This is the story of America, this assimilation. Because guess what, this guy Don has the same problems. He’s hiding his identity, too. That’s why Rachel Menken understands Don, because they’re both trying desperately to be white American males.This might sound confusing since Don Draper was a white American male, played by a white American male actor. Don Draper is an avatar for the Jewish experience of otherness. It is not about Don being a symbol of declining mid-20th centruy American power. Don never declines. He actually rises to control the Coca-Cola marketing that shows up on your television screen repeatedly. He is not the symbol of the reduction of male power through the '60s, as he ends the decade a multi-millionaire with young, strange women still sleeping with him. The Draper experience is the 2nd half of the 20th century Jewish life.
Let's review Don Draper's life.
1. He is born in the '20s to a poor family.
2. He reinvents himself, living a lie to cover his roots to everyone around him to fit into rich and powerful white NYC society.
3. He has great verbal IQ and is creative.
4. He is a sales man, a hustler, a smooth schmoozer.
5. He is a degenerate.
6. He lies constantly.
7. He always has one foot out the door.
8. He is in high need of praise to feel good about himself.
9. He marries a good blonde WASP.
10. He is self centered, self obsessed and constantly hung up on his background and history.
Don is Dick Whitman (white man) might be from Appalachia Pennsylvania, but is definitely rural prole. You could erase that childhood bio, substitute born to a poor Jewish immigrant family that lived in settlement houses and read Marxists texts, and the rest of his life would be the same and stereotypical of many succesful Jewish guys' lives in 20th and now 21st Century New York. Jordan Belfort is Don Draper-esque but a full blown criminal. The Ivy League is full of children of these Jewish men who married outside their faith after they "made it". I met an assortment of Cashews (Catholic-Jewish), Mu-shews (Methodist-Jewish) and P-shews (Protestant-Jewish) who all had the same backstory of dad making big bucks and meeting a cute shiksa.
Don's feeling of an outsider, unaware of how the establishment works, is the Jewish POV of that old WASP leadership gang. He is an outside observer, new to this world of money and success. His worry that they will always uncover his secret and cast him out mirrors the nagging feeling in that Jewish, middle man minority mind. Don apes the look, thoughts and actions of the WASPs he has to deal with, but he never feels quite at home. Don constantly feels like he is a fraud and needs validation in everything he does, which is an amazing neurosis for such a successful man. The fear is not just in his environment but in his identity, his core. That is not a stereotypical WASP or white concern but more in line with the self-obsessed culture and religion that spawned psychoanalysis (Dr. Freud's).
Steve Sailer has been all over Matt Weiner's retconned childhood fueling this show. Sadly, Weiner's lack of dealing with the past and properly viewing the past colored this show in weird ways. Weiner is a critically acclaimed Hollywood artist with a very high net worth, yet he cannot let anything go. That is something stressed in the finale where Don says to Anna Draper's niece, "blah blah put it behind you, blah it gets easier as time moves on". The irony is it does not. Draper was standing in California in 1970 at the end of a weird odyssey, strangely trying to fix a woman he barely knew who was the niece of the wife of the man he assumed the identity of, defeating his very statement. That is not Draper talking. Those are Weiner's written words. This is Weiner's creation, his story, so stop looking at Don Draper for the handsome, Anglo male of money and power that he appears to be. See him for what he is: a vessel to tell the story of insecure Jewish Americans coming to grips with their place in the American power structure. It is 2015, and even now, they do not want to admit it.