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Prostitution theme in Mad Men

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Don Draper, the protagonist of Mad Men, is the son of a teenage prostitute who died in childbirth. Throughout the show, there have been many examples of prostitution, and in Season Five, many implied comparisons of the advertising industry to prostitution.

Season 5

The two most obvious examples in Season Five, are the post-dinner trip with Jaguar exec Edwin Baker to a house of prostitution and the “elevation” of Joan Holloway Harris to partner status through an act of prostitution. Pete asks her when trying to convince her to sleep with Herb Rennet, “What would it take to make you a queen?”. In the world of Mad Men, respectability is achieved by whoring oneself for the company in an act that renders Mrs. Harris as a sort of Temple Whore of the Cult of Advertising.

There are several other examples in Season Five. In “Far Away Places” Peggy, confronted with the stoner’s advance in the movie theater, “acts like a whore” to resolve the situation. In “At The The Codfish Ball”, when Pete is asked by Emile what , precisely, he does all day, metaphorically reprises Peggy’s act in the movie theater , and then pronounces “That is what I do all day!” And in Lady Lazarus, Roger, to acknowledge Pete’s rise as a hotshot salesman, gives him “Head” in the gift of skis.

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