What Don Draper wants vs. what we expect of him

So,  perhaps it wasn’t the ending many fans wanted and hoped for. If that’s want what you want, “Friends” is probably still on re-runs on one of the Turner stations.

Don Draper blew up a consistent source of income for an advertising firm — Big Tobacco — last week in a gamble designed to save his firm. He ultimately couldn’t take another gamble by blowing up his Don Draper identity, as Faye Miller suggested at the start of Sunday’s season finale.

Don has spent his entire adulthood chasing the idea of who he wants to be, rather than who he really is, a central theme to this season, this show, and, not coincidentally, what advertising sells to us, the people. Or, as Draper told Faye in Episode 2 of this season: people are torn between “what I want versus what’s expected of me.” With all we know and have seen of Don Draper, how he sells products as much as he sells his identity on a daily basis, why would he want to be “stuck trying to be a person like the rest of us,” even if a potential visit from the G-men sends him into panic attacks and nervous breakdowns? And aren’t we all a little bit incapable of change? Or as Don once told Faye (wrongly, as it turns out): “You can’t tell how people will behave based on how they have behaved.”

Who doesn’t, sometimes, commiserate with Don Draper? I know I do, torn between who I want to be and who I am, what I want versus what’s expected of me. Is it true that “every time something good happens, something bad happens,” as Peggy puts it? Or can you simply retreat, even for a day, into what you want to be and not do what’s expected of you without consequences? Or do you have to be Don Draper, and ignore those consequences as much as possible?

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On the other hand, you could simply read Greg’s excellent “interview” with Don Draper on how he’d fix the Mets and improve the Amazin’s fan base at Faith and Fear in Flushing.

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