‘Mad Men’ Ends But Memory Lives On In These Stocks

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Mad Men’ Cast and Crew Raise One Last Glass to the Series at Animated Finale Party.

Mad Men diehards gathered in bars, restaurants and comedy clubs across New York on Sunday to discover the fate of Don Draper et al. as the curtain came down on the award-winning retro-cool television series.There’s something more than a little voyeuristic about watching the last episode of a beloved television series with the people who made it, so it was with a mix of bittersweet excitement and clumsy curiosity that fans and friends of Mad Men gathered at Sunday night’s finale screening.

Twitter threatened to go into meltdown, with #MadMenFinale trending, while there were tears and cheers at City Winery in the Tribeca neighbourhood in Lower Manhattan, where more than 100 people settled down with wine and pizza in front of giant television screens. “We wanted to watch it somewhere. A long evening that capped off one of the more notable farewell tours in recent TV memory, the AMC drama signed off at downtown Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel with cast members past and present crowding the packed theater with creator Matthew Weiner, the series’ writers and producers and other familiar faces all in attendance. But before the episode aired, timed almost perfectly to the East Coast telecast, the horde sat through a live reading of freshman season finale “The Wheel” orchestrated by Jason Reitman. “We should lock the doors,” said Reitman, at the top of the night. “Matthew Weiner doesn’t get to leave until we get a few more seasons. At a retreat full of hippies, he resists the suicidal lure of Big Sur’s big cliffs, rises at dawn, chants “om,” and smiles a Mona Lisa yogini smile. Mad Men — which was a breath of fresh air when it debuted in 2007 in a television landscape of crime procedurals — follows the bed-hopping lives of a group of 1960s advertising men in New York.

That’s the headline, folks: Don Draper finds peace at last! (A peace that will, it seems, eventually lead him back to advertising, McCann, and the creation of the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” campaign that played before the credits—but peace nonetheless.) The finale was kind to Don, and kind-hearted generally. Last weekend’s penultimate episode ended with Draper — the dashing but conflicted anti-hero played by Jon Hamm — sitting on a bench in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma, having given away his car while driving west in apparent flight from his flashy Madison Avenue life. This is what I want.” Reitman briefly beckoned Weiner to stand, when he received the first of several standing ovations for the night, and then welcomed nine actors on stage to fill the series’ familiar roles. Watching Matthew Weiner dole out so much redemption, hope and love, after all his years convincing us that people are bitter, cruel and self-defeating, that they can never escape their own foibles and sins—well, it was what I said I wanted before the season began. In the lead-up to the feverishly anticipated finale, US mainstream and social media had been awash with speculation about the denouement of the stylish series, which has won 15 Emmy awards and four Golden Globes over the years.

Most, including Rob Huebel, Ashley Greene and Colin Hanks, opted to give their own takes on the parts of Ken Cosgrove, Joan Holloway and Don Draper (respectively) — but it was Fred Savage who immediately won the audience over with a spot-on impersonation of Vincent Kartheiser’s Pete Campbell. (Kevin Pollak also brought laughs with his oddly harsh take on Bert Cooper.) Nice as it may have been, it was just the opening act. Was the serially seductive Draper going to throw himself or be pushed from a skyscraper, echoing the title credit sequence featuring a cut-out version of a man falling between huge adverts featuring beautiful women?

The scandalous paperback about an aristocrat’s affair with her gardner had been banned and then declared “smut” — but this copy boasts it’s “unexpurgated,” meaning all the good parts have made it past the censor. The dapper proletariat who paid for tickets in the upper balconies, after waiting in a line that wrapped around the block, sported period garb, slick suits and updos that would have made Betty Francis proud.

Twitter users flooded the social media network to express their feelings about the ending — with many describing it as “beautiful,” “earnest” and even “perfect.” One user, @sanriel, wrote: “A great hour of television. Weiner recognized the unique scenario when he briefly took the stage before the screening, the last he’ll likely speak on the record before a May 20 conversation about the finale at the New York Public Library. “I will call this a relationship, even by Don’s standards,” he said of his nearly decade-long rapport with Mad Men’s audience.

Stephanie gave her child to his grandparents to raise, and she tells the hippies at the retreat she feels like people are judging her for abandoning her son. Christina Hendricks and January Jones, both of whom were present at a TV Academy panel for the series earlier in the afternoon, were the only significant absences. Back then, Don argued for perpetual motion, for endless reinvention, and now he sings the same tune: “You can put this behind you,” he says, with the fervor of a lifelong escape artist. “It will get easier as you move forward.” “Oh Dick,” Stephanie returns. “I don’t think you’re right about that.” After Stephanie leaves, presumably to engage her responsibilities in some way, Don goes dark at the thought of the responsibilities he’s shirked. The news of Betty’s cancer—and the fact that the one thing his first wife and daughter can agree on is that wherever Bobby and Eugene end up when she dies, it certainly won’t be with him—leaves him wrecked. No longer the ingénue, she tells her shrink that sometimes when Don makes love to her it’s what she wants — and sometimes it’s what someone else wants.

The showrunner did take the opportunity to pay one final, public homage to his cast and crew and then left the crowd with this friendly message: “I will be in the audience. Series’ producers and the bulk of the writers’ room made silent cameos throughout the supersized episode, drawing hoots, hollers and hysterics from the company and their pockets of comrades throughout the theater. And made nothing of it.” For a moment it looks as though Don will end it all—there are no skyscrapers around, but those cliffs would do nicely—when a benevolent hippie nudges him toward a seminar. The satire about eight Vassar grads — Betty herself a graduate of seven sister school Bryn Mawr — it describes how all the trappings of suburbia do not add up to happiness. AMC president Charlie Collier got a congratulatory handshake from Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, young Kiernan Shipka and Marten Weiner (Sally Draper and Glen Bishop) caught up while the adults sipped cocktails and visibly proud Jon Hamm made the rounds Mad Men plugged these final seven episodes as “the end of an era.” That seems to be true in more ways than one.

You spend your whole life thinking you’re not getting it, people aren’t giving it to you, then you realize, they’re trying, and you don’t even know what it is.” As the critic David Ehrlich pointed out in Slate earlier this week, the question of whether Don believes in love has been central since the show’s pilot, when Don argued to Rachel Menken that love “doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons.” But Don has been looking for some version of love ever since, and he recognizes himself in Leonard’s dream about being on a shelf in a fridge, waiting to be chosen every time the door opens and the light comes on, bereft whenever it goes dark again. (Since this speech came a few moments after a distinctly un-Draper-worthy ad for Heinz’s new mustard, I couldn’t help but imagine Leonard and Don as matching condiments, side by side.) Don embraces Leonard, and sobs.

A New York Times review from 1966 describes the third novel about a small Western town as follows: “With nothing to do and nothing to stimulate the mind, sex becomes the common pursuit and the townspeople, youngsters and adults, act out their frustrations, their compulsions, their boredom and their hates in physical couplings. He’s up to the same trysts and deceptions, but there’s something gross about it — the red wine sloshed on the carpet, the diner waitress in an alleyway. “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth came out in 1969, immediately sparking debate about its treatment of sex. The first rule of work husbands is “Don’t fall in love with your work husband.” Because Peggy and Stan have such extraordinary rapport, the scene between them was great fun—and it’s gratifying to see Peggy find personal happiness, not just professional success. Abiding love and support that’s not romantic; colleagues that become—the word Peggy repeatedly used when cajoling Don to return—a kind of “home”: These are aspects of office life that Mad Men has portrayed better than almost any other show.

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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