Another Bonus Post!
(Because I couldn’t not talk about Mad Men)
I’ve felt for a really long time that the best series finales are ones that wrap up the story you’re being told in that series, but give us a sense that that world keeps on spinning.
It’s one of the reasons that I think the Dawson’s Creek is so glorious. (It’s helped along by Michelle Williams and her heartbreaking performances of Jen’s…you know what, know, I don’t want to cry about it at the moment.) But it’s also why, I have both a higher and lower barometer for what constitutes a “good” series finale, verse a “satisfying” one.
I get why people hated the Lost finale. I really do. I didn’t because I wasn’t into Lost for the questions that needed answering, although I still kind of want to know like, what the deal with the sideways world was, I just liked those characters and finding out that their time together was the most important time of their lives, and that they needed to come together again for it to be over satisfied me. The world continued, an island where Hurley and Ben were Jacob and the man in black, as they were meant to be. Story we were tol? Wrapped up. World continuing on? You bet. Great, good finale.
Mad Men gave me that, and that’s why I’ll always advocating ending a show with some kind of montage showing what’s up with the characters. Roger and Marie, both finale sated, ready to enjoy their life together. Joan, a woman on her own, starting her own production company. Peggy, as driven as ever, realizing what we all knew, that she’s in love with Stan and he’s in love with her. (I actually jumped up and started happy dancing when he walked into her office.) Sally, stepping up to be there for her brothers as her mother prepared to die. (Seriously, Betty’s cancer storyline BROKE me! Mad Men has made me cry plenty of times, but these past few episodes, with Betty dealing with her diagnoses and specifically Sally dealing with Betty dealing with her diagnosis were positively heartbreaking).
And Don, finding some peace at long last, meditating on a hill top, but still working, always working.
And then we saw the Coke ad, and I was floored.
I would have been satisfied at the thought that Don’s next phase, his new self was a hippy, yoga practicing sensitive type. I could see him going there. But then it ended with “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke,” and I couldn’t stop giggling.
Seven weeks ago, I noted that I looked at Mad Men like a novel. Or maybe a cycle of short stories. It never felt like a TV show to me. So I had quieter expectations for it’s ending. Literature endings require different demands than other media for me, so I was ready for and happy to accept something quieter and more ambiguous.
I am glad that it ended on a “moment.” That was all I wanted. This was a show made of moments, not all of them great, but it ended where it began. With Don Draper, Dick Whitman finding beauty in a place and thing that most people wouldn’t. Finding connection. But the difference is that this time, it’s real, where as he used to just fake it.
I don’t want to over analyze the finale, because this show meant so much to me. That showed me that the medium I’ve always loved could aspire to something higher. I will miss it. I was content last night and am content today.