TV Review: Mad Men – Episode 10: The Other Woman

Written by Vanessa Vernick May 29, 2012

I have to start off by saying that I have been pretty disappointed and disenchanted with this season of “Mad Men” thus far. There has been a lack of continuity and, for the most part, they have been just plain boring. They deviated away from the style that made previous seasons so thoroughly enjoyable and addictive. After last week’s horror show, I’ve been increasingly more tempted to dedicate my Sunday nights to something else entirely. But, the “Mad Men” gods must have been listening because episode 10,”The Other Woman”  came with a bang. It was full of emotion and unexpected twists and was more like the “Mad Men” that I fell in love with. There was a story, for once, and what a story it was!

Anyone who has been watching this season knows that SCDP have been in some financial trouble and have basically been holding on by the skin of their teeth. Signing a deal with Jaguar could potentially mean the life or death of the company. The episode opens with Don discussing sales ‘lines’ with creative in which they all keep referring to the car as a mistress. This practice of equating consumer products and commodities to women becomes common throughout the entire episode.

“What Would It Take to Make You a Queen?”

The meat of this episode pretty much begins with one of the Jaguar big wigs, Herb Rennet, having dinner and drinks with Pete and Ken. Over the course of their meal, he expresses a keen interest in none other than Joan Harris and makes it blatantly clear that in order for SCDP to gain his vote, he wants a night with Joan. And, if you thought Pete couldn’t ever get any sleazier, think again. Once back in the office, he officially stoops to an all time low, even for him, and tries to manipulate Joan into essentially prostituting herself for the company. He even ends up calling the rest of the partners into his office for a ‘vote’ regarding the matter. Surprisingly, Don turns out to be the only one who says no. I thought, for sure, that Sterling would never agree, but I was wrong. And, her price? A 5% stake in the company which would make her a partner.

“Its Not A Game, It’s My Career”

I guess its been a long time coming, but we finally get to see Peggy do what’s best for Peggy. Throughout the episode you realize how truly unappreciated and unnoticed she and her talent is and after a meeting with an exec from a rival company who offers her exactly what she wants, recognition, we are witness to a tear-jerking, emotional farewell. “The day you saw something in me, my whole life changed”, she tells Don as she gives her two week notice and goes on to tell him how much she appreciated him being her “champion” and “mentor”. I won’t lie, I definitely shed some tears here and I wasn’t the only one because we even get to see Don’s eyes swell up! I absolutely love Peggy Olsen because she marches to the beat of her own drum, she’s brave and she never lets anything hold her back….which is what makes this that much more difficult. Hopefully this isn’t goodbye forever but I wish her all the best!

On the other side of town, you see poor Megan still struggling to make her dream come true. We learn that she finally has a call-back for a Broadway play and cannot be anything but thrilled and excited for her. However, as soon as she gets to the audition, the first thing she is asked to do is to “turn around”. This begs the question: Do they care about her or even her talent? Or do they only care about her appearance and her sexuality?

“This Is A Man’s World But It Wouldn’t Be Nothing Without a Woman or a Girl”

The point of this episode, like many others, it to ask some really hard questions and to dissect what’s taken for granted in society. There is a lot of talk throughout the episode of people who have to go that ‘extra mile’ and who have to make sacrifices for greater causes. But how far is too far and how much of a sacrifice is too much? The entire episode is tied together by a central theme surrounding value and worth. What is a human’s worth? Furthermore, what is a woman’s worth? Are people, both women and men, objects that can be bought or sold? With Joan, you wonder if a woman’s sexuality is her ultimate weapon or if it is simply her only weapon? We see Peggy and Megan struggling to find their place in a corporate world dominated by men, and struggling to be recognized for their talent in a world where Joan can make partner simply by offering up her body as a sacrifice on the alter capitalism. Perhaps the old saying is true, perhaps everything in this world truly does have a price.

 

 

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About Vanessa Vernick

Vanessa is a writer and editor for We Eat Films and, thus, has a love for film (especially classic FIlm Noir) and a passion for writing. She is currently in pursuit of an Honours Double Major in Criminology and Sociology at Western, giving her a unique edge, and tries to incorporate a bit of this into much of what she writes. She is hoping to pursue her Masters in Journalism. When she's not writing, you'll usually find her glued to her TV or enamoured by one of the great, classic Penguin novels.

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