Wait — was that a smile from Don Draper during the last seconds of ‘Mad Men?’ It certainly was. Even if Don was thousands of miles away from his loved ones in ‘Person to Person’ struggling to find his happiness — it was in that ambiguous last minute of the show that I truly believed he found it. And hence, it saved the show.
Mad Men has always been a show about Don Draper (Jon Hamm). As we get to know him over the course of seven (too short) seasons, he’s more than just an ad man — he’s the American dream. As that slowly diminishes and he isolates himself from his loved ones and his creativity, the last minute of the series shows that we do get satisfaction and happy ending. Or at least hope of it.
‘Mad Men’ Finale: Don Draper’s Ending Is Only The Beginning
Remember the man in a hat holding a briefcase who we fell in love with? The man with the family, the beautiful wife and mistress and a perfect job? That was not the Don we saw in the series finale.
We see Don at his lowest point ever as he makes “person to person” calls with Sally (Kiernan Shipka), Betty (January Jones) and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss). He yearns to be wanted in their lives so he has a purpose — he’s even shocked when Stephanie (Caity Lotz) denies his help. Even though he has a special place in each of these women’s hearts he’s still not needed. We see him choose isolation and feel sorry for himself.
When he’s forced into an open group discussion, and he essentially finds a man who admits everything he’s been so desperate to admit, he can’t help but hug him and cry like a baby on his shoulder. He’s done what he’s been dying to do ever since he lost Diana — connect with another human being.
The Beginning Of Don’s Epiphany
It’s that very last minute where he’s not looking out into the jungle of New York City, but out into the ocean, wide with possibilities (excuse the lame metaphor, I swear it applies). His life can go anywhere he wants it to.
“The new day brings new hope, lives we’ve led, lives we get to lead. New day, new ideas, a new you,” the spiritual leader preaches to a group of meditating men, including Don. As the camera pans over to Don, we see him crack a very slight smile.
And with that, it cuts to the world famous 1971 Coke Commercial, “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke.” A quintessential American commercial, which ironically (or maybe not so ironically) was done by McKann Erickson.
Let’s Talk About That Coke Commercial Though
Did Don dream up his next big ad while meditating and create the Coke commercial? In my mind, yes. He went back to New York City and reinvented himself — or perhaps he’s just caught in the same web that is Don Draper all over again.
However, that last minute was needed in the series because it shows Don’s path coming full circle. There’s a connection with 1960s Don and 1970s Don which is the yearning for simpleness and self-satisfaction.
Even if he didn’t create the commercial, Don’s making peace with himself, dreaming up the next big thing.
What do YOU think, HollywoodLifers? Do you think the last minute saved the show? Do you think Don created the Coke commercial? Tell us your thoughts below!
— Julianne Ishler