Challenging the old boys club of Mad Men

So, after last week's emotionally draining episode, we got a little change of pace in this week's episode of Mad Men.

So, after last week's emotionally draining episode, we got a little change of pace in this week's episode of Mad Men. I must admit, when I heard that Don's voice in the first frame of the episode for a second I thought, “Oh God no, not another show with a main character voiceover” (sorry Grey's Anatomy, even though yes I watch you too). But it turns out that Don Draper has started writing a journal. (“I sound like a little girl, writing down what happened today”)  It's all part of his fascinating  character evolution this season and I for one am incredibly intrigued. (Total aside, was anyone else surprised that Don hadn't even graduated high school? I guess it only seems logical, given his upbringing and the time period,  but still, it makes his success, at least career-wise, all that more impressive.)

In addition to some great music (loved the Rolling Stones' “Satisfaction” playing over Don walking into work) this episode gave us another  look into the office politics of the 1960s. Joan has always come across as incredibly confident, but this episode gave us insight to her insecurities: that at the end of the day, the men in the office—at least the younger ones—view her as nothing more than a secretary.

Clearly Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is a boys club, as many of those ad agencies were in those days (it is called Mad Men for a reason). Even Peggy has taken to drinking in meetings, perhaps as an effort to fit in.  And Don's retort of”Boys will be boys” when Joan tells him of Joey's inappropriate comments speaks volumes of what was tolerated.

Joey's lewd drawing left in Joan's office led to Peggy's ultimate firing of the handsome freelancer and my choice for  quote of the week. After Peggy told Joan that she fired Joey, Joan seemed less than thrilled:  “You want to be a big shot. Well, no matter how powerful we get around here, they can still draw another cartoon. So all you've done is proved to them that I'm a meaningless secretary and you're another humorless bitch. ”

Wow Joan. Just when you think that old Joanie has lost her sass, she once again shows Peggy a thing or two about taking control.

Being a boss is something that Peggy struggles with in this episode, and it's something that I really identified with. Peggy has trouble believing in her authority over the “three stooges” as some other blogs have taken to calling her creative crew—primarily because they don't view her in that way. In her mind, Peggy is still that fledgling copywriter who has to go to Don before she makes every move. It's something that I felt when I was first promoted to features editor in 2007. Back then, I was suddenly thrust from being “one of the guys”—my coworkers at the time included Gawker's Hamilton Nolan and Ad Age's Michael Bush—into managing them. To their credit, they made the transition easy and always respected me as their coworker and friend, yet I struggled with my place in the PRWeek hierarchy and how it had changed. Luckily, I've gotten over that now…

So, thought on this episode? Is Don's sudden interest in swimming supposed to signify a rebirth of some sort? Am I the only one who loves Miss Blankenship (who by the way is the mom from The Karate Kid!) more and more each week? Discuss

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