Falling in Love with a Friend

 Posted by on May 19, 2015 at 9:08 am  Mad Men, Season 7
May 192015
Mad Men, Person to Person, Stan and Peggy all lovey

Photo Credit:Michael Yarish/AMC

People always “’ship” good friendships, both in life and on TV. I can’t fault it. I’m married to a friend. We were friends for four years, and then…we weren’t. People have been ‘shipping Stan and Peggy for years, and in Person to Person, their wishes were fulfilled. Does it make sense? I think so.

The difference between a friendship that can become a romance and one that can’t is that the sexual energy is kind of always there. Professor Spouse and I met and it was love at first sight, but we put it aside, we both thought it was impossible, and we became friends. I always flirted, and she always backed away…until she didn’t.

Stan and Peggy have always been sexual with each other, from their naked work session, to his drunken pass, there have always been moments when it was a friendship that had this other thing.

The thing about friendship is, you tell your friend things without worrying about what they’ll think of you. Professor Spouse has always been the strong silent type in relationships, and might not have shared all her secrets with me if we’d dated from the very beginning. But by the time we first dated, I knew all her secrets, and she knew mine, and there was no little dance about how much can I reveal to my new love.

In Time & Life, Peggy told Stan her deepest secret. Could she have told that secret to a boyfriend? I don’t think so. I don’t think Abe knew. But she could tell her friend. And now he truly knows her, and the person who accepted her, knowing the worst thing about her, is perhaps the only person she can trust to love her.


  40 Responses to “Falling in Love with a Friend”

  1. This is the best essay I have ever read on the nature of friendship and love, there must be both for anything to last.

  2. Beautiful. One of my favorite moments in the finale.

  3. Peggy and Stan will fight like cats and dogs! That for them is healthy. In the rocky soil of SCDP, friendship, then love bloomed. It is the great love story of Mad Men. Peggy’s transformation is as dramatic as Don’s. She has found she can love another human being. I wished that Don and Betty could have loved each other the way Peggy and Stan do.

  4. Dear Deb,
    This is a beautiful assessment of love and friendship.
    I cried for Peggy and Stan when she told him about the baby. He was such a good guy the way he took in her pain. He gets her in the ways she is blind to herself.

    I love how you and professor spouse grew in love. So nice. Love that grows is the ultimate payoff.
    I hope you two have a golden wedding anniversary and we all get to party with you!
    Love from your biggest fan,
    Susan F.

  5. Once the crowd was gone I went to rewatch mode and played the Stan/Peggy telephone scene a number of times.

    Stan, as usual, was “normal” – with straightforward expressions of what’s on his mind. Peggy has never been quite so forthcoming. Stan had to repeat himself several times – each time punctutated by Peggy’s “What?” When she (finally) cast away her usual work-mode barriers her reactions made this for me a favorite scene out of many favorites.

    The demands of the narrative made it all succinct – but Weiner got it all in there.

    This love story is the categorical opposite of Don’s – long-smoldering (almost six years), based on real, intimate, conflict and cooperation.

  6. “I wish you were two people. So I could go to the one that is my friend, and tell her about the one that I like so much.” – Albert Brooks as Aaron, “Broadcast News.”

    I love that movie!!! Unfortunately the “romance” was one-sided…Aaron felt it for Jane (Holly Hunter), but for her, it was just a platonic thing. She loved him, but strictly as a friend. 🙂

    • Ohh, that film. That line.

    • What a great call back!
      For me, the line in BN that says it all about Jane and Aaron is him telling her, “Let’s go to the place near that thing that we went that time.” The next scene shows them there. They knew each other so well, but sometimes it catches fire, and sometimes it doesn’t.
      So glad it did for Peggy and Stan.

  7. That Stan declared his feelings after Peggy divulged her deepest, darkest secret makes me love him more.

  8. Deb,

    I like this so much. You take a moment from the finale that is less-trafficked and present it in a new light. Adding your personal experience illuminates the moment, and all of of can reflect on how it’s happened for us: friends first or attraction first? And which works out better?

    Comedians make their living presenting truth to us on a spit. Chris Rock has famously said that when you date someone, you don’t meet them — “you meet their representative.” Only in the mode of friendship do we let our guard down and let others see us unvarnished.

    thanks for this, salutations to you and the nutty perfesser

  9. Many of us have had deep friendships where one or the other has had a love that goes unrequited. I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and, although both were long ago, I still feel pain.

    Having seen Stan finally have the courage to be honest with his feelings to Peggy, I want to go back through previous episodes and see if I can detect his pain while Peggy seems not to notice the depth of his affection. I’m glad MW gave us a happy ending on this one, but I suspect that this is a rare occurrence in real life.

    And while re-watching some of the older episodes of the Mad Men marathon, last week, I was so touched by the pain of Kitty Romano, the young bride of Sal. The pain in her eyes as Sal so horribly ignored her when Ken came to their apartment for dinner in “The Gold Violin,” from season 2. While I understand why so many on this site enjoyed the character, as well as the performance, I never liked Sal after seeing that episode. While I understood the terrible pressures the character must have felt, I saw Sal as a vicious part of a dysfunctional cycle with his wife Kitty at the bottom rung.

    • Without going back I recall that Stan displayed a crush early on – goofy, almost slobbering. Peggy noticed that not at all – partly distracted by Joyce.

      A great scene: when Joyce came in, Peggy on the couch, Stan facing outer wall bent over a sketch, Stan teased them about “lesbian hijinks”, “(Joyce can never give) what a man can give” and a rewrite of hit-of-the-moment “Midtown” substituted for downtown.

      Following Peggy’s naked slapdown of Stan, I dreamt of her – so I could relate to Stan’s infatuation.

  10. Honestly, I’ve always hated the idea of them as a couple, feared the inevitable, hoped against hope that they would have surprised me (it’s Mad Men! This is certainly a red herring!), and then unfortunately for me I was right. Sorry, I know a lot of people love this, I don’t. To be honest I’ve always been quite dissatisfied at the way Mad Men depicted the beginnings of love affairs, that often seemed to go like “I’ve never seen/noticed you before … BAM!, let’s make out” (Don & everyone, Pete & Peggy, Peggy & Duck, Peggy & Abe, Joan & Richard, Pete & Beth, Betty & Henry …), so you would have thought that this time, after years of building up and building up and building up, I would have felt differently. And yet… no. I hate it like the first time. 🙁

    • I don’t think I hated it as much as you did, but I was definitely rooting against it. And then it happened, and oh so cheesily. Oh well. Certainly doesn’t ruin the show for me but I’m also disappointed it went there.

      • I agree it was cheesily handled.

        But, I like the connection of these two.
        Only a guy that sees Peggy operate would understand her. It had to be an office relationship because she is odd when it comes to the relationship game.

        Stan zigs when Peggy zags.
        I like to imagine they have a life time of fights and make ups.

        • I think they’re perfect for each other, but it seemed like the writers found they had a five-minute window to cram the “Peggy finally finds love” story in.

          • Exactly, I really disliked the “and Peggy finds love at the last minute and now everything is fixed with her life” feeling (that’s what I got, at least). I felt so much better with the ending for Joan, bittersweet in a truer (for me) Mad Men fashion: we saw that Joan’s struggles and fallbacks are far from over, but she has reached a point in her journey where we can safely say goodbye to her and know she’ll be okay.

            • I love Peggy, so ya, I’ll take it, but it felt a bit too much like a scene out of a Rock Hudson, Doris Day movie for me. I would have been happier with Stan declaring his love and hanging up. Peggy looking stunned and bewildered…flash forward to the scene pictured above.

              Deb, glad you and the Professor have found the love of your lives with each other. Just beautiful!

            • @DivaDebbi,

              OTOH, I enjoyed flustered, excited, can’t-breathe Peggy. Somber, taking-a-shot Stan was cool, but Peggy’s my gal (right TK?).

            • Wow, this isn’t “Peggy finally finds love” to me at all. This is, Peggy doesn’t know how to let her guard down, Peggy has a deep wound, Stan accepts her, wound and all.

              I think it’s really all about Peggy’s final moment in Lost Horizon, embracing her sexuality as embodied by Cooper’s painting. And then we see her really handling life in the McCann viper pit, as embodied by Lorraine in the traffic meeting.

              Once Peggy is THAT person, the person who lets herself to be both strong (at McCann) and sexual (the lithograph) then being with the person who already gets her, whom she already trusts, is a natural next step.

          • Definitely seemed a little rushed.

    • Your point is received, but I think you’re exaggerating a bit. Some of those relationships you mentioned did have a build up: Peggy and Henry, for instance, had 6 month courtship before hitting the mattress (May – November). And to be fair to the writers, there was so much sex in the show, that if they took the time to show the proper “build up” for each of the relationships, we’d still be stuck in season 3!

      And most of the characters in Mad Men were workaholics. They work with each other all the time, so there is plenty of opportunity to send and receive messages.

      • Betty not Peggy, unless I missed a mind blowing scene.

      • Peggy and Abe took six months from interrupted kiss to brushing off the sand and hitting her mattress . Not only does he talk too much but she had to “edit” (rriippp) his screed in front of him.

    • I actually dislike the ‘friends fall in love’ storylines I tend to witness in so many shows. I have lots of male friends and I have two whom I’m extremely close to, like siblings. We often get asked if we’re dating or we are recommended to date. It’s quite annoying lol.

      BUT, as much as I didn’t care if Stan and Peggy got together or not, the scene was played out brilliantly. It had a touch of romantic comedy but was played in true Mad Men style. And if someone truly deserved romance, it was Peggy.

      • Roberta has a male friend people always asked that about. That’s why I was careful to distinguish the difference. With me and the Professor, as with Stan and Peggy, the sexual subtext was there from day one; we just didn’t act on it.

        • I totally agree, it’s like it was there, simmering but until the heat is allowed to reach a certain point it’s not a boil. Then for some reason it hits the boiling point and Wow, yeah, you’re right,,,I do love you. Maybe it is one of those things you have to live through to understand.

    • I hear ya. I felt that with Don and Megan, to some extent. Sure, she’s beautiful, but that office scene in Season 4 when he looked across the room and saw her applying lipstick…it was a little cheesy.

  11. BUT does he know who the father was? Or will he ever know? Will it matter?

    • It won’t matter. He JUST slept with Pima. They have pasts.

    • That would be damned good pillow talk – way better than any of mine.

      Peggy could make him play twenty questions – and watch his incredulity when he finally lands on it:


      NO! That’s JUST A RUMOR


      No! That was the Nooner you eavesdropped on.

      (no doubt Stan was really jealous about that)

      (and I know, Stan and Duck never crossed paths – Duck’s time at SC would have to come from office gossip)



      Good guess, but no. (Peggy likes Ken)

      Sal (from more gossip)



      • Edit:


      • See, Stan slept with Pima and it was a client of some sort but Peggy slept with and got knocked up by a fellow colleague…I’d imagine it’d be more mind blowing. If Stan were to find out, he’d be shocked but I would hope he would move on from it. I’ve seen lots of shows/movies where something like this would be found out and one of the people in the relationship would break it off over it.

  12. It was rushed in that moment, obviously not overall. That’s my only complaint. Even if Peggy had sat on his admission a couple hours, phoning Stan from home that night, I think some small period of time to develop and come to terms would have been more fluid and satisfying. I would have preferred it not happen at all, but if inevitable, just a little breathing room would have been nice. Peggy isn’t the type who instantly realizes something, especially emotionally. It wasn’t in character for her to just respond. With Joan, with her secretaries, with Abe, with her mother, she needed that moment of hesitation or space to realize what was happening with her own feelings. Just one tiny split into another scene. Almost identical dialog. To me, it would have made a huge difference.

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