This will obviously contain spoilers.
Mad Men is one of the few shows I’ve watched from start to finish while it was on. (My So-Called Life and Felicity were the other two.) If you don’t watch the show, last night, the end of season 7, was the series finale.
There was a lot of speculation, even before it was announced how many seasons the show would go, how the series would end. Would the opening credits be foreshadowing – would Don Draper jump out of his office window? Would we see him an old ad man in the 1980s, graying, and working on some national brand campaign, on wife number whatever? Or … meditating at a new age retreat on the ocean? Is this the start of Richard Wayne Gary Wayne from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?
One theme throughout the show is the idea of being alone. In the very first episode, he told Rachel Menken:
You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget.
And he never did. He spent seven seasons trying to find a connection, mostly with women. And yet, he still always felt alone. It was sad when Betty pointed out to him that his own children will be better off with their uncle than their father, because what they are used to is rarely seeing their father. We might have wanted Don to be able to swoop in and Betty to forget the past and pretend that Don will be the parent his young sons need. But Mad Men isn’t Full House. This isn’t a sitcom. The great thing about Mad Men is that it was real. It handled situations the way people really do.
There were three things I really liked about the way Don’s story ended in the series.
He finally confessed his failures, to Peggy, the living person who knows him best. He spent his entire adult life living a lie, and living under the burden of that lie. In the last two episodes, he finally confessed his darkest secrets.
Don, forever feeling alone, finally connected with another person. He was dragged to a “retreat” and left there alone with no way to leave, and found himself in an “I feel” circle. And someone else admitted what Don himself had been suffering from for years – loneliness. For once, Don didn’t feel alone. He felt vulnerable and finally found the connection he had been searching for.
Finally, at the end, Don uses his personal experience to create an ad campaign that people can connect with. This should come as no surprise – he literally did the exact same thing at the end of season one when he used his family photos to pitch a campiagn for the Kodak Carousel. That’s what Don does. That’s what made him so great at selling. And when he finally felt a connection, finally found what he had been searching for, he created a campaign encouraging others to do the same, to make the world a less lonely place. And of course it would be one of the most well-known iconic campaigns in history – haven’t we all been waiting for Don Draper to “create” such a campaign, for seven seasons?
And Joan is a badass and started her own production company, let go of yet another man who wanted to control her, and Peggy finally found love – in the office of course, because where else would she?
Did you watch the Mad Men finale? What did you think? Did the amount of Halloween decorations drive anyone else batty? (Har har)