“Mad Men” Season 3: The rise of the women

Sunday was the end to a sterling season of Mad Men. If you aren’t caught up, just move along. Nothing to see here but spoilers.

Wasn’t that finale grand? I mean, the whole Ocean’s Eleven feel of recruiting Sterling Cooper employees and then raiding the offices for client files was just plain fun. And it was definitely a nice way to cap a somewhat depressing season.

But you can read reviews elsewhere. We’re all about the women here. Happily, so was Mad Men Season 3. The main female characters went through identity crises that caused a lot of unexpected behavior and ended the season with all three facing unexpected futures.

Betty Draper (January Jones) spent much of the season coming to terms with the fact that Don will never be the kind of stable and honest husband she needs.

She searched for ways to find self-respect while staying in the marriage for the sake of the kids, but in the process found another Prince Charming, Henry, who seems to offer Betty the happily-ever-after she so desperately wants.

Of course, leaving one spouse for another without finding out who you are first is a Bad Idea, but at least Betty stood up for herself with Don. I have hopes that Season 4 will find Betty discovering fulfillment apart from a relationship (unless she wants to try her luck with Joan). But she still has some growing up to do first.

Joan Holloway Harris (Christina Hendricks) had a tough year.

Still, for reasons unknown, with the loser husband who raped her, Joan quit Sterling Cooper to focus on being a good trophy wife to the up-and-coming ass surgeon.

But when Dr. Rape’s cherished surgical residency fell through, so did the promise of a life of luxury for Joan. She already had left Sterling Cooper and had to scramble to find another job. When she came out to help Pete at the department store, every Joan lover died a little inside.

We knew Joan would be OK, especially after she broke a vase over hubby’s head. But was any Mad Men fan not grinning like a kid in a candy store when Roger called in Joan to save the day? (I love that she’s wearing slacks.)

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) had the most satisfying storyline of anyone this season, at least to me.

I’m sure being a copywriter myself has something to do with it. Although misogyny in ad agencies is much more subtle these days, Peggy’s struggle to get the respect of her peers is all too familiar.

We got to see Peggy grow more confident in her abilities this year. And despite her affair with gross, what-the-Duck Phillips, she has learned to hold her own in a male-dominated profession.

In fact, Peggy’s self-assurance set the stage for my favorite moment of the entire Mad Men season. Don first tries to bully Peggy into joining the rogue agency, to which she responds, “You think I’ll just follow you like some nervous poodle?”

Then he goes to her apartment, hat in hand, to tell her how much he appreciates and needs her. Peggy asks, “If I turn you down, does that mean you’ll never speak to me again?” “No,” Don says. “I will spend the rest of my life trying to hire you.”

If a creative director said that to me, I’d follow him anywhere.

My only complaint about Mad Men Season 3 is that we have to wait so long for Season 4.

What did you think of this season of Mad Men? Do you think Betty and Don are over for good? What are your hopes for Joan, Peggy and the rest of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce?

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