Jul 022012

Let’s face it, Mad Men is a show with a built-in boobytrap, especially as it continues over multiple seasons. And that boobytrap is named Don Draper. There has been plenty of garment-rending over the amount of screen time Megan received in S5 over the other characters, whether Jessica Paré was the right woman for the job, and so on. But lost in the din is the fact that her husband, around whom this show is built, is himself becoming much less compelling to watch, and not just because he’s married to Megan. And the double whammy is that, as the show has moved in time from early 1960 to early 1967, it’s pretty much inevitable that a guy like Don has to stop being the hippest, coolest, most desirable guy in the room. A guy who was king of the 1950s, by definition, can’t be king of the 1960s, especially for the time period the show is moving into now. It’s un-possible. And yet, scene after scene must be built around Don Draper. Because he’s the star.

I’ll reiterate: Don didn’t get boring because he married Megan. In fact, I’d argue that the opposite is true; Don really had no place else to go, story-wise, but into a “good” marriage, regardless of who it was with. Maybe it was too fast, but he’d have wound up there eventually. We had three seasons of him screwing around and lying to Betty, and one season of him trying to be single and almost winding up a human pickle before he pulled himself out of the drink and found himself a new drug of choice: Megan. Now, see, that right there is the beginning of a potentially dramatic story, one we really didn’t get to see. What is the potential damage to the partner who is under pressure to keep the other one high on love at all costs? How long can you really stay high off another person, and what happens when the drug starts to wear off? Is there anything left to build on?

Maybe the writers on this show have punched up the Don/Megan story with histrionic, destructive fights because they’re convinced that the pursuit of healthy love has to be dull, which is why we don’t see a lot of the relatively un-neurotic Ken and Cynthia. But pursuing healthy love doesn’t have to mean no conflicts — and by conflicts, I don’t mean tantrums over surprise parties and Megan not liking orange sherbet. I mean the drama involved in someone like Don actually learning how to love instead of just seeking out host bodies, which he’s never had to do before. During Don’s Betty period, it was enough for him to show his gorgeous mug and fling his wallet around for women (Betty included) to be begging for more, more, more of him. Now, in his Megan period, that’s not enough; if he wants a happy wife (i.e. no more divorces), he has to listen to her, respect her needs, not just assume she’s going to roll over and play dead for him because he has the checkbook. And that goes against every instinct Don has, even if he knows intellectually it’s the right thing. It’s a nice surprise that Don wanted Megan to go to work with him and be his combination office-sex-puppet and watchdog; I would never have guessed that Don wouldn’t have gotten Megan barefoot and pregnant as quickly as possible.

The problem is, these scenes are so Don-centric that we see the entire marriage playing out through Don’s eyes only; Megan’s point of view is barely touched upon. In fact, other than a brief glimpse of Megan on the balcony after the party, we don’t get any scenes with Megan on her own until Codfish Ball, the seventh episode, where she had scenes with her dysfunctional parents that told us a lot about why Megan was drawn to a man like Don. All we see until the infamous orange sherbet scene in Far Away Places, already the sixth episode, is Megan handling Don with easy-breezy insouciance. She even likes having her hair pulled before sex! She’s perfect for him! Up until then, there’s no hint of how she might feel stifled by his constant need for her attention — and even then, we only get his reaction to his abandoning her in a parking lot all the way upstate, not hers, although she must have feared for her very life. And since she appears to forgive him so easily, even after he chases her around the apartment like a slasher-movie villain, we don’t really get a sense of what’s really at stake for Don, whether he really could “lose” Megan if he doesn’t get it together. Since we don’t know how she’s really feeling, we assume, like he does, that everything’s fine between them. This has the effect of making Don seem rather smug, and smug is not what you want Don Draper to be, unless it’s demonstrably false smugness.

Contrast this with the depiction of Don’s marriage to Betty, in which Betty, from Ladies’ Room on, was given numerous opportunities to demonstrate the toll Don’s behavior has taken on her, by giving her scenes on her own — alone, with friends, with her children, and so on — in every episode she appeared in. Don floated from bed to bed like it was his birthright, but we knew the Rat Pack cool was a coverup for a very, very anxious man with a lot to lose if he blew his cover, and the Betty scenes showed what was really going on in his home life, which contrasted sharply with the narrative he fed himself and others. Now he’s determined to do it right in his new marriage, but shouldn’t Megan be there to show us whether he is or not? If Megan is going to get that much screen time, it shouldn’t just be from Don’s pedestal view. Especially not when there are no less than three female characters on the show living cutting-edge lives — Joan, Peggy, and the criminally underutilized Dawn — whose stories have been pushed aside in favor of Megan’s. Her story of what’s happening in the marriage should be hers too, not just Don’s, or his story doesn’t work.

To be sure, Megan leaving SCDP to pursue a long-buried dream of acting could well be the screw undone from the bridge, to put it in the terms of Ken’s sci-fi story — not for SCDP, but for the Draper 2.0 marriage. Don thought he was marrying someone who shared his passion for advertising (nope), who adored children (sure, in small doses), and who would put his needs first (steeeerike three). It’s not likely Megan meant to deceive him; it’s more probable that she loved him and wanted to try to be what he wanted. But could Don’s clinginess have been a factor driving her away from advertising? Could she simply have burned out on it, the way she wouldn’t have if she’d simply been an employee? Again, it’s all very opaque. We’re shown how disappointed Don is in her decision, but not much about how he might have had a hand in it. Maybe we’ll see that come to light later on.

It’s tempting to think that Don lost his creative mojo because he got too happy, and to blame Megan for sucking the life out of him. But he was attracted to Megan in part because he figured someone close to the Beatles’ ages would do a better job helping him keep up with youth culture than a contemporary of his like Faye. And now he’s rejecting the help she’s giving him — she turns him on to Revolver and experimental theatre, and he sticks his fingers in his ears and mumbles get-off-my-lawn-isms. It’s Sinatra-Farrow, although the age difference isn’t quite as pronounced. Meanwhile, young guns like Michael Ginsberg are whizzing right past him, and it’s all he can do to put out a foot to trip them up, because it’s his only hope of making up ground.

How do you build a show around a man with his fingers in his ears? By showing what’s at stake if he doesn’t take them out. And what does Don actually have to lose if he never comes up with another great idea again? He’s a partner. He can’t be fired, no matter how much he annoys Bert, and he won’t go broke any time soon. At worst, he’ll be a manager of younger, hipper creatives like Ginsberg, and their glory will be reflected on to him, and people will praise him as being an inspiration. Does that feel like a more dramatically tense story than Peggy balancing a turbo-powered career and nontraditional domestic partnership? Or Joan navigating working single motherhood and turning the tables on sexual harassment? Or Dawn breaking the color barrier for professional employment at her agency? Or Pete slowly but surely losing his marbles? Or Michael doing all the grunt creative work and getting none of the credit? Or even Roger leaving Jane and having a late-in-life fling with mind-expanding drugs? Not right now, it doesn’t, and to be honest, it’s those stories (along with the saga of poor Lane) that have kept me watching, not Don’s. What could Don lose, really lose, in a way that would be truly costly to him? That could potentially make him have to start all over again?

There’s a hint at the end of The Phantom that his finally taking Megan’s needs seriously could mean the end of their marriage, at least as we’ve known it. Would either of them have wanted to marry the other, if both of them had known from the beginning who she really was? It’s potentially interesting that now the shoe is on the other foot, that for once it’s Don figuratively leaning over Megan in bed and whispering, “Who’s in there?” Him becoming the Betty in the relationship would, of course, be karmic justice. But from his position of relative security and independence, is that even possible? Or is there somewhere else they could take him, somewhere that would be equally promising? If they don’t find out soon, maybe it’s time to make this The Peggy Show rather than The Don Show.


  92 Responses to “Don Draper’s Long, Slow Slide Towards Irrelevancy (And How To Make It More Interesting)”

  1. Great Post, I watch this show for Peggy and Sally. Dawn may not want to be the new Peggy, but I could see her becoming the new Joan. Don’s role is a lot like McNulty in the Wire, he is an archetype, hardly the most interesting character but essential for the viewer seeing things through his POV. Like McNulty after season 3 I see Don becoming more of a supporting character . Hope we see more of Madame Calvet though 🙂

  2. Your questions are spot on — and I hope the writers come up with good answers for them in Season 6. Season 5, I felt, was mostly about set-up: it posed a lot of questions about whether Don can go anywhere from here that has any dramatic heft, and also about what Megan’s POV is. But it didn’t really answer any of the questions. I certainly hope Season 6 is not just more of that. They’ve actually created a very interesting set-up: what happens when the 50s end (which didn’t really happen until around 1966 or so) and what worked in the 50s no longer works? There’s no more room for a Don Draper archetype in the society of the late 60s and onward. So what will happen to those, like Dick Whitman, who played that Don Draper archetype for the past 10 or 15 years? Will he fade into obscurity and irrelevance (I hope not, boring to watch), or will he change dramatically in some way in order to claim a role in the changed society? I hope so, but I don’t know whether the writers will do this with the character, and if so, in what direction. But I very much hope they do — because a transformation of Dick Whitman from fake-Don-Draper to … something else…. would be a fascinating story.

  3. Don who? Can’t wait til Jess wins the Emmy. She’s really had a heavy load carrying the entire show this season. Most people tune in for her anyway. No one really cares about the other characters they are boring and redundant (not to mention petty and jealous of our girl). I hope they bump her name up in the credits and get her some covers next season!

    • Sincerely,

      Jessica Pare’s Agent

    • LOL.

    • This. This is what was made possible when MW unleashed the bizarro world that is Tomorrowland. The episode that rang the death knell.
      Breaking Bad 13 days and counting.

      • Tomorrowland to go down as the ‘jumping the shark’ episode of MM, hey Tilden!!

        • Don’t know about the shark. It was the introduction of this dickless, toothless Don.
          The infamous ‘God is Dead’ Time magazine cover came out during Season five, right? I’d venture he took DD with him.

  4. Very thoughtful piece, Meowser!

    I read a couple of other messageboards besides BoK. On one of them, people recently had a discussion about how Mad Men is not as compelling as it used to be. I was about to post and defend the show, but I’ve kept quiet so far. The thing is–I still love the show, it’s my favorite, and I think it’s way better than most other shows out there. But I didn’t like Season 5 quite as much as the preceding seasons.

    I’m not sure exactly what it is. There were some strong episodes, to be sure. I’ve always liked seeing the ensemble, and some of them suffered from (some) lack of screentime this year. Not that anyone was totally abandoned–just that some of them could have benefited from a little more attention. Also–as good as “A Little Kiss” was (and it was very good), the two-hour episode left us with one less week of Mad Men overall, so I really wanted to love it every week. I always want to love it, of course, but some weeks my expectations aren’t met.

    I just looked through the Episode Guide to see which episodes I enjoyed. My least favorites (on first glance) are “Tea Leaves” and “Dark Shadows.” Both episodes were penned by Erin Levy (although Matt is listed as co-writer for TL), and both featured Betty/extra weight storylines. I’m not blaming Betty’s storyline for the whole reason why I didn’t love these episodes. I just didn’t find those episodes very compelling overall.

    • Mad Chick, like you, I was dissatisfied with parts of S5, and it seemed to me to start and end big, but sagged a bit in the middle. Tea Leaves and Dark Shadows were two of my least favorites too, although the latter had a few good scenes in it, it was awfully uneven. I was far more intrigued by Peggy, Lane, and Joan’s story lines this year, and I loved Harry’s interaction with Paul and seeing Ken become moere assertive. I was okay with Pete and Beth’s romance, if not thrilled with it, but that final scene between them broke my heart, as Beth was reduced to childlike innocence from her shock therapy, and Pete was realized that another of his conquests was short lived. At the end of S5, I thought the finale was as good as the premiere, and although it left me wanting more, again, I felt that we should have been seeing more of Joan and Peggy than we had seen all season. Maybe now that Meg is out of SCD…P, we’ll see more along J&P’s storylines and how they handle their new situations. I hope so.

      Meowser, your commentary blew me away, and I am delighted with your insights. Yes, Don has definitely passed his ‘Rat Pack’ cool stage, at least, to us, but with the two birds checking him out a the end of the finale, and that sly hint of a smile he gave them, I too wonder if he will fall back into his old ways of philandering, and if that aspect of his personality will bring back his creative drive? I do think that Ginsberg is the new Don, and Don is insanely envious (why else would he leave Ginsberg’s much better pitch art in the car?). I also wonder if the government will ever catch up with his phony identity. Megan knows that Don Draper isn’t his real name, but seems content with the deception. As we have witnessed through 5 seasons, Each and every character in MM, like real people, have qualities we both love and hate in them. Megan, who could do not wrong when we firs met her, is not seen as a pouty,scheeming, backstabbing actress who will stop at nothing, even Don, to get a great part. She has used Don’s $ to get ahead, and I’m sorry, but I am sensing a bit of phoniness in how much she loves everything about Don.
      I think the last 2 seasons will bring closure to all of the character’s stories, but, although I like Meg, we need to see more of the main characters. I can’t wait to see how the new dynamic (a real second floor!) will affect the agency, and if Roger be in Nehru jackets and love beads next season!

  5. That like fighting in a war and returning to the home front and realize you don’t get the same buzz mingling with civilians.

    Mad Men is a show that not only shows the evolution of the characters but also the evolution of society.

    As for Don Draper he is now 41 and in 1967 would have been considered approaching middle age. Showing a man of his age flirting with young women when he is already married to someone 15 years his junior somehow doesn’t make sense.

    Someone a while back mentioned Don’s legacy. I think Don can be compared to a starting QB in the NFL who is now past 30 and realizes he doesn’t have that many good years left. Don realizes it’s either now or never in terms of really making his mark in the advertising industry and I see Don really committed to that in season six.

    And unless Megan forces his hand, I don’t see Don doing anything on the marriage front. I think season six will be Don being the opposite of the beginning of season five. He will focus most of his time and energy on work and pursuing prestigious accounts.

  6. You’re right, maybe some of us don’t like Megan because we don’t get to see enough of her on her own. As you said, Far Away Places might have been much more interesting if we had seen what she experienced after Don drove away in a snit, or if there was more exposition of her inner struggle with her father’s criticism about giving up on her dream. We saw Lane struggle wordlessly with his father’s total control– they could have done the same for Megan.

    The character makes me think of the brunette Barbie that Betty gave Sally. She’s the brunette Barbie that the writers gave to Don.

    • Badda-Bing ! nice point !

    • ruthiej and bev – Badda-Bing is right. I love this image. Megan is the brunette Barbie. Betty is the blonde, and now maybe we can see why MM decided to do the ridiculous product tie-in with the Barbie company (Mattel?). It goes with Sally’s reactions to her Barbies. In the long run Sally will probably choose Betty, which is as it should be.

  7. What Techno said and then some. A 41 year old man now is considered approaching middle age, in 1967, it was downright old.Betty is now 33 or 34 and her doctor called her “middle aged.” (the look on her face was precious.) From the get- go I have wondered how long Don could hold onto his swerve, considering how chaotic and youth obsessed the mid and later part of the 60’s became. Years ago, Angelina Jolie was in a made for TV movie about Gia Carangi and one of the characters, maybe the one based on Anna Wintour, described Gia as being the edge itself, someone totally “of the moment”. She said the more of the moment you are, the more quickly you become part of the past. That line stayed with me and returned when we all met Don Draper and I knew I was in for the long haul when I could not for the life of me imagine how this tightly wound man could adapt to a social change he could not control. And therein lies the fun.

    • In 1967, 41 was not “downright old”. That’s absurd.

      • P.S. I was there. I was 19 in 1967.

      • berkowit28 – I agree. The creative professions of the sixties were run by white men in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. It wasn’t until well into the seventies that people in their 30’s really had any power. In the 80’s, I remember hearing about 20-somethings who were (what seemed to be) suddenly making executive creative decisions about TV and movie production. The rest of the media world found this pretty strange as I remember it and the quality of movies being made took a deep dive that the industry’s never really recovered from. Hence, the rise of cable TV as a creative world.

        When I was doing temporary office work at a couple of advertising agencies in 70’s San Francisco, people in their late 20’s were just starting to contribute ideas to campaigns, people in their 30’s were doing plenty of work, but the ones in charge were in their 40’s and 50’s and they didn’t seem to be out-to-pasture ‘squares’. I was considered VERY young there in my mid-20’s. It would have been difficult to get a creative job, which I considered trying to do since it was a fun place to work at that time.

        People dancing on Don’s grave as a creative force are really premature. There are all kinds of possibilities for his character. He doesn’t just have to settle down and become Megan’s lap husband; there are many ways in which he can continue to be an interesting character.

  8. This post (which might be my favorite evah) could’ve/should’ve been written after ep3, maybe even after A Little Kiss. Don is the LEAST compelling character on the show. That is really, really bad.
    This talk about MM S5 was the best, is ludicrous. Tea Leaves, Lady Lazarus, Dark Shadows, Commissions and Fees, even the finale The Phantom was a relatively weak episode. Every season has 1, one ep that isn’t up to par. S4 had no such episode. S5 had FIVE. MM had too many classic eps last year to say that it is slipping. The seams are beginning to show. Don is reason #1. Where’d he go? Or rather, how long has it been since he died?
    Please mention one line of dialogue that’s been spoken by “Megan” that would go in the pantheon. Hell, that would be included on the random quotes section of BoK. Nuff said.

    • “Why don’t you go call your mother?”

      • Meh. Cutting remark. Not Noel Coward level literate. Standard is that high here at the deep end of the pool.

    • “It’s not a destination. It’s on the way to someplace.”

      “Everyone’s gonna go home from this party and they’re gonna have sex.”

      “YOU’RE A PIG!”

      • First comment is a Yogi Berra-ism. Shows promise. Still a little vague as a joke. Whimsical, not so funny.
        Second line: imagine that coming out of Roger’s mouth. We’d all be falling down. Rog wouldn’t use the word sex, that word shows how….pixyish, immature “Megan” is. Ok line.

        Love the third line. To quote the great Fat Tony from The Simpsons: “It’s funny, because it’s true”. You sold me. “Megan” gets to be in the Pantheon.

    • I agree with you that Season 5 was the least compelling one, but I think there’s a good possibility that the long break between Seasons 4 and 5 was the primary reason. I personally found the last 5 or so episodes to be up to the usual MM quality.

      And I agree with Anne B below (#9). Don is still the most interesting one on the show. Figuring out why he was going through such a slump and what the deal was with his clunky new marriage was my obsession for Season 5. If MW stays in his creative rhythm, I think Season 6 could be just as good as the first 4.

  9. I hate to disgaree with people I like so much. 🙂

    Don’s still the heart of the show for me. I did read all the same complaints about Season 5 being less-than, but to me it was the darkest of all five seasons. There’s a lot of good stuff in that darkness, starting with Don himself.

    I don’t think that many of us watch Don Draper because he’s “the coolest, most desirable guy in the room”). I like a Hot-Don-Draper scene as much as the next girl, but those were few and far between this season: we got one exploding kitchen faucet, and that was about it.

    Personally, I watch Don Draper for the same reasons I watch Walter White in Breaking Bad. I like the mess. I like to watch someone who truly hates himself, who almost reflexively causes nothing but trouble, and just see how he navigates his day. See how other people respond to him. Listen to Ginsberg cut him down in an elevator, see Joanie blush with delight when he compliments her — and the whole time, remember that this person I’m watching is a fiction. Even to himself. Especially to himself.

    Don Draper may be getting older, but that doesn’t mean the drama is leaching out of his life. He has a fake identity, a wife who’s going to leave him, a daughter who’s almost a teenager, an ex who loves to hate him, and a business to run. Which now faces an absence of female creatives, a serious breach of business ethics, and a ghost in a partner’s office, among other problems (second-story buildout, incompetent receptionist, increasing competition from former staff). This isn’t even a complete list.

    There’s plenty of ore left in the dark mine that is Don Draper, and I’d rather watch Jon Hamm go after it than anyone else. I’m in.

    • God, I love you Anne, but Don has melted the potential drama away, so far. Ex that loves to hate him: “Birdie.– Say what you always say.– Everything’s going to be alright.” Almost teenage daughter: “You made me feel better.” Darling Sally still worships her daddy-o. Breach of ethics: Sterling Coo comes off clean compared to the horror stories MW heard about what went on ‘back when’.

      Ginzo is potential story dynamite. He’s the most interesting character on the show now, imho. More so than Peter Satan Campbell. He loathes Don, but DD owns him, and all his brilliant ideas. Unless he moves, that storyline goes nowhere unless Ginzo purposely sabotages a pitch or, Rosenbergs an idea to a rival agency. That bus would be driven by Ginzo, not Don. Sigh.

      • Tilden, I think we’re going to see a lot of Ginsberg in S6, and that’s fine if it brings out more of Don’s (pardon) balls. I can imagine a true generation gap war between them, and that would not only be fitting of the time, but a boost to the blandness of the Megan-centric S5. I’m sure there was a reason we saw the grungy apartment we saw that Michael shares with his adopted Dad. NYC is getting grittier and more dangerous, and Michael is a link to that. All of Don’s money won’t save him from getting older and out of touch with the youth he’s supposed to be impressing with his creative ‘genius’, but that’s dwindling too.

    • I really really don’t want to be seen agreeing with my spouse in public. It’s like holding her purse while she tries things on at the department store. I feel like Ron and Anne B does. The show’s called Mad Men and the focus is on the collective. Don is obviously the central character and Jon Hamm’s nominations are for starring roles, not supporting ones.

      But there is a lot going on with everyone. I agree that it’s hard to say where the Megan story line’s going sometimes but I find that a challenge to my patience and attention span. Matt’s gotten very comfortable taking his time to let an arc develop.

      Every paragraph on your post contains an assertion or judgment that I just don’t share. I don’t think Megan is a drug, their fights are histrionic, or that Don is out of the picture. Bert may never learn how to set the clock in his VCR, but even Roger’s gotten on board with new experiences. Don is written as someone continually uncomfortable, always questioning, and endlessly looking for a way to better his lot. Yeah he didn’t start swaying to the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows but neither did millions of adults. I think they were banking (literally) on that. It’s intentionally cacophonous.

      I agree with you that if he stagnates life will pass him by. I just don’t think we’ve seen evidence of that. I don’t see how his fingers are in his ears or Ginsberg is leaving him in the dust. There’s a struggle, sure, but no story, no conflict.

      The beauty of the series is that season six (and seven) will prove someone out.

      • I do see Ginsberg leaving Don in the dust very soon, creatively speaking. I think Don wouldn’t have claimed he doesn’t “think of [Michael] at all”, if he did not feel threatened by the kid’s obvious, prolific talent.

        That said, Michael Ginsberg does not have the physical presence and charisma of a Don Draper. This is the part of Don’s success that I think will be the last to leave — if only because that man’s gonna stay hot for a good long time to come.

      • I’d like to see Don re-invent himself again by answering the Siren’s call of the West Coast. He leaves behind advertising, changes his name to Robert Evans, heads up a struggling Paramount Studios and delivers some of the greatest movies of the 70’s – Godfather I & II, Chinatown, et. al. He devours all that Hollywood has to offer.

    • This is right. Thank you, Anne.

      Don does not have to be “the coolest” to be interesting. It may even be that he becomes a tragic figure, if he really can’t adapt to the late sixties. I suspect that he adapts enough to stay on top, but we’ll see.

      • Again, berkowit28, I second your emotion. Thanks Anne B. Walter White is a fascinating character, and as you say, Anne, is not the coolest guy in the room. Older people can be really interesting. 41 was and is the middle of life. Don Draper has done a lot of living, but he could be ready to do a lot more, too, as much in the 60’s as in the present, (btw, that faucet scene WAS hot.)

        About the DD/Ginzo relationship, I agree that Don was threatened by Ginzo’s creativity when he was on his ‘love leave’, but the elevator scene reminded me of the way he treated Peggy more than anything else – not threatened so much as dominating. You don’t all of a sudden stop being an alpha male just because you pass 40 and remarry.

  10. I want to add that I don’t think Joan “turned the tables on sexual harassment”. I think she helped her firm deepen what was already a questionable situation with a client.

    Today, employer liability in sexual harassment claims tends to go in one of two directions. In cases where the harassed party encounters a hostile atmosphere, the employer is only liable if he or she can prove the employer knew about that atmosphere and did nothing to change it. But in cases of quid pro quo harassment (where the complainant is offered something in return for sexual favors), the employer is always liable.

    What happened to Joan was a case of quid pro quo harassment. If another client or competitor found out about this, under modern law, SCDP would be liable. As would Joan herself, as a partner.

    • Peggy sorta knows about Joanie and that account. She works for Chaough, but she wouldn’t kneecap her ‘Don’ like that. Never. MW could simply decide to write precious ballerina out of the show(NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!) to kill any potential drama.

    • Hmm. So how exactly would that work? A client could sue SCDP for not offering them a night with Joan in exchange for their account, since she did it for Jaguar? And was this law in place in 1966-67?

      • A competitor could claim that SCDP used quid pro quo to obtain the Jaguar account.

        But while the law was in place at the time (the Civil Rights Act of 1964), sexual harassment suits did not begin to invoke Title VII of the Act until the 1970s. And sexual harassment suits are subject to statutes of limitation, all of which would have long passed by the time such a suit could be filed.

        Unless the firm made a practice of that kind of thing, in which case: Yikes.

        • But competitors would have to make sure their own noses were clean before they could build a case like that, wouldn’t they? What’s the difference from a legal standpoint between offering a client a night with Joan, and offering them a night (or multiple nights) with a “paid escort”? The latter seems to have been standard industry practice at the time.

          As for Joan herself, I think she made the best of a terrible situation. Now that she’s a partner, and thus in on every meeting they have, she won’t be put in that position ever again.

      • BTW, feel free to poke holes in this. I’m not a lawyer — but I do have a bit of experience working out what a sexual harassment suit can and can not be.

        Unfortunately. 🙁

        • That sucks, Anne. Nothing makes me more smoke coming out of my ears pissed off, than a bully who tries to rub it in someone’s nose just cause they think they can. I’m sorry.

    • Although it’s hard not to draw parallels to legal issues of today, I think the main take-away from the sexual harassment storyline is that Joan, like almost any other woman of 1967, will just suck it up and move on. There may be gossip. There’s nothing she can do about that.

  11. Why must things follow such a mechanical line? Willie Mays was a great player in the 50’s AND the 60’s; maybe Don can be that! Perhaps Peggy winds up as Don circa 1960 only in 1970; trends are trends not determining things. It’s interesting that Pete is having career advancement, but personal unhappiness. Maybe Roger winds up like late ’60’s Sinatra, only on drugs on a regular basis. Midge started out as just a bohemian and wound up a junkie, and, we assume, not doing very well! It’s the individual stories within Mad Men that drive it, and Don can still be interesting without being painted as a failure.

    • I’ll second your assertion that Don need not whither on the vine.

      Mary Wells Lawrence, a real life contemporary of Don Draper had a shelf life that extended well into the 70s.

      (She may have started a few years earlier – before Dick was in Korea)

      (didn’t Roger snark at Braniff last season? – Braniff was a big account for Wells Rich Greene)

      Wells later role changed to manager and pitchman; she had her own Ginsberg so didn’t have to do that much creative heavy-lifting.

  12. Meowser, I forgot to thank you, for this stimulating, delicious, genius post. Thank, you. Thank, you. Thank, you.

  13. Matt Weiner has always claimed Megan is in Mad Men to tell us more about Don. And that is exactly how Matt has used her in most scenes.

    I know this is subtle but the way Don talks to Megan, it sounds like he is going overboard to be honest and sincere with her and to be kind to her. This is definitely not the Don Draper of the first four seasons.

    Has Don gone soft? If he has it’s only with Megan. Perhaps this is how Don has always wanted to act and feel but until he met Megan he did not believe it was possible.

    Megan will not tolerate BS; neither will Don.

    • Don might have been soft with Megan for much of this season (save for Far away places) but he was horrible to Peggy until she left. And now he’s missing her. He’ll be missing Megan when she performs, he’ll always miss Anna. Which woman can Don turn to? Not Betty. Maybe Joan, maybe even Faye, but whoever it is, he’ll grow tired of her too, for he ‘only likes the beginning of things.”

      • Close your eyes.
        Imagine what woman would be ‘there’ for Don at the end of the day. Would not ask him for anything. Endlessly loyal. A pal he could share secrets with. Would never judge him.
        Could call him on all his crap, yet have bottomless admiration. Could riff about work with.
        A. ROCK. His. Timeless, no beginning, no end.
        Open your eyes. There’s your answer.

        • Noooooooooooooo! Please don’t go there, Matt Weiner. Peggy & Don’s unique relationship are one of many things that set Mad Men apart.

        • Unlikely that Weiner would cross that line – but if he did….

          It would be a crisis-motivated dalliance, Margaret would initiate, not take no for an answer, and both would regret it after. It would not become a romance rather an interlude that would bring them closer.

          • Pegster is Don’s eternal platonic sweetie. His only adult relationship that is always real, which makes it the best. She will be there for that guy, no matter what. THAT, is love.
            Face it, romance is basically crap to DD. The pedestal he puts Peggy on, is much higher.

  14. Meowser, I really loved your post! So enjoyable!

    Don is a tough one. His insanely deep rooted, destructive tendencies just seem to doom him and put him in an endless circle of seduction and rejection, with everyone and everything. We just keep seeing him repeat a pattern, and at this point, we know where it all goes. The question is, do we have to see it again for seasons 6 and 7 because that doesn’t seem that fun. I think, though, that his marriage to Megan, and new relationship/friendship with Peggy, could be the impetus to have a renewed Don Draper of sorts.

    Don simultaneously has an intense longing for love, his mother’s love, but then has massive amounts of resentment towards this woman for abandoning him. He now recreates the abandonment of his mother by coveting women, seducing them, and then abandoning them himself – his ‘repeat to master’ pattern. Or at any instance of rejection works to shake them off before they can do the same to him. I think Megan is helping him work through these issues through their marriage – she knows about Dick Whitman and her take no BS attitude makes Don a more accountable, considerate man – but he still thinks he’s about to lose her at every turn. But I’m also wondering if Peggy’s departure will heal him more. He directly saw the repercussions of his callousness when Peggy up and left, but simultaneously seems to understand that her leaving wasn’t a full rejection of him. She still values him and his friendship, despite the dismissive and denegrating things he would say to her. He has shown her his true self, used all of his aggression to turn her away from him and alleviate some of his self-hatred, and she still says at that movie theater, “keep me on your call list”. She also says to him, “don’t be a stranger.” All of her language is that of forgiveness and inclusiveness, and I don’t know if he’s ever had that, to that extent, in his life.

    How will this make him more interesting? I’d like to see Don, instead of with a veneer of confidence and panache, actually own it. And then he can do anything from there because every move isn’t filled with desperation or dismissiveness. Maybe he starts taking chances at work, and realizes he doesn’t even want to be at SCDP anymore. I just want to see Don fully inhabit his skin again, instead of being ready to jump out of it at every second.

  15. I think when Don watched Megan on the reel – he realized that he was in love with an image – a Phantom.
    It was not real. They really had nothing in common. He cares for her and wants her to have her chance, so he gave it to her with the commercial. All along he was just a stepping stone to her. Now his obligation to her is over. Now he is once again starting over – like he advised Lane to do. Perhaps his focus now will be to build the company. Like he said to Joan – men don’t know what they want, but they are wanting. Don does not know what he wants – it will be interesting for us to see where that wanting takes him next.

    I agree with some others that this season was not as satisfying as previous ones – I am not sure why, maybe they were trying to work in too many story lines. Still better than anything else. Look forward to next season. I enjoy and appreciate all of the posts.

    • FayeMac – My thoughts as well. Really identified with this comment in terms of my MM theories. Thanks.

  16. I think Don’s “emotional largess” (weird, I know) toward Megan stems in part from his relationship with Dr. Miller.

    True, he was under extreme mental, emotional and physical duress, and maybe that’s why he confided in Faye. Still, her health asssisted him in finding a healthier partner (Megan). So did Rachel Mencken’s.

    I loved this post Meowsah. Very honest. I’ll never break up with Mad Men, and sometimes, during season 5, I was embarrased to be going steady with it.

  17. Isn’t it also a problem that nothing really hinges on Don anymore? Not work, and none of his relationships. Something has to hinge on him again.

    1960 Don kept Sterling Cooper afloat. He was “the man” who needed to finesse and impress every client, and everyone looked at him to do so. Remember Pete saying he would follow Don into battle? Peggy also looked to his every nod of validation. Don was the face of SCDP. Now…it’s obviously changed.

    When he was married to Betty, the thought of that marriage dissolving was high drama because people just didn’t divorce that much in 1962, and what would Betty do without him? And how would Don survive without the facade of this beautiful wife and marriage? Well, come mid-60’s divorce happens and we see that Betty did survive. As did the kids who got a new step-dad who also had money and could take care of all of them. Same goes with Megan now. She’s proven herself to be a working woman who can leave Don and not suffer too greatly.

    We also questioned what would happen if people found out about Don’s dual identity, how could this ever come to light! Everything would collapse. Well…not much really collapsed once it came out. Megan, Pete, Faye know…and…for the most part life goes on.

    So I guess season 6 and 7 will hinge on making Don highly responsible for something, anything, so he isn’t just some phantom coming in and out of scenes.

    • Agreed — Don does not want to be abandoned again. He was abandoned by his mother in childbirth, and by his father in death. Adam abandoned him by committing suicide (even though Don had a role in it). So did Lane. He was abandoned by Roger when he married Jane. He was abandoned by Betty when she filed for divorce, Anna by dying, Peggy by leaving. Although Don has no trouble doing the abandoning, he doesn’t like how it feels when it’s done to him.

      That’s why I think he let Megan do the commercial, because he just doesn’t want her to leave him.

    • Applause. How good are you MPAN.

    • This is why Christmas Waltz was one of my favorite S5 episodes; Don vs. Michael actually gave Don something to respond to, a cold-water reminder that it had been much too long since his last winning idea. Don needs Michael, but he hates to need Michael. He thinks he shouldn’t have to need Michael, he thinks he should be able to do it himself, but it’s just not happening for him. A lot more can be done with that dynamic.

    • MPAN – This is a good comment, but I disagree with parts. The Jaguar presentation may have been a sexist counterpoint to Joan’s actions with the client, but in that 60’s car world, it was also masterful. It represented a return to ultra-confident Don. He didn’t need to originate the creative pitch to make it work and he hadn’t needed to before S4 either. Not in a million years could Ginzo have sold that line in front of the car men, and Pete would have been as likely to go to war with Jaguar Don as S1 Don. DD returned to being the face of the company in that scene. Almost everybody has focused on Joan’s actions in that episode, with good reason, but the other 2 car men were watching Don.

      Also, individuals know of parts of Don’s identity (Pete, Bert, Betty, Faye, Megan, Anna’s California family). Anna was the only one who knew it all. Betty probably knows the most of the people in his day-to-day life, but it is certainly not public knowledge – personal consequences have been suffered, public ones have not. Don’s S4 panic attack was brought on by the possiblity of public exposure. There is lots more room for high drama in regards to DD’s identity problems.

  18. In 2009 Don Draper was voted in askmen.com poll as the most influential person on the planet (President Obama came in #3). Once you reach the top of the mountain you sink into irrelevance by comparison as the years move along.

  19. If there is anything that defines the spirit, essence and personality of the USA and Americans it is the concept of the second chance, fresh start, or the ability to rebound from adversity.

    How often do we read of real-life celebrities or prominent people headed towards the abyss or having fallen on hard times recover and again become successful. The resurgence of Tiger Woods in the past four months is a good example of that.

    I believe that Don Draper is about to become a lot more relevant and impactful business-wise than he has been in quite awhile. Listening to Jon Hamm on Inside Mad Men discussing The Phantom, he talks about Don being invigorated and looking forward to embracing his business future in a huge way. I am not suggesting Don won’t have challenges along the way, but I see him really putting his nose to the grindstone and not being absent from work. And he will be able to do this because his marriage to Megan is still pretty solid. The last thing he needs now is to be distracted by a pending divorce and wondering how he is going to take care of his kids when he has custody of them. Don is now 41 going on 42 (probably season six will explore 1968). He is thinking legacy. He has fewer good years left than he left behind.

    • And if you needed more proof of the tenuous nature of irrelevancy, wasn’t it just 6 months that many golf pundits felt that Tiger Woods was all washed up and would never win again on the PGA tour and had become irrelevant? Well, in 2012 TW has won three times in 11 starts and again the talk of golf.

      Don Draper is as much a genius as TW is. He will recapture his creativity and cut a wide swath through the advertising community again, but like TW he will not be quite as productive as he was in his first go-around but what he is left with will plenty good enough to overwhelmingly succeed.

      And both TW and DD know they have to make the next few years count. They will wake up each morning knowing that.

    • F. Scott Fitzgerald: There are no second acts in American life. Act II in Dick Whitman’s life (Don Draper, obviously) is reaching its use by date. How the hell will MW make Don/Dick become new, and embark on Act III, the denouement? That’s why he gets the big bucks. I tremble with anticipation. All in kids.

      • F. Scott Fitzgerald made a profound statement about Act II’s (and III’s, by implication), but I’m not so sure that the truth of that had not already begun to crumble by the late 60’s. It’s definitely no longer true in 2012. Even Jack Abramoff was on Bill Mahar last Friday – that’s a comeback I never thought I’d see. There’s a very good chance, Techno, that you could be right about this one.

        His marriage though is likely to become a smaller part of his life in S6 imo.

  20. Fantastic post – on a site with many, many fantastic posts. Even though I understand people complaining about Megan’s screen time this season – I miss more of Peggy and Joan, too, damnit! – I’ve grown to be more fascinated by Megan, Don and their particular relationship. In some ways they mirror each other, in other ways completely different, as it is in all relationships, likely. Contrast that with so many tv shows where characters do things completely that seem counter to their nature; on Mad Men, there have been a few scenes that have seemed a little out of place (the lawnmower office party was a little odd), but very few. I can’t think of any other show that has shown the varieties of the human experience for those characters – that most of us are many people within one. To me the show is compelling especially in how it shows how complex and changeable most people are. Even Pete who has clearly sunken to new lows (pimp? Really? Oh Pete) has been a character whose frustrations at success and hard work have resonated with me – that you can be good at your job and it’s never enough. Sadly true for Lane, who did a horrid thing by embezzling, but who was also at his core a fairly decent fellow. The struggles of good people who fail isn’t a pretty mess to watch, but is what makes good drama so powerful – it’s the story of humanity, on some level, isn’t it?

    I will say this – a big concern of mine is that the show would be rife with stereotypes from the time period. Anything set in the 60s can seem a shiny gleaming idyllic jewel because of the false lens of nostalgia; that the show’s writers have made the themes of the show take place during a time which has elements of cliche all around it is heartening. Maybe the scene with the water balloons coming from Y&R was a metaphor that the show wouldn’t disparage what the time period was about by turning it into cliches about protests and love beads – something I remember the Wonder Years falling prey to on some level. Sure, one can easily see Sally turning completely into a counter culture icon, but I like that the period focuses more on the day to day trials rather than the cliche of protests, bra burnings that never happened, and other headlines in the news. Even the nostalgia that Don engages in with the beautiful pitch for The Carousel is less tied to the Family of the 50s, and more the the eternal moments of milestones and events of everyone – births, marriages, etc. That it was twinged with personal sadness (that that image was what he wanted, had, but couldn’t keep, and perhaps longs for because of his childhood) made it all the more painful.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the mundane; I occasionally travel for work, and I see those little moments when I travel that I have labelled ‘mundane’ because they reveal who we are – the person reaching down to tie their laces, someone struggling to parallel park, Peggy going through her desk for her lucky gum. Those mundane moments that show our character and reveal our inner thoughts reveal as much about who we are as the headline making days; to paraphase Gloria Stenium (sadly can’t find the original quote online), ‘it’s not the earth shattering days that hurt you – it’s the day to day mundane days that can weaken you’. I would love to see more of Dawn’s life, too, but as the daughter of a single parent in the Sixties, I suspect my mum would have resonated with a lot of the mundane parts of life and less about the revolutionary aspects that we seem to focus on as being ‘About the Sixties’. She never went through anything quite as dramatic as Joan to get that partnership, but I know she would have loved the show. Ironically enough, another older women who lived through that time can’t bear to watch the show, and I wonder how much of it for her is remembering the past and the pains of her life at that time, both personally and professionally. As much as a feminist in 2012 loves watching the stories of strong women on the screen, I see as much pain and frustration as triumph for all of the women on this show. They have come a long way baby, but boy, it’s not been an easy journey. I think of Peggy crying after her confrontation with Don and see so much of the toll of that battle for equal rights show up in her tears. The subtle sexism, the little touches we see like lobster brought in for the other team – these little human moments can add up, and cognitively shape what we think and feel. The flipside of that, of course, is that for all the difficulties we do see other moments where people can stand on their merits – like when Ken silently applauds Peggy, or Freddy wisely picking up on Peggy’s potential for creative imagery. Those moments are ones I live for – seeing the creative people turn vague concepts into realized artistic works just leave me in awe. Again, capturing the good and bad of what occurs makes us see not only the black and white of situations, but that life is often grey – that answers aren’t clear cut, that grey is the colour of days where the mundane takes over, and that one can travel between black and white, and sometimes land in between, but that sometimes that’s fine. Not every moment can be as perfect as the pitch for The Carousel, but so it goes.

    • Rachel, sweet. I love your reflection on the mundane. I think sometimes that’s all there is.

      reminds me of Blake:

      “To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.”


    • Rachel – A lovely long comment. You really covered 2 of the qualities that most hooked me on MM. The mundane and authentic details of S1 resonated with me so deeply from my childhood – a time machine of sorts. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that Matt Weiner didn’t live through this time as a sentient being. And the ‘grey’ quality of MW’s presentation of characters and events is so right on the mark, for me. It’s tiring at times to constantly be assaulted by a dominant ‘black and white’ worldview. That view works sometimes in interpreting life, but more often than not it doesn’t – too superficial.

      The Blake quote in the reply above is lovely as well.

    • Rahel – I hope you liked the blu-ray DVDs! Keep posting and we’ll keep reading, Frank

  21. “A guy who was king of the 1950s, by definition, can’t be king of the 1960s…”

    Why not?

    The tragic burning of Ms. Phuc did not air delivered chemical fire… Vietnam did not end war… the 1960’s ended neither history nor creativity.

    We can all improve. Our families, our nation, our destiny demands we try.

    “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp — or what’s a heaven for?”

    • Marvelous comment. <3

    • Elvis came back in 1968 with his TV special, and in 1969 with a number one single, “Suspicious Minds” (along with a few other hits). But he had to go through an awfully long period of young people thinking he was squarer than a brick first.

    • Not sure that Elvis made a real comeback until after he died. Late 60’s Elvis was unconvincing to a lot of us, especially former Beatlemaniacs like myself, but enjoyed your comment, Hawk.

  22. Wonderful post. I think this season was unsettling because of the major shift in the direction of the story. It was like sand shifting, and it was difficult for us fans to get our footing. I mean, who was this “Megan” he suddenly married? Then, who is this “Don” we’re seeing? It was a bit jarring to jump mentally to the new set of their apartment, new sudden office & work relationship, etc. So much to adjust to!

    My predictions align with many other posters that Don has renewed vigor and will set about catching some big fish again. Wouldn’t be surprised if Megan marriage is history, but with little sturm und drang about it. My theory also includes a Don who will get out of his own way and realize that he can allow Ginsberg to shine with creative brilliance. Perhaps he’ll realize how much he took Peggy for granted (maybe she’ll be similarly disillusioned about Chaough), and talk her back into SCDP. The unraveling “rapey” Pete may be made full partner? His rising business reputation was not so subtly highlighted this season. Can’t even fathom Betty’s part in this, except playing off Sally’s ever-growing character. Glen I hope doesn’t factor in at all, but that’s probably too much to hope for.

    I appreciate this site so much. I’ve listened to several MM podcasts and the intellectually layered discussions here just don’t exist on the podcasts I’ve found. Sadly, not enough time to read everything on BoK. Thanks again.

    • The Glen Factor was given the right amount of weight in S5. He was an interesting sidekick (a condiment) to the Sally arc – which I imagine will become more significant in the remaining story.

      How did you like Mrs Francis (the elder)? She served a role similar to Glen’s in the Sally story.

      As much as I like January Jones, I could see the Betty character receding even more than it already has.

      Pete will continue to be central to SCDP’s fortunes. Ginz will rise in importance.

      I pray that Peggy will continue to figure strongly in the story – perhaps as competitor to Don and Ginzo. Given that so much has been invested in her, I imagine this to be a strong bet.

      Of course we (most of us) like Roger. I could see him working to land Dow Chemical (at least a piece of it). His and Don’s cold call could turn out to be a red herring of course. Perhaps he will continue to woo comely, age-appropriate woman (like Mrs. Calvet – who will be back. Weiner loves bringing beautiful actresses back when it make sense to the Mad Men story).

      Joan’s star will rise. She has just gotten started as an ad exec.

      When will Weiner call his writers together? Time to craft Season Six.

      • I agree with all your predictions, which does make Season 6 really exciting. Season 5 was all about transition, but now that everyone is properly lined up, it’s like Weiner can just set off the powder keg and let everything explode.

        It is awesome that many of us said, “If Joan had been born today she’d be a CEO of a company” and now we could actually see her really getting to that point in these next few seasons. She always seemed under the thumb (theoretically) of Peggy who was the one that had more power and mobility in the workforce, but look at Joan now. She leapfrogged over Peggy, in a different avenue of business.

        And it was said that Don’s marriage might play a less prominent role in this upcoming season, and I wonder if having Peggy as a competitor does bring the work back into focus. Even though, I wonder how much “competition” she actually is. We really tend to see SCDP competing with itself most of the time, not explicitly with others around it.

        Pete seems to have the most vague trajectory to me. I’m really not quite sure where else he is going. Scratch that, Betty has the most vague trajectory, for sure. Definitely don’t know what she’s going to be embroiled in next season.

  23. Don is a daddy. He’s a good daddy. That is his great redeeming factor, and what will carry him thorough middle age and beyond. He will be able to adapt to “the Sixties” well enough to remain emotionally available to his biological children through their adolescences and beyond.

    He knows how to fix stuff and calm emotional situations — flashes from S5 — Don stripping off his shirt at the Campbell dinner party and fixing the sink (cf Ken’s take on the man with the miniature orchestra” and Betty facing her possible cancer diagnosis pleading, “Say what you always say!” Also note the Professor’s quip re one day your little girl will “spread her legs and fly away.” And the way he handles Joan after she melts down upon being served papers at the office.

    Peggy was the first to leave his nest.

  24. I was wondering, this is way off topic, (maybe it could be a thread at some point?) but now that we’ve seen the entirety of season 5, and I assume people (like moi!) are going back and rewatching episodes from S5 again, do any episodes now change from your initial viewing of them, when you were just sort of going along blindlly in the season? Whether they moved up in your book or were downgraded?

    • What a great question! I’ll have to think more about this.

    • Had to watch Mystery Date 3 times before I saw the light. Its a masterwork. Far Away Places, Signal 30, The Christmas Waltz, and The Other Woman are so frighteningly good, that I’ve only had to see nthe first run broadcast. Will bathe in their brilliance at a later date.
      Have to give Lady Lazarus, Dark Shadows, and A Little Kiss need fourth, fifth viewings. They are mixed bags to me.
      Tea Leaves, The Phantom– I’ll wait for the DVD. Ugh.
      Last 15 minutes of At the Codfish Ball is probably the best ‘episode’ of S5. The first 30 minutes are tedious.

      • Is this lame that I’m responding to my own post? It’s the lazy days of summer, there’s lots of free time to talk of Mad Men.

        Signal 30, Far Away Places, and The Other Woman all hold up the same – insanely well Signal 30 also gets better each time I see it – the echo of the dripping water at the end? Gutting.

        Tea Leaves is still just…such a hot mess. Why didn’t they just present Betty as overweight, and go from there? Why the cancer scare that did nothing to inform her or others around her? Dark Shadows I haven’t even re-watched, so…yup.

        Mystery Date actually is less effective for me than it was the first time around. It is still incredible in how it sets this ominous tone and concretely plays upon that fear of violence, but when I re-watch it, I don’t feel like it adds to the story for me. It was almost like a stand-alone episode.

        Codfish Ball – agree, first 30 minutes are SO tedious, and then it just unfurls with brilliance. And I realize now how much its going to set Megan in motion.

        The Phantom is a really joyless episode. Commissions and Fees is obviously dark, but there are highs and lows, it moves you. The Phantom just kind of stunts you with it’s morbidness. Yes, Peggy gets to go on a biz trip, but beyond that, my god, that it is like looking into the abyss.

        Lady Lazarus I appreciate, but knowing that the only storyline its setting in motion is Megan pursuing acting and that it will only moderately affect her marriage to Don makes it less impactful. But, that test kitchen scene is epic every time I watch it.

        • Zero lameness. Love that you threw this out there for us to chew on. We’ve got eight months till the premiere. It IS only eight months, right? Pretty please.

  25. Did MW give us a hint regarding the future of DD? In his TV Guide interview he states that Don’s pitch to Dow was “the closest thing to “greed is good” that we’ve ever done”. Since the late 60’s, big business has been characterized as insatiably greedy. Sucessful companies want to be more successful and aggressive startups want to dominate the world. By having Don express these sentiments so concisely, so nakedly are we seeing a glimpse of how Don will fit into the climate of the future? Looking back with hindsight we can see how an appeal to naked insatiable greed would have been sucessful over the past 45 yrs. Perhaps Don is once again ahead of the curve instead of being in danger of falling behind? Believe it or not, both Don and Ginzo agree on this point. Ginzo understands the desire created by something that is just out of your reach, the essence of his Jaguar pitch. There will be significant conflict between Don and Ginzo, but they see the world in the same way and to an extent, they need each other. It won’t be pretty, but it will be effective.

  26. Think about it: Since season 4, episode 8 The Summer Man, Don Draper’s arc has trended upwards. Yes there have been ruts in the road and he has been sidetracked occasionally by “life” but if you seriously reflect where Don was at the very end of episode 7 The Suitcase after it was confirmed by Stephanie that Anna had passed away and trace over the last 19 episodes to where he is now, the difference is night and day.

    I would argue that Don Draper is far more relevant going into season six that he has been for quite awhile. Bottom line: SCDP had its best quarter ever (Jan 1–March 31, 1967). The firm has secured Jaguar and perhaps on its way to eventually landing Dow. Also SCDP is about to move into new digs next season. Things are very rosy at work.

    Regarding Megan, it appears he does NOT have to worry about her any longer. Don will continue to get her commercial gigs for SCDP clients and keep her occupied. She will in turn be restored to full mental and psychological health and again be a step-mother to his 3 kids. Sure Don may not see Megan as much but he doesn’t need to. Megan wants him to work hard and become more relevant. In fact I would argue Don won’t have time to think about leaving Megan. Work will consume him. As for Megan leaving Don, I don’t ever see that happening unless he cheats on her. She loves him too much.

    I see season six as a wonderful, fulfilling time for Don personally and business-wise but like everyone else he will have to come to terms with the real world in 1968. The only thing that could set Don back is a personal health challenge. Remember at the beginning of season two, he was given pills for high blood pressure. And Don is 41 going on 42.

    • Don had almost nothing to do with Jaguar. Ginzo came up with the actual idea, the pitch DD merely enhanced. Pete, not Creative, closed the deal, by way of Joan. That knowledge burns inside Don, and he knows he’s not the axis on which his world turns, anymore. We’ll see about Dow.

      Don better be in massive amounts of pain in S6, or there’ll be no reason to watch his character have nothing at risk, again. No potential risk to his career, freedom, psyche, marriage. Not again. YAWN.

      • Maybe I’m reading a little bit too much into this comment, but, why the seeming hostility toward Don? He’s a wonderfully complicated character, and his part was important like everyone else’s. His life has had plenty of hell in it, and yes, he’s a sinner if we want to get judgemental about it. The Jaguar success was (at least) a five way – in other words, a team effort. Lane caught it, Pete got his little bulldog teeth into it and held on, Ginzo came up with the line, (Stan probably did the beautiful glossy artwork), Joan sold the car***hole on it giving up both body and soul (unfortunately, by choice), and Don dazzled the two other car men with his velvet tongue. That’s how advertising works, as Don explained not at all sensitively to Peggy in The Suitcase.

        • Oh, and also, things are never truly rosey for Don because his physical freedom (especially), his psyche, and perhaps less importantly (based on The Phantom, just guessing) his marriage are always at stake. Furthermore, Vietnam heating up in the national psyche could highlight the issue of desertion in front of Sally and her generational cohort. That’s the toughest one for DD.

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