Oh, I how loved sitting down on Sunday nights and waiting for AMC to role the opening credits and obnoxious music that signaled the start of Mad Men. This is not a show that I would have ever normally watched.
Being more of a sci-fi/horror fan, a period drama is not normally where I prefer to butter my bread, but there was just something about this one I had to see. It was a rocky relationship at first, as I had this real love/hate thing going. I would watch it, get angry and shut it off. Then wonder what was going to happen, and put it back on.
Betty Draper was a key figure in the state of my relationship with Mad Men, but once I realized that the focus would be less on her, and more on her narcissistic, cheating husband and his collection of questionable colleagues, I was all in. Then, I started to feel the anger slip away, and just relished in my adoration for the era, clothing, and ins and outs of Madison Avenue.
"Why Do You Like This Show?"
Don pitches 'The Carousel' to the guys from Kodak
I was asked more than once by my friends, 'Why Mad Men? What is it about that show that you like?' Of course, I really had no answer. I disliked a large portion of the characters, only really rooting for two or three and none of which was Don Draper.
Even after learning his back story I found it hard to muster much sympathy for him. He was a crappy husband, an equally crappy father. But when he was in that board room, pitching an idea you knew you were about to witness magic.
When he and the rest of the creative team would hunker down and pitch ideas, was when I was sitting up in my chair at full attention. Watching this guy drink himself silly, sleep with the entire island of Manhattan (and beyond) all while maneuvering clients, account men and a variety of secretaries was like poetry in motion. So, did I like Don Draper. Nope. But I liked watching him operate.
Peggy... Oh Peggy...
When it gets right down to it, the best part (for me) of Mad Men over the course of seven seasons has been Peggy Olsen. A little mouse of a woman who started at Sterling Cooper as Don's secretary, ended the series as a force of nature and one of the most creative minds that has graced the likes of any agency introduced during the show.
Oh sure there was a time when I thought she was rather oblivious (um, how do you NOT know you're pregnant), and made some poor choices (that one boyfriend with the mustache... yikes), but really Peggy was one of the greatest characters on the show.
Peggy Pitches to Burger Chef
While most of the time her relationship with Don was rocky, she really did learn from the best, and the two shared some really great moments. The best, in my humble opinion, is when they were sitting in that Burger Chef meeting, and she wanted to pitch it, but higher-ups decided it would/should be Don. As they sit there before the meeting starts and Don sees her face, he knows she is the best candidate for the job. In that moment, he acknowledges just how good and capable his old secretary is.
Why This Show Was King
For all its ups and downs, cheating husbands and cheating wives, Mad Men was really the best of the best. It was about so much more than the lives of people who worked at an advertising agency. It was about happiness, depression, racisim, sexisim, technoloy, a country and people affected by society, war, and their own demons.
It allowed the viewers to get a glimpse into the past, see how people lived and worked in a world that was rapidly changing. The time period the show portrayed was one of the most diverse in our history, and I really believe that Matthew Weiner gave us a fantastic portrayal of life during that time.
Yes, I adored Peggy, and reluctantly didn't HATE Don as much at the end as I did in the beginning, but what about all the others? What about Roger, Joan, Pete, Stan, Betty, Sally, or Harry... well, not Harry, NO ONE liked Harry.
Wrapping It Up Is Never Going to Be Easy...
The Wit and Wisdom of Roger Sterling
...was what I told myself every Sunday night for the last six weeks. How?? How were they going to do this? Who would be left in storyline limbo? Which of these characters wouldn't get closure? And of those who did... would be it worth it?
Short answer: Yes. Yes it was worth it.
Long answer will have to be saved for another post, but in the spirit of Mad Men's famously terribly-cut previews, I leave you with this:
Don finally found some peace.
Peggy found some love with Stan.
Betty oddly bonded with Sally over her terminal diagnosis.
Pete finally found his purpose, and took off with Trudy to Kansas.
Roger found a woman that could keep up with him and give him the right amount of crazy in his life.
Joan finally became her own boss, with no men in sight.
And as for the agency that originally brought all of these people together? Sterling-Cooper is a long-distant memory, but one that will be looked fondly upon them as time moved forward into the 70's, 80's and beyond.