News to use: ‘Mad Men’ Addresses Its Negro Problem by Helena Andrews at The Root
(The Root) — Since Mad Men premiered in 2007, the show’s diversity (or lack thereof) has been an ongoing, real-life subplot to the series’ success. For a show set against the racially charged backdrop of the 1960s, critics say, the absence of significant black characters isn’t just an oversight; it’s inaccurate.
But last week — after five seasons — the show finally figured how to integrate without being ingratiating.
In the episode “To Have and to Hold,” secretary Dawn Chambers, the only African American employed at the storied ad firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, actually had more to say than “Good morning, Mr. Draper.” And all it took was dinner.
Dawn (played by Teyonah Parris) isn’t a revolutionary. She’s quiet, sweet and sincere to the point of goody-two-shoe-dom. Unlike Don’s other secretaries — Peggy, who became his protégé, and Megan, who became his second wife — Dawn seemingly has no bigger aspirations than doing her job so well she gets to keep it.
“What am I gonna do? Throw a brick through their window?” asks Dawn once she finally gets the opportunity to vent some of her frustrations to someone who looks like her, someone who might actually understand — a friend whose wedding Dawn is in.