On AMC’s Mad Men this season, Megan Draper (Jessica Paré), the actress wife of Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, has had some success in her own career, landing a meaty role on an ongoing daily soap opera where she’s now playing twins Colette and Corinne.
In this week’s episode (“The Better Half”), Megan took to the balcony of the Manhattan apartment she shares with her adulterous husband. Nearby, Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) has accidentally stabbed her boyfriend, Abe (Charlie Hofheimer), thinking he was an intruder. As he’s rushed to the hospital, Megan contemplates her future and her marriage to Don as nearby ambulance sirens fill the air. Crime is on the rise and tensions throughout the city are flaring.
Dressed in a simple white t-shirt emblazoned with a red star, Megan in that moment deeply resembles Sharon Tate, the pregnant actress wife of director Roman Polanski, who was murdered in 1969 by followers of Charles Manson. In fact, Tate wore the same t-shirt as the one Megan is wearing in a 1967 Esquire magazine shoot. And thus, an Internet conspiracy theory was born.
This theory took hold earlier this week on Reddit and quickly filtered through the Internet as the week wore on. Over on UPROXX, Dustin Rowles has taken things even further, taking an even closer look at the Mad Men Season 6 poster, which he felt held some cryptic clues about Megan’s potential fate:
Not only does that poster allude to the “better halves” and the Dick Whitman/Don Draper stuff that’s been going on all season, but the police presence does suggest something more sinister on the horizon. Before the season started, many of us jokingly suggested that this season would contain a murder based on the poster, but now it’s not so much a joke. Combine that with the break-in in Don’s apartment in last week’s episode, plus Abe’s stabbing, and it all seems to SCREAM an oncoming homicide. This is the period in NYC where crime began to rise precipitously. The sirens during Megan’s scene on the balcony in this week’s episode were loud enough to mean something (they weren’t just faint background noises), and it’s worth noting this: Sharon Tate’s murder was one of mistaken identity.
You could spin a lot of theories about what seems like the impending murder of Megan Draper, from it being another break-in (foreshadowed by Grandma Ida), to a case of mistaken identity (foreshadowed by Peggy’s stabbing of Abe), to Don being the murderer (there is a Draper walking to and from the crime scene in the poster), to BOB BENSON because OF COURSE BOB BENSON. Or maybe it’s Dr. Rosen, who finds out about Draper’s affair with Sylvia, who kills Megan after mistaking her for Draper.
Putting aside the impossibility that Arnold Rosen (Brian Markinson) would mistake Megan for her male spouse, does the theory actually hold any weight?
While the allusion to Tate is intriguing, it doesn’t currently appear that the show is building towards some massive twist this season whereby Megan is murdered by followers of the Helter Skelter-obsessed madman. Yes, Megan is an actress and, prior to her death, Tate was as well. Tate was eight and a half months pregnant when she was murdered and Megan suffered a miscarriage earlier this season on Mad Men. Tate was stabbed (16 times, according to the coroner’s report), while this week’s episode featured Abe getting stabbed in a case of mistaken identity. (Twice, it should be noted.) And, yes, the poster for Season 6 of Mad Men does feature Don holding onto the hand of (an unseen) Megan… and also a worrisome amount of police officers.
(Last season, much conjecture was made of the death imagery swirling around Vincent Kartheiser’s Pete Campbell, with many viewers predicting he would commit suicide before the season was out. While it was Jared Harris’ Lane Pryce who hanged himself, Weiner denied that suicide was ever discussed as a possibility for Pete. “It was completely unconscious on my part,” Weiner told me earlier this year. “I know the character of Pete very well and I don’t see Peter Campbell as someone who would ever commit suicide. He is very judgmental about mental illness. He eventually said it in Episode 13 that he views it as weak, and that was already written and shot when all of this hubbub started.”)
While the allusion to Tate was “no coincidence,” according a Twitter conversation between the show’s costume designer, Janie Bryant, and the daughter of the photographer that had shot Tate for the Esquire spread. While Bryant indicated that the iconic Esquire shoot had “inspired Megan’s look,” it’s possible that viewers are reading too much into that t-shirt.
In fact, Bryant indicated in an interview with The Daily Beast that Weiner was merely looking for a “political” allusion to include in Megan’s wardrobe when she’s seen standing on the couple’s Manhattan balcony as sirens blare in the distance.
“There was that moment of [Megan] just being at home—it's summer time and it's hot again,” Bryant told The Daily Beast. “We get to see another time in her life. In terms of the t-shirt, Matthew Weiner had just said, 'It would be great to have something political.' I had done so much research of different political t-shirts, and found a picture of Sharon Tate from Esquire magazine. It’s the Vietnam star. We saw a little bit of how Megan was so upset after Bobby Kennedy was shot, it really is so much a part of the turmoil happening during that period—really this is the time filled with civil unrest. [And New York] was really a decaying city.”
So should the allusion to the Vietnam War trump that of doomed Sharon Tate? It’s too early to tell, but for now, it appears, this is one crazy Internet theory that’s simply too out there to be true.