Television Tuesday :: on the Mad Men series finale.

19 May

I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be.

I’m not as thrilled as some people I watched with seemed to be.

I’m not really… anything.

So let’s just look at the fates of the six most main women at the end of the series.

Megan (Jessica Paré) was… written out at the beginning of the season.  Presumably, she’s still pursuing her acting career in California, but we don’t know, at this point we know more about her mother than her because Marie (Julia Ormond) is still sleeping with Roger (John Slattery) so she’s still relevant.

Betty (January Jones) was… diagnosed with cancer an episode ago (which, well, I’m surprised it took this long for someone to be, considering how much they all smoke, but at this point in the narrative it was essentially useless) and resigned to her fate, not wanting to seek treatment.

Sally (Kiernan Shipka) was… planning on going to Madrid before college but put those plans on hold to come home and take care of her ailing mother.  If this had been handled with conversation, I wouldn’t feel weird about it, but as is I’m kind of uncomfortable with the last image we get of Sally being her gloomily washing dishes while her dying-of-cancer mother smokes cigarettes.

Trudy (Alison Brie) was… seen in the finale only to be wearing a fancy coat and fur to get on a private plane to Kansas with her daughter and her estranged husband Pete (Vincent Kartheiser), who she had broken up with a few seasons ago in what is still one of the most glorious rages in the history of the program because he was a cheat and a liar (and also, though I don’t know that she knew this, a rapist) but who she got back together with last week, because this time he asked really nicely.

Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) was… at the beginning of the episode unhappy at her job, because they didn’t seem to be respecting her.  Then she was offered a job by Joan (more on this in a second).  Then she told Stan (Jay R. Ferguson) that she had been offered a job, got yelled at by him essentially for being too ambitious, and a day later called him to apologize and was met with a love confession.  Her scene in the closing montage was of her frowning at her typewriter and then receiving a kiss.  One of the people I watched with argued that that’s what Peggy’s always wanted, balancing a fulfilling career with a relationship with someone who respects her, and that’s true, and apparently there have been serious foreshadowings, but I… still feel a little weird about the compulsive heteronormativity of it all.  But hey, at least it wasn’t Don (Jon Hamm) telling her he loved her.

Joan (Christina Hendricks) was… let go from the new ad agency a couple of episodes ago because she wasn’t going to take their sexism anymore, then was at the beginning of the episode on vacation in Florida with her older boyfriend, who was saying he really wanted to be in her life and hey here’s some cocaine to snort (I’m not even sure why that happened that didn’t feel right at all) but then after being approached by ex-colleague Ken (Aaron Staton) about producing an ad was starting a second career as a producer.  She invited Peggy to go into business with her, writing the ads presumably, or supervising writers, or something writing, and specifically said “the partnership is only for you,” meaning she wanted Peggy to be in on it, but that apparently didn’t pan out; her boyfriend couldn’t understand why she wanted a career when she could just be with him, so he walked out, but she had her production company.  Presumably.  Joan ended on the nicest note.

I… don’t know.  I think a lot of it is that I just watch television differently than I did when I started watching Mad Men years ago.  I have different, more articulate priorities, and I have things that make me crankier and less time for manpain and narrative abstractions when they take away from characters’ arcs and agency.  High aesthetic value galore, but not entirely the resolutions I was looking for.

–your fangirl heroine.

that'll be good for a laugh


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