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The End of an Era

The ashtrays are empty.  The ice cubes have melted.

Mad Men is over.

I still remember bingeing on the first season. I had a DVD set that was packaged like a metal Zippo flip-top lighter. I lost that in a breakup. How fitting...

For better or worse, this has always been Don Draper's story -- it's his world and everyone else was just living in it. Quick to turn a phrase. A chameleon. Ageless. Timeless. Shameless. Suave. Unpredictable. Addicted. A lady-killer. 


I've long thought that they've always told us how this would end.  That free-fall through Madison Ave in the opening credits is symbolic, I think, of how the show started with Don at the ultimate high.  He had it all.  On the surface, anyway.  Then season by season, show by show, they chipped away at his perfect exterior.

His career, relationships, and sanity unraveled amidst the pretty pictures.

Would he kill himself? Or put an end to the larger-than-life Don Draper and become someone new? Or go back to being insignificant Dick Whitman?

Now that I've seen the finale, I think I wasn't totally off base. He's definitely having a massive identity crisis and the Don Draper we've known for 7 seasons ceases to exist.  Though, a big part of me wishes that he was inspired by that hippie retreat, went back to the ad game, and made that iconic multi-culti mountaintop "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" commercial for McCann.

I guess the truth lies somewhere inbetween.

But one thing is crystal clear: Tonight proved that the show has been as much about Peggy as it has been about Don. It's his healthiest (only?) relationship.

I loved her getting together with Stan too, but if you think about it, Peggy & Don are the central couple here. They had many special moments together, from the time he visited her in the hospital after she gave her baby away ("It will shock you how much it never happened"), to the day when they slow-danced to Sinatra in the office ("I worry about a lot of things, but I don't worry about you"), to tonight with that heartbreaking collect call ("I messed everything up, I'm not the man you think I am").

He never put the moves on her. He's been a confidant. A mentor. A truth-cannon. She makes him... human.  

Maybe the only other person he ever felt loyal to was Roger Sterling.  He's hands-down my favorite character. He was the coolest. He stole every scene. Roger never disappoints.

John Slattery isn't bad either.

I feel satisfied -- mostly -- with this finale (NOT like the Sopranos, I'm still bitter about that).  Since this has always been a show about the power of words, I'll end with a tribute to the 6 main characters using the lines written for them.

Here are my favorite quotes:
  • Roger "Not One For Subtlety" Sterling: "I gotta go learn a bunch of people's names before I fire them." (from: Long Weekend, Season 4)
  • Peggy "The Accidental Feminist" Olson: "The University Club said the only way I could eat dinner there is if I arrived in a cake." (from: The Beautiful Girls, Season 4)
  • Joan "Smarter Than Her Boobs Look" Holloway Harris: "One minute you're on the top of the world, the next minute some secretary's running you over with a lawnmower." (from: My Old Kentucky Home, Season 3)
  • Pete "The Charlie Brown of Madison Ave" Campbell: "Don't act like you had a plan. You're Tarzan, swinging from vine to vine." (from: Basket of Kisses, Season 6)
  • Betty "Denial Isn't Just a River in Egypt" Draper Francis: "That poor girl. She doesn't know that loving you is the worst way to get to you." (from: The Better Half, Season 6)
  • Don "A Marketer After My Own Heart" Draper: "What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons." (from: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Season 1) and "People tell you who they are, but we ignore it -- because we want them to be who we want them to be." (from: The Summer Man, Season 4)

Anybody need a hug?

And anybody hope for a spinoff Three's Company-style with Peggy, Stan, and Joan?  I can see the shag carpet now.  Plus, his hair toss is EVERYTHING.

Or maybe that's just me.

What did YOU think of the finale?  Pitch me your ideas below... bonus points if you do it in Pig Latin.

tags: entertainment, pop culture


chris said...

I knew you'd have something to say about this!!!! I think Peggy wrote the commercial. They left two big lose ends what ever happened to FREDDY RUMSON and DUCK'S DOG CHAUNCEY???? ;-P

Jen M said...

I did't like the ending but at least he spoke to the three most important women in his life: Birdie, Sally, and Peggy.

Jessica said...

Jen, this is great. I agree with everything except I think Peggy was actually writing the jingle for the Coke commercial and that was the thing that makes her a Creative Director by 1980. It would be so awesome if they gave her her own show.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

So sad this show is over it really is the End of an era.

Kevin said...

SPOILERS!!!!!!!! Just kidding nice recap. Hope you are well.