Mad Men: Lipstick & Dipsticks


On last night’s episode, SCDP was forced to scramble after learning that Lucky Strike, their biggest client, was moving to a different ad agency. In this uncertain time, mistakes cannot be afforded—or avoided.

Now that Peggy is (presumably) having nooners with her new boyfriend Abe, she has sex on the brain, which she’s channeling into her work, creating the “woman’s touch” campaign pitch for Playtex. This doesn’t escape the notice of Stan, who interprets her expressions of sexuality as being directed toward anybody, including himself. So he takes a stab at getting creepy with her.

Later, as his “Fuck you for rejecting me,” Stan fails to tell Peggy that she has lipstick all over her teeth and lets her give her presentation to Playtex that way.

Although in 1965, Playtex was known for its swim caps, undergarments, and latex gloves, it’s come to be synonymous with feminine hygiene products. It will begin selling tampons in 1967, after acquiring a manufacturing company in the mid-’60s. Playtex was also the first company to advertise tampons on television. I couldn’t help but think about how Peggy’s lipstick incident played out like a lot of old-school tampon commercials, where the idea of an embarrassing stain is implied in other ways (like lipstick on one’s teeth). Perhaps this whole ordeal will only be another source of inspiration for Peggy, (undoubtedly with some kind of tag line she dreamily plucks out of the air like, “Don’t let female problems become an occupational hazard” or something) soon enough down the line, making Stan’s “fuck you” work in her favor.

Meanwhile, instead of stepping up to the plate like the rest of the company, Roger is hiding and playing make believe, because he can’t deal with failing at something that he never even achieved, but rather inherited, to begin with. Unlike Pete, Roger is not attentive to anything other than himself. Even when he went to see Joan, looking for a bosom in which to bury his head, she told him not once but three times, “I can’t do this.” Finally he said, “What are you saying?” not because he didn’t understand her, but because he wasn’t listening.

When he got home, his wife had a box of Sterling’s Gold waiting for him. The last we heard, publishers weren’t interested, so it’s unknown if he actually put this out himself. It’s supposed to be an autobiography—which should be full of triumphs, failures, and lessons learned—but it looks more like a short collection of poems. It’s tiny—a neat little bundle of physical proof that he hasn’t really led much of a life.

As Pete is losing sleep over Trudy’s exceedingly lengthy labor, as well as the demands of keeping his clients happy in the wake of the Lucky Strike blow, Don lashes at out at him, basically insulting the man for caring more about his wife’s difficult childbirth than the company.

Later, the two men sit together at a funeral for an ad man from another company, in hopes of poaching the dead man’s clients. Listening to the eulogies by his coworkers, it seemed to become apparent to both Don and Pete that this guy lived for his work, and died without ever being particularly present in his wife’s or his daughter’s lives. One man said, “You were always on his mind,” which seemed to actually scream, “You were never in his presence.” The two women seemed sad, and possibly bitter.

The point of a eulogy is to drive home why the dead person will be missed. How much can you miss a person who was never there to begin with? Don has already made those mistakes with his family. Pete can still avoid making them. Both men can probably take actions in their lives that could greatly affect how they might be eulogized. But it remains to be seen, at the moment, if either of them will make the time to do that before dying.

Well, actually, it would seem that Don is still hellbent on making mistakes, even when he knows he’s making them. While he’s trying to curb his drinking, he’s still exerts no self-control over having sex with coworkers.

Megan clearly has designs on a much larger life, admitting to Don that she wants to be in the creative department of the agency. Her attentiveness, dedication and ambition makes one wonder if she, too, has heard the rumors going around that Peggy got to where she is because she slept with Don. If that’s the case, someone is going to end up disappointed.

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