Thursday, April 07, 2011

Blog of Ratings: Women Don Draper Has Slept With

The Book of Ratings may be no more, but this blog carries on its spirit. Earlier, we did a series rating state mottoes. Today, we examine a more popular focus -- the women Don Draper of Mad Men has slept with. Tuck in, folks -- this will be a long one (even without including some of the more random obscure ones, like that flight attendant).


The first of Don's dames we're introduced to, even before his wife Betty, which is very appropriate. Midge represents the Beatnik world, and immediately provides a fun and whimsical counterpoise to Don's grim seriousness. She's in control of herself, and she's a carbon copy (in looks and attitude) of every Mary Louise Parker character ever (that's a major, major plus). Tragically, she makes her return to the show as a drug addict -- but the whole reason that has so much emotional punch is because we all love her so much and remember her happiness. Here's hoping she lands on her feet. B+.


Oh Betty. Chaotic evil personified, Betty Draper (now Francis) starts off as a very sympathetic character, given that Don treats her like a child and given, um, the topic of this list. But it soon becomes apparent that Betty basically is a child -- a malevolent, uncontrolled, petty, spiteful child (the actual child in the picture, Sally, on the other hand, is all manner of awesome). She doesn't know what she wants, but boy is she upset when she doesn't get it. I don't fault her for leaving Don -- who could? -- but I do find it baffling that she did so seemingly precisely as their relationship seemed to be improving dramatically. And poor Henry Francis -- you can tell he's only just realizing what he's gotten himself into. D.

Rachel Menken

Now we're talking. The Jew Power in me loves that the woman who easily the most all-around badass on the show -- yes, I'm including Joanie -- is a Jew. And not just in the "I ended up marrying someone named Katz" way, but an out-and-proud Jew who doesn't apologize for it. Rachel is smart, accomplished, in charge, smoking hot, and self-aware enough to cut Don loose when he's about to throw his entire life away. When Betty left Don, I was kind of hoping that Tilden Katz would get hit by a bus so they could get back together. Alas, no dice. A+.

Bobbie Barrett

If you took all of Don's evil qualities and added breast implants, you'd have Bobbie Barrett. Utterly amoral, her relationship with Don is basically paired sexual assaults mixed with self-destructive alcoholism. Yes, show, we get the symbolism of that. Anyway, Bobbie's relationship with Don has no redeeming qualities, though forcing her to stay with Peggy for awhile -- whose blinding light of earnest niceness manages to pierce even Bobbie's cynicism -- was fun to watch. But Bobbie herself has basically no redeeming qualities. The only things that prevents her from sinking below Betty are (a) she has a mind of her own and (b) we give at least grudging admiration to Don's negative qualities, so why not hers? D.


Okay, let's get one thing out the way: Joy is 21 in the same way that I'm 30. Alright, so Joy basically isn't a person so much as she is the incarnation of Don's sexual id -- unrestrained wealthy hedonism with no responsibilities or meaning. Joy is also perhaps the most prominent member of the club of women who basically demand Don sleep with them based on no more interaction than across-the-room eye contact. And her family probably smuggles drugs. This is precisely why Don was wise not ask questions, and eventually get the hell out of there. B-.

Ms. Farrell

There are many pluses to Ms. Farrell. Sally loves her, and she's a good teacher. She went to Bowdoin, which competes with Bates and Colby for the title "Carleton of Maine." And, oh yeah, she's basically a living saint. Which raises the question -- why does she fall for Don in the first place? It's established very early that she knows his game and knows it won't end well for her. And she actually manages to turn him down flat a few times. But then he gives her a full blast of Don-stare, and it's off with her dress. Ugh. I had such high hopes that you'd play a starring role in the (much smaller) "Blog of Ratings: Women Don Draper Hasn't Slept With" list. Alas. B.


It takes awhile, but Don finally dips into the secretarial pool. And I always liked Allison. She's competent, professional, understanding -- she's probably the best secretary qua secretary Don's ever had. So of course he treats her more cruelly than probably any of his other damsels, and she justifiably breaks one of his knick-knacks in fury. Serves him right. A-.

Dr. Faye Miller

Finally, another blond. Dr. Miller is certainly a step up from Betty. And I do like that her mob connections may see Don killed -- it's about time he actually suffered some consequences for his inability to form meaningful relationships. The main problem I have with Dr. Miller is that her introduction stymied a perfectly good opportunity to bring back that Austrian doctor who was so badass in Season 1. Also, I admit it's been awhile since I've seen Season 4, and my memory of the new doctor is a bit fuzzy. B+.


Megan's ... okay. She comes into the picture because of Allison's departure, and Allison is much cooler than Megan is. The best thing you can say about Megan is that Don's marriage proposal appears motivated by his belief that she'd make a good stepmom for his children, which is surprisingly noble of him (and fortunate, given that his original attraction to her was the standard commtiment-phobia thing against Dr. Faye). I don't have anything against Megan per se, it's just that when I make my list of "who should Don be married to, since Betty is a raging sociopath", she ranks pretty far down. B-.

Don Draper

Obviously, Don Draper is not a woman Don Draper has slept with. But it felt unfair to be grading all these women and yet let Don escape the critical gaze. For the main character of a show that prides itself on its verisimilitude, Don's ... kind of a parody, when you think about it. He's not just mysterious, he's got a back story that makes Harry Potter look plausible. He's not just sexy, women basically toss themselves into his bed approximately every 6 hours. He's smart, but he's benefited by being surrounded by idiots -- when Jill and I encounter a decent idea that's being promoted way above its candle power, one of us inevitably mumbles "It's called the Carousel." And that doesn't even go into his "mainstream" character flaws, like serial adultery. Still, he is dashingly handsome, and has some ability with words, I concede. B.

No comments: