TV critic, Linda Stasi, suggested that “Mad Men” might be described by the famous tagline “the antidote to civilization.” In the show’s celebration of vice, the super ego appears to have little sway over the libidinal and aggressive surges of the id. Yet, the show is anything, but one-dimensional. Don Draper may not be a paragon of virtue, but he may be a paragon of vice—a bad boy with a moral compass, at least in some areas.
In the first episode of Season Four, the question looms: “Who is Don Draper?” Womanizer. Drunk. Raging Egomaniac. Or…Sympathetic Dad. Principled Boss. Creative Talent of Conviction. While Don doesn’t have all the pieces together, he has the ego strength to appreciate duality and knows how to hold disparate pieces together, i.e. how to market a two-piece bathing suit (i.e. bikini) in the chauvinistic early sixties.
To Freud’s question: what do women want? Draper advocates that women “should not” have to choose between decency and allure. That women can have both—a radical proposition. Yet to the refraining question: Who is Don Draper? Like the bikini, it’s not a one-piece answer. He’s got to have some skin in the game.