Boob Tube (GET IT?!) is a recurring feature in which we discuss, you guessed it, TV. Consider this your spoiler alert.
I’m sort of disappointed that we started this blog so late into season 6 of Mad Men — there’s only three episodes left! — but what a week to join in on. Don almost drowns! Roger is reduced to someone’s vaguely cool dad at a boho California party! Pete Campbell smokes a doobie! (You just know he would call it that.)
What was most thrilling about Sunday’s episode, for me, was seeing my homegirls Peggy and Joan get some serious screen time. (I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to see how the whole Megan-Draper-Is-Sharon-Tate Internet conspiracy theory plays out — Don’s hashish trip in which he hallucinates a hippie Megan pregnant “with a second chance” only further adds to the speculation.)
Joan goes on what she thinks is a blind date with an older divorced man, arranged by her friend Kate. It turns out he’s the new head of marketing for Avon and he’s actually looking for business advice.
Joan is caught off guard and goes kittenish secretary for a moment, deferring to her male account execs at Sterling Cooper Draper Price Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — until it dawns on her that he wants to know what SHE thinks. Then she’s all business, excited by this shot to finally become the respected partner she longs to be.
You’ll recall the season 5 finale, in which Joan slept with gross Herb at his request to secure what was supposed to be a lucrative account with Jaguar — which is how she made partner. And, real talk, probably the only way she COULD make partner at a sexist male-dominant Madison Avenue ad agency in 1968. You know, because even though she’s capable, loyal, smart and efficient, she’s also a WOMAN, so…
She still hasn’t been able to secure the respect that’s supposed to come with that new title, however, as evidenced by (not a partner) Harry Crane’s sour-grapes mantrum earlier in the season:
I’m sorry my accomplishments happened in broad daylight and I can’t be given the same rewards.
Ooooh, Harry. BURN.
So Joan is understandably jacked to bring in new, potentially big-deal biz, but things don’t go as planned when Ted orders Pete and Peggy to take the initial meeting. Joan goes over everyone’s heads and deliberately cuts Pete out of a breakfast meeting, taking it with Peggy alone, much to Pete’s chagrin. HELL’S BELLS, JOANIE.
Peggy, an ardent rules girl even though authority lets her down LITERALLY ALL THE TIME, isn’t thrilled with Joan, either.
Peggy knows scoring Avon, a Fortune 500 company, would be a coup for the agency — but she also knows that if they fuck it up, they’re both done.
During a heated discussion back at the office, Joan tries to point out that the only way to have respect and power in a system stacked against you is to go out and grab it yourself (sound familiar, ladies? The times, they’re not so different). Joan was attempting to bond with Peggy, who had to claw her way up from secretary to star copywriter. Peggy, who clearly had trouble reading the situation from way up on her high horse, misreads the situation and, in a spectacular defensive play, practically shrieks “I NEVER SLEPT WITH DON.”
Indeed, the emerald necklace of shame continues to haunt Joan.
Interestingly, Megan Draper, with her youth and Beatles records and pants-wearing and anti-war platitude spouting, is supposed to represent the changing times, but is actually the least progressive woman on the show. She is, despite finding success in her acting career, a dutiful wife who is taken care of.
It’s Joan, the old-fashioned, former sexy secretary who, by her own admission, was “raised to be admired” who is truly ahead of her time. A single working mother taking by force the power she’ll never be given. Life doesn’t play fair, so why should she?