Don Draper at odds with changing world of 1968 as 'Mad Men' returns

Mon Apr 7, 2014 4:12pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The dresses are shorter, the women are bolder and the weather is sunnier, but Don Draper has never been more at odds with the changing world around him, as AMC's advertising drama "Mad Men" enters its final season.

In Sunday's seventh season premiere entitled "The Beginning," the show's leading man Don, played by Jon Hamm, finds himself in unfamiliar territory as the vibrant, funky atmosphere and social upheaval of 1968 surrounds him.

At the end of season six, Don's internal struggle with his real identity as the orphaned Dick Whitman - an identity he has kept hidden - starts to rear its head. As his Madison Avenue advertising company SC&P plans to expand to sunny Los Angeles, Don is suspended from work by his partners, and takes his young children to Pennsylvania to see the destitute house he grew up in. Don is "pretty dismal," in Hamm's words.

"His marriage is falling apart again, his relationship with his children has really never been worse. And the one place where he always had safe haven was work, that's been blown up as well, by his own actions. And it's very tricky. It's a very dark place for Don," Hamm said at the show's Los Angeles premiere.

It won't be a quick conclusion to the critical hit from cable channel AMC, which garnered an average of 3.8 million viewers per episode during its sixth season. The finale is split into two, with the final seven episodes to air in spring 2015.

Don enters season seven shaving in the bathroom of an airplane, a seeming metaphor for his life being up in the air as he heads to Los Angeles to see actress wife Megan. Upon his arrival, she shuns his offer to drive her convertible, and he gets into the passenger seat, a change for the man usually in the driver's seat for all aspects of his life.

"The audience has always had this assertion that Don is slowly growing out of touch with the world. It became obvious to me that Don, who is an impulsive person ... that that's what 1968 felt like," "Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner said.

And that's all that can be said for the premiere, in keeping with Weiner's requests to journalists to refrain from revealing any key plot advancements, emphasizing that "secrecy is the currency of our drama," a tactic that has served the show well.   Continued...

Cast member Jon Hamm poses at the premiere for the seventh season of the television series "Mad Men" in Los Angeles, California April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni