'Mad Men' Season Premiere Recap: Joan & Peggy's Battle Has Just Begun

peggy and joan promo photosWe've been told it's "the end of an era," but on the premiere of the final season (really, the second half of the final season) of Mad Men tonight,  we watched as Peggy and Joan went to battle on the brink of an era -- that often cringeworthy period of time not that long ago when women had to demand long-overdue respect in the workplace. 


But instead of defending themselves with firearms, they were pulling out all the stops for one of SC&P's most "lady-friendly" accounts, Topaz pantyhose.

The battleground: A boardroom meeting, in which Joan and Peggy were pitching a gang of male reps from McCann-Erickson (now the ad co's parent company) to play matchmaker between Marshall Field's (RIP, beloved Chicago department store!) and Topaz, which needed a higher-end reputation revamp in the wake of Leggs' hot new drugstore success.

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And instead of actually pay attention to what their colleagues had to say, the men peppered the conversation with horribly sexist frat boy sexual innuendos ("So you can pull [the pantyhose] down over and over?") and downright disgusting, objectifying remarks ("Why aren't you in the brassiere business? You should be in the bra business -- you're a work of art!") proving they weren't taking Joan and Peggy seriously or paying attention to the matter at hand. No, they were basically just epitomizing the lack of seriousness with which some men took women in the workplace in 1970.

Our Mad women really had no choice but to grin and bear the heinous behavior, trying simply to divert the guys' attention back to the task at hand. Stomach churning!

Worse yet, they ended up taking out their frustration with the situation on one another. In what may have been one of the most brilliant (albeit uncomfortable) scenes between Peggy and Joan yet -- and there have been several over the years! -- Peggy asked Joan how she can expect to be respected when she dresses the way she does, and Joan fired back a cruel remark about Peggy's looks. Noooo!

While it seems like an honest portrayal of the opposing stances women would take on sexist foul play in the workplace, banding together and supporting one another is clearly the solution to the bigger problem. Hoping we get to see Peggy and Joan do just that before the series comes to a close!

In the meantime, the aggravated duo tried to cope in fittingly different ways. Peggy went out on a blind date -- with co-worker John Mathis’ brother-in-law, Stevie -- which she had previously blown off, got drunk, and almost hopped the next flight to the City of Light with New Guy. Joan went shopping -- perhaps driven by Peggy's remarks that she needs to dress more conservatively. (Full circle moment, given that back in season one it was Joan who told Peggy to stop dressing like a kid?)

Ah, really, it's no wonder Joan and Peggy are in such a tough spot, when you consider the fact that right down the hall, Don himself, who while above making blatantly lecherous remarks to his female colleagues, is spending most of his time unapologetically gawking over a bevy of glamorous, young models who are coming in for casting calls. And bedding one cutiepie after the next is apparently how he's spending his time in the wake of splitting with Megan.

Thankfully, given that the year is 1970 (April, to be exact -- which is when Dick Nixon made the Cambodia speech Don's watching on TV in one scene), the world's still very much in a state of upheaval and change. 'Cept one change we are definitely not down with is that retro mustache of Roger's -- make it stop!

What did you think about the way Joan and Peggy reacted to the sexist remarks?


Image via AMC

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