I love watching AMC’s “Mad Men.” It combines my fascination with advertising, my love of 1960s style, and irresistibly dysfunctional characters. Protagonist Don Draper (played by actor Jon Hamm) is the most messed up of them all. Even though he’s a fun and interesting character to watch as he slowly spirals downward each season, I’m sincerely glad I don’t work for him. Here’s why (careful – spoilers ahead!):
- His motivation style – Don inspires his protégée, Peggy, by never praising her. He pushes her to her creative limits every time they have a new advertising client. It’s not until Peggy leaves Don for another advertising firm that he finally admits that he is happy with her work. For every employee, Don is intimidating and domineering. I much prefer working with supervisors who like to joke around and compliment my work.
- His work ethic – Don parties all night, has a bar in his office, and leaves in the middle of the work day to have dalliances with his girlfriend de jour. Every season, I’m amazed when characters drink hard liquor and smoke in their offices. When Don’s had a particularly rough night, he sleeps on the couch in his office and changes into the spare shirt he keeps in his desk drawer. Don leaves his employees and coworkers to pick up the slack and cover for him on multiple occasions. Only in the most recent season – season 6 – did one of Don’s partners at the firm finally call him out on his unprofessional behavior. I think most people would rather their workplace was free of drunk bosses who skip meetings whenever they feel like it.
- His inability to cope – Don’s various affairs, extended vacations, instances of literally running away, and alcoholism all point to one thing: Don cannot handle the stress in his life. But working in New York City, starting your own firm, and raising a family are stressful! I would hate to work with someone who was under constant pressure and could never handle it. Don is always on the precipice, about ready to snap. I don’t want to be there when he does!
So even though I work in advertising and Don is an advertising savant, I’m glad I don’t work with him. It’s entertaining to watch characters ruin their lives and do a horrible job at work, but not fun to interact with them in real life.