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Mad Men Watch: A Girl’s Best Friend

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SPOILER ALERT: Before you read this post, plug in your TV–and whatever other appliances you need–and watch Mad Men.

Things to go and people to do today, so I’ll keep the Watch brief. First: had Peggy gradually been adding the prosthetic pounds in earlier episodes and I just missed it? (There were references to her weight, sure, but there were from the beginning.) Was anyone as distracted by her makeup as I was? Girl looked like Sherman Klump.

Once you got past the latex distractions, though, an excellent night for Elisabeth Moss, showing Peggy growing into her job. (Oh, come on! Like I was just supposed to leave that one lying there?) Peggy is thrown the task of pitching the, ahem, weight-loss belt not just because she’s chunky–though it doesn’t escape comment–but also because she’s good, and she shows her newfound confidence from the second she takes the assignment. (“Am I allowed to change the name?” “Yes.” “Thank you.”) And while her fight with her blind date was a little too subtext-on-the-surface (“Those people in Manhattan? They are better than us. Because they want things they haven’t seen”), it did show what Peggy’s trying to escape, while also allowing her date to call her out on her condescension.

The storyline could have been played for sentiment (i.e., Peggy having to confront her weight problem and the way she’s viewed for it) or for rah-rah empowerment (i.e., Peggy finds her ticket out of the outer boroughs and the secretarial pool, plus a new man-free electric friend for an added touch of protofeminist girl power). Instead, it’s a little of both. In the end, she has a triumph–more money, more respect, a possible way to succeed as a woman at Sterling Cooper without lying down–and yet, when she goes home to “celebrate” with the Rejuvenator, it’s an open question how celebratory she’s feeling. (I’d love to hear how you took that last scene.)

Nice parallel, meanwhile, with the storyline of Betty, who finds her own “rejuvenation” with an overly agitated washing machine and a fantasy about an air-conditioner salesman. (Who, in one of the more apt ironies of this irony-heavy show, offers her the chance to “live in frozen comfort.” Frozen comfort? She’s soaking in it!)

As for Don’s intersecting work and personal stories, the show seems to be setting up some dramatics with two episodes to go, with Pete picking up the Big Box of Suicide Don’s brother mailed to the newly minted partner’s office. What’s in it, and what will Pete get for it? And what does a Rejuvenator retail for, anyway?

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