‘Mad Men’s’ office politics
September 13th, 2010
04:58 PM ET

‘Mad Men’s’ office politics

Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for the Sunday, September 12 episode of AMC’s ‘Mad Men.'

After last night’s episode, it’s safe to say that the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce could use a "Respect in the Workplace" seminar. (That, and they’re desperately in need of a human resources department.)

We waded into the murky waters of gender roles in the 1960s workplace last night and boy, did it get uncomfortable. Has this show mastered the awkward moment or what? On the bright side, things seem to be looking up for Don, maybe. We’ll start there.

We opened with Don journaling through some rage and mulling cutting back on his drinking. He expressed the desire to gain control of his life and made a bucket list while he was on a roll. He even made an appearance at baby Gene’s birthday party, which was not the horrible disaster that it could have been.

Last night wasn’t without its tense moments, however, as Don had an uncomfortable run-in with Betty and Henry while out on a date with dewy fresh Bethany, who I think we might have seen the last of. Betty turned to stone and smoldered as she chain smoked her way through dinner and later lashed out at Henry on the trip home. She’s at maximum awfulness capacity, that one.

Don’s record of striking out with Dr. Faye Miller (I feel like I always have to use her full name), came to an end last night when she finally agreed to go out with him, likely due to her shouty breakup phone call in the SCDP lobby. For someone who comes across as so polished and professional I thought it was really out of character for her to have a meltdown in public. I kind of like her and Don together, even though I’m still holding out hope that he’ll one day reunite with Rachel Menken. But I digress. The date was pleasant enough, and there’s definitely chemistry but it ended with Don declining Dr. Faye’s offer to go home with him. Look at Don, exercising restraint. You’ve come a long way, baby.

Elsewhere in the office, along with the arrival of the Malfunctioning Vending Machine of Doom came some really reprehensible behavior from the boys – the art department, specifically. What’s up with that? I thought artists were supposed to be sensitive. The troubles began when Joan had to play the role of office disciplinarian after Joey and Rizzo took to loudly manhandling the machine over a rogue Clark Bar.

In Things I Did Not See Coming news, Joey sure turned out to be a real prince, eh? When Joan took him to task for publicly disrespecting her, he fired back with a string of cruel insults, among them Joan’s begging to be sexually assaulted because of the way she was dressed. Yeesh. Joan later attempted to poison the well against Joey by urging Don not to hire him on full time because of his inappropriate behavior. Don dismissed the matter as a case of “boys will be boys.” That sound you hear is my skin crawling.

Later, Joey left an offensive sketch of Joan and Layne in a compromising position in Joan’s office. Joan confronted the boys and had a great little monologue about them all being shipped off to Vietnam, which sobered them up fairly quickly.

Peggy marched into Don’s office with the drawing and demanded he speak with Joey. Don told Peggy that if she wanted to be respected she was going to have to earn it herself and gave her license to fire Joey which was AMAZING. Go Peggy! Because we’re a PG-13 operation, I can’t use the word I’d like to describe Joey, but it rhymes with "swoosh flag." Good riddance, jerk.

Joan rained on Peggy’s parade when she wasn’t particularly receptive to Joey’s firing, claiming that all Peggy had done was reinforce the stereotypes of women in the workplace. Ugh. I don’t know about you, but the skeevy office behavior in this episode made me especially grateful to be employed in the here and now.

What did you think of last night’s episode?

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Filed under: Mad Men • television • TV recaps

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Ted

    What a piece of work Betty is. Did you catch that child like pout she gave when Henry was scolding her in the car for her behavior at the restaurant? She is so immature and I think Henry is good for her, but there is still a tie to Don that she can't deny. Her comment, "He was the only man I knew". It might be far fetched, but is it possible her and Don will reunite some day?

    September 18, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Elle

    Loved the non-verbal language too. Betty with messy hair and Don coming clean in the pool. Was he clean shaven in every scene last night? And that light coming thru his desk window while he wrote. The light at the end of the tunnel?
    Peggy and Joan together in the work elevator. I want to see more of Betty's new mother-in-law. Good stuff there.

    September 14, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Moon

    Jennifer – How about not ending a sentence with "of". Doesn't anyone at CNN proofread anything?

    September 14, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Carolyn

    Today's office is just as bad, but in other ways. And...it's still a good ol' boys club. I LOVE this show! The last episode, when Don loses it and actually sobs – was simply superb acting. The episode was very touching all the way around.
    Jon Hamm needs to win best actor at next Emmy's for that performance alone.

    September 14, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brooke

    Sigh... never enough Pete. I miss him.

    September 14, 2010 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lola Jordan

    I was so glad to read Jennifer agreed with me that Don belongs with Rachel. I think she will return at some point. She was the only woman he really loved and vice versa. Speaking of star crossed lovers, I hope Peggy and Pete and their son will be reunited one day. Also, I think Gene is not Don't son and at some point, it will be revealed and grossed out Henry will leave Betty over it. With Don reunited with Rachel, Betty will be the cheese standing alone.

    September 14, 2010 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. Rich

    When you see things like this in a TV show or movie, it does make you react with a degree of shock. But reciprocally, political correctness in U.S. offices has in some cases gone over the deep end. Some modest jokes taken way out of context and proportion, lectures by company lawyers because company owners live in mortal terror of frivolous lawsuits brought by people with skin as thin as saran wrap. I don't advocate a return to the mid-1960s, but there is a limit.

    September 13, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sheila

    Loved the last two episodes.....I am so impressed with the subtle character development and like how Don finally seems to be working towards dealing with the baggage of the past by journaling and exercise rather than by acting out.

    September 13, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Laura

    Watching last night's episode may have made you glad to be in the here and now, but made me realize that though conduct has greatly improved I doubt if the actual underlying perceptions and view points are still quite firmly intact.

    September 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Molly ann

    The past 2 episodes have restored my faith in this show. Both have been well acted and well written. Hope they keep them coming.

    September 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Holly Golightly

    I loved last nite's episode, as usual. Um, Jennifer, I believe the correct grammar would be, "I kind of like HER and Don together." However, I do really enjoy your writing style. The office boys behaved ridiculously. I like the new and improved Don, and I like him with Faye. Peggy rocks–Joan was weird. Where was Roger??? I also was glad to see Don at Gene's bday party. And Mrs. Blankenship was funnier than ever!

    September 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |

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