One of my favorite episodes of Mad Men is “The Summer Man” (Season 4, Ep. 8). Don is keeping a journal of the events going on in his life, and he’s trying to regain control over his emotions, his drinking, and, generally speaking, his life. He makes a very poignant observation midway through the episode: “People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.” Too often we choose to minimize the imperfections of others, rather than accepting them for who they truly are.
I think the episode strikes a chord with me because of how it humanizes Don. The show rarely gives us access to his inner monologue. Superficially, Don appears to be a man in his prime; the reality of his failed marriage, frayed relationship with his children, his alcoholism, and his complicated identity issues show a man who is barely keeping it together. Seeing Don take positive steps after so many mistakes makes it difficult to not root for him; I want to see Don be better. Anyone who’s seen the show knows that he could be great– he just needs to maintain self-control.
I suppose the same could be said for most people, though. We’re often the root of our own demise.
Time to get back to working on my resume and sending out job apps. See you tomorrow.