The Hen Can’t Cluckin’ Win (MAD MEN!)

You know what other schlumpy Jew was cuckolded?

Bloom. In Ulysses.

I’m almost close to maybe not even at all positive that this is why Weiner put a foxy bored Italian Lindsay Weir in Dickhead Whitman’s path, and gave her a short, balding, altruistic but still sexist husband named Dr. Rosen.

So the schmuck parade continues on Mad Men. And it’s really hard for me to muster a feeling about Don anymore. Yadda yadda, he never had a “role model” for a “healthy relationship” because his mother and pseudo-stepmother and every women he ever knew were all whores, etc etc. And his father figure is a self-styled “rooster in the hen house.” So poor Don can’t walk through his apartment door at the end of a long day of cheatin’ ‘n’ ‘lyin’.

Boo cluckin’ hoo.

This is technically a double-decker post: I’m blurbing about the premiere and the Schmuck Parade of episode 3.

So let’s take a little Betty interlude, shall we? Because girlfriend had a bona fide shocking straight-up rape fantasy. And the Internet doesn’t really know what to do. Hardly anyone even talked about it. Could it be that the Internet is tired of Betty-bashing?

Nah. They were probably just freaked out.

Which is awesome. All I really want to say about Brunette Betty is: Rock on! Betty’s exploring her dark side. Hanging out in a flop house all day, telling the dudes they’re rude and then leaving the violin there, like it was a legitimate transaction among people with their own underbelly code. And if there’s any character on whom I’d put my money to wreak havoc on the patriarchy, it’s not Trudy. As badass and righteous as she was.

No, I bet—here and now, so y’all can call me on it—that brunette, slum-walking, terrifying sexual fantasy Betty may be first on the list. To wit: her dad felt her up when he was experiencing “dementia.” Her Ken-doll perfect husband cheated on her routinely and unrepentently. Her mom made her hate her body, and then died. Her dreamy second husband comes along with an embittered crone that horrifies her children.

So yeah. Dark Betty.

But back to “The Collaborators.” Which, by the way, not sure how I feel about Weiner incorporating the kind of historical weight that critics have suspected him of using as mere style in past seasons. So we’ll see. There were frequent references to Vietnam and WWII, and, you know, a black secretary giving Peggy some “wisdom.”

So Peggy tries to be nice to her underlings and, in thanks, they take the trouble to create a prototype product—with a full-color label—to humiliate her (in a sexist way, o’course).

Can anyone think of any way, at all, that Peggy will ever earn their respect? Being a jerk works better than her hilarious attempt at niceness, but they still won’t treat her like the world (like our viewing world) treats Don.

What other hens can’t win? Sylvia. Whose Catholic guilt Don temporarily shames and lusts away. Megan, who keeps thinking that Don is a good husband. Trudy, who will never be able to talk to her neighbors again. Or her husband.

Joan.

Lots of reviewers have expressed some concern that Peggy may “sell out” her friendship with Stan to get the Heinz accounts. But honestly, would any of those dudes hesitate for one second before doing the same? Stan’s jokey-wokey flirting with her always felt, to me, vaguely condescending. So what, exactly, would she be doing wrong?

Peggy’s always been the most conventionally moral character, worried in earlier seasons about the fact that “good” behavior doesn’t actually get her anywhere, let alone serve as a norm guiding anyone’s professional life. So I suppose we may worry about her sinking to the levels of every single other person around her, every one of whom would sell her out in a fifth of a second to get the Heinz account.

And either way Peggy rolls—preserving her “friendship” with Stan, or using his inside information to pursue and potentially win both Ketchup and Beans—she won’t actually win.

Because women never win in Mad Men.

Which makes us wonder how much of our world is still stuck in Daddy Mac’s henhouse.

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One thought on “The Hen Can’t Cluckin’ Win (MAD MEN!)

  1. […] condemn Tarantino’s (or the Law and Order franchise, or like any drama on TV that isn’t Mad Men) bloodlust as bad for our society, sure, though they’d still sell enough tickets and ads to […]

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