Matthew Price, writer and book critic
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The Same Man: Dexter Morgan and Don Draper

As the publicity for the upcoming season of “Mad Men” builds to a frenzy—with 16 Emmy nominations, it’s no longer just a cult fave—I’ve been mulling something that no one seems to have pointed out. Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” and Michael C. Hall of “Dexter” have been doing some of the most interesting work on TV over the last few years. “Dexter’s” macabre delights and “Mad Men’s” delirious period style have rightly been acclaimed, but what strikes me is the similarities between their lead characters. I realize that a serial killer and an ad man might not be the most natural pairing—but Hamm’s Don Draper and Hall’s Dexter Morgan, outwardly studies in conformity, going along to fit in, are desperate men. Gnawed at by an emotional blankness, they summon counterfeit emotions when they’re forced to do so—especially with their romantic partners, the stunning January Jones and the beguiling Julie Benz, respectively—but they are both seemingly incapable of any genuine feeling. They don’t know what to do with themselves. (Unlike Dexter, however, I think Don Draper is at least capable of feeling something—perhaps Season 2 will tells us what exactly that is.)

Is this a new commentary on a particular kind of masculinity? “Dexter” and “Mad Men” are far more revealing about men and women than HBO’s “Tell Me You Love Me,” which put it all out on the table, but didn’t really get down to emotions on a gut level.


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