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Mad Men: Peggy Olson’s Choice & Betty Draper’s Lack Of One

Last night’s episode of “Mad Men” was a rough one. Rough because it was the last one of the season — but the show has been picked up for season three — and rough because I didn’t think my heart could break any more for Betty Draper. The dichotomy between her life and Peggy’s was glaring — Betty has found out she’s pregnant and despite hinting to her doctor and to her friend that she “cannot have a baby right now”, she does not have the right to choose. Her doctor says she is a woman of means; her friend seems deaf to Betty’s hint that she wants to end her pregnancy. And so, in the end, she screwed a guy in a bar powder room and then took Don back.

On the flip side, as the Sterling Cooper office deals with the paranoia of potential nuclear war (this is right around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis), Peggy (whose priest has just tried to pressure her to “atone” for her sins) confesses to the one person who is worthy of knowing the truth — she tells Pete she had his baby and that she gave it up because she wanted other things for her life, that didn’t include forcing him to be with her. Those are the things Betty may have wanted for her, probably wanted, but can’t have. And when she tells Don that she’s expecting, you can at least tell that he knows this is not the joyous occasion it should be. It was a sad, sad, sad episode y’all.

What I find so impressive about “Mad Men” is that yes, it’s a show about the men who work on Madison Avenue, but as I’ve said before, this show is all about the women. They are the true stars, the deepest characters — despite Don’s mysterious past, and Duck’s raging alcoholism. Each week, the show reveals just how different two women’s lives can be. The striking duality between Peggy’s life and Joan’s life was the highlight of last week, with Peggy receiving her own office on the same day Joan was raped in her boss’ office by her fiance. This week was just as eye opening in regards to Peggy and Betty. How sad I felt for them both and how badly I wanted them to be able to sit down and talk to each other.

Anyway, final thought: whoever thought I would want to hug Pete Campbell?

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