Is Megan Draper Becoming Sharon Tate?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
May 29 2013 2:15 PM

Is Megan Draper Becoming Sharon Tate?

megan_madmen
Jessica Paré

Michael Yarish/AMC

One proof of Mad Men’s greatness, for me, lies in its ability to support endless, sometimes contradictory theories. Every Monday morning when it’s on the air, approximately 17.6 percent of Internet chatter is devoted to reading Matthew Weiner’s tea leaves—and every week, a great deal of that amateur analysis is utterly convincing.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

This week’s episode, “The Better Half,” was particularly juicy. Slate’s Seth Stevenson, for example, made some exceptionally perceptive points about its Jungian duality. And over at Warming Glow, Dustin Rowles pointed to a discussion that first surfaced on Reddit, linking Megan Draper to Sharon Tate, a model and actress—and the wife of Roman Polanski, a powerful shaper of images—who was murdered by the Manson family in 1969, when she was eight and a half months pregnant.

megan_madmen_2
Jon Hamm and Jessica Paré in a still from Mad Men

AMC

Advertisement

Earlier this season, Megan, currently enjoying some success as a soap-opera actress, revealed that she, too, had been pregnant, although she miscarried. She lives in a beautiful, but vulnerable apartment—a few weeks ago, an elderly woman gained access by simply walking through an unsecured door—in a city that’s experiencing serious social disruption. The biggest clue, though, was that Megan wore a T-shirt just like one worn by Tate in a 1967 photo shoot. (See the still from the show on the left.) The Megan-Sharon connection went from fanciful to undeniable once Mad Men costume supremo Janie Bryant responded to a tweet from the daughter of the man who took those 1967 photographs asking if Tate had “inspired Megan’s look.” Bryant’s answer? “no coincidence!” Apparently, Bryant really did have those photos in mind.

What does it all mean? Well, that’s harder to say, obviously. Matthew Weiner seems to take particular pleasure in making viewers anxious about his show’s characters. In Season 5, the writers expended a good deal of energy generating concern for Pete Campbell. They titled the episode in which Pete was learning to drive “Signal 30,” which was also the title of a driving-safety movie that featured images of dead and severely injured drivers in mangled cars. And yet one year later, that conflicted, contradictory weasel of a man still walks the Earth.

Despite Weiner’s history of misdirection, I am very worried about Megan. If there’s one area in which Mad Men enforces a subtle but strict code, it’s in the realm of costuming. As Tom & Lorenzo have chronicled in their spectacular “Mad Style” series, Janie Bryant often uses wardrobe to signal what’s ahead for the characters. Following that lead, Tom & Lorenzo actually likened Megan’s style to Tate’s back in March, before the season even began. And, in their post on “The Better Half,” they not only link Megan’s and Tate’s shared taste in T-shirts, they also note that throughout the episode Megan’s clothes share several elements with Peggy Olson’s boyfriend Abe’s. In case you didn’t notice, during the course of this episode, Abe was stabbed in the arm by street thugs and then speared in the stomach by Peggy.

In other words, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if later this season we see Megan wearing a hospital gown—or perhaps even Don Draper in black.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.