As I plow through Mad Men once again, I’m struck by the way every scene touches Don Draper’s core misconception: that he is is unworthy of love and affection. There’s plenty to unpack regarding enmeshment of masculinity, personal worth, and upward mobility in a capitalist society, but these things all tie back to Don Draper’s attempt to believe he is worthy of love.
From another father-to-be in a hospital waiting room, who claims “I’m going to be a better man,” to his mistress’s epileptic brother, who says “Everyone knows sooner or later that there’s something wrong with me,” even the smallest interactions with strangers touch this core wound.
Mad Men serves as a prime example of a story that propels itself forward with even the smallest and seemingly ambiguous scenes. But I suppose what truly astounds me with this rewatch is how it’s helped me understand my own core wounds and misbeliefs.
We all have stories that we tell ourselves and moments that activate those stories. “I’m worthless,” or “I don’t deserve good things,” we tell ourselves in the moments when things don’t break our way. There’s been a barrage of moments like these for me recently. As I move into a trying personal season, it’s helpful to look to good stories for insight into overcoming my internal obstacles.
Naming the things that get to us is the first step towards beating them.