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AMC's 'Mad Men' Ends Better Than I Could Have Imagined
May 18, 2015  | By David Bianculli  | 8 comments

Was Sunday’s finale of AMC’s Mad Men a fitting end to a fabulous TV series? Absolutely. And it not only was satisfying, it was wickedly clever, and even a little twisted. I loved it…

It’s an important enough event, as television goes, for me to have covered it for today’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR. Go to the Fresh Air website beginning Monday afternoon to read, and hear, the full report.

What I’m happy to report here, though, is that Matthew Weiner, who wrote and directed the final episode, concocted a way out that managed not only to echo the symbolism of the show’s animated opening credits sequence (Don falls fast and far, but ends up sitting pretty), but to show Don (Jon Hamm), at his lowest ebb, meditating and emerging not with a burst of personal insight, but with an idea for a career-reviving ad campaign.

Which, in turn, allows Mad Men to end -- appropriately and brilliantly -- with a full-length, real-life TV ad as its final sequence.

That’s never, ever been done before. And in the context of Mad Men, a series about advertising and the emotions it can evoke, it’s a perfect, and perfectly unexpected, ending.

It was fun to watch. And for a TV critic, especially one who has to digest it instantly and report on it almost immediately, there’s no higher praise…

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mary j vanderwerken
I loved the Mad Men finale. When my favorite character Anna, read Dick's tarot cards years ago, the sun and the world were the most important cards for him. In the finale's final scene, we see Don greeting the sun, and then getting the very bright idea to teach the world to sing. I'm assuming that The Coca-Cola Co. got a massive freebie by not having to actually pay for air time in the last minute of the the finale. (Harry Crane would know, of course.) When the extraordinary Kieran Shipka wins her Oscar, I hope she thanks Sally.
Jun 18, 2015   |  Reply
Mike F
Now that I've let it sink in for a few days, the Coke commercial was a truly inspired and appropriate ending. I guess the only character arc that I found a little disappointing was Peggy's. I just cannot see her being with that Zach Galifianakis dude. She's too damn smart and driven and he is just going to weigh her down. That said, I will miss these generally unlikable, but always interesting, characters. I did purchase the previous seasons on blu-ray so I can revisit them when I'm in the mood.
May 25, 2015   |  Reply
Andy Jones
It struck me that this show had a prologue. It came after the rebroadcast of the penultimate episode and prior to the recap that begins each episode. The music is Paul Anka's Kodak ad, "The times of your life," and the visuals present Don's memories, from the series. (Never mind that the "memories" campaign was still years away.) So the Kodak ad music is at the beginning of the show and the actual Coke ad ends the show. These two pieces are bookends, "Kodak" looks backward with lyrics like, Good morning yesterday," the Coke ad looks forward, "I'd like to build the world...."

I was in Junior High School when the Coke campaign launched. My friends and I loved it; we sang it in the school yard. One afternoon, while delivering newspapers, I discovered that the local radio station had the words and music. This was exciting. I took it to school and presented it to my chorus teacher. No dice. This music didn't make it to our curriculum. Too commercial, I guess.
May 22, 2015   |  Reply
A Traynor
Wow, is that the only way to interpret the ending? I thought that Don was smiling because he was glad to be out of the world of advertising and was coming into a more authentic sense of himself. I thought the Coke add presented what he was glad
to be done with: convincing people that this or that product is "the real thing" which
will bring satisfaction to one's empty (unreal) life. Otherwise it makes Don's deep feelings of empathy for the man who spoke in the group just earlier something
cynical, rather than perhaps the first moment where Don could see the depth of his own grief in another human being, and literally embrace it.
in another human being and truly recognize
May 22, 2015   |  Reply
A Traynor
Please ignore fragment that ends my comments.
May 22, 2015
I giggled with delight. I'm glad we agree. Reading the social media, ya either loved it or hated it. (I think that means ya either got it or ya didn't. I think I got it! Yay me!).
May 19, 2015   |  Reply
May 19, 2015   |  Reply
Sunny Lubner
Thanks so much for tying it all together in a way that I couldn't do, even after watching it twice. I will miss Don and Peggy and Joan and Roger and thank Matthew Weiner for the 8 years of superior TV.
May 18, 2015   |  Reply
Agree and according to HAPPYish (which was on a hour earlier) they are still using the Coke ad as inspiration to what millennials want to see and care about in the advertising industry.
May 18, 2015   |  Reply
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