It feels like the end of an era. Two groundbreaking series that challenged the traditional television model with cinematic visuals, stellar writing, and an unforgettable cast are coming to an end. The Breaking Bad finale airs tomorrow, while the seventh and final season of Mad Men debuts early next year. The ambitious shows about a chemistry teacher turned meth king pin and a 1960’s New York City ad exec with a dark past seem wildly different, but the AMC dramas have more in common than first meets the eye. We take a brief look at a few of their surprising similarities past the break.
Walter White vs. Don Draper
People have been talking about the comparisons between Walter White and Don Draper since the early days of the series — and with good reason. Both men, quiet masterminds who are constantly plotting, are meticulous when it comes to their jobs. They’re also “self-made” men who shed one life for another (Dick Whitman for Don and Walt’s Mr. Chips for Scarface) and quickly rose to the top. In the end, Walt and Don are unable to truly escape themselves. Walt’s murderous alt persona, Heisenberg, steadily takes over, despite his desire to play dad and provide for his family. The broken, neglected boy within Don rears his head when he least expects it, and figures from his past make several unwelcome appearances. The facade of the American dream — Walt’s vision of himself as the devoted family man, and Don’s carefully curated image as the man who has it all — crumbles a little bit more as we edge closer to the end of their stories. In a commercial for AMC (below), Jon Hamm discussed the similarities between the characters: “I think both Walter White and Don Draper find themselves up to their ears in more than they can control. The sad part of it all is that these decisions that set them on this path, they make them with the best intentions.”