The End of an Era – Mad Men Finale

Shifting From ‘Mad Men’ to Strong Women in a Series Finale –

So, what did you think of the Mad Men finale? I think I’m satisfied. I was thinking as I was watching it for the fourth time last night that Mad Men essentially covered my childhood. I would have been around the age of Gene Draper at the season finale. I don’t know if that means anything, but a lot of the Big Moments of the show I remember from the vantage point of a child.

While the whole Peggy/Stan thing made sense, I disliked that they saved their coming together for the last episode. Even if they’d done it last week, it would seem less forced. I always loved their whole office phone conversations. The fact that neither of them could sustain relationships with other people was the first clue that they were headed toward coupledom. Peggy is many times more ambitious than Stan and it’s cool that he’s okay with that. Peggy always represented that shift from housewife to career woman that was so revolutionary 40-50 years ago.

I’m not sure I bought Joan’s storyline. I mean, I get that she’s a woman of means now, but the whole driven career woman is not what I saw in her. I guess because her personal style didn’t really update over the years. Even when she went on her “poor me” shopping spree earlier this season, the clothes she bought were mature and serious. While I get that Joan is totally her own woman and knows her own power, as the series went on and we see the other women in the office embracing the 1970s freedoms, we don’t see that with Joan. Every outfit that she’s in requires a serious layer of restrictive foundation garments. She is probably in her late 30s at the show’s close, but the updo, the bullet bras, the full makeup, the form fitting skirts and the pumps all read much older, especially when she is standing next to Peggy. If she had loosened up one of her trademark elements, literally let her hair down, she would have looked fresher for starting a new business on her own.

The Coke ad at the end of the show kind of proves my point. This was a pivotal point where the views of young people were prominent and influential. Agencies knew they had to reach the 18-29 crowd in a different way than before – not unlike now where the internet social media grows faster (wasn’t Instagram brand new yesterday?) than companies’ market strategy. SCDP had to hire a younger creative team in the 60s so I wonder if Joan can be a success if we never got an indication of her appeal to a youth market.

Still, I like how Peggy and Joan were coming to power as Roger (and that awful moustache!) was fading and Don was doing one of his regular flip-outs. If Don had gotten all enlightened and tuned in, I would have doubted the storyline, but he remained true to who he always was.

I will miss the show a lot. I really enjoyed spending time with these characters although some of my favorites went by the wayside (Sal? Ginsberg?). I think what happened to them seemed reasonable and consistent (inconsistency is my pet peeve). I did feel rather a bit sorry for poor Sally – doomed to become the mother she had so much disdain for. I would love to see a series tackle the 70s – maybe not from the advertising point of view, but television news? Or computing? Just an idea.



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