Monday, May 18, 2015

A Mad End

Mad Men Intro

Everything, dammit, comes to an end.  Sunday May 17, 2015 saw the final episode of Mad Men air.  I didn't get to watch it in real time because no matter much I might adore the show, the alarm goes off at 4:45am and, well, sleep and I have a deep and meaningful relationship.  I did catch up with the finale this morning, savoring every moment because I knew that this was the last.  It was more wistful than tearful, and for that I'm pleased.
The evolution of the characters over the seasons was wondrous to behold - even when they didn't change all that much because people don't really betray their core nature.  In that way we are all Sisyphus rolling a boulder of our baggage up that hill every single day.  Don Draper's baggage in particular was monumental.  Given his origins, and his childhood, where he ends up is surprising, but how he conducts his private life isn't.  His relationships with the romantic interests in his life, that endless parade of women, is disappointing, but nonetheless typical of someone so scarred and ashamed of his past.  Two of Don's deepest and most surprising relationships with female characters were nonsexual.  One was with Peggy Olson, the fresh from secretarial school secretary, who rises through the ranks to become a head copywriter.  Don's protege.  They have a conflicted relationship because she initially was always looking toward him for approval and he was pushing back to get her to stand on her own and have confidence in her work.  Then later he seemed to want her approval and she seemed tired of the dance...but there comes a time again when they do dance, and they share the only two beers to be found in all of Indiana on a Sunday night when the sale of alcohol was still prohibited.
The relationship that interested me the most was entirely outside the office and was between Don and his daughter Sally.  I think that this was the only relationship that truly mattered to Don given how when he either had to be honest with her, or risk losing her love and trust, he was honest with her.  When I watched, and rewatched, the episode where he drove all three of his children to Hershey, PA to show them the squalor in which he'd been raised, and there was no doubt that this was in response to Sally telling him that she knows nothing about him or his past.  And then, finally, when she tells him in a later episode that she loves him, you see a release of tension on his face, as if...
Don would never have his mother's love, she died birthing him, and he was so colossally disastrous in his romantic life that he was compelled to sabotage anything and everything good that came his way.  But with his daughter, with Sally, there is that familial love that he was always denied.
I'll miss this show.

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