MAD MEN “The Beautiful Girls” Review

Mad Men "The Beautiful Girls"

“It’s a business of sadists and masochists and you know which one you are.” And with that, Mrs. Blakenship gives the most insightful line of MAD MEN yet. From the first scene of this week’s epsiode entitled “The Beautiful Girls”, the viewer is quite clear as to who the sadists are and who the masochists are. We hear Don Draper speaking roughly into the phone about wanting a meeting right then. He tells the caller that he will grab lunch and barks “I am hanging up now.” Although intended to sound like a curt business call, it was in fact an invitation to meet Dr. Faye for lunch at his place and in his bed. What Don was not ready for on Friday, apparently sounded like a great idea come Monday. Lonely weekends will do that to you.

This episode was truly centered on the beautiful girls of Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce and the masochist in each of them. First up is Peggy who gets set up with the guy interested her at the loft party that ended early due to the cop raid. Peggy’s newly found friend, Joyce, entices her to go to the bar where they have a chance meeting with Abe who admits he was going to try to find Peggy at work or at home. Peggy is flattered and things are going smoothly until Able ventures into political territory and asks Peggy how she can represent Fillmore Auto Parts when there is an active boycott due to their failure to hire African Americans. Peggy, unaware of the boycott and clearly not into politics as much as Abe, insists that the agency would never knowingly represent someone that did not accept everyone. She insists that SCDP would help companies overcome such prejudices. Abe does not believe her. When he points out the injustice in hiring for African Americans, Peggy insists that she has had similar obstacles herself. Abe pretty much laughs her off with a casual maybe we will have a “civil rights parade for women.” And so ended the date with Abe.

Later Abe appears at the office with a gift for Peggy to make up for their awkward ending the night before. The gift is an essay he has written that he wants her to read right away and insists on waiting in the lobby while she does so, ironically directly under the 666 address of another building. Is that a sign or foreshadowing for Peggy? Unfortunately, calling your proposed date a war criminal for working for the Fillmore Auto Parts company in an essay and then saying you plan on publishing it despite the fact that she might lose her job does nothing to advance your likeability or your chance for a second date. Abe thinks he read Peggy wrong. I think all of Peggy’s men read her wrong. They are consistently pushing ideas and plans on her that she has never indicated she wanted or needed. It seems Peggy is not just a masochist in the business world, but also in her dating world.

Joan is having a hard time with her husband away at basic training. She has been avoiding Roger and his inappropriate comments as well. Roger, after taking a break from yelling at a publisher about the brilliance of his book (“It has mystery, romance and intrigue. And it tells you how to sell things.”), learns that Joan’s husband is away. Thoughtful as he is, he sends two females to Joan’s home for a manicure, pedicure and massage. When Joan thanks him, he tries to get her to go out with him. She declines. Later, after the untimely demise of Mrs. Blakenship (and the point where my heart cried a little), Joan takes him up on his offer. They head out to their normal hideaway that unfortunately is in a neighborhood that has become a little seedier. Despite Joan’s hard stance on no intimacy with Roger, a brush with crime finds them having sex in an alleyway. Old habits die hard. Roger claims to regret what they did. Joan has no regrets but no plans to do anything else as she is married. Roger wishes they could be together. Why did he marry his secretary anyway?

Finally, we have Dr. Faye. Although not a main character, she certainly played a major role this week. Not only did she finally get into Don’s bed, but she also got a snippit of what life is really like around Don. First, she has to babysit Sally who bravely rode a train without a ticket to come visit Don early. Betty won’t come get Sally because it is “no fun” taking care of her. She wants Don to take some responsibility. Don smartly replies “You need to learn responsibility.” In the end, Sally stays having successfully achieved what she set out to do, have more alone time with Don. Until then, however, she sits with Dr. Faye. Sally is a smart one and deduces that Dr. Faye is more than a friend because she knew Don had peanut butter at his apartment. Sally doesn’t much like the possibility of Don having a girlfriend, but at least this time she didn’t cut off her hair. When Sally throws a fit when Don tries to return her to Betty, it is Dr. Faye who he basically badgers into helping. She is no help. In fact, it is the receptionist, Megan, who picks Sally up after she runs down the hall and falls flat on her face in front of everyone. It is Megan whom Sally clings to crying that it will not be all right. Dr. Faye is annoyed that she was forced to deal with children. She likes them but she doesn’t have any and is not good with them. She tells Don this does not make her a failure, but since he wasn’t calling her a failure, one has to wonder if that is how she sees herself.

Sadly, the best woman in the bunch is now gone. Mrs. Blakenship died at her desk, as Cooper put it “she died like she lived, answering everyone’s phone.” This happens at the most inopportune time as Don, Dr. Faye and Ken are working with the Fillmore Auto Parts guys to come up with an ad campaign. There is angst among the family members on which way to go and Ken tries to come up with a compromise that Don immediately shoots down with “that is not a strategy, that is two strategies connected by the word and.” Finally, they reach a compromise with “a mechanic for the every man” while outside the conference room, Pete, apparently also an every man, is helping to dispose of Mrs. Blankeship before the Fillmore people come out. As sad as I was to see Mrs. Blakenship go, I have to admit the scene was quite comical.

The most poignant scene to me was the final scene with the elevators. We see different women leave in different elevators, but Joan, Peggy and Dr. Faye all end up in the same one. As the door shuts, you can see on each of their faces the sadness they are carrying. Joan for Roger, Dr. Faye for Don, and Peggy for every man that has crossed her path. The door shuts on those beautiful girls, none of whom can even muster a smile.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Mad Men? What do you think is going to happen with Sally? I almost thought she was going to accuse Betty or her husband of some abuse in order to stay. What do you think of Joan and Roger? Destined to be together or just making the same mistakes? Do you think these beautiful girls are truly masochists or do they not yet know the power that they hold? Lastly, who else is sad about the passing of Mrs. Blakenship? Who else will ask Don if he is going to the toilet every time he leaves his office? I know I will miss her. Share your thoughts, ideas, and favorite moments of tonight’s episode of Mad Men in the comments below.