TV in Review: Mad Men, “The Other Woman”
May 28, 2012 10 Comments
“The Other Woman” was of couple of socks to the jaw, a pair of punches to the gut, or two swift kicks to the knees. That’s mostly what I’m going to talk about today. First, what was done to Joan. Second, what Peggy did for herself.
Sit back, and let’s begin…
So, it’s quite clear early on in “The Other Woman” that all women are “Other” in this world, to the extent that the business world is a boys club, and that any progress made for individual women will be hard fought, and perhaps countered by major setbacks for other women. Peggy sees her future spinning its wheels as as lobster is wheeled in for the creative team spinning its own wheels on the pitch for Jaguar…
…while one of the men who is going to vote on that pitch makes a pitch of his own regarding Joan…
HERB: I like that redhead, and I think she and I would both welcome the opportunity to spend the night together.
Okay, so that’s worse than icky, but there’s no way it’s going to go anywhere, right? I mean, forget about whether or not it is plausible in this world–would the Mad Men producers risk alienating us from any of their characters who would broker this act? Apparently, the answer is yes.
Yes, there’s not much more to say about Pete in “The Other Woman” other than to say that he has hit a new low. Here’s a man who had to fight his way to likability due to many squirrely qualities, and here he blows it all in one episode.
PETE: It seems to me that there’s something that could be worth the sacrifice. We’re talking about a night in your life. We’ve all had nights in our lives where we’ve made mistakes for free.
Mind you, I’m not holier-than-thou, or even holier-than-Pete. Prostitution is fine by me if it’s a case of consenting adults making clear choices and freely deciding whether or not they want to partake in said transaction. This was not that. This was a case of a firm being blackmailed, of Pete being a lying-conniving-underhanded-repulsive bastard, and of Joan trapped in a rough financial state, being pressed down upon by an economic structure which offers women such as Joan far fewer options than an intelligent and charming man would have in a similar position. Plus, she thought that all of her bosses wanted this! (How well done was that whole non-linear placement of Don showing up before she showers?)
So Joan, I don’t blame or look down upon you for the choice you made, but f@$# the rest of them for adding to that pressure and allowing the rape to be brokered.
Kudos, on the other hand, to the writing staff. You drew me in with this plot to such an extent that my mouth was ajar and I almost forgot that these are fictional characters. Although I do think the moral point would have been stronger had Mad Men chosen a more handsome actor to play Herb Rennet. (No offense intended, Gary Basaraba.) It should be clear that this would be a barbaric act even if Joan weren’t beautiful (but she is!) and Herb weren’t old and overweight (but he is!).
“The Other Woman” was a circular firing squad of meanness. Don is mean to Peggy, who’s mean to Ken. Don is mean to Megan, who has a very particular pre-audition ritual.
And, of course, every partner except Don is mean to Joan.
It’s an episode of stopping…
JOAN: Just stop.
DON: Just keep doing whatever the hell you want!
…with the main departure coming, of course, in the form of Peggy’s decision to move on from the firm.
PEGGY: I want you to know that the day you saw something in me, my whole life changed. And since then it’s been my privilege to not only be at your side but to be treated like a protege and for you to be my mentor and my champion. But I think I’ve reached a point where it’s time for me to have a new experience. I’m giving my notice. I’ve accepted another offer.
And then, to top it off, the gravely-voiced guy at the end of the credits has the temerity to say “only two episodes left this season.” Damn you, gravely-voiced guy! Talk about desiring something only to find it being removed beyond your reach…
DON: When deep beauty is encountered, it arouses deep emotions because it creates a desire, because it by nature unobtainable.
At least there was one informational moment in the episode. Who knew that Goodnight Moon has been around that long? Since 1947, as a matter of fact. Maybe all of you were aware, particularly if you have children or grandchildren. I had presumed that the book was written a little over a decade ago, when my niece was born and I first read it.
Goodnight, Mad Men.
AMC first broadcast Season 5, Episode 11 of Mad Men on May 27, 2012.
Polentical: TV in Review, “Christmas Waltz” (Season 5, Episode 10)
From Toronto, With Love: Mad Men: The Other Woman
feminist, unplugged: Mad Men 5.11 Redux: “The Other Woman”
deerinthexenonarclights: Mad Men – The Other Woman