‘Mad Men’ Series Finale: What Should Happen, What Could Happen

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Mad Men’ Series Finale: What Should Happen, What Could Happen.

The slick depiction of Madison Avenue advertising in the 60s, which has won 15 Emmys including Outstanding Drama in four successive seasons, bows out on AMC, four days ahead of the UK.”The last day of shooting was so sad,” costume designer Janie Bryant tells PEOPLE of being on set for the last day of filming the AMC drama’s seventh – and final – season. “The whole entire cast showed up on set. Speculation about Don Draper’s fate is rife, as it was for a long line of American television icons before him, ranging from Walter White and Tony Soprano to JR and Frazier. ‘All that I can tell you is we’re telling you a story. This is the natural conclusion of the story,’ he told the New York Times. ‘I hate to say it, I don’t really feel like I owe anybody anything.’ Finales have always been an event, even before the internet.

Seinfeld, Cheers, and Roots became the stuff of television legend, attracting figures in the States between 76-100million but failing to challenge M*A*S*H’s record of 125million viewers and an astonishing 77% share of the overall audience. Nowadays the advent of Twitter and other social media means that the manner in which a series concludes is a matter of intense debate and analysis among the public as much as the press. And then we had this huge group photo,” continues Bryant, an Emmy winner for her work on HBO’s Deadwood. “It’s hard for me to think about it and not get teary-eyed.” “It’s almost hard to emotionally register it because it is such a bittersweet thing, having this huge journey and growing together professionally.

The house, which listed at $649,000, is just a short stroll to stores and restaurants. “We never got discouraged,” says Ryan Wist, national sales manager for Rip Curl, a surf apparel retailer. “We kept finding homes that we liked and kept trying.” “There’s no inventory, and there are a million buyers looking for property,” says Sheri Manarrich, a First Team Real Estate agent working in Aliso Viejo. “A home comes on the market and it’s like a revolving door of buyers and agents.” Sellers worry that a buyer’s loan application could get rejected, and a prequalification won’t allay any nagging concerns. Even The Sopranos’ most fervent fans are still arguing about the significance of the ending and whether it was a disappointment while The Wire irreparably damaged its legacy with a weak goodbye. That’s because the borrower simply gave the lender information on earnings, assets and debts and the lender estimated the mortgage he or she would likely qualify for.

Mad Men may not have caught on quite the way Breaking Bad did or Game of Thrones has, but saying goodbye to Don Draper means closing a certain chapter of the so-called “Golden Era of Television.” Don joins Tony Soprano, Walter White, Nucky Thompson, Dexter Morgan, Jimmy McNulty, Jax Teller, and Boyd Crowder in the retirement home for TV anti-heroes tonight and you don’t want to miss his big send-off. I’ve written about Mad Men for seven seasons and talked numerous times with Weiner, from the very first Mad Men party when almost nobody outside of the room that night had seen a single frame of the show to live onstage in front of hundreds of people who were fanatical enough about the show to pay to hear Weiner talk about it. Mad Men is not like The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, or Breaking Bad – a series with an anti-hero whose criminal lifestyle meant it was inevitable it would end in his death, as an almost obligatory moral stance. The borrower goes through the loan-approval process – pending an appraisal of the home – which also shortens the time frame after a contract is signed. “This levels the playing field between borrowers and cash buyers,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com.

The Company: After several years of reinventing themselves, the advertising team known at various times as Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency or Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe or Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce or Sterling Cooper & Partners finally closed. But with the last ever episode of Mad Men looming on Sunday, there are still some real issues to deal with and guess at based on how the penultimate episode ended. Any city with a market time below one month – the time it would theoretically take to sell all houses in the MLS based on new escrows – is expected to see bidding wars, says Steven Thomas of Reports on Housing. Physically, Don is at a bus stop in Oklahoma, having gone deeper into his shedding of the past and possessions by giving a young kid he met in the last episode the keys to the Caddy.

This shift—from autonomy and a somewhat more female-friendly environment to the soulless corporation of McCann—has caused quite a few characters to tailspin, and a few more to rise to the challenge. Since the SC&P stalwarts went to the ‘advertising heaven’ of McCann Erickson in this season, Roger Sterling, Peggy Olsen, and Joan Harris have been put through the wringer – and their rather negative futures allocated. Thomas says although the housing supply is relatively low – earlier this month, there were 3,500 fewer sellers than in the period’s average for the previous 15 years – he is not expecting a repeat of the frenzied bidding wars of the summer of 2012. “The inventory is rising,” he says. “In 2012, it was dropping like a rock. He callously bumped off Rachel Menken off-screen, without affording her a death scene and last week, out of nowhere, he gave Betty cancer and only a few months to live. ‘It’s aggressive and advanced,’ the doctor stated, breaking it to her – and us – not very gently. ‘It’s metastasized from the lung into the bones.’ Weiner has always used Mad Men to comment on 60s America and issues like sexism, consumerism, and the spirit of revolutionary hope being crushed, so he could easily be seduced by the allure of making A Big Statement with a death.

And with that gesture, he’s not only more free than he was five minutes prior, but he’s actually slowed down his gloriously impulsive road trip away from the shackles of McCann-Erickson and what’s not left in his old life anymore. But it’s not a sure bet. “It’s (about) much more than numbers,” says Amy Bohutinsky, chief marketing officer at Zillow, an online house tracker. “Often, (sellers) may choose a buyer or a family they like vs. an all-cash offer.” “If you have contingencies for the sale of a current property, you’re never going to be accepted,” Manarrich says. “When they have 10 offers, you will not get the property.” That’s largely because contingencies have a domino effect. Not long afterwards though, Don had stood up in the middle of a meeting and walked out of McCann, hitting the road and driving for seven hours until he hallucinated that Bert Cooper was in the passenger seat. While I fully expect some kind of time-jump in this episode (most of the episodes this season take place one month apart), and that time-jump certainly could bring him back to New York, I still think Weiner will finish up this road trip theme in some way. In last week’s installment Pete was flying off into the sunset (literally) with a new job at Learjet. ‘Wichita’s beautiful and wholesome!’ he promised wife Trudy, with an evangelical enthusiasm that could only bode badly.

Sexually harassed, disrespected, and toppled from her position of power (one she worked very hard and made many compromises in order to obtain), Joan quit McCann leaving a lot of money on the table but maintaining her self-respect. Like I said previously, Don is heading West as all people who have no hopes or dreams in the East anymore do — or those whose problems put them on the road to outrun them. A recent analysis by Redfin showed that 43 percent of their winning offers in March included a personal letter from the buyer, up by about a third from last year. The cover letters were more common than all-cash offers or buyers willing to waive contingencies and inspections. “We try to get the buyers to meet the sellers now so we can put a face to the name,” says Wist’s agent, Valerie Torelli of Torelli Realty in Costa Mesa.

She has a decent beau in Bruce Greenwood (a big step up from her rapist ex-husband, the non-committal Roger, and the closeted Bob Benson), but it would be a shame to see her leave all her talent and hard-won business acumen in the past. But with last week’s revelation that Betty has cancer and has between nine months and a year to live, there is a bit of a ticking clock on the series that effects both how Don makes his decisions and how Weiner chooses to do his time jump (and remember, there could be more than one). An enterprising buyer and agent can swoop in on a new listing, she says, and let the seller’s agent know: “We’re willing to buy the home as is.” No staging, painting or other fixes required.

Roger Sterling: If we want to judge the progress of a character from his attitude towards women (and why not?) then Roger has come out something of a wash in these final episodes. Finally, Don had suffered a vision of his dead lover Rachel Menken cooing: ‘I’m supposed to tell you that you missed your flight’ – a cryptic message but one that suggested Don might have avoided dying in a plane crash. Think about being willing to do a remodel, sometimes even doing a tear-down, to get you into that neighborhood.” Making a solid offer is always important.

With two divorces, one kid in a cult/commune and another he hardly sees (that would be his son with Joan), I’m not sure we can call Roger’s personal life an unqualified success. The previous episode ‘Lost Horizon’ had ended with David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and been interpreted positively – as heralding Don’s escape, and break for freedom from his miserable, empty, existence in advertising. ‘This is Ground Control to Major Tom/You’ve really made the grade/And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear/Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare.’ ‘Space Oddity’ ends with the astronaut sighing: ‘Here am I floating round my tin can/Far above the Moon/Planet Earth is blue/And there’s nothing I can do…’ Having grown up as a farmer’s boy Dick Whitman on a farm in Illinois and then a brothel in Pennsylvania before appropriating the identity of a lieutenant Donald Draper killed next to him in Korea, Don now appears to be going back full circle.

Pete Campbell: Pete has gone from a weaselly, King Joffrey-esque bastard of the ad world to a weaselly, King Joffrey-esque bastard we can’t help but root for. He has gone back to the Mid West and two weeks ago, he fleetingly gave up his identity again – passing himself off as ‘Bill Phillips’ from Miller beer. Weiner, who learned much of his craft from David Chase, creator of The Sopranos where Weiner worked as a writer, doesn’t need an exclamation point to this series. Betty Francis: Mad Men has been rough on Betty who divorced Don, settled in to a cozy life with Henry Francis, and decided to go back to school only to be diagnosed with lung cancer. Sally Draper: Don’s daughter now has the burden of being the guiding force in her family; Betty has made it pretty clear that Sally shouldn’t expect too much from step-dad Henry after her mom dies.

Or will Don get his act together for once in his life and take the kids with him wherever he’s going. (California, we assume.) Fingers crossed for the latter. It doesn’t have to happen, but it’s likely — not only because it will provide a tidier bit of closure than the one given, but also because Don’s relationship to them is so essential. There really shouldn’t be any room for a Harry scene in the finale, but Matthew Weiner might put one in to rub our faces in the injustice of the 1970s ad world.

And being a good father, or the best Don could be at the time, has been something that Weiner has used to salve how poorly Betty was at being a mother. And Don getting caught by Sally, in season six, sleeping around was the catalyst for Don to make changes and come clean about his past — ground zero for the more redemptive Don we’ve seen since then. That kind of storytelling solidifies the notion that life goes on — that he can deal with Betty and the kids at some later date that we don’t have to see.

By assuming that Weiner’s window on this world is closing only our view into it — not the world that will still exists on the other side — he can choose not to waste time with very distinct character closure. The Joan storyline can also be ended where it is (though it’s also an option to show her moving to California as well, since her new man is from there). We already know Roger is happy with Marie and jadedly accepting of his new non-role at M-E, where he seems content to ride it out for the money as he has no real ambitions beyond day-to-day pleasure. Don Draper After spending the first part of this season drenched in ennui and chasing yet another mysterious brunette, Don has hit the road leaving McCann, his family, and all his troubles in the rear view . . . or so he thought. Two episodes ago, his face told viewers all they needed to know about how much he appreciates Don; Don’s decision to break free of M-E made Ted smile with knowing respect at what a Don thing it was to do).

He didn’t need to tell those strangers and vets that he had stolen an identity in Korea — that story line has already been covered with others, primarily and most thoroughly with Pete. And when his professional world changes, it’s clear a similar pattern is in play at M-E (despite the fact that it’s sold to him as advertising heaven). I’ve imagined a kind of scene once he gets to California, that will come close to the beauty of the second season episode, “The Mountain King,” where Don walks into the Pacific Ocean for a baptismal that erases Dick Whitman forever (one of the greatest shots ever in Mad Men). I’ve trusted Weiner on this journey and, while he didn’t always get everything perfect, I’m nearly as intrigued by the choices he’ll make as I am excited to see if it ends the way I want. Season seven opened with “Time Zones,” a beautiful episode that featured Don meeting a woman on a plane (Neve Campbell) whose husband died from drinking.

Just because it’s coming to an end, just because we’re about to never see these characters again, doesn’t mean Weiner needs to race frantically toward closure. It wasn’t going to end with all of Tony’s enemies bursting into the diner and killing his whole family with a final cut from above watching all their dead faces.

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