Pesky Glass Ceiling (#MadMen)

Lots of internets are complaining that Don got boring. Which I’ve been saying for a while.

We no longer want to be smart about or interested in Don because he’s like that philosophy dude in college that seemed so captivating for a few semesters until you realized at a party that he’s just repeating the same narcissistic, latently sexist Nietzsche stuff over and over again no matter how engaging so many OTHER THINKERS IN THE WORLD may be.

Yeah, another suicidal drug/booze-fueled hallucination. Yeah, another dismissal of wifey. Yeah, another yawn.

OK, hyperbole. Don’s slow slide is moderately interesting. But not as interesting as every other character.

So let’s gab about women.

First off, since my blogging is off-schedule but I don’t want to ignore this: BETTY!!!

Acting like Don! Except thoughtful!

It’s like Weiner got sick, too, of all the Betty hate and decided to grace her with some feelings and thoughts, thoroughly baffling everyone who still thinks Don’s better but forgot that he’s just that Nietzsche dude from college but with better clothes.

I can’t get all worked up about her cheating on Henry, mostly because he seems to get off on it. At least, the fantasy of it. Maybe it was consensual.

And seriously? She kicked Don’s ass. In the best way. Betty’s trying to use the power she has. Fair play to her.

OK, so onto this week. Joan and Peggy are trying so hard to build solidarity before it became a thing. Riveting. Completely riveting.

Say it with me: MERITOCRACY IS A MYTH.

Joan can bring brains, sensitivity, savvy, and charm to the meeting. And get a new client. And still get stomped on by people who only see her as a pair of breasts.

Peggy too. A tool of the two dudes comparing dicks. Peggy, whose dick has better ad ideas?

Peggy and Joan’s conversations this episode, shuttling between recrimination and allegiance, were my favorite moments of the whole season. The complexity of women dealing with male power structures.

Rivalry for scarce resources, empathy about the stacked deck, support, scheming to somehow leap over together, sharing disappointment when it’s impossible, back to mutual recriminations.

And Joan’s wet eyes at the end, when Peggy says out loud what Joan already knows: that the Avon guy better call her.

If he does? Will Joan be able to move past the specter of the exchange that won her partnership? Will anyone forget it and treat her like an equal? Ever?

I’ll join the chorus hoping that Peggy and Joan split off from those tired dudes and conquer the world advertising make-up and cleaning products. A second wave corporatist dream of womyn’s business…

But wait. Will 250 women in the Fortune 500 CEOS actually change the world?

Is feminist capitalism possible?

Certainly Weiner’s story of Peggy and Joan won’t offer much meaningful evidence one way or another.

And so far, at least, the odds seem slim that Peggy and Joan’s complex alliance will help them leapfrog over the partners and win equitable rewards for their talents.

Till that happens, Pete’s always there to remind them, and us, that meritocracy is a myth.


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2 thoughts on “Pesky Glass Ceiling (#MadMen)

  1. I loved this episode too. And I think it is so fascinating to see the interplay between allies who got where they were by going it alone in very different ways. They can’t quite see how any way but how they did it would work. They can’t undo their pasts, but can’t see past their particular methods either. Peggy’s continued insistance that Joan’s way wasn’t the right way, when their clearly is no right way, just made me cheer more for Joan’s eff this I’m just doing what I want mentality. I especially delight when that involves screwing with stupid Pete Campbell.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yes! I have been thinking more and more about how lovely it is to see two women relating extensively over a whole episode about professional stuff. The Bechdel rule and everything. The whole show is so male-dominated (and women are so sexualized) that it seems almost revolutionary to have so much Peggy/Joan time, and to have it be so complex.

      And I agree, Pete’s really the schmuckiest. I don’t think that actor will every be able to play anyone different. Like this generation’s James Spader.

      Your point about how self-absorbed they are is interesting, too. Like I was trying to say–what would it be like for them to have real power? Like, I would happily put Joan in charge of anything, but why? When she has power, all she does is make other women miserable.

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