Mad Men Characters in Season 4: Upgrade or Downgrade?


The fourth season of Mad Men has rushed by so quickly, we can’t believe it’s already coming to an end. Much has changed for the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency and its employees in the past 12 episodes. To track their progress, we’ve created a handy recap of who’s done best and worst. After the jump, see whether Season 4 has meant an upgrade, a downgrade, or neither for your favorite character — and make your own arguments in the comments.


Peggy Ols0n It’s been a landmark season for Peggy, who’s grown into her role as head copywriter at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, standing up to her chauvanist underlings and firing the ones who can’t deal with her as boss lady. Sure, she lost a boyfriend to work, but let’s be honest: that guy totally didn’t get her anyway. Her awkward night spent taking caring of drunk Don raised her even more in his estimation. Plus, she has a whole new group of fun, bohemian buddies, including (gasp!) a lesbian.

Pete Campbell This must be the year of the youngs at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, because after some professional embarrassments last year, Pete is back with a vengeance. He’s even a partner! And, with Roger fumbling Lucky Strike, he’s undoubtedly the ace account guy in the house. By the end of the season, he’s also a proud papa. Here’s hoping the firm will last long enough to support the new baby.

Trudy Campbell After some marital troubles in Season 3, Trudy and Pete are closer than ever. And their conception woes have ended, too: Trudy spends most episodes as big as a house in a dazzling array of maternity lingerie.

Ida Blankenship Poor Miss Blankenship. She’s been a secretary forever, and in her young, wild days, she even bedded Roger Sterling. But these days, she falls asleep at her desk and can’t get anything done. We would like to think that when she dropped dead on the job, she left the purgatory of ad world to take up permanent residence in a better place.

Megan The secretary who takes over once Miss Blankenship passes on is a efficient, helpful, and a quick study with a true interest in advertising. And hey, she manages to sleep with Don without getting the boot, which puts her ahead of most secretaries. One question, though: Do we even know her last name?


Don Draper This season was a rough one for our leading mystery man. He faced life post-divorce in a dark, grubby apartment, developed a serious drinking problem, and, as part of his cure, resorted to writing in a diary. After a government investigation almost sunk him, he had to turn to Pete Campbell, of all people, for help. He slept with two secretaries while largely mismanaging a relationship with Faye. He cried. Sloppily. And now, he has to deal with an agency that may just go belly up. The shitstorm is far from over, and it remains to be seen whether his New York Times ad declaring that the company will no longer support tobacco companies will be a good thing or a bad one.

Joan Harris Poor Joan. Just when her marriage was beginning to get better, her husband got shipped off to Vietnam. In her loneliness, and in post-mugging adrenaline rush, she turned to Roger. Although she was smart enough to know nothing good could come of his suggestion that they’re meant for each other, she still had to deal with the fallout from their tryst: a pregnancy that ended in abortion. It must have been a particularly sad choice for a lady who has been so vocal about wanting to have kids. And to add insult to injury, she also had to deal with sexual harassment at the hands of the frat guys in creative.

Roger Sterling It’s been a pretty bad season for Roger. Aside from the debacle with Joan, he lost Lucky Strike, the enormous account he had managed forever and that was keeping Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce afloat. He’s had some temper tantrums and told some lies. And while we love his smooth operating character, we’re not sure what he’s contributing to the agency as this point.

Lane Pryce What’s worse than your marriage breaking up? How about finding love (albeit with a Playboy bunny), introducing her to your dad, and flailing helplessly as the racist, old man beats you up and forces you to return to your family in England? Lane may have moved the Pryce clan to New York, but we have a feeling we haven’t seen the end of his star-crossed love.

Ken Cosgrove Left out of the new agency, the former star account man struggled for a while at a larger shop. But it was a bad fit, and he came back into the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce fold, working under his arch rival, Pete Campbell. Ouch.

Midge Daniels When we last saw Don’s bohemian former mistress Midge, several seasons ago, she refused to go with him to Paris. It was a blow to him, and it looks like it may have been a pretty terrible decision for her, too. She recently staked out his office building, plotting to bump into him and sell him a painting. When they get to her house, it comes out that she’s become a heroin addict.

Henry Francis He seems to be figuring out what a head case Betty is. Considering that she’s already embarrassed him in front of important political contacts, this probably won’t end well for either of them.

Allison Don’s first of three secretaries this year makes the mistake of thinking that he’s interested in her after her drunken boss takes her to bed. Of course, he isn’t. Her employment ends shortly after that.

Holding Steady

Betty Francis You’d think things would have changed measurably for Betty, now that she’s ended her marriage with Don and wedded Henry Francis. But they haven’t. She’s still a paranoid, self-involved chain smoker who’s mean to her daughter.

Faye Miller This successful career woman has managed to negotiate something like an equal relationship with Don, despite his obliviousness as to how that might come about. Sure, she’s made some sacrifices and suffered some losses for him, but they’re nothing she can’t recover from.

Sally Draper On the one hand, Sally has terrible parents who don’t understand that they’re responsible for her acting out. On the other, she finally has a therapist who does get it. She has a weird friend in Glen Bishop, and though her mom is trying to keep them apart, Sally’s managed to wrestle some independence.

Harry Crane Seriously, where was this guy this season? We barely saw him.

Bobby Draper As of Season 4, Episode 12, Bobby Draper has yet to become a character.