5 Highlights From Last Night’s Mad Men Finale: Buy the World a Coke

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For the last eight years, Matthew Weiner‘s Mad Men has teased us with the prospect of closure for Donald Draper, who has spent a decade in and out of marriages, love affairs, business mergers and interstate lines, all on a quest for fulfillment that never came. Don Draper had never found true love in any aspect of his life except his work. Fittingly, the show ended Don embracing New Age mysticism, only to watch it fuse with the world’s most valuable brand. “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke,” with its saccharine vision of globalized harmony, shows a utopia that never existed, and represents a particular Western promise rising from the political tumult of the 1960s. In fact, it’s a song that was originally developed by a creative director at McCann-Erickson in 1971, signifying that Don may indeed have taken his new outlook, returned to Madison Ave and monetized it toward ubiquity.

A double-faced symbol rife with varying, even discomfiting interpretations was as much as we could have expected from Mad Men finale, which did not take the lightly experimental route favored by classic endings like Twin Peaks or The Sopranos. Instead, it spent its final hour saying casual goodbyes to its spirited ensemble, all characters that made distinctly individualistic choices, to stay the course that they had already chosen and to never look back.

JOAN TRIES COCAINE AND REALIZES HER AMBITIONS.

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While on vacation with Richard in Florida, Joan tries cocaine, one fingernail at a time: “I just feel like someone gave me some very good news!” But Richard is thinking about their future. “Your life is undeveloped property,” he says, promising Joan a lifetime of wealth and happiness shacking up with him, away from the office. But Joan calls Peggy to set up a meeting while watching Sesame Street on a hazy TV with her son in the kitchen, resembling a glasses-clad domestic Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut. She proposes starting a production company together, as partners: “Harris-Olson. We won’t answer to anyone.” Yet Peggy relents, and so does Richard, who seems to not want Joan to be self-sufficient or ambitious. “I can’t just turn off that part of myself,” he says. He leaves her, and Joan stays the course. She is a self-made working woman through and through, and will not rest on her laurels this late in the game. We last see her running a new business from her own home, having accepted Roger’s promise to support their love child in his will, and all is well in the jungle.

BETTY TELLS DON TO LAY OFF.

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Don calls Sally at school, and she tells him about Betty’s lung cancer. He gets angry that Betty has requested to have the kids stay with their uncle after her death, rather than move in with him. Sally takes her mother’s side; she knows it would be easier for them to keep on living in a familiar environment. Don calls Betty immediately. He insists that he must do his part and take responsibility for what she’s leaving behind, but Betty refuses.“I want things to stay normal, and you not being here is part of that.” She wants the kids to have a father and a mother figure around, not someone who will constantly be coming and going. She knows Don better than he would admit to himself, and it’s here that we see the last remnants of what was once a strong, committed union between them.

DON VISITS STEPHANIE IN CALIFORNIA.

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Don/Dick goes to visit his niece Stephanie in California, whose baby is now being cared for by another family. He decides to join her on a trip to a spiritual retreat, which promises a daily regimen of yoga, tai chi, psychotechnics and group discussions. In one of the group exercises, the counselor has everyone stand in couples, so as to “communicate without words”. Don, lost in observing everyone else’s tender and honest interactions, gets shoved by his elderly partner, who isn’t having it. Later, Stephanie opens up to the group about her insecurity having left her baby alone, and gets irritated by her cohort’s honest and disappointed reactions. Don follows her out of the meeting and attempts to console her.“It gets easier once you move forward.” “I don’t think you’re right about that,” she says. He wakes up the next morning in their communal tent and finds that Stephanie has vanished, taking the car with her.

PEGGY AND STAN ARE IN LOVE.

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“There’s more to life than work,” Stan tells Peggy, after she tells him off about convincing her to refuse Joan’s offer and stay at McCann. She muses over this before getting a call from Don in California. He’s a wreck. “I never said goodbye to you. I just wanted to hear your voice. Ill see you soon,” he says. Peggy calls Stan in the other room to vent about this, and he consoles her. “When I see you, I want to strangle you. And then I miss you when I go away, and I miss you and I call you on the phone and I get the person I want to talk to.” Wait…what??  “All I want to do is be with you…I’m in love with you.” Peggy is dumbfounded, but then she begins to work it out for herself, in a series-best performance by Elizabeth Moss. “You make everything okay. You always do, no matter what.” He comes into her office, and the two of them kiss. It’s nice to know at least two people found love on this show.

THE FINAL PITCH.

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At the end of his rope and in a near-catatonic state, Don lifts himself up to attend one more group seminar. In a circle of a half-dozen people, everyone, including Don, turns to listen to a man named Leonard. “I’ve never been interesting,” he says. “I work in an office and people walk right by me. I know they don’t see me.” He describes the banality of domestic life, how his wife and kids “don’t look up when I sit down,” and has a theory about love. “You spend your whole life thinking you’re not getting it, that people aren’t giving it to you. Then you realize they’re trying, and you don’t even know what it is.” He bursts into tears, and Don gets up and gives him a long, hard hug. This is his doppelgänger—the man he could have been had he truly had an average life.

5 Highlights From Last Night’s Mad Men: Nowhere to Go But Everywhere

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After last week’s merger with McCann-Erickson, on last night’s Mad Men the characters experienced some growing pains atop the corporate ladder. The world of McCann is defined by chauvinistic ambition and there are three times as many executives to watch out for. This was an especially moody episode, with lightly surreal moments that ranged from deliberately stilted to incredibly candid, and felt as carefully controlled as the show’s best episodes.
THE FIRST (AND LAST?) CREATIVE MEETING AT MCCANN.
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Don settles into his rather insulated new office, which lacks the spacious windows and general amount of sunlight of his old one. A meeting with CEO Jim Hobart and “Ferg” Donnelly shows him exactly what he’s in for at McCann: a philosophy of entitlement in every aspect of the business, whether it’s a gift from Conrad Hilton, a sudden acquisition of Miller Beer account, and the promise of no-hassle dinner reservations and parking tickets. “I’m Don Draper from McCann Erickson,” he says as a pretend introduction, but something just doesn’t fit. In his first creative meeting, there are about 20 executives standing around, eating roast beef box lunches and leafing through spiral notebooks with the day’s proposals. “Is this every creative director in the agency?” “It’s only half of us,” Ted replies. As he intuits the passionless, inside-baseball tone of the meeting, Don’s attention span takes a flight of fancy when he sees a plane outside the conference room window, and leaves the room. They don’t need him where they’re going.
DON AND BETTY HAVE A MOMENT
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Don goes to Betty’s place to pick up Sally and drive her to school but finds he’s too late. Still, he finds his ex-wife reading Freud’s Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria in the kitchen—lest we forgot she is not a graduate student in psychology. Betty looks as happy and confident as ever, because as she explains, this is exactly what she wants to be doing. “I’m younger than you, always have been, always will be,” she says as Don rubs her shoulders. She clearly still loves him, but she’s made a life on her own terms. Is Betty’s literature assignment this a harbinger of Don’s pull toward unstable women? Perhaps he would get something out of it. Regardless of subtext, it was a treat to hear him call her “Birdy” again for the first time in years.

DON GOES TO FIND DIANE

 

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Don drives to Racine, Wisconsin to find Diane. He shows up at Diane’s old house, where he meets her ex-husband’s new wife, and invents a role for himself as a salesman from Miller beer, who is coming to give Diane her prize. There’s a spooky reveal of Diane’s daughter on the stairs when she opens the door to invite him in, which gave the impression that Don is walking into a rabbit hole. “Are you looking for my mother? Anything she needs can go through me,” she says. As Don continues to make small talk with the wife, the husband comes home and immediately sees through Don’s ruse. “You think you’re the first one to come up here? She’s a tornado with a pile of dead bodies behind her.” As a devout Christian, the husband tells Don that Diane is “with the Devil”, and that only Jesus can save her now. The next day, Don picks up a hitchhiker, and is headed to Saint Paul, Minnesota. He’s not going back to work any time soon.
JOAN IS SEXUALLY HARASSED OUT OF THE OFFICE.
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A former partner at SC&P, Joan is assigned to work on her accounts with Dennis at McCann, but he sabotages the first call and is thoroughly unprepared for the job. She gets short with him, and he bluntly retorts: “Who told you you had the right to get pissed off?” This is only the beginning of Joan’s experience of sexism in her new work environment—a problem she attempts to overcome. “I thought you were going to be fun,” he says, and storms out. When Ferg Donnelly meets with Joan to size up the situation, he takes Dennis’ side, but offers to help Joan out—all while being totally creepy and vaguely threatening. “Let’s get to know each other.” The causally shady new man in Joan’s life suggests that she can either go to court or “hire a guy” to take care of the situation. But she prefers to deal with things head-on. She meets with head honcho Jim Hobart. “I don’t care about your SC&P partnership,” he says bluntly, and insists that she get with the program. Joan matches him by threatening to get the ACLU behind her: “I suppose it’ll be difficult to find a reporter who wants to embarrass you this deeply.” He offers her a severance package that is half of what she is owed by the company, and she refuses. But Roger convinces her that it’ll be easier if she just takes the money. Is this truly the end of Joan’s advertising career, or will she make a name for herself elsewhere before the series’ end?

PEGGY AND ROGER.

 

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Peggy is still going to her desk at the all-but-destroyed SC&P offices out of pride. “I am a copy supervisor. I am not setting foot there until I get my office.” She is waiting until McCann gives her the time and space she deserves in her position. On the afternoon she’s set to move into her new office, she hears ominous organ music coming from afar: it’s Roger, of course. The both of them hang out, reminisce, share a bottle of Vermouth and have more on-screen speaking time together in this episode than in the rest of the series combined—and it’s delightful. He plays a rag on the organ as she roller skates around the empty offices. He gives her Bert Cooper’s copy of the ubiquitous painting “Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife”, which she feels confident enough to put in her new office. The next afternoon, she enters McCann-Erickson with sunglasses and a lit cigarette, not giving a fuck. Let’s hope she’s able to promote some kind of institutional change from within, a fight that Joan was forced to give up.

5 Highlights From Last Night’s Mad Men: The Emptiness Is the Problem

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The characters on Mad Men often reveal the most about themselves when they’re alone—but even then, they can remain a mystery to us. A particularly emotional moment in last night’s episode came when Betty Francis (née Draper) stood in her kitchen, placed her hands on the counter and stared downward at something we couldn’t see. It happened twice: both after the return of a surprise visitor from her past, and again after halfheartedly disciplining her two boys. Was it the realization of how quickly the world turns outside of her domestic comforts, or simply the burden of her ceaseless duties as a mother and a housekeeper? If there was a lesson to be learned from last night’s Mad Men, it was simply a matter of always standing your ground: be upfront and never apologize, or you’ll end up on the losing end.

SIZING PEOPLE UP AT THE OFFICE

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McCann invites company executives to a retreat in the Bahamas, and Don is expected to write “the Gettysburg address” on the state of the company, which is understandably a tall order; we never see him complete the task. (A classic exchange with Peggy: “Do you have my thesaurus?” “Probably.”) Meanwhile, Don meets with Ted and Peggy individually to discuss their ambitions for the office. Ted is simply interested in bigger accounts, while Peggy wants to “create something lasting,” and to establish a role as the first woman creative director at the agency. Don nags Peggy for further details on her life plans, as if to once again ask himself, is that all there is? “This is about my job, not the meaning of life,” Peggy says. “You think those things are unrelated?” he responds.

MATHIS GETS FIRED

Mathis, the green employee, asks Don for advice about how to deal with a snubbed client. Don, essentially, tells him to never apologize and to play it cool. But Mathis takes it too literally and makes a terrible joke, throwing his career under the bus. He busts into Don’s office, proving he isn’t able to take responsibility for his own actions. “You have no character,” he says. “Neither do you—you’re just handsome.” Don swallows his pride and retorts: “Everybody has problems. Some people know how to deal with them, other people don’t. You’re fired.” Let’s see if this will have any bearing on Peggy’s trip to Paris with Mathis’ cousin, who we haven’t seen or heard from in two episodes.

JOAN’S NEW MAN

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Joan travels to LA with Lou Avery on business. She’s staying at the Beverly Wilshire, where Warren Beatty is making conquests. As Lou courts Hanna-Barbera for his cartoon ambitions, Joan has a coup de foudre with Richard Burgoff (Bruce Greenwood), a newly divorced real-estate developer. He buys Joan dinner and wonders aloud how she could possibly be single. After they sleep together, he demands that she cancel her flight to “get lobster in Malibu, sit on lounge chairs by the pool in Santa Barbara…” “I need to work,” Joan says.

When she returns to NYC, Richard follows her, and she reveals that she has a 4 year old son. Richard is furious and accuses her of using him as a crutch. “I know what this is, and so do you.” He’s just sent his kids off to college and doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone else. But then he visits her at the office with a bundle of flowers, telling her that he’s buying property in the city and she can visit him at will—with or without the kid. Perhaps Joan has found the perfect compromise with an older, more experienced man who can be there for her whenever she wants, without any expectations of domestic commitment.

GLEN BISHOP PAYS A VISIT

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Sally is getting ready for a cross-country bus trip with her swim team, but someone knocks at the door: Glen Bishop, their old neighbor and Betty’s former precocious young confidant. He’s now a trim young freshman at SUNY Purchase en route to Playland with a new flame. To Sally’s dismay, he reveals that he just enlisted and is heading to Vietnam. “You’re gonna die! For what?” Sally yells, and runs upstairs. Glen leaves, as proud as he’s ever been. That night, Sally calls his school to tearfully apologize, but can’t reach him.

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The next day, after Sally leaves, Glen returns to the Francis residence to pay a visit to Betty. He sips a beer and gets close to her in the kitchen, confident as ever. “I know you’re mine,” he says, and tries to kiss her—but Betty hesitates. “This was going to be the one good thing that came out of all this,” he says. “I know you know the man I can be.” He then he reveals that he flunked out of college, and enlisted in part to hide the news from his stepdad. Betty sends him off, proud of him, but then has the previously mentioned moment alone in the kitchen. What has her life become after all these years?

DON SELLS HIS APARTMENT AND SENDS SALLY OFF

Don’s real estate agent, Melanie, comes into his apt in the morning and wakes him up. “The emptiness is a problem,” she says bluntly. “This place reeks of failure.” Don still hasn’t removed the wine stain from the floor from his tryst two episodes ago, nor has he rented any new furniture since Megan took off. “A lot of wonderful things happened here,” he says in his own defense.

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But when he takes Sally out to a Chinese restaurant with her classmates, one of her friends flirts with him: “You have a penthouse? When I watch TV, the commercials are my favorite part…” Sally accuses Don and his ex-wife of “oozing everywhere”, as if sex appeal was always their primary phenomenological trait. “You are like your mom and me and you’re gonna find that out,” he says. “You are a very beautiful girl, but you’re more than that.” He sends her off on her cross-country trip just before he gets the news that his apartment as just been sold. He stands in the hallway, sizing up the path that defined the last half-decade of his life. If the main existential question here is “where can a man live after the Upper East Side?” (and it surely isn’t), we have three episodes left to find out.

5 Highlights From Last Night’s Mad Men: Everything Must Go

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The ninth episode of Mad Men’s final season offered so many ideas of monogamous harmony gone horribly wrong. Nearly every major interaction was sexually charged, and mostly with pitiful results. The lone exception: the opening scene. Don Draper making a milkshake for his ex-wife Betty’s stepsons—a disarmingly cheerful moment that almost felt like a flashback until her husband Henry walked in. The scene worked as a twisted joke in advance of the marital discord that followed.

DON CHASES DIANA INTO THE DARKNESS.

It was a consummate Mad Men image: Diana and Don sit together in his kids’ bedroom the morning, surrounded by Day-Glo colors and sunshine. She tells him about her dead daughter, and the husband she ran away from. We see Don clean-shaven, hair slicked back, and hers perfectly coiffed. They look like they’re both in their early 30s—as youthful as one could look in that light, and in their circumstances. “Don’t you have to go to work?” she asks. “I don’t feel like it,” he says.

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How many half-whispered conversations and post-coital dissolves have we seen on this show, which are so often punctuated by demands that can never really be met? “I think if I were you, this would bother me,” Don says the next morning, anticipating Megan’s arrival: “but it shouldn’t. Because it’s almost over.” Don is quick to establish a sense of comfort in the face of impending chaos, but he’s running on fumes. By the end of the episode, he realizes that he can never truly put himself in anyone else’s shoes, let alone those of a single mother’s supporting herself in the wake of tragedy. “When I was with you, I forgot about her…I don’t ever want to do that.” She won’t run away, and won’t let Don run away either.

LINDA CARDELLINI’S BRIEF APPEARANCE.

In an episode filled with both new and returning guest appearances, we got a glimpse of Linda Cardellini’s Silvia, Don’s neighbor and flame from Season 6. They run into each other with their significant others in the elevator on the way to his apartment. Little seems to have changed between her and her doctor husband, Arnold, except that their marriage is perhaps even more stilted and passionless. It’s probably the last we will ever see of them. Diana recognizes that there was history immediately, asking Don how many girls he’s had in the elevator. “That’s not what that was,” he replies—but she already understands what kind of man he is.

MEGAN MOVES OUT OF THE APARTMENT.

Megan flies to New York to get her furniture back from Don’s apartment. She brings her mother, Marie, and her sister, Marie-France all on Don’s dime. Marie is quick to call the entire marriage a sham, making Megan grieve the situation out of her own insecurities. Since Don’s $500 cover isn’t enough to pay for the move and the lunch with Harry Crane, Marie calls up her old flame Roger Sterling, who smooths out the rest of the bill. Roger takes advantage of Marie’s invitation to take advantage of her in the now-barren apartment. Megan walks in on them after the act, having quit lunch early and avoided Harry’s gross come-ons. She is quickly reminded why she wanted to get out of this town in the first place.

“PIMA” RYAN  SEDUCES THE AGENCY.

SC&P finds itself in a torrid state of affairs when “Pima” Ryan (Mimi Rogers), a celebrity photographer clearly modeled after Annie Leibovitz, enters the office on hire to shoot a Cinzano ad for Peggy. She visits the office to take a look at her negatives and comes to a head with Stan, whose nose for competition leads him to take rather intimate photos of his own girlfriend.

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In the darkroom, Pima is impressed with Stan’s work, and seduces him—but she isn’t finished with her SC&P conquests yet. She enters Peggy’s office and tries to get her to let loose. “You’ve never been married? Me either. The adventures I would have missed.” Peggy resists her advances. She shares her experiences with Stan, whose confidence has also gotten a major boost. Will this encounter lead to an affair between the two of them, or was it merely thematic window dressing in relation to the rest of the trysts happening this episode?

DON AND MEGAN ARE OFFICIALLY OVER.

“Why did I believe anything you said?” Megan says to Don, in what will likely be their last encounter in the series. “Why am I being punished for being young?” For a long time now, it’s been clear that Don and Megan have very different interests, and their lives on opposite coasts functioned as a trial separation. Megan did her best to be a doting housewife, a surrogate mother to his children, and an adventurous sexual partner.

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But the novelty wore off for Don, and he found himself increasingly alienated from the countercultural lifestyle she began to enjoy in Los Angeles. Since the 1960s began, Don has always been less about “free love” than horizontal integration. As a result, the girl who Harry Crane described as “Ali MacGraw and Brigitte Bardot combined” is out of his life forever. He writes her a check for a million dollars, divesting himself of further responsibility. She hands him back their wedding ring. He returns home to find all the furniture gone: the wife who had everything left him with nothing.

5 Highlights From Last Night’s Mad Men: New Mustaches and Old Lovers, Is That All There Is?

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DON’S NEW/OLD LIFESTYLE.

It felt like a dream. Though Mad Men picked up months from where its last half-season left off, it first dropped us into a moment of torrid professionalism, with Jon Hamm at his most powerfully flat. Our first glimpse of the deeply lucrative McCann-Erickson merger was watching Don Draper seemingly alone in a room with a model, directing her towards his wishes—the life of an advertising executive functioning as a myopic series of demands.

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“Look at yourself—you like what you see.” But while Peggy Lee crooned “Is That All There Is?” on the soundtrack (a song heard three times in the episode), we cut away to find the other executives in the room right there with him. This matter of business is an open secret, and they’re all in the money. After a long series of auditions, Don goes home with one of the girls, and she notices a piece of jewelry on his floor: “That’s my ex-wife’s.” The cycle is complete, and Don is back to his old ways, which have always felt both old and new at the same time.

RACHEL MENKEN’S GHOST.

The season premiere featured at least one major callback to the beginning of the series: the reappearance of Rachel Katz (née Menken), Don’s mistress from the first season and the former head of a major department store with which he used to do business. In an uncanny moment, he first sees her in a dream as one of the models entering his office, as they speak to each other through the language of advertising—until he wakes up in bed with one of the models. The next day, his secretary informs him that Rachel has died. Don goes to the shiva meeting and learns that she passed away from leukemia.

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In the meantime, Don keeps returning to a late-night diner to visit a waitress, Diana, who strongly reminds Don of his old friend—and who has now become his latest ghost. (This show always withholds character information purposefully, to such a degree that I was wondering whether Diana was an older character or not.) But after he feeds into his sexual compulsion, he hasn’t found any answers, falling ever deeper into the uncanny valley. “When someone dies, you want to make sense of it, but you can’t,” she tells him.

THE MUSTACHES. 

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Let’s just talk about those mustaches for a second. It’s April in 1970, and we got to see both Roger Sterling and Ted Chaough sport brand-new tufts of hair above the upper lip. Is this a symbol of increased professionalism, or is the look not really working for them? Decide for yourself.

PEGGY HAS THE BEST FIRST DATE EVER.

Peggy has been living without romance ever since her fling with Ted ended disastrously. Her new co-worker, John Mathis, tries to set her up with his brother-in-law, Stevie Wolcott, and the worst first date ever becomes the best first date ever.

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He tells Peggy that his brother described her as “funny, and fearless”—and her confidence spikes a fever pitch, resulting in one of the most passionate encounters we’ve ever seen on this show. They don’t sleep together, but they make plans to go to Paris in two weeks. Let’s hope that things remain this torrid while they’re sober (and that he doesn’t have any ulterior motives).

THE MANY FACES OF KEN COSGROVE.

As one of Don’s forever put-upon underlings at the office, one-eyed Ken Cosgrove considers quitting the office to pursue his aspirations as a novelist, and living off his wife’s family riches (which even she would prefer him to do). But then her father (Ray Wise) tells the family that he’s retiring from the very account Ken represents at the agency. Before he’s able to quit, McCann-Erickson fires him and replaces him with Pete.

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Ken has a complicated history with McCann-Erickson, having quit another agency they used to own a few seasons back, and insulting them in the process, taking millions in accounts with him. In another sudden act of revenge, he announces at the end of the episode that he’s leaving to work for Dow with a new position as head of advertising. So much for that writing career, Ken!

Mad Men Catch Up: Prepare for the End of an Era Before the Final Season Premiere

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Spring may have finally sprung in New York, but leave it to Matthew Weiner and company to lure us back into our living rooms for a handsome dose of melancholy. Mad Men is coming back Sunday for its final eight-episode run, signaling an end for its ensemble of advertising executives, secretaries, housewives, and careerist saps swinging through the 1960s in Manhattan.

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This show has held us in thrall for so long largely for its thoroughly realized characters, whose ambitions are literally worn on their sleeves, and whose personal and professional lives are thrillingly (and often painfully) intertwined. But then there’s Mad Men’s unparalleled attention to period detail. The show set the bar for network production design, with its beautifully layered office environments, luxurious widescreen framing and vivid color schemes. Despite being shot almost entirely on studio sets, it’s still the most visually sumptuous show on TV.

So what can we expect from the final episodes? We know that Mad Men is a deeply nostalgic, pensive vision of the American dream—but it’s all told through the eyes of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who has spent seven seasons figuring out how to overcome his past life. Will he make it through this decade on his own terms?

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Here’s a quick refresher course on what happened at the end of last season:

A NEW MERGER.

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Jim Cutler attempted to oust Don from Sterling Cooper & Partners (SC&P) by claiming a breach of contract, after Don interrupted the business meeting with cigarette company Philip Morris. But the other partners—Roger Sterling, Bert Cooper, Pete Campbell, Joan, Ted—hadn’t agreed on this. However, as soon as Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Bert Cooper passed away and Sterling took control, selling half the company to McCann-Erickson and maintaining everyone’s else’s share. (In a surprise to no one, Cutler withdrew his complaint and decided to stick it out for the money.)

DON’S MARRIAGE IS QUIETLY COMING APART.

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When we last saw them together, Don informed Megan over the phone that he might get fired, and suggested moving to Los Angeles with her—but she refused. Their bicoastal married life had been on shaky ground for a while now, as Don could hardly spend a moment with Megan without making business arrangements, or gazing scornfully at her countercultural lifestyle. But most of all, he was unable to let himself be loved by her, or anybody else.

THE SLOW, DIFFICULT RISE TO POWER FOR PEGGY OLSON.

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Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) became SC&P’s de facto creative director when Don was placed on leave at the end of Season 6. But when she finally was put in charge of an ad campaign for BurgerChef, Don was assigned to her creative team, after having done none of the work he’d been given. After they reconcile, Peggy comes up with a brilliant proposal, but Pete asks Don to give the pitch instead of Peggy, and she is furious. When Bert Cooper died the night before the meeting and Don realized he might not have a job anymore, he did the responsible thing and gave it back to Peggy, and she knocked it out of the park. It remains to be seen how much of an uphill climb is left for this self-made woman.

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A FEW THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR THIS SEASON:

THE END OF THE 1960s.

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Mad Men  has always embedded epochal American events and changing attitudes into the fabric of its characters’ lives, and 1969 was certainly no picnic. How will Weiner and co. deal with the Charles Manson murders? The stabbing at Altamont Speedway? The beginning of Nixon’s armament campaign in Vietnam? And they better not forget the Stonewall riots. One of the big conflicts on this show is whether the characters choose to remain woven into the prevailing establishment versus joining the counterculture—and come the 1970s, neither of those worlds will be spared.

DON’S INCESSANT SMOKING AND DRINKING.

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Since the beginning of the series, Mad Men characters imbibe and inhale like there’s no tomorrow. Will Don finally have the heart attack the show has been teasing for years? Let’s find out if Mad Men will end as a cautionary tale against downing everything the ad companies are selling—or if it finds a creative new way to reinforce those attitudes.

WILL PETE EVER MEET THE CHILD HE HAD WITH PEGGY?

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The first season ended with Peggy giving birth to a baby boy; in the second season, she hid her visible pregnancy by taking office leave for tuberculosis, while only revealing her secret to Don. She then told Pete about the baby and that she gave it up for adoption, and their relationship has been slightly awkward ever since (though when is it not awkward with Pete?). I have a sneaking suspicion that this thread will re-emerge in these final episodes, whether as retribution for Pete’s irresponsibility and Peggy’s long struggle, or otherwise. Until then, don’t trust any children.

WILL JOAN STAY SINGLE?

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The most sought-after character on Mad Men still lives with her mother and child in tow. Last season, she rejected the doting Bob Benson’s offer of wealth and security because, well, frankly, who could love a sycophant? I wonder if Joan will ever meet “the one”, or if she would still choose family and security (and occasional trysts with Roger Sterling) over starting something new.

Why Rain Is Great News For Nightlife

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As operators and employees gripe about the weather forecast, I see a silver lining in all these clouds: the weather may keep people from scooting off to oceans far away and also stop them from energy-burning daytime activities. Clubs may pack with rain refugees. The Hamptons may get washed out, the Jersey shore will surely suffer. Plus, my flowers are loving it.

This column must note the engagement of my pal Allegra Riggio to Mad Men and Sherlock Holmes actor Jared Harris. Allegra is a lighting designer known to clubland, and is an all-around beautiful person. She is gushing and spouting on social media. It couldn’t happen to a nicer person. I have RSVPd to a little soiree she is hosting and will tell you all about it after. 

Sailor Jerry Rum will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the old tattoo artist they named their brand after this coming Wednesday. Artists from Three Kings (my favorite inkers) and Matt Van Cura from invisible NYC are on board for this festival. The party will be at the Brooklyn bar with a bowling alley: The Gutter. It starts at 7pm and although it goes till 2am, it skews early.

I often consult middle employment situations. Clubs call me if they are looking for someone, and bar and waitstaff who are looking often ask if I know of anything. I am quick to give a recommendation to those who deserve it. It’s better than lending money.

I know a joint looking for a GM and am having a hard time. The reason for this is the job is one rung below owner. Investment types often team up with successful promo types and decide to do a club.

Problem with that is who is going to run it? Hire, fire, order cups, accounting, security, cleaning, repairs, legal matters: all are tedious work for a non-fabulous mindset. Promoters usually don’t learn that stuff in their travels, so GM types are offered points…ownership to make it all work. 

The GM job is therefore possibly the hardest job to fill, and although they often make way less than bar or waitstaff, it is just one small step for man (or woman) on that trip to to the moon.

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Memorial Tribute to Musician and Graffiti Artist Ana Bender This Weekend

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Late-night romps can be cruel after you have done in it for decades. Today’s sunlight is lashing me awake and I haven’t the strength to wash the evening out of my hair. Hotel Chantelle was absolutely off the hook last night, with Sam Valentine, Michael Tee, Miss Guy, and Michael Cavadias and a slew of others whipping the crowd into a frenzy. I think the weather had something to do with it as well. The early spring brings flowers early and confusion into club circles. When it’s nice, the places are packed, but when the weather returns to form and a cold rain requires clothes that have been packed away till next year, the hordes stay home. This Sunday, the two-hour premier of Mad Men will hurt Sunday club ambitions.

After memorial tributes in San Francisco and Seattle for Ana Dyson aka ANA BENDER aka AYBEE, NYC gets its turn. White posters pasted on walls that hipsters pass announced the memorial, which will start at 7pm MARCH 25 at Legion, 790 Metropolitan Avenue. It’s a free show. The posters were produced by Ana’s friend Katsu. This comes from the 12ozProphet website:
"RIP ANA BENDER
 
4/26/1987 – 2/2/2012
 
Ana Dyson aka ANA BENDER aka AYBEE
 
Was an influential musician and graffiti artist from Seattle that lived in NYC and SF.
 
She was known for her raw and pure punk/folk music style as well as her graffiti tags “AYBEE”.
 
AYBEE was a close friend of the BTM graffiti crew both on the west and east coasts.
 
She lived in New York City for a time.
 
She lived in SF for a time.
 
A free event is happening this Sunday."
There will be performances by JAPANTHER, Soft Dov, Brohammer, and Dead Reich and DJs Maxwell 57, NineLives, The Cat, Grace of Spades, Ella, and Chloe.
 
Tonight I will attend a very special affair that is hush hush, super duper, uber secret and I have sworn to only speak of it come Monday. It’s one of these "show up on a corner late-night and you will be led to it’" events.
 
Twenty years ago I would have thought I was being whacked. I can’t offer you more today; my body is upset at my brain for the insults of last night. My brain needs to turn itself off for a couple of hours. It asks for your forgiveness. I got the usual, "Don’t you ever sleep?" from the waitstaff at Kellogg’s Diner at 6am. They had seen me for breakfast 20 hours earlier. I replied with my usual: "I’ll get all the sleep I need in 20 or 30 years." I realized over my eggs that I started saying that 15 years ago.  

‘Mad Men’ Adds Legendary Screenwriter Robert Towne to Its Writing Staff

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As an Academy Award-winning figure of Hollywood who help lead a movement that would later become the cherished golden age of American cinema, screenwriter Robert Towne is certainly a legend. Penning acclaimed films like Drive, He Said, The Last Detail, The Parallax View, The Yakuza, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, The Missouri Breaks, and the iconic/historic Chinatown, his scripts aided in shaping the landscape of modern cinema and gave us some of the most incredible features of the last century. 

And now, he can add a new notch on his belt of cultural influence, as he’s just signed on as consulting producer for AMC’s Mad Men—part of the “new recruits” to the show’s writing staff from showrunner Matthew Weiner, according to Variety. As revealed yesterday, the season will be broken up into two parts a la Breaking Bad, in seven-episode pairs. So if Weiner was looking for someone that can, not only deliver the goods but has the perspective many a talented young writer does not, he’s got the best man for the job. Now if you’ll excuse me, I will be fantasizing about Gittes as Don Draper’s long lost father.
 
Check out The Writer Speaks: Robert Towne below.