Sunday, August 8, 2010
Why I Like Don Draper
I've been traveling a lot this summer. One of things I miss when I travel during the summer is my chosen cable programming. I don't tend to watch much TV but there are a small number of shows that I do respect and try to follow. I miss some of HBO's summer programming like True Blood as well as Entourage. However, I especially miss AMC's Mad Men. Thanks to AMC's smart marketing, I get to buy the brand-new episodes on iTunes right after they play on Sunday. This is good for me as I think Mad Men is one of the best things TV has had to offer for years. I have liked it since Season One.
On one of my recent trips I got to spend some time with one of my most accomplished and all-around cool and creative friends who works in advertising. On top of knowing what's up business-wise, she really knows what's up in terms of popular culture as well as literary scholarship. During one of our conversations I learned from her that she also likes Mad Men which was no surprise to me as the show's aesthetic is truly worth a smart person's attention.
I truly like the character of Don Draper. I love his weaknesses most of all. They're, I find, more beautiful than the strengths themselves. As a matter of fact, what makes Don truly interesting and appealing is the ease with which he self-embraces. The world of advertising seems really complex, bizarre, covered by secrets, and informed by the appeal of glitz and superficiality. Don Draper, however, has this gravitas about him that says 'I know this might all seem a tad too fickle to y'all, but without advertising how would you know if Lucky Strikes are right for you?!' And content could never ever hold a candle to form! Without the latter, the former could not be worth much, eh? I would agree with what the character of Don seems to say with regards to the power of advertising. It does determine much in modernity. Of course I'd agree with Don. I buy a lot of Apple products mostly due to their clever advertising. Let's just call apples, apples, shall we?
I've liked Mad Men since the very first season. The writing by Matthew Weiner is not only historicity-minded, it's gripping. Weiner can tell a story like few people can. Sopranos, anyone? He worked on that show as well so no surprises regarding his literary skills.
In short, the reason why I like Don Draper is because he's fully aware of his cognitive skills, his charisma, and the charm which he can dispense with the same ease 50-cent machines dispose cheap gum. I like Don Draper because he is self-accepting albeit in a quiet, controlled, and slightly self-effacing way. Don is good at his job and he doesn't resist the fact that his aesthetics and swagger help. He is good at what he does just like he is aesthetically pleasing to men and women. Don is just how he is. Take it or leave it. Lucky for him, it's mostly 'take it' and people are simply under the power of his charm. Like his new partner, British-born Lane, learns on tonight's episode, Don is not to be resisted. He does know best. Not only when it comes to advertising and the art of women and sociality at large but life in general. And like only a real hero can do, he teaches by example not words.
In sum, what makes Don absolutely beautiful is the fact that he embraces his weaknesses with the same charisma and facility that he embraces his strengths. And Season Four of Mad Men continues to be simply smashing. Do watch it!