With only three episodes until the end of Mad Men, Peggy really kicked her feminist mentality into overdrive last night and honestly, we’re feeling pretty inspired by her railing against the aftereffects for women after a one-night stand.
For seven seasons of Mad Men, we’ve watched the ad men (especially Don), bounce from one woman to the next, seemingly without consequences. By our count, there are at least half a dozen women Don slept with outside of his marriage that could have ended up with pregnancies. And, barring the few instances where he kept up with the women, he’d have no idea if he fathered another spawn of sadism or not. Last night’s episode dealt with that issue head-on, but not in the way you think.
During an audition full of kids hoping to make bank by fondling Play-Doh, Peggy is left uncomfortably in charge of a room full of tykes. Her obvious discomfort is spotted by Rizzo, who quickly notes that she appears to hate kids. Things become doubly awkward when, post-auditions, one little girl is forgotten by her mother. During Peggy’s time as babysitter, the girl manages to staple her hands, and when her mother finally reappears, Peggy is accused of doing a poor job of babysitting the clearly neglected kiddo.
Later, Rizzo and Peggy are left alone to brainstorm and Rizzo can’t help but comment on what a terrible mom the woman was and how much Peggy hates kids. Mad Men fans haven’t been reminded of it in a while, but you probably remember back in Season 4 that when Peggy had a tryst with Pete, she wound up pregnant and sick, had a baby boy and gave it up for adoption. Obviously watching the young, single mother struggle to take care of her girl just added salt to Peggy’s wound. Rizzo’s rude comments only made things worse. Peggy remained defensive regarding the woman, but kept her past experiences to herself.
That is, until Rizzo alludes to how he may or may not have fathered a few kids of his own, but would have no idea.
“That’s funny to you because it wouldn’t matter if you did. You could walk away,” Peggy said. And, when Rizzo tried to equate the issue to his mother’s own poor parenting, Peggy wouldn’t have it. “But you don’t understand your mother! Maybe she was very young and followed her heart and got in trouble, and no one should have to make a mistake just like a man does and not be able to move on. She should be able to live the rest of her life just like a man does. Maybe you do what you thought was the best thing.”
Peggy has never said anything more brilliant. Obviously, Mad Men is a period drama and, for the most part, they’re touching on a double standard that really reared its head in the ’60s and ’70s. As we’ve mentioned, we’ve witnessed plenty of affairs from the men on Mad Men and yet they’ve all walked away unscathed and with no connection to those transgressions. Peggy’s story line highlighted the other side. And, sure, these days birth control is more prevalent and less stigmatized than ever before. But that doesn’t change things too drastically. At the end of the night, an hour after last call, mistakes are still made every weekend and sometimes those mistakes turn into pregnancies. The men move on with their lives, almost always never knowing what they’ve left in their wakes. But for the women involved, they carry the scars of that night with them, one way or another. They either live through the pain and emotional issues that might come with an abortion, or they carry the baby for nine months and, like Peggy, give it up for adoption while sometimes wondering what became of the child they just weren’t ready for.
On the show, Peggy and Rizzo continued their talk. After Rizzo pushed the point some more, Peggy came clean. While she never admitted that the baby was Pete’s, she filled in her favorite coworker on what she’s dealt with and why she knows she’s right. Rizzo quietly asked why she did. And Peggy, with so much eloquence and restrained emotion, told the secret hardly anyone knows.
“I’m here, and he’s with a family somewhere,” she admitted. “I don’t know, but it’s not because I don’t care. I don’t know because you’re not supposed to know or you can’t go on with your life.”
To see the whole holy shit moment, watch the video below: