Mad Men Season in Review: Have We Seen This Before?
In part one of the final season of The Sopranos, Tony Soprano tries to turn over a new leaf and become a better person, only to revert back to his prior terrible ways by the show’s conclusion.
In season four of The Wire, Jimmy McNulty tries to shy away from his obsessive, self-destructive path and settle down a bit. But as he steps back into his regular routine in season five, the old McNulty returns.
Now season five of Mad Men ends with Don Draper sitting at a bar, facing the temptation of two beautiful strangers as a seemingly inevitable “yes” to their proposition sits behind his lips, right next to his newly repaired rotten tooth. After a season of Don avoiding the sexual allure of high class escorts, Rolling Stones fans and Joan in an attempt at pious reinvention, I ask: Haven’t we seen this routine play out before?
In this golden age of television that kicked off at the turn of the century, there are four dramas that are largely cemented in their status as the top tier: The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. There are shows like The Shield or Homeland that have tried to breach the pack, but so far those shows stand solidly ahead of anything else.
But other than quality, one notable aspect that groups these shows together is that they all center themselves on the same concept: The American Dream. They all deal with an amoral anti-hero (or in the case of The Wire, a whole mess of amoral anti-heroes) trying to rise or having risen from meager circumstances to get what they feel society has to offer them, and how they corrupted themselves in the process of achieving that dream.
It’s rather shocking that what are coming to be considered the greatest efforts of American television have such narrative uniformity. And it seems that with that uniformity, this recurring aspect of “anti-hero seeks redemption but then reverts back to his old ways” has become a trope that sees endless repetition.
After last week’s episode, I wrote that Don was now and forever would be a different character. And I still think that’s true. His visions of his dead brother Adam only lend credence to that theory, particularly the unfortunately heavy-handed final appearance at the dentist’s office. But the fact that he is now a different character doesn’t mean his actions will necessarily change. It appears Mad Men is going to go down a road of echoes as it enters its last seasons. New Don will likely go through all the motions we saw in seasons one through three, if the napalm-fueled fire from his meeting with Dow is any indication. But it’s going to be a much more self-aware version of Don, a more nihilistic Don. It will be a Don that knows he is a hollow, empty shell without substance.
If Tony Soprano and Jimmy McNulty are any indication (or for that matter, Avon Barksdale, Omar Little, Tommy Carcetti and others), embracing the worst aspects of himself seems to be the only way for a high-class drama lead to go. But on the bright side, it could be worse for Don. Just ask the gaping wound that will be working directly above him next season, Peter Campbell.

Mad Men Season in Review: Have We Seen This Before?

In part one of the final season of The Sopranos, Tony Soprano tries to turn over a new leaf and become a better person, only to revert back to his prior terrible ways by the show’s conclusion.

In season four of The Wire, Jimmy McNulty tries to shy away from his obsessive, self-destructive path and settle down a bit. But as he steps back into his regular routine in season five, the old McNulty returns.

Now season five of Mad Men ends with Don Draper sitting at a bar, facing the temptation of two beautiful strangers as a seemingly inevitable “yes” to their proposition sits behind his lips, right next to his newly repaired rotten tooth. After a season of Don avoiding the sexual allure of high class escorts, Rolling Stones fans and Joan in an attempt at pious reinvention, I ask: Haven’t we seen this routine play out before?

In this golden age of television that kicked off at the turn of the century, there are four dramas that are largely cemented in their status as the top tier: The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. There are shows like The Shield or Homeland that have tried to breach the pack, but so far those shows stand solidly ahead of anything else.

But other than quality, one notable aspect that groups these shows together is that they all center themselves on the same concept: The American Dream. They all deal with an amoral anti-hero (or in the case of The Wire, a whole mess of amoral anti-heroes) trying to rise or having risen from meager circumstances to get what they feel society has to offer them, and how they corrupted themselves in the process of achieving that dream.

It’s rather shocking that what are coming to be considered the greatest efforts of American television have such narrative uniformity. And it seems that with that uniformity, this recurring aspect of “anti-hero seeks redemption but then reverts back to his old ways” has become a trope that sees endless repetition.

After last week’s episode, I wrote that Don was now and forever would be a different character. And I still think that’s true. His visions of his dead brother Adam only lend credence to that theory, particularly the unfortunately heavy-handed final appearance at the dentist’s office. But the fact that he is now a different character doesn’t mean his actions will necessarily change. It appears Mad Men is going to go down a road of echoes as it enters its last seasons. New Don will likely go through all the motions we saw in seasons one through three, if the napalm-fueled fire from his meeting with Dow is any indication. But it’s going to be a much more self-aware version of Don, a more nihilistic Don. It will be a Don that knows he is a hollow, empty shell without substance.

If Tony Soprano and Jimmy McNulty are any indication (or for that matter, Avon Barksdale, Omar Little, Tommy Carcetti and others), embracing the worst aspects of himself seems to be the only way for a high-class drama lead to go. But on the bright side, it could be worse for Don. Just ask the gaping wound that will be working directly above him next season, Peter Campbell.

The Old Don Draper Is Officially Gone
**Massive spoilers follow for last night’s episode of Mad Men**
In psychology there is a concept called the locus of control. The idea refers to one’s perception over their ability to influence their own fate. A person’s locus can lean toward the internal, meaning the person feels they have control over their own life, or external, meaning the person feels largely controlled by the world around them. Generally, it’s better to have an internal locus of control than an external one. But there are certain situations where that isn’t the case.
Chief among those situations is when somebody does something terrible in reaction to your words. It doesn’t matter if those words were completely justified. It doesn’t matter if the person brought the repercussions upon themselves. It doesn’t even matter if the incident would have happened even without intervention. Just knowing that you were involved, knowing that somewhere in that web of awful, fucked up misery there is a string with your name on it is enough to generate the kind of guilt that irreparably degrades your soul.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that the Don Draper we see from now on will not be the Don Draper we have seen for the last five years. The suicide of Lane Pryce, and the fact that it directly followed his dismissal by Don, isn’t something that will be fixed by Don’s normal strategy of forgetting it ever happened. This is Don’s most defining moment since he pulled those dog tags off the real Don Draper’s corpse, and considerably more impactful than the death of his half-brother, who he had long since cut out of his life.
It has nothing to do with whether Don deserves this. By any reasonable evaluation,  he doesn’t deserve any blame at all. He was entirely in the right in asking for Lane’s dismissal. And Lane had been in a downward spiral for quite some time without any interference from Don. But going forward that’s irrelevant, because the character of Don Draper is all about control. The ability to control his image, control his life trajectory, to gain as much control over his domain as he possibly can. And now he either needs to admit that he has no control over the world or that his actions, however inocuous, led to the death of a genuinely decent human being.
All that matters is that Don will now forever be haunted by the ghost of a sad, pitiable Englishman. And every episode of Mad Men will be haunted along with him.

The Old Don Draper Is Officially Gone

**Massive spoilers follow for last night’s episode of Mad Men**

In psychology there is a concept called the locus of control. The idea refers to one’s perception over their ability to influence their own fate. A person’s locus can lean toward the internal, meaning the person feels they have control over their own life, or external, meaning the person feels largely controlled by the world around them. Generally, it’s better to have an internal locus of control than an external one. But there are certain situations where that isn’t the case.

Chief among those situations is when somebody does something terrible in reaction to your words. It doesn’t matter if those words were completely justified. It doesn’t matter if the person brought the repercussions upon themselves. It doesn’t even matter if the incident would have happened even without intervention. Just knowing that you were involved, knowing that somewhere in that web of awful, fucked up misery there is a string with your name on it is enough to generate the kind of guilt that irreparably degrades your soul.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that the Don Draper we see from now on will not be the Don Draper we have seen for the last five years. The suicide of Lane Pryce, and the fact that it directly followed his dismissal by Don, isn’t something that will be fixed by Don’s normal strategy of forgetting it ever happened. This is Don’s most defining moment since he pulled those dog tags off the real Don Draper’s corpse, and considerably more impactful than the death of his half-brother, who he had long since cut out of his life.

It has nothing to do with whether Don deserves this. By any reasonable evaluation,  he doesn’t deserve any blame at all. He was entirely in the right in asking for Lane’s dismissal. And Lane had been in a downward spiral for quite some time without any interference from Don. But going forward that’s irrelevant, because the character of Don Draper is all about control. The ability to control his image, control his life trajectory, to gain as much control over his domain as he possibly can. And now he either needs to admit that he has no control over the world or that his actions, however inocuous, led to the death of a genuinely decent human being.

All that matters is that Don will now forever be haunted by the ghost of a sad, pitiable Englishman. And every episode of Mad Men will be haunted along with him.

Just how wealthy is Don Draper?
Something I’ve been trying to pin down for a while watching Mad Men is Don Draper’s net worth. Since we first met him he’s been very well off. But now that he’s a partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and the company’s financial situation seems cautiously stable, he appears to have moved into the category of “filthy rich.” Just look at that plaid sportcoat, it just screams 1%.
So how much is Don worth? Let’s take a quick look at some of the confirmed and estimated dollar amounts from the show, then see what those amounts would equal today.
Mid 1960Don is currently the creative director at Sterling Cooper.Don’s salary: $30,000/year (Equivalent in 2012: $230,278)
Late 1960Don renegotiates his salary with Roger following an offer from McCann-Erickson. Shortly thereafter he becomes a partner at Sterling Cooper.Don’s new salary: $45,000/year (Equivalent in 2012: $345,416)
 Late 1962Betty opens Don’s pay stub, reveals weekly net salary of $947.75.If we estimate that about 22% of Don’s salary was deducted from his paycheck for taxes (my loose guess given the time & Don’s circumstances) that works out to…Don’s 1962 salary: $63,183/year (Equivalent in 2012: $484,988)
1963Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce starts full operations, Don is now a named partner.SCDP’s finances: $34 million in accounts* (Equivalent in 2012: $239,323,076)*Boosted to $40 million in accounts once Ken Cosgrove joins the firm
Late 1965The SCDP partners each pledge $250,000 to keep the company afloat. Don pays Pete Campbell’s share as well as his own.Money Don just happened to have lying around in 1965: $500,000 (Equivalent in 2012: $3,616,538)
So, in short, how wealthy is Don? Well he likely averaged about $400,000 of yearly income in 2012 dollars from 1960 to 1963. Since then, he’s been a named partner in an advertising firm that at its peak had nearly $300 million worth of accounts (again, that’s in 2012 dollars). Oh, and he happened to just have a huge chunk of change sitting around that he could invest back into the business at a moment’s notice. Today, I’d bet Don is worth somewhere in the $4 million to $7 million range, which makes it much easier to understand how he can drink all that expensive scotch.
(**DISCLAIMER** I am 23 and know very little about money.)

Just how wealthy is Don Draper?

Something I’ve been trying to pin down for a while watching Mad Men is Don Draper’s net worth. Since we first met him he’s been very well off. But now that he’s a partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and the company’s financial situation seems cautiously stable, he appears to have moved into the category of “filthy rich.” Just look at that plaid sportcoat, it just screams 1%.

So how much is Don worth? Let’s take a quick look at some of the confirmed and estimated dollar amounts from the show, then see what those amounts would equal today.

Mid 1960
Don is currently the creative director at Sterling Cooper.
Don’s salary: $30,000/year (Equivalent in 2012: $230,278)

Late 1960
Don renegotiates his salary with Roger following an offer from McCann-Erickson. Shortly thereafter he becomes a partner at Sterling Cooper.
Don’s new salary: $45,000/year (Equivalent in 2012: $345,416)

Late 1962
Betty opens Don’s pay stub, reveals weekly net salary of $947.75.
If we estimate that about 22% of Don’s salary was deducted from his paycheck for taxes (my loose guess given the time & Don’s circumstances) that works out to…
Don’s 1962 salary: $63,183/year (Equivalent in 2012: $484,988)

1963
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce starts full operations, Don is now a named partner.
SCDP’s finances: $34 million in accounts* (Equivalent in 2012: $239,323,076)
*Boosted to $40 million in accounts once Ken Cosgrove joins the firm

Late 1965
The SCDP partners each pledge $250,000 to keep the company afloat. Don pays Pete Campbell’s share as well as his own.
Money Don just happened to have lying around in 1965: $500,000 (Equivalent in 2012: $3,616,538)

So, in short, how wealthy is Don? Well he likely averaged about $400,000 of yearly income in 2012 dollars from 1960 to 1963. Since then, he’s been a named partner in an advertising firm that at its peak had nearly $300 million worth of accounts (again, that’s in 2012 dollars). Oh, and he happened to just have a huge chunk of change sitting around that he could invest back into the business at a moment’s notice. Today, I’d bet Don is worth somewhere in the $4 million to $7 million range, which makes it much easier to understand how he can drink all that expensive scotch.

(**DISCLAIMER** I am 23 and know very little about money.)

Last minute predictions for season 5 of Mad Men:
- Don Draper and his new French-Canadian wife will have a French-Canadian baby and name him Jacques Draper.
- Everybody will instantly know that Roger is the father of Joan’s baby because the child will be born with a full head of stark white hair.
- Many characters will drink a lot of alcohol.
- Bart Starr, Barry Goldwater and Buddy Holly will all make cameos, the latter coming in a particularly shocking twist considering he should have been dead for nearly a decade.
- It will finally be revealed that Betty is a cylon.

Last minute predictions for season 5 of Mad Men:

- Don Draper and his new French-Canadian wife will have a French-Canadian baby and name him Jacques Draper.

- Everybody will instantly know that Roger is the father of Joan’s baby because the child will be born with a full head of stark white hair.

- Many characters will drink a lot of alcohol.

- Bart Starr, Barry Goldwater and Buddy Holly will all make cameos, the latter coming in a particularly shocking twist considering he should have been dead for nearly a decade.

- It will finally be revealed that Betty is a cylon.

Mad Men is returning March 25th according to Jon Hamm
Break out the celebratory whiskey, folks: Mad Men has an official return date.
Show star Jon Hamm let slip that the fifth season of Mad Men is set to premiere on March 25th while appearing on comedian Doug Benson’s podcast “Doug Loves Movies”.
Not only will Hamm be back on screen as Don Draper, but he is also rumored to be directing the first episode. Get excited, people.

Mad Men is returning March 25th according to Jon Hamm

Break out the celebratory whiskey, folks: Mad Men has an official return date.

Show star Jon Hamm let slip that the fifth season of Mad Men is set to premiere on March 25th while appearing on comedian Doug Benson’s podcast “Doug Loves Movies”.

Not only will Hamm be back on screen as Don Draper, but he is also rumored to be directing the first episode. Get excited, people.