Opinion | Pop Culture

Jesus Never Said, 'Be True to Yourself'

So where does desire fit with God’s will?
Jesus Never Said, 'Be True to Yourself'
Image: Jaimie Trueblood / AMC

For all that the AMC series Mad Men gets wrong about desire, they know this to be true: to be human is to want.

Set in the '60s, the show thrives on "the drinking, the smoking, the lack of seat belts — [the dark appeal] of living without boundaries." At the end of the first half of their final season, Peggy Olson, who's risen to copy chief, is turning 30. Though she's turned down convention for career, and like Don Draper, lived by her desires, she wonders: Were those the right choices?

Mad Men is not a show you have to watch in order to understand its premise. It peddles very familiar cultural formulations of desire and want.

"Trying to match your desires to a vague notion of the ideal is exhausting — and you can, in fact, listen to what your mind and body seems to be yearning for instead of battling to shut it up," writes Anne Helen Peterson. In her essay, "What Peggy Olson Has Taught Me About Doing It My Way," Petersen admires ...

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