Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mad Men: Joan, you're no Peggy

I have been a fan of Mad Men on AMC from the beiginning, but it wasn't for Jon Hamm, the Sexiest Man Alive Sooner Or Later, but two Whedon alumni were in it. Namely, Vincent Kartheiser, a/k/a Connor on Angel, and Christina Hendricks a/k/a Our Mrs. Reynolds on Firefly. I actually took a picture of her drawing a raflle ticket at the legendary Flanvention three years ago.

Both their characters had interesting plotlines last year. Peter Campbell (Kartheiser) was a newly-married ad executive who had a one-night stand, and affair, with Peggy, a secretary with big ideas. That resulted in a child that he doesn't know about. In fact, I'll be shocked if he does find out before the end of this season. Joan (Hendricks) is the Officer Manager and Master of Her Domain at Sterling Cooper. She's also the exception to the old song "A Secretary Is Not A Toy", since she has a thing on the side with Sterling, which has now ended.

Season two has been different, though. Peter is trying to make his marriage to Trudy work, but while she wants a baby, he's not so sure. He's also trying to get ahead at the firm, looking for any edge. He's also not so faithful, having another one-night stand with a model. He has tried to re-connect with Peggy, but she is too busy trying to move up in the firm as a copywriter...despite her secret of being a single mother. From what we hear from the little clips from the next episode on the 21st, it may not be over yet.

Meanwhile, Joan seems to be pushed to the background. Aside from bragging about her fiance doctor, dealing with being 31 (which was considered being on the edge of senior citizenship back then) and trying to fend off Jane, a new secretary who may have even better tricks that Joan does, she hasn't had much to do. I thought that would finally change when she starts to help Harry in the new TV department. In fact, she's quite good. However, once Sterling decides to give Harry an assistant, it's not Joan. To put it midly, she's disappointed, and I think surprised she does feel that way. She actually got a taste of ambition, and a sense that she can be more than just Queen of the Steno Pool--and she gets it taken away. I thought that was unfair...until I realized that's the point of the show. For every Peggy Olson who wants to be Don Draper, or even Roger Sterling, there's 20 who have the same goal and never even gain a yard. Sadly, that girl is Joan Holloway.

Is that going to be her story, one of those left behind in the women's movement? Is she just too sexy to be more than she is right now? Again, that isn't fair, but it must have happened. I just hope that if the show does go all the way through the Sixties, Joan will endure somehow, and that Peggy may give her a hand.

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