Nothing stays the same, and sometimes, that makes us sad. In that vein, we said goodbye this week to a series that was almost universally loved for its pitch-perfect depiction of life in an advertising agency in the 1960s and early 1970s.
We’d watched Mad Men since the start (was it only 2007?), marveling at the detailed perfection of its setting and at its spot-on replication of 1960s and 1970s society. We admired how well the characters showed us that era’s values and mores, a reminder for some of us who lived it and a lesson for those who came after. It didn’t just ring a bell, it pealed a carillon.
Even when it jumped the shark, as it did from time to time, it captured our attention more than so many other television programs. Its characters amused us, bemused us and puzzled us, or we laughed at how familiar they seemed. Oh, how familiar!
We loved looking at those long, sleek Cadillacs, at the shirtwaist dresses and that bouffant hair that had been sprayed to within an inch of its life. Former model Betty Draper’s dresses and evening gowns were wonders to behold. And even Joan’s industrial-strength brassiere couldn’t contain her eye-catching assets.
The Sterling Cooper crew lived in our era–civil rights, feminism, peace and love– and their struggles were ours, too, just in a little different way.
Here in the 21st century it’s hard to believe that we’ve been adults since barely past the mid-2oth. That we came of age during the 1960s and 1970s and wore those same clothes, the ones that are now considered “vintage.” We might not have been in our careers long enough to merit bars in our own offices but we worked with people who had them.
All of those things the Mad Men and Women went through? We went through them, too, in one way or another. Watching this series was like reliving our youth and I loved every minute of it.
I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to say goodbye to this series: it’s like saying goodbye to my youth one more time.
Life really is a series of goodbyes to those innocent days when we were young and carefree. Time passes in moments we’ll never have again. Don Draper’s are digitally preserved, but our farewell moments are preserved in our hearts and minds.
Maybe our first farewell to youth came when a parent died. Or when our childhood homes went up for sale. When my elementary school became an office building and the facade of my high school was renovated, those were goodbyes, too. When the house next door to my parents burned down — and never rebuilt–the gaping hole in the neighborhood was another reminder that nothing stays the same.
And nothing stayed the same for the crew at Sterling Cooper, either. Despite a series known for its darkness, the Mad Men writers gave us a largely happy ending and for that, I thank them. It was a relief to see the constantly tormented characters have a chance at a happy life. Except for poor Betty. But even that was a smart choice by the writers as she was never a sympathetic character.
It almost didn’t matter whether they all fell apart afterwards, because for us, their lives ended on a high note and for us, they’ll live forever in those moments of happiness.
So, let’s talk about favorite characters on the show. Roger had all the best lines and remains the most amusing character for me, and probably for most of us. How about you? Favorite character or favorite moment?