OK, let’s talk Mad Men finale

If it hadn’t had been for that real-life Coke commercial of peace and love, I might have gone home angry.

Oh, wait, I already was in my recliner of the Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood, my dear wife Karen on the couch, both us somewhat exhausted after finally wrapping up our binge-watch of Mad Men. What a long, strange trip it had been, considering we’d both been ignorant of this throwback series of seven seasons until she clicked upon it randomly on AMC a year or so ago and decided to go back to the beginning on our Netflix subscription when I was at my bowling league.

I caught the end of episode of an early season upon my return one Thursday night this winter and said let’s keep going. I, too, was hooked by the 1960s New York City life of this crew. Yeah, I was a kid, born in 1957 in Brooklyn who had moved to the suburbs of Long Island, so I had a claim of being there. I was a newspaper journalist turned blogger who always needed to be hooked into the creative side, and had three decades of need for successful team collaboration, so I’d been there. And I’d been sports editor, managing a department and sitting in on daily strategy meetings that could political at the arch or an eyebrow. Flasks in the desks were (mostly) gone by then, but after-work group marches to the nearby bar were regular. Man, could I relate to so much of what Matthew Weiner had created for AMC.

The main man. (From my flat screen)

The main man. (From my flat screen)

I have known guys who thought they were as cool and smooth as Don Draper with the women and the product, but didn’t even come close. Their effort was always noticeable with the former and hardly ever with the latter. I also knew guys who had the mojo with both, and you can just flip that statement about effort. Hell, I know them. No names, to protect the sad and glad.

But, oh, Don. What a story, of tortured genius and deceit and good intentions and hard word and stupid moves and bad outcomes and great fortune all rolled into one.

The story lines of failing marriages and advertising companies and rebuilding relationships that Weiner centered around Don Draper were compelling, all. Worthy of binge-watching on Netflix for sure. Karen and I watched, three or four shows in a row some nights. I was always rooting for Don to treat Peggy better and be the good guy he could be.

Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss made it all seem so real every episode.

The main woman. (From my flat screen)

The main woman. (From my flat screen)

Yeah, Peggy was my favorite woman of the Mad Men crew, fighting through the company gender caste system and giving up her baby and enduring Don’s forever return to the dark side and confronting her evil mother and own inner demons about her looks in a glamorous field. Peggy gave me somebody to root hard for every episode when everybody else took on that squirrelly side Weiner favored.

Weiner knew how to make every character in this show count, no matter how big or small. The wives Betty and Megan, the name partners Sterling and Cooper and the equally important players Joan and Pete. This was an ensemble cast that made every episode an important play. I soon enough decided that binge-watching was the best way to catch every nuance, too, to carry over important messages and interpret broad themes and little wiggles without weeks between shows and months between seasons.

At last, before our June trip to Cape Cod, we get to that short burst of Season Seven, the last of it.

It’s too fresh for Netflix, having just wrapped up on AMC the month prior. I was glad to find it on my Time Warner On Demand channel, so onward we marched toward That Last Episode.

I hated Don being isolated in California, getting beat up by the fellow veterans for a crime he did not commit. But I dug him sticking up for the petty thief who did it, and giving the kid his one last chance.

I hated Don going off to the hippie retreat with his non-blood niece as his new company freaked out on the other coast. But I dug the way his bottom-out phone call to Peggy gave her the slow-moving a-ha moment she needed to face Stan’s behavior for the love it was.

I hated this niece driving off and stranding him there to face his supersized demons alone. Don looked so hopeless, helpless, hurt for the last time. Then he heard a guy worse than he was. Walked right over and hugged him. He joined the yogis and smiled a very little but quite knowing smile.

Weiner played that famous Coke commercial of the world peace and love.

Karen and I looked at each. Did that mean Don had found peace and then gone back to New York and made this best-commercial-ever based on finding himself out there? Or, not?

OK. I can take that as a finale.

Were you a Mad Men fan, and if so, why did you follow the show? If you were, what did you think of the finale? What’s your favorite cable network series, and why?


49 thoughts on “OK, let’s talk Mad Men finale

  1. Loved the series but hated the final episode. I thought it was a cop out, tying up all the ends nice and neatly, death by cancer, finding oneself in a retreat in California, getting back with an exwife, Peggy finding true love. Yuch. It was all too contrived given the depth and development of the characters over the years. You asked ๐Ÿ™‚


      • The show had so many things that were not “neat”- as in perfect situations, so it just rang false for me that now it ended all so neatly ๐Ÿ™‚ It definitely brought closure, and left no real questions.


  2. i loved the show, and saw a lot of parallels to my life, as i grew up with a dad in the ad biz, though not quite as much drama. i can’t read this post yet, as i haven’t seen the ending as of yet, and can’t wait!


  3. I think the ad at the end made it all work. That was Don, using everything he experienced in order to be an amazing advertising genius, if nothing else. I don’t think he found himself any more than he had found himself throughout the series.


  4. I dropped out close to the end of the last season, mainly because I was tired on Sundays and had already used up my energy the previous weeks on “The Walking Dead”. I may have to revisit this when all the episodes finally hit Netflix.


  5. I was upset with the last episode until I thought more about it. I didn’t like the convenient Coke ad, but mostly because they showed the original and it looked tacky and dated. They could have reshot it and should have.

    As for the series, it is my all time favorite and I have every episode. I am a Joan fan and like the way things wrapped up for her. In fact, for all except Betty.

    And yes, I do think Don got renewed at Esalen (I assume) and went back to McCann to make that commercial. I could see him being Executive VP at McCann and taking over the Presidency eventually. My husband and I were part of a similar corporate environment when we lived in Manhattan, so I related to all this.


  6. I tried it early on but couldn’t take the backstabbing and nastiness. Ironically, I watch and read murder mysteries all the time. ๐Ÿ™‚ Something about people crushing one another’s spirits bothers me more… However, I’m told it was such a well-done slice of the sixties that I should try it again so maybe, someday, when I get a Netflix subscription…


  7. I knew of the show from the beginning, but I haven’t watched it. It’s in my Netflix list, along with many others. We actually didn’t have cable until a few years ago, and we still don’t have HBO, Showtime, etc.
    I remember Elisabeth Moss when she was the President’s daughter on the West Wing, and she was in a show set in New Zealand called Top of the Lake that I saw on Netflix.


  8. I never got into that show. I did watch a few episodes years ago, at the beginning. I’ve loved many cable programs, my favorite was The Newsroom, but they took it off after three short years. Dexter was awesome. Gah, I loved Dexter! True Blood was very good for a few seasons. I love Game of Thrones now, but not every episode.


    • I loved The Newsroom, Joey, for reasons that are pretty evident. Yeah, I wish Aaron Sorkin had a bit more of that gang of characters left in him. What a short final season that was. I was not thrilled that he killed off Charlie, either.

      Maybe MDW Karen and I should pick up Dexter as our next Netflix binge-watch? I take it you heartily recommend? I’m not into vampires and never watched a second of Game of Thrones, either. Somehow I can avoid a lot of pop culture musts and not feel any pangs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dexter is downright gory at times, but it’s got a great storyline, EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. I turned my head quite a bit, but I couldn’t stop watching, straight to the end ๐Ÿ™‚


      • It really is good.
        I am so not into vampires and werewolves, Mark. Truly. I have this friend, Reta, and if she tells me to read or watch something, I just do it. She’s never failed me. Everyone should have a person like that ๐Ÿ™‚
        True Blood isn’t what people expect, I don’t think.


      • Well, I think True Blood might not win with you, but it’s worth watching a few…
        Dexter, fersure. Great writing, superb cast.


  9. I was hooked from the very first show. It is one of only 3-4 shows I have watched faithfully. The first season was my favorite, but I loved the way they captured the early 1960’s…I saw that through the eyes of Sally. It was nostalgia in its purest form.

    The creators might deny it…but to me, there is no doubt that Don Draper was inspired on his California quest, returned to NYC and killed it with that iconic Coke ad. Brilliant. Ididn’t see it coming, but it made so much sense. โ˜บ


    • Yes, Van, I was a kid’s age in the show, too, as you know. Good call on that. Sally was a wonderful character. So too was her male friend, who was played by Matt Wiener’s son. One of the neat things about our binge-watch was to see those kids grow up over the series. Especially Sally and that goofy-then-not young man.

      I’m glad you’re with me on the Coke ad and Don, too, and how that brings it together.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t seen the final season yet but thought MAD MEN a great show.

    As for now, I am finally watching the entire run of LOST on Netflix. Wow, love that show! Never know what the heck is going to happen next.


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