?

Log in

 
 
18 May 2015 @ 07:47 pm
"Love was invented by guys like me. To sell nylons."  
Anyone want to talk about the end of Mad Men?

I've had my fair share of issues with this show and I've steadily become a lesser fan from S5 onwards. But I mostly like the way they've ended it. With the Coke advert especially. Perfect really. Like, look at all the progress we've made in the last decade. Progress for women, progress for ethnic minorities, progress for the young! Yay for all this hippy liberal progress! Now let us use all that positive progressive movement to be greedy corporate capitalists and sell coca cola. Which brings us to the world we live in now. Really that's the perfect ending for Mad Men. Don Draper was never capable of change (though Pete Campbell might be?), he still sleeps on a bed of money.

But also Peggy said "A thing like that" to Pete. And melted into a puddle of purest delight.

But also...poor Betty Draper. Of course she's the only character to be punished for their smoking habit.  
Tags:
 
 
 
ever_neutral: [dbsk] the world drops deadever_neutral on May 19th, 2015 08:39 am (UTC)
PETE CAMPBELL IS THE LIGHT. THAT'S MY STORY AND I'M STICKING TO IT.

But also Peggy said "A thing like that" to Pete. And melted into a puddle of purest delight.

If they couldn't give me my implausible Peggy/Pete endgame then this was the next best thing.

But also...poor Betty Draper. Of course she's the only character to be punished for their smoking habit.

SMH!!!! SMH SMH SMH. Everyone else got their happy ending! WHERE IS THE JUSTICE??
falafel_musings: mad menfalafel_musings on May 19th, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC)
SMH SMH SMH. Everyone else got their happy ending!

Agreed. The imbalance between everyone else's fate Vs Betty's fate was galling. If they were going to punish a character with an early grave due to poor treatment of their bodies, surely Roger was the more likely casualty? You know, Roger who had almost died of a heartattack 10 years ago and hadn't stopped drinking, smoking, taking drugs since that near death experience?

Well Weiner gave us implausible Pete/Trudy and Stan/Peggy happy endings instead. Even though I rather like both those alt Pete/Peggy pairings, those happy endings felt contrived to me. But Pete and Peggy just having that little moment, that was precious. And YES! Pete is the LIGHT!!

Edited at 2015-05-19 05:54 pm (UTC)
hollywoodlawnhollywoodlawn on May 19th, 2015 08:31 pm (UTC)
Ah, I didn't see this until now. I loved the ending, sobbed my way through Don and Betty's phone call, sobbed my way through Don and Peggy's phone call, sobbed my way through Don hugging Leonard and breaking down. However, I don't see the ending quite as cynically as many have who think that Don coming up with the Coke ad meant that he hadn't changed at all. I think Don was profoundly changed, and while the symbol of that Hilltop ad could be construed as an absorption of the counterculture to simply sell syrupy water, I don't think that the idea, like the inspiration, had to come from a cynical place.

I want to feel assured that Don didn't go back to New York merely to return to McCann, but also return to his kids. I think eventually the boys would want to stay with their father full time, and he had pulled himself together enough to be there for them (Sally is already away at school and would go on to college, but at least she could be the adventurer her mother wanted her to be - the spirit of her father still present).

And sorry, but I never really liked Betty. Someone had to get cancer with all that smoking. Why not Betty? She was rarely without a cigarette in her hand. As much as fans claim Don is a shit father, it was always Betty that got me the most riled up with her crap parenting skills. But she was never much of an adult during her marriage with Don, and even with Henry - I mean the attraction to Henry was so obviously a daddy thing. Maybe she just reminded me too much of my own mother, and while I found her behavior fascinating at times, and believed she went through a very deep depression in those first few seasons, I still never cared for her character. It's funny, but ever since her diagnosis, there has been this great whiteswashing of the character, but that didn't surprise me, really. Even January Jones' performance has upshot in many people's estimations, whereas before she was always referred to as the weak link in a stellar cast. Now, I always thought Jones did great work in that role.

The Stan/Peggy thing was the cheeseiest thing ever written on this show, but even still I was grinning from ear-to-ear and happy to see them end that way (doesn't mean they STAY together, of course, lol). I love Roger dearly, and was tickled to see him end up with Marie, but really, the show has been about Don, Peggy, and Pete, for me, and so I was glad to see Pete get a new life with Trudy (him and Trudy getting back together made me happy. Pete spent so much time trying to be like Don, but he got a lot of things right in the end.) Also, his last exchange with Pegs was perfect. I'm so happy they stayed friends.

In many ways, it was a more satisfying ending for me than Breaking Bad's - where I was left to worry about the newest horrors that might befall Jesse Pinkman, fugitive. But as with that show, I choose to see a brighter future for everyone.

Have you read Jon Hamm's view on the ending? His take was exactly how I felt. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/18/mad-men-finale-jon-hamm-interview/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Arts&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs®ion=Body&_r=0

I also loved his idea for a spinoff with Sally.
falafel_musings: six feetfalafel_musings on May 20th, 2015 09:11 pm (UTC)
while the symbol of that Hilltop ad could be construed as an absorption of the counterculture to simply sell syrupy water, I don't think that the idea, like the inspiration, had to come from a cynical place.

Even if that's the case and Don was having another Hershey bar moment of emotive inspiration, it still stands that Don will happily hijack a popular counterculture movement and use it to create enormous profits for an industry still largely governed by rich white men. He's still a capitalist vulture by nature. Which isn't to say that Don has no empathy with the hippies, but that almost makes it a worse betrayal of 60s idealism - that Don understands the spiritual message and yet will still use it for corporate financial gain.

I never really liked Betty. Someone had to get cancer with all that smoking. Why not Betty?

You're not in a minority there. It's been pretty clear, especially in the later seasons of MM, that fans aren't supposed to like Betty at all. So finishing Betty off with a terminal illness while everyone else got relatively happy endings felt like the ultimate bit of fan service from Weiner. The question should really be why did the likes of Don and Roger finish the show in good health? They are older than Betty, smoke just as much, drink more, sleep around more, etc, yet the writers didn't see fit to give them a death sentence. But then it felt like they weren't really killing Betty for the smoking - they were killing her for being a bad person.

I was sympathetic to S1 Betty and I guess Don's treatment of his wife in S1 cemented my aversion towards him. For me the worst part of it wasn't even Don cheating on Betty or spying on her therapy sessions but just Don's lack of support for Betty having any interests outside being a housewife. I felt Betty's early season depression was largely caused by Don's lies, his gaslighting and his need to keep Betty in her lonely little suburbia box. Betty getting her death sentence just when she decides to pursue her own education was (I suppose) meant to make her death all the more tragic, like she was struck down just as she was achieving redemption. But, I don't know...to me it just seemed spiteful on the writer's part. I liked S1 Betty but the character was very demonized as the show progressed and Don seemed vindicated for his abusive treatment of her. Interesting though that Betty had a successful second marriage and Don didn't.

The Stan/Peggy thing was the most indulgent fan-service hook up since Josh/Donna in West Wing S7. I didn't mind it either. I like both characters, nice to see them happy, etc, but yeah. It was totally cheesy. Most of the finale felt fan servicey apart from the fact that they gave Pete a happy ending. Apparently a large portion of MM fans are angry that he didn't die in a plane crash or get eaten by a bear. Not really sure what to make of Pete's S7 story. I watched 6 seasons of Pete getting beaten up, maligned and demonized, then suddenly the writers just give Pete a break. Okay fine. I'm not sure if it's dramatically satisfying. It feels a bit inconsistent. As a Pete fan I think I'd have preferred more balance.
hollywoodlawnhollywoodlawn on May 21st, 2015 04:41 pm (UTC)
What Matthew Weiner said about Betty in last night's post-series discussion at the NY Library with A.M. Homes:

Weiner knew the series’ ending while wrapping season four. It’s well known that Weiner disclosed Don’s inspired idea to Hamm early on, but he also knew Betty’s fate at that point too. “People die of cancer in the US. It’s up there. I knew very early on. Her mother had just died in the pilot, and I knew this woman wasn’t going to live long, and we love the idea of her realizing her purpose in life right when she ran out of time. … I think there’s a lesson to be learned about the randomness of things, and also she has some predisposition and some fairly seriously cancer-causing behavior.”

As for it being a 'punishment' to that character, it was a gift to January Jones! What actor doesn't wish for a great death scene? And look at how it turned opinion on Betty, now forever after referred to as, "poor, poor Betty". Thematically and significantly, it played more as a reward. The fact that Betty stuck around the entire series, considering she wasn't part of the office environment and was no longer part of Don's life, is a testament, I think, to how much the writers wanted that character around.

The gaslighting thing is interesting. I see people use that word all the time in conjunction with Don and Betty's marriage, but I just felt that the way he treated her was a sign of the times, and it was a story worth telling. Don wanted Betty as part of his slick package, and for much of the early seasons, Betty had no depth. She was absolutely fine with being a housewife and all the surface benefits that entailed. You said "but just Don's lack of support for Betty having any interests outside being a housewife. - what interests? Outside of horse riding, she had frighteningly few. Even her friend calls her old-fashioned when Betty doesn't buy into the fulfillment she's received at her job. Betty doesn't consider going back to college until she's watched her daughter grow up to be a strong, opinionated young woman, and only then does she think she might want to be more intellectually challenged than what she has at home.

As for the Coke ad, I used to watch that ad when I was a kid and it never inspired contempt in me. Probably because I was too young to really understand that cynicism, but what I remember most is that the image and the music would give me a nice little lift in my chest, a bubble of empathy and happiness at the idea of 'perfect harmony'. I didn't walk away thinking I really wanted a Coke. So I took it much differently than a lot of viewers. I could see the vestiges of Don's earlier nylon speech, but there was something so fundamentally changed in that vision that I have to believe it came from a pure place. I am also making it my headcanon that both Peggy and Stan helped work on that ad.

I just watched the entire Weiner interview on youtube. I feel vindicated now that he's essentially said the same thing that I was expressing on the boards about the Coke ad.
"I did hear rumblings of people talking about the ad being corny. It's a little bit disturbing to me, that cynicism. I'm not saying advertising's not corny, but I'm saying that the people who find that ad corny, they're probably experiencing a lot of life that way, and they're missing out on something. Five years before that, black people and white people couldn't even be in an ad together! And the idea that someone in an enlightened state might have created something that's very pure — yeah, there's soda in there with a good feeling, but that ad to me is the best ad ever made, and it comes from a very good place. ... That ad in particular is so much of its time, so beautiful and, I don't think, as — I don't know what the word is — villainous as the snark of today."

falafel_musings: mad menfalafel_musings on May 24th, 2015 05:41 pm (UTC)
i The fact that Betty stuck around the entire series, considering she wasn't part of the office environment and was no longer part of Don's life, is a testament, I think, to how much the writers wanted that character around.

Maybe. Personally I felt that after Don/Betty divorced, Betty more often featured as a supporting character in Sally's story than the central character in her own plotline.

I just felt that the way he treated her was a sign of the times, and it was a story worth telling. Don wanted Betty as part of his slick package, and for much of the early seasons, Betty had no depth. She was absolutely fine with being a housewife and all the surface benefits that entailed. You said "but just Don's lack of support for Betty having any interests outside being a housewife. - what interests?

Betty was working as a model when she met Don and in 'Shoot' she wants to go back into modelling but Don tells her she already has 'a job' being a mother. Then in S3 she got involved in local politics saving the reservoir, another thing Don took no interest in. Certainly Betty is partly to blame for leaving her own ambitions till it was too late, but I disagree that she was fine being a housewife. Betty's whole S1 story was about how being just a housewife was driving her nuts. And the gaslighting came from Don encouraging Betty to think she was crazy to keep her from finding out that he was a liar, fraud and adulterer. Don could have encouraged Betty to take up classes and hobbies but instead he sent her to therapy.

As for the Coke ad, I used to watch that ad when I was a kid and it never inspired contempt in me.

I actually had never seen that particular Coke ad until watching this episode. So I guess it seems more manipulative to me now? I found it hard to see that final moment of MM strictly in its historical context and not fast-forward to all the modern Coke ad campaigns that continue to use those sort of sentimental cultural hooks to make so much money off of sugary brown water.


Edited at 2015-05-24 05:44 pm (UTC)
hollywoodlawnhollywoodlawn on May 21st, 2015 04:41 pm (UTC)
As for Pete - I think one of the more potent lines he had in the penultimate episode is when he tells Trudy, "I'm not so dumb anymore". Pete matured, and I loved that. You can only get punched in the face so many times before you start punching back. I think the seminal Pete moment was in season six, when he gets fed up with Don's antics and marches straight to the lounge area, rips the joint out of Stan's mouth, then sits down and takes a toke in glorious slow-motion to Janis' crooning of "Take a Little Piece of My Heart". After that, we saw him mellow in California, and get more light-hearted as time went on. He let go of a lot of his anger slowly but surely, so that by the time he's back in New York, he has nothing to good feeling towards old enemies. I loved his last conversation with Ken when they're talking about him writing. Pete was trying to be sincere again.
And I see Don in the episodes leading up to the finale trying to be unfailingly kind to people wherever he went. He knew he needed to change. But being an ad man is what he was made for. He had learned empathy, to let go of his past, and as we saw with Leonard, that he could 'see' other people.