‘Mad Men’ – Episode 6: Maidenform

Posted by Kathy Lyford

One of the more haunting episodes of the season gives us further insight into the two sides of some of the characters – the one they present to the world and the real one. This parallels nicely with the client pitch of the week: “Nothing fits both sides of a woman better than Playtex.”

Don Draper: Irrationally jealous husband; unrepentant philanderer.
Master at burying his history; unable to escape his past.
Bookending the episode we see Don enjoying a family day at the country club, until the shame he feels when daughter Sally proudly applauds her “war hero” daddy sends him straight into the arms of barraduda Bobbie Barrett. At the end of the episode he’s once again overwhelmed with guilt when an innocent comment from Sally reminds him of his less-than-innocent cheating ways. And while Don doesn’t seem to want Betty, he still can’t control his jealously when he observes her talking to Arthur or when he sees her wearing a new yellow bikini, which he calls “desperate.” Concluding the hour with an image of Don and his reflection in the bathroom mirror was a lovely touch.

Peggy Olson, so sure of her ability to write copy, finds herself unsure of her place in the hierarchy when the men in the office decide “bras are for men” and leave her out of the creative process on the Playtex campaign. (When Paul mentions that his research for Playtex is a 24-hour a day job, are we to assume that will lead to the eventual 18-hour bra campaign?) Peggy didn’t quite seem to grasp Bobbie’s advice about not trying to be a man. However she finally sees the light after Joan boils Bobbie’s advice down to a blunt statement: “Stop dressing like a little girl.” Losing her sad little ponytail and modest frocks may work on the boys at the office, but it puts Peggy under the same disapproving eye of Pete Campbell that she experienced way back when she asked him to dance the Twist with her.

Pete Campbell plays the confident businessman when he beds the model and when he tells his brother “I’m very important to the agency. My absence is felt.” However we know Pete’s real feelings, which he shared last episode with his doctor: “I’m completely replaceable.” As Pete returns home after his indiscretion and stares at himself in the mirror, reflected half in dark and half in light, I wondered if Pete will pursue Peggy again, now that he’s opened the door to infidelity. By the way, the jets on TV during Pete’s tryst with the model provided a great dose of humor.

We get our first glimpse into the personal life of Duck Phillips when his ex-wife drops off his kids for the Memorial Day weekend. Although Duck seems to be a caring father he’s obviously more comfortable with his Irish Setter Chauncey than with his kids. And, as I had begun to suspect at the end of season one, it’s revealed that Duck is struggling with alcoholism, which may explain why he can’t even handle the responsibility of caring for poor Chauncey, who he heartlessly sends off into the night. Just another reason to dislike Duck, although I did feel for him during his heart-to-heart with Don.