Photo Credit: AMC
Warning: this post contains spoilers. Make sure you're caught up on your DVD queue before reading!
Though its title clearly emphasizes the male characters in the show, the Mad Men finale made it abundantly clear that the women are edging out the men as the real power players in this show. The changing tone of the female characters in the series mirrors the changing tone of the time in which the Emmy-winning show is set. The early 1960s saw a massive change for the role of women in society: no longer were they only seen as housewife material. Like their real-life counterparts, the main women of Mad Men got mad as heck with gender discrimination and they aren't going to sit back and just take it anymore.
Don Draper's wife (played by January Jones) made good on her promise to leave him despite his "there, there" condescension and insinuation that it was just her hormones talking. Though this was somewhat shocking for the notoriously doormat-ish Betty, perhaps even more shocking was New York State's exceedingly restrictive divorce laws, which required irrefutable evidence of infidelity. But Betty was undeterred in her determination to leave Don: even during the divorce talk with their children, as Don tried to soften things by saying it's "temporary," Betty made it clear she wanted the marriage to be over for good.
While Don (played by Jon Hamm) had done a lot to propel the career of his former secretary, he still consistently proved that he was going to remain in control of her advertising destiny. Not this time, though. As Don informed Peggy that he was leaving Sterling-Cooper to start his own firm -- and that she would be coming with him -- she protested, and marched out of his office. "You didn't even ask me," she pointed out. He merely assumed she would do his bidding. She only relented when the emasculated Don came to her house, hat in hand, and all but begged her to join them.
When the Sterling-Cooper castoffs were casting about for someone who really knew how to run things, who did they call? A woman, of course. The ball-busting Joan Holloway may take orders from her higher-ups (read: men), but she doesn't take b.s. from anyone. Now if only they'd finally give her a shot to move beyond her office-manager role, as she came so close to doing last season, they'd truly win over their female viewers. The show has already gotten much praise for bringing back the curvaceous beauty ideal by casting the gorgeous Christina Hendricks. Come on, Mad Men creators. Let's keep the momentum going.
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