In just a few moments AMC will air the final episode of Mad Men. Hearts may break around the world as the curtains finally close on our favorite terrible people but the show that has generated so much conversation will likely keep us talking in the weeks following the finale.
A friend turned me on to Mad Men when it was just about in its second season. I binged the first season and quickly caught up in time to watch the best, most enthralling character study on TV every Sunday. Matthew Weiner and his clan of writers, production designers, and brilliant actors have given us this gift of incredible television that changed the landscape of cable TV forever. For that, the least we owe them is a final round of applause (and some Emmy’s god dammit!).
After spending years with these characters I have to admit that my emotional connection will absolutely cloud my analysis of this final episode for at least a few hours following the final end credits. As I have now moved into the final stages of grief and loss I have found it cathartic to say a warm good bye to each of my favorite characters:
Oh Betty. Your strange, icy demeanor and juvenile attitude towards your children has given us plenty to scoff at and be baffled by over the years. In the moments that you were so emotionally unavailable to your children I began to despise you but in your final scenes this seemingly cold composure was almost admirable. You have confronted your death with dignity, even if it has driven your children into a future of weekly therapy sessions and a high dose prescription to Prozac. Bon voyage, Betty. You will be missed.
What would Mad Men be without Roger? Always the comic relief, the voice of absurdity, but never without his own intellectually stimulating storyline. Whether he is dropping acid and having three-somes or regurgitating a liquid lunch in the office lobby, Roger’s presence has been instrumental to the tone of Mad Men.
I was not a fan of you at the start. I was half convinced that Don proposing to you was a dream and fairly disappointed to see that he had gone through with the marriage at the beginning of the following season. However, you won me over. I expected an air head with few ambitions other than to serve her precious husband but I could not have been more wrong. Thank you for having substance and goals. You may have ‘cashed out’ in the end, but your time on the show was not wasted.
I never expected Sally’s presence on the show to be so interesting. It has been fascinating to watch her process the reality of who her parents are as she is beginning to grow into an adult herself. Her interaction with Don in front of the bus as she was living on a school trip this season was my favorite scene of hers throughout the entire series. She is unapologetic in a way that occasionally reminds me of a snotty teenage girl, but has mostly come off as a young person who is disgusted by truth of where she has come from. Nicely done.
You slimy son of a bitch. You have been gross since the moment you stepped into the frame and it has been great. You were the closest thing to a clear villain Mad Men has ever given us and yet there is still some lingering ambiguity about how self-serving and malicious you really are. Thank you for your snotty, upper-class, superior attitude and all of your elevator scene with Bob after the passing of your mother.
“How are you today”
“Not great, Bob!”
Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing back the idea that curves on a woman are super sexy. I’m sure it’s not fair to credit you for that entirely, but I’m going to because I can. You have been the beacon of female sexual energy on a show that is so dominated by testosterone. The way the sun has set on your character sort of breaks my heart, but is so true to the female experience during the early 1970s. Audiences were collectively horrified in the way that you were treated in the last few episodes, so please accept that as our support and solidarity. Take your money and enjoy the life you have worked so hard for. You get yours and you enjoy it, girl (and when you leave, can I steal your wardrobe?).
I am Peggy. Peggy is Me. We are one. I fucking LOVE Peggy. She has been the smart, unintentionally funny, and tragic woman that I admire oh, so much. Peggy is not afraid to call people on their bullshit when it matters, she is bright and ambitious, and she is very, very good at her job. What I’ve loved so much about this character is that Peggy is career-driven but not without want for a companion and a family. We see her confront the fear of loneliness and failure that haunts her as she confronts 30 and it is beautifully, honestly done. My hope is to see that Peggy ends her run on Mad Men with a happy and bright future ahead and if that final shot in “Lost Horizon” is any indication, I think she will do just fine. (Also, CAN WE PLEASE GIVE ELIZABETH MOSS AN EMMY FOR THIS FREAKIN SHOW?)
Don Draper. Dick Whitman. Whoever the hell you are- thank you. That’s all that I can say: thank you. Thank you for the darkly complex character, for always making us question your motivations, for doing morally reprehensible things but always allowing us to sympathize with you. Thank you for that gorgeous, impossibly perfect face. Thank you for your relationship with Peggy, acting as her professional and personal mentor. This peek into the mind that is Don Draper has been a beautiful gift and Jon Hamm has performed it perfectly.
Here we go. Fast forward to a bunch of network show trying to mimic the appeal of Mad Men and failing miserably. Fast forward to next Sunday when I feel the empty sinking void that is Mad Men. Fast forward to the Emmy’s where, with any good sense, the voters will shower the show with the awards it so deeply deserves.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I’ll be live-tweeting during the commercials of tonight’s finale.
See you all on the other side.