One of the things about having a toddler is I don’t get out much anymore. Another of the things about having a toddler is that when she goes to bed at night, I’m too exhausted to do much of anything except veg out in front of the TV. I’ve been slowly re-watching Mad Men — I watched it when it originally came out, and had very mixed feelings. But I’m finding that watching it again has actually improved my appreciation of the story a lot, and many of the things that kept me from liking it last time have faded. I don’t know if it’s because I now know what’s going to happen, so I can pick up on the EXCESSIVELY subtle clues (for instance, that Peggy is pregnant) and draw conclusions that I hadn’t before. I can also easily skip the parts that I know lead nowhere or are otherwise boring and annoying to watch (like all of January Jones’s long, pointless therapy sessions, or, you know, January Jones’s scenes in general).
One of the things I thoroughly disliked the first time around was any storyline involving Pete Campbell. I thought he was a pretty bad actor and I didn’t understand his motivations or character, in general. But in rewatching, I realize that the “fakeness” that grated against me in so many scenes is the character’s, not the actor’s, because he’s got this whole carefully constructed society-boy Ivy League facade going on. And I find his combined hatred of and desire to get approval from Don to be kind of lovely to watch. His boyish little temper tantrums, too, especially as compared to Betty’s.
(In passing, I will say this for Betty’s character — I did catch this time around how often she talks about her childhood. SHe’s CONSTANTLY talking about it, which makes her infantilization and her whole creepy thing with Glenn a little more understandable. It’s kind of impossible to imagine her a single girl in Manhattan — the girl Don fell for. It’s like she went from being a child to being a mom of children, with nothing in between.)
One of the biggest shocks for me, upon rewatching, was the realization that Peggy did NOT ditch her baby with her sister. The way her sister says “Aren’t you even going to say goodnight?” in one episode before she looks in on her sister’s sleeping children and the way Father Hanks gives her an Easter egg “for the little one” and gestures to Anita’s toddler son, it seemed, upon first watching, that this was her baby, and her sister’s anger and resentment over the way Peggy was just putting her whole experience behind her and acting like it was over with was not only completely understandable, it was… well, not as angry as I’d be if I was raising my sister’s kid and she was acting so carefree and dismissive toward me!
But in a flashback, it’s shown that while Peggy is in the hospital, Anita is also heavily pregnant. The little boy we see in Anita’s house is Anita’s. not Peggy’s. Anita’s anger is still understandable, as a staunch Catholic with a family of her own (and dealing with a husband who won’t work and a crowded house and her mother and all that — she’s clearly overwhelmed and a little jealous that Peggy is living a comparatively glamorous life and not dealing with the responsibility of her “sin” — but she’s not raising Peggy’s child.
The idea that Anita was raising Peggy’s son made me dislike Peggy a lot, because I thought she never really acted grateful and she was always really flippant toward Anita and her mother. But if she gave the baby up for adoption it makes a lot more sense that she doesn’t feel particularly beholden to them, and also why she might not have wanted to “say goodnight” to the baby that reminded her of the one she gave up. Also, the “Easter egg” scene is notable in this version for letting Peggy know that Anita told the father about what she did, and how that changes his relationship to her — he goes from being a friend who wants to use her copywriting skills to help him at church to a disciplinarian who wants her to repent.
I also like seeing that by season three, the sisters have forgiven each other and are on good terms again.
Additionally, the “adoption” explanation for the fate of Peggy’s baby makes much more sense with the season two plotline about Trudy’s infertility and Pete’s bias against adoption. His OWN baby was put up for adoption.
The other thing — and this might just be a writer thing — I really wish there was more about Ken Cosgrove. It’s a very realistic representation of a writer, unlike all those movies where writers are being chased down by their editors and are magically millionaires seconds after they put pen to paper. Ken hasn’t quit his day job, he’s not trying to worm in on creative, but it’s clear he is writing, all the time, in secret (as we find out again seasons later).
And of course, Joan. Ah, Joan. I love her so much.