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Mad Men

Jim Miles

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The problem I had with Betty was that she was a bad character who was badly written and played by a bad actress. She never stood a chance of getting the audience on side.

GTFO. At times it seemed like her character was meandering (although so have most other characters on the show at times - it's the nature of the show and, well, life in general) but look at her character arc over the course of the entire series, starting with the repressed, bored housewife shooting birds in the garden and culminating in the latest episode, and it's a fucking home run when it comes to character development.

Also, January Jones was a great Betty. Her general aloofness/coldness, while maybe a liability in other roles, is perfect for the character.

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The problem I had with Betty was that she was a bad character who was badly written and played by a bad actress. She never stood a chance of getting the audience on side.

That is very harsh. Granted she is not amongst the elite actors in the show but her role is quite complicated. She doesn't have the more accessible routes of rising feminism of Peggy (use work to prove yourself) or Joan's (trying to make her looks secondary in a man's world). Instead she is captured between the "traditional mother" of the era and the need to be liberated and explore herself, like men do (this is actually one of the deeper cornerstores of feminism). From the first season she had been struggling to come to terms with a normal, family life, and many times we see her acting out a very peculiar darkness which, probably, comes from pressing herself too much to be an ideal mother or wife. She is a lot like Don in many ways, yet she acts out less because of her children and the era's established roles in society. For me, she is one of the darkest and more complex characters in the show and Jones has done a good -not remarkable- job of fleshing her out.

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I'm going to miss the shit out the show. It's the classiest show ever, even during Don's darkest moments and self-repeating cycle of emotions.

I don't the finale was perfect, but there were some excellent moments.

Don's confession to Peggy. Heart breaking, then hugging the guy. Then meditating.

Teared up at the end of Don and Betty's conversation.

Peggy n Stan. Really? Gimme a break.

"You have Charlie to thank for that."

Loved Joan's scenes. Starting off with her doing coke "Oh that comes on quick" and ending with Coke It's the Real Thing. Also "Something something Gonorrhea". CLICK.

The writing and characters have been almost always great and thoroughly watchable and often times hilarious throughout the whole seven series run.

So :wub: but also :(:(:( that it's all over.

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I feel emotionally bereft.

Loved Joan's ending - a perfect reversal of where she started. A rich man in search of a trophy bride, and she strikes out on her own instead. Great that she always kept it real with her little apartment.

Peggy and Stan - totally meh for me. Too 'pat' and Hollywood. When Peggy and Don had so much (non-romantic) chemistry, anything else was always going to feel flat in comparison. Guess that was a big part of the point, though - sometimes the friendships count for more than the romances.

Generally felt Peggy's ending this series has been a little weak. Think they burnt out her character's trajectory too early across the show - she's so clearly a survivor that there's not much more drama to be had.

Glad pretty much everyone got a happy ending, though. Except the poor Francis's in their Addams Family mansion.

Overall: void in my life/10

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Peggy and Stan... yeah it's a little cornball but I loved it, and to me it seems to have been coming forever. Great acting by Moss throughout her scenes with Joan, Don and Stan.

From last week I'd been really worried about Pete, but they actually paid off the whole Lear Jet , back-with-Trudy thing. It always felt like life was lining up to punch Pete in the face (often deservedly), so I was convinced something, somehow was going to throw a spanner in all that. Maybe he'll be OK.

Don... just kind of reasserted power over himself I guess. He's probably come out a wiser person from his whole spiritual journey, but ultimately it's just added to his repertoire of ideas. My only disappointment with the wrapping up of his story is the lack of face-to-face scenes. Phone conversations just didn't feel big enough, whatever the subject, and I ached for one more pivotal Peggy/Don scene. Not sure how I felt about the Don proxy at the group session. It frustrated me that it wasn't Don himself talking (but why would he ever do that). I also near panicked when it appeared to be ending on him finding happiness in the commune, which would have been such a bizarre place to wind up, but the smile and the segue into the ad was a relief.

Life goes on. I always knew the show didn't have to reach any sort of melodramatic climax, that we would just check out somewhere along the way and imagine the rest of these guys' lives. I'm satisfied, but boy am I going to miss it.

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I'm going to miss checking out what the characters are up to, the frequent bursts of humour and so forth, but I do think now was the right time to end it. I mean, just look at how little reaction there has been to the finale on here, and the final season in general really. I think a lot of people's interest tapered off somewhere after Season 5-6 where it felt like the show was doing a lot of plate spinning and theme repeating until it could end.

My favourite seasons are definitely 1-5, though those that came after certainly weren't bad. I love the very early seasons for how subtle, slow and luxurious they felt, I loved Season 4's depiction of a start-up ad agency. I loved Season 5's ambition each week, like the LSD episode or the episode showing a day from three characters' perspectives, culminating in the best season finale of the series where Don walks away from Megan on-set.

Seasons 6 and 7 were a bit too fast-paced, a bit too on-the-nose, just a bit less interesting in general. It started feeling repetitive in some ways. Much as I still enjoyed it each week and much as it still had the odd cracking episode, it didn't blow me away as consistently anymore.

It really does feel like a huge hole is present now though, just as when The Sopranos ended. There's nothing else on TV quite like Mad Men and God knows when there will be again. TV execs dont exactly fall over themselves commissioning cerebral, slow paced, often introverted period shows with expensive budgets and big casts like Mad Men - shows that don't rely on cliffhangers or action or constant forward momentum It's quite a one-off when you look around at the broader landscape.

Now give me my ridiculously expensive Blu-Ray boxset of the whole series please. I'll buy it at a high price.

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I'm not sure if the show itself has dragged on, but the massive gap between the season 4 and 5 lost the show some of its zeitgeist; splitting the final season did it no favours either.

That fact that it has gone on for eight years however does mean that it also feels like an end of an era that stretches back to Sopranos, whose baton it picked up. I loved those years that also had shows like The Wire and even network tv had Friday Night Lights. Maybe it's just me being older but I've never ever got as into a show in recent years. We now have the biggest fantasy show we've ever had and even decent superhero shows, while most 'serious' shows now seem to be dark season long murder mysteries. With Mad Men finished, we don't have a high profile show that talks about real, everyday life right now and it might be a while before we get another.

I'm ok with the finale; it is a bit too neat and convenient for me. Everyone we care about are 'taken care of' in some way and have rather isolated big moments that give them a happy ending. You feel that Weiner loves these characters and want them to be ok as well.

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My only disappointment with the wrapping up of his story is the lack of face-to-face scenes. Phone conversations just didn't feel big enough, whatever the subject, and I ached for one more pivotal Peggy/Don scene.

For me, Mad Men's biggest 'flaw' (although it could also of course be a strength) was in sometimes doggedly sticking to a hook or gimmick for an episode. They/Weiner seemed to decide that, in this case, that was that Don's last on-screen interactions with the three most important people in his life would be by phone (underscored by the 'Person-to-Person' episode title). I can understand/appreciate the narrative subtleties of this.....but, argh, it would have been nice to have more!!

Part of my beef with Peggy-Stan was that it steamrollered any follow-up to that so-brief but extremely charged conversation between Peggy and Don. I assume this was partly to show that Peggy had found something beyond running after Don, and being reactive to his erratic behaviours, but - c'mon! She went from being, justifiably, genuinely concerned for Don's mental and physical well-being to lovesick teen in an instant. And even though Peggy was powerless to do anything without knowing exactly where Don was, it seems callous that Peggy effectively just shrugs it off.

That said, of course, it's all part of the whole Mad Men experience, isn't it? It's not a Cassius Clay slug, but a sustained onslaught of almost innocuous-seeming jabs, sleights and feints, which eventually leave you clinging to a bald man called Leonard, sobbing your heart out, wondering who you really are, and if anyone will ever come and take you out of the fridge??!! (Or perhaps that was just my Monday night.)

Other things:

- Don uses almost exactly the same speech (word-for-word) on Stephanie as he used with Peggy in the maternity ward, but it falls flat. My take on this is that Don always tried to impose the mantle of Anna II on Stephanie, and her reaction causes some sort of realisation (finally) that, if anyone's taken on that role of close, nourishing friend, it's been Peggy all along.

- Peggy then gives Don her own version of this 'get up, move on' speech. Her words are characteristically clumsy and ineloquent, and I actually worried they'd be what pushed Don over the edge (with a teasing clifftop shot for any of the Draper suicide theorists), but "Don't you wanna do Coke...", it seems, was exactly the encouragement and validation he needed to keep on truckin'.

- If Don did write the "Hilltop" Coke ad (obv did), then I like to think that Peggy later comes up with the annoying-as-hell "Holidays are Coming". Classic Peggy! "It's all about the ritual of the Coke trucks coming to town...."

- Bye, Bye, B[ert]ie. Guess I'll always caaaaaare.

- Disagree with that Huffington Post article's assessment of Joan's ending. Richard didn't take some dramatic turn for the villainous - their relationship was never particularly built on solid or healthy foundations ("I'll send my son away for you!!" wtf?). Joan finally got that she has more to sell than her body, and is taking a gamble on something real for her and her family. She needs two names for her company? Uses both of her own: Holloway-Harris - LOVE.

In conclusion: we can all agree that The Suitcase was the best episode ever, right?

I've written a lot because as long as I'm still thinking about it, it's not over, goddammit!

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that is the most perfect ending I can recall to a show - just feels so satisfying in that it gives the viewer some closure on people but not in a way that they all had to be killed off - you know that the world continues just that you don't get to see it any more.

I've not always enjoyed the last season as the late 60s and 70s got into full swing as I loved the earlier time setting they portrayed so much - I do though love how Weiner manoeuvred his characters through the season into the final episode.

Interesting interview with Matthew Weiner on The Nerdist podcast (in fact he's been on twice recently and both parts are great), he was picking at the paper & online websites that are always drawing symbolism from what he writes and he claims he never does it.

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Luxurious is a great word to describe mad men, it what so rich and you could read into it a great deal or just let it wash over you.

Will miss it hugely, even if I never got that excited about it.

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