Thursday, June 07, 2012

In which I realize motherhood has changed my values in a not-so-good way (a.k.a. me musing about Mad Men)

I knoooooow. I've been neglecting ze blog. Forgive me, my dearest readers. I hate to admit it but "superwoman" me ain't super at all. I'm having a very hard time juggling the needs of a new baby and a toddler, on top of managing my house, and my work as editor and writer! Stress Drilon araw-araw!

But I'm happy. Yes oh yes!

Don Draper and Joan Holloway.
Two of the sexiest people on TV (and in the world)!
Anyway, does anyone here watch Mad Men? I never get to talk to anyone about Mad Men. It seems like no one I know watches Mad Men. I seldom get to feature the show in the Hollywood magazine I edit either. So I only have the hubby to talk to when it comes to all things Mad Men.

Such a shame since the past couple of episodes have been astounding and outstanding. But I'm not going to do a review today; I'm going to explore the decision that Joan made two episodes ago and how it's affecting my marriage (hala lagot!).

Joan, played by the lusciously curvaceous Christina Hendricks (who deserves an Emmy dammit!), got an indecent proposal. The ad agency needs Jaguar to hire them and the creatives, pushed by Don, are busy coming up with a fantastic campaign. But the head of the dealership association tells Pete that the deal would be made much sweeter and surer if he gets to spend a night with Joan. Yuck.

Pete and the agency's partners are shocked and then aren't shocked (pfft, men!). Don walks out but the others tell Pete to offer Joan $50,000. Joan is mightily offended, even though she admits that the money--four times her annual salary--is huge. Lane comes in later and tells her to not settle for the money; she should ask for a partnership plus 5% of the firm. Now, she's going through a divorce and is raising a baby boy all on her own. This is the 60s. A broken marriage was a shameful thing. What's a single mother to do?

She slept with him, of course.
Did he have to be so icky?
You have to watch the episode to see that it isn't as sleazy as it sounds. And to see the utterly magnificent acting of Joan as she plays the role of desperate mother, resolute seductress and ambitious career woman.

Now how is this affecting Vince and me? Well, Vince labels what Joan did as prostitution. That's very Vince--he calls a spade a spade, everything is black and white for him. That's what makes him a good man. I, on the other hand, am a believer in context. Shades of gray, if you will. So in my mind, unpalatable and despicable as the deed was, I saw it as something that Joan needed to do to secure the future of her son. Vince, of course, is beyond shocked when I said that. He exclaimed in dismay, "Thank God we don't have daughters!"

Well, thank goodness I wasn't alive in the 60s! What Joan did really didn't strike me as prostitution. For me it was a desperate act of a mother. Matthew Weiner, Mad Men's creator, says:
"Honestly, I think that if I had not mentioned the word 'prostitution' in the episode, I don't even know if the audience would have really realized that that's what it was. It's more complicated than trading sex for money because it's really about this woman getting into a position of power." 
And getting into a state where she won't need a man to provide for her and her son. When you're a mother, all your choices are defined by your children. Even Christina Hendricks says:
"The question is, what would you do to protect your family? Joan is raising her son all on her own. She has no help from anybody. So is it noble? Is it slutty? I don't know."
Ya. I don't know either. I do know that I'm a mother. I understood. I think I'll never do what Joan did but I won't judge her or women who had to make choices like that. So Vince said, "We have to let our children know that they will always have us, that they can always come home, so that they'll never have to do anything desperate."

And this is when I pray to God desperately that we stay alive and healthy, leading abundant lives, so that our sons will always have enough. Maybe sometimes even plenty. So that, as their father fervently hopes, they'll never have to do anything desperate.

*images from The Hollywood Reporter

22 comments:

  1. Vince and my hubby are so the same in that aspect - Black or white lang. No gray areas daw. And like you, I see all the grays!!! :)))

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  2. You know what this reminds me of a song from the early 2000s. It goes like this "What would you do if your son was at home
    Crying all alone on the bedroom floor cuz he's hungry
    And the only way to feed him is to
    Sleep wit' a man for a little bit of money," ...I don't know if it's a woman thing but it's really hard for me to judge a deed knowing full well that it's being motivated by her love for her kid.

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    1. Yes, now that I'm older, life has gotten more complicated in that way. I'm always reserving judgment because until we're in that person's shoes, we really can't judge anyone!

      That's a great (and very sad) song, btw!

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  3. I watch Mad Men and I LOVE it! Between Peggy and Joan, I was in tears at the end of this episode. Christina Hendricks' performance was just top-notch. You just KNOW she didn't want to do it, but her internal struggle was so subtly played. I'm reminded of how Fantine in Les Miserables makes the same choice (but maybe in a more histrionic way).

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    1. Sigh. Especially since Joan started the series as this woman who had simple desires--to be a devoted housewife and doting mommy. She wanted to be Betty!

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  4. me, me... i watch mad men!!! :) you can always tweet me to talk about it anytime if you want kakampi from vince hahaha :)

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  5. Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. I also think Joan did the proper (not necessarily right and morally-upright) thing at the right time. :)

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  6. I started watching Mad Men several mos ago in Netflix. I got into the 2nd season then my interest wane and other shows seem more interesting. Anyhow, it makes me think that everyone in the show, esp. the men, smells like vagina and ash tray (I know it is gross but I cannot help it). It seems like everyone is unhappy, chain smoker and sleeping around. Maybe, that's the culture of the time in NYC? I don't know!

    However, I agree with you. Most of the time, Life is not black or white. It is very complicated. No single answer or story. Maybe motherhood makes us pragmatic...That way we could love and support our children unconditionally...

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    1. Okay, you made me laugh. What do you mean by vagina and ash tray???

      As for me, this season Don finally has everything he wants so he's soooo happy. Strangely, his happiness made the show kinda boring. It was when he became unhappy again (when his current wife Megan stopped being obedient LOL) that things picked up!

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    2. I am so sorry for the "v" word. I mean the characters sleep around and smoke a lot. I can just imagine how they smell...

      You are right it would be boring if Don is happy. I cannot imagine him happy.

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    3. Oh I don't get offended by vagina. Vagina vagina vagina! It's one of my favorite words! I just wondered what you meant by the men smelling like vaginas hahaha

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  7. I love this show! Haven't seen the episode yet but I looked at the review (hehe di nakatiis) and I was shocked! But then again, at that time, and the options open to her, what could she had done? I'm totally with you on this.

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    1. So have you watched it??? The episode after Joan's is even more shocking!!!

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  8. Oh, Mad Men keeps on getting better and better. :)

    And well, we can't pretty much judge everyone else for doing what they're doing up front. :P

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    1. I knooooow! I hear that Mad Men is in danger of being cancelled again, though. =(

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    2. Oh no! Going to start praying it won't! (I'm still mourning the loss of Pushing Daisies, sad.)

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  9. I had mixed feelings when I saw this episode. At first, I want to smack Pete for even considering the proposition. But when Lane suggested the partnership terms, somehow it made me step back and think. I didn't expect the rest of the board (aside from Don and Roger)to agree with it. Greedy bastards! The deed is done. I look forward to a happy (and powerful) Joan next season.

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    1. I was surprised at Don actually. Was wondering if he walked out because Joan is his friend. Remember Sal, the gay artist? The boss from Lucky Strike wanted to sleep with Sal and Sal declined, so they lost the account. Don got really mad at Sal and fired him.

      So does this mean Don has no respect for gays (in that time, an alpha male like Don won't!), has respect for Joan and Joan alone or is he really a changed man?

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    2. If Don was the alpha male then Joan is the alpha female. I think I understand each other. It will be a bad idea if they hooked up together. At least for me, I hope they don't.

      What's you take on Sally? I think she is too young for all the adult things going on. Can they stretch out a happy innocent stage on her? I am uneasy about it.

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  10. I love Mad Men, and Joan is my absolute favorite character. I almost cried when she had to make that decision. And I wanted to punch Pete Campbell in the face. (First season pa lang. That ep where Lane beat him up was one of my favorites!)

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