Mad Men Season 6 Episode 10, A Tale of Two Agencies

Does anybody remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine befriends a group of guys who are the Bizarro World versions of Jerry, George, Kramer, and Newman? If memory serves, they were like good-guy doppelgangers who were way less neurotic, mean and generally absurd than the show regulars.

It’s all I could think about while watching the former CGC boys hold down the fort while team SCDP frolicked in the sun. Ted Pshaw and Jim Cutler are totally the Bizarro Don and Roger, right down to their shaky truce of a bromance.

Ted’s the workaholic creative director making inadvisable romantic decisions at the office. Just, with less alcoholism, sketchy past, and general inability to feel.

Jim’s the slightly older account man, wise-cracking, plotting against people he doesn’t like, and giving off a bit a dirty old man vibe, but not entering Roger’s league with any of it.

I want to see this dynamic explored even more. Maybe they should have contests to see which duo looks better in jaunty little sailor suits, or who can be the first to make Peggy cry. Roger scored a point for SCDP this week in the category of Best One-Liner for “Our biggest challenge is to not get syphilis.” Cutler shouting at Bob “WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS DOWN HERE? GO BACK UPSTAIRS!” was a close second, if only because Bob Benson is so cloying that it’s always funny when someone calls him out. (Is Bob Benson’s So-Sincere-I-Don’t-Trust-It Smile the Bizarro Pete Campbell’s Bitchface?)

In other news, I really can’t emphasize enough how much I love a good Joan and Peggy scene. Every time they’re along together on the screen, you can almost see the status shifting from one to the other depending on the situation. Joan was one step ahead of Peggy for a long time, but in later seasons, Peggy’s career success coupled with the string of blows to Joan’s self-esteem shifted things a bit. This week was the first time Joan has ever outright gone to Peggy for advice though. If only timid little season 1 Peggy knew what was in store for that relationship in the long haul.

Though she might not know her way around the men’s areas of their business the way Peggy does, Joan has does a bang-up job of appointing herself head of “the girls” at the newly merged agency, seeming to have made short work of the office manager from CGC that we briefly saw. I believe that makes her the only major character who has firmly established herself as the reigning champion in one of those ubiquitous SCDP vs. CGC battles that know one but Cutler wants to admit exist.

In that area Peggy is, of course, her own doppelganger, caught between her old self who deferred to Don and his always smooth gray suits, and her new self who holds sexual power over Ted and his always dorky turtlenecks under corduroy. What do you think? Will the most recent development in her relationship with Joan give her more confidence in her status at SC&Whatever, or will she give in to her vestigial Catholic guilt and feel bad about how the situation turned out?

Nice rappin’ with you Rog,


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