Ms. Taco’s Take: Mad Men’s Don and Megan

By now everyone is talking about the Mad Men season 6 premiere, so leave it to me to blog about the premiere of season 5 . Until a couple of weeks ago, I had only managed to watch the first two seasons of Mad Men. When I realized that season 6 was premiering on April 7th, I decided to make a go for catching up before the new season started. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen (though I did sneak and watch the season 6 premiere episode last Sunday), and right now I’ve only made it through the season 5 two-part premiere episode, “A Little Kiss”. Season 4 was an interesting one where we watched Don spiral out of control to the point that he was becoming a shell of his former self, only to watch him propelled forward so that in a matter of episodes, Megan went from being a random girl in the office to being the future Mrs. Draper, a clear attempt by Don regain some semblance of who he is.

If I hadn’t read a while ago that Don would indeed marry someone named ‘Megan’, I would have sworn that he wouldn’t go through with it. But sure enough season 5, picking up in what appears to be several months later, shows Don and Megan as newlyweds in what may be the allusion of a happy marriage. We are quickly shown them living  in a new place with Don’s kids (Kiernan Shipka continuing her great work as ‘Sally’ and yet another throw away actor playing ‘Bobby’) happily visiting for the weekend. But the question, ‘can Don ever truly be happy’, continues to loom in our minds. By the end of part 1 of the episode we learn two things: (1) Don has bared his soul to Megan (“Nobody loves Dick Whitman”) in a way that he never did to 10 plus years wife Betty (until having been caught) and (2) Megan is not quite knowledgeable about what she’s gotten herself into. Don, and all of his major flaws, are a mystery to her and, like most people, she’s fallen in love with the idea of Don Draper. We have known since season 1 that Don Draper is a fabrication of Dick Whitman, a character he’s created and honed over the years, and now Megan is quickly learning that Dick Don is finding it harder and harder to keep up the act.

Season 4 saw Don broken and bruised, and perhaps his quick marriage and revelation to Megan was a way for him to re-focus and regain the control that he so desperately needs. But Megan is the extraneous variable, isn’t she? She’s not Betty 2.0. She’s unpredictable and uninhibited. So, is this the answer that Don’s been searching for or is she just another stop along the way to self-destruction? She pulls Don out of his comfort zone by throwing him a party and doing a sexy rendition of ‘Zou Bisou Bisou’. In true Don fashion, he puts on the act only to shut down later and reveal his immense discomfort. Megan is hurt and confused and starts to wonder, like the rest of us, who is Don Draper? Who is this man who she married? And, if she truly loves him, who does that make her? Considering that the show’s other central characters appear to be going through identity crises, it looks like this will be the season’s central theme.

Getting back to Don and Megan, is he the type of person who can sustain a marriage to someone like her and vice versa? Can Don let go enough to let her in and does he want to? Or does Don prefer to stay on the road he’s been on for years, the road that, let’s be honest hasn’t quite been working? And for Megan, can she be Mrs. Draper and stay true to who she is or is she doomed to become Betty 2.0, cold and hardened due to giving up so much? The experience of women and the way society views them has always been central to this show, so what will Megan’s character and relationship with Don bring to the mix? Obviously, I have a lot of questions, so I’m truly interested in seeing where season 5 is headed. So onward with season 5. Par for the course for Mad Men, it will be an interesting journey.


One response to this post.

  1. And for Megan, can she be Mrs. Draper and stay true to who she is or is she doomed to become Betty 2.0, cold and hardened due to giving up so much?

    This is a good question (and, of course, I am responding to this obliviously to what may or may not have happen in season six). You are so right that Megan is unlike Betty in that she is unpredictable and uninhibited; this allows her to fight Don more on things rather than just letting their problems stew the way Betty did. But there’s a moment when Joan is talking to somebody (I think probably Peggy) after Megan has quit working at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and is planning on pursuing her acting career. Joan says something to the effect of: “You know what Betty did before she married Don? She was a model. That’s the kind of women Don Draper marries.” It’s by no means a complimentary view of Betty or Megan (or for that matter, Don) and I think it speaks to what you mentioned about Dick Whitman trying to make up this persona of Don Draper and find a wife who fits the picture he has of a successful executive rather than marrying someone more like Anna Draper, who he would probably be much happier with in the long term. It’s also a bit foreboding that Megan could become, as you put it, Betty 2.0 …


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