Why We May Have Seen the Last of Joan

 Posted by on January 18, 2012 at 6:11 am  Characters
Jan 182012

Now that season 5 of Mad Men is finally within our sights (whew!), the question that keeps popping up in my mind is, “Whither Joan?”

Yeah, I made a complete clown-nose of myself before Tomorrowland, insisting that Joan went through with the abortion because nothing else made sense for her. After all, this was Roger’s kid we were talking about, right? Roger? The guy whose lips loosen at exactly the wrong moments? The guy whose indiscretion sent Greg into such a jealous rage that he was driven to rape Joan? That Roger? After all, it wasn’t as though Joan had a sperm-poaching one-nighter with Captain Awesome, a guy she’ll never have any contact with again. This is Roger Sterling. No way he won’t know. No way he won’t (eventually) tell, assuming he doesn’t die any time soon. (Though, of course, this news could finish him off.)

Unless Joan actually wants Roger to pull a George Jones — drunkenly stand up during dinner with Joan and her husband and announce that he is the father of Joan’s kid and that he can’t live without Joan and she can’t live without him, and march out the door with her and the kid on his arm — this is unlikely to end well for her. (No, Jones had not yet gotten Wynette pregnant, but it was only a matter of time. And it’s not as if the Jones-Wynette marriage exactly, um, “ended well,” anyway. But I digress.) And it’s difficult to imagine that is truly what Joan wants, to have to endure not just one but two ugly divorces in order to bag Roger, who has made it crystal clear he’s getting another divorce over his dead body anyway. So Joan has ended Tomorrowland in much the same position in which Sal ended Wee Small Hours: in elbow-deep doo-doo, trying desperately to keep a divorce-inducing, incontrovertible fact from leaking out to her spouse (not to mention the rest of the world) and ruining everything she’s worked so hard for.

Therefore, after reading through endless YIPPEE! JOANIE KEPT HER BAYBEEEE! commentaries all over the toobz in the wake of Tomorrowland, I couldn’t help but think the unthinkable: Don’t they realize that this means we might never see Joan again? And over a year later, I haven’t stopped thinking it. I want to, but I can’t. Here, after all, are the facts:

– Joan is trying to pass off a pregnancy which was, as the story left off, actually three months old, but Joan is attempting to pass it off as four months because that was when she last saw Greg (and everyone in the office knows exactly when Greg shipped out).

– She has not started showing in a way that anyone in the office would notice, but would certainly figure to do so by the fifth month of pregnancy, so she would need to be gone before anyone besides Roger smells a rat.

– She is quite vain and invested in not pushing the boundaries of professional decorum, and would not want anyone (especially the clients with whom she interacts) to see her gain weight. (Recall the ration of shit she gave Peggy in Shoot for failing Male Gaze 101. And this is the woman who objected to the presence of a sandwich machine because she didn’t want the secretaries getting fat!)

Therefore, no one will have to ask Joan to leave; if she actually is pregnant (that is, she’s not diddling Greg or making plans based on a false positive), and doesn’t miscarry soon, she will depart volitionally, very shortly after her conversation with Greg. And believe me, she does not intend to return. Joan is a traditionalist at heart; no way on earth is she going to want to leave a newborn in day care (even assuming such an arrangement would be available to her), after waiting so long to have a kid, and being so desperate for a baby that she doesn’t even want to wait another year to try again with Greg.

Joan loves her work more than she ever wants to admit; that’s where Peggy’s “that’s bullshit!” exclamation comes from, after all, and the fact that Joan bursts into helpless giggles about it implies that Joan knows it, too. But that biological clock of hers is Big Ben cranked up to sonic-boom levels. The only way she returns to SCDP any time soon is if Greg is out of the picture or unable to work, or if the kid is stillborn or so profoundly disabled that (per the custom of the day) s/he is placed in an institution. Even then, however, they’d have to wait for her to finish out her pregnancy and recover from the birth, so she’d be gone from the agency a good six months by then. By the time she realizes she needs a job again, they’ll have long since filled the position; they’d have to create another one just for her, and with the agency in such rough shape financially, could they afford a “second Joan”? It’s much more likely, if she does go back to work, that it will be somewhere else, maybe even running her own business. Joan could start a successful business if anyone could, right?

And if Joan actually does become a SAHM like she (thinks she) always wanted, we’re probably not going to see a whole lot of her; unless a marriage is in the process of going kablooey, traditional domesticity generally doesn’t make for good TV. Although I suspect Joan will actually enjoy the process of raising children about as much as Betty does (i.e., she’ll like it just fine only as long as the kids are small enough to rule with an iron hand), the likelihood is high that it will take at least a few years for her to have her “click” moment. And while it might well be interesting to see Joan’s marriage implode, the same was equally true of Sal. Sal’s story arc didn’t end because nothing interesting was about to happen to him; it ended because Sal was no longer part of the agency, and therefore, his story was going places outside the parameters of the show. Sure, Joan left once, and eventually came back. But that was an extraordinary set of circumstances wherein the entire agency was blown up and started over from scratch, and Joan didn’t have a brand-new bubela yet, either.

It’s hard to fathom that they’d get rid of one of the show’s style icons, but MW has shown a willingness before to let go of characters long before the audience wanted them gone. Has he done it again?


  96 Responses to “Why We May Have Seen the Last of Joan”

  1. That is an interesting observation and one I have never thought of before. And they way you explain it does make sense. But, unlike Sal, Joan is more of a main character of the show. She has always had large story lines and she often appears on the promos and on the back of the DVD cases (she even had a barbie based on her), etc. This has given me something to think about and I hope MW does have a plan for her and she stays with us.

  2. There was speculation on the AMC board a while back, about whether Greg is actually the father. Joan was sure he couldn’t have been, but she hadn’t been to a doctor. She might have had some early pregnancy bleeding that she mistook for a period, and then she missed one for real.

    When she was actually seen by the doc in Morristown, assuming she didn’t just turn tail after the encounter in the waiting room, he could have told her his estimate of how far along she was. She might have believed him, or perhaps thought, “If I can fool one doctor, I can fool another,” and left it at that.

    All that aside, Joan is pregnant, which will put an end to her work life for a while. Unless the show skips a few years, we won’t see much of her around the office this season.

    • Not seeing her around the office doesn’t mean we don’t see her. People speculated that we wouldn’t see Betty since she and Don split up, and that didn’t turn out to be the case.

      • There’s no way we’re seeing the last of Joan. Firstly, do people really notice if a baby is due one full month before its due date? Do people who are not doctors or significant others track that? Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t. Also, don’t babies sometimes come before the due date?

        If the writers want Joan to stick around, they can always kill off her husband in Nam. Maybe there would be speculation among some people that the baby is not really hers. But the timeline seems to me to be sufficiently short to allow Joan some wiggle room should people get nosy. Joan would then be forced to return to the office as a working mother. She wouldn’t want Roger as a husband. She is sufficiently clear-eyed to see that he would make a lousy partner. I’m sure he could work something out in which she takes a few months’ leave then comes back to the office. Given her position in the hierarchy, this might not even raise eyebrows. Mind you, I’m sure people would talk, but that would just give the writers an opportunity to concoct more drama.

        Joan is a traditionalist, no doubt about that. But she is also a pragmatist. Lots of women like her suddenly found themselves becoming working mothers, either through divorce or through widowhood. Joan would give the writers the perfect vehicle to explore that aspect of the 60s. This is the same team of writers that gave us a totally out of left field pregnancy from Peggy. They’re creative enough to come up with a way of keeping Joan.

        • Sorry, I meant that the baby is not really his (ie, Greg’s).

        • Since Greg is not a front-line medic but a surgeon, he is probably stationed well away from the lines of battle. He’s not likely to die there. I read something somewhere that said only one Navy doctor died in Vietnam; extrapolating that into Army statistics probably means a total of three Army doctors died there in 10 years. So if he did die there, it would probably be some kind of freak occurrence. What’s more likely is that he will be assigned after Vietnam somewhere else halfway around the globe (like Germany), and will only be home for a short period of time before he goes out again. So then the question is: would Joan join him if he was going somewhere relatively safe? And if not, why not?

      • True dat…but Betty is still the mother of Don’s children, which means she’s still in contact with him whether either of them likes it or not. And Betty’s story lines in S4 fed directly into Don’s (her firing Carla meant he’d go to California with Megan, the G-men paid her a visit about Don, she went meshuggie and made Sally want to live with Don, etc.). Unless Joan maintains an involvement with Roger, how do they weave her in (other than for brief cameos) if she’s not working there?

        • She doesn’t necessarily have to be “woven,” Meowser. Cut, scene, cut…if it’s thematically related and if it’s interesting, it’ll work.

          • If a character is interesting and draws an audience, the writers will find a way to bring it back. Are people really going to complain if we follow Joan even if she’s not working at SCDP? Didn’t we follow her when she quit and was working at Bonwit Teller or whatever that department store was?

  3. Interesting post that made me think. It takes a village to raise a kid…then and now. So what do we know about Joan’s family and would they be there to help so that she could still work?

    We know virtually nothing about Joan’s background and family (other than Carol was her college roomie and she knows her gynocologist really well), and in fact, we know more about the mysterious Meagan’s family (French-Canadian, professor father; Francaphone mother; lots of cousins she cared for) than we do about Joan. We’ve met the parents/family of Don, Betty, Roger, Bert (Alice Cooper!), Pete, Peggy, Henry (hope his mother is back this year!) and we learned something about the parents of Sal (his mom came to live with him and Kitty), Kenny (she worked back in a mental institution in Vermont) and even Greg (his father sold furniture and his mother ran away when business was so bad that Dad wouldn’t buy a Christmas tree).

    What about Joan? Who are her people? What were the family dynamics that helped to shape the Joanie we know and love and made her into the force she is?

    Matt Weiner has said in interviews that throughout Mad Men the characters learn that “life isn’t fair” — If Greg doesn’t come back from Vietnam, that would be unfair, but then Joanie would have to be a working mother. If Joan loses her baby, that would be unfair, but she would still work.

    If Joan loses her husband, but has her baby does she have family to help? Is it possible she could still have her baby, be a Mom, AND be Director of Operations at SCDP in the mid-1960s? Even if she has the baby and takes 6 months off, given the state of SCDP when we left, maybe they could function without Joan even for 6 months?

    Agreed that Roger has loose lips, but wouldn’t he be very motivated to protect the secret he shares with Joan to avoid another financial hit as Jane would likely divorce him if she found out about his little bundle of joy?

    You’ve made some very interesting points, but it seems inconceivable that we wouldn’t see Joan.

    • In many ways Joan is the female Don. They are very close in a brother/sister kind of way, and I find it to be a result of a mutual sense of a profound comradely bond they share. They arrived at Sterling Cooper at about the same time, both as protégés of Roger, probably both feeling at least slightly out of place in this high class organization (“I never saw myself working in a place like this”), being very street smart, both ending at the top of their respective field in the firm. Both are extremely sexual creatures, both marrying the seemingly perfect trophy spouses, and so on. Like you, I’ve been wondering about the total lack of background information about Joan, who seems to emerge like a Botticelli’s Venus, fully blown, one day in campus for Carol to fall in love with. I sense there’s an intriguing Dick/Don like story there waiting to be revealed to us. The disclosure of her supposedly real age in season 2 may be hint to some kind of identity issue that might pop up sometime. Or not. It is Mad Men after all.

  4. I would assume that Christina is a part of the main core (Jon, January, John, Elisabeth and Vincent) and therefore will stick around until the final season.

    • Yes, she won’t just disappear. She might not be seen around the office much, with a pregnancy and then a baby.

      Joan was running herd on a big workforce up through the first 3 seasons, and was key to the transition to SCDP, but her character hasn’t been given much to do lately, other than fooling around on Greg with Roger.

      I expect that the agency will be booming by the time we see it again. With good creative in charge, it could take off like a rocket, and soon be a big firm again. Realism would suggest this; these were boom times. If it comes roaring back, they could really use Joan’s organizational and interpersonal skills, so maybe she could get a babysitter after a while and come back part time. Greg will still be overseas, so he doesn’t need her home for now.

      The problem is, if they need a Joan, they need her full time.

      • “I expect that the agency will be booming by the time we see it again. ” Wonder if the artwork on the AMC site has any significance. It looks as if Don is in an empty office, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a phone on the floor. Is he moving into a new office, or leaving an old one? Or is it just an artist’s conception with no relationship to the story?

  5. As my father Gene used to say about Joan, ” She has no people!”

  6. I have been wondering about this, too, but I’m less worried she will be totally gone. They found a way to make Joan’s return after her marriage “believable enough.” I’ve been wondering how they can –once again–keep her around in a way that maintains the integrity of the show. Without spinning off into lots of “Joan alone at home” scenes (a few are fine).

    Issues that need to be managed:

    1) Can Roger keep a secret?: I think Roger can keep a secret if he wants to. He hasn’t blabbed or messed up about Joan in the past. He shocked the office when he announced his plan to marry Jane–and the loss of Lucky Strike. Roger seems to know how to keep secrets when he wants to.

    2) Will Roger want to keep this secret? I think that Joan is relatively safe because I don’t think Roger wants a divorce from Jane. Plus, Roger’s already been a dad, and perhaps we should take him at face value that he will not acknowledge this child. Deep down, is Roger the kind of guy who will go all mushy about this child? There are people (John Edwards, Arnold, the father of JJ’s baby) who choose not to publicly recognize a child. I suspect that it was far more common in the 1960s (no paternity tests; few national laws on CS enforcement; the number of women who were expected to just ‘go to visit an aunt’ for months and take care of it). So it may not be that hard for Roger to just look the other way. He may have done it before? Anyway, if Roger outs Joan, he would be admitting his infidelity to Jane. He couldn’t have it both ways. I don’t think he wants a messy, expensive divorce and the scandal at work. If he cares even a tiny bit about the baby’s well-being, even Roger may think it is better for the baby to be raised by Joan and Greg.

    3) Will Joan want to keep the secret? Yes, I think she will. If Greg doesn’t find out, Joan’s child gets a willing “dad,” a home, and Greg’s income. Roger didn’t want to marry Joan several years ago, and he doesn’t want to marry her now. Roger doesn’t want to be a father to the baby. Roger is not a real option, Greg is. It would be very hard for Joan to find decent employment if she is fired by SCDP for her pregnancy, Greg divorces her, and she has a baby to care for. Plus–Joan is proud, and I don’t think she’d want to beg Roger for help or be divorced and poor. Roger made it clear he will not support the child.

    4) Can Joan keep the secret? She has a good chance. She kept her secret about Roger for years. In the 1960s, the average woman would stop working earlier in her pregnancy when compared with 2012. Joan is very curvy, not a stick. Joan’s pregancy many not be quite as obvious as early because of her curves, and most people would be way too polite and formal to question her. Not all women start to show at exactly the same time or in exactly the same way. So if Joan takes off “a couple of months before the baby is born,” wears big maternity clothes, and is not publicly walking around among prying eyes, I don’t think it will be obvious. Plus- In 2012, women are frequently induced once they are 2 weeks late. Probably not so common in the 1960s, so you’d have more babies born late –naturally. She could just claim the baby came really late. Joan’s biggest risk is if Greg is able to convince a supervisor to let him come home to be there for the birth. If Greg isn’t in the country, Joan could fudge the birthdate and/or the birthweight in her phone calls–hoping that it wouldn’t be obvious when Greg returned. Then hide or burn the records. So if the writers want Greg to find out, I think they can arrange it. Or if they don’t want him to find out, they can arrange it. Or they could just have Greg get injured or killed in Vietnam.

    5) Will other’s suspect?
    I never got the impression that it was common knowledge around the office that Joan and Roger were an item. Don and Bert knew, but that was years ago. They wouldn’t know it continued, since Joan married and Roger remarried. I don’t think other people in the office knew. Even if people wonder a little about Joan’s baby seeming a little late, it won’t be obvious to suspect Roger over all the other men in the world. Lane Pryce was the one who accidentally sent Joan roses (and Don knows about Lane’s marital troubles and love interests). UNLESS: baby looks just like Roger, or Roger has some destinctive genetic feature that Greg does not have.

    6) What about maternity leave? MM conveniently skipped the time when Peggy was away. Depending on when the season resumes, Joan might not be away for long if she wants to return to work right away and the firm really values her contributions. Or the show could show her at home, in the hospital, or away from the office a couple of times.

    So the REAL troublesome issues:

    7) Will Roger and Joan be able to stand one another after Roger realizes? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Joan already seems to have lost some of her feelings for Roger. That day when he was so stressed about Lucky Strike and she was preoccupied with the baby–and she realized he’d forgotten about the pregnancy and also that he was hiding the Lucky Strike news. That’s not the kind of man you respect. If Roger is really mad at Joan, could he force her out? It would be difficult for Roger to explain to Lane, Don, Pete and (Bert?) why Joan of all people should be fired. She’s proved herself time and again and stood by through thick and thin. The only thing he could do would be to fall back on “moms don’t work” and replace her because she had a child to care for. Or manufacture something. But I don’t think he wishes Joan and the baby ill.

    8) Is there a believable way for Joan to become a working mom at SCDP?

    For me, this is one of the stickiest issues. Is it at all realistic for a glamorous ad firm on Madison Avenue in the late 1960s to keep a married woman with a brand new baby on the staff? There must be a sea of potential replacements out there. Is there any form of day care –especially for little babies–that would be convenient and affordable? Was formula available and affordable? Would it just be considered inappropriate to keep her? I do not know the history of child care in NYC. It may or may not be realistic.

    I think it was more believable that Joan was invited in (despite her marriage) when the new firm spun off. She was an important asset, especially when the firm had almost no money and an iffy future. But the more stable SCDP becomes, the more power it has to hire an office manager or head secretary.

    So here are some ideas:

    Megan wants to write copy, but Don convinces her to fill in for Joan while Joan is away on maternity leave. Don tries to spin this as a “big promotion” for Megan, and Megan already knows the firm. But Megan is young and needs guidance, and so Joan visits or calls often, guiding Megan. So even if Joan isn’t working full time, she is still coming in every-so-often. “One of the girls” can watch the baby when Joan comes in. Over time, Don tries to convince Megan to quit and Joan to come back, with some child care option manifesting itself with time.


    Don is also struggling to figure out what to do with his kids (for whatever reason) and he tries to convince Megan or Joan to be fill-in child care for awhile. Carla is gone, Megan is “married now.” An informal arrangement of either Joan watching Don’s kids, or Megan watching Don and Joan’s kids is suggested. Probably wouldn’t work well, but it’s dramatic for awhile.


    Don and Lane find Joan important enough that the firm is willing to hire Carla or another nanny to provide some child care (or give Joan enough of a raise to hire child care).


    Joan suddenly has a mom, grandma, aunt, sister, mother-in-law, cousin, sister-in-law, or someone who is willing to help her with the baby so she can work part time. Or Pete says “Trudy loves kids and doesn’t mind watching both.”


    Greg is injured or killed, and the firm tries to help Joan by letting her continue to work and helping her find child care.


    Roger retires, is bought out or forced out, gets ill, jumps out a window, or for some reason leaves the firm. Joan is called back in the emergency to help sort things out and firm works out child care.


    The pregnancy fails and Joan does not become a mom.


    SCDP lets Joan go and Joan is hired by a competing ad agency or organization because the competitor wants to gain a competitive edge. Paul Kinsey used to be her lover, and he is probably working somewhere; Duck might still want revenge and be hired somewhere, Ted Chaough already pulled in a former employee of SCDP to ask about Don; Allison might have gotten hired elsewhere and could possibly put in a good word; Dr. Faye might be willing to help her find a job to spite Don –and Joan might know about Faye/Don; Bert might help her out by connecting her somewhere; Sal might have found work elsewhere and help her get hired;


    Joan loses her job and goes to Mona or Joyce for assistance. Mona might help Joan find a situation in her frustration with Roger. Peggy could ask Joyce who would talk to some cutting-edge feminist people who would want to pave the way for working women and help Joan.


    Something about a new mom with baby inspires Don to help Joan like he helped Peggy. Something about his mom dying in childbirth. Don helps set her up somewhere.


    Joan gets a couple of good episodes before she leaves and doesn’t make a return this season. Viewers are left uncertain of her return.

    • So many ideas, but knowing how Matt keeps us guessing, maybe none of these will be the answer!

    • Can Roger keep a secret? He sure as hell kept the fact that SCDP had lost the Lucky Strike account secret, much to the dismay of the partners.

      • Roger, unfortunately, has a whole history of untimely blurts. “Mirabelle…Mirabelle…” Don had to slap him to keep him from blathering that to Mona. He muttered “Henry Francis” to Don, not realizing that Don had no clue about their affair. And of course, he opened his yap to Greg about his extracurriculars with Joan (“I thought you hated French food”). Roger never means to rat anyone out, he just has a slug too many and out it comes. You think if Joan has his kid, he’s not going to want to see that kid? Linger over him/her a few minutes too long?

        • I get that Meowser, but “blurting” notwithstanding, Roger has also shown that when it’s in his own best interest to keep himself out of hot water, he can keep his lip zipped.

    • Lady K, I think you’ve covered every option, except a really, definite way that Joan would never come back; if she died in childbirth. (God Forbid! I know MW wouldn’t do that to us! He fought to keep all of his cast, and by by George, he will!)

    • If Joan is still married to Greg and he’s not too disabled to work, there won’t be any “maternity leave.” He will forbid her to work, and she will go along with it. He married her with the explicit understanding that whatever job she had was dispensable once she got pregnant. But it would be quite like this show for Greg to come home with a severed stitching thumb or something else that would prevent him from doing any more surgery. That could make things, ahem, interesting.

      But sure, Megan could handle Joan’s duties, I don’t see any reason why not. Whether Don would want her to do that once they’re married is another story. (I get the feeling Megan’s not exactly going to roll over and play dead for Don, but that’s a subject for another post.)

      As far as induction, more and more women were starting to have induced labor by 1966 or 1967; I wasn’t induced in 1963 as I was a few weeks preemie, but my brother (b. 1967) was induced. The danger with Joan is that her baby will be significantly premature, and will come out well in advance of when she plans to induce. If she was planning induction at 34 weeks but delivers at 32 weeks (when Greg thinks it’s 36 weeks), the dates will come out “right” for what she’s trying to pass off, but the kid might be suspiciously underdeveloped for a full-term infant. Greg may be the World’s Dumbest Doctor (TM), but he is still an MD.

  7. My gut tells me that Joan will continue to be central to the SCDP drama. Her child rearing duties will be strictly peripheral (or not necessary due to miscarriage). Her marriage will also be peripheral.

    While Joan and my career-teacher mother were as different as could be, my mother took leave for three school years (58-59, 60-61, 66-67). In between, she tried three things – she hired a woman to stay with us, she transported us to the Kiddie Drop (she hated that), and finally she had us stay with trusted friends and neighbors. One of those friends was a divorcee who probably needed the money.

    So, I think it would be no big deal for Joan to arrange suitable child care – after all, she’s Joan!

    • There was childcare in the 60s. They called them maids or housekeepers.

      • I recall a few things about the young lady (her twenties) my mom briefly hired. She was slovenly, she smoked (both my folks were only social drinkers and did not smoke), and lazy – my mom expected her to do some household chores. My mom was a notoriously bid tipper, so it may well be that she was unwilling to pay properly.

        I also recall the Kiddie Drop – a for-profit child care institution in Spenard, Alaska (now part of Anchorage). It was seedy and likely poorly staffed. That did not last long, either.

  8. My mom was a working mother in the 60’s. In fact in the early 70’s she was head of the anesthesia department at a large hospital (she was a Chief Registered Nurse Anesthetist, not a doctor).

    It was not uncommon for working mothers to have someone watch the kids. A relative, the elderly lady down the street, an actual hired person. The first few years are tough but once in school it’s just a few hours.

    Joan will make it work. She is the awesomesauce. It’ll cause her stress and I bet some excellent storylines but Joan will make it work without being crabby about it too.

    As for Roger telling — I’d say he’ll keep his mouth shut. No one knows they are having an affair so why would he blab about the baby.

    And yes, I presume Greg is dead — soon.

    • I’m inclined to the idea that her first impression was wrong, and it really is Greg’s and her baby. Problem solved.

      And no, Greg dying is not a solution, as she said to Roger.

    • Did your mom go right back to work after having you, though, or did she take some time off? And was she married to someone who made enough money for her to stay home? And did they have an understanding from the getgo that she would maintain her career without any interruption even for children?

      Because that’s really the issue here, since the show will likely be covering a period overlapping with pregnancy and delivery, or not very long afterwards. It really wasn’t common at all for women to rush right back to work after having a baby in those days, unless they had no other means of support. Joan would probably eventually get bored with being a housewife and want to do something else, but remember, she doesn’t know that yet.. Remember when she clocked Greg with the vase after he told her she doesn’t know what it’s like to plan all her life for something and count on it and not have it happen? What else could that have been about, other than her dream of being a SAHM?

      • Yes my Mom went right back to work. She was the bread-winner of the family. My father was a professional gambler and 60 years old — he watched us. So she was a woman who had to work for a living. My point of bringing it up is that at the time, my Mom working was not something extraordinary. I’m from Iowa, you do what you have to do to get by. We’re a very pragmatic people. When my Mom became an anesthetist it wasn’t some big empowerment thing — it paid more.

        Joan strikes me as very pragmatic. If she has to work, she’ll make it work. She’ll suck it up and show her grit that we all know she has. I think it will be a compelling story.

        But I do agree; I’m thinking that the only way Joan stays at SCDP is IF she is the breadwinner because Greg is dead. Otherwise I don’t see how she stays in the series.

        Although MW certainly can do anything he wants (except for drop Don Draper), I just don’t see that as necessary. The plight of the working mother is a rich vein to explore. I don’t see Greg leaving Joan — the timing is close enough, the baby is either his or will pass as his. So, I’m thinking Greg dies and Joan has to work.

        It’s a hard-knock life for Joan, no doubt. But isn’t that kind of the point of some of the series – to show the realistic struggles of these people? To strip away the varnish and see the real challenges? We’ve got Betty having already shown the raising the family bit. We’ve got Peggy as the single girl who wants to have it all. And now we have Joan who really would probably go the stay-at-home route if she could. She only went to work as the Manager of the Republic of Dresses because she had to.

        I actually like Greg, BTW, but I don’t see Joan on the outside of SCDP. It makes sense to me that he either dies or some other motivator requires that she works. Maybe he’s injured and can’t work. That too would be a compelling story.

        Of course now it seems like I’m routing for evil to happen to Greg, I’m not, I just think it seems logical.

  9. Viewers last saw Joan in the middle of a pregnancy pickle, not knowing if the father of her baby was husband Greg Harris (played by Sam Page) or the child of her boss and former flame, Roger Sterling (John Slattery). But Hendricks stayed tightlipped on who her character’s baby daddy might be.

    “It wouldn’t be fun if I told you, you gotta wait!” she said with a smile. “There’s some really great storytelling. You’ll have to wait and see.”

  10. Maybe she’ll step on a bar of soap as she steps out of the bath, a la Lady Grantham….

    • I know it was the 1910s and she was an older woman, but aren’t pregnancies a little sturdier than that?

      I mean, i dunno, i never had a child, but the number of episodes of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant suggests they aren’t that delicate.

      • Pregnancy can be delicate or it can be sturdy. Partly, Cora’s age came into play, but I suspect her lifestyle keeps her incredibly delicate. She gets little exercise and she wears corsets.

  11. Looking down the road a couple-three years (in Mad Men time):

    Imagine the pleasure Weiner and assistants will have casting male two or three-year-olds for a bit part as Joanie’s son.

    Emphasis on resemblance to John Slattery! Slattery could be part of the casting committee.

    Put that child next to Roger – within view of Greg Harris – with Mrs. Harris looking on, completely aware but not letting on (except to us of course).


  12. #9 Tom B:

    (damn the nested replies – we should lose those and go back to the old way)

    There it is! Thanks for the interview quote – which can be found here:


    Unless Christina is totally blowing smoke in that 15NOV interview, she’s in Season 5:

    “We’re already shooting our tenth episode.”

    “ ‘He’s natural,’ she said of Jon’s skills behind the camera as a director.”

    I’m convinced – we still get Joanie.

    • JG, I did quote an snippet of the article, to highlight that CH had been specifically asked whether the father of the baby Joan is carrying, is Roger, or Greg:

      ‘Hendricks stayed tightlipped on who her character’s baby daddy might be.

      ‘“It wouldn’t be fun if I told you, you gotta wait!” she said with a smile. “There’s some really great storytelling. You’ll have to wait and see.”’

      • Most viewers assume, as Joan the character did, that it was Roger who fathered Joan’s child. Hendricks says we’ll have to wait and see, OK?

        • I do think it’s possible that it is Greg’s kid, that she didn’t in fact have a “real” period after the last time she saw him and it was just spotting. This would explain the “we avoided a tragedy” line; possibly she went in to see the doctor and he told her she was farther along than she assumed, which pointed to Greg as the dad.

          But if that was the case, why lie to Roger about it? Why wouldn’t she just tell him, “I was wrong, it’s not yours” and save them both a mess of grief? And lying to Roger makes no sense on any level, really; he already told her it would be okay with him to pass off the kid as Greg’s, so why wouldn’t she want to get him on the same page about it as soon as possible? The whole storyline just annoyed me, frankly.

          • Maybe the doctor just gave her a range of how far along the pregnancy was, that included both possibilities. Combined with her encounter in the waiting room, which reminded her she is now old enough to have a teenager herself, she went with the ambiguity.

            She wouldn’t let Roger off the hook, because it still might be his. And maybe she wants to punish him a bit for the way he handled her (their) news.

          • Listening to the “Inside Mad Men” for the Tomorrowland ep, that someone posted on youtube recently. Matt comments to the effect that Joan decided in the waiting room that she was keeping the baby, FWIW.

        • In those days they had no ultrasound (hence, much less anxiety, more fatalism) and no DNA testing. Even the “gold standard” – the rabbit test – took a few days.

          They had a blood test – which could *exclude* a paternity candidate but not firmly establish paternity.

          For dramatic purposes, an already jealous (and medically trained) Capt. Harris can seize on damn near anything to raise Cain. He could easily (too easily) draw some baby blood on the sly.

          We’ll soon see what the writers have crafted for us.

          (I’d bet heavily that he will survive his year in VietNam)

    • agree re nested replies.

      Re Joan: we’ll be past her pregnancy and into the next year at least.

      • Me three on the nested replies. If someone belatedly replies to post #1 and we are now at post #28, it’s really hard to find the new reply.

        • The nested replies cannot be changed without custom coding. I prefer them. They seem annoying now but (a) I installed the ability to subscribe to comments, so you can know when something is updated, and (b) when the open threads get very busy, it will be MUCH easier to manage moderation and follow conversations.

          Plus, when threads get long, people reply to #2, #3, etc. And then something gets deleted for comment policy violation, or something gets added because it got caught in the spam queue, and then all the responses are senseless because the numbers refer to different posts.

          Learn to love it.

  13. There is an old saying which goes (paraphrasing) only have an affair with someone who has as much to lose as you do. Opening admitting the paternity of Joan’s child will destroy up to 5 lives and create havoc at SCDP. Paternity will remain a secret, but will be acknowledged between Roger and Joan.

    Joan will continue to work at SCDP. She is family and family will be accommodated.

    Greg will not be present for the birth allowing Joan to fudge a lot of details so that true paternity can remain a secret.

    Greg will not completely disappear. I recall an interview with MW where he stated in effect that people like Greg Harris did not die in Vietnam.

    Joan’s balancing of work and motherhood will become an ongoing minor story line. I can even foresee it informing SCDP as they pursue child product related accounts.

    She may go back to reviewing TV scripts….something that can be done at home.

    Countdown to 3/25 has begun !

    • I very much agree with your Greg Harris assessment here.

      I see quite a few fans presuming dire consequences for him in SE Asia. War is war of course, and that one was a meat grinder but in actuality a large majority of our Vietnam service personnel did make it back to the US. (I think I remember the killed/wounded number was just below 10% of total personnel serving.) Those numbers for doctors would be even lower I’d guess.

      Plus, Greg’s continued existence and return would be a natural way to contrast, within the story, this generation of war vets with the last two (meaning Roger and Don of course).

      • True, LOM. Most of them did come back.

        But in what shape? My husband’s late father returned from Vietnam a mentally broken man. After his discharge he was really only good for building models and keeping birds. The idea of the man working — well, it’s why his wife had to hold down three jobs. And why they divorced when my husband was in his teens.

        I don’t wish any of this on Greg, but if it is how the story turns out, it’s fairly true to life.

    • Well, Greg may not bite the dust in Nam from the VC but he could be a victim of friendly fire, no? Or go the way of Henry Blake on his way home. Or have taken so badly to the bottle that he can’t get a post as an MD anywhere back in the world. Or maybe he will have found himself a nurse to replace Joanie – things happen during wars (as Dick/Don well knows.)

  14. Meowser, I made up a silly photo collage of Joan possible future back in October 2010
    and I correctly called before it happened that Joan would get pregnant from Roger! (under a ridiculously different scenario though!) and later have Sean Connery’s love child! (I had got rid of Greg due to an error by Frank Burns!) Then I predicted that Joan would eventually open her own graphics agency (Holloway Media and Copy) and be a happily independent mother of two!
    But I admit I’ve been wondering what may happen to Joan now that she’s preggers — but if MM begins S5 a year or so later bet we’ll see her in the premiere and then have all season to figure out what happened in between… Bring On S5!!! I miss our Joanie and all the rest!
    Great speculation and theories on what may be, we’ll see, we’ll see…

    • p.s. I predicted that Joan would have a son by Roger, and name him ‘Brian’ — I’d just die if either of these predictions came true! :-)

  15. I could be wrong, but didn’t the final deal still require MW to cut two characters at some point before the final season? Plus, by all accounts Megan is due to be added as a full fledged new cast member which could potentially alter the contractual character/cast/budget issues even further. I would assume Joan would be pretty high on the “safe” list, but I would’ve said the same thing about Sal and Bert (most especially Bert).

    • The final deal did not require any cutting of characters. That’s what the core of the fight was about, tmfak.

      • So the major players should all be returning?

        It occurred to me earlier today that nearly every character on the show would be ‘expendable’ as in the show could go on without them. The one two characters I would consider to not be expendable are Don and Peggy.

        I think Burt’s out of the company (he said he wanted out after the whole anti-smoking letter and I think he meant it). If Don marries Megan, we could be seeing less of Betty (who’s my favorite). If Joan had her baby she could be a mother away from the agency. Roger could eventually retire or end up with another heart attack (this one being fatal).

        Does anyone else feel that the show could function without any of these characters?

        • I agree that only Don and Peggy are primary characters when it comes to the big-picture story arc. I don’t think either can die. Nor can they go too far away from the ad world.

          There also has to be some ad work at an ad firm with some people we know.

          If Peggy left SCDP, I think they would have to follow her at her new job or wherever. If Don went to jail, they would need to find a way to keep his story going, but it would be difficult. It would not feel like MM if there was no ad agency and if it were not in Manhattan.

          Everything else is very important, but non-essential to the primary story.

          However, there could be huge fan backlash if certain characters left or were reduced. Certain people (like Joan or Roger) could be believably cut, but it would significantly alter the character of the firm and the show and may upset fans.

          Season 4 ended in a way that would have allowed the writers to believably cut a lot of characters in Season 5 if they had to (even if they didn’t want to). I wonder if they did that so it wouldn’t seem too cheesy if they didn’t have the funding to bring back all the characters they wanted to.

  16. There’s no way they’re getting rid of Christina Hendricks, and if MW takes the easy way out and kills off Greg, I’ll not only be shocked, but I’ll be pissed.

  17. The show never picks up where it left off, so we have absolutely no idea about the time or context of the beginning of the next season. Also, maybe Joan having a baby will stir something in Peggy, to want her baby back? Although that sounds a little melodramatic, which is the opposite of Matt Weiner’s style.

    • Seeing Joan’s baby may stir something in Peggy, but I wouldn’t call that melodramatic. Having feelings and thinking about doing something is very different than acting on those feelings and taking action. Giving Joan’s baby a look of longing is very different than trying to track down her own child.

      • Yes. Peggy really made the right decision for that time & place. That baby is now a child with two parents to care for him; he might get curious & find her in 20 years. Not that Peggy might not get pensive–then wonder if she can find a good man, have kids & still keep her career. Not easy–but it was being done, even in those days….

        And I’m pretty sure that Roger will keep his mouth shut; he can’t afford another divorce & his wife isn’t horrible. But we might see a bit of thoughtfulness from him, too. He’s mostly had things pretty easy in life, but we could see Roger Sterling develop some depth of character…

    • Nicole, Season 3 began less than 6 months after the close of Season 2. The longest break was S1 to S2. Anything is possible. I know Matt is more interested in having a break; he likes the storytelling better that way, but I don’t think he’s excited to leap into the hippie era, so I doubt we’ll be past 1966.

      • Well, I’m guessing Matt will skip ahead at least 6 months, or maybe after sometime after Joan has the baby, and then let us figure it all out. In seasons past that’s happened with several characters (Peggy in S2, Roger in S3, and Don in S4) (Sigh!) Is it March 25 yet? I don’t really want to see Hippies yet – which didn’t really come into vogue until Woodstock (69), and I’d be pretty ticked it he jumped ahead that far!

        • Therese, the Summer of Love was ’67; by Woodstock it was already peaking.

          • That’s true, Deb, but I guess I believe that it the hippie look didn’t trickle down much to suburban culture (at least in my neck of the woods!) until the time of Woodstock

          • I’d bet a fair amount that S5 will open during ’66. That said, I once caught an impression of the (lack of) ubiquity of the “hippie look”. A work colleague brought in her 1969 high school year book. The boys, with their fall 1968 haircuts, looked as straight as could be.

            (my own 1977 year book has a lot more “hippies” in it)

            From this I formed an impression that the “sixties” existed more in the press and popular culture than in reality.

            So, The show could readily be set later (in the hippie era) while not actually indulging in the hippie look and still be right on the money historically.

          • to Jahn Gault- “The Sixties” did exist in reality, but the press and popular culture exaggerated it and made it seem more common than it was.

            I’m not sure what you mean when you say “indulging in the hippie look.” No one at SCDP is going to be showing up in tie-dye and long hair. You may see Peggy’s friends through Joyce sporting that look. Sally would be too young to buy her own clothes, so even if she wanted to dress that way, Betty wouldn’t let her.

          • Retrogirl – I sure do hope that we see more of Abe and Joyce and their young, professional, urban, writer and artist crowd. If we do, they will look great – hippie-ish, but not slovenly.

            Abe showed up with his screed (that Peggy killed) in dress shirt, tie, and black leather jacket. That looked good, but was not “establishment”.

            (contrast with Nick Gillespie uniform forty years later – same jacket, black shirt, sometimes with collar, no tie)

            Two months to go – I can hardly wait!

      • I think it’s likely to be towards the tail end of 1966, such that this season gets right into the thick of 1967 somewhere in the middle of the season. It’s all going to change.

        Aside from anything else, Mad Men is now pretty well tied to the age development of Sally, at least until Kiernan is old enough that maybe she can fake her age – not yet. It’s been over a year since we saw her last – that can’t be shortened too much, maybe by a few months. In the final season of the series, she may become the second most important character to Don. Each season she will become more and more important.

        • Good point, berkowit. Can’t wait ti see how much Sally has grown!

        • Kiernan Shipka just turned 12 in November, during shooting for the new season. Her age is not a problem either way they want to play it. She’s right on her character’s age so far.

          • We’ve got several seasons left. The writers cannot skip too much time (between seasons or during seasons) or Sally will start to seem too young for the part she is playing.

            Moving slowly with the story or the filming is less of a problem, because it is more common for an actor or actress to play a younger person. (Ann-Margaret is supposed to be 16 in Bye-Bye Birdie, HaHaHA; the Harry Potter movies couldn’t quite keep up with the kids, but it was okay.)

            It is less common to have a younger actress play an older person. Of course, there is some wiggle room, but it’s harder (height, weight, facial characterisitics,figure, emotional understanding of the part).

            Of course, they could switch actresses, but I don’t think they want to do that. Kiernan has become quite popular, and she’s very talented.

          • ‘It is less common to have a younger actress play an older person. Of course, there is some wiggle room, but it’s harder (height, weight, facial characterisitics,figure, emotional understanding of the part).’

            I don’t see any of that being much of a problem for Miss Shipka. She has the chops to play a little old. So what if she doesn’t change much physically? Some girls don’t.

            If she had some huge growth spurt that is normal, too. They could add a line remarking on it, the way they did Megan’s teeth.

  18. This may be slightly off topic, but what if Greg does not return. There is the possibility he could re-enlist and have another foreign posting. Joan may be reluctant to move to another country, and Greg may agree that it’s best for Joan and the baby to stay closer to home.

    • I expect he’ll be back to visit after the baby’s born, then back to the meatball shop for a year or two at least.

  19. I think Joan will stick around. In fact I expect season 5 to be loaded with Roger/Joan/Greg drama. While I do not think Greg will die in Vietnam, I think we’re going to see Roger grow up a little in season 5 after hitting rock bottom in season 4. While he may have a daughter, Roger doesn’t have a son (which is what I think Joan will have) and while he said he didn’t want to be a part of a scandal I think we’ll see his feelings change slightly as the possibility of a Sterling heir is presented to him. Bert told him that Lee Garner never took him seriously because he never took himself seriously – I think we finally see him start to do that next season. Roger inherited the company and Lucky Strike from his father, and as of yet, he has nobody to pass anything on to. While it’s true that he hasn’t shown any desire to do so yet, I think once he starts working and getting himself and the business back on track he’s going to start to want someone to pass it down to – and that’s when some of the longing to claim his child will start.

    I think Joan loves Greg, but I don’t think she’s IN LOVE with Greg. If you watched Hendricks on Inside Mad Men she said that after she told Roger about the baby and they were having that conversation in the diner, Joan was waiting for Roger to say that he was going to leave Jane for her and they would raise the baby together. She’s in love with Roger, I think she just resigned herself to the fact that while she loves him, he’s never going to grow up and this may very well be her last chance to have a child and have the life she thinks she’s supposed to have. She “recommitted” to her marriage in a sense and I do think – at the time – she meant she was done with Roger, but what happens when she commits to being done with Roger and being happy with raising the baby as Greg’s and Roger starts to come around and act like an adult?

    Not to spoil anything, but John Slattery said he thinks season 5 is the best season of Mad Men left (he directs episode 5) and it seems like everyone agrees with him (and there will be more focus on the rest of the cast, just not Don primarily):

    Having said all of this, I think Joan and Roger are the most (and honestly the only) rootworthy pairing on the show quite frankly. I think it’s great that both Slattery and Hendricks said Babylon – the episode where Joan and Roger’s affair is revealed to the audience – is their all time favorite.

    • I just re-viewed MW’s commentary on Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency. Commenting on the goodbye between Don and Joan in the hospital waiting room, Matt said that he told Joan:

      Every minute you are gone, the audience will pine for you.

      Enough said.

  20. One article estimated that in 1965 about 35% of married women (who were not divorced or separated) worked outside the home. (Social Changes Lead Married Women Back to Labor Force,Kristie M. Engemann and Michael T. Owyang in The Regional Economist April 2006). Financial considerations were often a factor.

    I found a census bureau artcle that estimated that in the early 1960s (1961-1965), about 14% of mothers were working 6 months after their first baby was born, and 17% were working 12 monts after the baby was born. However, the article stated that the women most likely to return quickly were women who depended upon their own wages, especially teenage moms, African American moms, and women who gave birth out of wedlock. (Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers:1961–2008).

    I know that enjoy seeing Joan at work. I don’t know what it would be like to see Joan struggling with motherhood or working motherhood.

    We could see more moms this season: Trudy, Joan, step mom Megan…,

  21. I think Pete and Trudy are a roitwirthy couple. It fills me with optimism to see Pete’s love grow deeper for his ‘lovely’ (SOOO endearing when he calls her that). Add Sally to the mix of essential characters. MM is at is core now about Don and his beautiful girls: Peggy and darling Sally. Great observation on how DD and Joanie have a deep parallel existence and sibling type relationship. Never could put my finger on why I liked Joanie so much, besides the obvious. Thank you for illuminating me. Matt would jump at the chance of pissing off his audience. He doesn’t serve us; he is a slave to his storyline and its integrity. So if he makes a couple of beloved characters disappear, so what? We’re gonna have to eat it and move on.
    It’d be so different if Matt picked up the thread on S5 right where S4 left off in Octber 65. Would be cool.
    MM will end on December 31, 1969. Can NOT imagine DD in a leisure suit and muttonchops. S6 should take place in the hellhole that was 1968. Just like S3 took place in 63. The year the ‘Sixties’ began.

    • How do you know that MM will end on December 31, 1969?

    • Tom B, I think Tilden is using the calendar as an arbitrary cutoff for The Sixties. I have heard, and it seems plausible to me, that The Sixties started when Kennedy was shot, and ended when the Watergate hearings started.

      • I always felt the sixties ended at Altamont.

        • Yes, eras never end or starts with decades, really. I mean that the tastes and fashions of an era always lag a couple of years into the following decade. If that makes any sense.

  22. Should’ve have said MM should end on the last day the 60’s, so the series could stay ‘saran-wrapped’ inside one entire decade. The ‘Sixties’ began on Friday 11/22/63 and ended on the White House lawn on Friday August 9, 1974 when TrickyDick gave the victory sign before he boarded the chopper. 559 Fridays.

    Roger is like HoHo the jai-alai kid, whose father said that when he loses his money the cold reality of the sidewalk will finally make him of use to someone. I’m hoping for whatever scenario can leverage the maximum amount of misfortune on Rog’s shoulders. Would be best. Create the craziest drama imho. That means our Joanie stays and never leaves. She IS pregs with his baby. He KEEPS his mouth shut to his great strain. Somehow Greg becomes aware (Don’t know how……but), as does Jane from Jane street. NEED to see Roger try to figure his way out of a crisis even deeper than losing Lucky Strike. Will his one-liners keep him from the abyss? Or will he develop true grit? Would be incredibly compelling, considering how truly great a caricature Roger Sterling is, and the considerable ability of the actor who essays him.

    • the nominal last day of the ’60s would be 12/31/1970, just as the last day of the 20th Century was 12/31/2000.

      Matt recently said he might want to bring the show up to 2009 by the last episode, shades of 6′ under.

  23. I’m Mad enough, but the actors’ (published) comments at last week’s cocktail party sure whet my anticipation for March 25th.

    Even though he’s so flawed and not admirable, I like Roger a lot. I would love to see him develop true grit.

    (oddly, I ADMIRE Henry Francis – especially when he gives Betty badly needed course corrections and reality checks. But I don’t like him much)

    The Joan/Roger/Greg triangle has great potential. It would not surprise to see Weiner and Team mine that one. I have faith they will keep it real.

  24. Greg dying is truly the easy way out. It’d be a HUGE disappointment to see the series opt for cheap convenience. Jahn you echoed my sentiments exactly about both Roger and Henry. I think Henry is a extraordinarily decent man, but I dislike him for no good reason. Maybe Henry represents sunshine in a cast full of shady characters.

    • It’s a crowded field. Tough to get enough lines to gin up some fans when you’re a secondary character. Henry, for all his good qualities, has served as a Don Draper antagonist. I like that he buffers the Sally-Betty war. I like that he escalated his management of Betty from gentle to disdainful – ultimately a losing cause – because “people don’t change”.

      Without some rigorous and persistent help from Henry, Dr. Edna, or one of her cohort, Betty will not soften her approach to Sally.

      Q: How many psychiatrists does is take to change a light bulb?
      A: Only One. But the light bulb has to want to change

      • But Betty has also shown that she will behave herself when she feels like she has everything to lose if she doesn’t (see The Summer Man). In Tomorrowland, it looked like she had reached that point with Henry, who made it pretty clear she was on very thin ice with him. It would be a rather hilarious turn of events if Betty suddenly became Glinda the Good Witch, and Sally hated her even more. Which is why I think it’s going to happen.

    • Oh, and if they do kill Greg off, it will not be in battle — he’ll die of some freak accident, like a needle stick that triggers a massive infection, because we already know his fingers have no brains. But Joan already said, “Greg dying is not a solution to this,” and I’m inclined to believe that they won’t go there, not yet.

      • I have always felt like “Greg dying is not a solution” was Matt speaking to the audience.

  25. Spot on, Deborah. You nailed it.

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