Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Fond and Tearful (But Not At All Cynical) Farewell to Mad Men

After seven rather brilliant seasons, AMC's Mad Men takes its final bow this week, with what may be the best damn finale in television history - as well as the perfect way to end such a show. For those who have not yet seen the final episode, and wish to spend their time, spoiler free, then you should probably go somewhere else until you have seen the episode. Ye have been warned. For all those still with me, wasn't that the perfect ending!? Yes it was Kevyn, is the only correct response to that query.

Matthew Weiner's groundbreaking (yes, groundbreaking!) period drama, spanning the entirety of the 1960's (even spilling over into the opening year of the seventies) has always been about one thing. Yes, the show tackled everything from the dangers of smoking to the inherent sexism of the period, but over all of that, mad men was about consumerism. Good old fashioned consumerism. Some say that consumerism has taken over our lives in more modern times. Some may be correct. Sure, without consumerism, our economy would tank (even worse than it has), and therefore it is a necessary thing. Some people are just overly sensitive to the seemingly all-encompassing modern day consumerism. Ads are everywhere now, even in places like gas pumps and taxi cabs, and yes, it can all be a bit daunting. but, alas, it is something our economy needs, in order to survive. Sure, we probably don't need it to the near-omnipresent state that we now have it, but we do need it. And with this need for consumerism, we also need advertising, and in turn, those people who are the creative forces behind these ads. This brings us to Mad Men. I knew I'd get there eventually.

Back in the early days of the advertising boom that followed the economic boom of the 1950's, Mad Men takes a look at these ad men...and yes, these were ad MEN in 1960. By the end of the show's run, in 1970, there were a few women who made their way up the ladder. One made it there on her back, but then went on to prove herself more than worthy of the position of power she found herself in. The other began as a mere secretary (the show's first episode is this character's first day at the ad firm of Sterling-Cooper) and later became one of those aforementioned creative forces behind some of the best ads of the times. One can claim that this character, Peggy Olsen (my favourite of the show btw - forget Betty or Joan, it was Peggy who stole my heart), is as much the star of the show as Don Draper ever was, but let's face facts - this was the story of Don Draper, and how he changed both the advertising world, and himself - the latter part literally, as he stole another man's identity. But hey, if you are still reading this, then you are most likely a Mad Men fan, and have no need for any sort of attempt at a series synopses. So let's get on with things and talk about that ending. That fantastic, near-perfect series finale. Yes, the final episode, as a whole may not have been one of the better episodes, but that last scene, those final few moments, were pure, unadulterated Mad men bliss.

After a Kerouacian journey to find out just who he is (Don Draper? Dick Whitman? Somebody else altogether?), and just what and where is his place in this world, Don Draper ends up on a commune on the coast of California. About as far away from Madison Avenue as one could get. Having failed at relationship after relationship, and then it ends with that knowing smirk, and then that iconic Coke ad. Seriously, it has been four days now, and that damn song is still in my head. But anyhoo, back to that ending, that finale. Some have whined that it was an easy out to end the series (some even claim it was a cynical finale), but in my not so humble opinion, it was the perfect coda for a show about consumerism - and not at all cynical. Sure, it does have a taste of ambiguity (did he really go back and create that ad or was it just an empty coda to the story, and Don really did find himself in the California sun), but however one looks at it, the show could not have ended any other way - and it should not have ended any other way. But enough of my gushing and rambling. Mad Men was one of my favourite shows (and may be the best drama ever on television) and it will be missed. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. Now let's finish on a different note. Here's my darling Peggy, in the third from final episode, being the rock star she was always meant to be.


2 comments:

  1. I have to say I never saw Mad Men on a regular basis. I never could find it on the right channel. I don't have netflix either. What I saw I loved. Last weekend AMC had a marathon so I did watch a few and I did watch the last 7 episodes which is cheating but I don't care. I loved it when Peggy walked down that hall after finally getting her own office. She was the essence of a confident, independent woman. I did not think Draper created that iconic Coke commercial because he had finally found peace and a new way to exist that he didn't find in his other life. It was a great ending...I also loved that the grey haired guy ended up with that nutty Canuck Quebecois woman

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    1. Oh, I think Don went back. He found himself...he found that he was happy doing what he did best. If you watch, you can see people in the Coke ad, dressed like people at the commune. And yes, Peggy does rock.

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