Dear Don Draper, Relax Already


On Television

Dear Don Draper,

I just got off the phone with my mother, and she’s a bit upset. This is not your fault, I know. Mothers! You never really had one, so let me explain. They’re a complicated bunch, prone to outbursts of emotion. Always clutching their chests like their hearts are exploding; always assuming any discoloration is cancer.

For example, your ex-wife, one of the worst mothers around. One minute she’s slinkily horny, and the next she’s screaming at Sally for no reason. One minute she’s stuffing her face with Bugles—they still have those by the way—and the next she’s convinced that she’s dying, ruining your fun by forcing you to face mortality. See what I mean? And Betty’s not even Jewish!

Speaking of Jewish: my mother. “Daddy and I almost plotzed,” she tells me, “when that Jewish father said that ridiculous prayer. I mean, they could have had a normal Jewish person. You know, someone who went to NYU or Parsons even. Not some schlub in a madras jacket.”

I know you don’t have a say in these things, casting and whatnot. You just show up for work each day, dapper and wonderfully stubbled. Casting is Matthew Weiner’s territory. As a Jew himself, he should know better. That Ginsberg kid felt like he was fresh from Yiddish theater, a lesser Fyvush Finkel, only ten years too young—the last of the Borscht Belt joke jockeys. They could at least have let his tie match his shirt! In a show known for the complexity of its characters, Ginsberg  was a parody, Don, an animated cartoon among flesh and blood humans.

I’m worried about Weiner, I’m not gonna lie. He’s feeling the pressure now, what with Game of Thrones horning in on the Sunday night audience, flashy with dragons and nipples and blood.

If you see Weiner, remind him that’s not his game. He’s better at subtlety, or at least he used to be. Now I’m not sure. Things have felt a little obvious so far this season. Take Betty, for example, and the way she’s ballooned. That fat suit looks absurd and everyone knows it. Or the possible cancer plotline, swept aside in a single episode arc, so easily resolved.

And what once felt like sly nods to the burgeoning counterculture now read as obvious winks. According to my mother, who was there at the time, that backstage Stones scene was anything but realistic. A blissed out teenybop calling Brian Jones a “troubador”? C’mon! I know it’s only ’66, but this is the Stones we’re talking about! Where were the black turtlenecks and bad girls!

And don’t even get me started on that op-art display in Sterling’s office. Cooper’s Rothko was one thing, but this is simply too much.

Still, I’m glad you took my advice and checked out some more rock and roll, and I’m sorry you had such a bad time at the concert. It wasn’t fair that those girls thought you were old and toolish, or that even your wife Megan said, “you’re so square you’ve got corners.” You’re cooler than all of them, Draper, don’t worry.

I know this is hard to believe, but one day all the hip bands will wear tailored suits and skinny ties like you do. It’s a retro thing, an homage. The cool kids these days don’t smoke pot. They smoke cigarettes and drink bourbon and try to grow stubble like yours.

Brooks Brothers even named a suit after you. I know that doesn’t sound hip, but trust me. Brooks is back, mostly thanks to a band called Vampire Weekend. You’d hate their music, but they’re marketing gold: rich, white Ivy Leaguers playing African music and singing about shopping. So the Stones didn’t want to do your Heinz commercial? Big deal. These bros would have jumped at the chance. All the new bands would have. Long story short, the music industry’s fucked now, and the only way for musicians to make money is to shill for the commercials.

As for Ginsberg, I’m happy you hired him. At the very least you can teach him business politesse and color coordination. The young man could use some guidance, Don, and you need a new protege now that Peggy’s all grown up. Maybe send a few of your surplus female admirers his way, too? Teach him the Draper magic and all will be forgiven. It would be a mitzvah!

About your black secretary, Dawn. She gives me hope, and not just for civil rights. Now there’s a smoothly handled new character, lacking in stereotypes, a bold addition to the office dynamic. Just don’t sleep with her, Don. Seriously.

Most of all, Draper, I think you need to relax. Wipe that scowl off and stop worrying so much. Have a drink for god’s sake. Have two! You’re only forty, dude. It’s not the end of the world.

With love from 2012,