Saturday, November 06, 2010

[TV] Got Your Back, Don

Got Your Back, Don: From the majority of what I read about the Mad Men finale, and the conversations I've had about it, it seems that conventional wisdom says that Don made a bad decision. Faye was the one who could save him; the mature woman who could help him face down his demons. Instead he chose the one who would provide the path of least resistance.

Well, sorry, but no. Or rather, yes and no. You see, there are just so many assumptions and biases built into that conclusion that it becomes suspicious.

The ideal future for Don is presumed to be something like: Don locks in with Faye. Under her guidance he faces his hidden past and deals with whatever consequences that entails, he learns that drinking and womanizing is empty and comes to appreciate fidelity and responsibility toward her, at some point in the future he will sit back in serenity and satisfaction, happy in the rewards of emotional maturity. Maybe he will even publish a memoir on becoming spiritually whole (in contrast to Sterling's Gold). In short, he should become the new man every new woman believes he should be.

The problem I have here is the planted assumption is that this road to self-realization is what's best for Don. On what basis, exactly, is that determination made? Here's an alternative. He weds Megan, his has an affair which stresses their marriage, but Megan eventually forgives him. Don settles down, but only as a natural result of aging. Meanwhile, he benefits day in and day out from Megan's feminine, matronly, warmth and love. Something he has never had in his life. Is there any reason to believe that Faye's plan for self-improvement will make him happier than Megan's emotional shelter? I can't see any.

Also, can anyone rationally argue that Faye is better for the kids than Megan? They already have a cold and hostile mother. A cold and therapeutic step-mother is a step up I suppose, but a tiny one. Megan can give both Don and his children something they desperately need but have never had: a loving home and the security of a mother. What is self-realization compared to that?

(And just so you know, I do comprehend that these people aren't real and whatever should or will happen to them is solely because Matt Weiner says so. But this is, after all, the point of art - to illuminate the world in interesting ways. The fact that such a complex discussion is happening about a popular piece of art, as opposed to some obscure niche product -- like a novel -- is very awesome.)