Ladies Room” is the second episode of the first season of the American television drama series Mad Men. It was written by series creator Matthew Weiner and directed by Alan Taylor. Weiner has stated that the interval between writing the pilot and the second episode lasted seven years.The episode originally aired on the AMC channel in the United States on July 26, 2007.
In this episode, Don Draper’s past is probed from different directions by different people and the viewer is presented with the mystery of, “Who is Don Draper?” Over dinner, Roger Sterling, idyly probes Don about his past but is deflected by Don as he suggests he will reveal the mystery in his forthcoming novel. Don says, “its a sin of pride to go on about one’s self,” to explain to Betty why he deflected Rodgers inquiry. At home, in bed with Don, Betty Draper, too, attempts to probe Don about his past, but he casts his past into the category of “politics, religion, and sex…why talk about it?” As Betty drifts off to sleep she turns to Don, fast asleep, and asks herself, “Who’s in there?”
The workplace is portrayed as “crewed” by men who behave as boys on shore leave and who view the women as toys, an environment which the women must navigate; the title of the show references the weeping women found in the ladies room. Sterling is portrayed as a cynical distant alcoholic, who misses his big breasted, round-faced nanny. The members of the creative team, which Don leads, discuss a product and the question of “what women want” is brought up, but they are puzzled. In the meeting, Don is established as the whip-cracker with an incisive edge. Paul Kinsey tries to come across as the hep-cat-man-of-the-world with the sandwich salesman, who deflects Kinsey’s comment made in Jamacian creole. After Paul gives Peggy Olson the impression of him as a good friend, he then comes on to her. Peggy too deflects him. Peggy begins to feel victimized by the womanizing men of the office. Joan, who runs the secetarial pool, advises Peggy to enjoy the attention while she can. Bert Cooper, one of the owners of Sterling-Cooper, is introduced as the eccentric, tolerant old-man of the advertising world. The Draper’s neighbor, Francine, gossips with Betty about their new neighbor, Helen, who wears the scarlet letter of divorce, and Francine suggests that a divorcee may be bad for real estate values.
Betty Draper is revealed as a neurotic in need of psychoanalysis, an idea that upsets Don. Don turns to Roger to ask, “what do women want?”, but he has no satisfacory answer. He turns to Midge, and while talking with her he concludes that what women want is: “Any excuse to get closer.” Meanwhile, Betty attends her first session with a therapist.
Betty talks, to her therapist, about her relationship with her late mother, and her insecurities about a new divorcee neighbor. After they arrive home, Don calls Betty’s therapist, who relays to Don everything Betty discussed during her appointment.