Not since the controversial ‘fade to black’ ending of the Sopranos has there been a more divisive series finale than last night’s farewell to Don Draper and his fellow mad men and women.
There are two schools of thought. Two camps to sit in. You either buy into the idea that Don created the iconic 1970s coca cola advertisement (we’re firmly in this camp) or you believe Don, who has ‘retired’ from the advertising game has truly changed and opted for life by the Californian coast.
We’ve loved following this great AMC series from the Golden era of television, and over seven smoky, boozy years Matthew Weiner has created a real seducer unlike any other.
The seduction paid off with the finale, probably not the archetypal Mad Men episode we’ve come to expect but a genuinely original, resonant, and existentially brilliant ending, being debated by critics and views alike. The main questions being asked.. whose idea was the Coke ad? Who is on team Peggy? And will Joan find true love outside the boardroom?
During its seven year run the show like any has had its ups and downs but it kept pace, with a dark comedic strangeness that all of us Mad Men addicts adore.
To this end, we can’t help but adore the final scene with Betty Draper smoking one of her last cigarettes while her daughter Sally washes up. So much has changed, so little has changed.
If you missed last night’s ending, it showed Don Draper, blissed out in California his legs crossed lost in meditation. A bell rang—ding!—and Don’s grin began to stretch wide across the TV screen – in what appeared to be a sort of mystic revelation. When the screen cut out, we were watching the iconic Coca-Cola TV ad that became a hit in 1971, a clip flooded with nostalgia on so many levels.
On a grassy hilltop, beautiful youths of all colours and cultures danced and swayed, singing, “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony!/I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” The tagline: “It’s the Real Thing.” Last night, it took a moment for this to sink in, but once it did, that dinging bell seemed to resonate back through the whole series, finding echoes everywhere. What appeared to be Buddhist meditation was an advertising brainstorm. Don’s hippie revelation was also advertising genius being formed, the yogi saying “A new day, new ideas, a new you,” creating the genius tagline that Don would then present to his new bosses, McCann Erickson (who in real life actually did create the game changing Coke ad).
Now it’s time to roll away the drinks trolley, throw out the last pack of Lucky Strikes, and return to the post-Mad Men era.
Cheers, Jack & the c word crew
RIP Don, Betty, Joan, Peggy, Roger, Pete, Trudy & all of our other mad men & women.