Why Mad Men’s Megan has to be cheating on Don Draper

I think Megan Draper is cheating on Don in Mad Men. There, I’ve said it, I’ve spread salacious gossip and this isn’t Heat magazine, but it’s okay, because it’s about fictional characters.

Worse – or perhaps typical for gossip – I have no firm evidence other than a gut instinct, but again, that’s never stopped gossip from spreading.

Spoilers are on their way.

Don Draper and his many women

Don married his secretary Megan Calvet at the end of the fourth series after what newspapers would call a whirlwind romance, and everyone else would call a panic buy.

Below are eight reasons, some good, some bad, why I think Megan is cheating on Don.

1 – Megan ‘Don Drapered’ Don.

Megan was the first to lay hands on Don
Megan was the first to lay hands on Don

Megan was the one who seduced Don, rather than the other way around. In addition to making a refreshing change for how Don operates, it shows she is prepared to go and get what she wants.

Her attitude too after sex with Don for the first time was that she wouldn’t get too attached, she wouldn’t give any problems ‘like Allison’, Don’s previous dip into the secretarial pool.

2 – It runs in the family

And Roger makes trois

Megan’s mother, Marie, indulged Roger Sterling in spot of Horatio at a reception then spent some time with him in a hotel when she came to visit in the fifth series.

While cheating does not necessarily run in the family in real life – if so the Duchess of Cambridge had best prepare herself for some distressing hacked phone calls – in TV things can be simpler. Hey, they could even just label it ‘foreshadowing’, though Mad Men doesn’t tend to do that.

3 – Megan’s spending a lot of time away from home

With her new, increasingly central soap opera role taking her away for several days at a time – and if this is true, seeing as Don presumably doesn’t get time to watch her programme – she has the time to do so without Don suspecting.

4 – Don isn’t in bed with her much

Shagged out from his new mistress, Don isn’t in bed much with Megan, but we’ve seen she has a bit of a drive.

5 – She is French(-ish)

Megan and Don
Megan is ‘only good for’ one thing, so she says

Again, this isn’t true in life, but in TV and film the French are often portrayed as the more sexually liberated – and easy – character (even in Mrs Mia Wallace out of Pulp Fiction‘s failed pilot, Fox Force Five, the French secret agent’s skill was sex).

What with their French and their alleged propensity ménage-a-trois and all that, Megan as an ‘exotic’ French Canadian is in contrast to wholesome, all-American Betty who would never do that – she held out till she had split with Don.

6 – She would want revenge on Don

For all their rows on-screen and what we may not know about off-screen, Megan has always been more direct than Betty. She is also pretty sharp and may even suspect or know about Don’s affair.

While Betty would row with Don, it was usually quite childlike with the silent treatment, while Megan has been more direct and passionate – hurled plates, followed by make-up sex. She could well see an affair as ‘revenge’, particularly as she’s declared that sex is ‘all she’s good for’. We wants to be seduced at times, though it bordered on the creepy.

7 – She knows he’s a cheater

Megan seduced Don while he was seeing Dr Faye Miller – and made sure he dumped her by hovering around hime when he broke up.

Going by other episodes she seems to know all about his Dick Whitman past, and why Don and Betty split, so she knows what kind of man Don is. She may feel that what is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose.

8 – It would be interesting as a character

Don confessing his past to Betty
Don very rarely has the world hit him, but when it does it hits hard

This is my favourite as Don has only ever been the cheater, whether it was on Betty, Faye or, now, Megan.

As a character we have yet to see Don deal with being betrayed. True, we saw him react when Lane Pryce betray his trust by embezzling from SCDP, but it was a one-off and we have yet to see Don react to the ultimate betrayal of an affair.

In terms of character development it would be one of the few big themes left to explore. Most of the other major character have achieved their main goals: Don is partner at a prosperous and secure SCDP with a wife he doesn’t hate (yet); Peggy is in a Don-level position and is respected for it; Pete seems to be getting what he wants, a partnership and a devoted wife; Joan is now a partner, though we haven’t seen much about her love life this series; Megan has her man and a promising acting career. Of the major characters, Roger is the only one with a potential series-long arc to explore this series, at least going on what we saw in the first two episodes.

One sign that I also suspect this is that the writers have brought in a new, ambitious character in Bob Benson, the man with two coffees – one to donate to Don, naturally – and who sent sandwiches to Mrs Sterling’s wake.

Mad Men has had a strong focus on desire, whether it is in advertising products, ambition or love and relationships. Every episode focuses on these three aspects of desire, and the series usually has a strong story arc relating to relationships and ambition. With Bob Benson brought in for ambition, there is an arc missing for relationship.

Though we have seen Don back to his old ways, I think this may be a red herring to the real arc. We have seen Don deal with cheating on his wife before, now we need to see Don deal with being cheated on.

Comments are open as usual.

By Jonathan Richardson

Jonathan Richardson is a writer and the editor of Considered Words.

He's worked as a journalist, writer and analyst for organisations including the BBC and Which? He's also written for the stage in Cambridge, radio and sketches at the Edinburgh festival.

He's now a freelance writer and data analyst.

2 replies on “Why Mad Men’s Megan has to be cheating on Don Draper”

Believe it or not I just binge watched this whole series and the disturbing part that was never addressed is that Megan was cheating on Don draper when she moved to California. Megan in beginning of her new career rejected the advances of her bosses. Now in California she easily gave Don draper her girlfriend that night. In my opinion she was doing this all along while she was in California because she did it so easily like it was had done many times only with other people besides Don. I’m just don’t know why they didn’t ever expose her cheating on the series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *