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Mad Men TV Club: Feminism is a Frilly Pink Dress

UGH. I enjoyed only one scene in this episode, and it was Don’s visit to the Francis household. Betty looked glorious in her ultra-feminine housewife drag, and I appreciated the moment when Don looked back at Betty, Henry, and his two sons, clearly farklempt about the nuclear family he could have had.

The rest of this episode was a mess, and there were too many characters bouncing around. Di and Marie France are too depressing to write any more about, and Marie Calvet, well, I love her, but I don’t have much to say about her heavy-handed storyline this week. She hates her husband, so she takes her feelings out on her daughter’s husband. We get it.

When Don hands Megan a million dollar check so that she can live the life she deserves, I rolled my eyes hard. Megan accuses Don of ruining her life, but, as Judith asks, did he really? I don’t think so. When Megan met Don she was a secretary, and though she may have had higher aspirations, she certainly wasn’t acting on them. Marrying Don enables Megan to become a copywriter, and spending his money allows her to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Yes, she quits her acting job on the soap opera to move to California with Don, only to see him go back on his promise to move with her. And yet Megan still goes to L.A.—put up in a swanky apartment in the Canyon, no less. She hosts parties, goes on auditions, and accumulates a massive wardrobe. Don may have hurt her—he was a distant husband who rarely granted her the emotional intimacy she craved. But man, did he give her a lot of money. Don didn’t ruin Megan’s life, he set her up for a successful second act.

Moving on to Don’s other wife: Betty’s storyline was the real surprise for me this week. We saw her serenely in control of her household, unruffled by the presences of Don and Henry, which in previous seasons would have caused serious tension. She looks great, too (sooo much pink!). Most notably, Betty tells Don that she is getting a masters degree (!) in psychology (!!!). Now, this is somewhat hilarious: Betty is generally a terrible person to confide in (see Exhibit A: Glen). But I love that she finally values herself for something other than her looks. Is Betty going to be our final-inning feminist hero? More than any other central character in Mad Men, she seems poised to finish the series in a positive place.

The story—and character—that irked me the most this week was Pima’s. A photographer who wears three-piece suits and sports a Susan Sontag-esque white streak in her hair, Pima initially seemed like a promising alternative to the male executives in the office. Pima was a such a disappointment not just because she turnout out to be every bit as predatory and opportunistic as the men in the office, but because by the end of the episode it seemed like Mad Men’s message about women in position of power was “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Don’t even get me started on Pima’s sexual harassment of poor Peggy. Lean out, Peggy! LEAN OUT. 

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Pima, Peggy, and Stan, Mad Men
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Pima, Peggy, and Stan in a still from Mad Men.
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How to cite this page

Metal, Tara. "Mad Men TV Club: Feminism is a Frilly Pink Dress." 17 April 2015. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 14, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/mad-men-tv-club-feminism-is-frilly-pink-dress>.

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