Why Peggy and Stan Shouldn’t Have Ended Up Together on Mad Men

19 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Coke featured in ‘Mad Men’ series finale.

The series ended Sunday evening with a classic commercial, the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” TV ad from 1971, an advertisement that, like all good advertising, is drenched in cheap sentiment, cynically concocted to sell a product that nobody really needs. In the final season of AMC’s “Mad Men,” set in 1970, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola was mentioned as lead character Don Draper’s potential perfect client, the one that would match the most brilliant mind in advertising with one of the most marketing-savvy companies in the world.

Now that everyone’s had time to digest last night’s “Mad Men” finale, we’ve moved into the stage of grief known as Obsessively Nitpicking Over What Happened to Don, Even Though That’s Not The Point.For a few minutes last night’s finale of Mad Men became a rom com: co-workers Peggy Olson and Stan Rizzo realized they’d been falling in love all along.The world said goodbye Sunday night to the chain-smoking, Old Fashioned-swilling ad execs that we’ve all come to know and love-hate over the past eight years. Creator Matthew Weiner does not say so explicitly, but the final scene on the show implied this fictional ad man came up with Coca-Cola’s iconic 1971 advertisement “Hilltop.” A spokesperson for Coca-Cola said the company provided the ad for the show to use but didn’t know how it would be used. In real life, however, the credit goes to Bill Backer, a former McCann Erickson creative director who thought up the commercial’s concept while sitting in an airport during a flight delay.

While fans on Twitter are in heavy debate over who at McCann Erickson was responsible for the creation of the iconic Coke commercial, the Daily News popcorn panel weighs in on the series finale’s best moments: Andy Martino, Sports Writer: What did I think of the “Mad Men” finale? What did Backer think of seeing his masterpiece appropriated by Matthew Weiner for the good of Don Draper? “It had become more about the tangled lives of the people and less about the industry they were working in and presenting the ads in ways that was attention-getting, and hopefully uplifting and fun to watch,” he said.

The message captured how universal the Coke brand had become, that consumers from Africa to Asia to America were tied together by that sweet, fizzy drink. Don’s little smile at the end wasn’t the smile of a man reborn into a more honest person, it was the smile of a born ad-man who had just come up with something he knows will be iconic. He concluded his quest, his shedding of the past – the point of drifting west – in California, at a retreat, in meditation, in a yoga pose, chanting.

The show’s unstoppable narrative drive from the hectic, bracing social change of the 1960s to the solipsism of the Me-Generation 1970s, was complete. Sure, the writers have been hinting at a spark between the two characters for several seasons now, but it wasn’t exactly a Rachel-Ross “will they or won’t they?” plot that deserved a grand romantic ending. Lauren Morgan, Entertainment Photo Editor: Although Don spending a large chunk of the final episode at a yoga retreat was unpredictable, much of the finale read a bit like fan fiction. As Roger Sterling’s secretary Meredith pointed out, there are a lot of places better than McCann, or New York, although Don doesn’t seem to be the best at finding them.

Viewers looking for clues about the ending were rewarded if they took note of the request that Draper “fix” a Coke machine in the penultimate episode. Whether Don was truly buying all the Esalen-speak (and some of the group dialogue was laughable, but probably taken from life), I don’t believe he went back.

On the phone, Peggy tells Don that he can come back to McCann even though he just walked out, abandoning his life and the company — and Coke is the main argument she uses. He couldn’t escape it even when he wanted to — remember last week when the motel owner was begging Don to repair his old Coca-Cola vending machine because he didn’t want the new one? If Joan got bored with living as a woman of leisure, Don probably isn’t going to make it through the rest of his life meditating, especially when he doesn’t have anyone keeping him in California since Stephanie took off with his car. And if the show is, as it always has been, about how people don’t really change — except in small ways that they end up fighting anyway — then sure, it makes sense that Don would eventually return to New York.

If Trudy wants to board the plane to Kansas, she’d do well to abide by her own words from the penultimate episode: “I remember things as they were.” But back to Peggy and Stan, who will surely be happy together, but at what cost? He connected with the office sap in the meeting, got in touch with his spiritual side on the cliff (temporarily most likely), and was struck with a great idea for an advertisement.

In an odd blend of the maudlin and the maddening, Peggy found true love with Stan, Joan chose business over love (a hint of the coming women’s liberation movement that has been a thread stitched into the show’s entire narrative arc) and Sally Draper became her mother Betty even as her mother approached death. Kirthana Ramisetti, Online Entertainment Reporter: I was surprised that we got final scenes between so many important pairings: Pete/Peggy, Peggy/Joan, Joan/Roger, etc. The drawn-out scene, switching from phone conversation to in-person touchy-feely encounter, was brazen, stand-up-and-cheer sentimentality. “All I want to do is be with you,” Stan says. “I’m in love with you.” And there was a cuteness to Joan’s decision to forge ahead in business, against all odds, that was satisfying but vaguely contrived. Joseph Barracato, Homepage Editor: Originally, like most of America, I was excited to find out what the hell Don Draper was doing — and if he would die. This was less a neat summing up than it was like a musical diminuendo, a gradual decrease in loudness, until the only real noise was going on inside Don Draper’s head.

Of all the things we really dread, the top one has to be Sally missing out on her life because she becomes a mother to her two younger brothers after Betty dies. And because so much screen time was spent with new characters, the other major story lines were tied up quickly and neatly in bows as if writers from ABC hacked into Weiner’s computer.

As a side note, it’s hard to believe he could smoke like a chimney and drink like a fish (or rather, a school of fishes) and remain as unaffected physically as he seems to be. Is Don’s ending really a spiritual awakening and a start to a new and positive chapter (as so many reviewers and viewers are writing), or is he just returning to his old ways? The whole show was about the hard wired patterns that get created when we are young and the inevitable battles that result between our ego, public self, and shadow. Instead, I think he started the recovery process and went on to live in peace, perhaps returning to gather his kids and be the good, loving dad that he never had. I see the very ending as a contrast between the spiritual life that was genuinely in store for Don Draper, free from the lies of Madison Avenue, and how the Ad world would (and did) manipulate the post-hippie “would be” world of the spirit to sell junk.

Perhaps it didn’t altogether replace the institutionalized alcoholism depicted in the series, but represented a freshening, a “new possibility”, some kind of epiphany for jaded seekers. ”Come back, Don. Having worn men’s plaid shirts over the years, I recall that the mark of a carefully-made shirt was, for decades, that the pattern on the pockets was perfectly aligned with the pattern on the body of the shirt. At Esalen (or driving there) Dick-Don was wearing a plaid shirt with the 2015 style — pocket plaid not matching the body plaid — in, supposedly, the early 1970s, in a program that went to great lengths to reproduce meticulously contemporary neck-wear widths, sideburn lengths and other minutia!

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