And just like that, Mad Men opens its fourth season with a meta wink at its audience. The truth is, however, that even after three seasons of watching the show, viewers might be just as flummoxed as Don when trying to come up with an answer to that question. Because Don Draper - the successful ad man who, at the start of this season, has made a splash for himself and his new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, with a fancy floor wax commercial that looks more like a movie than an ad - is nothing more than a shadow, a creation.
The show's history has taught us that Don Draper isn't Don Draper at all, but Dick Whitman, a guy from the Midwest who finds it impolite to talk about himself. Every meaningful glimpse into Don's history has come from flashbacks of him leaving behind his old life to become someone else entirely. And despite his best efforts to keep his true self hidden from his wife, the secret came out, ending the Draper marriage. At the same time, the empire Don built for himself at Sterling Cooper came tumbling down, forcing him to build something of his own.
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