Mad Men Review: "The Beautiful Girls"

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Like the title of this week's episode claimed, "The Beautiful Girls" was very much focused on the ladies of Mad Men.

As far as installments in which Don takes a back seat go, this was good enough in my book.  Would I rather see Don at the forefront week after week?  Sure, but we can't always get what we want. Isn't that right, Sally?

If you've been reading my reviews all season, you know that I love Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper.  Both because I think she's a great child actress and because Sally is such a likable kid in that bratty sort of way.  Sally was just one of the "beautiful girls" to get under the spotlight this week, but she was the most interesting.

Long-Time Lovers

How old is this kid now?  She's going off on her own and taking a train to see her dad with no money?  For one, that's super dangerous.  Secondly, how dumb are you to think you could go on the train with no cash?  Once at SCDP, the Sally sass is in full effect, and I was loving every second of it.  When Faye introduced herself to Sally, the little one just replied with, "I know. My dad just said that."  Classic pre-teen back talk.

It's interesting that Betty thinks Sally is just the worst little girl in the world.  Granted, she's acting up, but it doesn't seem that much worse than any of the kids I knew growing up.  Betty, what do you do all day other than sit around the house and eat bonbons?  Take the time to come to the city to pick up your daughter, who for all you know is scared out of her mind! 

I hate to say it, but I think I have officially switched to Team Don.

Once Sally gets back to Don's apartment, and gets him to agree to ordering a pizza, she lays down with the biggest smile on her face.  Don is like a God to Sally right now.  Betty and the rest of the new Francis household is too much to handle and I don't blame her for wanting to live with her dad all the time.  He gets her pizza, takes her to the zoo, and lets her cook french toast with rum!

Now, to the other three "beautiful girls" of the week.  None of these stories excited me as much, with the slight exception of Faye's, because it was intertwined with the Don/Sally plot.  Mr. Draper did kind of throw her into the fire with all of the Sally drama, but I think the fact that she worked through it all and still wants to continue with Don is a great sign.  This could be the makings of a healthy relationship.

Peggy was ahead of the curve once again this week.  She didn't want to deal with a company that didn't hire African-Americans and she recognizes that women are hurt in similar ways to African-Americans.  This was nice, but a bit boring.  We get it.  Peggy looks ahead better than anyone on the show, but it just didn't do it for me....

... although it was 10 times better than another horrid Joan story line.  Again, I know it is blasphemy to hate on Joan, but I can't help it.  She has become the absolute worst.  I couldn't care less about her dealing with her husband going to Vietnam, and the only reason I care about her relationship with Roger is because of Roger.  Frankly, during his interactions with Joan, I downgrade Roger from fantastic to good.

SCDP Beautiful Girls

As the three ladies, Peggy, Joan and Faye, made their way out of SCDP via the elevator, I was relieved that this was the last time this season I'd have to endure an entire episode devoted to them.

I would be remiss if I didn't give Mrs. Blankenship her own paragraph here.  How was that not the funniest moment of the season?  If the tractor scene was the comedic highlight of season three, the death of Blankenship earned that honor on season four.  The combination of Peggy pushing flat on her face and Joan and Pete wheeling her into an office in the background was just pure hilarity.  It will be interesting to see who is next to be Don's full-time secretary, and if she can handle the job.

Other Thoughts:

  • In trying to sell his book, Roger forgot to mention one key ingredient of Sterling's Gold: comedy.  There was supreme comedy in almost every snippet we heard.
  • So Cooper doesn't have an office?  Am I the only one who didn't know this? When we first saw him this episode, he was sitting outside Don's office with a newspaper.  I noted it, saying it was the second time we've seen him just sitting somewhere.  I guess we now know why.
  • I can't tell if Sally wants Don to get re-married or not.  My gut tells me that she does, so that his new wife can be her new mom.  Her hatred for Betty has gone so deep that she'd probably take on anyone as a new mother.
  • Only four episodes left in the season.  How will Sally's actions affect Don's future?  Where do Don and Faye go from here?  Is Don really on the right track for good?  Or will he fall back into some of his bad habits at some point?  Will Sterling's Gold ever get published?  We shall see.


Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (31 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I disagree with the assessment that Sally has been molested. She may be troubled but a lot the symptoms you guys pointed out were explained in earlier episodes. Sally cut her hair because she thought it would make her look pretty, not uglier as you were saying. She tells that to the nurse lady that babysat while Don was out. Also Mad Men is very, very good about hinting at dark secrets below the surface. Henry Francis may not be the most likable character but there have been no dark moments between him and the kids. Actually, except for the fact that Henry is ok with sleeping in another man's bed, I like what he brings to the show. I was very grateful when he told Betty to shut up and that he actually bothers to stand up to her. Betty acts like a child, Henry sees that and doesn't let her always get her way. Which is good for Betty. I didn't like Henry's treatment of Don, considering he's the one that's living in his house, but that was basically jealously and seemed to pass. Betty is a foul woman, I don't care if she was a product of her generation. The woman blames everyone else for her problems and is spiteful to her own daughter. Poor Sally, I wish Don was able to have her live with her. Although his current lifestyle isn't really one that could allow for a child. As for Joan. I love her. Always have, always will. I like her this season. When Jimmy tore her down and said she was "asking to be raped", I could see her cringe. Excellent acting as always Miss. Hendricks. Peggy bugs me sometimes. But in this episode she was awaking to the possibility that she was working for some rather suppressive people. I liked watching that realization. Faye is nice but we know she doesn't last.


Peggy's comparison of the plight of women to African-Americans seemed a little whiny. A decent job for a Caucasian woman at that time was as a secretary at a nice firm. A decent job for an African American woman at that time was as a maid. And a decent job for an African American man at that time was as an elevator operator. If Peggy were African American, she would not have even had the opportunity to work as a secretary at Sterling Cooper. Consequently, she would not have had the opportunity to show her talents and get promoted to copyrighter. I think Peggy confuses being empowered with being self-involved.


I have heard it been discussed as Grandpa Gene being the offender against Sally. I had never considered Henry. Something to consider, but I still think Grandpa Gene is more likely especially with all of the issues Betty has and his happy hand incident early last season.


Thanks, Quiet Paul. I've talked about it to several other MM fans, and they agree. All the signs: the sexual acting out, the hair chopping (make herself ugly), the general odd behavior, the running away to her father to protect her. Yep. She's been molested, and we've got our money on the stepfather. One other thing: in this episode, watch the brunette receptionist in the red dress, who hugs Sally after she falls. She says, it'll be all right, and Sally sadly replies, no, it won't. The receptionist is like the ONLY adult who got that there was something wrong. Her eyes were filled with tears. So is the receptionist now gonna maybe be Don's new secretary? And she empathizes with little Sally, so maybe she clues Daddy in that Step Daddy is being a little too familiar? Just a guess. But I bet some of this is right on the mark.


Welcome to the Team Don!! ;)) Sally - Don relationship was the highlight of this episode, all the other storylines were a bit disappointing. I like Peggy and Joan very much, though their this weeks storylines were not so interesting (Joan needs new storylines, not just the everlasting "husband goes to Vietnam"!!!). Faye was growing on me at the beginning of the episode, but seeing her fail with Sally, took the spark away for me.. Come on, someone who deals with people's behavior on daily basis should be able to communicate with children as well...

Al in germany

I'm a fan of Joan, but even I'll admit she's been a little one-dimensional this season: stoic and put-upon. I'd like to see the confident side of her again, rather than just the bravado. But I still liked her this episode, and her chemistry with Roger is great. I feel she's playing the role that everyone expects her to be. Whilst Peggy has never really accepted that she should follow the path that was expected. I believe it's important that there is focus on the women of the piece, because whilst Don and Roger are fantastic characters, it's the women who tie us into to Zeitgeist. That's one area where I think Wiener is very clever. They give us the mysterious and charming central character, but it's through the women that the broader story is told. Sorry for being pretentious, but for me anti-heroes need to take a back seat every now and then, because too much focus tends to lead to either the positive or negative side of their character being overcooked. You end up either with a hero with no edge or a bastard.


chip, no one is denying that. Karen Ingraham, I love this idea. That makes a lot of sense. Betty is a really terrible mother, but Sally's hatred of being at that house could easily be her being afraid of her step dad.


The way Sally is acting, just watch. She's been molested, and watch it be her step daddy who's the culprit.


Blasphemy indeed! Joan was amazing as ever, loved how she's still into Roger. Her husband either dies in Vietnam, either makes a scene about the Roger affair (because they still didn't hint back at the office-rape, did they?) and then leaves the show.


FYI...I totally understand how Sally could have gotten to the city by herself. If you grow up with your parents taking the train in from the burbs, you could easily jump on and get to the city. The last stop is Manhattan, so as long as Sally stayed on board, she would have at least made it to Grand Central. She is about 10 or 11, and I know my girls who are 10 and 12 could do it, so no surprise Sally can, especially given the alternative of staying with Betty.

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Mad Men Season 4 Episode 9 Quotes

That's not a strategy, that's two strategies connected by the word and. I can do "where the pros go" or I can do "everyone's welcome," not both.


I have to say, most of the things Negroes can't do, I can't to either...and nobody seems to care.