You’re not a good man, you never were, even before we were married. And you know what I’m talking about.
—Joan Harris, Mystery Date
Greg Harris raped Joan Holloway in Episode 2.12, The Mountain King. We all watched. It wasn’t erotic or ambiguous or okay. And then she married him. And we all died inside a little.
We heard Matt Weiner say that women knew there were “bad dates” back in the day. There was no such crime as marital rape at the time, and you can find current references, in 2012, that it’s ridiculous to think that a woman can be raped by her own husband. Juries today will still hear evidence in rape cases that the victim previously had consensual sex with her assailant—as if the fact that I ever once let you borrow my car gives you eternal permission to take it from my garage.
So, in 1962 Greg raped Joan, and in 1966 she kicked him to the curb, alluding to that incident four years earlier. You’re not a good man, you never were, even before we were married. And you know what I’m talking about. It was intensely satisfying, and the audience needed to hear it.
But was it believable?
I have struggled with this scene ever since. I love it. I love it. I love Joanie’s strength, and honesty, and the plainness of her exhaustion. I love her final need to be a partner, and to be heard. I love that the woman who acceded to being replaced by an inexperienced man in A Night to Remember learned confidence and power at SCDP, and used that confidence to trust herself in her marriage.
But was it believable? Is the woman who didn’t like the way Peggy handled Joey the same woman who would tell Greg he isn’t a good man? Isn’t the Joan of 1966 still, essentially, a woman of the 1950s?
Not that she didn’t hate what happened to her. Not that she didn’t feel traumatized and wounded and freaked out. But would she truly have blamed Greg for not being good?
I don’t know. What do you think?