'Mad Men': Boys behaving badly
May 28th, 2012
09:33 AM ET

'Mad Men': Boys behaving badly

[The following post contains spoilers for the May 27 episode of "Mad Men."]

Assuming you weren't overcome by the suffocating fog of testosterone that lingered over Sunday's episode, you know that it was the manliest show in the history of shows, with men doing macho, scumbaggy things without taking others' feelings into consideration. Let's talk about what went down.

The effort to secure the Jaguar campaign was in full swing, and all (male) hands were on deck to help land the account. And because only dudes are capable of dreaming up slogans for cars – it says so in the Bible – Peggy was relegated to handling the firm's other business.

She stood by as The Men were rewarded with cool stuff like a lobster dinner after an exhausting afternoon of chain smoking and mailing in lazy pitches equating Jaguars to mistresses.

Peggy's efforts were not in vain, however, as she later came to the rescue of the Chevalier Blanc cologne campaign when the company considered pulling a TV spot. Her spontaneous pitch to relocate the ad's setting to Paris won the client over and she, Harry and Cosgrove promptly marched into Don's office to tout their success.

Her delight was short-lived as Don instructed her to assign the revisions to Ginsburg, who, because he was equipped with a penis, was also dedicated to Jaguar. Peggy protested and Don humiliated her in front of the others by throwing a few bucks at her – hitting her in the face – and telling her to get lost.

Later, after a lunch date with wise old sage Freddy Rumsen, Peggy was inspired to pursue other opportunities. Enter Ted Chaough, Don Draper’s nemesis and turtleneck sweater enthusiast. He offered Peggy a small fortune to come work for him at CDC on the condition that she not meet with any other agency.

Pete and Cosgrove, meanwhile, were charged with wooing Jaguar's porcine representative and head of the dealer's association, Herb the Dirtbag – henceforth known as “H the D.” He told them that SCDP's chances of landing Jaguar were all but dead... unless Joan spent the night with him. Surely, SURELY, the guys would stand up for Joan's honor, right? WRONG.

Pete approached Joan with the request, and while he laid on the guilt pretty thick by claiming that going through with it would be for the greater good of the firm, Joan rightfully told him to go whistle up a rope.

Undeterred, Pete informed the partners of H the D's indecent proposal, but instead of dangling him out the window Suge Knight-style, the others reluctantly agreed to give Joan a suitcase full of money in exchange for whoring herself out. Don was the lone holdout and left the room, disgusted.

Lane later approached Joan privately with another suggestion – go through with it on the condition that she was made partner, an arrangement that would secure not only her future but baby Kevin's as well. Joan arranged a meeting with Pete to pitch the idea and he ultimately agreed to her proposal.

When Pete told Don about the deal, Don fled to Joan's, where he told her not to go through with it. Whether he truly believed it wasn't worth it or because he just didn't want her among the partners is anyone's guess. Unfortunately, he arrived too late, not realizing that Joan had already slept with the human embodiment of a moldering Honeybaked Ham.

Full disclosure: It was at this point in the show that I hit pause on the old DVR to bleach my brain and take a Silkwood Shower. So much disgust on a variety of levels, y'all.

SCDP later received word that it had won the account, and the partners were all very much aware that it was thanks to Joan's sacrifice and not at all because of the efforts of The Men.

While everyone celebrated SCDP's new partnership with Jaguar, Peggy told Don that she was leaving the firm. Any lingering doubt she might have had about her decision seemed to evaporate once Don let it slip that Joan had been made partner.

Don thought Peggy was kidding when she told him that she'd given her notice. She wasn't. And while their parting was amicable and bittersweet, Peggy smiled as she bid adieu to SCDP’s dysfunctional, misogynistic sausage fest and looked forward to a fresh start with Ted and his love of fine cashmere knitwear.

Although stomach-turning, the episode was a good one, no? Tell us what you thought about it in the comments!

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Filed under: Mad Men • television • TV recaps

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Just_wanta

    Here comes the women's lib movement in the script. The "gals" will do whatever it takes to get ahead, will outsmart the menfolk, and won't suffer gladly mistreatment by the "gentlemen" for much longer. I enjoy the meticulous accuracy of the settings, behaviors, and props (some were in my family home) on the show, yet it dredges up some of the reactions I had as a teen in the 60's when I learned about how depravedly some adults behaved.

    June 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lyn

    Glad that Joan decided to go for a partnership - anything else would have made her look weak in the eyes of the other partners. A partnership agreement is forever, a roll in the hay can be used against her. With Peggy gone, there will be too much testosterone in the campaigns; but I thought it was time for her to go because they still see her as the secretary who got a promotion. This will not be a problem at the other agency and her new boss seems to value her, he did offer her more money than she was asking for.

    May 29, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. Teddi

    I worked for a big Advertising Agency in Manhattan in the late sixties, early 70's. I was only 19 when I started. The company consisted of all ego maniiacal suits. I was working there as an Executive Secretary to two of them. What a bunch of losers, if I had an idea or a creative thought they would not even acknowledge that I spoke. However, they did like the way I looked and sometimes I heard comments at the" water coole"r. Peggy is a very lucky girl to have won a bit of respect from these morons. I think this episode of Mad Men was pretty accurate. As far as the "Joan" situation, I am not sure, but I can attest to one thing, How grateful I am to have witnessed that times have changed. My daughter has a PHD in Biology and cannot believe that these kind of scenarios existed.

    May 29, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jorge

    Mad Men might as well be a tribute to the perpetual adolescent self-gratification that infects almost all aspects of higher leadership in this country. Never mind looking outside U.S. borders for targets to throw rocks of sociopolitical criticism and disdain, this country has a glass roof of it's own. It seems as if most of the nation's captains of industry, government and spiritual guidance have subscribed to the Madison Avenue school of mendacious hard sell and bait-&-switch in order to ram what's good for the interests of a few down the throats of us "little people", and they get their kicks from it. The emperor not only has no clothes, he has a h@rd-0n.

    May 29, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jay

    One thing is lost here, Don is slipping, Ginsburg is the star.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. gferrit

    The best episode of the year for the best show on television – one of the best shows ever. Mad Men is to advertising what The Sopranos was to the mafia. Among the things that makes the show great are the layers happening within in each character and how artfully the tensions build among those layers. That and the pure unpredictability of what will happen next. And of course the style...

    May 29, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Kirsti

      Agree! Best Show Ever! So many people react and judge the characters as wrong or right or good or evil. At first I did too. The writer develops the characters and sets up situations and choices so fascinating, or unexpected, yet real . . . so I am wondering, what will he/she do now, and why, how, what consequences, what does it mean, and so on. It hits me at a gut level with strong emotions, an aesthetic level with the beauty and the craft of it, and, Mad Men is an intellectual delight at all levels!

      May 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. superwoman1

    How little politics have changed since the '60's!

    May 28, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John Coleman

    I liked the episode and I love the show. Yes, it absolutely reflects the way the corporate world was in the '60's. It's easy, even naively juvenile, to look at it from today's perspective as being little more than a testosterone fest. Such childish theatrics reflect a general ignorance of what the show is trying to portray. This show is not out to win any morality or ethical awards. It's out to show just how demented the world truly was at a different time in our nation. It's no different than the saga ROOTS portraying this country during slavery. I think the editor of this piece could use a lesson in reality. It's easy to slam the hard work of others. It's another thing to demonstrate true talent . . . something the editor here clearly lacks.

    May 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alann

    Jennifer, I guess Megan and Don's ongoing drama doesn't rate your attention?

    May 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Julie

    "Mad Men" is one of those shows whose appeal is completely lost on me. I've tried to watch it, after listening to people gush about it – and I keep coming away from it with pretty much the same feeling of yuck that the reviewer describes. Except more so. The characters are unlikable, the story lines are neither funny, dramatic or interesting...
    Someone MUST be sleeping with someone to get this crap as good press as it does. *shrug*

    May 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Agreed. I'll take my Walikng Dead and Gaem of Thrones any day over this garbage.

      April 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ralph

    Payolla to every news source and magazine to push this garbage can't make people watch this show. Trash is unwatchable.

    May 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. pbrods85

    Decent show, but it ain't the Sopranos, that's for sure.

    May 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob Low

    Actually, I thought the women held all the power in the episode and Don finally realized he had no control over any of the women in his life. What Joan decided to do, and it was entirely her decision, was to get something that the men give away for nothing. She empowered herself and in return got a futrue for her and her child. And, she didn't need Don to run in to save the day. She is a strong woman who can save herself.
    Peggy's smile, as she got into the elevator, was empowering, as well, as she knew she was going on to better things for her career and didn't need to walk away crying and doubting herself.
    As for Don, even his wife has taken a stand and is going after her dreams, not his. He's used to all 'his women' listening to him, being there for him, and never being his equal, but times have changed and so has the way all these women run their lives. Bravo to all of them.

    May 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sean

    SO many of these posts talk about "The way it used to be."
    The truth is very little has changed and almost everything that has taken place since season 1 still takes place today at ad agengies, commercial photography, and media creation in general. Only now people that get their feelings hurt go to court.
    Anyone looking to work in the advertising, photo, or other nedia related industry should watch Man men over and over because it will tell you what you need to know.
    Sad but true.

    May 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael V. Weaver

    Good lord, the mothers on this show are horrible!! Betty's mother-in-law, Betty, Peggy's mother and now Joan's mother–all so quick with a cutting comment about their daughter's lives.

    Best episode of the season, easily. Probably one of the most emotionally charged episodes of the show's history. If Pete Campbell isn't the slimiest thing to ever walk the halls of SCDP, I don't know who is. Didn't take Roger long to go with the crowd, either. I really enjoy the scenes between Don and Joan. Not sure how he's going to view her in light of the new developments. I suppose you could say she slept with Roger for a lot less than a partnership in the firm, but at least she liked him.

    Can we just hand out the bonuses to the senior partners now?

    May 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  16. beth

    Periodot2: Mary's comment was funny. As intended.

    May 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Margie

    Best episode ever, full of shocking twists and turns. I hope this isn't the end of Peggy on the show. I was shocked by the Joan situation. That is going to backfire on her, I'm afraid. I am still missing Betty being on every week. Looks like her permanent return won't occur until next season.

    May 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  18. peridot2

    It was a fascinating glimpse into how things used to be done, probably more often than we know. The Jaguar campaign wasn't that great and it seemed sad that the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce team didn't work that hard to get Jag in their corner. 'Finally, beauty you can have,' or whatever the lame slogan turned out to be was dreadful. The actress prowling the table was a much better idea.

    Becoming angry at how things used to be is futile. God can't change the past, it's over. All we can do is make certain the same things don't recur.

    May 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • abbydelabbey

      naive to think things have changed.... it's just done a little bit more discreetly and carefully...

      May 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  19. marni

    Hat's off to Peggy for finally giving Don Draper and SDCP exactly what they deserve. There are probably #$%#holes at her new agency, but she'll have more influence since she's Copy Chief as well as a better salary. I was nauseated by the situation with Joan. However, it isn't entirely unrealistic for this era.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  20. mary

    Very well written commentary and synopsis. When one considers that the male penis looks like what one leaves in the toilet after a hearty meal, one wonders what the fuss is all about.

    Peggy's biggest mistake was in not hiring another woman as ad writer. She needed an ally. And although the Jewish fellow is the most sensitive of the lot, he still steals her thunder every chance he gets.

    Hooray for Peggy for turning her back on the junk bags in her never ending search for recognition and respect.

    May 28, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • peridot2

      Mary, your comparison of the male penis is irrelevant and perhaps says more about your own issues than we care to know.

      May 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |

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