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Mad Men Flounder as Their Women Flex Their Wings

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This week's "Far Away Places" focused on three very different (but somewhat similar) show-mances. Peggy, Don, and Roger are all in long-term relationships and all three have their kinks. The episode plays out over the same weekend as each couple goes on different paths that in the end have me pondering the same conclusions.

Peggy and Abe argue because she's too consumed with work. He storms out of her place and after a hard day, a weird movie-theater interlude, and an upsetting reveal from Ginsburg she goes home and calls Abe for support. I got the impression he was pleased she did -- he asked what was bothering her, and he probably thought he was going to get something work related, but Peggy surprised him by telling him that it was something that upset her, it humanized her in a way that Abe probably needed to hear -- granted, this is all me reading way too much into two seconds of airtime.

We then jump to Roger who isn't looking forward to accompanying Jane to a dinner party. But he gets a surprise when all the guests retire to the den to drop LSD. After they return home, still tripping, they reason out with one another that it's time for them to end their marriage. It's a very adult conversation, full of honesty, and not one you'd expect from Jane Sterling. Sure enough the very next morning she's "forgotten" all about it and acts surprised when a peaceful and refreshed Roger starts jumping into plans for their divorce. Were any of us surprised? The man can conveniently forget that Jane told him beforehand she was taking him to an LSD party but give him an out in the relationship in the middle of an acid trip and you know he's going to take that opportunity and run right to Big Red with it.

Moving on to Don's story -- earlier, when Peggy was getting her team ready for the Heinz pitch, Megan arrived and tried to dive right in and roll up her sleeves in her new role as junior copywriter. But before she can really get into the ideas she's got about Heinz, Don pokes his head in and pulls her out -- much to the consternation of Peggy (and Megan). They're going to the flagship Howard Johnson's to scout advertising opportunities, and she tries to protest by telling him she's supposed to be at the Heinz pitch -- but he laughs that off and off they go. This is the first act of the play I've been waiting for -- "Don Screws Everything Up." I assumed that it would be due to his inability to keep it in his pants, but there was also his raging ego to contend with, and it looks like the ego won.

I couldn't help but think about the feminist movement of the '60s as I watched all of this -- Megan is probably the most representative of the "modern woman" as we envision what that is now. She's smart, loving, creative, and domestic, but still ambitious and searching for respect from her peers. Jane seems to want equality a little too late for me to take her seriously. She's fine with not working and having Roger support her, but then gets angry when he doesn't listen to her and take her seriously. She acts like a child but wants to be treated like an adult and she can't have it both ways.

But it was Peggy's story in particular that I found the most interesting if taken in the angle of feminism -- she's no more career-consumed than Don or Roger, and while Abe has never expressed any desire for her to be more of a homemaker, perhaps what he wants is to feel needed, and more like a man in the relationship. Unfortunately Peggy's had to shove down almost everything feminine about herself in order to get any kind of respect at work, and even that's very flimsy. I think she went after that guy in the movie theater because it made her feel in control. She didn't want him to touch her; she wanted to be the one doing the touching. I use quotes because I feel like I'm using outdated gender-roles to define this, but given that it's the '60s I'm going to go for it. She wanted to be the aggressor, the "man." But once she got that out of her system she became upset and needed comforting -- she slipped back into that "feminine" role, and Abe seemed pleased to be the one she reached out for support.

While this week lacked the awesomeness of last week (Lane Pryce's left hook now has its own Twitter account), I have to admit it was just superb -- incredible story ideas, questions raised, I'm still sitting here trying to sort out all the messages.

Read my full take on The Donnybrook Writing Academy!