I am an avid fan of Mad Men, and Don Draper, and Jon Hamm, and Jon Hamm’s gigantic … eyes. Needless to say, I tuned in last night for the final episode. I also “went dark” on social media until I had finished both that episode, and last night’s Game of Thrones. Trust me, that was more difficult than I’m willing to admit.
Now, I’ve become a bit jaded over the years, and a few other show finales have put me through the wringer (I’m looking at you, Lost, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Parenthood, just to call up a few from recent memory). With that in mind, I was prepared to just get the figurative shit kicked out of me emotionally. I was ready for anything. Last week, with the revelation that Betty had lung cancer and given a six month prognosis, I was ready for her to blow her brains out at any moment. Television shows no longer make a viewer feel safe. Take any episode of Game of Thrones. If I get emotionally attached to Jon Snow, then George R.R. Martin will probably have him eviscerated in a horrific fashion just when I least expect it. (Please, George, NOT Jon Snow! I don’t think you’ll kill him, but, just in case. Please don’t.) No longer can we count on everything being wrapped up in a neat little package when the show comes to a close. No more “it was all a dream” or other cop-out endings.
So, while watching Mad Men last night, I was navigating the show’s 90 minutes with extreme trepidation. Sally Draper arrives home to find the kids fending for themselves at dinner. My immediate thought: Betty’s rotting corpse is upstairs and Sally is going to find it. Joan and her Silver Fox boyfriend snort coke for the first time and she gives him an extra bump. My immediate thought: GOOD GOD NO HE IS GOING TO OVERDOSE THIS IS AWFUL NO NO NO NO NO. But he was fine.
The Campbells board a plane in one of the final scenes. HORRIFIC PLANE CRASH IS IMMINENT. ENTIRE FAMILY KILLED.
Peggy and Stan get together. THEY WILL BREAK UP AND IT WILL BE THE WORSTTTTTT
Roger marries that french bitch that gave birth to that other french bitch. ROGER, YOU COULD HAVE DONE BETTER!
Don’s hippie friend/cousin/non-blood relation through identify theft deserts him at the yoga retreat. BECAUSE SHE STOLE ALL HIS MONEY AND OMG HE CALLED PEGGY AND HE’S ALL EFFED UP AND HE’S PROBABLY GOING TO DIE RIGHT ON THE PHONE WITH HER, I CAN’T WATCH nooooooooo.
And then Don has this radical moment we’ve been waiting for years for him to have where he actually shows some goddamn human emotion, hugs some guy who thinks he’s food on a refrigerator shelf (I’m minimizing this scene because it actually was making me sob like a goddamn baby because I AM THAT GUY TOO), and then has this epiphany during the savasana and he fucking INVENTS THE COKE JINGLE, YOU KNOW THE ONE, ABOUT TEACHING THE WORLD TO SING. And, scene.
I’m an exhausted, emotional wreck at this point. I’m sobbing, I have no idea what happened there at the end, no one seems to have died in a fiery car crash, there were no curveballs as far as the characters go. For a series finale, it ended fairly neatly. I had to pop some pills to calm myself down afterward, but I blame television in general for that.
Immediately, I hopped online to see what others were saying. Not surprisingly, the reviews were mixed. I’m more on the “loved it” side than anything. I know there are people way smarter than I am, who always saw metaphorical shit happening with this show that I totally missed because I’m a shallow dimwit, who are probably upset because the ending was so direct. I had a few chat sessions with my Mad Men friends and then tried to call it a night. The Coke jingle was bouncing around my head all night. Even into today I wanted to buy the world a Coke.
So, even though it drained every bit of emotion from me, I liked how Mad Men ended. I think the fact that I was such a train wreck is just a testament to how good the show was. I’ll miss you, Don.