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Mad-men

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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One more thing: To clear up I do agree that SCDP would be ruined if this scandal got out. My point was only that these types of deals do happen in real life That's it. I believe in the MM "world" that this has probably happened at the other fictional firms. When I say all this, it's only a statement of fact, not me taking a moral stance or anything.

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I've thought about this episode all week and I still feel really disgusted even though Joan very much did consent. Christina Hendricks was very brilliant. In a sense I like that the show "went there" and showed how money/desperation corrupts and how businessmen like Pete do exist. And really a lot of the show in general is about the depth of human cruelty/depravity.. At the same time I did not like how the plot actually evolved. 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. The more I think about the episode, the more the plot holes and lazy writing are glaring and yet so many aspects of the episode were done well. I prefer the character driven Mad Men not the one that has to twist it's characters to fit an event. That's what I felt like what happened. I hope some of my rambling made some sense!

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My issue here is with the writing, big time. No one questioning Pete is utterly illogical. It makes no sense that Roger wouldn't even at least approach Joan. There was little build up to Joan taking the deal and it doesn't make sense considering she turned down Roger's money just the episode prior. And as well as the scenes with Joan/Lane and Don/Lane were done, I just thought MM was above things like stupid mixed signal conversations that only happen on TV (especially that convo with Lane. ONE of them would've figured out what Pete was up to). I didn't mean to say what the men did was right, just not as bad as what Joan thought was going on. I'm also not saying such dirty business in real life is "right"...though I personally do not really judge the act of prostitution if the people are truly consenting..

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@QueenBee Sorry, english is not my native language so sometimes I think my points get lost. I agree that someone should've straight up asked Joan what the deal was. And I don't mean to say anything was good, it was disgusting really, it just wasn't as bad as Pete presented to everyone (to the partners that Joan was on board and basically to everyone else that there was 4-0 vote to pimp her). I meanI noted that there were two attempts at a dialogue: 1 by Lane (he comes into her office, tells her "it bears discussion" and she immediately tells him to gtfo) but that was obfuscated by 2 things: 1) bad communication. Lane thinks Jane has said 'yes' to the proposition and Joan thinks the partners would all willingly turn her out. Plus 2) the viewers know Lane has dual motives. The only other attempt at a conversation was with Don, after Joan slept with the client. That's exactly my issue though. I don't believe a single one of those men would just rely on Pete's word.

Queenbeethegreat

... When someone finds out, they are out quicker than they can say "Bye", especially in the country of double standards the US of A, where everything on the surface has to look pure & innocent - this would have been quite the scandal. Also, I don't doubt the men would have slept with a woman to get an account - but they would probably have done it out of free will and bc they wanted to and to get the account as a nice plus but not bc they thought it had been voted on and they had been manipulated into doing it.nt in the first place).

Queenbeethegreat

@Emma, but none of this makes it even better. None of them actively went to Joan and specifically asked her if she was ok with this. They all know Pete and they all know Joan as well. Why do they just take his word and don't ask Joan directly what she thinks about this. It didn't really bother them and they didn't really care. They were indifferent, yes, but no one said anything. The only one who did was Don. He said NO and stormed out. Later he went to Joan to tell her that she didn't have to do it. I mean, not even Roger even seemed to be really concerned or surprised - this only comment was "I'm not paying for this." As for your "dates" and sex deals do take place in business comment, well, that might well be, but this isn't Russia or the Congo and SDCP want to be taken seriously in the advertising world (that's why they wanted an automobile account in the first place). When someone finds out, they are out quicker than they can say "Bye", especially in the country of double standards the US of A, where everything on the surface has to look pure & innocent - this would have been quite the scandal. Also, I don't doubt the men would have slept with a woman to get an account - but they would probably have done it out of free will and bc they wanted to and to get the account as a nice plus but not bc they thought it had been voted on and they had been manipulated into doing it.

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@ QueenBeeTheGreat (Bow Down&Drink Gin) re: the vote... The inaction on the men's part certainly wasn't right but the idea didn't even originate with them and the sole reason for deciding how much to compensate Joan for sleeping with the client was because Pete convinced all the other partners she was agreeable the idea. Pete manipulated entire whole thing! Notice only Pete was on board. Don stormed out. Lane (before the money aspect was even brought up) was incredulous that Pete even asked Joan to do it. Bert reminded Pete that Joan could still say 'no' and Roger was resigned to the fact that Joan (supposedly) agreed to the proposal. As far as your other questions - no, this doesn't reflect on the company but "dates" and sex deals do take place in business and, yes, I do think the men would sleep with clients for an account.

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contd...again: cont'd- There were cracks in the usual painstakingly and carefully planned writing that shone on a few instances and that's why it doesn't rank up with there with the Suitcase or The Gypsy and the Hobo. It was definitely a solid game changer that will be a very memorable episode simply because of the subject matter, it was but not a series high for me because of the how the plot was driving the characters. The acting, editing, etc. was stellar as always though. The scene with Don and Peggy when she was? No words for amazingly that was portrayed! I'm not a Betty or a Megan hater but I have to admit that episodes where their presences are diminished tend to be stronger. And as far as Don/Betty? Oh hell no! For me Betty's only purpose is on the show now is our access to Sally!

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cont'd- Though Lane did look appropriately disgusted with himself, not to mention he and Don were the only ones not to participate in the festivities at the end of the episode. If anyone will meet their maker by season's end, it will surely be a suicidal Lane. He keeps digging his hole deeper and deeper and compromising his morals- which is believable in itself, I suppose, but there needed to be more build up. As for Roger - his inaction was was believable to a degree though I wish we had at least one scene between him and Joan. That's the the thing though- if ANY of the partners had simply approached Joan about her supposed acceptance of the client's proposition, none of this would have taken place. Most everything hinged on everyone taking Pete's (!!!) word at face value. The two lone attempts at questioning Joan's decision were met with a typical, only on TV crossed wires conversation (with Lane) and an ill timed declaration (with Don). Still fantastically done but there were cracks in the usual painstakingly carefully planned writing shone on a few instances and that's why it doesn't rank up with there with the Suitcase, The Gypsy and the Hobo or even this season's At The Codfish Ball. A good game changer but not a series high, imo. The acting, editing, etc. was stellar as always. The scene with Don and Peggy when she's resigning was absolutely amazing! I'm not a Betty or a Megan hater but I have to admit that episodes where their presences are diminished tend to be stronger. And as far as Don/Betty? Oh hell no! For me Betty's only purpose is on the show now is our access to Sally!

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No doubt this was an excellently done episode but I do think a lot of actions were OOC, specifically Joan and Lane. As its been mentioned - Roger has offered child support so why exactly would Joan refuse it? Joan was perfectly willing to be supported by her (soon to be ex) rapist husband's army payout so...what gives? It felt like she turned down Roger specifically so they could meet this plot point. What I love about Mad Men is that it is character driven and I feel like a lot of the characters had to be twisted or the writing was short changed to fit into the plot. Lane also acted OOC. Yes, he's a desperate man because of his tax/embezzlement situation but he's basically been shown to be a decent human being. Although I don't think his visit to Joan's office was completely self serving, I believe he didn't want her to go through with the deal both because he does care for her and the fee she'd receive would expose his forgery....

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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