Wish List Discussion Group Monday

 Posted by on June 8, 2015 at 7:30 am  Mad Men, Matthew Weiner
Jun 082015
Mad Men: At the Codfish Ball-Peggy and her mother


Peggy’s dynamic with her Mom

Wow, that’s a meaty one. Katherine Olson was over-protective, angry, and yet so very proud of her “different” daughter. Do you think Peggy can find the peace with her mother that Joan eventually found with Gail?

Israeli tourism board

Any thoughts as to why this one was even present on the list? Where do you think Matthew Weiner imagined going?


  44 Responses to “Wish List Discussion Group Monday”

  1. i thought the catherine character was one of the best minor characters on the show. myra turley’s portrayal of a working-class mother from one of the outer boroughs during the 60’s rang so true to women who i knew growing up that i felt she could have been my grandmother. like catherine olson, my grandmother raised daughters (seven daughters, no sons!) who were grow during the sixties, and like catherine, some of the daughters went the conventional wife/ mother route of anita and some were working in manhattan as secretaries, a few for the airlines (S.A.S)….all were independent. i think that the nature of the relationship that catherine had with both of her daughters reflects her perception of the changing world. while she understood and related to anita’s choices, she felt both fearful and dazzled by the choices peggy was making. these were the choices not available to her during her twenties, so the magnitude of how different peggy’s life was from hers was that much more intense…she was proud of both.

    knowing the manner of expression from my own experiences, i don’t know that i would define catherine as ‘angry.” i thought she was forceful, firm in her convictions, practical, unwilling to compromise for the sake of polite, but i never felt she was an angry person. when watching the scene with peggy / abe re: living together, i remember thinking that it was dead-on in reflecting the duality of her stand on things. she was open-minded about the different religions of abe/ peggy (which i think was something that she would have been told by her own mother as being unacceptable), but i think she took a stand on the living together for her hold on traditional values and for her awareness that peggy was selling herself short bc she was very much so in tune with what peggy wanted. i loved how she wouldn’t let peggy get away with saying something along the lines of “it would be what dad wanted.” catherine was smart and knew peggy was trying to manipulate.

    overall, i think it was from catherine that peggy learned (eventually) to embrace standing up and speaking for her beliefs (waiting out mccann til it was on her terms) and was able to be stand firm in her convictions (numerous times of when she believed in her pitch). her mother was strong, so her daughter was, as well.

    • I agree that Katharine was an incredible character, and very well-portrayed.

      I really think it’s worthwhile to compare Peggy to Joan in this regard. Gail Holloway is narcissistic and inappropriate, and she can say awful things to her daughter. Yet Joan has come to appreciate her presence. When she has the wealth to hire a nanny, she continues to live with her mother instead. I don’t think Gail has changed much, I think Joan has grown up and accepts her imperfect mother for who she is.

      When we last saw Peggy and Katharine together, Peggy was far, far from such acceptance. She was still performing for her mother, trying to impress her, and feeling awful when it didn’t work.

      • was the last time that Katherine was on an episode during the “abe/ peggy living together” episode?

        i feel like peggy was stepping out of her mother’s views in that she was very clearly stating that regardless of what her mother felt, she was choosing to live with abe. i didn’t feel that this was peggy choosing to do what her mother wanted her to do. i understood why Katherine said she’d rather that peggy lied. in understanding something, it does not mean that i would follow that path. i understood it to mean that Katherine didn’t want to be forced to have to tell peggy that she did not approve of her daughter’s choices, but if peggy were going to push her hand, she was not going to back down or pretend that she believed something that she did not believe.

        i disagree that peggy was trying to “perform” for her mother…i think that by peggy’s conversations with joan about living with abe, later in the series, her feeling of asking what she had done wrong, her collapsing on the floor in tears, etc. all clearly showed that it was peggy, not her mother, who wanted for peggy to be married.

        in later life, i think that peggy and katherine would have a very fulfilling relationship, and not just because peggy (probably) would be married. i think that katherine does understand the change of the times and like her daughter, adapts to this at her own time and pace. i refer again to my grandmother (very much like Katherine), and nothing made her more thrilled than the emerging independence of her daughters…i think Katherine would be fascinated and thrilled and continue to be proud of the daughter she loves very, very much (peaches).

        • I think the entire scene with Catherine coming to dinner with Peggy and Abe is about Peggy’s desire for her mother’s approval. Maybe with Stan, they will be able to find away back to one another.

          • i agree she wanted her mother’s approval, but i dont think peggy liked it any better than her mother did…so it alsmost seemed like peggy wanted her mother to approce so thst she could wualify it to herself

          • And Stan’s a catholic! Not practicing, but still…

            • Plus – he’s NOT Norwegian (or not Swedish?).

            • How do we know he is not practicing Catholicism?
              I had some hippie types in my family and they were going to Boston College, Fordham, and Georgetown – all Catholic colleges and the guys still went to Mass even though they did not agree with it completely.

              The Catholic church had priests like Father Robert F. Drinan, the Jesuit dean of Boston College’s law school. He was a peace activist and went into politics serving as a Congressman for 5 terms…The times were changing!

              I could see Stan holding to the traditions of family. I could see him with a kid in a papoos! There’s a lot to Stan that is unknown…it’s anybody’s game what would have been.

  2. I think Catherine was conflicted with how Peggy was turning out. She probably felt like a failure for not protecting Peggy enough since she was the only parent. Didn’t Peggy’s Dad die when she was only 10?

    Catherine was scared for Peggy. She was full of fear, remember the scene when Peggy bought her the TV? She accused Peggy of being involved with a man…Catherine wanted Peggy to be safe. When poor Peggy had the baby I think Catherine felt she had failed Peggy. I have wondered why Catherine did not take the baby home. Years ago Catholic families have secret kids – meaning babies that were the children of unwed mothers who were raised as siblings.

    As far as finding Peace with Ma, I think that will come through the warmth of Stanley. I feel intuitively that Stan will get Ma and she will get him. I figure he is Polish Catholic and comes from a big funny family who will win Catherine over! Ma will see that Stan is an individual but see beyond the beard because the transformation of expressed love and being out with it will be observable in Peggy. Ma will be happy for Peggy and peace will be achieved! That will last 6 months and then she will want more grandkids…

    • “Full of fear” is on the mark.

      • And guilt.

        As one who was raised Catholic in the 50s/60s, fear & guilt were the twin demons to be danced with back then. It’s amazing that a lot of us survived it and turned out as well as we did!

        George Carlin put it best, when he noted: “By 8th grade, we had all become doubters.”

        • i guess the catholicism that i was raised in during the 70s n 80s is different from this.. iit always makes me feel bad that it seems there is a general feeling about religion based in christianity that so many people feel is an area where derision is universlly accepted, when i dont feel that way at all.

          • It isn’t so much “derision,” though there is some of that.

            In my experience it was more like people recognizing that religions of various sorts were being used for purposes of social engineering, manipulation and control. In the 50s, it was all about conformity and structure. By the 60s, many were actively exploring the notion: “Question Authority.”

            I recall Peggy once telling Abe, “I’m not a political person.” I think that’s pretty much impossible, since everything is political, to some extent. It comes down to recognizing that.

            • Isn’t Stan RIZZO an Italian-American? I thought MW was creating a clever contrast to the other Art Director Salvatore Romano.

            • i beg to differ. it is derision when one states a negative opinion of something yet presents it in a vein of “you know those catholics….” in that it implies that EVERYONE knows and agrees that this is somehow true n factual, rather than opinion because if another disagrees, it implies he/she is small minded or unaware of what “everyone else” knows

            • I was born & raised in the Catholic faith, leaving it around age 17 or 18. I’m in a good position to know my experience of that experience. You’re free to interpret my relating of it as “derision” or as anything else you wish, though I’m confident that when it comes to relating events from my own life and what I observed in the wider world, I am the better authority on that topic than anyone who wasn’t actually present.

    • I agree she was fearful and cautious for peggy, but it wasn’t just a sense of being ‘relieved’ when peggy would emerge safely on the other side of these various decisions; rather, I think that Katherine exhibited pride in her independence.

    • as far as ‘catholic families have secret kids-meaning babies were the children of unwed mothers who were raised as siblings,’ … this wasn’t just a ‘catholic’ thing. this was more a sign of the times.

      • Yes, so true. You are right.
        I guess I made the linked because it is the culture I grew up with, if you know what I mean.

    • WONDERFUL observation that Stan would win Katherine over … agree 100%.

      I missed seeing her before the end of he series.

    • smiler, i certainly didnt mean to “interpret” the experiences that you personally lived through. rather, i was interpreting your comment that “guilt and fear” were “twin demons back then” for those being raised as catholics. im sure that if you had commented that “guiilt and fear” were feelings of what you personally had experienced, it would have been a more easily understood comment. however, when u commented that “it was amazing that the lot of us survived,” you seem to be saying that this was the experience that all those raised in catholiscism felt, not just what those who left the faith at 17 or 18 felt.

  3. Ma Olson (I loved the tone in her voice when Peggy called her “Ma.”) was a tremendous character, a formidable woman. I liked her. I hate that the last scene we saw her in was the harsh speech telling Peggy to get a cat, then another one, then another. There needed to be more than that. How is she reacting to Peggy’s continued success and prosperity? What would she think of Stan? (I can see a scene with Stan trying to charm his way past her, then quickly realizing what he’s up against and retreating to a more honest and direct approach. She would respect that.)

    • I think you’re correct about Katherine Olson and Stan, although he would probably need to get a haircut and a shave and maybe go to mass to get Ma Olson’s approval for him to be worthy of her “Peaches.”

    • I’ll bet a dollar to your dime that Peggy will fully brief Stan before having Ma over for a ham.

      I imagine Ma has already told-you-so to Peggy about Abe (having predicted that “he’s gonna use you for practice”) though I’ll bet she never imagined he’d leave over “incompatible politics”.

      • I think Catherine might have seen the black humor in Peggy having stabbed Abe at the end. I do wonder whether Catherine would have been concerned that Stan was subordinate to Peggy at McCann, although given Peggy’s age, she’d probably just be thrilled Peggy wouldn’t end up an old maid.

        • I would suspect that Stan will be forced to resign from McCann once he and Peggy are married. Many corporations were uncomfortable with having spouses working together. It is even that way today. McCann isn’t about to lose Peggy.

          • Would they be required to disclose their marriage ca 1971? Would they required to so-disclose now? My benefits provider requires it of me – but I rather doubt they’d tell my employer.

            Stan and Peggy would have to remember not to be as obvious as Ted and Peggy were at the old SCDPCGC.

            Ma would insist on a Catholic wedding complete with announcement in a local Brooklyn rag – that might “out” them.

            I’d imagine the issue would be addressed in McCann’s employee handbook – easy to review that on the sly. Less easy but doable – to find the gossip on previous McCann marriages/firings. I presume all not “under contract” work “at will” at McCann – so Stan could be fired for any reason at all.

            (Agree that even the McCann boneheads would value Peggy more)

            (if not I could see Don taking the matter up with Sat… uh, Hobart)

            • Stan would probably end up being one of Don’s Guys.

            • Although it was not unheard of for a bride to keep her maiden name in 1971, it was extremely rare. Peggy would have become Mrs.Rizzo but she may have kept her name Peggy Olson professionally. In the 1970’s things began to really change. Peggy’s mom would have wanted her last name changed because she now has a married daughter. That was tradition.The early 1970’s were an era where a Catholic mother felt ashamed that she didn’t have all her daughters married unless they were becoming a nun. I think Peggy’s mom had a difficult time accepting that Peggy was not married.

      • I didn’t get the “told you so” vibe from Katherine…I think she wouldn’t want her ‘peaches’ to get hurt.

      • Incompatible politics and a stab wound to the gut!

      • Stan will do a coal sketch of Ma and the kids from a photo and that thing will hang over the Admiral TV like a shrine. Peggy will end up seeing more of Ma because of Stan’s sense of “there’s more to life than work”. He probably plays gin with Ma after Sunday dinner.

        • Totally agree that Stan will drag Peggy out of the office when it gets extreme. And yes, cards and whatever Ma likes to drink (sherry?) after dinner.

  4. Perhaps the Israeli Tourism Board wanted to figure out how they could viably promote some sort of tourism during a time of political strife with the Soviets, Egypt, etc? 1960 had many more possibilities, but ’70? Maybe MW thought he could contrast the changes a decade made in Israel.

    I like to hope that Peggy and Katherine made some sort of peace and she could accept Peggy’s choices. Katherine might have quit asking how long it had been since she’d been to mass, but still asked if she’d met any nice Catholic boys in Manhattan yet 😉

    • Or the changing perception of Jews, who were more included by 1970, although still outsiders. Remember, in Severance, Don knows to bring cake on a shiva call. He didn’t know that in 1960!

      • probably karherine’s “hope” for a nice catholic boy for peggy lasted as long as ginsber’s father’s hope for michael,to meet a nice jewish girl

        • I think that Katherine still held out hope that all of Peg’s wayward “problems” could be solved by meeting a nice Catholic boy who would sweet her off her feet and provide her with a more traditional lifestyle. Peggy’s obviously did ok and is someone we all admire for her trailblazing..but K can still hope.

  5. Nothing would rattle the nerves of a Catholic of Catherine’s era and age more, than someone who didn’t follow the script. Much of whatever comfort or security she managed to have, was sourced in the pronouncements and traditions of The One True Church. It was a delicate balance that must not ever be disturbed.

    We saw an aspect of this in S-2, when Pope John XIII died, in June 1962 and in Catherine’s reaction, not only to word of his passing, but in how the networks were failing to provide adequate news coverage about it. This was definitely not the time for Peggy to reveal her plans to relocate to Manhattan, as it represented yet another chunk falling, in Catherine’s carefully crafted, safe world. She also completely misread Peggy’s intention in giving her a gift of a new Admiral TV.

    We never got to see it, but I suspect that Catherine’s attitude toward the major changes in Catholicism that were instituted by the Second Vatican Council, would not have been a welcoming one. Add to that, the massive shifts in society in general that we saw in the 1960s, some of them playing out in Peggy’s own life, and it made for scary, troubling times for Catherine.

    • again, i disagree with sweeping sentiment of katherine being more of s closed minded zealot simply bc her fath is catholic. immediately after peggy has her baby, katherine is shown as suppportive n loving, and pretty much, i recall more anita , not katherine, referencing the baby event etc. in a scornful way.

      i dont think that catholics who are surprised by lack. of coverage of the leader of the faith’s death translates to script following zealots. i saw katherine as struggling w the changing times but navigating thrm in some ways better than others.

      i think peggy absolutely bought the admiral,to soften the news of her decision to move.

      • i thinkmthebeauty of the show was that in characters (minor n major)’were more well rounded than “christian zealot” “rich blue blood” “grace kelly wife” etc. weiner certainly was well rounded w views on polotocs, reeligion, values, etc, and thats what made show so real in emotional development

        • boy howdy, I need to edit before I submit! horrid keyboard is touch screen! previous should read: “I think the beauty of the show was that characters (minor and major) were more well-rounded than “Christian zealot,” “rich blue blood,” “grace Kelly wife, ” etc. weiner certainly was well rounded in views on politics, religion, values, etc., and that’s what made the show so real and relatable in emotional development.

      • Ma (and fellow believers) were hardly alone. Her reaction to the Sixties was “ecumenical”.

        If only on the surface, Abe went “bad” – from cleancut to forgetting that barbers exist. I could readily see Stan getting a haircut and his beard trimmed (he has a mother, too, after all – and gets the value of “packaging”).

        In other ways Stan would be an improvement over Abe – less inclined to save the world with his mouth in general – and tactful enough to keep his claws in around Ma.

    • a Thousand years passed makes a difference to a Smiling Pope John

  6. Yes, the Catholic church went through massive decline in attendance with the Vatican 2 makeover, the Mass in English, meat on Fridays, and society accepting The Pill and divorce. People stopped keeping the traditions.

    And then the decline in nuns and priests.

    As far as the Israeli Tourist Board, would it be another way for MW to bring in a story of how Jewish kids would go live on a Kibbutz. I wonder if he did as a kid? Reminds me how he integrated his Moshe Dayan poster over Stan’s bed was actually his from a dorm room, I think.

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