Mad Men: Political Parties
Written by Duana
This episode, like all of the politics in it, made me feel slightly icky, slightly unsettled, and utterly unsatisfied at the end. I’m sure there’s a joke about Don Draper’s current level of sexual prowess in there somewhere but, to really kill the metaphor, I felt this episode was…limp.
Nothing could compare to the opus that was last week, but in a show that’s always about how the times are changing and what people are pushing against, what changed this week was…nothing, really.
Let’s start with dick Joey. We know he’s a dick from the moment he starts clowning around with Stan the art director – but Stan’s not smart enough to really hit where it hurts. Joey’s the one with the laser-sharp wit and eye, facing off with our beloved Joan early on and growing ever more disgusting as his resentment grows. But I did actually like how the show proved to us that Joey was unredeemable: they had him diss Harry.
I greatly enjoy the jokes the rest of SCDP make about Harry’s blustery namedropping and I further enjoy that he’s the butt of the office most of the time. But I feel about him the way you do about family. *I* can make fun of them. You can’t. And Joey (wrongly, though that’s incidental) inferring that Harry was hitting on him just cements that we’re not going to love him enough to.
And so Peggy takes on the defense of Joan as her project. I’ll get to Peggy in a minute but I have to confess to thinking that Joan was out of character here. Even though Joey’s been a thorn in her side for weeks, when did she get so impotent? Peggy rightly asserts that she runs the office with Lane, but we rarely see that (and I wonder if the lack of so many ‘girls’ running around is a choice we’ll grow to understand). I’ve known Joan Holloway to make verbal mincemeat of greater men than overgrown adolescent Joey and, frankly, to get around the difficult ones by charming them.
I know we’re meant to believe that it’s all due to stupid husband Greg – that he’s her kryptonite, slowly sucking her power away. But upon a review of the episode I wondered whether the problem was actually a lack of Roger. I kind of feel like these two, bad though they may be for one another, also juice each other up with awesome that keeps them the life of the place.
So as a result, when Peggy takes her first steps toward feminism and protecting herself and Joan – taking the reins when Don places them firmly in her hands – and doing a fairly decent job of it, Joan just seems like a whiner. I actually disagreed with her that ‘now they’re reinforcing the idea that you’re a bitch’. Peggy got over being the bitch LONG ago – it’s why she’s a workhorse when Don’s not around. She knows it’s the price she pays for the career path she wants, and I believe that, given the respect she gets from Cosgrove and Pete, worrying about whether these little peons call her mean or not is kind of beside the point.
It’s yet another place Peggy and Joan are passing each other on the career ladder – but Peggy got the step forward while Joan got the two steps back.
I didn’t have a whole lot of time for the family subplot, mostly because I don’t care enough about Henry to determine his emotions when manipulating Don. I mean, I delighted in his political bullsh-t being distracted because Betty was having a meltdown, though I would have dearly loved to see the scene where she said she NEEDED a drink – or perhaps demanded that Johnny Campaign guy switch seats with her so she wouldn’t have to look at her new chippy.
But to set up Henry as jealous and envious of Don? Well, he should be. My man Don Draper is not to be trifled with. And everything Henry did was so tiny and petty – bruising boxes Don didn’t care about, trying to prevent him from coming to the birthday – made me root for him less. So if Betty (Hofstadt Draper) Francis is the person I like better in this relationship? We have a problem.
Also: Don’s writing a book because Roger’s writing a book? Maybe? The swimming metaphors – we’re to believe Don is going to become capable of keeping himself afloat sometime soon? My patience with the syrupy Bethany wears ever more thin….
But it all could have been improved with a little bit of Roger sauce.
Photos from Wenn.com