After last season ended with a woman hitting on Don Draper, and Don Draper giving her—and us—that “I’m up for it” look, I feared we’d get a season just like the one we now have. I know the shot was meant to be ambiguous, but it never really struck me that way. I’ve written quite a bit about my annoyance with pop culture’s current obsession with cynicism, darkness, and anti-heroes. It’s not so much that I pine for naiveté, as I pine for something different and new—especially in the same series. Watching Don Draper in his sixth season, I can’t escape the feeling that I’m watching Don Draper in his third season.
Except he’s lost something. Don is a beautiful philandering stud. That was always there but it was wrapped in so much more—his role as father to a young daughter (gone thus far), his role as a kind of father to Peggy (gone by necessity of plot), his relationship with Roger as some future image of himself (also gone), his relationship with Anna (gone to the grave), his fear of unmasking (seemingly also gone.) What’s left is a dude who makes adultery look beautiful."