family feud

Homeland Versus Mad Men: Are the Brodys the New Drapers?

Photo: AMC; Showtime

Last night on Homeland, “perfect” mother and wife Jessica Brody gave a speech, covering for her comically predisposed husband. In it, she discussed the importance of family. The thing she hinted at but didn’t quite reveal is that her family is kind of screwed. The patriarch is both a cheater and living a life-altering lie; the matriarch is becoming more and more icy and withholding as time goes on; the daughter is acting out; and the son … also exists. They resemble another famously messed-up family from another lauded TV program: the Drapers. Are the Brodys the new Drapers? We broke down the similarities between the two wonderfully doomed families.

The Father
Don Draper and Nick Brody singly represent the dominant themes of their respective shows: Don Draper is an old-guard ad executive, watching history and society move past him; Nick Brody has fought this century’s war on terror but has also seen it through the eyes of the enemy. Both are strong, silent veterans with a very dark secret. These secrets stem from the death (explosives-based) of someone close to them that left each transformed into a new man (literally, in Don’s case).

From that point forward, they both live a lie. Draper and Brody might parade around town with their perfect families, but they long to feel like themselves; they long to feel accepted for who they really are. Both attempt to find that in other women. Whether it was with Midge, Rachel, Joy, or whoever else, Don saw each, albeit temporarily, as an escape from pretending to be someone he wasn’t. With Carrie, especially during their cabin weekend, Brody felt comfortable for the first time since returning home. Though their bond was mostly rooted in her understanding of what war is like, the fact that they both knew he was a terrorist definitely helped. And that is the main difference between the two: Brody is a terrorist. Where Don might be a morally questionable liar who is very passionate, creative, cool, and likable — Brody is a fairly good, sturdy guy who also happens to be a murdering traitor. Where Don is an antihero, Brody is an anti-villain.

The Mother
Hair color aside, both Betty Draper and Jessica Brody are similarly attractive and perfectly coiffed. In the case of both women, other characters actually point out and draw attention to how impossibly attractive they are. Both seem content at being a dishy adornment on their husband’s arm. For Betty, this stems from the fact that she never actually developed her own sense of self. For Jessica it comes from her desire to climb the Washington social ladder. Yet, in reality, their marriages are far from perfect. Betty and Jessica sense their husbands are lying, whether it’s about their smaller secrets (infidelity) or bigger secrets (Dick Whitman and being a terrorist). When they find out or suspect the smaller secrets, they look to get even (Betty with the stranger in the bar, Jessica almost with Mike). When they find out about the bigger ones (though Jessica only knows the Muslim part of her husband’s other life), they are furious and never really look at their husbands the same way. For the most part, both Jessica and Betty (at least, through most of the first two seasons) are defined by how they interact with their husbands, and only as their respective marriages fall apart do they start to grow as characters.

The Daughter
Both Sally Draper and Dana Brody have, let’s say, “difficult” family situations. Most notably, they have mothers that take all their personal stuff out on them. Betty is famously an awful mother, but it has taken Jessica some time to develop her own blend of self-centeredness, callousness, and lack of affection. Making it worse is that these daughters appear to compete with their mothers for the fathers’ attention. Sally and Dana get along with their dads, understanding them in a way their wives are not willing to. Both daughters often give their fathers a very specific “Why don’t we just leave that bitch?” look. Despite putting themselves in between their parents’ marriages or maybe because of it, they’re both wise beyond their years. In turn, they’re prone to getting in and causing trouble. Sally and Dana are prototypical kids growing up too fast.

The Son
Wait, there is a son on these shows? On both shows, the son is so inconsequential that the roles could be recast over and over and no one would care. It’s happened three times on Mad Men and nobody cared. What’s the son’s name on Homeland again …

Are the Brodys the New Drapers?