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Man Men and Classic Bad-Boy Tendencies

Though I was abroad last semester, I still managed to keep up with the latest season of Mad Men. It’s been my go-to show for quite some time, except for that stint in season three when the storyline became totally uninteresting and Betty became absolutely unbearable. Betty isn’t any better – she may, in fact, be worse – but the most recent season of Mad Men was the best yet.

A quick refresher:

Alexis Bledel! Alexis Bledel and Pete Campbell and… shock therapy? Joan is still fabulous (obviously). Peggy is working for a rival ad agency. Harry Crane is still a jerk, and Ken Cosgrove is still married to Alex Mack a.k.a. Bianca from 10 Things I Hate About You. Sally Draper is turning out to be surprisingly cool (and really pretty). Roger Sterling is single again, and will you do LSD with him? As for Don…. well, Don was slightly boring. Except for that one episode, in which he hallucinated that he slept with and then strangled an ex-lover (in oddly quick succession), Don had an uncharacteristically faithful season. So, the finale’s in its last few minutes, and Don has just walked off a commercial shoot in which Megan is starring (guess how she got that part?). I’m groaning internally, because the shmuck from the last few episodes is not the Don I know and love. And suddenly, in a moment of perfect television finale writing, he’s back. He’s sitting at the bar, and a young woman approaches him. “Are you alone?” He pauses, considering. Taking a sip of his drink, he shoots her a sly smile. Cut to credits. Watching this, I felt very conflicted. Don was Mr. Fidelity this season, and yet, I’m so excited at the possibility of having the old Don back. What does this tell me?

Some possibilities:

  1. I just miss watching Don (namely Jon Hamm) roll around in various hotel beds with an ever-changing series of women.
  2. Like many of us, I love the classic bad-boy tendencies – I love to love the bad boy, the guy who is seemingly incapable of change, but you know, we’ll always give him one more chance.
  3. Monogamy makes for boring television.
  4. I’m still hoping for Don to find the right one (hey, third time’s the charm, right?).

There’s a grain of truth in each of those. But most importantly, what is it about the “bad boy”? The question seems easy enough to answer – he exudes confidence, sex, and often, money. Sometimes he’s attention-seeking, sometimes he’s mysterious. He leaves broken hearts in his wake. And yet, there’s something about him. Women fall for him left and right, willingly and unwillingly. Why? I don’t think a definitive answer exists, In fact, the reasons are probably endless, and each of us has our weaknesses. But what is it? Is it a desire for risk, or danger? For drama, for the moments of passion that punctuate stretches of insecurity? Falling for the bad boy is so counter-intuitive. And yet, we do it all the time, sometimes without realizing it. Though I’m not sure if there’s anything we can do to prevent it, I do know that we’re capable of learning. We learn from experience, from mistakes, from heartbreak. I’m willing to bet that we can learn to love the good guy. As for the bad guys, can they learn? Probably. But do we want them to? I’ll leave that up to you.

As for Don Draper – in the fantasy world of awesome AMC television, he can stay the way is. Bets on that girl in the bar? I have a feeling Megan won’t be pleased. Admit it, you know you want the old Don back, too.

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