Who is Don Draper?
That's the mystery at the heart of "Mad Men", the hottest show on TV right now. It was created by Matthew Weiner, one of the writers of "The Sopranos", and it just won the Emmy for Best Dramatic Series.
If you haven't seen "Mad Men", it's about an advertising agency called Sterling Cooper in early 1960s New York. Kennedy is President. Wagner is Mayor. Marilyn Monroe is about to OD. Beatlemania, the civil rights movement, and Vietnam are just around the corner. And New York is still an affordable place to live.
It was a simpler, more laid back time. In those days, men wore suspenders under double breasted suits and the women were encased in incredibly tight fitting skirts. Everyone drank and smoked all day and managed to do very little actual work. Most of the women in the office are secretaries looking to get married, all of the men are married but trying to sleep with the secretaries, homosexuals and black people live very much in the shadows, and a high paying salary is $100 a week.
In the middle of this lost America is a lost man named Donald Draper -- a high flying, unhappily married, perpetually adulterous ad exec. He's dying inside but we don't exactly know why. In fact, he's not actually Don Draper ... so who is he?
Obviously I'm much too young to know what 1960s NYC was like but I'd like to think it was like it is on "Mad Men." It may have been a more conformist, socially repressive time and it's probably good that a lot of the mores of that time have changed. But it also feels like it was a time where manners and respectability -- class -- was still important. And it's sad that we've lost that.