Two things jumped out at me while watching last night’s series finale of Mad Men: One, we are finally told when the episode is set. In Joan’s apartment-makeshift-office, we see the calendar stating in large print, “November 1970.” When Pete Campbell tells Peggy she could be the first female creative director by 1980, she is struck by how far away that sounds, even though it’s a mere 10 years. Of course 2025 sounds like the distant future as well.
Second was the wonderful cameo by … Helen Slater! Matthew Weiner must have a soft spot for ’80s actors—think Harry Hamlin, Ted McGinley, child star Mackenzie Astin. Our Supergirl played the part of a crunchy commune leader, which seemed appropriate since she’s so all-naturally beautiful, now age 51. (And did you recognize the land-speed mechanic as Spencer Treat Clark, the little boy from Gladiator and Unbreakable?)
Considering that Weiner is a Sopranos alumnus, I was surprised and relieved by the less-than-ambiguous ending. (I also find it curious that Brian Lowry at Variety did not address the Coke ad and its connection to McCann Erickson in real life.) It seemed clear to me that Don Draper returns to New York and helps develop the iconic ad, which McCann actually rolled out in 1971. Love, peace, and happiness—all in the service of a giant corporate product. Don absorbs his surroundings, grinning with a vision—and we even hear the “ding,” as if a light bulb is turned on.
Yes, it would have been nice to see the cast in 10 or 20 years (remember how Six Feet Under jumped to everyone’s death scenes?). Some had speculated Don would witness the Apple ad from 1984 before keeling over. But let us count our blessings. At least Roger Sterling didn’t collapse from a heart attack. At least the Campbell family did not die in a plane crash en route to Wichita (remember Col. Blake’s demise in M*A*S*H?). And at least it wasn’t all a dream.
Photo Courtesy of AMC