The Mad Men season finale was a great end to the season and my favorite moment of the show got me wondering about the question posed in this post’s title. Are you a bad person if you let someone you love fail because it benefits you?
The scene involved Don questioning his wife Megan’s mother about how she could leave her daughter alone in her drunken state. The mother in law stole the show by stating in so many words that she is your problem now not mine. In addition, she offered the wise but Machiavellian advice to let her fail in her dreams of becoming an actress and that both their lives (but especially his) would be happier in the long run. Don did not take the advice to heart and eventually pulled strings for his wife using his leverage to get her an advertising role. He put her happiness over his own but did he make a wise move?
Only time will tell but I believe he made an unwise move to trade his wife’s short term happiness for his own long term happiness. The mother in law knew her daughter best and although she seemed judgemental and cruel she knows her daughters prospects in the entertainment industry. After all Megan was not able to make it talent wise on her own she never made headway into the biz prior to meeting Don and even now is living a lash lifestyle while still struggling as a would be artist. She stooped pretty low to ask for Don’s help to land an advertising acting role after previously packing up and declaring it is Broadway or bust. The key question I would be asking myself if I was Don is how far is she willing to go to accomplish her dreams and would the casting couch be part of the equation if it helped land a big role?
The original marriage deal involved Megan having a career in advertising plus a supporting role to enable Don’s high flyer lifestyle. She flipped the script by deciding she wanted to be an actress quitting her job and making it clear that she would pursue her dream even if it meant extending travel away from him. She unilaterally changed the deal without taking into account his needs. Wow this is deep stuff is this the 60s or the 2012s.
The writing is on the wall now and we know how this is going to end. The final scene of the season showed a glimpse into Don’s future. His temporary domestic life of comfort is going to come crashing down next season and he is going to return to the adventurous/wreckless high achieving individual that led to his success. Even though he wanted a stable family life with a doting wife it is just not to be for a man like Don. He is what he is and he is starting to recognize that and slowly getting his edge back.