Being immersed in Mad Men‘s final television season, including the promos of the actors’ reminiscences, I am awed by the fact that we have been with many of these characters for over a decade. Matthew Weiner’s grand scheme is illuminated for me in a whole new way.
Matt has always said that the period of the show and historical events serve the characters and story, but it’s their ages that he looks to when discovering/creating what comes next for them. So there was Peter Campbell at 26 and Peggy Olson at 21, and Matt would imagine what he’d be doing when was 30; what kinds of choices she might make at 28; what would be important to them at different points in their lives.
There’s a lot of discussion about how everything that happens with these characters seems inevitable, even though we, the viewers, rarely guess what’s coming. And doesn’t it? Here’s Don on the road headed west; here’s Joan unable to excel professionally; and yes, here’s Betty with lung cancer. Inevitable.
There were comments in one of the threads that tallied up all the deaths on the show–Pete’s father, Ida Blankenship, Betty’s father, Anna Draper, Lane Pryce, Pete’s mother, Bert Cooper, Rachel Menken–and it went on and on and on.
Has their ever ever ever been a show that gave you such an intimate perspective on the passage of time? In the entire history of television, has there? A lot of people died on Mad Men because in a decade, a lot of people die. Children are born. Marriages begin and end (and begin again, once in a while). People move, change jobs, get fired and are never heard of again. This is life, folks.
We have been with Don and Peggy and so many others for over a decade of their lives–and nearly a decade of ours. So of course we’re torn up about it ending. It was inevitable.