Richard is fixing Joan’s past

 Posted by on May 1, 2015 at 12:21 pm  Mad Men, Season 7
May 012015

Photo Credit:Courtesy of AMC

Photo Credit:Courtesy of AMC

In Mad Men episode 7.10, The Forecast, Joan meets Richard Burghoff, a wealthy older man with a slender build. Their first night together, he wants her to blow off returning to New York and take a trip with him. She says “Richard, that sounds wonderful.” Except the way she says “Richard,” the first time I heard it, it sounded like “Roger.” Go ahead and play the scene if it’s on your DVR or iTunes–the vowel sound slips from “i” to “o”; sort of “Ro…chard”. Is that deliberate? I don’t know.

But I do know something else. Later in that scene, Joan climbs on top of Richard, and they kiss. In episode 2.12, The Mountain King, Greg was uncomfortable with Joan climbing on top of him. He treated it as slutty, something she must have learned with a previous lover. It turned him off and he raped her shortly thereafter.

Richard references Roger physically, in general demeanor, and perhaps phonetically. When Roger Sterling found out that Joan was pregnant with Kevin, he refused to step up, to give her the love and commitment she needed, to publicly be the father of her child. But this Roger, while at first rejecting her for having Kevin, quickly becomes the man that Roger wouldn’t be. Richard references Greg in that he specifically asks Joan if she was ever married, and then embraces the sexual part of her that Greg rejected.

Maybe Richard is too much of a fairy tale ending for Joan. Maybe the writers know that and are preparing something dreadful to happen between them. But however it ends, this experience is healing for Joan, because it addresses really specific wounds she’s been carrying for a very long time.


  30 Responses to “Richard is fixing Joan’s past”

  1. can’t one person just have a happy ending? I mean, Joan’s about to be screwed over by McCann Erikson, let him be a nice guy.

    • I know! Does everything have to end up with a crappy ending? Sometimes stuff works out.

  2. When Roger Sterling found out that Joan was pregnant with Kevin, he refused to step up, to give her the love and commitment she needed, to publicly be the father of her child.

    Would Joan have wanted him to, since she was still married to Greg (and didn’t even want Roger involved after her marriage ended)?

    • She absolutely dangled opportunities for him to say the right thing, do the right thing, make the commitment. The scenes between them are full of her dropping leading sentences and him backing away.

  3. Richard is not the only man that references Roger. In the Long Weekend, while Roger was having his heart attack, Joan and her friend were with two older men that were Roger’s age. When Cooper called Joan to the office, her date brought her to the office and Cooper, the sage that he was, told Joan to not waste her youth on age. I don’t remember his name, maybe it was something like Franklin, but when I first saw Richard I thought of this other man as well as Roger.

  4. I guess it all depends on how you mean “fixing.”

    If it’s in the sense of repairing or making whole, I can see Richard as someone positive for Joan, but only in the sense of her achieving that for herself first, with him then enhancing that. Ultimately I don’t see Joan having a personal breakthrough in terms of identity and relationship, if it’s something she sees as being sourced outside of herself. It’s more of an inside job, out of which the outcome she seeks can begin to show up.

    “Fixing” can also be meant in the chemical, photographic development sense. Taken that way, Joan being with Richard seems too similar to what she was seeking in Roger or Greg. Perhaps a different version, but a not necessarily better one – and with the added aspect of that picture becoming a permanent one – settled, static, stuck.

    I’m a guy and maybe I’m missing something, but I get an unmistakable “knight in shining armor” vibe concerning Joan and Richard.
    — Music Cue — “Rescue Me” by Fontella Bass (1965)

  5. The knight in shining armor is a very strong vibe, but perfect for someone born in 1930. The cultural images and values that she grew up with are deeply imbedded in her basic personality and explains most of her actions. I doubt she would be attracted to a man who didn’t in some way match this image. In today’s society women are fine with dating someone who makes less than they do or even not working at any job if they meet other needs/expectations in the relationship. But in 1970 and pre-1970, that wouldn’t work for most women.

    • I did consider that, though I was looking ahead a little societally, at what was just ahead for women. Feminism really did shift a lot of thinking of women across generations. I just keep having a sense of: “Joan, we’re all really pulling for you. Don’t settle. Discover the awesome power & self within you and you’ll see what a difference it makes.”

      She has so much that’s already working for her, but I can’t help but think that having her consciousness raised in the years ahead, would transform her into Super Joan.

      Also, I don’t know if this is a fairly recent concept, but I’ve heard authorities on the subject say that the deal with men is to immediately try to fix things. As good as that could ever be, many women just want to be heard. Personally, I think Joan has been silently screaming her lungs out, ever since we first met her and much of the great stuff (and no so great stuff) that we’ve seen from her, is compensation for not truly being heard.

      • Showing my age, but I graduated college in1975 and had a job that paid for what I wanted out of life at that time. But most of my friends and all of my family considered me a semi-failure because I wasn’t married. Even after completing my graduate degree and working toward my PhD while teaching at a large college, there was a persistent push by everyone to “find someone”. So even though the so called second wave of feminist culture had arrived, it was still a cultural expectation. I can not imagine how those pressures were for Joan and I am sure she would not consider herself a success until she had found someone who would admire her and allow her a quote unquote real life. I don’t think Joan is someone who could fill her life with friends, both male and female, and be happy and satisfied, she needs a man. And that is why her apartment looks so temporary. I have a theory that you can look at how someone lives and get a good idea of where they are in life. Real furniture, actual plates, and something besides posters on the walls = I like my life and it is full.

        • This has been my take on her apartment, too. She’s waiting to get a *home* and that includes a man.

          It reminds me of Don’s early fur ad with a Betty: why wait for a man to buy you a fur?

          That is the ad we see when a Roger is buying a fur for Joan.

          It is sad that Joan can’t yet envision buying a real home now, herself.

        • I could hardly call my own family culture “typical” when it came to marriage expectations, but I would have thought by 1975 the marry-em-off-young idea had disspated somewhat. It would be interesting to see ages-of-first-marriage for 1975 (and ’65, ’75, ’85, etc.).

          My pop was 40 and mom was 32 when married in 1956. She was a career teacher. The main admonition for my sis (born 1960 – nearly a decade after you, Donna) was to be chaste and rarely to marry.

          • I am sure there are regional differences and each family is different, but I suspect rural southern families and communities are very much different than big cities on either coast. Even if every woman in your family for 2 generations was a college grad!

        • I graduated from undergrad 4 years ago and that sentiment is still around (and I’m from NYC). A fair minority of girls I know are getting married and in most instances (imo) its more for status or to show off or one up other girls our age to get married first, or because of family expectations. And I’ve had family and friends (including people my age) call me a failure for being single or not being in a position to be married by 30. Of course, a good portion of my friends now aren’t from NYC originally or are from immigrant families.

          • I had hoped that would have changed by now. But here is the thing, you can make your own story, not always easy, but you can do it. First you have to know what you want, take some time to figure it out and then be open to ways of accomplish that set of “wants”.

  6. I know that Matt Weiner doesn’t believe in “fairly tale” endings, but I do.

    There is something about Richard and Joan that just doesn’t work for me, and I’m still trying to figure that out, but I do like the idea of Joanie healing.

    I also think that Marie Calvet and Roger Sterling is a walking time bomb of a relationship, because she is, afterall, crazy.

    So, perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but I’m hoping that Richard and Marie are nothing more than an elaborate misdirection until Roger and Joan end up together with Kevin. They send Joan’s mother packing. Then Joan, Roger and Kevin all move to a wonderful house on Long Island and then there are at least two leading characters from Mad Men who get to live happily ever after!

    I know, not likely to happen….:-(

    • I get foreboding with a Richard also.

      Even if he turns out to be “legit.”

      I just see Joan being blinded by her old beliefs about men and happiness despite all of her changes so far…

      That yelling at her was very disturbing to me.

  7. To continue the “SCDP are The Beatles” theme from the recap thread, Richard is the “Yoko Ono” who breaks up SCDP by taking Joan (John) away.

    Cooper is Paul who died and was secretly replaced by his brother.

  8. I thought she accidentally called him Roger at first.. And then I thought ummm… Wow! Is his name Roger too? Then I figured out it was Richard!!!

  9. So Joan and Dick do get together…. It’s just a different Dick! I like that thought. (BTW, can “Dick” ever be a given name, or is it always a nickname? Same with Betty – do I have to assume that her name is Elizabeth? )

    • Betty’s given name is Elizabeth. It’s very recent that people give nicknames as given names–post 1960s I think.

      • And Peggy is always called Peggy, although her given name is Margaret. (don’t know how ‘Peggy’ ever evolved out of Margaret!)

      • My mother-in-law was given the name Betty at her birth–back in 1921. She’s always been ahead of her time. 🙂

    • More Dick references.

      The midwife told Abigail Whitman, “His name is Dick, after a wish his mother should have lived to see.”

      And, of course, Don’s great line to Lane, “Does Howdy Doody have a wooden dick?”

  10. Some observations:

    I have a little unease about Richard — I was wondering if Joan was serious when she said she’d choose him over her child,or if it was just a ruse — I couldn’t tell from her delivery.

    The man wears leisure suits! Ahead of the curve in CA from the rest of America who won’t be wearing them until 1974 or so, but Ugh! Joan hasn’t seen Richard in a leisure suit — maybe it’ll turn her off!

    Also, Richard’s last name is Burghoff, which sounds similar to Bergdorf — as in Bergdorf Goodman, and we know Joan loves shopping! But shopping won’t solve all her woes. Joan wants and needs to be her own woman, but I think Richard would hold a tight rein, just a Greg did.

    We’ll see.

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