From post World War II until the 1990s, California was the future. America was moving West yet again. From entertainment to Disney, aerospace to education, California represented the bright and warm future that the US could look forward to… dude. And for Don Draper, California is his future as well.
In California, Don has a healthy break from his past of Dick Whitman, a new wife and complete family. This is the future he wants to make for himself. I just don’t think anyone expected it to come so soon. But then again, a sudden marriage proposal is just the thing to further the plot of Mad Men for another season. Because they certainly wouldn’t rush the plot to keep things interesting for the next season.
It really seems like Mad Men has been wedding after wedding after wedding. And next? Did somebody say long lost triplets? And a tiny green space alien named Ozmodiar that only Don can see!
But what his new fiance mean? First, she is French, and France is supposed to be the cultural center of the world at this time. Furthermore, she wants to be a wife, but also has expressed business aspirations. She is a mixed bag, a middle contradiction at this time of cultural shift. But in the end, I guess she is the future or some such.
On the other hand, Betty represents the past. She is married to a moderate Republican in the era of Goldwater and Nixon. She is a child masquerading as an adult, merely wanting to be cared for and unable to deal with conflict. She only has the option of domestic life for her personal joy.
In contrast, it seems like Peggy can only get it from work. Joan claims that she “learned long ago not to get all my satisfaction from this job.” On which Peggy accurately claims “bullshit.”
Not that Joan can’t get joy from domestic life. It is just not her domestic life. She wanted to be the perfect housewife — one who wouldn’t have to work — and has failed to achieve that. Even her child, the future little bundle of joy, is not from her planned domestic partner, but from her office mate. Indeed, the deepest joy she’ll get in life, that of a child as the cliche goes, originates from her office.
And, coming back to the beginning, Don has found joy in his office as well. Then again, he met Betty when she was a model for a campaign. So who is to say that this will be any different.
And thus concludes my last Mad Men reflection of the season, though rather half-assed.