I was watching Long Weekend tonight, and taking extensive notes. I’ll have more to say later on. But for now, I was noticing this. That Don is not a womanizer.

People all over the Internet are angry at Don for cheating on Betty. And yeah, Don’s a cheater. An adulterer. These are bad things and we can be mad at Don. But he’s not a skirt-chaser. He’s not, to put it plainly, Roger Sterling. (And I have some thoughts about Roger I’ll also be fleshing out—no pun intended—in the near future.)

In Long Weekend, Roger says he wants to use Don “as bait.” He knows the way to go is to pick up two young women and end up with one. This isn’t new; he’s after the same thing in Red In the Face, and only wrangles an invitation to dinner when his plan fails.

Roger is a womanizer. He wants warm, lovely flesh. He wants a young woman to remind him of youth. He wants beauty and soft skin and lips like strawberries in milk. Don wants something different.

When Don says he wants to go home he means it. He doesn’t want to be with Roger, with twenty year-olds on their laps. He’s a bad husband, but he believes in the salvation of being a husband and having a family. And it’s when that salvation doesn’t pan out that he goes for Midge, and then for Rachel. He tells Rachel in Smoke Gets in Your Eyes that he doesn’t believe in love, but he’s deeply romantic; he believes each of these women might save him.

I’ll tell you something else: Don Draper married Betty, but Dick Whitman went for Midge and for Rachel. Dick Whitman is the one attracted to Midge’s taste of Bohemia, and to Rachel’s aloneness and motherlessness. Betty is truly and deeply being cheated, because she’s the only one who gets not even a taste of the authentic Dick Whitman within Don.

Which is…not where I thought this essay was going. Funny how these things turn out. What I started out thinking was how much we need our television heroes to eschew the getting laid side of relationships. I’m reminded of Mal Reynolds being all uncomfortable with “Saffron” (our own Christina Hendricks). He’s as horny as the next fellow, but you don’t just screw a woman because she happens to be naked in your bed! I don’t know if real men really go ahem-ahem-ahem and back away when sex is available, but I know on television you can count on it. We can sympathize even with anti-heroes if they have that quality.

Don has that quality. With the twins in Long Weekend it’s quite obvious, but it’s there in the first episode with Peggy, and in Marriage of Figaro he’s practically the only one not to hit on Helen Bishop.

Don, as I said, is a romantic. And (despite what Bert Cooper thinks), kind of a humanist. He wants to be with a female person, not a female body. He wants to be touched and moved and he wants to connect. He longs to connect. Whereas Roger has no such longing. He just wants a respite.

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