Mad Men, Season 5

Megan Is a New Breed of Woman
Talking television.
March 27 2012 10:55 AM

Mad Men, Season 5


Megan is a new breed of woman.

Mad Men (Season 5)
Megan sings to Don at his birthday party in Season 5, Episode 1 of Mad Men

Ron Jaffe/AMC

John, there’s no way Greg Harris will die in Vietnam. If Joan’s husband bites it in the jungle, he’ll never come home and meet Joan’s baby, which means he’ll never wonder whether that baby is really his, which means he’ll never inspect it suspiciously for silver hair and laceratingly witty burbles. Too many dramatic possibilities disappear if Greg never comes home.

As for Lane’s finances, he might be broke because he’s spending all his cash at the Playboy Club. But that doesn’t sound like Lane to me. He’s such a funny mix of propriety and perviness. But proper Lane always wins. See how he backs down sheepishly when Polito’s “girl”—“I’m like his wife, but I can’t call myself that”—resists his offer to come over and drop the wallet off. I think it’s more likely that Lane, who keeps the books, is paying himself last, and that his poverty is a sign of just how tight things are at SCDP.

Patrick, you called Megan “accommodating”—getting her work done, throwing Don’s party, cleaning the house. But I’m not sure that’s the right word. The person Megan accommodates most often is Megan. She throws the party for Don, but mostly because she wants to show off her sex appeal and her chic new white carpet. When Don demands, “Don’t waste money on things like that,” she responds. “It’s my money, and you don’t get to decide what I do with it.” Can you imagine Betty saying such a thing? The fact that Megan works gives her unprecedented independence in her dealings with Don. Indeed, the episode could have been called Who’s the Boss?, given the way Don and Megan tussled for control. (Don at the office: “I could make you go home. I have that power.” Megan on the carpet: “You don’t get to have this.”)


Where does Megan derive this power? Here we see yet another microgenerational fissure. For Joan, Peggy, and Dr. Faye Miller, working is something surprising, something unexpected, something their mothers give them flak for. Megan, though, seems to take for granted that she can work as a professional, ooze sex appeal, marry the boss, and not skip a beat. She knows what she likes—black coffee for breakfast, being taken seriously by her colleagues, sex in the wreckage of a cocktail party—and she goes after it. She’s a slightly new breed of woman. Or a new iteration of the new breed. It’ll be fascinating to see how far her ambitions take her.

Do I suddenly appear to be wearing a skirt?

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.


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