Jon Hamm Just Predicted Don Draper’s Future After the Mad Men Finale

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Mad Men’ finale: How did that Coke commercial get made?.

A famous 1971 Coca-Cola ad occupies the last minute of AMC’s Mad Men series finale—but the network didn’t pay anything to use it. “No money exchanged hands,” a Coca-Cola spokesperson told People. “We’ve had limited awareness around the brand’s role in the series’ final episodes, and what a rich story they decided to tell,” the spokesperson said. While it may be one of the most famous ads in television history, didn’t shell out a dime to use the iconic Coca-Cola spot in the series finale of the AMC show.

The “Mad Men” finale on Sunday (May 17) has touched off more media interest and speculation about what it meant than any other series conclusion since “The Sopranos” called it quits eight years ago. That strain of criticism became all the more pronounced in the buildup to the AMC drama’s series finale, with Vulture launching the latest broadside against the show’s popularity as author Michael Idov argued that it wasn’t truly popular, just overhyped. (To support his claim, he points, in part, to the show’s lack of an audience in Russia.) To some degree, this is true. The show brought so much back for me: everyone smoking like chimneys; the physically uncomfortable bullet bras, girdles, hoop skirts and hair rollers; the rigid social rules that made any fate for women other than married with children suspicious and pitiable — all true for all white women. The implication is that Draper thought up the idea for the ad and went on to create it. (In reality, a McCann Erickson creative director named Bill Backer was responsible for the famous commercial.)

The finale gave everyone inside and outside the company DASH some for the first time – a chance to experience the magic of ‘Hilltop’ within the context of its creation and the times.” While “Mad Men” hinted that the jingle was the brainchild of Don Draper, the show’s amoral lead character, The New York Times found its composer, Bill Backer, who helped create the ad when he worked for the McCann Erickson agency.

The first season’s viewership numbers dipped below the 1 million mark a few times — a much more perilous event in an age when DVRs and streaming services were less prevalent. The compulsive drinking that had the mad men pickled day and night may reflect the habits of Cheever-style WASPs, but the adults I knew drank only at parties, and rarely to excess.

But by season two, the awards and critical attention Mad Men garnered ended up boosting those numbers to more comfortable levels, and even if the show was never a smash hit, it had a long, healthy run. And he discouraged any attempts to identify him as the inspiration for Draper, saying, “I’m not Don Draper.” Backer wasn’t the only person connected with the song who didn’t see the finale.

Roger Greenaway, who composed the song, told Billboard magazine that he never watched the show and had no idea that the song had been part of the last episode until he received a congratulatory email from John Titta, the head of membership at ASCAP, which licenses performances of its members’ compositions. Like Betty, their lives were entirely domestic, revolving around their children, shopping, orderly home management, personal grooming, cards and/or book clubs.

The tune, incidentally, was originally called “True Love and Apple Pie,” Billboard said, adding that Greenaway had been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009. Or perhaps this is just another of his cyclical renewals, a moment of bliss and success before gravity (and women, and alcohol, and his tendency to randomly pull the ripcord on his own life) drags him downward again. My mother seemed perfectly happy with her lot, but I can see why many of her bored peers, denied individual routes to satisfaction, welcomed Betty Friedan’s 1963 The Feminine Mystique as the “Aha!” moment of their lives. The article said they created record labels for which they recruited young singers who would become superstars, including Aretha Franklin, Mary Wilson, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and the group that acquired the name the Four Tops. I said as much in an email exchange about Mad Men with my friend Paul Nathanson, a cultural historian and co-author (with Katherine Young) of a prodigiously researched series of books on misandry.

He moved into advertising and created music for commercials touting the products of such corporate giants as Nabisco, Sony, Miller Beer and Campbell’s soup, The Message said. Most men of the era didn’t wear well-cut suits to work, but uniforms for their jobs in factories or mines “and considered themselves lucky if they could support themselves and their families as they were expected to do” (families being bigger then as well as dependent on a single salary), with failure to do so costing them extreme stress and humiliation. We write a lot about the show because there’s a huge audience out there ready to devour Mad Men content — far beyond any other show I’ve written about here that’s not Game of Thrones.

The fact that Don spends even a second out West after learning Betty’s news—that he accepts her conclusion about his familial uselessness, rather than challenging it—suggests no. And when Don offers his litany of sins, it feels odd that he lists making “nothing” of the Draper name up there with breaking his vows, scandalizing his child, and stealing a man’s identity.

But there have been several currents in the past few episodes that suggest abandoning your children is the one form of self-expression that Mad Men can’t condone. For all the men’s “privilege” over Betty and Joan, Betty and Joan, deploying their own strategic wiles — in Joan’s case deeply feminine wiles — do survive and triumph, do retain their ability to love.

Lost was the king of the recap roost at the time, but those who wrote about it usually focused more on grand, unified theories of why the show worked, rather than the sorts of symbolic interpretations The Sopranos invited. This flurry of emotional or actual reunions suggests to me that Don will soon be in a kitchen with Sally, somewhere, sharing a Coke with the girl who understands him best.

Thus, there was a huge opening in the “reading about TV on the internet” marketplace that was beginning to boom in the late 2000s, and Mad Men filled it as surely as it filled the slots vacated by Sopranos at the Golden Globes and the Emmys. Perhaps men like Don Draper (for whose PTSD there was no understanding or support) felt, and perhaps understandably felt, they had earned some rewards for their wartime service to America’s women and children. Likewise, many women in their “comfortable concentration camps,” as Betty Friedan shamefully labelled the suburbs, were pleased as punch to be there.

The well-documented phenomenon of post-war euphoria in the U.S. manifested itself in both men and women as a hunger for “white picket fence” cocooning (though the word itself had not yet been coined). Alan Sepinwall began his seminal blog What’s Alan Watching in late 2005, and by that final Sopranos season, dozens of publications were dipping their toes into the recap waters. When Mad Men started, it was popular to suggest that the end of The Sopranos, the cancellation of HBO’s Deadwood, and the impending end of The Wire signaled the end of TV’s Golden Age. (Sound familiar?) Instead, Mad Men and later Breaking Bad picked up that ball and ran with it, while FX entered the early stages of a hot streak that continues to this day. And though Peggy and Joan struggled to break through the glass ceiling, there were other women, in other fields, like Rachel Menken, the confident department store heiress deferred to by every man at Sterling Cooper, who handled inherited power with competence and aplomb. But, really, in that summer of 2007, the established shows worth writing about were few and far between — especially if you didn’t want to publish weekly, in-depth reviews of comedies (a later development, largely driven by content-hungry sites like, well, The A.V.

They were essentially limited to The Wire, Dexter, Lost, Heroes, 24, Grey’s Anatomy, and maybe Veronica Mars (if your readership was especially young). Which made Peggy’s declaration to potential boyfriend Abe Drexler that her lot as a woman — unable to join the tennis and golf clubs where men advanced their careers — was similar to the lot of Negroes, jolting, revisionist and seemingly out of character. Contrast that to today, when a show like The Americans can’t get the same sort of readership traction as Mad Men (even though it has a loyal, dedicated audience that likes reading about it), simply because there’s so much more stuff out there. This most recent season of that FX drama received the kind of acclaim Mad Men did in its heyday — but it’s much, much harder for a series to cut through the noise from all those other shows out there.

Though it never pulled in Big Bang Theory numbers, AMC told Vulture’s Joe Adalian that at the show’s height, a total of just under 7 million people watched it. As my colleague Matthew Yglesias wrote about the popularity of Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy online, a small but rabidly passionate audience for a particular topic can be lifeblood to a website that craves readers. In any given episode of Mad Men, the only thing more likely to come out of a character’s mouth than the trailing smoke of a Lucky Strike cigarette is a witty one-liner. As we enter the final days of Sterling Cooper & Partners, Slate’s TV Club will celebrate the show’s retorts and rejoinders by highlighting a Mad Men Zinger of the Week for Slate Plus.

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