Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Bed with Donald Draper

My little present to myself for getting a job was the fourth series of Mad Men. A favorite television show of mine that is just a bit too cool for its own good. The classic styling, the outdated modes of life, the excess, indulgences and sheer arrogance, effrontery and bloody mindedness of the characters - it's absolutely brilliant.

The main character, Don Draper, is an enigma. Classic tall dark and handsome looks, a brain, a heart which is shown occasionally - absent father, unfaithful husband, army deserter, he's a finely groomed, well manicured, straight man to John Slattery's Roger Stirling, January Jones as his ice queen ex-wifre and his ever faithful lapdog Peggy, played by Elisabeth Moss (one episode that concentrated on Don and Peggy reduced me to tears - superlative episode)

The goings-on at the Madison Avenue ad agency in the sixties are enough to make you laugh and cringe in equal measure. The sexist nature of the men, the way women are perceived, how everybody smoked and drank - ALL THE FREAKING TIME, how children are raised, the outdated notions - it's just all spot on - and amazingly well done. And some of it reminds me of elements of my childhood.

The costumes, props, scenery, scripts - all excellent.

So this morning, feeling rather pale from an evening of excess, I spent the morning watching a few episodes, mourning the fact that Maow Maow has been returned to Blarney and Barney and bemoaning the harsh treatment Pinochet had done on my shoulders.

Watching Don Draper, played to perfection by Jon Hamm, so many questions come to the fore. Such a complex characters. The pathos with which he is written is amazing. The subtle differences between his attitudes and those of the other men in the advertising agency are exquisitely produced.

I'm enjoying this series of Mad Men more than the others. For one, Don has taken up swimming. That's added to the enjoyment factor.

Yet the questions that come to mind are strange whilst watching this show.

For one, would Don Draper smell like my Dad used to, with the brilliantine in his hair and his starched collars?

Surely people had a clue about children playing in dry cleaning bags and picking up their rubbish after a picnic.

And of course, how is it these men get away with the sex lives that they have. How don't they all have a decent dose of the clap?

Which brings me back to my biggest question about Don Draper. Surely a man who drinks and smokes that much, in his late thirties, with his stress levels - surely he can't swim laps like he does? That has to be a stunt double. Also, and more perplexing and important, for a man who is never without a 16 mg tar encrusted fag in his mouth and a full glass of Canadian Club in his hand, there is no whay, ever that he could maintain an erection to carry on with women in such a way? Anybody who smoked and drank that much would surely be a dud. Besides, whisky and fag breath - eeewwwww.

This is the biggest improbability to what is otherwise a brilliantly executed show.

I've been having some fun thoughts.


Kath Lockett said...

You've got a job???? Yay you!!!

Sorry - have been crazy busy last week trying to cram two weeks' into one so that this week (first week of school holidays) is relatively 'free' and then had a three day migraine that only finished last night.

Job details, Pand!

Jackie K said...

Oooh, Mad Men. I need Season 4. Did you get on Amazon or is it available locally?

Yes we all love Don Draper. However - don't forget the yucky bits of life back then.
Here's my take: