Arts and Entertainment

Epic Endings: Jimmy Barrett calls out Don Draper on Mad Men

For the first season and a half of the critically acclaimed AMC drama Mad Men, suave creative director/ professional womanizer Don Draper manages to cheat on his wife an alarming number of times with virtually zero consequences.

Don develops a secret romantic fling with Bobbie Barrett, the wife/manager of famous insult comic Jimmy Barrett, who Sterling Cooper has commissioned as the comedic host for an Utz Potato Chip commercial.  Jimmy himself is no saint, as evidenced by his massive ego and the fact he cruelly insults the Utz Potato Chip owners’ wife for pretty much no reason other than being overweight.

Bobbie and Don’s secret relationships endures several twists and turns and ultimately ends.  One evening shortly after, Don and his wife Betty are attending a party thrown in Jimmy’s honor. Jimmy is up to his usual antics, spouting humorous statements left and right, fully engaged in entertainment mode. Near the end of the event, Jimmy says to Don “You know what I like about you? Nothing.”

Since insulting people is Jimmy’s comedic profession, Don initially grins and seems to brush off the statement. But then Jimmy freaking destroys him. It is impossible to truly convey the sheer epic qualities of this short sequence in writing, so please watch the video below:

Due to the fact Jimmy is both a comedian and a raging alcoholic, every scene he occupies prior involves rattling off slightly humorous one-liners and displaying the mannerisms of an infant. Now the childish demeanor is gone, replaced by ice-cold, chilling contempt.

This scene is amazing beyond belief purely because it represents the first instance anyone has ever called Don out on his adulterous ways.  And it’s coming from a short, alcoholic comedian who up until that point demonstrated the behaviors commonly associated with a prepubescent child. It also shows how Jimmy is infinitely more intelligent and aware then he is perceived to be, and intent on ensuring his feelings be heard. The icing on the cake is how Jimmy instantly reverts back to comedian mode the moment Betty arrives next to Don.

The episode ends soon after Don and Jimmy’s encounter.

I remember watching this scene for the first time and getting goose bumps.  It is the first real confrontation Don experiences related to his womanizing habits, and the encounter is simply chilling. While I love the character of Don Draper more than I hate him, I tip my hat to Jimmy for finally putting him in his place.

Course, Don ends up getting revenge.


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