Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Musings on Mad Men--Now That I've Let the Final Episode Sink In


I didn't post this right away after the final episode of Mad Men aired because I needed some room before I sat down and wrote about it.  Space was really important here in order for me to allow my thoughts to settle, instead of buzzing around in crazy circles.

My husband, he's the real fan.  He loves Don Draper and the glamour of the advertising business that he works in.  I started watching because he watched the show and I was pulled in.  I can't stand Don Draper.   I say that, but then I'm reminded of his redeeming moments.  When he found out how Joan was going to land the deal and he went to stop her, but it was too late.  When he told Sally that she was a very pretty girl, but that it was up to her become more than just that.  So many lovely moments between him and Peggy.  And finally, in this final season, how he becomes so broken, so lost, but almost seems comfortable with it, ready to accept it (until the last episode).  It says something that I can care about a character who really isn't a good person and has so many negative qualities.

What I really love about Mad Men is the women--well Peggy and Joan.  They are such strong female characters who take on the male-dominated world and attack it as best they can.  Yes there are times when I wanted them to do something more, or tell a man what a lousy snake he was and have that be enough to put him in his place.  When they didn't, I was sometimes disappointed in them, but I also had to remind myself that this was a different time.  There was only so much they could honestly do or say and still keep their way of life.  I loved how each of these women really grew, especially Peggy.  Her transformation throughout the series was spectacular.  One of the best images of her is in one of the final episodes when she's carrying her box of supplies to the new office and she's got a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and a shocking painting from Roger.  There's still a little bit of insecurity about her (we all have our insecurities) but she's so much more confident of who she and what she can do now.  And Joan is happy.  She truly seems happy with her new business, with her son, and with herself.

I wish I could go on about this, but I'd rather this not be too long.  Instead I'll discuss briefly my issues with the final episode.  So if you DVR'd it and haven't watched it yet, or if you're going through the series for the first time on Netflix, maybe you should step back and not let this ruin the last episode.

Everyone ends happily--except for Betty and Sally.  Don's problems are magically resolved through meditation at a hippie retreat, Peggy and Stan live happily ever after, Joan gets her dream job, Roger is happily married (again), and even Betty gets a few more months to live, more time to smoke her cigarettes.  The only one I feel really had a true ending was Sally.  She's given up her summer trip to come home and take care of her mom and brothers, knowing that she'll probably have to continue taking care of them in years to come.  Her childhood is officially over.  Everyone else had a nice and tidy ending and it felt like there was a cute little bow tied around everyone, creating a beautiful package.  Don't worry about any of these character anymore, they'll be just fine.  Yes, a part of me wants everyone to be okay, but is that true to the story?  I expected more open-endedness.  Based on the way everything has gone in this series a nice and neat ending where everyone is happy just didn't make sense.  I wanted to have hope for them in the future, but it all felt contrived--especially Peggy and Stan.

I know many people loved it and thought the characters deserved some good things happening to them for once.  We all deserve good things happening to us, but does that really always happen?

All in all, Mad Men was an incredibly well written, directed, and acted series.  Despite characters who are not always likable, you want to keep watching and you do care about what happens to them. If you haven't watched Mad Men, I suggest giving it a try.  You will be pulled into this world of advertising that Don Draper seems to have wrapped around his little finger. Enjoy!

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