(This post discusses specific plot points from Sunday night’s Mad Men series finale.)
Mad Men was a show that often left things up to the audience’s interpretations, and Sunday night’s final episode did just that. Viewers were left to wonder whether Don returned to New York and created that iconic Coke ad that’s been flooding Facebook feeds since the weekend, or if he simply became enlightened and spent the rest of his days eating health food in a hippie commune. There is no right answer, and fans have been coming up with their own theories. Even Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm, has his own take on the finale.
Hamm tells The New York Times, “My take is that, the next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man. And so, this thing comes to him.” (“This thing” being the groundbreaking 1971 “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” commercial.)
As with any series finale, there are plenty of detractors who simply don’t like the way the show ended. (Some really wanted to see Don jump out of that window, it seems.) While Don got an ambiguous ending to his story, Roger, Peggy, Joan, and Pete had things wrapped up more succinctly, at least for the time being. Hamm puts a fine point on the nature of story, characters, and endings in his interview:
There’s people saying, oh, it’s so pat, and it’s rom-com-y, or whatever it is. But it’s not the end of anything. The world doesn’t blow up right after the Coke commercial ends. No one is suggesting that Stan and Peggy live happily ever after, or that Joan’s business is a rousing success, or that Roger and Marie come back from Paris together. None of it is done. Matt had said at one point, “I just want my characters to be a little more happy than they were in the beginning,” and I think that’s pretty much true. But these aren’t the last moments of any of these characters’ lives, including Betty. She doesn’t have much time left, but damn if she’s not going to spend it the way she wants to spend it.
The Mad Men finale will be discussed and debated for years to come; after all, there are still people who are upset about the last episode of The Sopranos. Mad Men creator—and former Sopranos scribe—Matthew Weiner seems content to keep the mystery going, telling TMZ,“You have to watch the show, I’m not going to weigh in on that.”