Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Life

Mad About ‘Mad’ Woman Maggie Siff

This summer, I wrote for the Sisterhood about how much I loved the character Rachel Menken on “Mad Men,” a strong-willed Jewish woman who may or may not have been anti-hero Don Draper’s soulmate. Even though she vanished after the second season, she remains on the minds of many viewers as the woman who may have had the best chemistry with Don.

It turns out that Maggie Siff, the actress who plays Menken, is herself a strong, intelligent Jewish woman — and a smart one at that (she was an English-lit major at Bryn Mawr). And there’s a reason she’s attracted to parts like Rachel’s, as she told New York Magazine’s Vulture blog when asked about her yen for playing self-confident women.

I mean, I love those roles. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think we find things and things find us that are sort of meant to. And I tend to find myself in those parts.”

When talking to Time Out New York, she also gave me another reason to love her, as she pointed out the problematic misogny in a lot of writing by men, and far more succinctly summed up my own critique of David Mamet’s “Oleanna.”

Doing material written by men—and it’s true in all the media, from television to plays—I find myself feeling a lot like, Oh, God, this again? Am I going to play a baby-hungry woman again? Am I going to play the girlfriend/sidekick? Or like in Mamet, am I going to be the evil cipher?

Siff has done “Oleanna” twice.

I was so impressed with those interviews that I snapped up tickets to the last weekend of “Or” at the Women’s Project’s Julia Miles Theater. It’s a modern riff on a Restoration comedy, starring Siff as literary foremother Aphra Behn, one of the first women to make money as a writer. The racy, witty play showcased Siff’s talent again allowing her to play a brilliant, beautiful woman who is in control of her career and her sexuality — this time, with more of a comic spin. I’m going to keep following Siff’s career to help discovr more fictional feminist role-models to kvell over.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.