Mad Men

Nsenga K. Burton, (2016). “Mad Men: Draper, Double Consciousness and The Invisibility of Blackness,” in The Universe is Indifferent: Theology, Philosophy and Mad Men, eds. Ann Duncan and Jacob Goodson, Cascade Press.

Abstract: AMC’s Mad Men came under scrutiny for representing a particularly white New York in the 1950s, largely devoid of people of color. Some critics and fans were so flabergasted over the lily-white representation of New York City in the show that in 2010, The Root introduced a “Mad Men Black-People Counter” to keep track of the limited representations of black characters on the show.Some critics argued that its lack of black characters was unrealistic and disturbing, while others believed that shows like Mad Men and, most recently, HBO’s Girls served as a true reflection of how life often operates: When you’re privileged, you create and live in a world where disenfranchised people don’t exist, even when they are physically present. While many argued that black people and blackness was missing from Mad Men, W.E.B. Du Bois’ theory of double consciousness is at the very nexus of the show as articulated through the narrative and stylistic elements of the show, especially the character of Don Draper. This chapter examines what cultural critic Ta-nehisi Coates calls “The Negro Don Draper,” through the lens of DuBois and Patricia Hill Collins’ theories of double and triple consciousness, arguing that race plays a major role in the show, complicating the notion that blackness is invisible on the show.
Nsenga Burton