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04/08/2013

Why Don Draper is the most compelling character on TV today

Don draper 2Mad Men returned with new episodes on Sunday night; between awkward referneces to raping a young girl for fun and another character's ho-hum reaction to his mother's death we were reminded there is no one else like Don Draper.

There is no one person any more interesting on TV these days than Jon Hamm's lead character on this massively successful AMC show. 

Don Draper is the man because is he so layered, complex, and ultimately so human.

Other characters on TV may be interesting, but no one covers the spectrum like Draper because he is just so screwed up and wears guilt like a fedora.

Women flock to him because he is handsome and embodies confidence.
Men want to be him because of those very qualities.

He is a man's man who can pound booze with little or no effect, unless he's attending a funeral. Because of his near-death experience in Korea, he often operates with a "Screw it" mentalility and a tremendous sense of responsibility to those around him.

He teeters between misogynist pig and progressive.
Because of his dysfunctional childhood, he often views women as objects which explains why he so easily has multiple partners in both marriages.
As disrespectful as he can be to women, he often treats them as his equal when warranted. He seems to discriminate not against race or gender but against intellect and drive.
He is polite to his African-American secretary in a time when just having one would have been considered a massive risk.
Mad-men-tv-review-sam-wol-006He went out of his way to advise Joan (Christina Hendricks) not to sleep her way to the top because it wouldn't be worth it.
He was such a positive influence on Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) as she tried to climb the ladder when women did no such thing.
He was ever so loyal to the widow of the man whose identity he stole to get out of the Korean War.

His relationships with his children appears strained.
His employees alternate between operating in fear of him but ultimately respect him because clients revere him.
He appears to struggle with a high-degree of self loathing.

Show creator Matt Weiner has said that Mad Men will live for this season and one more. This season will focus on learning more about Draper's past. Given the nature of this show expect Draper's past to be screwed up, and riveting.

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