I don’t think it occurred to me until the season finale of Archer, on which Jon Hamm voiced what was essentially the Sealab character Captain Murphy. That, along with Kristen Schall and Eugene Mirman joining their Bob’s Burgers co-star H. Jon Benjamin, made the episode one of the weirder instances of one TV show absorbing another since that Seinfeld reunion season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Now, I don’t think anyone on Mad Men has ever referred to Don’s secretary as Black Dawn, but that certainly would be on her coworkers’ minds, given what she represents to them. The partners said as much in this season’s third episode, and it’s a disambiguation that might well be made in SCDP office chatter we don’t see onscreen. At least how I’d pronounce them with my muddle-voweled California accent, Don and Dawn have the same name. Even though all the characters on the show are New Yorkers who might use different vowels, I don’t hear much of a difference between them talking about Don and them talking about Dawn.
Beyond being homophones, there’s a bit to this business with Don and Dawn. The Mad Men universe literally had two Don Drapers, to say nothing of the multiple Dons that he’s presented over the course of the show — Don in the office, Don with Betty, Don with Megan, Don with every other woman he’s stumbled into. You’d have to imagine that during his many brooding sessions Don has realized the strangeness of having a double in the office at all, no less one who acts as an extension of himself by virtue of being his secretary.
Also, don and dawn are both verbs. To don something is to put something on, and I’m sure Mad Men fans have already noted and noted again how that sense matches his last name and his habit of deceiving people. Dawn, however, means to get brighter, in the sense of a sunrise. (Dawn’s last name is Chambers, however, and it’s ironic then that a lot of her co-workers would see her skin color and think of her as darkening the room.) There’s also an extended sense of to dawn that gets even further toward being an opposite of the obscuring, cloaking associations of don: to begin to be perceived, in the sense of “the truth dawned on me.”
I’m probably overthinking this, but it would be rather on-the-nose if Dawn Chambers ended up playing some role in unmasking Don Draper. I mean, to have Black Dawn spill the beans that the other Don isn’t a Don at all but some guy named Dick Whitman? Too much.
|“dick whitman’s office. this is dawn speaking. no, the other one.”|