What happened to my number one sex symbol Don Draper?
The times at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are a-changing and it isn’t just Don’s clothing that is becoming less attractive as the office approaches the 70s, it’s his personality. Instead of the complicated and seductively secretive man we are used to, season five opens with a new Don. A man who has in one fell swoop wound up with his much younger secretary, is a drearily mediocre father and has lame sexual fetishes about cleaning ladies.
Peggy said his newfound friendliness threw her, but he didn’t appear particularly amiable to me, especially to his wife/girlfriend Megan. He just seemed like a man who’d lost his edge.
Would the old Don have married his secretary and encouraged her to keep working in his office? No way in hell. He wouldn’t let Betty even be a Coca-Cola model for one of his clients. And if he would like Megan to be there at work with him all of the time (as he whispered rather unattractively after screwing her on his potato chip-strewn white carpet), wouldn’t it stand to reason that he’d also be laid back enough not to be angry about a surprise party?
He no longer seems coolly above it all as he once did; he just seems removed. With the mystery of his other life revealed, to his girlfriend at least -- she called him by his real name “Dick Whitman” in one scene -- Don Draper’s last drop of mojo seems to have evaporated.
It doesn’t help that the series is plowing forward into a time where things just don't look as nice. There are no more fedoras nor cinched-waisted dresses for me to include in my Don Draper fantasies. The glamour has gone, the style of both the clothes and the furniture, even the colors are changing, becoming less comfortable on the eye, tinted of Kodachrome.
So far this new light seems to have also leached Don's personality and stamina. Don Draper is now being a character who leaves much to be desired. His quiet, observing maleness, which was once his finest attribute, has all but vanished. Instead of intriguing and resourceful, he comes across bratty and unable to adjust, which seems unlikely given that he was once an entirely different person.
"Mad Men" is not wearing its new era well, and it isn’t just the new fit of the suits, the whole office seems to be in a state of malaise. Don’s interest in his job appears to be eroding as well as his interest in nearly everything else, save for Megan (who I, a loyal viewer, couldn’t care less about). With his inner struggles alleviated, his current issues come across as petulant and childish, and his monogamy makes him boring, very nearly insufferable. He was always an asshole, now he is just insipid.
I only hope Weiner has some trick up his sleeve for the rest of the season, because if I wanted a lesson in horny, egomaniacal 40-year-olds, I’d just watch "Californication" or read my old journals.