Don and Peggy define themselves through their work all too often, and if that work is taken away from them or eroded of meaning, they’re stuck in a world where all they can think about is how little meaning life has outside of the meaning you construct for yourself. But even that meaning collapses in the face of despair or sorrow or death. Without work to give them meaning, without each other to bounce off of, what do Don and Peggy have left? Only the knowledge that they, too, will die, and that much of their lives have been hollow attempts to fill that void.
“What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons,” Don says in the very first episode of the series. Sometimes it seems like he believes that. Don’s version of love is not a great kind of love. It’s petty and nasty, and he can be capricious, withholding, violent, and dishonest. And that’s just if you marry him! Don and Peggy love each other, but they’re not people who are good at giving or accepting love. More important than their love, then, is simply their bond. These are people who are attached, for better or worse, for forever, in a relationship that’s not sexual, not parental, but not quite student-teacher, and not really mentor-mentee anymore. They’re not best friends. They’re not even always co-workers. Parents die, people divorce, they move to California, they die in childbirth, they place their children for adoption, they flee the borough, they change their name, they have anonymous sex. People come and go, even people you’re supposed to love who are supposed to love you. Peggy and Don are people with abandonment issues, and love does not preclude abandonment.Togetherness does. And Peggy and Don? Boy are they together. (x)