Joan and Peggy: Mad Men women under fire

It’s no secret I am riveted by every episode of this season’s Mad Men.  This week’s episode displayed some bold moves by the women of the cast (*spoiler alert*).


Joan essentially agreed to have sex in exchange for partnership in the agency.


Peggy is not only leaving the agency but elected to join Draper’s competition.

How far apart are these woman on the moral spectrum?   Which one did the right thing?  Who did the wrong thing?  Which one should be championed?

Before you answer, I offer some varied perspectives:

Joan: money was more important than her self-respect.


Peggy:  no amount of money could compensate for the ego beating she endured at Don’s hand.

Or?: they both had an agenda and they followed through to get what want.

Joan: was desperate.  She has a baby to think about and no husband to support them.


Peggy: was in control.  She was fed up with the way she was being treated and schemed to leave.

Or?:  they were both pawns – Joan to Lane and Peggy to Don’s nemesis – and didn’t even make choices for themselves.

Joan: Don begged her not to take the money and sell out.


Peggy: Don begged her to take the money and sell out.

Or?: it wasn’t about the woman’s self-worth or the “right” choice, it was about getting them to do what Don wanted them to do.  In the end, both women defied or disappointed him.

Joan:  did what was best for her family.


Peggy: did what was best for her career.

Or?: both were motivated by revenge.

Some may see these situations as simple to dissect.  But me?  I say the women of Mad Men are deeper and more complex than your judgment.

Do you watch Mad Men?  What did you think of Joan and Peggy actions?


About Carinn Jade

Mother, lawyer, yogi, writer, non-sleeper. Published @NYTMotherlode. Contributor @Mommyish @Moonfrye @HuffPostLive. I like beer (not wine) & tea (not coffee) & being a contrarian.
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4 Responses to Joan and Peggy: Mad Men women under fire

  1. Oh I know! This episode was amazing. One of the best ever. I honestly thought that both women did what they needed to do and I respected them for it. Joan was put in an incredibly demeaning and terrible situation, but she rose above it. She used what she had to get what she wanted. And while I’ve certainly never slept with someone to move up, I have used flirtation and charm to warm up to partners at law firms, etc. When that’s the environment you’re in, you do what you have to do. It’s not my problem or Joan’s problem: it’s the shitty world that we live in.

    And Peggy? She moved on and I think it was great. All I’m saying is, she damn well better be in every episode still. She’s my favorite.

    • I don’t think it was purely a career decision, but I do agree that she was a favorite. I can’t imagine her not on the show anymore!!!

      I agree – I thought Joan came off as far more relatable. They really did a great job of making the gray aspects of what she did come to life and ring true. I think the colossal jerk of the episode was definitely Lane.

  2. muddledmom says:

    It was absolutely a great episode. And I agree that Peggy better still be around. I’ve been disappointed that we haven’t seen much of Betty. She’s the gal I love to hate. I think Peggy did the right thing. Don treats her like crap and she deserves better. If she comes crying back to him, I’ll be so mad.

    And I got the impression that Joan wouldn’t have done what she did if she had known Don didn’t want her to.

    • I agree on the Betty thing. If my daughter was born early we were seriously considering naming her January. I thought last season lacked good female plot lines (while Don was having sex with everyone in the world). Season 3 rocked with Betty and now Season 5 is just as compelling as ever.

      I agree with your impression. Joan thought Don and Roger had both sold her down the river. You could tell it made a difference that he didn’t.

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