Monday, May 18, 2015

A thing like that: Why I loved, loved, loved the series finale of "Mad Men"

Stan's reaction when Peggy says she loves him.
Warning -- there are "Mad Men" spoilers in this Squawk. And very little baseball talk. Be forewarned.

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Wow! That last episode of "Mad Men"  was amazing! I was worried that Matthew Weiner, a former "Sopranos" writer, was going to end the show in an ambiguous way (read: running out of ideas and not being able to come up with a real ending), the way that "The Sopranos" concluded. Instead, Weiner shocked me with a finale that was wonderful and happy and amazing. How cool is that?

Here are my thoughts of my favorite parts of the finale:

Pete Campbell leaves for his big job with Trudy and their daughter: I know Pete can be a jerk, but he is my favorite character on the show. That is because he is multidimensional -- he was the most progressive on civil rights and women's rights, he ended up being Don's biggest defender, and he also was very supportive of Peggy (the way he praised her in the finale just slayed me!) Pete is a little like A-Rod in doing some very bad and very good things, where he ultimately has a good heart, but acts like a knucklehead a lot. And just like Pete, A-Rod has been much better behaved this year.

Anyhow, I have rooted for Pete for most of the show, so I was thrilled that he finally got his family back -- and his dream job. Who would think that Pete Campbell would end up being arguably the most moral, upstanding character on the show? My faith in Pete was not misplaced! See, Squawker Jon, I was right after all! (He has claimed I was the only person on Team Pete over the years.)

Steggy gets together: Yes, that is what the cool kids are calling the Stan-Peggy pairing. I was a Pete-Peggy shipper for most of the show, but I think both people ended up with the right partners.

If there is any consistency to this show, it is that Peggy has consistently had awful relationships. Is there anybody on television who has had as many bad dates as she has? Only in horror shows! But in Stan, she finally has a supportive partner who understands her both intellectually and emotionally, and who wants the best for her. It was so fun to see them finally get together. I gasped when I heard Stan's speech, and cried when Peggy started talking. I have watched that scene multiple times since, and get teary-eyed each time. It was inspiring! Finally Peggy can have the career *and* the good boyfriend! They really make a terrific team.

Don finds enlightenment -- and his greatest success: Squawker Jon (and a lot of other viewers) were initially confused by the Coke commercial at the end. I got its significance right away; Don would come back to McCann from his sojourn and write the most popular commercial of all time. I have had that smile on my face myself when I come up a good idea to write. Don creates the "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" ad, while I write about who would win in a celebrity boxing match: Pedro Martinez or Jorge Posada! But it is the same creative impulse. Of course, he gets rich from his writing, while I squawk for peanuts, but still!

Some viewers seem to think that Peggy created the ad, but it was clearly meant to have been done by Don. The receptionist at the hippie center was in the ad 16 seconds in, and the hilltop in the ad looks like Big Sur. Thinking Peggy did it is wishful thinking.

Some viewers also think having Don go back to advertising is somehow a failure for him. Huh? He was once great at what he did, then fell into a slump (baseball tie-in: remember his drunken singing of  "Meet the Mets"?). Now he's got his groove back -- with a vengeance -- and is responsible for such a great ad. That is a happy ending to me! I work in advertising myself, and still get that frisson of excitement every time I see an ad I proofread. Imagine how Don will feel having created a national phenomenon? Plus, he seems to have reached some measure of inner peace. Good for Don!

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As for the other endings on the show, I can't stand Roger's new wife, but at least he seems to be happy. Plus he is stepping up to help his son. Was good to see Ken Cosgrove helping Joan. And she can do better than that controlling jerk she was dating. Plus, she will be able to be her own boss now.

I was never a Betty fan, but I think the kids should be with Henry. He has raised the boys himself from an early age, hasn't he? He is basically the only father Gene has really known. Betty keeping him out of the picture is too disruptive, IMHO.

Harry didn't even get an ending, although he was a big character on the show in the beginning. IMHO, Harry took on the jerkitude that Pete used to be known for -- and then some -- and became a one-dimensional twit.

I would have liked to have seen a Sal return -- we get endless episodes of Di the drip, and the return of Glen Bishop, but no Sal? But you can't always get what you want.

In all, though, I thought the finale was arguably the greatest one of all time, with fans really getting what they wanted. Good stuff. Kudos to Matthew Weiner and the cast for pulling it off!

1 comment:

Benjamin Hom said...
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