On Sunday night, after 1 h 15 minutes of excitement, happiness, sadness, tears and simple astonishment, I grabbed my iPhone and updated my Facebook status to ‘Mad Men series finale sum up: Buddha’s smile’.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men Series Finale. Photo credit: vanityfair.com
If you watched the episode, you understand the irony. Yes, I was referring to Don’s expression while meditating on the perfectly green cliff overlooking the Pacific (dear Matt Weiner, thank you for ending the series in the best place on Earth aka California!). Did Don or Dick find inner peace? Yes and no. He didn’t run away to become a wandering hippie but had his biggest “Aha!” moment that later became the iconic Coca-Cola commercial (I truly believe it was Don who ‘created’ it), contributing to success of one of the world’s most recognizable brands and the corporate America his fellow retreat goers would probably fight with passion.
But for Don it was important to find himself, or better say, re-find himself as an ad men. That’s what he is, and always will. His creative mind, his job will always be his number one, and if he is not happy with it, he can’t be happy at all.
“Advertising is based on one thing, happiness”, says Don in Season 1, and for him it is literally true, that’s why this creative breakthrough is pure happiness that brings a smile to his face. He saw something others didn’t see.
Mad Men is indeed a show about happiness. Everyone wants it, everyone looks for it – sometimes at all the wrong places. Love and friendship, corporate career and entrepreneurship, talent and creativity, appreciating what you have and aiming for more – happiness comes in many forms, and not always in the one you’ve visioned.
Mad Men is about finding happiness, even if is bittersweet, and the show did a great job on depicting the path of many people to finding it, and finding themselves.
All the speculations on whether the show will end with Don dying (or rather killing himself) come from people who don’t get the idea. Mad Men is not about decline. It is about life, choice and new beginning.
How many time the Man Men characters had to start all over again, or to venture into something new? A lot. But this is what made Don, Peggy, Joan, Sally and many others grow deeper and deeper as personalities, learn about themselves and accept who they are. The journey never ends, and the end of an era is the beginning of a new one.
The show answers many questions and ties together multiple story lines but also leaves us wonder – about the future of the Mad Men, and our own, and this is a sign of a piece of art this series truly is.