Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Men Series Finale

Light spoilers, sorry. But as we like to say around here,
Never lose an opportunity for a teaching moment.
If you haven't seen it, have no intention to see it, assume you'll never see it, reconsider.

To enjoy this last of the Mad Men season, the AMC Mad Men Series Finaleyou really don't need to know very much about what happened previously.

You probably should know that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is the mind behind several brilliant television ad campaigns in the sixties and seventies, that he does it all effortlessly, usually under the influence of bottle after bottle of Scotch, and yes, he suffered a dysfunctional upbringing and has secrets, other identities.

You might need to know that his ex-wife Betty (January Jones) is a survivor of an era that objectified women and defined the parameters of their success. Not that this era is over, or that she has ever been a warm and fuzzy stereotypic mother. All of the women in this show, for all seven seasons, are the second-class citizens that feminism seeks to graduate, the heart and soul of the equal rights and women's liberation movement.

You might need to know that Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) has been raised Catholic and that she steps out of her family script to express herself in advertizing, and that she's never been lucky in love.
Mad Men

And that Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) has always been the subject of sexual harassment in advertising, for she is stunning, an iconic female, but she will persevere, become a partner in the firm.

 It is the Don Draper story, one that surely can be found on a summary at AMC, that captivates us. We find him in California in this last show, having walked away from his success in New York, disliking the powers and politic of the company buy-out. He has hit the road, in search of what, we're not sure and neither is he. The walking away, the dropping out, searching, is so symbolic of that era, the late sixties and early seventies, and the costumes, the execution of the plot, bring me back, nostalgically, to a time when it was all up for grabs. Everyone could be an adolescent. A pox on your stage theories.

Even the group therapy of the times, we see much of it in this episode, is perfectly rendered as both impossibly ineffectual, and then. . . a work of beauty.  The stories they must have told on that set at lunchtime.

I can't do it, won't give away the ending, or even much of the middle, but suffice it to say that this one show will be, should be required watching, on the syllabus, for those who like the idea of art therapy, of art as therapy. Out of existential conflict, creativity is born, assuming one thinks this way, is trained to think this way. And from creativity, happiness, serotonin surging, surely, and what feels like psychological growth, resolution, not necessarily all in that order.

But because it is so hard to train people to think creatively, this particular season finale of a popular television show is serious business, a commodity, valuable art, a teaching moment, make that hour and fifteen minutes.

Think creatively, or learn to do so, and no matter what happens, we can make something new out of something that is wearing us down, make it better. We are, basically, in charge of that, making it, as the Beatles sing in Hey Jude, Better, Better, Better. Good therapy, can bring us close, but we have to add that final dab of paint ourselves.



Mound Builder said...

I haven't yet watched the last several episodes of this final season but I've seen all of them up until these last 6 or so.

When I first started watching I was really put off by Joan and then came to like her very much. Likewise, Peggy. I feel for both of them. Betty is hard for me to like but I feel a lot of empathy for her. One of the email characters that I felt most drawn to, though, was Don and Betty's older daughter, Sally. I found it really interesting to watch her evolution, her effort to make sense of a world that was changing rapidly, her parents often trying to shield her from events at the same time seeming to ignore the reality of the world Sally lives in.

The first 2 or 3 years, watching the marriage play out between Don and Betty, that left me almost feeling as if I couldn't breathe. All of their dialogue seemed so restrained and so spare, so devoid of much genuine feeling, that their relationship felt violent to me, brutal somehow.

It's been an interesting show to watch, will look forward to catching up with the last few episodes soon.

therapydoc said...

Thanks so much for the comment. I loved watching Sally grow up, too, and manage her emotions (because she takes after her dad, expresses them). You're going to love the last episodes. She's a big player in it, and even though you can predict it, if you think about it, she pulls it off effortlessly.

Syd said...

An interesting program. The therapy in the finale and Don's emotional expression to another troubled fellow was powerful. His perseverance came through in the end. He was not an easy character to trust.

Margo said...

Absolutely inhaled the finale (endlessly artistic), and love your takeaways. Can I shamelessly plug my own post on thinking creatively? Oops, I just did.

therapydoc said...

Syd,thanks for reading and posting your comment.I love your blog. And Margo, WOW what a post! I'll tweet that one. Thanks.