Don Draper: TV's most interesting man
Draper is so messed up in the head, he makes Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory seem like commonplace.
Such is the beauty of AMC's smash-hit series, arguably the best TV has to offer these days. I'm late to the Mad Men world, but thanks to friends and the library, I am caught up with the show's first four seasons. What a wonderful ride.
When I write about the Mad Men world, I mean just that. Time-period projects are difficult to pull off, especially on TV, but Mad Men is so good, so authentic, it seems odd to look at John Hamm and not think of his character, the mysterious and troubled uber ad man Don Draper.
Of course, it all starts with Draper but there's a host of clever characters such as Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Joan Harris-Holloway (Christina Hendricks), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Betty Francis-Draper (January Jones) and the great Roger Sterling (John Slattery). Take your pick. Each's story arc is given their due thanks to work of show creator Matt Weiner.
The costume design is fantastic and tie-ins to events during the 60s (Cuban missile crisis, JFK's assassination, the second Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight and the Vietnam War) aren't forced into scripts.
It is a bit shocking to revisit the 60s, which I missed since I was born in 1970. The amount of smoking (Draper would never stand for today's smoking laws), drinking and sexual harassment in the workplace was apparently normal back then.
The tiniest bit of research shows working in advertising was one of the glamour jobs of the 60s, and Mad Men hammers home that point with style, nostalgia and humor. Still, it wouldn't work without the Draper character, and his mysterious storyline.
Why does he act the Draper way? If you don't watch the show, I won't spoil it, and will only say the man has flaws. Many of them. Only Draper knows, and maybe that's the way Weiner and the show's writers like it.
Two news network shows, "The Playboy Club" and "Pan Am," jumped on the 60s genre bandwagon, but even NBC's and ABC's clout can't come close to duplicating the edge of "Mad Men." That's because neither has a character so cleverly developed as Hamm's Draper.
Or as cool.
Or as messed up in the head.
Will we ever know what Don Draper's really thinking?
- Mark Podolski