Last's night's Mad Men season finale took place during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the real action was happening to the AMC series' gorgeous and successful women. While the men of Mad Men cower in their apartments, bang tables in anger and hide under desks, the women have taken center stage to become the show's centerpiece. Yes, Mad Men has stopped living up to its title, and might deserve a new one for its third season.For show creator Matthew Weiner, nothing screams feminism like the raging hormones of a woman with child. He describes how the pregnancy of Betty Draper (January Jones) affects the character's growth:
She is pregnant, which is actually, believe it or not for a woman of that era, sexually liberating. There's no risk. She is drunk. She is angry, and it's the end of the world. There is a feeling of a lack of consequences, because the bombs are going to come in five minutes. But I think she has put herself on equal footing.
It was a coming out party for suffering housewife Betty Draper and copywriter Peggy Olson last night, and to some extent it has been all season. It's hard to think of a show that began with a certain set of compelling main characters, and switched the focus entirely midway through it run. Don Draper finally got some resolution to his emotional spirit quest, but was generally reduced to vaguely threatening his bosses and writing cutesy love letters to his wife. The more compelling drama was in the finale's emotional scene between rising account executives Peggy Olson and Pete Campbell. The scene started as an example of the Campbell character's agency, but the moment turned out not to belong to him at all.
The women of Mad Men are now the show's real real protagonists. The Sterling Cooper copywriters had to bug a switchboard operator to see if they'd still be employed next week, and the higher-ups are just as listlessly disempowered. The big decisions, as they so often do in life, boil down to the fairer sex: whether to keep the child, whether to allow your husband to return home, and whether to go through with marrying your rapist boyfriend. Peggy Olson has taken over Freddy Rumsen's office, and Betty Draper has turned into a more exciting sexpot than her handsome husband. It's a new world out there.