The redemption of Don Draper (COMMENTARY)

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Jon Hamm as Don Draper in "Mad Men." Photo courtesy of Michael Yarish/AMC

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in "Mad Men." Photo courtesy of Michael Yarish/AMC

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(RNS) "Mad Men" told a universally compelling story -- a story about the tension between our consumeristic American existence and our deep-seated search for identity, meaning and fulfillment.

  • Zach Hoag,

    Thanks for an interesting commentary.

    You said,
    “For believers, the message.. ..a call to faith… living to embrace others …find ourselves in serving people, not in consuming things.”

    I think you paint too broad and too pretty a picture.
    Don did not arrive at redemption – but an awareness that he won’t receive any.

    Don Draper is finally free of his lies and that alone brings him some happiness.

    Getting rid of dishonesty is necessary to be free.
    If Don Draper had grabbed hold of Christianity or some other ‘faith’ he would be replacing one set of lies for a new set of claims (some of which cannot be true).

    I think this was the lesson of Don Draper:
    Life is a mixed bag. No absolute truth exists and that is a wonderful thing. Our actions have consequences and there is likely no redemption.

    The sooner one learns it – the better.

  • Larry

    Some could say that Draper appropriated the ethos of Eastern religions and used it to be a better ad man. Buddhism and Hindu mysticism (see the photo above) emphasize shedding of the things which weigh one down: worry, want, desires, self.

    Don goes through 7 seasons as the epitome of what he was selling to the public. Being in the free fall depicted in the credits. His job is to sell the feeling of awe and accomplishment of consumption. “You are better than everyone else by using this product!!” He spent his time trying to act that way.

    By the end he is trying to sell consumption but through a different kind of feeling. One of community, of something other than one’s self. “Join the party, all are welcome when you use this product.”

    He is at rest in his couch as in the end of the credits. Still selling, but now more aware there are other messages to sell. Not really redemption, more like a “moment of clarity”.

  • Good points, Larry.

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  • I like the hopeful take. Here’s what I wrote (it’s brief) https://medium.com/@chrisbeggs/a-belated-word-on-mad-men-71194ce2b673