay. I do not think he is putting up a front to something that is his actual front in being a straight-seeming gay man. I do not necessarily think he can be an out and proud gay man in 1968. Matthew Weiner’s coy ‘not necessarily gay’ but ‘infatuated with Pete’ (note: he also calls Peggy’s relationship to Ted an ‘infatuation’ when characters are explicitly calling that love too) statements in this past week’s "Inside the Episode" comments did at first alarm me but because an obsession with Pete leads Bob Benson alarmists to think we got a Tom Ripley character in our midst.
NOTE: This Mad Men in particular was pretty loaded with a lot. Later in the week I will break other parts down but this will be more about how the episode relates to Don in past episodes and themes.
This episode illustrates that maybe Season 5’s “Mystery Date” is the Mad Men episode that best explains the current Don Draper/Dick Whitman we see. I have gone over that in this season’s “The Crash” how those maligned flashbacks of the whorehouse re-contextualized a lot of “Mystery Date” in how it was not about Don’s issues of fidelity but his relationship to sex and women. But there is that little moment where Don is actually working and presenting the fairytale theme ad to a client. Wunderkind copy-writer Michael Ginsberg sees a darker, more sinister take to the Cinderella ad they are doing and upends the traditional telling of it in how in how it is really about the deep subconscious of Cinderella as somebody who ‘wants to get caught’. Is there not a more Cinderella story than a Dick Whitman who with a new identity goes to the ball like royalty and sweeps everybody off their feet? I always felt that this was the season where Don would get caught in his sloppy, increasingly disturbing affair with Sylvia. But maybe there is something a little more cosmic and psychological going on. Maybe the clock is striking midnight on Dick as Don and maybe there is a person who wants to get caught- leave the slipper behind- due to his own nature. But before I get ahead of myself (because if you read last week’s recaps I was admittedly off, in hindsight), let’s go over why Sylvia and Don were always going to be the destructive affair that did it in for him.
MAD MEN #6.10
"A TALE OF TWO CITIES"
Let’s start with the heart of the episode, which was the Peggy and Joan dynamic. For the show’s entire run, everybody has been rooting for these two to be friends even when the earlier seasons were at the height of the hostilities between those two. For all the love she gets, Joan operated under a pretty petty dictatorship leading the secretaries that followed the patriarchal structures of early 1960s office culture. Even if Peggy did not have that out in copy-writing, one can only assume she would have left in not being a secretary there at the agency- mostly because she got it from both sides: the men and from Joan.
The whole Mad Men letting its female characters have a feminist awakening has gone admittedly slower than I expected, and I say this as somebody who does not think they should cater to the idealized Boomer point of view of the 60s. Betty still appears to never get there. Megan may have read the feminist literature but her relationship to her husband seems a little mutually dependable at this point (more on that later). Peggy has clearly never read the literature (although maybe Abe insisted she read it because he does seem like that asshole who thinks he knows what feminist literature is good for his then girlfriend). Joan never has and probably never will but both she and Peggy as single women are trying as hard as they can in their success at work being independent of the men in this episode.
"THE BETTER HALF" EPISODE #6.09
Although this show has proven to be a show all about Don Draper, Matthew Weiner does spread it out in story and with Peggy Olson the show is very much her story too. This episode showed that Peggy’s work life the moment the merger happened continues to blow up in her face, but that the merger itself reflected an unraveling home life.
EPISODE # 6.08
I have been sitting on this episode. Not because I had second thoughts about its quality or anything like that (as some other recappers oddly did if you look at a few Twitter feeds the night of the episode followed by their more mixed reaction recaps). No, there was actually a lot to pontificate about how this episode fits into the season and the series itself. I am surprised how many people think this ‘drug episode’ is a stand alone, one-off episode that will somehow hold nothing for the rest of the season or the series. What episode were these people watching?