We cannot let the end of the long running TV series “Mad Men” go by without comment. After all, some of us have followed it religiously for 7 years, from the time Don Draper started as an advertizing executive, until the time he became the top in his profession and then underwent a “melt-down.” For those not in the know, “Mad” in the title does not refer to crazy, but rather to Madison Avenue, where all the major advertising agencies have their offices.
The series had a very high standard of verisimilitude, as well as excellent actors who gave the series it’s sense of realism. As the only non-crime related dramatic series on TV, I watched Mad Men with fascination, especially the unpredictable plot twists, such as when the British executive due to take over the firm has his foot amputated by a lawn mower in the office. Of course, the personal interactions were compelling, especially the womanizing of Don and his many partners. His flair and ruthlessness only became comprehensible when it was revealed that he had been brought up in a brothel, and had effectively killed his CO during the Korean War and taken his identity. The whole series was really about identity and how not having a real identity frees one from the usual constraints of society.
Hannah Brown’s article in the Jerusalem Post (May 19) on the finale of “Mad Men,” entitled “Farewell, Don Draper,” deserves comment. The series was definitely about the character of Don Draper. Unlike Hannah, I found the last episode predictable and conventional. That Don Draper, ultimate cynic and loner, would hug a loser in a spiritual group session and would have a smile on his face while sitting cross-legged in the California sunshine in the fade-out while “It’s the real thing” jingles in the background, was completely out of character and a “cop-out.”
I prefer to remember him at the end of the penultimate episode, sitting at a bus-stop alone somewhere in America, having finally rid himself of the guilt of having killed his CO in Korea and taken his identity. He was back to being himself, “Hullo, Dick Whitman.” Perhaps that should be the title of the spin-off, but maybe not, the real Dick wouldn’t have as compelling a life as Don Draper.