Six episodes into Season Four of“Mad Men,” and Don Draper has broken his cardinal rule regarding sex and the office, stolen a rotten tagline to win a pitch, and robbed Peggy of any glory for “his” Clio— and, oops, he forgot to pick up the kids! With Don, not only is the proverbial “center not holding,” but the surface is going to pot. Red-eyed and incoherent, as he tries to sell the client the Life cereal creative: he is the picture of un-life—a ghost of himself. He is literally being spirited away dram by dram, glass by glass, bottle by bottle.
Self-psychologists might see his addiction as an attempt to bolster his fluctuating self-esteem, enhance his grandiosity as well as to self-soothe his feelings of emptiness. For underneath all of Draper’s charisma, lives the renounced terror of being a nobody—or worse a fraud. Two seasons ago, Don read from Frank O’ Hara’s Meditations In An Emergency:
“Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern…”
C’mon Don. Your life is a lot more than a box of cereal.