Elisabeth Moss first entered cultural consciousness as the audience surrogate in the first season of Mad Men: the frumpy, awkward, innocent, and entirely unready for Madison Avenue secretary to whom all the ways of late-1950s advertising culture needed to be explained, and whose eventual transformation and ascent made her an ideal avatar for viewers who wanted to simultaneously luxuriate in the glamour of America before the social revolutions and imagine themselves as trailblazers who would have fused the old cool with the new female empowerment. A shot from the final season, of Moss’s Peggy Olson leaving one job for another …
This article appears as “A Mutable Star” in the March 23, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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