With the light of season 7 steadily rising on the horizon (April 13th), I decided to sit down and binge watch the entire series of Mad Men…again. It is a strange and beautiful thing how a show can captivate me enough to re-watch it more than twice, and yet, still surprise me with the extremely subtle details I somehow miss, or forget about. With all 78 episodes still freshly molded in my mind, I thought I’d construct a list of things that would make the concluding season one to remember. Although AMC has decided to torture us with a 2-year split on the final chapter, it would still be nice to see the following:
Each season focuses on a certain aspect of Don Draper’s past through a series of lucid flashbacks; his time in Korea, his birth, the early days of becoming “Don Draper,” and my favorite, the scenes depicting his early-adolescence days of growing up in a whorehouse – which quintessentially gave way to Donny Drapes’ most cherished vice, women. What I’m getting at is the flashbacks in “Mad Men” are necessary, beloved, and above all, completely believable and realistic. But why stop at Don? As it is the farewell season for the series, I would absolutely adore uncovering small bits of the pasts of Roger, Peggy, Pete, or even the enigmatic Bert Cooper.
Straight-and-Narrow, or Downward Spiral
It can be argued that during season 6, we witnessed Don at the lowest of lows. With the turmoil of the late 60’s weighing on his soul, a shattered heart, and an alcohol consumption level at all new high, Don seemed he was on death’s doorstep – either by accident, or his own hand. However, in the series 6 finale, it seemed Draper had turned over the proverbial new leaf. He quit drinking, was given the Freddy Rumsen treatment (extended “leave”), and began to open up about his past to children for the first time.
What I would like to see is either one of two things: Don finds a way to reconcile with his past and move on from the agency (perhaps starting his own in California), or, he falls off the horse and crashes into rock bottom with a force only Don Draper can achieve. Unfortunately, I never pictured “Mad Men,” having a happy ending, so it may very well be the ladder. The way I see it, the show can only end in one of those ways, there is no middle ground.
It’s always a treat to see a familiar face make an appearance on “Mad Men,” especially given the series’ iconic time period and overall aesthetic. We’ve seen great performances from the likes of Colin Hanks, Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”), Linda Cardellini (“Freaks and Geeks”), and my personal favorite, Kip Pardue, who you may remember as Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass from “Remember the Titans.” Even Stephanie Courtney – the face of Flo from the Progressive insurance ads – had a brief stint on the show.
One of the most appealing parts of the show is the wide variety of characters thrown in the mix, which not only contribute to the living and breathing world of “Mad Men,” but shake up the storylines and offer a new spin, idea, or perspective.
An end of an era
As a lover of contemporary American history, the most compelling aspect of the show to me is when, and where, it takes place. The show does a great job incorporating the themes, events, and the rise of 60’s counterculture found in the epicenter of change at the time, New York City. Matthew Weiner does a tremendous job weaving the “times that were a-changin” in a manner that doesn’t seem forced or unnecessary. With the show coming to a close in 1969, we’ve witnessed nearly all of the major events that shaped the decade, and how those events in-turn shaped the characters. With a few more major historical happenings left in that final year of the most important decade for American identity, I’m anxious to see how the characters will react.
What do you want to see on the final season of “Mad Men?” Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow me Twitter for more TV news.