"Mad Men" Takes on Post-Divorce Blended Families


Guest blogger Kate Tuttle: Caution: Spoilers ahead!

If you haven't yet watched this season's finale of AMC's "Mad Men" ... well, frankly, it's been a week, so really you can't complain about spoilers. But if you don't want to know what happened, stop reading now.

OK, so: Like a lot of "Mad Men" fans, I was surprised -- even a bit shocked -- by series protagonist Don Draper's decision to propose to his secretary, Megan (a heretofore rather minor character on the show), even though he'd been dating Dr. Faye Miller for much of the season. 

A lot of TV critics argued that the move was not only unrealistic, but also a pathetic retrenchment; by choosing Megan over Faye, they said, Don had tossed over any chance of being with a woman who was his intellectual equal, opting for a woman who was a "combination of a nanny and a whore," in one review's words.  

I can't defend Don Draper, a fictional character so well-written that a lot of us feel we know him personally. He's been a drunken philanderer throughout the series, not to mention his having a false identity, a longstanding deception that stands at the heart of the series. But that said, I kind of applaud the marital choice he just made. 

As a divorced father who knows his ex-wife is a lousy mother to their three children, he could have married a woman who has already admitted (and shown) that she's terrible with children, too (Faye). Or he could choose to pursue a woman who has effortlessly bonded with them, a person whose own character tends toward warmth and openness, nurturing and caring. A woman who stimulates him sexually and intellectually, while at the same time forging healthy, positive bonds with his kids. 

As a divorced, remarried mom, I think he made the right call. Of course, divorced parents shouldn't only be on the lookout for their kids' "new mommy" or "new daddy"; that's a terrible idea for everyone involved. Creating a blended family takes a lot of time and love and patience. But choosing a new partner in part because he or she is a good potential stepparent seems mature and laudable to me. 

We'll have to wait until next season -- July 2011! -- to see whether Don and Megan's engagement leads to marriage, but I feel like he took a step in the right direction.


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