Posted by on June 12, 2013 at 6:55 am  Mad Men, Season 6
Jun 122013

Two images encapsulate Mad Men Episode 6.11, Favors, for me. First, Roger juggling. Not just because it’s awesome, but because everyone has balls in the air, everyone’s juggling, and everyone’s inevitably going to drop a ball.

Mad Men "Favors" Peggy Olsen with a cat

Second image, Peggy getting a cat. Favors is about favors, specifically sexual favors. Don does a favor for the Rosens, and that results in sex. Manolo treats Mrs. Campbell with favor, and she interprets it sexually. Bob Benson does favors for Pete and hopes Pete will reward him with sex. Julie does a (mean girl) favor for Sally, who panics because it could lead to sex.

And Peggy. Peggy who is in the midst of all this sexual innuendo for and about her; Mrs. Campbell thinking she’s Trudy, she and Pete having a moment, she and Ted decidedly not having a moment, Peggy is so scared of the rat that she offers herself as a “favor” to Stan, and he turns her down. So she gets a cat.

That cat? That’s everyone’s compromise. That’s Bob Benson walking sadly away from Pete. That’s Manolo getting fired. That’s Sally saying “Okay” to her dad when it’s anything but okay. That cat is what you get instead of what you thought a favor would bring you.

(P.S. I was away for the weekend—out of town wedding on Sunday night. So I thought I’d watch when I got home Monday night around 10pm. Except EVIL FLIGHT DELAYS. I got home around 3am. Thanks Anne & Jim for doing such an amazing job filling in.)


  22 Responses to “Juggling”

  1. Peggy is a good writer, so I’m surprised she hasn’t had a cat before now. As Aldous Huxley said, “If you want to be a psychological novelist and write about human beings, the best thing you can do is keep a pair of cats.” Hmmm . . . Huxley also said, “I have discovered the most exciting, the most arduous literary form of all, the most difficult to master, the most pregnant in curious possibilities. I mean the advertisement. It is far easier to write ten passably effective Sonnets, good enough to take in the not too inquiring critic, than one effective advertisement that will take in a few thousand of the uncritical buying public.”

  2. What’s with people getting full-grown animals as pets on Mad Men?

    I couldn’t help but be reminded of Sweet Potato.

    • I’m guessing easier to train, especially since they’re not going to be part of the show every week.

    • Are kittens able to kill mice, because I assume that’s the main reason for Peggy getting the cat.

  3. Deborah, you’re brilliant – what an insightful interpretation. Love it.

    My first impression upon seeing the cat on the couch, turned away from Peggy, who was smoking (what cat likes smoke?) was that the kitty didn’t wanna be with Peggy either!

  4. I hope her mother’s prediction that she will become a lonely cat lady doesn’t come true.

  5. I really do not understand this thread. Is someone suggesting that Peggy or the cat is going to have sex?

  6. You always come up with cool insights Deb. I’ve not seen anyone catch this. I can so picture Peggy wrestling with the dilemma of either confirming her Mothers prediction or not getting the rat patrol benefit of Mr. Cat. Maybe his nickname is “Compromise Cat”. He smells better than Stan!

  7. I just thought it funny Peggy was smoking and looked content *as if* it was a post-coitus smoke : )

    The cat turned away, being a dude, chilling.

    So of course they (Peggy and cat) didnt have it on in the sexual sense but maybe having a cat at this point in poor Peggy’s current stressful-life-with-men personally/professionally that she feels it is more satisfying than men at the minute to spend time with the cat !

    • Virginia Slim in hand – “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

      A golden moment that one!

  8. Can we go beyond sex? Does the favor Ted does for Don count? The compromise is Ocean Spray. Pete shares his last call drink with Peggy too – it’s a compromise. You can’t always get what you want but you get what you need.

  9. Interesting..But I’m still not sure that Bob Benson is gay. I think he’s a clumsy version of Eve Harrington.

    • Why would he decide to pretend to Pete to be gay a minute after Pete just described gays as “degenerates”? How would that be a clever move?

  10. And it’s an ORANGE cat. Coincidence?

  11. Deb,

    Thanks for the positive feedback. I’ll say it first but Anne B will say it better, we appreciate the opportunity and only hope the recap is “Basketworthy.”

    I love what you’ve done with your post here. I think many of us were watching and tabulating the many favors that were asked for, granted, or withheld. But I hadn’t gotten to the dark side, the compromised nature of the exchange as you do here.

    I looked for prompts on the subject, and the best I found was: “The pleasure we derive from doing favors is partly in the feeling it gives us that we are not altogether worthless. It is a pleasant surprise to ourselves.” — Eric Hoffer

    This fits Don’s actions well. Ted’s help is part favor and part bargain, a quid pro quo. There’s something in this about altruism, and whether you can really ever, ever, do something for another person and neither want nor expect something to come in return. Of course some will say they do it because it makes them feel good, and aren’t they the most self-absorbed bastards?

    • There is saying where I live, small rural place, and you hear it all the time when someone does something to help someone else: Well, it just needed doing. I like that so much.

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