A lot happened on the final episode of Mad Men last night. Some characters fell back into old habits, some tried to find themselves, and some grew in major ways. Perhaps the biggest growth happened for Stan and Peggy, who realized their feelings for each other and decided to be together. Here’s how it went down:
Stan: I miss you when I go away. I miss you, and I call you on the phone, and I get the person I want to talk to.
Peggy: That’s not true.
Stan: Yeah, well I don’t know what it is, but when I’m standing in front of you, I bring out something terrible. I think about how came into my life, and how you drove me crazy. And now I don’t even know what to do with myself because all I want to do is be with you.
Peggy: What? What’d you just say?
Stan: I want to be with you. I’m in love with you.
Stan: I love you, Peggy.
Peggy: Oh my God. That’s what I thought you said. Oh. I feel like I can’t breathe almost. I don’t even think about you. I mean, I do, all the time. Because you’re there. [touches her heart] And you’re here. And you make everything OK. You always do. No matter what. I mean I must be. Because you’re always right. [crying] I can’t believe this. I think I’m in love with you, too. I really do. Stan? Are you there? Stan?
[Stan runs to her office]
Stan: What were you saying?
Peggy: I love you.
Mad Men’s finale inspired all kinds of debate, but the one that’s peaked my interest the most is this relationship, because to me, it feels so appropriate. But there are a lot of people unhappy with Peggy and Stan ending up together. I am not one of those people, so here’s my best case for Peggy and Stan’s relationship.
Being in a relationship doesn’t make you less of a feminist:
This seems to be the biggest complaint about Stan and Peggy getting together. Many are supportive of the idea that Peggy is choosing love over her career or her ambitions by getting with Stan. Here’s a paragraph straight from a TIME article about why Peggy and Stan shouldn’t have ended up together:
But back to Peggy and Stan, who will surely be happy together, but at what cost? Their relationship undercut one of the best shots ever to grace our television screens: Peggy Olson walking into McCann Erickson like a boss — hungover, sunglasses on, cigarette dangling from her mouth, sexy octopus painting tucked under her arm. It was a triumphant stroll for a woman who, regardless of the state of her love life, was ready to conquer the world. Peggy’s story was about succeeding in a man’s world, not finding love. That should have been her last moment on camera.
There’s a common misconception floating around that finding love somehow invalidates Peggy’s feminist struggle. It doesn’t. If anything, finding love validates what Peggy has fought for throughout the course of Mad Men. Why shouldn’t Peggy find love? Sure, she doesn’t need it. She’s perfectly fine on her own, but just because Peggy is capable of standing strong without a partner doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have one.
There’s actually subtle sexism reflected in the argument that being with Stan isn’t what Peggy’s story is about. Overall, Peggy’s story has been about her struggle to get the equality and the respect she deserves. Just like the men in the office, there’s no reason that Peggy shouldn’t be able to have her career and love. I’m the first to champion a strong, independent woman, but that doesn’t have to mean a single woman. Being strong and proud in yourself can and should be a part of any woman’s life, whether she’s sharing it with someone or not. The important thing is finding someone who supports and respects you, and Stan certainly does that for Peggy.
Stan won’t hold her back.
Stan is the perfect partner for Peggy because he gets it. He works in advertising. This relationship is a partnership in a way that none of Peggy’s past relationships have been. Stan knows the demands of Peggy’s job, and when push comes to shove, he’s going to understand them. Stan might be more of an artist than Peggy, and he might not share all of her lofty ambitions, but he knows Peggy. He’s known for years what she wants and how hard she’ll work to get it. The last thing he’s going to do is get in her way. Yes, Stan was hesitant about Peggy leaving McCann to work with Joan, but it’s important to remember that he knew very little about the business prospect, and he was concerned (perhaps selfishly) about losing Peggy. If Peggy put serious thought into it and decided to leave McCann, I can’t imagine Stan being anything but supportive. Stan might step in to remind Peggy that there’s more to life than work every now and then, but that’s a reminder that Peggy sometimes needs. Stan knows he couldn’t hold Peggy back even if he wanted to, and he’s not going to try it.
They’re friends above all else.
Peggy and Stan’s relationship is built on a very solid, very real friendship. This isn’t a quick fling; Peggy and Stan have been building a mature relationship for years. They can bicker, have fun, and be playful with each other, but they also share a deep mutual respect and understanding for each other as people. They’re comfortable with each other. After all, Stan is the only person Peggy felt comfortable talking to about her struggles with having and giving up her baby. She trusts him. And when Stan’s cousin was killed in the war, Peggy was the only person Stan admitted his feelings to. The trust between the two is mutual, and a relationship built on the foundation that Stan and Peggy have has the makings of a long and healthy partnership.
Stan is there for Peggy when it counts.
A great deal of Peggy and Stan’s relationship has been built around phone calls. These calls are intimate and honest and seemingly cathartic to both parties involved. Stan even tells Peggy how he tries to get things right in person, but he can never seem to. But when it matters, Stan drops everything to be there, in person, with Peggy. Peggy has had more than her fair share of failed relationships in the show’s run. She’s been with plenty of men who haven’t been there for her when they needed to, and Stan running to her office to see her in person after his confession is so indicative to how serious he is about his feelings for her. Stan drops everything to be there when it counts, and he always will.
They’re adorable, damn it.
I mean, come on, people.