Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Men Finale: The tale of the three shoulds

"You don't know what happens to people when they believe in things."

And then Stephanie disregards Don's advice and ... what? She goes back to her baby? Are they going to let her do that? She hasn't been much of a mother. Does she think that she can screw up as completely as she has and just go back and that people—you know, people like child-protection agencies with the full force of the law behind them and relatives who don't trust Stephanie, and with good reason apparently—anyway, that these people will just say, "Gee, we're so glad you got in touch with your feelings, that's all we need to know."

By the way, the list of good mothers on Mad Men is very short isn't it?

And before you think that Don blew the chance to be a part of Stephanie's life when she was pregnant and needed someone who was family and turned to him, you may want to go back and watch that episode again because it was actually a petty and jealous Megan who slammed that door shut.

Do you think we're supposed to believe the scene where Don hugs Leonard at the consciousness-raising session in Big Sur (or whatever-that-was-supposed-to-be)? Do you think that all he needed was love?

I loved the way the transcendental meditation morphed into the Coke ad. That was the first time I smiled during the entire finale. What can that possibly mean but that it's all just another con?

I've seen this all before on the washroom wall of a bar. It said, "Everyone has to believe in something, I believe I'll have another beer ... or coke ... or ...

"You don't know what happens to people when they believe in things."

Of course you don't because you live in a world where nobody believes in anything and they're all desperately trying to reassure one another that that's okay and that's why we need a billboard to tell us that whatever we're doing it's alright. To live in a world where people don't believe in things is to live in a world where everything is just another ad for something. Where love is just a feeling. Where a happy ending is the one where you get to have a good feeling just before you die and a sad ending is an ending where you don't get that feeling. (Which is Betty's end by the way. PS: I told you so. )

Is there an esoteric message hiding in all this? You damn well better hope because otherwise, another feel-good ad linking a mixture of syrup, artificial flavouring and carbonated water with L-U-V is going to be what you believe in.

It's odd that Stephanie accuses Don of thinking that everything is a big laugh? Why would she say that? Nothing we've seen indicates that he thinks that. He seems to think it's all pretty stupid and that isn't surprising because it is. And you know, that Coke song stands up just as well as any Beatles song. If all you've got is another con, go to McCann Erickson because that way it will at least be a well-written and well-produced con.

The three shoulds? In the session where Don has his big hug moment Leonard starts his take by saying he "should" be happy and is promptly admonished for using the word. But then he turns around and says of others in his life, "They should love me". Why is that second should okay? Why should anyone love you? Just 'cause?

Go ahead and tell me and then explain how that you're not a narcissist.

And then there is Stephanie's big should—that she should go back to her child—which she takes as binding.

By the way, the woman in the session gets it wrong. Adopted boys get over their mothers completely. Daughters often seek out their mothers but not necessarily so. It's the mothers who spend their whole lives looking at the door and hoping that their child walks in. There are pretty obvious evolutionary reasons why that is so.

I told you long ago that Don Draper and his past were the MacGuffin—that he was just a plot device to move the story along. The list of good mothers on Mad Men is very short and there is nothing by-the-way about that. That's the esoteric message (and it's really there whether Matt Weiner put it there consciously or not).

Actual children of mothers, which is all of us, spend a lot of our lives wishing our mothers would just get the hell out of our lives.

How does that make you feel?

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