Thinking about the future

 Posted by on June 10, 2015 at 8:40 am  Mad Men, Season 7
Jun 102015
Photo Credit:Justina Mintz/AMC

Photo Credit:Justina Mintz/AMC

Throughout Mad Men episode 7.10, The Forecast, Don is obsessed with thinking about the future. People’s aspirations, he finds, are all about advertising (Ted wants a pharmaceutical account, Peggy wants to be Creative Director). By episode 7.12, Lost Horizon, he’s done with that.

I was struck by one particular image. In the shot above, you can see Don working in his office, trying to come up with a forecast. But look at the upper left. The entire internet saw that shot and obsessed over the sombrero, but that’s not what I noticed.


Don’s awards are all more than ten years old: Clearly visible in the background, as Don works on the future: 1957, 1958, and 1959.


  35 Responses to “Thinking about the future”

  1. I often contemplate how Don has learned to cope with life, and how that is aligned with his work. Escapism and creativity are both mind trips. His Bert Cooper song and dance revealed his hallucination to me was a way of coping.

    The awards are for a young Don. When he was hungry and probably unaware of how he did what he did. Intuitive, internal processes that were instincts of a kid with a need to create a world in order to cope. He looked at life through many prisms. The best view was not reality but him feeling something that did not yet exist.

    Now, he is single, meditating, and creates the greatest Coke commercial. His inner world is aligned with the outer world.

    I wonder now the he is about to become an only parent at forty something. Will he stop the escape sex behavior? Has he out grown the need act out his pain in secret relationships with women?

  2. And that Mets pennant belonged to Lane. (I think it was his old office, I remember Don finding it after he moved in.)

  3. A very complicated juxtaposition. Don is trying here to think about the future, and failing. He is also a man always running from the past. So where does that leave him, in some ever-present (literally) limbo?

    The plaques give a clue. Some of the past he wants to bring with him. In “The Strategy,” when Peggy mentions 1955, he says “that was a good year.” When she tries 1965, he only says “I got married,” no further comment. Another award we know he won is not pictured: the Clio he won in “Waldorf Stories” (which happened in 1965. Unless that loving cup next to the plaques is the Clio. Is it?) Was Don happy in the late 1950’s? Or has the passage of time just let him remember it that way? (I don’t think Don was ever truly happy for any lengthy period).

    BTW, what was the sombrero about? I seem to remember reading some article where MW or somebody on the inside explained what it was doing there, but I’ve forgotten the explanation. Does anyone remember?

    • That cup is not the Clio – excluded by design – accompanied by maracas, horsehead bookends, framed photos – including a brunette’s forehead (and not Megan’s – looks more like Peggy, but surely not her’s either), and a wood-grain banker’s box.

      Behind Don – a bottle of CC and one of Tanqueray (for Roger, no doubt – he probably put it there). Schweppes mixers in the foreground.

      (and now you know what I’m interested in.

      • I believe the Clio is to the right of the lamp.

        • Nice Catch, and now I’m chagrined to see that the “brunette” is Bobby – to the left of Sally and (I presume) Eugene.

          (and where does Deborah find those great, hi-detail shots?)

    • There are also a pair of maracas and a guiro. I doubt they ever get used musically.

    • About the sombrero, I also vaguely remember reading somewhere that MW asked them to put something fun or colorful in that corner, and he was surprised by the reaction it got from the audience.

  4. The Mets banner was Lane’s. The Clio is to the right of the lamp. The “brunette” is Bobby, in a hinged frame where the other picture is Sally. Gene is in a separate frame.

    The sombrero was just meant as a jokey memento from some supposed trip.

    • I love all the details in this photo!

      To the right of the hinged frame is the green-domed pencil sharpener that we’ve seen on Don’s desk from day 1. Under the Mets pennant is children’s artwork, probably from Bobby and/or Gene — one is a drawing of a kid (or maybe Don?) either playing golf or maybe field hockey with the writing, “I love Daddy” and to the right of that is what looks like a child’s self-portrait with falling leaves. Under that is a paper-woven mat (I remember making those in school!). The other photo on Don’s desk, to the left of the lamp, is the photo of Don and Anna when he last saw her when her foot was in a cast.

      I think that the awards on the wall, the trophy cup and the Clio, are only a sample of Don’s awards. We’ve seen Don receive several other awards that are not displayed in his office. For example, in Season 1, Episode 5, “5G” Don comes home with an award that is a plaque with a “horseshoe.” ln Season 5, Episode 7, “At the Codfish Ball,” we see Don receiving an award from the American Cancer Society. In that episode Don asks Sally if she would like the award, suggesting that he really doesn’t care about the award itself.

      As usual, I think Don is conflicted. Don has to feel satisfaction to receive recognition from his professional peers for the excellence of his work. However, I also think that he probably really doesn’t care that much about awards and it was probably Meredith or Allison or maybe even Joan who hung those awards on his office wall.

      • The objects, especially the pictures, on Don’s desk speak of a change in him. Remember when Conrad Hilton first visited his office he reproved Don for having no family pictures on his desk. Don said he didn’t like any distractions.

        • Excellent catch. Don loves what he can’t have. He misses his kids because he doesn’t have them, but when he did have them, he cared less.

          • True enough, but I was thinking it as more of a sign of a softening in Don, of being more able to face his emotions. Several people pointed out here during Season 7 that Don was kinder in certain ways, less selfish and self-involved. When he brought the cake to Rachel’s shiva, for example. Not writing a check to the charity suggested (money solving the problem, as Don always would act before), instead a simple human gesture. Of course, he was also still falling into the old patterns, too (making Megan go away with a check, not thinking of Peggy’s feelings when he interviewed her about The Future, telling Stephanie to forget about the past), but in smaller ways he was progressing. When he finally embraced Sad Leonard, it was the culmination of a long process, not a sudden flip when he got to Big Sur.

      • I recently rewatched the episode in which Don receives the award with the horseshoe on a wooden plaque. I think this is the only moment on MM where my eye picked up a continuity error. The error involves where Betty’s gloves wind up over the course of cutting to, cutting away, and cutting back to the plaque before the horseshoe comes undone. It is really the only continuity issue I ever came close to seeing on MM.

        Thanks to Deb’s screen shots I took note that Don’s office was reorganized after his typewriter-throwing moment in The Monolith (7.4). In that episode, the Met pennant and award were in reverse order. I might be imagining it but I think Don glanced at the awards on the wall right after throwing his typewriter, and right before he headed out the door to go to a Mets game with Freddie. I think Don did care about his awards…I am sure he took note of the fact that Ted had two Clios on his desk. And you know that Peggy took note of Don having the GloCoat Clio in his office. I love this stuff!

  5. Those orange chairs are reminding me of Megan—and Howard Johnson’s.

  6. “Don’s awards are all more than ten years old: Clearly visible in the background, as Don works on the future: 1957, 1958, and 1959.”

    It’s a good observation. Don always strives to be forward-thinking but he does struggle with the future sometimes. I remember some people talking about how the show moved into the late ’60s, some of the ad guys would grow beards (and they did) but Don wouldn’t and he would probably always wear a hat.

    At work, Don has seen so much change. He moved up at Sterling Cooper, only to decide along with the other guys to break off and start their own SC. A bold/brave move, for sure. Then he saw struggles as clients left and they had to struggle to bring back revenue. It’s part of the game, of course, but as time went on and they had to look for support from McCann, I think Don started questioning (again) what it’s all about. I say “again” because there have been other times we saw him wrestle with that, if the should stay or go, but I think he always came back to knowing that this is what he knew and what he did best.

    My point being: I can see why he had those awards up, as callback to the glory days when he was young and hungry.

  7. i love all these ideas!

    all this contemplation of don looking forwards and / or back, hat / no hat, beard/ no beard, got me wondering what don would look like in the 80s, 90s, today. i wonder if someone has ever done one of those photoshop things where age enhacement could be done to speculate his later in life appearance.

    • Ask and you shall receive! I don’t find this very believable, do you?

    • This may be old news (May 5) but an “obituary” states he lived to 88 (2014):

        • If anyone’s interested, I wrote a Don Draper obituary, just posted at under “Remembering Don Draper.”

          (End of shameless ad for myself) 🙂

          • That was a fabulous obituary – and great that you had Don working on the Carter campaign – even if he didn’t Vote.

            I was a little sad that Stan may not have made it to the funeral.

            • Thanks! 🙂

              Don’t worry, Stan is still with us in 1996. At the end, when Peggy says “my husband” she’s speaking in the present tense.

            • If Don helped Carter in 1976, He probably coached Clinton for the 60 Minutes interview in 1992 and created “The Comeback Kid” nickname after WJC finished a surprising 2nd in the New Hampshire primary. Who would know better how to cover up an affair?

          • Nicely done — why not provide the link or republish here?

            There was no mention of the surviving (?) Draper children or any other marriages….what do you think?

            • I’m never sure of the rules about linkage (they go to moderation), and, as I said, it’s such a shameless ad for myself that I feel funny about posting a direct link.

              I do mention that Don and Betty had three children, and Peggy does bring up Sally obliquely, but I didn’t want too many details. I say they are still alive, but as to how they turned out… leave something to the imagination. (Feel free to speculate! 🙂 )

              Don does not (at least in my imagined future) marry again. He tried that twice and failed twice. I see him and Stephanie as having some kind of long-term relationship (I always liked Stephanie), but Don has given up on marriage.

            • Anything with 3 or more links automatically goes to moderation because it’s likelier to be a spambot.

            • OK, what the hell, here’s the link:


              False modesty is vastly overrated. 🙂

          • Sir,
            Your view of the evolution and completion of the Draper – Olsen relationship matches my view of this fiction, and perhaps foreshadows one man’s reality.

            Well done.


        • Who is Levitt? Note Perry’s hyphenated last name.

          • Peggy….it’s that phone autocorrect.

            • That is in the Epsilon obit…Melville we enjoyed yours much more….I couldn’t see Don lasting till his 80s nor having enough focus to start three businesses. Consulting, yup. Melville, in your mind did he die suddenly or after a long illness?

          • “Melville we enjoyed yours much more….I couldn’t see Don lasting till his 80s nor having enough focus to start three businesses. Consulting, yup. Melville, in your mind did he die suddenly or after a long illness?”

            Thank you, Dee!

            I hate thinking of Don (or anybody, really) dying of a long disease. Besides, he spent enough of his life enduring inner pain. I prefer seeing him with a quick, merciful end.

  8. wow! great stipudf, everyone! thanks for putting up all these fantastic links, etc!!!

  9. i meant. “great stuff”….ugh! i need to remember to edit! blasted touch screen keyboard!

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