What inspired this project?
We all know that Don Draper (and friends) were
promiscuous, but after the second time re-watching the series the numbers just
started to rack up. I figured I should start listing them out. There are
several articles about who he slept with, but I was more interested in seeing
them laid out visually. I questioned: "Was there a pattern? What did they
all look like together? Would I sympathize for them or judge them? And um...
did he ever get tested for STDs?"
Do you notice Don
gravitating toward certain types of women during each season?
Not particularly. It's hard to tell because the number of women
he hooked up with in different seasons varies. But, he was often drawn to
intelligent, driven and independent women. Of course, like all of his
relationships, they never worked out for one reason or another.
Do you think Don Draper has
In terms of sexual partners? No. But I do believe he wanted more
meaningful long term relationships with the women he found smart as well as
beautiful. It was almost as if he gained more confidence as Dick Whitman in a
Don Draper world around women like that. But no matter how confident, outgoing and smart she was, he'd eventually want to control her. Maybe that was his
nature, or he was just behaving as many husbands did during that time period.
For example, the best time he had with Betty was when they went to Italy together.
They could pretend to be different people, or be the people they used to be
when they first met, but all within the confines of his rules.
What role do you think
these women fill in his life?
They never really filled whatever he was looking for. If they
did it was temporary. It felt like there was a giant pothole where Dick Whitman
used to be, and he was trying to fill it with a cement truck filled with women.
If anything, all the women in his sexual past have achieved one thing: making
him more confused about himself. The only women on the show who made a
significant impact on his life seemed to be the women he never slept with:
Peggy, Joan, and most of all, Anne.
Is he at all discriminating
in his choices?
He didn't seem to discriminate against anyone, but occasionally
respectfully declined offers due to certain circumstances including being
happily married, working, going through issues at work, etc. Perhaps the only
real time was when he made an abrupt and discerning choice was when he proposed
to Megan, ending his relationship with Dr. Faye Miller. I think it's because he
could control Megan, and he liked seeing her as a mother (Miller wasn't so
great with kids).
How did you research them
Netflix binging and AMCTV.com. Thank God for screenshots. I
Googled a few actresses thinking it could help me get their facial expressions
right but they look so different out of character that I had to stop doing
that. Certain characters were difficult because they had amazing wardrobes. I
had to make notes on what each girl wore and decide what best expressed who
they were at the time and how it translated as an illustration. Betty is a
prime example. I chose that flower dress because she actually wore it in
several episodes (picnic with Don and the kids, visiting her dad, etc). I
noticed she wore it especially when she wanted to feel nostalgic or really good
about herself. Later, as a remarried Betty Francis, she and Don slept together
again. Her new husband worked in government and politics so I drew her in a
seafoam green Jackie O-eqsue ensemble. I did take some liberties with other
women like Candace, the escort. They do show her fully clothed in two different
scenes, but she's most famous for being the woman that slaps Don in his face at
his request while wearing a red lace bra! Throughout the entire series of Mad
Men, she is the only one that dominated him sexually. But they never showed her
below the waist during intimate scenes so I just imagined what she could have
been wearing. Other girls were a mystery because they only appeared once and
weren't even shown from the waist down. I basically had to guess with women
like Alice from the Clios and the girl at the bar he met while Megan was
shooting a commercial.
What do these women tell us
It seems like he was looking for someone to fill the role of
housewife, mother, best friend, and even secretary - a super woman. In reality,
that's impossible and in the Mad Men world that's pretty contradictory and
slightly schizophrenic. That's probably why his most meaningful relationships
with certain women on the show were platonic (Peggy, Joan, Anne). These were
the women who could tell him the truth and have drinks with him, but valued
themselves more than the idea of being with Don.
Do you think there's one
who got away for Don, or is that really just his mother?
Maybe. If I had to choose a life partner, I'd say the closest
would be Rachel Menken or Suzanne Farrell (Sally's teacher) — or perhaps still Megan. But the cheating would probably never have stopped. In terms of a female character in general, the one that got away
was definitely not HIS mother, but a mother. Who knows if his prostitute mother
would have been nurturing and loved him if she didn't die during childbirth.
But he so profoundly needed that presence in his youth. He didn't have a single
good memory about his past. That's why Anne was so important to him — besides
the fact that she hid his secret and they had an agreement. She was almost like
a mother/sister to him. If he had been raised by a good mother, I think he
would've been more inclined to be a monogamous partner, and probably wouldn't
have pushed away his brother, the only family he had, either.