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The Return of the Real Don Draper...

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Great analysis of season 5:

Season five of Mad Men ended just as it began: with a question. "When is everything going to get back to normal?" Roger asks Don in the third episode. The presumptive answer was that order, as they knew it, would never be restored—that the characters would instead have to adapt to a new normal as everything changed around them. Season five's thematic through-line was that adaptation. As each character attempted to move forward, they had to find a way to either avoid obsolescence or capitalize on the changing landscape.

But this is still Don Draper's show. He is the American prototype that creator Matthew Weiner sold us: perfect on the outside and worse than empty on the inside, utterly false at the core. His achievements, built on a nonexistent foundation, are meaningless, and the only way for Don to change is go back to who he used to be.

I never thought of Mad Men's central theme as "Be Yourself".

Especially since Don Draper's self has been carefully constructed by him.

But now I see the whole arc of the first five seasons as a man's struggle to know himself, given that he works in an industry of fantasy, illusion, and storytelling.

In retrospect, this season had both surprises and disappointments, but the resounding theme was NOT LIKE THAT:

Though he ultimately came through for her, I think it disappointed him to do so. “You don’t want it this way,” he told Megan last night, echoing his protest (“We don’t want it that way”) when Pete told him of Jaguar’s indecent proposal. Though Don may not be a paragon of scrupulousness elsewhere, he doesn’t take shortcuts when it comes to his creative. I don’t think he liked seeing Megan compromising herself—and for a measly Butler spot.

Read more on Slate.

See also: Maureen Ryan, HuffPo.

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