The men and women of Sterling Cooper.
Mad Men “Out of Town”: The British invasion of the Sterling Cooper agency heats up in the Spring of 1963 as Mad Men enters its third season.
WARNING: After the jump, THERE BE SPOILERS.
I’ve never been quite sure what to make of Don Draper. From the very first episode the writers attempted to establish him as the show’s Tony Soprano-esque anti-hero. Don Draper’s reserved nature always made him difficult to get close to, whereas on The Sopranos, James Gandolfini’s Tony made the viewer complicit in his behavior. His laughter and personal magnetism drew the audience in until a outburst of brutal violence reminded them who the man really was.
Watching last night’s season premiere, I couldn’t help but think of Don in comparison to Tony Soprano. The key moment came during Don and Sal’s plane ride back from Baltimore, as the two men are having a conversation, ostensibly about the London Fog ads, and Don tells Sal to “limit your exposure.” It called to mind Tony’s willingness to overlook Vito’s homosexuality because he was good at his job. Neither Tony nor Don were showing any sort of progressive thinking, their primary concern is the business’s bottom line.
As similar as they may be, Don Draper has a very long way to go before he reaches the iconic level of Tony Soprano. Don’s edges have been softened just enough to make his many indiscretions palatable enough to maintain the viewers’ sympathy.
Over the course of two seasons I think that the show has stopped short on many occasions of showing just how brutal and opportunistic Don Draper is, and I think that this has prevented Mad Men from reaching the highest pantheon of television shows. Luckily, Mad Men has the deepest bench on television, and watching Joan Holloway and Pete Campbell can ease any of the disappointment that I have with Don’s character.