Relationships are Important - even if you're Don Draper


Don Draper [Please don't read this if you haven't seen the season finale of Mad Men - serious spoiler alert]

For three seasons of Mad Men I watched in frustration as Don Draper seemed to get away with anything and everything. A handsome, well-dressed, privileged, tall white guy that could take everyone in his circle for granted, lie to them, cheat on them and treat them like garbage, yet continue get everything he wanted. It was a frustrating parable for me, a woman who spends a big part of her daily routine trying to make the world a place where people like Don can't get away with murder. But there he was and people loved him. Hell, even I had to love him.

Of course, he was "good" to the people who didn't say anything. He bestowed his wife, Betty, with all the finery she wanted at home, provided a good life, said the right things to let her know she was lovely. Yet, he cheated on her at every turn, lied to her constantly and treated her like a child when it came to her real, human concerns. She was solipsized by his personality as merely an extension of him. With his former secretary and now copyrighter, Peggy, he kept her secret and gave her a good promotion and an office. She should be grateful, right? Only she paid for his graciousness along the way by keeping his secrets, working her weekends away (while he played), jumping when he said jump and taking his constant belittling.

It wasn't only the women who were kept at arms length with Don, it was also the men. He didn't really have any friends. No sense of loyalty. He spent most of his time peacocking around, proving that nobody could own him. And nobody could. They feared him and were too scared to talk back. Too scared to stand up to him. In fact, Don's 'relationships' were akin to having thousands of Twitter followers but little engagement with them. Looks impressive from a distance, but rather ineffective in the long run.

Until the last part of this season...or at least the last two episodes...where you saw his controlled world break down around him spectacularly because he forgot that the glue that holds together worlds when times are tough is relationships. And relationships aren't something that Draper understands. When the people around him finally get the gumption to say 'enough is enough', Draper has to face the fact that he's broken everything he tried to build by forgetting the most important part of life: connections to other people.

I'm sure Draper isn't going to change overnight and become a warm, caring individual. I doubt that he'd be as interesting. But I look forward to the next season where he realizes that he does have to invest the time into 'throwing sheep' a bit more and building those soup friends. Ruling through fear only creates resentment and de-motivates. And I look forward to the world that is tuned into The Draper having an epiphany themselves that the best way to get to the top is through being networked, notable AND nice.

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