Mar 26

Donald Draper with jacket thrown over his shoulder

Donald Draper, the flawed leading man in the hit television show Mad Men, represents an ideal that many men strive for but soon regret once attaining it. Draper is rich, has a smoking hot wife (no pun intended) and is world famous in his career as an advertiser. Donald Draper is also handsome and all women’s legs seem to fall open for him with little to no effort; so as you can see he is the ultimate model of a man’s man.

Let us delve even further into the ideal that is Draper… the man has good looking children, his wife is always on point in the beauty department (because her looks are her only asset) and he has a sexual targeting reticle locked in on him by women from all walks of life. Donald Draper was a soldier, an orphan, a boy who grew up hard but tricked life and ascended the game to become the ultimate rags to riches story.

Below The Surface… Not So Perfect

Editor’s Note: Skipping out on the next few paragraphs will spare you of some spoliers (if you plan on watching the 1st season) so I am warning you now.

Like most “perfect” seeming people, there normally lies some deep dark secret or character flaw that is hidden from onlookers and Donald Draper is no different.

Beneath the perfect casing of Donald Draper lies a coward that stole the identity of his slain commanding officer during wartime in order to get discharged. A man whose entire life, outside of his looks and talents, is a lie. A nomad trying to be regular and settle down when his true personality desires for him to stay running. His faux life breaks the hearts of women all over the place – including that of his own daughter. It makes him a relationship pariah, great at the beginning but terrible with the follow-through. Donald Draper is a woman’s worst nightmare.

Donald Draper and Betty with the Sterling Cooper crew

I haven’t even mentioned the chain smoking and alcoholism yet, but being that Mad Men is based on the sixties when everybody did these things… it wouldn’t add anything to the conversation. Donald Draper is human, but he isn’t any more close to perfection than you or I, see his life balances out his greatness. When people say “more money, more problems” Don Draper comes to mind. The man who has everything yet lacks the time and ability to actually enjoy it. Can you imagine this hell?

What We Learn From Draper

As a fan of Mad Men, I’ve been reminded of the fact that work is work and life is life but we too often confuse the two. Draper sleeps in his office, he bangs his admins, he hangs out drinking with his partners and former bosses. Yet the only time he relaxes is when he is with the people who truly know him (all 2 of them) and his wife isn’t one of them. He lives this way to wear a mask that society demands of him… it is a wonder why he drinks.

Donald Draper is a Reel Man of Cinema because he reminds us that even perfection comes with demons and it is the TRUE friends who love and appreciate us that matters. Everything else is just sex, drugs, money and cigarettes.

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