Open Thread: Season 1 in retrospect

 Posted by on November 27, 2011 at 4:06 am  Season 1
Nov 272011

Today AMC is restarting Season 1 of Mad Men, with Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Ladies Room, and New Amsterdam Marriage of Figaro.

Discussion points: What’s it like seeing Season 1 now? How do we notice that the characters have changed? Have at!

…and don’t forget, new Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels tonight!


  50 Responses to “Open Thread: Season 1 in retrospect”

  1. I just watched 0413 again, and it’s pretty stunning to hear Don tell Rachel, “What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons,” after seeing him get all goopy about Megan. You wonder if he’ll be using that exact line to pick a woman up in 1970.

  2. How funny Meowser.

    It was different seeing Rachel and Don again. If there was a mistress that could have ended his marriage for good, it would have been her.

    Don does seem different in S4 with Megan, but could Faye be right in saying that he ‘only likes the beginning of things’. Just because he seemed committed to her in S4 doesn’t mean he will be in S5.

  3. Seeing Don & Midge in S-1 & in happier circumstances, made me sad for her & how she had turned out by S-4. It also made me curious about how she & Don crossed paths in the first place.

    I’m also wondering about Sterling Cooper’s (I assume) in-house research department. In the pilot episode & in episode 1.3, we see Dr Greta Gutman & George Pelham (the gentleman from “across the pond”), then there doesn’t seem to be any mention of research department people again. By S-4 there’s Dr Faye Miller & Geoffrey Atherton, who seem to be outside consultants, with other clients besides SCDP.

    The other day I read an article about a new movie. In it, there was this quote by actor Viggo Mortensen, who plays Sigmund Freud in the new film, A Dangerous Method.

    “The idea of confession without judgment and helping through love – love being listening – is essentially what both Jung and Freud were talking about. And whether it’s a psychoanalyst, a director, a parent, or a friend who listens, that’s one of the greatest gifts you can give. To just listen.”

    For some reason, it made me think of Betty Draper & her sessions with Dr Wayne, that we first see in Ladies Room. Maybe all she really wanted/needed, was someone who’d just listen to her.

    • I feel like thats all my relationship with my counselor is sometimes. When I started seeing her I had so many things going on in my head and my life that I didn’t know how to express them or deal with them. I couldn’t talk to anyone & I felt like my problems weren’t important enough to talk about. The most important thing therapy did was just give me a forum where I could talk about all my stuff. Once I did that I could finally start dealing with it positively.
      She has helped me build and recognize my coping skills. But I have also learned how to understand and talk about my problems in a new way. I don’t have nearly as much to complain about now.

  4. Correction. The third episode is The Marriage of Figaro.

  5. Rachel was never going to marry a shaygetz like Don. His willingness to walk out on his family was a huge ugly deal-breaker. Of course that’s hypocritical of her. After all, she too was participating in an adulterous affair, even if she wasn’t the one cheating. But walk out on your children — never.

  6. SmilerG, I had assumed Don met Midge through work. She was a freelancer, he was a creative director. Their paths would thus quite naturally have crossed. She was doing freelance work for him when we first meet her, right? Poor thing. The Midge storyline one of my favorite transient subplots (well, favorite isn’t a good word – kind of like “Like” on FB — I don’t mean I LIKE it, but I find it interesting/provocative/memorable).

    How many shows have brief subplots that are as killer?

  7. The best part of rewatching season one is the realization that January Jones can really act.

    It is amazing to see what she started out as and how she has become a tightly wound up housewife by season 4.

    Maybe she learned to act before our eyes…either way I love watching her early Betty. She was such a little girl.

    Roger got better looking with time! Why does that only happen to men?

  8. These were the best 3 episodes! have never seen them, and the subtle nuances and the powerful acting-fabulous!

  9. I don’t seem to care for January’s other work- but she IS Betty and I can’t take that away from her. Seeing the transformation of her character is so intriguing and very realistic.

  10. susan F Raquel Welch is 70! and looks hotter than any woman 20 years younger. Michelle Pfeiffer still looks like Fab Baker Boys. She’s what? 53? Halle Berry, Stacey Dash are in their mid 40’s and its downright obscene how good they look. Julia Roberts is 44, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is 50 and they make you go all ‘Gawd-dang! Charisma Carpenter is about 40 and she still might be the most beautiful woman on the planet. Jeri Ryan, Monica Bellucci, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, etc. etc. I don’t know if its just the guys.
    Just saying, you know.

  11. Tilden,
    You are correct of course.
    I was just thinking of those fabulous gals like Bridget Bardot, Shelly Winters and Rosemary Clooney…

  12. I don’t watch the AMC reruns, but I recently have started watching the series again from the beginning on DVD (although I’ve recently been detoured by watching Breaking Bad, which I had never watched before, but that’s another topic…)

    Anyway, it really is striking how much things have changed over the course of the series. Other people have said it much more articulately than I can, but it’s absolutely amazing to watch the extent of the growth in the characters from S1 to now. Especially Peggy, who is my undisputed favorite. :)

    That’s all I’ve got.

  13. @ Tilden Katz

    Once again, you are the voice of enlightenment.

  14. There are some really sharp tools in this here shed, and I ain’t one of em. Just happy to be a loudmouth contrarian, (in a respectful manner), that manages to do ok on here from time to time. That said; thank you kindly susan F, and tmfak.

  15. Let me put it this way,

    Most everyone here is sharper than I will ever be (although I suspect most of you have a fair bit of age and experience on me.)

  16. tmfak I’ve had the pleasure of reading many of your posts, and you definitely belong. No bull. Look forward to many more. Can NOT wait for March to get here. Can you?

  17. In a TV watching sense, no I cannot. In virtually every other sense, I like winter better than spring by a substantial margin.

  18. It is amazing to watch S1 with the knowledge of what happens later, specifically S4. By 2/60 Don is already creative director and seemingly on top of the world. We now know he joined SC in 1955 (guessing late winter), and in less than 5yrs had risen from Jr Copywriter to Creative Director. The unsure and aggressive fur salesman evolved to become the king of the hill…in control of his environment and secure in his place in the (professional) world. He always knows what to do. I hope in S5-6-7 we find out more about his evolution at SC.

    Contrast the Don of 1960, with the Don of 1965. His entire world has been upended. His personal anchor has been ripped from him and his profession is leaving him behind. All the while he struggles to comprehend what is happening and figure out what to do. Will propelling himself into another marriage help ? Probably not. Will his public break up with the smoking industry work ? We will have to wait to find out.

  19. I’m not so sure that Don hasn’t risen just as far or farther during the period from 60-65 as he did from 55-60. Creative Director->Jr. Partner->Founding Partner is a fairly big progression for 5 years of someone’s working life, especially when you consider that the closer you get to the top (and really the only way Don can go higher in the hierarchy of the firm at this point is if Roger dies and he becomes senior partner.), the harder it is to grab the next brass ring. To me the power shift that underlies this show thematically has always been primarily a generational one, where guys like Don and Roger (no matter how good they are or are not) at what they do will inevitably be swept aside by kids like Pete and Peggy who understand the future of their business (and of society).

  20. My heart broke seeing Midge so strong and independent and knowing what happens later.

    I’m still thrilled they had Pete/Peggy get together in the first episode. I would really like to hear MW talk about what his vision was.

  21. I’ll never forget my shock the first time I saw S1, E1 (the day it first aired), and the ep presented Don as — an apparently single — playboy who took a break from work to hang with Midge, and then in the last 20 seconds of the ep we find out that he’s got a wife, kids, and idyllic house in the country. That 20 seconds in some ways told us everything we need to know about Don Draper, Dick Whitman (who we don’t yet know about!), and the whole story arc of “Mad Men.” Quite a punch in the stomach!

  22. I wasn’t “thrilled that they had Pete and Peggy get together in the first episode.”

    I couldn’t believe that Peggy would let him in when he knocked at her door late at night, knowing that he was getting married within days. It took my opinion of her down a notch. What was she thinking, anyway?

  23. Peggy’s invitation to Peter is clearly understable in light of Peggy’s being naive and on the first day of a job where she is led to understand that the way to keep your job at SC is to “service” the ad men and also her belief that the doctor had given her the “silver bullet” of protection.

    What we do not know is whether this was Peggy’s first sexual encounter and whether she was a virgin when she invited Peter to come into her apartment.

  24. I think in the DVD commentary they mentioned how flattered she was that he would hunt her down in Brooklyn and travel so far to be with her. Frankly, if she’d not had much experience with men I could see her being thrilled by it.

    As the season progressed and Peggy “responded” to Pete-the-Hunter fantasy, I’m also guessing she let him in because she was liked the raw need he expressed at the door. It was a totally BOLD move on his part. His self-depreciating “you probably think I’m a creep” was so different from his sexist appraisal earlier. Combine the whole package and Peggy’s heart went a thumping is my guess.

    Regarding Peggy’s virginity I’d bet that she WAS in fact a virgin. I suspect it’s part of the reason why she was caught up in Pete’s overture. If she had sexual experience and was using condums before I think she would have been a little more saavy about the BCP and not count on it the first time.

    • That doctor gave her no info on the pill. I wouldn’t blame her choice on sexual inexperience and rather on a doctors poor work.

  25. I’m not sure if anybody is looking at this thread still, but I just re-watched Ladies Room and wanted to bring up “how the characters have changed.”

    The focus of the ep is what women want, and Don’s arc is how he is somehow not being enough for Betty – he thought that by succeeding at work, coming home, and providing for her, while being “strong and silent” – would naturally bring her happiness, but there’s still that “mysterious” want inside her. Don in the beginning of the ep says to Betty, “but of course you’re happy, right?” He just keeps reiterating “you have to be happy, this isn’t happiness for you?” And I felt shocked that Don in one point of his life had the naivete to think that he was making his wife completely happy, and how far out it was that she could she not have total peace and wholeness with the life he built with/for her.

    The Don of seasons 2-4, I feel, is very attuned to his own misery and general malaise, and understands that all people have some emptiness inside of them as well. Even when Roger seems happy at his Derby Day in “My Old Kentucky Home” the Don of season 3 craps on his happiness calling him a fool. I think the “idealistic/naive” Don shocked me more than anything else from those very early eps.

    Of course, I just realized, that idealistic part of him creeps back in in “Tomorrowland” with his proposal to Megan.

  26. #25 Mypeoplearenordic,
    I love how you phrased “idealistic part of him creeps back in”. I think Don is lost at living life because of his early life. So, he is kind of making it up as he goes along. He doesn’t really know love and security. He imagines what it must be and goes from there. Remember the speech he made to Peggy about joining the new firm in season 3? He went to her apartment and told her how they were a like. He said that something had happened to them that made them different from others. I am paraphrasing of course but I think the self assessment he makes ties into your observation. He is damaged. He came into this world with severe deficits in the family department. He’s doing the best he can imagine but he is a faker. That’s just my 2 cents. I have no hope for him ever having a regular life except….he is a pretty loving guy for someone who is the bastard child of a hooker. My hope is he turns himself into the army and does a little time and gets a chance at being himself.

  27. Considering where little Dick Whitman came from, he did alright for himself.

    Susan F, if he’s damaged, so is Peggy, if I follow your logic.

    I think he was saying to her, after the national tragedy, that she and he both know that things will never be the same, which makes them more perceptive than most.

    He can’t turn himself in. He is the face of SCDP, and it’s struggling to survive. Doing a little time would ruin his firm and destroy his family’s name. That kind of advice is one big reason he rejected Faye.

  28. You are right Tom B.
    Peggy is damaged. too. I think he was making a connection with her that explained how they were able to be so effective in their advertizing roles. They saw life and could spin it.
    Anyway, I think you are absolutely correct about Faye. She did not understand his fear. I hope he gets his act together on this. The way I see it. The Vietnam War will pick up and the protests will follow. Perhaps the attitude toward war will become more sypathetic…he could claim post tramatic stress. The firm would spin it in the best possible way. They would take a hit. But, not destroy the name or biz. At least I hope it would go that way.

  29. Great points #Susan F and #Tom B, it’s interesting that Don can only open himself up to the people who respond to him in the “correct” way. Anna he could open himself up to because she simply said, “I know everything about you and I still love you.” She didn’t try to act upon the information he told her. Peggy is the same in a way – when he opens himself and his life up to her, she just gets it and moves on and doesn’t belabor these new facts. I’m trying to think who else has been like Faye, where he’s told them something, and they want to DO something with that info, and thus he runs away. I don’t know how Betty fits into that equation – they both just ran away from each other.

    I still wonder how the two big secrets between Don and Peggy (Pete is the father, Don is not really ‘Don’) would be received by each of them. I think Peggy would barely miss a beat if she learned Don stole another man’s identity, but I could see finding out that Pete was the father messing with Don’s head a bit. I couldn’t see him being able to effectively work with Pete – I think he’d want to put him through a wall, especially post Suitcase when he knows it weighs upon Pegs still.

    Thanks for indulging my tangents!

    • Peggy and Don are both deeply wounded and struggle with the ability to trust. They both comfort themselves by being good at work. I think they connect based on that source of comfort.

  30. We all only respond positively to people who react to us in the ‘correct’ manner. That’s how we choose friends, horizontal partners, people we do business with. The level of simpatico (?) is commensurate with our want to extend ourselves emotionally. There, 10 cents worth of psycho babble.
    Don turning himself in is a non-starter, because it would mean he’s quitting on his life, his kids, angst about the Don/Dick personality chasm be damned. John Wayne never stopped looking for Natalie Wood in The Searchers, and that monolithic attitude about going forward with your ‘duty’ life is THE ethos of DD and his male generation.
    Don would be shocked in an amused way if he found out lil’ Pete was Pegs’ babby daddy. Didn’t think the little punk had it in him, Don might smirk. Pegs wouldn’t even blink if Don/Dick was revealed to her. “I’m not interested in gossip”. It’d probably make her fall more deeply in love with Don. Make no mistake, Peg is in love, as her work husband, mentor, daddy and not sleeping with him way—-but she truly loves him. In a roundabout way, he is the most important person in her life. She has tied all of her eggs in her career basket and DD is her marker for all of that. What she hopes to have, to be. She never turns him down at work, and never will cause she LOVES work, him, too much.
    Peggy will be the best boss Don will ever have, because she will be that rare powerful person who will really appreciate those who helped get her there.
    Don should die at his desk, brainstorming with Ms. Olson, and as the M.I. is sucking the life out of him he merely states, “you were the one”. :-) Aaah, sentimentality.

  31. It is now 3 months before the season premiere.
    Where the hell is my S5 poster?!

  32. #21 Elizabeth–I agree. I thought Don was a single, fun-loving playboy until the last 20 seconds, and then I was struck with ‘Whoa, double life!” And that was well before knowing about his secret identity.

    I think it was important to start with Don and Midge and not Don and Betty. I liked Don and Midge together, so I started to like and be intrigued by Don. Once I started liking Don and Midge, it was hard to unlike them once I learned about Betty. Betty was like a complete afterthought, and Midge made the suburbs seem boring (even if there wasn’t anything terrible about the house, the wife, the kids, etc.).

    In the beginning, it seemed that Don was pursuing people and moments that were “of value” in some way beyond raw sex. Suburb life seemed hollow, and he seemed like he had a huge yearning in his soul that needed more than quiet domestication.

    I started to think: ‘This man got trapped. He got his head turned by a pretty face, he got trapped by social expectations, but he didn’t realize that his soul needs a different kind of woman and a different kind of home.’ I didn’t love the cheating, but I felt like he must have been foolish in his choice, his choice was not satisfying, and he was hurting because of it.

    In remembering Don with Midge, I am reminded of how I’ve always been struck at the decline in the quality of Don’s affairs. Midge was so fun, independent, smart, and cool. Rachel was so smart, strong, and soulful.

    It really hasn’t been like that with his other mistresses ever again. Don was relatively nasty with Bobbie. The stewardess was silly. Joy was empty. Suzanne was better, but it seemed like Don was using her and it was difficult to believe she would risk harming Sally like that.

    Of all the affairs in Season 4, only Faye came close to the Midge and Rachel relationships, and I don’t think she was as awesome as either Midge or Rachel. And Don ditched her anyway. Anna died and Peggy is not considered an appropriate romantic partner by Don.

    Megan is sweet, but largely unknown. I cannot truly say how she compares. I can say that I have not yet seen the level of personal connection that I’ve seen in other relationships.

    In returning to Season 1, I think I also have less faith that Don “deserves” someone better and more interesting. I have less faith that Don can handle being in a mutual relationship with someone who has a healthy self esteem. I wonder if the real problem is that Don opens up only when there are “no strings attached” and he does not seem to open up, share himself, and make himself vulnerable in his long-term relationships. He can be open when he is like the hobo–spending a night or two and moving on. In his day-to-day he is closed and wears his mask.

    I feel like Don still craves something like Midge, Rachel, Faye, Peggy, or Anna–but that he still doesn’t know how to accept women like that in his life in a way that is fair or respectful of them. He wants too much control and freedom.

    In Season 1, Midge learns that Don doesn’t really want to be her “partner” in a mutual way. Run off to Paris on his schedule? Sure. But be her friend and share her life? No. He gets quite mad that she called him at work. He doesn’t understand her feelings for her friends. He wants to put her on his schedule, and she balks.

    Rachel doesn’t know exactly what is going on with Don, but she sees that he would run off and leave his kids, and she cannot accept a man like that as a long-term partner.

    Megan has been very carefully drawn. It is hard to read her.

    As for Peggy and Pete …

    I am not sure if Peggy really acted like an agent that first night. She passively accepted his advances. Maybe she was surprised and then confused and she didn’t have the experience to say “no” to an autority figure from work.

    Was Peggy giving a whole-hearted “yes” or was she totally incapable of saying “no”? It’s written kind of ambiguously.

    Maybe she did choose to assertively act because she was ready to escape her past and become older and wiser. Peggy came to the city to escape her sheltered upbringing. Sleeping with a man –of any kind–was a symbolic escape from her mom and a break with her strong Catholic upbringing. It’s what she’d been told “bad girls in the city do.”

    Peggy may have been motivated by curiosity, desire to rebel, or a desire to grow up. Or she may have been pushed around so much her whole life, she didn’t really have the street smarts to handle Pete’s advances. I do not think she was motivated by any past expereience of physical pleasure (though she may have had previous unpleasant experiences), and she’d hardly had a chance to develop any serious feelings for Pete.

    Peggy wanted to escape her repressive lifestyle at home. She wanted to work downtown, and she did not want to lose her job. Joan primed her to expect the men to want to have sex with her, and she made it look normal and part of the job. Peggy knew she was throwing herself off a cliff and she was doing it intentionallly to escape her sheltered past. She did not want to go home crying, and she did not want months of Joan’s gloating. Because she was so inexperienced, however, she had no idea of the reality out there.

    I do not think Peggy had ever had a “nice boyfriend” who treated her well. I suspect her mother tried to boss her around a lot and did understand her. For very sheltered young people like Peggy (who have probably been taught that “sleeping with any man out of wedlock is a sin” and do not know the difference between a nice guy and a not-so-nice guy) there was probably very little realistic comprehension of the difference between sleeping with various kinds of men (married, unmarried, engaged, old, young, handsome, ugly, rich, poor, nice, mean, controlling). I’m sure her mom and told her a zillion tales about the “sinful lifestyle” in Manhattan, so things were playing out just the way she’d been told they would.

    So she chose to “take the plunge” and grow up. It probably wasn’t really about Pete at all. Then–because he was her first–for awhile it did become about Pete until she realized it wasn’t worth it.

    One of the sad things about Peggy was how she was so used to being treated poorly and settling for so little. Her relationships seem to have gotten progressively better. Peggy has learned how to say “no” to people like Duck, Mark, and Stan. Things may or may not work out with Abe in the long-run, but I doubt she’d settle for someone like Mark or Duck anymore.

    Peggy is no longer sleeping with guys because they want to. She is sleeping with guys because she wants to. And she has learned to see differences between men.

  33. Standing O, Lady K. You’re insight is an inspiration.
    The answer to this riddle has yet been unearthed or spoken about. If any of us lived with Don’s secret would we be completely open with someone, anyone? Who would be awesome enough to trust? Anna fell from the sky, a total gift. How many times do you come across such a person in life? Once?……. Never?
    If DD was a ‘sharing’ kind of guy, his circumstance would still leave him mute. He’s crippled emotionally in 2 ways, not merely by deign of personality.
    Its a miracle Don shares anything willingly. Like the time he told Rachel his mother also died giving birth to him. This is a man resigned to his fate. Thetefore, he’s grown comfortable in his silence. Nothing ventured, nothing lost.

  34. Lady K, “Peggy has learned how to say ‘no’ to people like Duck, Mark, and Stan.”

    To me, those are 3 completely different people. One formerly over her in the hierarchy, who flirted with her initially as part of luring her to a rival firm. One a “nice boy” his mother approved. And one a co-worker who flirts by teasing, and whom she still might get together with.

    Duck was sober when Peggy was seeing him. He wanted her to come and work under him, but Don was more persuasive in keeping her on staff. So, it was pure sex, and they were both single.

    Mark was a more traditional guy, though he talked about how the Swedes do and all, and Peggy let him believe she was a virgin. They were both trapped in an antiquated script, and both chafed to be free of it.

    Stan and Peggy might still get there, or not, probably not, but with Stan it would be a different dynamic than either Duck, or Mark, had with her.

    We’ve seen Peggy reject guys all along. At Paul’s party very early in Season 2 she shot a Princeton guy down, and there was the guy who drove a truck; one can assume there were others before and since. The bit with Pete in the pilot episode was a bit irrational, but she was very young, then. Live and learn…

  35. A further thought about Peggy and Pete. She knew Pete was getting married to someone else. She was very young, in this first part of the show, but I wonder if part of the attraction was simply that she knew there were no strings, that it was pure sex.

    • No way was she thinking it was pure sex. She saved (and presumably mooned over) the postcard. She got all sparkly when he walked by her desk when he first got back from his honeymoon. She thought he valued her, she was young and innocent, he was, perhaps, tender with her that one night, and she told herself whatever she told herself about his marriage.

  36. Good points, Deborah. But we are all made up of warring factions and instincts, some in control and others hidden or subsumed. She must have known on some level that night, that Pete was asking for a romp, not a relationship. She seems to have a pretty good BS detector.

    • Women often think that what a man says before and what he feels after will be different. She was 22. Her BS detector and her willingness to romp were both things that she developed, and that we’ve seen, only after her pregnancy and birth.

  37. Well, I’m projecting a backstory and internal dialogue on a fictional character from a TV show, but what the hey.

    Peggy is smart, from the first, and a bit daring. She may or may not be a virgin. If she is, her first time is a little strange, with the guy she met that day and instantly disliked, with good reason. So I tend to think not. But she must have been pretty lonely that night to let him in, or maybe just bored/curious/horny. That she took his postcard for herself, and expects him to be nice to her, or at least civil, is not much of a surprise. Where she comes from, people have manners!

  38. #35 Tom B. I completely agree that those guys are three very different kinds of guys, and I agree with your characterizations of them. But my take-away is different.

    As to your comment in # 38, any BS detector Peggy displays after Episode 1 has been shaped by her relationship with Pete. Any time she says “no” after Episode 1 has been shaped by her affair with Pete. She is trying to learn from her previous mistakes.

    I think there is a huge difference between (1) an informed decision based on experience and (2) an uninformed decision. Peggy’s decisions with Pete seemed like the decisions of an uniformed girl with very little experience.

    At the beginning of Episode 1, I do not think Peggy had ever had “a romp” to know what romps were like, how a romp would make her feel, and to realize how hurt, used, and demeaned she might feel afterwards if she wasn’t careful. Joan made it seem glamorous.

    Peggy’s heart was hurt by Pete because she had no clue how to protect it. She was deeply impacted, changed, and shaped by her encounters with Pete. Much more than Pete was impacted by her. Her hurt feelings alone changed her.

    Later on, she was changed even more. The pregnancy/adoption drama was traumatic. It made her much more inclined to say “no” and behave very cautiously–at least with the young ad guys and the young students who all seemed rather heartless and primarily interested in who they could get to put out. She was shell-shocked and gun-shy.

    Joan and the office noticed that Peggy did not seem fun, flirtatious, or interested in romantic flings. She did not seem to be seeking romps at all after Pete. It took her quite a while to “recover” and to get her bearings. I think Duck and Mark played a role in her recovery and helped her get her bearings, even if you think the relationship with Duck looked like pure sex.

    Duck came on to Peggy in a way that was very different from all the young men before him. Peggy did nothing to attempt to seduce him, he was trying to seduce her. And unlike any man before him, he seemed willing to treat her like a woman worth pursuing and buttering up. He recognized her as a Cinderella, and he wanted to have fun treating her nicely. He didn’t show up at her door one night and disappear. He bought her nice things and sweet-talked her over a period of time.

    Peggy had learned how to say no to horny young guys who wanted to use her for nothing. But Duck was her first “sugar daddy” trying to sweep her off her feet. He wasn’t using her for nothing, he was treating her nice and buying her things. Perhaps she should have said no, but she hadn’t (yet) learned how to say “no” to this very different kind of approach.

    If Peggy had gone on saying “no” to every guy out of the trauma caused by Pete and the baby, how was she ever going to be able to find a good relationship? But it took somebody very different from the young guys her age to help her work through some issues.

    Each of Peggy’s guys appears to have some sort of “improvement” over the last guy–or at least helped her work out something. It’s like she makes a mistake and then says “I’m not going to make that mistake again” and finds a very different kind of guy who seems better than the last guy.

    So –yes–the guys are different. She appears to becoming more and more selective based on what she’s learned, and she seems to be having higher and higher quality relationships.

    Pete: gave her almost nothing and basically treated her like dirt. She was supposed to meet his needs, and he had no obligation to even acknowledge her. Little recognition, little respect, no real opportunity for a relationship, and he made her lose confidence and feel bad.

    Duck: treated Peggy much better than dirt, even if he seemed kind of old, superficial and smarmy. He saw her as a Cinderella, and he wanted to sweep her off her feet with gifts. Her youth was attractive to him, in a way that it would not be to men her own age. He made her feel good by finding her attractive and by recognizing her as an employee with value. He didn’t judge her for her youth or lack of virginity. In the end, Duck seems to have developed feelings for Peggy. I don’t think Peggy had strong feelings for Duck, but I don’t think Duck was “just sex” in that I don’t think the prime draw for Peggy was the sex. He treated her nicer than she’d been treated before, and she found a non-judgemental environment in which she could relax and work through her aftermath from Pete. It helped her relax about sex. Eventually, though, it wasn’t enough.

    Mark: treated Peggy better than a young thing to be sweet-talked and bought. He gave her social respectability by wanting to be seen with her, go to parties with her, meet her mom, and eventually marry her. Even if Peggy wound up not marrying Mark, she will never be a girl that ‘nobody ever wanted to marry.’ Unfortunately, Mark wouldn’t have valued “the real” Peggy. Peggy did not seem to find him satisfying (in many ways). However, this relationship was not a romp or “just sex.”

    Abe: has real sparks with Peggy, shares real physical chemistry with her, seems to connect on some emotional level. I think this is a passionate love affair that swept both of them off their feet. It may or may not work out.

    So I don’t think Peggy’s casual about sex, even if it might appear so at times.

  39. I remember the interaction of Peggy with Duck a bit differently, Lady K.

    Duck, trying to lure her away from Don as an employee, sent her a scarf, which she wanted to keep, but Pete advised her not to. I think she returned it to him, and rejected his bid for her to jump ship. Duck replied, well, just so you know, this is what opportunity looks like.

    With that business out of the way, Duck proceeds to seduce her with some comment about how he wants to take her clothes off with his teeth and give her a good going over, etc. which sure seems like pure sex to me!

    You’re right, Mark gave her something more than Duck did, in that he was open to meeting her folks and eventually marrying her. Maybe she had to experience that in order to realize it wasn’t what she wanted just then.

    I’m not sure if she was disappointed in Mark after they had sex, or in herself for being dishonest and pretending it was her first time. Maybe both.

    She and Abe really hit it off, after a couple of false starts. I could see them making a go of it. Peggy is really one of the more hopeful characters on the show, despite her flaws.

  40. This analysis is really interesting to me. What do you make of Peggy not knowing she was pregnant. Blocking it out and being dazed in the hospital afterwards? Was that a nervous breakdown? And I have to say the scene when Don shows up broke my heart. But, I have often wondered if she was fantasizing that scene or if it really happened. He was so good for her. She was so fragile. And then when Bobbie Barett stays at her apartment she has a flashback of the scene. So touching.
    So, was she having a breakdown or what? She was niave enough to not know she was pregnant? Tell me.

    • I think she didn’t consider it at all. She misunderstood how The Pill works, because the charming doc didn’t properly explain it. He said something like it’s $11 a month, so don’t feel like you have to become the town pump to get your money’s worth.

      So, she assumed she couldn’t be pregnant. She thought she was just getting fat from overeating and her aches and cravings were from the stress of the job. A degree of denial is part of it, but it’s really not unheard of. It happens a lot, to this day.

      When she actually delivered the baby, she couldn’t wrap her mind around it. Her life had been on one track, building a career, and all of a sudden she’s a single mother, without even being pregnant! It was too much to deal with, so she withdrew. The danger for her was, back then they could keep you on the psych ward indefinitely for acting like that. Now, you would be dumped out on the street with all the other crazies.

      So Don had to come save her, by telling her, do what you have to, say what they want to hear, just get out of this place and don’t look back. This never happened.

  41. I wish we could get Elizabeth Moss to respond to this analyis. It would be so cool to get the actress’s take on the character.

    • You really would have to talk to Matt Weiner. He’s the one who imagined the characters, so he if anyone would know where they’re coming from.

      Of course, the actors bring themselves to the roles, and he writes some of that in. But they are often in the dark about their motivations. They are handed the script and have to play it cold, without knowing what will happen next week, or what happened before in the character’s life, offscreen.

  42. Remember when Pegs twist-flirted with Pete and he rebuffed her, just how much hurt that caused. Similarly, Pete’s disgust when Pegs showed up uninvited in that great blue dress when the “boys” were entertaining the account at the strip club. Despite that, Pete has always viewed Peggy as the idealized women, even after that first night encounter. He admitted that to her in the finale of Season 2.

    • I think Pete was disgusted by Peggy at the end of Maidenform because he idealizes her. I think he knew she was distorting herself.

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