Don Draper

Millennial Mad Men

I spent most of the weekend watching people die.

Death is a central theme of Game of Thrones, last night’s Season 5 finale being no exception. I won’t get into who dies or what happens since that’s the sort of info that angers people on the Internet.

I will say, however, that I believe we’ll see more out of the person from the last scene.

But enough about that.

***

Don Draper has been on my mind lately. Why? Obviously it’s because he’s a sexy beast, an American Adonis in a perfectly tailored suit. No, but really, Emily and I have been watching a lot of Mad Men lately.

Actually, she’s been watching a lot of Mad Men and I got sucked into it.

Having skipped Seasons 2-4, I watched a good part of Season 5 this weekend. This is the kind of show where episodes and seasons can be skipped and the watcher won’t be completely confused. Unlike Game of Thrones, plot lines are rather unimportant – it’s about the characters. I don’t think viewers care that the ad firm picks up Jaguar as a client or not, but they do care about who is sleeping with who.

Last night, we saw the big reveal of Season 5, Episode 11: Lane Pryce hanging himself in his office.

It’s about time someone committed suicide on that show.

***

I must admit: I didn’t get Mad Men after watching the first season, but I do now.

The show is actually teaching me a lot about life.

Many Millennials, myself included, believe that our generation faces issues that are totally unique to us. Let’s take dating, for example. We believe that today’s unprecedented landscape of social media and online dating creates a society full of one-night stands, devoid of romance – a “hook-up culture.”

Mad Men shows that hooking up has been going on for decades. It’s pretty much an American pastime, like late night talk shows and baseball.

The theme that resonates with me the most is the disillusionment of the American Dream. People are straight up miserable in Mad Men. Betty envies Don’s lifestyle. Joan feels alone. Despite having a pretty wife and a baby, Pete cheats on his wife and misses the Manhattan life. Roger feels unappreciated and useless as a partner. And Lane, well, Lane did something about his unhappiness, didn’t he.

***

A particular scene stuck with me. Don and Joan are at a bar:

They are analyzing a man sitting alone, taking peeks at Joan. Life has taught her to be cynical – the man is obviously married and is looking for some extracurricular fun. But it’s Don’s words that stay in my mind.

He doesn’t know what he wants, but he’s wanting.

People don’t know what they want, and if they do, they don’t know how to get it.

We’re raised to want certain things: a spouse, a stable income, a mortgage, a retirement plan, and 2.5 kids. As teenagers, these sound great, but what the hell do teenagers know?

The way society is arranged, people are asked to make crucial life decisions at ages 18-22. Anyone over 30 will tell you how little they knew at that age.

I still believe we do face unique challenges as Millennials. Education has never been more expensive; we spend four to eight years in university and have to pay for it for another twenty five years. One can find out more information on someone than ever before without even having met that person. The greatest challenge, however, is one that’s been around for generations: the challenge of want.

What do we want in life? What do we want our lives to look like? How can we get there? 

What’s admirable about Don Draper is that he is a man who knows what he wants – he lives to be a creative advertiser, and I think he may even love his wife too.

Having a life we want takes courage. People will go through failures and setbacks along the way. Let’s just hope that we have more courage than Lane.

– Chris.

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Why Women Love Don Draper

Emily is currently binge watching Mad Men and she is making one thing abundantly clear:

Don Draper is hot.

He’s so dreamy and manly.

So, he’s everything I’m not? Just kidding, I have my moments.

But therein lies the crux of the matter. We mortal men have but moments, while Don Draper is always on: a man who knows who he is, what he wants, and sees to it that he gets his way.

Chris, you’re talking about a fictional character played by Jon Hamm. Did you see him Bridesmaids?

No, I know, but the ladies love Don Draper. When women are telling men that Draper’s the shit, men should take notice.

It would behoove us to analyze this further.

***

Don Draper. I don’t get it.

Full disclosure: I’ve only watched Season 1 of Mad Men. Based on that, when picturing Don Draper, the things that come to mind are:

  1. Binge drinking.
  2. Binge smoking.
  3. Heavy doses of sexual harassment and discrimination.
  4. Promiscuity and infidelity.

On second thought, I totally get why women love Draper – he’s an asshole, and women love assholes.

***

Okay, I’m being facetious. These are superficial elements that serve to illustrate the overall socioeconomic climate of America in the 1960’s. Mad Men is a period piece, after all.

So why do women really love Don Draper? One word:

Control.

He’s not in control of every situation (i.e. Betty), but he comes across as a man who’s always in control of himself.

The obvious is that he’s well-dressed and well-groomed.

The not-so-obvious is, to be frank, rather powerful.

Most communication is nonverbal, is it not? Don Draper’s posture is always immaculate. He never appears to be rushed or disheveled. He even looks in control when he’s drunk, which is a scientific marvel in itself. If I were downing whiskys like him in the afternoon, I’d end up talking like Lucy trying to sell Vitameatavegimin (do kids even get this reference? If not, how sad).

The eyes, as they say, are the window to the soul. Draper will always look you in the eyes when he speaks. He’s not looking down, kicking the floor. He has the constitution to maintain eye contact, which is quite a desirable quality.

Never before have we required less eye contact than now. Texting, Emailing, Tweeting, Facebooking. It’s like we’re doing everything we can to avoid eye contact.

This is kind of screwing men over. Let’s start looking at each other’s ugly beautiful faces.

Of course, verbal communication is important too. The speech is deliberate and intentional. One will never hear Don say, “So, I was thinking, do you wanna maybe, I dunno, if you wanted to, like, I dunno, go out and maybe get a drink with me sometime? But only if you’re free.”

He’ll bash a woman over the head with a club and drag her to the bar by her hair before he says that.

Body Language. Eye Contact. Strong Voice. All signs that Draper’s in control, and the chicks dig that.

Got it? Good.

***

Anyways, yeah so, maybe uh, you’ll sort of, I dunno, like this post, and umm, if you’re not too busy, uhh, like, maybe you can, I dunno, leave a comment or umm, sort of, give me a like maybe if you wanted to, umm, errr, uhhh, ummm, mmm, yeah.

– Chris.