The women of Mad Men take center stage in the season five finale. Joan takes charge as head of operations despite Lane’s ever present empty chair and Pete’s distractions and disruptions. Lane’s wife takes Don head on turning his apologies and $50,000 check into yet another painful, guilt ridden reminder of Lane’s suicide. Megan breaks through Don’s defensive and controlling attitudes about her career and convinces Don to secure a role for her in SCDP’s Butler shoe commercial.
Peggy is growing in her new job, takes her first solo business trip, and meets Don as “an equal” while “clearing out the cobwebs” at the movie theater. Then there’s Pete’s troubled liaison with Beth that results in yet another fistfight and Roger’s search for post LSD meaning that lands him in bed with Madame Calvet. The challenging and evolving role of women in the ‘60s has been an important underlying theme of Mad Men since its inception. The advertising business provides the perfect backdrop against which to explore this dynamic and Mad Men portrays it very well. The stage is set for an even deeper coming of age next season.
Joan As The Responsible Adult
The partner meetings at SCDP have taken on a more formal tenor under Joan. She is determined to put her sex goddess past behind her and provide responsible operational leadership that will keep the agency and the partners on an even keel. Fortunately, SCDP's finances are strong due to renewed billing from Mohawk Airlines, growth from existing clients and new revenue from Jaguar. The agency’s cash reserves are further strengthened with an unexpected $175,000 payout from Lane’s partner life insurance policy. With revenue up 34% in the first quarter and strong projections for the second quarter, SCDP is ready to expand. The key component of this expansion is the hiring of additional staff and along with that comes the need for additional office space. The availability of a contiguous floor presents an ideal opportunity to expand and create a two-floor showcase in the Time-Life building. In the Mad Men days the 15% commission system accommodated higher overheads than today and spacious offices were important to impress clients and build the agency’s image. Agency executives jockeyed for office size, windows and views to build their own image and presence. Today, overheads are lower, and agency digs are less about conspicuous opulence and more about efficient, functional space designed to reflect the culture of the agency.