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Mad Men Review: Very Dirty Business

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This week's Mad Men was truly one for the books. Especially after last week's mediocre episode, "The Other Woman" had me alternately jeering and cheering, while attempting to scrape my jaw off the floor.

It was hard to juggle all of these emotions on top of my standard urge to punch Pete Campbell in the face, but it was worth it for an installment such as this.

The Other Woman Scene

Just when Pete had mildly redeemed himself (emphasis on the mildly) by standing up to Alexis Bledel's husband and letting him know what a good thing he had, he goes and pimps out Joan. I hate to even say that Pete did something redeeming because cheating on your wife and sleeping with another man's wife isn't redeeming, but it's rare that the scumbag even says something nice or stands up for another person, so it's somewhat noteworthy.

Back to pimping out Joan: There is really no other way to put it. Especially when Pete is next to a good guy like Ken Cosgrove, who said why couldn't we just tell him Joan was married? Yes, the same Ken who later tried to comfort Peggy when Don threw money in her face, but we'll get to that later.

On a show that strives for an accurate portrayal of gender roles in the 1960s, it's not unusual to see themes of sexism and the degradation of women in a lot of the episodes. However, the most recent installment hit home at a new level. I'm pretty surprised Joan went for the deal, but I think there are a few things that really put the nail in the coffin. 

First off, last week Joan opened up in a rare moment to Don about her feelings regarding her separation. She is lonely, lost, going through a divorce, facing single motherhood and more financial responsibilities, and all while keeping the secret that Kevin is really Roger's baby. Ultimately Joan does need the money. In the past, if this were just about Joan, she would've told Pete right where to shove his offer. Now that she's a mother, it's not just about providing for herself anymore. The moment Joan came home to her mother, the baby and the broken refrigerator you could see the wheels turning in her head.

Then you have the fact that she was told all five of the partners voted on it. This includes Roger. Joan may have acted strong since the day we met her, but we know that deep down she and Roger love each other. At least, this is my opinion and keep in mind that I'm only filling in for your resident Mad Men reviewer Dan Forcella and I know that Dan isn't the biggest Joanie fan.

The thought that Roger would be willing to pimp her out for a deal must have truly crushed her. Then Lane had to come in and put the idea in her head that she should hold out for a five percent partnership deal, which basically amounts to nothing. This is what truly surprises me, Joan is smarter and should know this.

Alas, it was too late. By the time Don rode in on his white horse to save the day, the deed had already been done. I thought the ending was really well done with Don's pitch alternating with Joan and Herb's disgusting night together. I feel terrible for her right now.

I won't say this episode was entirely about sexism, even though Peggy leaving Sterling Cooper Draper Price was a major deal. In Peggy's case, I feel like it was more about respect, pride and knowing what your worth. Peggy knew she deserved more than she was getting and Don throwing the money in her face was the final straw. (Who is he, Scott Disick?!?) Although after how horrible he treated her throughout the episode, the last scene in his office when he kissed her hand almost made me misty eyed.

Ultimately, it's all about the greed. All anyone cares about is the money. They are willing to sell their morals, souls, pride, and even their bodies in order to get the business. What does that say about everyone at SDCP? What does that say about Peggy who left? What would you have done if you were Joan? How badly do you want to slap Pete Campbell at all times? Hit the comments and Dan will be back next week!

Oh, and Sally Draper really was right. The city is dirty

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (88 Votes)

Leigh Raines is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Queen Bee: Is this really so shocking or against their nature? We've already explored a similar situation a few seasons back. While here Don may have been the only one to disagree with pimping Joan, he essentially fired Salvatore for not servicing Lucky Brand's royal son. The fact that he other partners are willing to go this far to land "a car," especially one like Jaguar, and possibly save the company, is not surprising in the least. And Joan took the "Indecent Proposal." Not a new story there, either.

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Joan. IMHO Joan won't take Roger's money for Keven because he won't, or wouldn't, complete the move and marry her. Remember she had to stand by and watch him marry his secretary (Jane). Also just my opinion, Joan's agreeing to 'date' Herb was a one-time shot to guarantee her future and Kevin's. Maybe relates back to her not accepting Roger's money, but I'm not that deep a thinker. Five percent of the company take !! It could be lucrative; how many of our fathers wished they'd bought shares in IBM when it started?!

Queenbeethegreat

If you buy that the partners would be willing to sell Joan, and that Joan would feel the same way, then this is an all-time great episode of the series. But if you don't, then it's Weiner and company making the characters act against their natures to fit the theme. " And to me, after much debate, what happened was the latter because I don't buy the premise. TA. I don't buy it either. That's exactly what they did in my opinion: making the characters act against their natures to fit the theme. Also I agree with what he said about MM being more overt about the themes than previous years. I didn't really know what kind of bothered me this season but now I know. (Also the lack of Betty and too much Megan)

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Joan shows she is a very smart woman by using her greatest asset to make her mark in a man's world. She has been treated like a possession by Roger Sterling and others and been left behind so now she can become powerful, can't wait to see where this goes!! Love you Joan...

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Ok seriously sorry for the spam but critic Alan Sepinwall sums up my feelings on 'The Other Woman' well: "to make the list complete: "This season of "Mad Men" has been far more overt about each episode's theme than previous years, but has generally been so expert at how it weaves its plot and character in with those themes that it hasn't mattered. If you buy that the partners would be willing to sell Joan, and that Joan would feel the same way, then this is an all-time great episode of the series. But if you don't, then it's Weiner and company making the characters act against their natures to fit the theme. " And to me, after much debate, what happened was the latter because I don't buy the premise.

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Ugh, sorry for the ranting! Usually I watch an episode of MM and then love it more and more upon subsequent viewings. This episode was the exact opposite. Initially I was very keen on it because the acting, editing, cinematography all were excellently done. It was a viscerally exciting episode. But now I am getting this nagging feeling that Weiner just wanted to touch upon this subject matter and kind of threw it randomly in an episode and, in the process, took a bus and ran over basically all the main characters minus Don and Peggy. This also feels like the major plot point that will get us to Joan discovering Lane's embezzlement. Either that or the guilt of what Lane's done in this last episodes will eat him alive and he'll blow his brains out with Pete's shot gun. Maybe I'm sour because this taints so many Roger/Joan moments and the great developing friendship between Lane and Joan... I've really liked this season but I wonder: is this the episode where it all jumps shark??

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...Also think we need at least more of what was happening with Roger. I get that she didn't want to be tied down to him but how is prostitution - literally giving up ownership of your body - any better? I also think we needed more of Lane this season. Again, I get that he's desperate but he's gone from being basically the most decent guy in the office to being complicit in tax evasion, forgery, embezzlement and prostitution in TWO EPISODES. What didn't more of this happen on screen? ITA about feeling like Joan had more self-respect. So she was pushed to the edge because she felt the men, 3 of which she has a close bond with, wanted to pimp her out? IDK. Like I said, if there would have been more build up, maybe I could've bought it but I just don't...

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Yes to all of what you said! The thing is, I do think if pushed, the Joan character would have done this. We need to see more of her descent into desperation, however. Like you said, she's not some penniless spinster. She told Lane that 50k is "4 times" what she makes annually. Ok well if Joan makes around between 10-12.5k a year, nearly equal 80 grand in 2012 when adjusted to inflation! They did set up a pretext but it wasn't enough which is truly strange for MM, which is all about the build! Basically to buy what this episode was selling, we needed more Joan struggling and feeling lonely.

Queenbeethegreat

... Yes, he then made her believe that everyone voted for her to do it but normally she has so much self-respect and has such a self-confidence that she wouldn't have fallen for it and that she would have stormed into their offices and asked them if they were in their right minds. Especially bc she even told her mum that they could get the fridge fixed and that she should just call some handyman for it. It's not like she is some penniless old spinster who needed to prostitute herself. Also her ex-husband needs to pay alimony for her and their child anyway.

Queenbeethegreat

That's exactly my issue though. I don't believe a single one of those men would just rely on Pete's word. Especially since they know him and his sleazy ways... The pretext for Joan accepting deal was too flimsy. Plus Joan, Roger, Bert and Lane ALL had to act out of character, imo, to achieve the ends results. Exactly. They wanted to fit in the sl and didn't really care how they'd achieve it. Certainly at least Roger would have approached her. Especially when he thought that she was ok with this. I mean, she turned his money down and he would never have let her do this but rather just give her the money without discussion. It all was handled kind of weird and tbh if I was Joan i wouldn't be able to still work there. She was embarrassed when Pete approached her and told him she didn't want any of the others to know about it. Yes, he then made her believe that everyone voted for her to do it but normally she has so much self-respect and has such a self-confidence that she wouldn't have fallen for it and that she would have stormed into their offices and asked them if they were in their right minds. Especially bc she even told her mum that they could get the fridge fixed and that she should just call some handyman for it. It's not like she is some penniless old spinster who needed to prostitute herself. Also her ex-husband needs to pay alimony for her and their child anyway.

Mad Men Season 5 Episode 11 Quotes

Pete: What would it take to make you a Queen?
Joan: I don't think you could afford it.

It turns out he wanted something we weren't prepared to give. Something very unorthodox.

Pete [to Joan]
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