On one hand, it’s hard to sum up Mad Men the day after the series finale. On the other hand, it’s hard not to. So I’ve decided to join the fray with the other half-million reviewers / mourners.
Because let’s face it. There are a ton of post-finale recaps out as of yesterday, including these:
- The woulda, shoulda, coulda recap;
- The director’s bucket list recap. Whoops – never mind. He just did everything he ever wanted – and more;
- The biggest-surprise recap; and
- The Top 5 greatest shows recap.
Funny: At least two of the above end with some version of “It’s the real thing.” Sigh.
- Peggy and Joan each sought career and sometimes love. Joan thought she’d landed one of each, only to end up choosing career over traditional love. Peggy got both.
- Don finally got clarity, however fleeting — although, it seemed long enough to crank out the legendary Coca-Cola commercial promoting world peace.
- What does Roger care anymore? He’s had a stellar career, so he settles into l’amour.
- Pete, lucky dog, gets his wife and kid back and keeps that lucrative gig with McCann.
- Betty – dang it – love or hate her, has a death sentence hanging over her, though I’d expect her to find her way out so as not to put her children through watching their mother die.
Surprising: The show ends in hope. Hope that Don can somehow make something of the name and identity he’d assumed, and maybe even be a more present father in his children’s lives (really?). Hope that the world could be a better place (the Coke commercial).
I’ve gotta say: I fully expected a European turn for the worst – someone’s tragedy, a la Downton Abbey, where someone seems to die in nearly every season finale. To me, the hopeful ending makes Mad Men a new, true, all-American classic.
All in all, Mad Men, while set in the presumably sexy advertising business, isn’t much about the ad biz at all. It’s really about the existential questions of the ’60s and ’70s. Is this all there is? Are we all alone? (At Big Sur, Don learns – finally – he’s not.)
The aches of those questions and their answers were real and often frustrating during the series, which easily could have ended more tragically. But the idealist in me is glad Weiner chose hope for the final note.
Still, I cannot tell a lie: I will miss seeing that Don Draper face and wanting to know the thoughts behind his dark eyes.
So long, Mad Men – until the next binge.