I Am Joan's Symbolically Diseased Ovary

Mad Men

My moment has arrived. I'm fulfilling my destiny. I am the diseased ovary of Mrs. Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks).

And sure, I helped Joan get pregnant that time, but I still felt undervalued. After all, every good drama needs a woman whose body represents sexual politics, and it sure ain't gonna be Peggy (Elisabeth Moss). She's not curvy at all.

More importantly, though, a good drama needs a woman whose body punishes her for breaking the sexual rules. How else can we appreciate the sophistication of the screenwriting? How else can we feel the catharsis of a society doing its job?

And while it's okay that Betty (January Jones) got fat as she became frigid and unloving, I never thought that was punitive enough. I mean, here was Joan selling her body for a partnership in SCDP, and all she got was emotional trauma. Where's the poetry? Where's the stirring reminder that women will always suffer when they violate the cultural law?

Last night, the writers finally came through. As the ad agencies merged, Joan felt a pain in her side, and she discovered she had a cyst. An ovarian cyst! A cyst on me!

I could weep for joy.

Because think about it: if she'd sprained her ankle or chipped a tooth, Joan still would have needed medical attention. Bob Benson (James Wolk) still could have sparked their romance by helping her out. But an ankle isn't womanly. A tooth isn't gendered. It took me, Joan's ovary, to suggest that her illness was more than just an illness -- that it was a sign of her sexual deviance finally catching up to her.

I can't wait to see how Joan's body betrays her next. I've been chatting with her uterus, and we hope that next season, she gives birth to the Watergate Hotel. That way, her womb can be the literal vessel for America's lost innocence. I get shivers just thinking about it!

  • Robert Whittington

    Just discovered your site, via Slate. I like the sensibility, and especially the nonsensibility of your articles. Fun and a little whimsical. Mad Men is a great show, but it deserves to be made fun of as often as possible, he said as he plummeted from the roof of the Woolworth's Building with only a nickel and a dime in his pocket.