Bad news for "Mad Men" fans who thought they were watching a five-season documentary -- Don Draper is not a real person. We know, we know -- your mind has been blown.
On June 8, Tom Scocca's Slate article, "Don Draper’s Shocking Secret: He Doesn’t Exist," blew the lid off that secret for good, and managed to anger some of the show's fans.
In the article, Scocca explains that "Don Draper is a made-up person inside your television set. He is a pattern of lit-up dots moving in front of your eyes for one hour, on Sundays, during the season run of the Mad Men program, which mercifully ends this weekend."
Though viewers of the AMC drama are more than aware that Draper, his family and advertising company Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are all born out of the mind of the show's creator Matt Weiner, Scocca is not convinced because of how often the show is referenced in the news. He says he is perplexed by how often other writers have chosen to use a pop culture reference to help explain a concept or event.
"What's wrong with 'Mad Men' isn't that it makes you boring. What's wrong with 'Mad Men' is that it also makes you stupid," he wrote, before listing an excerpt from a 2011 column in the business section of The New York Times:
As more and more women have come into the work force, corporate America has made significant, if agonizingly slow, progress in making sure its attitudes and the conduct of its leadership reflect those changes. It's no longer a ''Mad Men'' world where women are expected to fetch coffee and whiskey and service their bosses in other ways.
Much to Scocca's chagrin, "Mad Men" has become synonymous with the '60s and Don Draper its foremost figure -- but what he's really angry about his the fact that fans and writers won't shut up about it.
"What's remarkable -- almost miraculous -- about these 'Mad Men' references is how universally, completely meaningless they are. I belong to the 99 percent of the American public that does not watch 'Mad Men,' yet there's nothing about the Don Draper comparisons that is lost on me."
It's true "Mad Men" is not the country's most watched program -- that title belongs to NBC's Sunday Night Football, which averaged 20.7 million viewers each game this season. But no one seemed to explain to Scocca that a football analogy doesn't quite work when writing about slow changes to the sexist attitudes in corporate America.