Sisterhood Blog

Another Jewish Flame for Mad Men's Don Draper?

By Sarah Seltzer

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Actress Cara Buono, who plays Dr. Faye Miller on ‘Mad Men.’

Actress Cara Buono, who plays Dr. Faye Miller, psychologist and new paramour for Don Draper on “Mad Men,” has been making the interview rounds recently as her character’s role expands. Despite her cool blond exterior, Dr. Miller is a girl from the neighborhood, and she may even be a Jewess.

Some have noticed the distinctly Yiddish origins of a particularly salty kiss-off Dr. Miller shouted from a payphone as well as the New York ethnic accent that slips out when she’s heated or vulnerable. We know her dad is a candy-store owner with Mafia connections, and that like Don, her chic exterior hides a less privileged past. So of course, we’ve been wondering: Is she really a Jewish girl, or did she just have Yiddish-speaking neighbors in the borough of her youth?

In an interview with the LA Times, Buono seems to confirm the former: “She’s also Jewish. The line she says in the phone booth when she’s telling her boyfriend off. ‘Go … in the ocean.’ That’s an English translation of a Yiddish expression. And her father, though he’s a gangster, he’s not of Italian descent.”

If this is true (and it may just be inference on Buono’s part), it’s an interesting choice for the show, whose writers made such a big deal of the firm’s, and Don’s anti-Semitism in the first season — just before he began having an affair with the beguiling Jewish department-store heiress Rachel Menken, a character beloved by the Sisterhood. In those early episodes, the Jewish characters were branded as the ultimate outsiders. But recently, the last name “Siegel” attached to one character and this hint about Dr. Miller suggest that Jews may be more accepted as part of the crowd — one character is coming back from Hollywood using expressions like “gonifs” — and also that not every Jew on Madison Avenue is as wedded to being open about their background as the Menken clan.

Many of us religious “Mad Men” watchers noticed the similarities between Miller and Menken long before the Yiddish joke got slipped in. Assertive, childless career women who initially reject Don’s advances before succumbing, both women are his equals, perhaps his moral superiors, and both receive confidences about his past. But the circumspect Miller with her fake wedding ring and her shady connections may not just be emblematic of how things have changed in terms of the acceptance of Jews, but also someone who is more of a real match for the secret-holding Don Draper than was upright Rachel. Whether or not Don can stand being in a relationship with someone who knows the truth about him remains to be seen.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Mad Men, Faye Miller, Cara Buono, Don Draper

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.