UNDERSTANDING DON DRAPER

Posted: February 2, 2011 by We-Enhance in "Mad Men", Don Draper
Tags: , ,

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_3vXou2ELJLM/TOmos7fuVFI/AAAAAAAAE-M/X-HUcDe_8VU/s1600/don_draper.jpg

“Mad Men” has to be one  of the most stylish and stylised television shows- ever.

The attention to detail, the knowledge of the advertising industry in the States during its embryonic- and some might say- most creative stages makes for compelling and compulsive viewing.

As a former head of Creative for one of the largest international ad agencies, many of the characters are eerily familiar. It’s as if they never ever left the industry- the weasel-like Account Director, the womanizers, the power-hungry, the ambitious, the naive, the useless.

On “Mad Men”, everyone is either drinking scotch or smoking cigarettes. The Marlboro Man had yet to ride into people’s psyche. And though we had our fair share of liquid lunches when young copywriters and creative directors- we were “privileged” and almost asked to have long lunches as it meant “being creative”-  the characters in the series just seem so much “cooler”- and way more real. And then there is Don Draper.

http://www.39thandbroadway.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/madmen1.jpg

Those of us who have been or still are in advertising must have come across a few “Don Drapers” in our time. We might have even been him. Or still are.

Don Draper is part sociopath, part good guy and both parts in a neat, smart gray suit. He is an enigma, a paradox.

His mysterious past aside, his ways of looking at his marriage and his “need” to be unfaithful are, well, also interesting- the need to flirt with danger and live on the edge.

Is his marriage to the gorgeous Betty, one of necessity? Is it part of the image he has cultivated for himself and is she is his trophy wife? Or does he love her, but cannot and does not know how to show his feelings?

We never know. Men can be complicated beasts- and so ultra-sensitive no one notices through the false bravado of a thick skin. 

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/off-the-markley/Draper.jpg

Don Draper is a brilliant presenter. He charms clients, he wins them over with his no bs presentations- and he charms the pants off the women he wants. To him, attracting and seducing them is just another presentation before eventually winning “the pitch”. It’s an addiction and which he craves. A fix that needs fixing for the ego, for whatever. It’s n nothing personal. It’s only sexual.  

No internal office affairs for him, however, though he easily could. In fact, he looks down on those who sh*t on their own doorstep. He does have some strong ethics- good friend, fair, unforgiving- sure, this was be a good trait- unwavering loyalty.

Outside of the office, it’s all different and where every woman is “fair game”. He shows no emotion. No remorse, no guilt. It’s there to be had for the moment and relationships are almost “an out of body” experience by dulling the senses with alcohol to think that “straying” is “fine”. Just don’t have any women ask too many questions and complicate matters. Make that, Don’t ask any questions. The man does not wish to be reminded and believes “no one knows” of his affairs- especially his wife. And which makes everything “okay”. In his books and which no one can rewrite as this is his creed- his bible. 

http://media.onsugar.com/files/2010/10/41/4/192/1922283/c897e62d41dc6138_e530fc0ec322fde0_don-draper-women.jpg

Marriage and affairs- or conquests- seem to go hand-in-hand and with him never seeing nor understanding the hurt he might be causing on all sides.

Often, the affairs seem to be a game and where he gets so immersed, he cannot or refuses to pull himself out of them even when he knows there is nothing there.

It’s the perennial romantic in him and his belief that the marriage will last no matter what and if found out, he can make the “right pitch” to Betty and all will be fine. 

Does this make him self-centred or a “realist”- no matter how cock-eyed that may sound?     

In a television land filled with complex characters- “Dexter”, “House” the guy from “Shattered” etc- Don Draper is, to me, the most interesting as he is the most confusing, complicated and, ultimately, lonely.

Perhaps, each of us men have a bit of “Don Draper” in all of us- some much more so than others.

  1. [...] feeling a little overwhelmed. Because like Matt Weiner does every summer Sunday, I’m about to complicate a character REAL fucking hard. And that character is our ever-growing ginger king with an insatiable libido, [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *