Mad Men is famously fastidious in its attention to detail, but for some Canadians there has been one glaring misstep over the years: the way it portrays its Québécois character, Megan Calvet Draper.
As the series comes to a close, Montreal actress Jessica Paré says she has been vaguely aware of complaints that the Calvet family doesn't seem typically Québécois. Online nitpickers have suggested Megan's first and last name aren't very French-Canadian, and took issue with the French spoken by British actress Julia Ormond, who plays Megan's mother, Marie, and Belgian-born actor Ronald Guttman, as her father, Emile.
Paré says Ormond worked with a coach on her French accent. "[Creator] Matt [Weiner] is making an American TV show and it goes really fast and we all do the best we can," she said in a recent phone interview from Palm Springs, Calif. "As for my accent, I grew up there and I spoke both French and English."
The Calvets took centre stage in the April 12 episode, when Marie and Megan's sister, Marie-France (played by Canadian actress Kim Bubbs), arrived to help Megan move out of the New York pad she shared with philandering ad man Don Draper. That episode included substantial exchanges in French between the bickering women.
Paré said she enjoyed getting to flip between English and French for the show, noting "it's not something that you get to do very often" on a U.S. series. And she understands why Canadians especially would seize on the Calvet storyline in the drama, which airs Sundays on AMC. "When it's really close to home … we want to see it portrayed the way that we perceive it. But it's also TV – [there's] a little creative expression," she said.
When last seen, Megan finalized a bitter divorce with Don and was about to begin a new chapter with a million-dollar settlement. "Her time with Don has really taken a lot out of her, taken a lot of her joy and a lot of her optimism," Paré says of Megan, who looked the other way as Don wandered. "That obviously can embitter a person. But I believe in Megan. She's an optimist, so she'll be fine. Especially with a million dollars."
Paré, who welcomed a baby boy five weeks ago, is watching the final episodes eager to learn how things turn out, noting she's "as much, or more, of a fan as anyone else." Although she said the cast will likely reunite to celebrate the end of the series, she'll miss going to set every day. "The work was so fulfilling – that doesn't happen everywhere."