Mad Men Chat, Episode Seven: *The sound of Don puking in the bathroom*

Mark: Don was a huge asshole in this episode. A brutal tyrant. He not only shot down Peggy’s ideas, he destroyed them. He didn’t seem to realize it was Peggy’s birthday – how he could remain oblivious to that when she was walking around with a paper crown and flowers is beyond me – and he did his best to ruin her evening.

I think it was kind of a good thing. I’m starting to think maybe Peggy needed a bit of a reality check.

She did come up with the kernal – as Don put it – of the Glo-mop ad; Don used that kernel to build a TV ad. Peggy thinks she should have been thanked, and that’s probably true to some degree. But Don was right too: it’s her job to come up with ideas. It would be nice to get thanked for doing a good job, but it’s also kind of the point; when Don said her pay is her thanks, it sounded like he meant hush money, but I’m taking it to mean she should be happy to have a job as a copywriter.

I don’t want to lose perspective here, but it’s 1965 and Peggy’s a lone woman in a male-dominated field. I don’t think I’d go quite as far as Don did, but I think he has a point. Peggy is fairly lucky to be where she is – it’s always going to be an uphill struggle for a trailblazer like her. There’s no shortage of men who’d like her job.

Heather: Don is still very protective of Peggy. She’s like his little project, and I think you’re right in saying that he had an alternative motive for cutting her down as much as he did (and no, I don’t think it’s right). He’s trying to make her strong willed and to meet her potential as a copywriter and creative thinker. She was getting sloppy.

Jenn: I love Don and Peggy’s relationship. I really, really hope they don’t fuck it up b sleeping together/getting together, I would weep. I know the real life people they are very loosely based on are married, but I sincerely hope the show doesn’t go in that direction. I liken them to a dramatic Liz Lemon/Jack Donaghey from 30 Rock. The whole mentor turned reluctant friendship is very sweet and I hope it stays exactly as it is.

I do think Don’s harder on Peggy because she has the most raw potential, but I also think he sees himself in her and we all know he’s fucking hard on himself. Unfortunately he thinks he’s shaping her to be the next Don Draper, he’s actually just yelling at a 25 year old girl and making her cry on her birthday. Well, that’s one way to prepare someone for the “real world”.

Has Peggy gotten to cocky, though? Her idea for Glow Coat wasn’t exactly the commercial that it came to be, but is it wrong for the girl to want a little credit? She’s still the only one we ever see doing work in the office, but I guess that’s just what comes with being a working woman in that day and age. Working twice as hard for half the credit (if that).

Mark: Moving on, I can’t get over how Peggy’s beau is kind of a nerdy wimp. He reminds me of an unfunny Jack McBreyer. Peggy said it best herself: he didn’t seem to understand her. Who dumps a girl over the phone on her birthday? A dope.

Jenn: Peggy’s boyfriend (aka Karl from Lost) was a joke. He’s so oblivious. I mean, he really did not know a thing about Peggy. And it took him until now to realise she wasn’t that into him? I was terrified for a while there that he was going to propose over this dinner, I’m so glad that didn’t happen. But breaking up over the phone while at dinner with her parents had to be awkward as fuck. I mean, do you still eat the meal together? Who picks up the cheque? Does Miss Manners have a column about this?

Heather: Her boyfriend was totally a wimp.

The Don/Peggy dynamic is interesting in how it’s constantly evolving. No less then three times I thought it was going to veer into romantic territory. Twice I thought it would end abruptly. And more then once it felt paternal (think how Peggy took care of Don when he was about to puke). They both bring out the best in each other, both are equally devoted to their craft, even to the point of letting it define who they are.

A few episodes back, Don told a reporter that his work speaks for him. It does: he pours himself into it. He took the raw emotion he had from his friend’s death and turned it into a sparkling ad. Was it a coincidence how much better he looked showing it to Peggy? I don’t think so.

Don’s hard on her because he can be. Because she’ll take it. Because he knows he can, she’ll take it and remain loyal to him. But more then that, I felt like he’s hard on her because he knows what she can do, what she does with him. Her presented ideas were half-baked, as she wanted to get out and forget about the ad. Was Don right in treating her like shit? No. Did he have a greater point? Yeah, I’d argue he did.

Heather: I think … you basically wrapped that all up perfectly in those few paragraphs.
That and Don and Peggy are totally going to muck up whatever it is they have and do it or Don’s going t… no wait…. Peggy is the new Anna.


Mark: The running context of the second Clay/Liston fight is important in this episode’s context: Liston represented the old guard, the 50’s mentality. Ali was a brash loudmouth, the young upstart of tomorrow. He destroyed Liston, beat him so badly that Liston refused to get up and face him. Don picked Liston to win, as did most of his coworkers. Peggy didn’t choose anybody, but thought highly of Ali.

Ali won, becomes the most famous heavyweight of all time. Liston was finished by the end of the decade, dead of a heroin overdose. The future belongs to Peggy Olson.


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