Mad Men is not a show I write about too often here, but that does not mean that it is not one of my favorite shows. I would say it is up there in my top five all time list. Hmm, I wonder what that list would like? Something for another day I suppose.
First allow me to get something out of the way. The ending. I have had a small discussion with a few friends on Facebook about the actual ending. I think most people are in agreement that Don does come back to McCann and comes up with the great Coke commercial. The question I have though, did he learn anything? Did he actually make changes to his life?
Throughout the episode (and a theme throughout this show) there has been the idea of abandoning your children. Don goes on this wild chase looking for the waitress he slept with who abandoned her daughter. Then he runs into Stephanie, who abandoned her child and gets scolded very harshly by a woman at the hippie retreat. Also we have Peggy, who gave up her child (it was Don who found her in the hospital and gave her the option to dust herself back off and get to work).
The hope is that from all of this, and especially the way Don reacted to hearing that woman scold Steph, is that he returned home and went back to work. Remember, Peggy told him he could come back, and I think a few times during his journey people mentioned that he could always come back. But not only did he come back to work, but that he learned something and we picture his kid’s living with him. The perfect single dad, waking up, making the boys breakfast and then getting them ready for school before heading into the office. I think that is what we are hoping for, right?
But is that really Don Draper? Does he really learn from his mistakes (I hope so). The part that struck me with this bout of negativity was the little counseling circle where the guy is telling everyone how he just does not feel that anyone loves him. He does not think that his wife and kids really care about him all that much. The guy breaks down and cries and that is when Don breaks down, goes to the man and hugs him as they both cry. It was very touching.
Was Don identifying with that stranger or was he finally realizing something about himself? Don has never had the problem of people loving him. It is always the opposite, he never really shows those people any real love. I think the best example of this is from a season or two ago, when Betty and Don sleep together during Bobby’s little church camp thing. Betty makes the comment that “Megan’s biggest mistake was falling in love with him, since that is the moment he stopped loving her.” I am paraphrasing here, but that was the gist of it.
Do not fear though, there could be some hope that Don decided to change. The conversation with Betty. When he says about the kids staying with him and not her brother’s family, Betty says “what would change Don? You would see them on the weekends, oh wait, when was the last time you saw them?” I feel like that line, more than anything would have had the most impact.
Okay, so those are my thoughts on the actual end. Now what did I think of the rest of the show? I thought it wrapped up most things with nice happy endings, minus Betty, she is a goner. Not sure I could have emotionally handled too much sad stuff for the rest of the gang. Here are my thoughts on those stories…
-Stan admits to Peggy that he loves her and she realizes that she loves him. They kiss and I did get goosebumps from that whole thing. Even if it did feel a little silly. During the entire series, Peggy has constantly been trying to prove that she is the equal of the guys and there was no better moment of that than when Pete says goodbye. He says that by 1980 she will be running things and people will brag about getting to work with her. Remember, this was the same Pete who flipped out when Don put a woman on one of his accounts!
My problem with the Stan love story was that during the course of their relationship, there have been some funny flirtatious moments from Stan. They seemed like two great friends, Stan never was bothered that she was a woman and was ahead of him in the company. He treated her like an equal. I think to have it end with them together, really goes back to that stupid idea that a guy-girl cannot work together without them getting all emotional for each other. Or another way to say it is that a woman is not complete until she finds a man (wow, can you believe I am the one defending feminist issues here?).
-I read somewhere that Matthew Weiner constantly said that you really learned everything about the end of the show from the pilot. If you look back at that first episode, you can sort of see how that is true. Especially in regards to the next to last episode. This episode invalidated some of it, I think. For example, look at Joan.
In the first episode she tells Peggy that she basically needs to use her sexuality to land one of the men and hopefully that could lead to marriage. Joan constantly uses her sexuality to get ahead and eventually it catches up to her. The people at McCann do not take her seriously and the one VP only wants to sleep with her. She decides to cash out and just spend the time with her rich boyfriend. Contrast that with Peggy, who constantly has to fight these stereotypes by putting in exceptional work. I liked that ending for Joan.
But alas, it was not meant to be, for some reason Joan throws away the relationship and decides to start her own production company. She asks Peggy to be her partner, but Peggy decides to stay at McCann. I suppose this was Joan’s way of trying to achieve what Peggy already has achieved: being taken seriously for her ideas. I do not know, it just did not sit well with me.
-Pete is the character that probably shocked me the most. His change over these past two episodes proves that people can change. I loved the exchange with his brother and the fact that he and Trudy are back together and moving to Wichita. Another fun thing from the first episode was the lecture Don gives to Pete about how he will always be a mid-level executive who no one likes and yet when we see him at McCann, Pete is talking to everyone and it seems like he finally realized that he did not need to be that slimy creep.
-I hope Roger and Marie are happy together. Oh who am I kidding, we know they will get divorced in like six months. And then sleep together in the lawyer’s office after signing the divorce papers. Hopefully the divorce causes Roger to ditch the mustache.
So there you have it, my long, drawn out thoughts about one of the best shows of all time. I think I need to go pour myself an Old Fashioned to commemorate. Hopefully Weiner’s next show is half as good as this, which would make it ten times better than most of the shows out there.