Last Sunday marked the end of the enormously commercially and artistically successful television series “Mad Men.” Through over 90 episodes, viewers engaged, mourned, and laughed with and about the people in the Sterling Cooper advertising agency. Business-wise, we saw mergers, new workers, and new clients. Emotionally, we saw families and lives change and, in many cases, fall apart.
Titled “Person to Person,” Mad Men’s finale wrapped up the stories with signature artistic and cinematic grace. The finale was a change for writers to flaunt their skills, with justified plot twists and hilarious touches of humor. There was Pete’s clueless toward his going away-gifts, Don’s facial expressions at a hippie retreat, and Roger Sterling just being Roger Sterling.
The finale was much, much lighter than the rest of the show, which isn’t terribly hard considering that we’ve seen a man cut off his nipple as a sign of love, a partner’s suicide via his tie, multiple rape scenes, and a terminal lung cancer diagnosis.
(Of course, last season we were lucky to see Cooper sing and tap dance..)
Instead, character’s plots were cleanly wrapped up in an optimistic light. Don creates the ad of the century; Peggy finds true love; Roger’s married again, but this time to a woman his own age; Joan starts her own business; Pete’s off to Kansas with his family.
The end wasn’t as happy for Betty and Sally. Betty, sill young and beautiful, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Her rebellious teenage daughter takes on motherly roles, as we last see Sally cleaning dishes while Betty smokes a cigarette, which is a reversal of a previous image.
Of course, the lead up to the series finale provoked a wide range of theories. Some were more serious, like a suspected historical tie-in with hijacker E.B. Cooper. Many online communities correctly guessed that Don created the monumental and archetypal Coke ad of the 1970s. Other predictions took a more comical glance, like my personal favorite, those who joked about Pete encountering a bear (http://uproxx.com/tv/2013/05/okay-but-what-if-pete-campbell-gets-eaten-by-a-bear/ )
(The Coke ad can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2msbfN81Gm0. It’s quite creepy yet addicting.)
Though “Mad Men” may have been celebrating the end of the 60s era, perhaps the finale also commemorated the end of the “Mad Men” era. An era where we watched hours a night on Netflix of this nostalgic, tragic, funny, emotional, and most of all, truthful piece of art.