I miss the 60s, and it hasn’t even been a week.
Of course, I did not see this most turbulent of decades firsthand, but I got to live through it, from a distance and with plenty of years of perspective, through the show that was: Mad Men.
I thought it would be fitting to wait until today: Throwback Thursday, to write my review of the series finale for my favourite TBT era historical television drama, with so many throwing their two cents in. Figure – might as well include mine.
Also, this would give me a few days to let soak in what became of Don Draper and the rest of the Mad Men.
Excuse me, and women of course. Don’t forget the women. They were always a key part of the show.
From the spoiled attitudes of Betty, to the sexy and in charge style of Joan, to the original innocence and naiveté which slowly developed into Peggy’s signature modern woman with the talent to back it up.
I loved it all: characters, setting, plot, and theme.
I loved the setting of New York, from the suburbs of Don’s home and family life to the fast-paced Madison Avenue where Ads are born.
The true battle, in my opinion, was always between Don and this place. Which one was the main character, truly?
I wanted to shake Don, sometimes to even wring his neck, when he would drift from woman to woman. As his disturbed past was slowly revealed, I kept an open mind to what must make someone act in the destructive ways he did.
There was something intrinsically cool and detached, aloof about Don Draper, but yet something so sad – the very thing that causes women to want to help a guy so wounded by life become a better, more evolved, sensitive, and empathetic person.
I loved the perfect case study embodied in the decade Mad Men took place in. The sixties, a quarter of a century before I was even born, this time has always stuck with me as being one of the most interesting in our shared history.
I guess it was post World War II and yet the cold War and Vietnam would see that war was never far from the public’s consciousness.
Deaths of icons, both Hollywood and Washington. Civil Rights. The ability to still deny the toll that cigarettes can take on the human body.
The birth and growth of rock music and the culture that accompanied the scene, still so new – Beatlemania.
Some sort of innocence of the fifties and the cliche of a simpler and happier time. I don’t know why I waited as long as I did to tune in to see what this was all about. I didn’t care much for the business side of things. It was the social backdrop and all the issues that arose that had me hooked.
It was a different time, for sure, before all the modern technology I know so well, yet not so far back that I can’t imagine what it must have been like.
I zoned in on every story line focusing on feminism and gender roles and stereotyping.
I kept an eye out for historical accuracy, or a lack thereof. It seemed well done to me.
Of course this was the United States, not Canada, but I drank it all in, as if I were studying for a course in gender politics.
I couldn’t keep track of a lot of the actual ad campaigns the characters worked on. A lot of these were visual, but I did imagine I could write ad copy just as well as Peggy did.
product placement plays a crucial role, advertising is everywhere, both then and now.
Social issues made me want to yell at my screen. I guess those were restless times, the sixties, but that’s what gave Mad Men its edge.
Edgy is an excellent word for what Mad Men was. I had been looking for a show that would incorporate all these elements into one. I was irritated when the sixties finally came to an end. I saw the start of the disco era of 1970 to be the beginning of the end, and of course, it was.
The show could slide from gritty reality, directly into a strange dream-like state. Never was this more clear than at the start of every single episode. The theme song, with its erie string section and catchy percussion, made the decade of the 1960s come alive through its signature moodiness.
When Armstrong landed on the moon, 1969, I knowingly anticipated an end to the “madness”.
It came with a slow surge. I felt parts of the last one drag along, but yet each main player got his or her end, happy or devastating.
cigarettes kill! What a fitting end for one of these characters. The irony was not lost on me that the very product that Don and his colleagues pushed for so long, that is what would be the demise of the mother of his children.
Wonder what the statistics for survival from cancer, lung cancer to be exact, what they were back in the early seventies?
So certain characters (mainly Peggy and Pete) did not end up together, as I might have guessed. So what.
It made me happy to see that Pete finally grew up, realizing what family truly meant, while he still had a chance to be a decent husband, role model, and father to his daughter.
People have affairs. People cheat and they mess up, but it’s nice to know that anyone can find redemption.
It was clear it wouldn’t necessarily be a smooth road going forward, as the women’s movement grew, for Peggy and Joan, but if any two females could make it through the seventies it would be them.
Roger finally decided on a companion, a woman to match him. The scene with his two secretaries was priceless also. A world without Don in it wouldn’t be all that conceivable to Roger, their friendship being at the core of the show.
All the characters grew up, found their place. What more can you ask of a finale like this, so full of such richness and depth?
Don rose up, like a mythical phoenix from the ashes, to live to create another ad. It’s empowering when you finally admit where you belong, what you’re meant to do.
Many articles have been posted, everyone wanted to hear from series creator Weiner, but I prefer to read a little and write a little more, while letting his show be what it was, meaning what it meant to me.
Don spoke with the three women, while on the run from himself, in his life. They are those who have had a clear affect on him, as he’s just now realizing: Sally, Betty, and Peggy.
These three names sound alike as I say them to myself.
I like a finale that isn’t all wrapped up with a pretty bow. Life is messy and nobody does it better than Don Draper (AKA Dick Whitman).