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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Mad Men: Are Don and Peggy the Dorothea and Lydgate of TV?

Two strong intelligent characters, male and female, who are intellectually gifted, determined to make something "more" of themselves, but would never be romantically linked because of their wrongheaded decisions when it comes to love and marriage.

There's little sexual tension between them, but they are the most compelling people in their world, and they live parallel lives. And you can't help but wonder: what could they have accomplished as a couple if they had met earlier and fallen in love?

I'm convinced that Peggy Olsen and Don Draper on "Mad Men" are like Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate in Middlemarch--characters whose union is close to impossible, but the possibility of which nonetheless hovers over all the goings-on in their world. Like George Eliot, Matthew Weiner critiques the idea of marriage as a social ideal rather than a down-to-earth partnership.

Of course Lydgate and Dodo want to change the world, while Don and Peggy just want to write some damn good copy, but on the other hand they do want to to change their world by infusing it with creative energy.



  1. great analogy! (er, based on the middlemarch miniseries i watched that one time.) one more reason to read Eliot.

  2. Never read Middlemarch so I can't comment on the analogy. However I do think the relationship of Don and Peggy is wonderfully complex. I think that Don sees in Peggy someone who has the ambition to overcome the odds. Don was economically challenged, Peggy must deal with the gender stereotypes of her time period. She rejects Joan as a mentor, and picks Don instead bc he sees her talent. Don rejects Pete who has everything handed to him. However I don't think Peggy or Don care much about anything beyond themselves. They are both inherently selfish at times. It is the complexity of these characters which is why I love Mad Men. When does Season 3 start?

  3. They ARE selfish, but they are also decent at strange times. they're the only ones who care when a certain character gets sacked in season 2.