I can’t remember why I started watching Mad Men. I think I heard so many great things I had to see it for myself. I also don’t remember when I fell in love with the incredible cast of characters. It didn’t happen at the same time. I fell in love with Betty instantly just because of how beautiful January Jones is. Maybe Don after a great pitch. Its hard not to love Roger immediately. Pete is a bitter pills to swallow, but you eventually appreciate them all. It obviously wasn’t that first time we saw a handsome and troubled white man on TV before. Period pieces are also not a new invention. There was something about the slow burn of it all. The workplace drama, the deteriorating marriage, and the endless pursuit of happiness. The show slowly put its vintage hands around me and I fell into the male-dominated, white-privileged world created by Matthew Weiner.
At the center of it all is Don Draper, played incredibly by Jon Hamm. Over the course of 7 season we see him live a life he knows isn’t his. That truth is stuck in his core, and keeps him from ever truly loving or finding happiness. Maybe at one point he believed he loved Betty, but over time it became hollow like the Barbie and Ken dolls they resembled. There were a number of women Don reached out to in times of loneliness, and he found momentary comfort with them, but it never lasted. Just like his satisfaction at the workplace. Despite working on some of the best ads of his time, and getting some of the biggest companies in the world he always wanted we he couldn’t have. Burger Shack, Chevy, Coke. All the big white whales he couldn’t get his hands on kept him working. He’s been an alcoholic, divorced twice, fired from his own company and somehow made it back because of his good looks, his charm and his creative edge. Ultimately, he knew how to bullshit.
Mad Men’s final season has been unique because it never alluded to the idea of finality. The lives of these people just kept going. Their expectation just change, they make bad decisions and keep going to work. What has made this show interesting for me is the look into the white reality in the 1960s. Although this is a fictional show there is a lot of truth to how these folks behave and interact. The desire to move up the corporate ladder, the insatiable appetite for more money, more power, more women, more control, or more freedom is fascinating. Pete, for example, will never be happy. Although he might’ve had the most fairytale-like ending, he will eventual grow tired and seek something different.
In the end Don is on his cross country trip. Running away from McCann, and his responsibilities. In the final shot he’s sitting in a yoga pose. He gets a small grin on his face and it cuts away. Then we see the iconic Coke ad from 1971. It is to be assumed that Don returned to McCann and deliver the greatest pitch of all-time. I was uncertain about the ending now, but why not end with one of the greatest ads ever created? And why not have our main character create it? The idea that Don still goes back to work after his trek across the country is both sad, clever and comical. A great end to one of the greatest shows of our time. It is, in fact, the end of an era.