The Washington Post

Peggy Olson is the real hero of ‘Mad Men’

This TV publicity image released by AMC shows Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in a scene from "Mad Men." Olson was nominated for an Emmy Award for best actress in a drama series on Thursday July 18, 2013. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. It will air Sept. 22 on CBS. (AP Photo/AMC, Jaimie Trueblood) Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in a scene from “Mad Men.”  (AP Photo/AMC, Jaimie Trueblood)

Television’s most heavily-analyzed show is returning April 13, and you know what that means: the drum beat has started.

The recently-released seventh-season teaser for “Mad Men” was another study in Matthew Weiner-esque obfuscation, but New York Magazine’s got a profile of Elisabeth Moss that promises to be much more sating. “Mad Men,” Willa Paskin argues, has always been a show about Peggy Olson.

TV has many ambitious women, but Peggy stands out among them for navigating a working world—with glass ceilings, boys’ clubs, and take-me-seriously work clothes—that feels, despite its period detail, remarkably contemporary. Peggy is “the one we relate to, the one that’s us,” Moss says, and the legions of essays and blog posts and tweets celebrating her extraordinary ability to lean in are proof of her connection to the audience. (Peggy Olson is easily the most GIF-ed feminist icon of all time.)

Moss’ character ended season six in her boss, Don Draper’s office, literally wearing the pants.

Some revelations about Moss, who recently won a Golden Globe for her performance in Jane Campion’s “Top of the Lake:” She has two cats named Lucy and Ethel. She travels with a stuffed animal. And she gets so excited when she does a scene that her microphone has to be adjusted so as not to pick up her heartbeat.

Her 2013 interview with Terry Gross is just as interesting. She may be one of least affected, pretentious actresses in Hollywood.


Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on issues surrounding race, gender and sexuality.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Lindsey Bever · March 11, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.