Sunday, August 08, 2010

How Did Don Draper Die?

I love Mad Men. I haven't enjoyed a series on TV like this since "NYPD Blue". I think I cried when Sipowitz and the boys said goodbye. The characters in Mad Men are our parents. I remember when my mom wore her hair like that and smoked constantly. My dad wore his shirts like that and smoked and drank with the best of them. In fact, in historical comparison, I am about the same age as the little girl on the show. I probably would have "made a play" for her back then because she is kind of dark and brooding with a certain secretive nature. Yes, I thought about shit like that at that age. If you think about it, if Don Draper is somewhere in the vicinity of 32 (that's what I figured him to be in 1964), that means he was born in 1932, which would make him 78 today. I don't think he'd be around today because he led a very dangerous lifestyle then (smoking, drinking, cheating) and had a pretty difficult childhood. So, if he was 32 in 1964, I'm thinking he met his demise by natural causes in about 1994 or 95 (if it was smoking related cancer). That would have made him 62 or 63 when he died. That's pretty much in line with the national average of people who smoked more than two packs a day, and also in line with the family as my mom died at 62. If the smoking didn't kill him, the booze did at about 70, which means he died in 2002 of cirrhosis of the liver (one too many Canadian Clubs) . If the smoking and the boozing didn't get him, him being one of the biggest assholes on the planet (and a type A personality)lowered his life expectancy a great deal. If Betsy didn't kill him (as we join the story, she is living with someone else although the foundation to that relationship is crumbling), the jealous husband of one of his conquests probably waylayed him in a couple of years, which means he never made it to forty. Or, as future episodes will reveal, I could be wrong on all this. He could remarry a nice suburban girl who cared enough about him not to be an "enabler" (I don't think that word was in our lexicon back then) and straightened him up. But, what's the fun of that? With all of his baggage, the last thing I would expect him to do is straighten up his life. See, Don is the child of an alcoholic and he displays all of the behavioral signs. He's never happy and is always trying to destroy the things he loves. It's a classic alcoholic trait. Of course, he could fall so fast from the top that he ends up homeless and living under on overpass but I think the viewers would be disappointed. We are secretly rooting for Don because, somewhere in the corners of his psyche, the devil doesn't reside..I'm still waiting to see that place. I think he reminds us of the darkness in each of our parents. We always thought we knew about them and their lives, but we never knew much if anything at all. It will be interesting to see what happens. It is somewhat incongruous that I am living a bit of my early life through this show. My life was far from the "idyllic" lifestyle the Drapers lead. Being raised on a farm was so opposite of the suburban New York City life. But, I can see myself and my family in the characters on the show. Some of the hair styles for the women are spot on. The men seem to be the guys I saw on television back then (Darren Stephens, Larry Tate). I hope the writers don't cop a "Deadwood" attitude where David Milch said that they were "basically making it up as we went along" after the first season. You sure could tell. Cool, intriguing and full of surprises, "Mad Men" is about as sharp as it gets on TV. Doesn't hurt that Jon Hamm is a former listener. He told me once that I was a large part of his high school years along with everyone else at KSHE. How nice. Now, go get your life together (as much as you can with THAT childhood to go on)...Mad Men rules.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

A lot of those Mad Ave Men DID die early - they are fanatical on the show about getting each detail exactly right (the phones in the office, etc) and they actually had trouble finding enough of those guys who lived through that era who were still alive. I know one of those guys - he is late 70s now - and he says the show is dead on in the culture, the clothing, etc.

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