Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mad Men recap: A satisfying goodbye, (Part I)

I'm still recovering from Mad Men's series finale (Person to Person) two nights ago. I was so wired I barely slept after watching the wonderfully satisfying episode. It was better than I could've hoped for and gave more closure and answers to fans than I expected.

First, let's deal with Peggy and Stan. For years fans have buzzed with the hope those two crazy kids would get together, and damned if Matthew Weiner didn't come through. Yes, it was a little schmaltzy, but so frickin' what?! It was awesome and I think appropriate. I clapped my hands and yelled "Yay!" at the screen, and watched the scene twice (still clapping and uncontrollably yelling, "Yay! Yaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy!"). It was a joyous moment.

This scene was a gift to fans and to Peggy. She didn't need a man to get by, but she desperately wanted love in her life. From moving in with a man she had been about to break up with, to falling to her knees sobbing alone in her apartment when her brother-in-law stated he had to get home so his wife wouldn't be there alone, we know Peggy ached for love.

I was a single career woman for many years before I met my husband; I thought I'd always be single, honestly. I had a good career, liked living alone, was very independent -- and yet, sometimes I was painfully lonely. Sometimes I dated someone I knew wasn't right for me because of that, and unsurprisingly, the ill-conceived relationships would fail. Which is to say, I could relate to Peggy. And as independent as she was, that doesn't mean she wouldn't welcome love if it came along. Hell, she often went looking for it in all the wrong places because she wanted it so much. I don't think this desire for a relationship betrays the idea of her being a woman who could get by on her own, or undercuts what a pioneer she was forging her way in a male-dominated field. I'm thrilled Peggy finally found a relationship that seems right for her character, as the series made it clear that was something she wanted.

So why should it be with Stan? Peggy had precious little time to meet anyone, and how many men of the time would've known what to make of a successful, hard-driving career woman like Peggy? How many could deal with it if she wanted to continue working if they married? Or having their wife/girlfriend as a boss? Stan was perfect for her. They were good friends, and he totally knew she could be work-obsessed and tough, and he could handle that. He'd already been working under her for years, and was OK with that (after a rocky start). A friend told me that Peggy gave up her career for Stan. I wondered if we'd been watching the same show! She felt that turning down Joan's offer to partner in a production company showed that Peggy was giving something up for Stan. I don't think so at all. The production company was what Joan wanted, not what Peggy wanted. She loved her job in advertising and wanted to climb higher, maybe even craft a catchphrase that captured the world. She turned down the job because she was already living her dream. Most of us when confronted with a compelling offer will struggle with it even when we know it's not right for us, and that's all Peggy was doing when she floundered briefly over the choice.

My friend also thought our Pegs would end up staying home to have babies. Again, have we been watching the same show?! The Peggy of ten or even five years earlier might have done just that, but not the woman who strutted into McCann Erickson with ciggie dangling and tentacle porn under her arm. Nope, if they make creative, hairy babies together, Pegs will either hire a nanny, push for on-site daycare or convince Stan to be a stay-at-home dad (right there in NYC John Lennon would soon be setting a celebrity model for doing just that with his second son, Sean). Not that I'd blame Peggy if she wanted stay home with the shorties, but I think she's spent so long with career as the main focus of her life, almost to the exclusion of anything else, that walking away from it wouldn't even enter her mind.

More later on the rest of the episode...

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