Megan Draper Says a Lot About Dreams, Don, Destiny on “Mad Men”

Megan Calvet came, she saw, she said it was a one time thing and then suddenly became Don Draper’s hot, new and much noticeably younger wife. She’s French-Canadian, an actress, “glamazon” and a woman-child. There are many sides to the woman who started off as a secretary with one line (“Yes, Joan”) and then ended up becoming one of the most important characters in “Mad Men” history. At first, I think a lot of viewers shared my sentiments in giving Ms. Zou-Bisou the stink-eye. Lets face it: She came out of nowhere and took everything away from Dr. Faye Miller (Draper’s ex-girlfriend and former head of marketing research at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce), but that was exactly what Matthew Weiner, series creator, wanted us to believe in the rush of events that was Season 4. Season 5 was just as much Megan’s season as it was Don’s.

Nineteen sixty-seven was in the midst of the counterculture. Don traded in his old 50’s trophy wife for a Mod sexpot in a shift dress. His new ideal of a trophy wife meant something entirely different than Betty. Megan was living and working with him. Don tested this working-girl model with Faye and when he saw that it worked, chose Megan and promoted her to a position as a copy writer, which in turn, made some people very angry, like Peggy, who had to work her way to the top instead of landing on her boss’ bed.

Megan used her femininity in ways that other female characters in the show didn’t. She is a modern woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it, and most of the time that involves highly emotional fights or sex. Peggy downplayed her femininity to the point that she felt she lost her identity as a woman, albeit she felt she needed to in order to get to her position in the agency. Joan played up her curves and femininity to influence the men in the office and secure her a job, but her views can be argued to be more “traditional” in the sense of workplace hierarchy. Megan on the other hand, represented the future. She represented ambition and the concept of “following your dream.” She started off being judged by Peggy who couldn’t believe she slept her way to a position and by Joan, who saw it coming and wasn’t impressed. This is why we were led to believe that Don and Megan’s May-December union would ultimately fail.

As the season progressed, her tantrums portrayed her as a child next to Don, who looked increasingly old and creepy. Was I the only one that sensed a daddy-type relationship poke through? Well, Season 5 was a season dedicated to the youth, which is why Megan became such a prominent character. Her mannerisms led her to become more of a friend or big-sister figure to Sally, rather than evil-step mother – the evil mother did arise in Sally’s eyes though, through Betty.

Don and Megan’s marriage started going downhill when Megan realized, albeit good at advertising, it wasn’t her thing. Her dream was to pursue acting and now that she lived in a penthouse suite, she could pursue that dream at her own leisure. Enter Megan the dilettante. This troubled Dad – I mean Don – who grew up in a time when dreams were irrelevant; you did what you could or what was laid out for you. Megan’s realization of her aspirations is a very modern concept we are accustomed to grow up on today, but it was revolutionary back then.

Megan is the sort of person who drops down to her skivvies to clean the white carpet. She throws spaghetti to the wall when she’s fighting with Don. She cheats her friends out of auditions and asks her husband on her behalf to advance her career. As viewers, we can only take Megan’s actions to predict her future. Heracleitus once said, “character is destiny.” In the end of Season 5, she “lands” the part in a shoe commercial playing some sort of princess. She’s living her fairytale dream of lights, camera and action. We were serenaded by Nancy Sinatra’s song “You Only Live Twice” as Don walks away from the set into a dark smoke-filled bar, and we are led to believe he’s just about had it with the fairytale and he’s growing up.

That’s debatable. Weiner made Megan a prominent character in the series for a reason. Shows this good are definitely calculated to the last rolling credits. When it hit me that this season was just as much Megan’s time to shine, as it was the show’s central character, I realized that it was because of Don that Megan became so important. If character is destiny, will Megan part ways with Don, or will her destiny be intertwined with his? Weiner had this to say about Megan in an interview with Vulture: “I will be honest with you, every story that I tell that involves Megan is about Don (Jon Hamm). Megan versus work, Megan at work, and what it means to have a second wife — which he is taking very seriously as his last wife. That is the story.”

So while she takes up a lot of airtime, can it be said she is just a foil to Don, or is there more to Megan than meets the eye?


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Author: Claudia Marina View all posts by
Journalism student at the University of Florida. Sally Draper is my spirit animal. I love writing about TV and how it affects culture. Occasionally I watch bad TV, but reviews make it better.

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