Ain’t Been Swingin’ Since I Don’t Know When

 Posted by on February 4, 2013 at 9:13 am  Mad Men, Season 6
Feb 042013

Swinging. Wife swapping. Open marriage experimentation among the formerly (at least officially) monogamous. Yes, as we’re going into Mad Men Season 6, it’s starting to be that time in history when the concept of monogamy-with-a-twist first began to penetrate America’s non-bohemian bedrooms in a big way. In 1969, the hit movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice demonstrated (both in the movie itself as well as with the movie’s massive popularity) that this was very much on the minds of middle-class Americans, the idea of, “Can our marriage be saved by consensually bringing other people into it?” (The movie’s answer to that question seemed to be, “Probably not, but you might learn something from at least thinking about it.”)

So if this was an idea something middle America was at least flirting with by 1969 (in a movie that was likely in the planning stages the year before), one would figure that sometime during the time period of S6, the idea would have occurred to at least one of our Mad Men couples, and it seems like too juicy a subject for this show to pass up. But who on this show would swing, or at least try it? Let the wild speculation ensue! (Warning: Potential NSFW stuff under the cut.)

Couple: Don and Megan
Likelihood: 7/10
Who would propose it: Megan. Don is probably a little too ill at ease at the idea of seeing Megan with another man to bring it up himself, but Megan still has a foot in bohemia despite her new Park Avenue address and thinks it would liven things up between them.
Outcome: Don, being someone who wants to keep up with the times even if he doesn’t always do it, will play along, at least until it’s time to take his clothes off with the other guy watching. Then he won’t be able to get it up, which will ruin all the fun for Megan.

Couple: Pete and Trudy
Likelihood: 3/10
Who would propose it: Has to be Pete. Trudy would be appalled by the very suggestion, but might go along just to get Pete to shut up about it.
Outcome: The other woman will detest Pete and hold her nose throughout the entire ordeal, while Trudy will love it and want to do it with them again real soon, which will make Pete sorry he ever asked her.

Couple: Peggy and Abe
(Yes, I know they’re not married, but they’re acting-as-if, so they count.)
Likelihood: 8/10
Who would propose it: Abe. Peggy is still too hamstrung by Catholic guilt to spring this on Abe, but could be talked into it by a man with a way with words.
Outcome: Abe, who has convinced Peggy to try it by appealing to her need not to be seen as uptight, will freak at the sight of Peggy kissing another man and run out of the room screaming, never to be seen again. Peggy will be too blissed out by her third orgasm to notice until the next morning.

Couple: Ken and Cynthia
Likelihood: 9/10
Who would propose it: Neither. They’d be at a party that turned out to be a key party, and they’d both shrug and go with the flow.
Outcome: Of all the couples here, they’d be the most likely to enjoy it, as both of them are extroverted and confident and feel quite secure in their relationship, and would regard it as an interesting and fun experiment. Plus writing fodder for Ken! But once would be enough for them. Okay, maybe twice.

Couple: Harry and Jennifer
Likelihood: 2/10
Who would propose it: Who do you think? We haven’t seen Jennifer since a brief glance early in S4, but it’s doubtful she shares her husband’s newfound pretensions to hipness. But of course Harry wants to try it, all the cool kids in LA are doing it.
Outcome: Harry knows Jennifer will say no if asked, especially since she has just had a baby. So he will ambush her by bringing a willing couple home unannounced, then pulling her aside and telling her what’s up. Jennifer will consider this a violation of the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy in the Crane household and finally give Harry the boot. Poor Harry will have to settle for watching other people’s orgies.

Couple: Betty and Henry
Likelihood: Are you kidding?
Who would propose it: Sally. She will read about swinging in a magazine and say she’d want to do it if she had a husband, which will make Betty shit purple.
Outcome: Like I said, are you kidding? Republican operatives and their helmet-haired wives didn’t do such things. Except when they did. As with Roger dropping acid before any of the ostensibly hipper characters, having Betty and Henry be the ones finding themselves at the surprise key party (given, no doubt, by someone Henry wants very much to impress) and doffing their conservative duds for a mystery date would be Mad Men all the way. So now having expected the unexpected, we can expect the unexpected never to happen. Whew!


  15 Responses to “Ain’t Been Swingin’ Since I Don’t Know When”

  1. This was such a creative idea. I love it, although I disagree with you on one point. Abe would be teasing Peggy about being uptight and Catholic guilt. Peggy would suggest swapping partners. Remember, this is the same woman who said to Stan in the hotel room, something like “Let’s get liberated. I can work in my underwear, how about you?”

    • Don &Megan&Peter&Trudy

    • Well, Peggy did that with Stan because she knew that the very last thing he would have wanted to admit was that he was getting a woodie in her presence, after the way he put her down and made such a big to-do about the “naturalness” of working nekkid. She didn’t want sex with him, not even a little. I’d guess she wouldn’t have done it if she thought there was any chance he would actually go after her.

      • She was calling his bluff!

      • To clarify what I meant: I didn’t mean that Peggy wanted to have sex with Stan, but that she’s not as inhibited/influenced by “Catholic guilt” as she may appear. She’s more uninhibited than she gets credit for. Peggy does have a bit of a wild side, and if teased by Abe, I could see her suggesting a partner swap.

  2. Other examples–

    Joan and her Captain Doctor

    Roger and Jane

    Lee Gardner and the Baltimoe Bellboy?

    • I decided to limit it to current couples because none of those other couples are likely to be a thing in S6, and this is S6 speculation.

  3. I don’t think Megan would propose it. She is not happy with his past “appetite” , as she has called it,and so if she were to propose this, it would be like condoning his bad behavior. He would not propose it either because he is trying to be a good husband the second time around and making her feel like she is enough for him. (Although it remains to be seen if he is enough for her)

    • Ah, but there’s a difference between falling into bed with someone other than your spouse because you “can’t help yourself” (while demanding fidelity on the other end) and deliberately planning to invite other people into your bed with your spouse’s approval (while your spouse gets some too). Megan could see it as circumventing “bad behavior,” because she would know exactly what was going on and he’d see what it’s like to know for sure that your partner is doing it with someone else, and exactly who it is. Then he’d really get why screwing around behind someone’s back isn’t his birthright. (/meganlogic)

  4. Matthew&Mary&Bates&Anna Now those are two marriages that need spicing up!

  5. I have been thinking for a couple days now this is why Megan didn’t blink when Don came home at dawn from Slyvia’s after going out for a pack of smokes at 1am. She is adventurous and sexually sophisticated, remember her crawling around on the carpet in black undies taunting Don? I bet Megan suggested it after the end of season 5. Don went home and confessed to Megan that he was tempted but didn’t do it, to which Megan replied let’s have an open marriage.

  6. […] of course, had been thinking that we were set up for some swinging to happen between the Drapers and the Rosens…and who knows, that might still be where this is […]

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