“Mad Men. I watch endless episodes when I should be working.”
Damian, I cannot thank you enough for loving Mad Men; because, first, you give me the chance to write about something that I LOVE very deeply, and second, it is so much fun to share this love for Mad Men with you!
Get back to the quote: “Watching endless episodes when I should be working.” I know it well. Very well indeed. I cannot tell you enough about the sleepless nights my husband and I had while we were binge-watching Mad Men. We watch one episode. “One more?” “Oh, yeah. It’s only 10pm”. Second episode gone. “One more?” “Why not? Do we really have to get up early tomorrow?” Done. It’s already past midnight and my husband and I look at each other and simultaneously say “One more?”
So, we watched, exactly like Damian, endless episodes of Mad Men when we should have been sleeping so that we could get up reasonably early for work. And, I don’t know about Damian, but we watched some seasons multiple times, too!
Now, I believe Mad Men is one of the best TV dramas EVER. I find the subtlety and depth of characters simply mesmerizing, and I also genuinely LOVE and care about most of them — Don, Joan, Peggy, Roger, Peter, Betty, Sally, Megan… I really cannot wait to find out where we will find them in the final seven episodes.
Don Draper is one of the TOP anti-heroes in the golden age of TV along with my beloved Nicholas Brody, Tony Soprano, Walter White and others. He is a charismatic, womanizing, confident ad man on the facade with deep wounds inside thanks to his dark past. Don Draper has an interesting similarity with Nicholas Brody that they both come back from war as a changed man and this very fact plays into their vulnerability and sort of makes them who they are… in quite different ways.
Nicholas Brody comes from war almost as a DEAD man. It is not his choice. As Carrie rightly observes in Q&A, he comes back systematically pulled apart first and then put back together again as “someone else” by his captors. Don Draper, on the other hand, comes back from the Korean War literally as a NEW man. It is his choice. Dick Whitman steals his dead friend’s identity and comes home as Don Draper, becomes an ad man, marries a model, has a couple of kids and makes a pretty good life in the suburbs of New York along with his “second life” in the city.
One fascinating aspect of Mad Men is that the background is always as attractive as the forefront itself. The series’ creator Matthew Weiner pays impeccable attention to period detail and thereby lets us immerse ourselves in the culture, fashion, politics, art of the times while our characters live their lives in front of our very eyes — do business, have affairs, get married, have kids, get divorced, get fired, and die… Don Draper reads Dante’s Inferno… Peggy and Ted go see Rosemary’s Baby… The Sterling Cooper gang hear about the MLK assassination at an important Ad Awards dinner… Fascinating. No wonder, Anne Helen Petersen, a media studies professor at Whitman College, teaches a college course on Mad Men — there is SO MUCH to think about, read about and talk about. That’s what a college course is for. Ha, and I admit she inspires me to design a course on… oh, you know what 🙂
Yes, Mad Men is GREAT, but it is also VERY special because I found out about Damian Lewis thanks to Mad Men! You can read the detailed story, and here is the short version:
I vividly remember the evening we met. I was in my living room. He was on TV. I was watching the Primetime Emmy Awards and rooting for Jon Hamm to win the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Me: “Come on, Jon, come on!”
Julianna Marguiles: “…and the Emmy goes to… Damian Lewis!”
Me: “Who the hell is Damian Lewis?”
Damian Lewis comes to stage, receives his award and makes a fun speech… We find out he’s, in his own words, “one of those pesky Brits.”
Interestingly enough, that evening, Damian Lewis got the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, beating a very strong set of competitors, including Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm; but also Homeland put an end to a four-year Mad Men streak at the Emmys when it received the Outstanding Drama Series Award. And, naturally, Homeland sweeping the Emmys intrigued me to a point that I started watching…
And, the rest is HISTORY!
I told you that Damian loves himself a bit of Mad Men, too! How do I know?
First, you all know Damian tweets rarely. And, one of the tweets he did was on Mad Men!
Second, I have his full confession on tape 🙂 Damian Lewis made it very open and clear on The Hollywood Reporter Drama Actors Full Uncensored Interview when asked about the one TV role he wanted to play:
Third, we all know our guy is one of the best-dressed men ever. EVER. The style website Mr. Porter reports Damian credits “the fashions worn in TV show Mad Men as his go-to inspiration.”
So, any suspicions whatsoever left about Damian’s man crush on Don Draper?
I don’t think so.
The final seven episodes of Mad Men are coming to AMC on April 5 at the exact day and time that Wolf Hall is coming on PBS Masterpiece. Whoa — some rating wars, huh? Dear Don, as much as I love you, my Sunday evenings are reserved for Henry, but I promise to see you Mondays 🙂
NYC is giving Mad Men an amazing send off with events varying from an amazing Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image to Mad Men: The End of an Era celebration at Film Society of Lincoln Center with the creator Matt Weiner and cast members, including Jon Hamm. Even the NY Public Library has put together a Mad Men reading list. And, topping it all, Don Draper is staring at us constantly from taxi cabs, and public buses, and subway stations… telling us “the ride is almost over.”
If you love Mad Men as much as we do, check out the complete list of Mad Men events in NYC here. I am trying my best to catch as many as possible to pay my tribute to, in Damian’s words “one of the all time great shows.
As I say good-bye to Don Draper, I just cannot wait to say hi to Bobby Axelrod! Now that Showtime has picked up Billions as a series, I know that Damian will deliver Bobby as an enigma for us to figure out, and make us think and talk about him constantly… My little secret hope is to have a little tiny subtle piece of Don in Bobby that only the Don Draper super fans can notice and appreciate 🙂
UPDATE 04/28/2015: I attended a Mad Men conversation with the series creator Matthew Weiner talk at 92nd Street Y tonight. Weiner loves to talk and he told a number of interesting stories but one stood out for me. Weiner told us that, as they were casting for Don Draper, AMC pushed for a British actor that to play Don Draper; and Weiner knew he would never cast a Brit to play this an American “unless they can fool me… The only person that has ever fooled me…” He paused and said: “Damian Lewis is pretty good.” I loved it 🙂
The entire talk is here, and the relevant part starts at 46:08.