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Mad Men Recap: Episode Six, "Maidenform"

Mad Men Rundown: Episode Six, "Maidenform"

Last night's episode of Mad Men was a lot of things: illuminating, kinky, awkward, frustrating, and heartbreaking. I guess same old, same old for this show — but something about last night was a bit more intense, a touch more raw than the previous episodes this season. Maybe we're just at a place in the story arc of all the characters where, as Bobbie put it, "the gloves come off."

A lot of the characters in the Mad Men universe had moments of self-reflection: Don at the end of the episode, after another intense encounter with Bobbie, gazing at himself in the mirror; Pete taking a good look at himself in his own mirror after a night with a model. Meanwhile, Peggy's professional journey still captivates me, as she continues to face challenges as an up-and-coming woman at the office.

The part of Peggy's story that gives me chills is watching how ambitious she is becoming while knowing that, to some extent, she's not quite right in the head — or, at the very least, has experienced some emotional trauma we haven't seen her cope with yet. And this episode also had me laughing at the funny, old-fashioned terms people used for bras (like "brassiere")! So much to talk about, so let's start chatting — just


Don Draper: Don is quickly unraveling on the inside, and I can't totally place why this is occurring, other than the fact that his secret past is eating away at him. While he appears to be rocking and rolling at work, personally he's become unstable. First he ditches Betty at the country club gathering they attended on Memorial Day to call and flirt with Bobbie. Then once he's in bed with Bobbie it goes from being totally hot and sexy to terrible. Bobbie mumbles something about Don's reputation with other women, and it sets him off. He ties her to the bed and leaves her there! Don also completely undermines Betty's self-esteem when he tells her she looks desperate in her new yellow bikini. So mean — I could have cried for Betty.

Peggy Olson: As we saw in the previews last week, Peggy has been getting left out of a lot of business meetings and gatherings inside and outside the office. I really loved how this episode captured what must have been the most difficult part of breaking glass ceilings as a woman in business back then (and maybe now?) with the impromptu decisions being made at strip clubs and other men's hangouts. In the end, Peggy decides that if she can't beat them she'll have to join them, dresses herself up, and heads to the strip club with the gang and the bra client. But ew — when she sat on her client's lap and he said "Tell me what you want for Christmas," I nearly threw up.

Pete Campbell: Sometimes Pete doesn't seem as diabolical as he is pathetic, and his motives are hard for me to discern. His visit to Peggy in her office to talk about the Clearasil idea got weird as he lingered there awkwardly. I couldn't tell if he was trying to steal Peggy's idea or undermine her position at the firm in some way — or if he was trying to figure out if she still has a crush on him. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it? And then later we see Pete cheat on his wife with a young, blonde model. Wouldn't you love to see one of these guys get caught cheating? Just once?

A few more thoughts:

  • I really liked the exchange between Joan and Peggy when Joan told a discouraged Peggy, "You’re in their country, learn to speak the language," and then handed down this advice: "You want to be taken seriously, stop dressing like a little girl."
  • How'd you feel about "All women come in two types: Jackie or Marilyn?" I thought it was hilariously sexist to reduce an entire gender to two categories. Do you think that kind of ad campaign would work now?
  • Betty's flirtation with Arthur was back again and Don noticed! I really like this storyline and can't wait to see how it unfolds.
  • And finally, smarmy line of the night goes to Pete as usual. When Don asked Peggy about the difference between Playtex bras and Maidenform, Pete chimed in with, "I find they both open easily."

What did you think of this episode? Were you stunned by Don's treatment of Bobbie or are you used to his aggression toward her at this point? Do you think they're really over? How'd you like Peggy's transformation at the strip club? Did you feel sorry for her, or did you think it was a good move?

Photos courtesy of AMC

beavis667 beavis667 9 years
The model that Pete fooled around with is named Sarah Wright. I recognized her from a canceled show called The Loop.
beavis667 beavis667 9 years
I've thought the dog and Duke and think maybe the dog was a painful reminder of his past. No excuse to put the poor thing out, though. I'm not sure if he couldn't drink in front of the dog or if the dog was pushing him to take the drink. I guess we'll find out... As for Don, to me he seems like a man totally hating himself and the lie he is living. I find him pretty compelling.
CocoChic CocoChic 9 years
Whether it was a misstep or not, Peggy looked fantastic! The dog thing with Duck almost made me cry. That was just sick.
sylviamcdanyel sylviamcdanyel 9 years
I found it most amusing during the Playtex presentation that it was a room full of men making the decisions about what bras women will buy and what ads will appeal to them. It made them look like a bunch of idiots! I'm so ready for Pete to get caught - watching him makes me feel like I need a shower... I love that Peggy is trying to compete with the men. She feels like they need to WANT her to listen to her. With this group of men, I'm afraid she's right!!!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Don- Is unraveling because of his past and present behavior. He didn’t leave the country club for no reason, they were honoring veterans and it made him want to run and hide, ie, into the bed with another woman. When your life is out of control as his is, he asserts it through being the one in control with these women, and the fact that they are talking amongst themselves about him? Is unacceptable, it means he is losing his hold on the whole thing also him saying don’t talk, and she just kept right on talking!. Him telling Betty that the bikini needed to go…..once again in control. Peggy- She didn’t “decide” to join them, it was her asking Joan “what do I do not to be left out” that prompted her to go to the nightclub, she wouldn’t have gone otherwise. “quit dressing like a little girl” That wasn’t Peggy being strong, that was Joan being the smarter one Pete- He was trying to see if Peggy still liked him, if she still looked up to him and wanted his opinions. She doesn’t. So he went for the up and coming model who just got rejected, she looked at him as someone important, which Peggy doesn’t anymore. And i HATED them using a modern song in the beginning.
eastcoastgirl eastcoastgirl 9 years
Peggy is really a pretty girl with her bangs out of her face.I really like this show.
fireyelectra fireyelectra 9 years
It was indeed Ken Cosgrove ("I'm Ken!" when asked his title, the one who hooks people up with escorts) who threw out the line about bras unhooking easily.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Jade thank you for placing that song! I'm really disappointed in this show using a modern song. I feel like this season we've lost what makes it the 60s in a lot of ways. They def. still are in the 60s, no mistake, but I don't think they include as many details like they used to. Its as if they are trying to evolve into a show more about the characters and not the time period, which I'm sure most people will love but I guess I'm a purist and would like them to stay painstakingly true the era.
kristyrk kristyrk 9 years
Yeah, Jadenirvana, the Decemberists?? It totally threw me off. And I think I might be developing a girl crush on Joan! She says what she means, and is totally confident in her womanhood. Plus she always looks good in her amazing outfits. Love her.
whatwouldruthdo whatwouldruthdo 9 years
What a fabulous episode! I love watching Peggy come into her own and step up to be taken seriously in her new role at Sterling Cooper. I found Don's behavior in this episode rather appalling. We all knew he had a certain capacity for cruelty, but he took that further than I'd ever imagined.
jadenirvana jadenirvana 9 years
Also what was up with that Decemberist song at the beginning? I love the Decemberists and I love Mad Men, but I have to say I never pictured them together...
jadenirvana jadenirvana 9 years
Visually, I can't get over how beautiful this season has been. I just love looking at this show! Brendelwoman: I totally agree that the dog scene was totally disturbing, and I don't know what it meant? Duck defying his wife? Duck putting the past behind him? Anyway, I think it's interesting how this episode hinted at Duck and Dan being two sides of the same coin, sort of these disillusioned career men with picture perfect families in increasingly cracked frames. They started out as archnemeses but it seems like they are moving towards a possible friendship. It sort of reminds me of the Katherine/Bree pairing in Desperate Housewives. I wonder which dude is the Jackie and which is the Marylin? Sorry, couldn't resist.
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 9 years
I am upset about Duck's dog. I mean, c'mon! That is not right. I can handle most things but abandoned or mistreated dogs I don't want to see. Good episode, otherwise. It's not Pete who says the line about unhooking the bras, it's the tall blonde guy who got published last season. I can't remember his name.
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
I got totally distracted, because the actress who played the model Pete fooled around with went to my high school!
supertramp supertramp 9 years
I really enjoyed the episode. I must say I'm tired of all the cheating, I know we don't live in a perfect world with perfect men, but could we ease down with the cheating. I'm with you Buzz, I can't wait for one of these men to get caught, preferably Don because I want to see if Betty will find something to just give up on him and how he'll react when he's got something to lose. I didn't want to see Pete cheat cause his wife has been trying so hard to get pregnant and he can do what he wants with no care in the world. Wow! That must have been hard for Peggy, to work with men that won't let you in unless you dress like a sex siren, I hated to see her sink down to them, but at least she's trying to manage in that world. And I was disgusted to see the way Pete looked at her. Dude she wanted you and you didn't want all of her so leave her alone.And I also could have cried for Betty, you're out there cheating on your wife and if she wants to try looking a little sexy let her.
lylpookie lylpookie 9 years
I feel like Pete's affair was because of his need for control. "Thanks Clearsil." get turned down by Peggy. The dog idea is shot down by Duck. We already have a sense of how his life is at home. This model was impressed by him, he was a "big deal" and therefore he was finally in control of a situation. Although mom in the other room...creepy. Duck...recovering alcholic? Probably why he got divorced? I'm curious as to whether he started drinking again...and how that will unfold in his future at SC. I guess I can understand why Peggy got all gussied up and went to the strip club...but I feel like she still undermines herself by sitting on his lap. It's like when she gets slapped on the butt by her co-worker...she's still an object. Don, I don't think it's the reputation that bothers's the fact that Bobbie talked about him. I also wonder what it is about Sally's looking at him that makes him so uncomfortable. You could sense he wasn't all there when she clapped and smiled at him at the Memorial Day luncheon, and then when she's watching him again at the end.
janetwrogers janetwrogers 9 years
I think Peggy probably made a necessary misstep at the club -- I mean, how can it really make the guys take her more seriously at the office by sitting on the client's knee at a strip club? I think she may have confused being included with being respected, but I do think it was probably needed. Do you remember your first try with eyeshadow? Mine was baby blue, ghastly, and applied with enthusiasm, but you never learn to apply it and to appreciate the subtleties unless you jump in there and try to use it. Peggy took a stab at it, and sure, the results were scary, but maybe that's what she needed to do. Plus if the guys want Jackie or Marilyn, where does that leave Irene Dunne? I can see why she would try on a different persona. I did think it was great writing that Joan told her to stop dressing like a little girl, and then when she tries, the dirty old Playtex man says "Tell me what you want for Christmas?" like she was three! Peggy's no fool: even without the look from Pete, I think she knew she was off course.
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