It’s quite a predicament for women at SCDP - and women in the workplace everywhere, isn’t it? You’re either just a sexy secretary or you’re an overzealous climber bitch. (Monica vs. Hillary, anyone?) As Joey the freelance art director becomes more and more misogynistic toward Joan, (because apparently his mother was the same way), Peggy steps into to save the day and show Joey the door.
Peggy thinks she’s done something magnanimous for Joan. But Joan knows better. Now Joan’s the damsel in distress, saved by a “humorless” chick with a dick. While we’re forty years forward and situations have gotten better for women, I can’t say I don’t understand the perception predicament Joan describes in the elevator.
And this episode really explored the show’s ladies, didn’t it? Bethany’s back, and willing to meet Don’s, uh, draper. She needs a more from him, and says it. “We really are from different generations,” Don replies. But now that we’re hearing his internal thoughts for the first time, a la Carrie Bradshaw, we know he doesn’t think much more of her than he did Betty Draper. She’s beautiful, charming, but not on his level.
The women on his level were traditionally Don’s mistresses - they tend to be the aggressive, modern, independent ladies who could take him or leave him. Midge, the hippie from season one, Rachel Menken, who headed her own stores, Bobby Barrett, who was responsible for the entire Jimmy Barrett machine, Miss Farrell, the enlightened teacher who worried how DON was doing after he ditched her in the car … and now, Faye. The ad doctor of persuasion is actually getting to hear Don’s actual thoughts and worries - he discusses Gene’s upcoming 2nd birthday with her, that he’s out of sorts, etc. etc. Where he keeps the dancer at arm’s length (and later muses that he already “knows her” - is that a reference to how similar she is to Betty?), he seems to let down the mask when he’s with Faye. What a contrast.
Speaking of contrast, I’m not sure how I feel about actually hearing Don’s internal monologue. The show opened with narration and immediately I thought of Sex and the City and wondered if we’d get a “I couldn’t help but wonder” moment. I’ve long believed the beauty of this show is the subtlety in the story and the acting WITHOUT getting into the characters’ heads and actually hearing what they think. While it’s helpful to know Don is now making a bucket list (yay Mount Kilimanjaro) and wants to “gain a modicum of control over” the way he feels, we could have figured that out without the exposition. (Okay, maybe not the mountain climbing part.)
-Henry Francis, God bless him. He looked like such a sad, lonely creature mowing that lawn. And he really is stuck with a child. I loved his line “Hate’s a strong word. I hate Nazis.”
-No Roger again!?! Arrrgh.
-Francine’s reminder to Betty is an important one. Who is Betty but a woman who has defined her life through men? And then she acts out with the men she’s with? I can’t decide if it’s bad acting or bad writing that’s making this woman so one-dimensional and irritating. Shouldn’t I feel bad for her a little - I swear I have before in earlier seasons.
Anyway, I’m anxious to hear what y’all think about the new use of narration and the issues about sexism that came up for the girls. And whatever else.
Use kindness and gentleness where force fails,