Ellie Wells ’18 / Emertainment Monthly assistantMovies EditorWhen Mad Men aired its first episode in 2007, it was a risky effort few were sure would succeed. It brought us into a world we were mostly unfamiliar with and made it palpable, all through the eyes of its central characters.
To us, they were real human beings. We met them 1960, the cusp of a time when everything was about to change. The show took us through ten years of their loves and their losses, their joys and their despairs, their triumphs and their defeats. From Don to Peggy to Pete and Roger, from Betty to Joan and everyone in between, we laughed with them, we cried, we cringed at their mistakes and cheered at their successes.
Now, in 1970, our glimpse into their lives ends, and the show takes its place in television history, leaving giant footprints to fill. It’s been a wild ride, and creator Matthew Weiner bids farewell in an appropriate and loving way. It’s hard not to think of the end of the show without drawing comparisons to Don McClean’s 1971 hit “American Pie”, a song about how the 1960s forever changed the world.
A long long time ago, Don Draper thought that he could make people happy for a while by using manufactured sentiment to make them buy things that they didn’t need. It was all byproduct of the American dream of the 1950s, which was unknowingly fading. But to him, it was a lie, a denial of his true self. And he finally found it. And so did everyone else, who were all, by the episode’s end, ready to face the challenges of the new decade. While certain aspects of the show are certainly more ambiguous, more open to interpretation than some might have liked, this uncertain nature fits well in the realm of the show.
Mad Men was always a series about life, about what it means to human, beyond advertising or anything else. And while the music of a simpler time wouldn’t play, the children, the lovers and poets (the Sallys, the Petes, and of course, the Dons) of 1970 would use the lessons they learned to create a better future, which is the perfect way to say goodbye. And we will miss it so.
Overall Grade: A+