Matthew Weiner post-Finale

 Posted by on May 21, 2015 at 9:57 am  Matthew Weiner, Season 7
May 212015

B. Cooper and I were lucky enough to attend the event at the New York Public Library where Matt discussed Mad Men in its entirety, and of course the season finale. It is the one and only interview he’s giving. (For now. He’ll speak with us down the road.)

We will be giving you our notes, thoughts, and impressions, but for now, let’s just be clear–a) Don wrote the ad, b) Don wrote the ad as a result of being genuinely and deeply moved. Matt talks about how our relationship with advertising is ambiguous, but let’s put to bed this notion that Don sat on a mountain, had a Coke and a smile, and took the money and ran.

Here’s the livestream.

Big daddies B. Cooper and M. Weiner

Big daddies B. Cooper and M. Weiner

Matt and Roberta

Matt and Roberta


  27 Responses to “Matthew Weiner post-Finale”

  1. Thanks – can’t wait to check this out! <3

  2. This interview was amazing to watch by live streaming last night, and I can only imagine how cool it was for Roberta and B. Cooper to actually be there. I can’t wait to read your thoughts and impressions.

    Matt Weiner makes so many interesting points in this interview, and the one that I keep thinking about is when he said:

    “The show’s final episodes—which found Don largely on his own and away from the rest of the cast—was “hard” for Jon Hamm, because you want to end like Mary Tyler Moore. You want to end on the set with all of your friends.” Instead, “he said goodbye to most of the main characters probably 8 or 10 weeks before we finished shooting.”

    Jon Hamm’s ability to express pure emotion is a remarkable and courageous talent. The portrayal of Don Draper has been real, sublime, and raw. And, not without personal pain.

  3. Is Matt telegraphing something here with his red pants/tie?

    Red socks here:

    • Matt always wears pops of color and he has the best socks. It was clear last night he is not interested in promoting Coke. He already gave them the biggest free boost imaginable. (The library gave out Coke bottles to all the attendees, then surprised Matt by having us raise them to him–he had no idea.) (Also piss-warm Coke is the grossest thing imaginable, other than probably actual piss.)

  4. So happy that you were there, Roberta, and am eagerly awaiting your reflections on the event and interview. In the Mad Men tradition of onesie or random appearances of characters being by played actors you’ve heard of…

    The series continues to surprise me: I just figured out today (all these years later) that one of the random SterlingCoo employees in the first season “The Hobo Code” after-work bar dance scene (Pete to Peggy: “I don’t like you like this”) was Barry Livingston…Ernie of My Three Sons. Did we all discover and discuss it years ago and I just forgot? You can look up “The Importance of Being Ernie” on Google Books, search “Weiner” within the book and read about Barry’s experience on set. I’ll just say napping on Madison Avenue is mentioned. This autobiography by a kid actor who has been survining Hollywood for five decades looks like a fun summer read.

    • I noticed Ernie/Barry Livingston in the cast when I looked up the actor who played the Hobo. “Ernie” worked in the SC art department and was insulted by Sal for his fashion sense.

  5. I’m glad those points are cleared up. The idea that Mathew Weiner would reduce his masterpiece to a cynical joke and one of his greatest characters to a shallow caricature was depressing. I am looking forward to your future interview(-s).

  6. I watched the interview online. Perhaps I am a bit slow or missed something, but it seems that Weiner neither confirmed nor denied that Don wrote the Coke ad.

  7. Yeah, I didn’t hear that either, and I was listening for it. Both he and the friend who interviewed him seemed to be unaware there was a controversy happening and the question was not definitively asked or answered. Until that happens, it’s all still open for interpretation.

  8. I guess the event you guys attended and the interview I watched are two different things because
    Matthew said nothing about Don writing the ad and/or writing the ad as result of being anything.

  9. In “Mountain King”, Don seems to have an experience of rebirth or transcendence in the California surf and sunshine, following Anna’s tarot reading of the Anima Mundi card. The World Soul is shown amid the four elements; Anna says that Don is integrated into his own life but merely doesn’t realize it. A few years later, Don returns from Hawaii, seeming to have had a mysterious transformative experience that we are never shown. He anxiously questions the bellhop about whether he had what we would call a near-death experience, described (by Don) in terms of surf and bright sunshine; the belhop doesn’t know what he is talking about. Don’s hotel ad has mysterious and powerful connotations of both death and renewal.
    All of this may relate to the finale and Don’s spiritual experience (?) at Big Sur. Perhaps as with Jung’s interpretation of the experience of the Abyss, Don had matured out of his existing mode of life, felt consequent emptiness, and emerged to a higher understanding?

  10. Just to clarify some of the comments above, I don’t recall Matt really addressing the issue of whether Don actually wrote the Coke ad … frankly, I don’t think there’s much debate on that topic.

  11. In the online interview Matthew Weiner talks about ambiguities, and he says,

    “I have never been clear, and I have always been able to live with ambiguities. In the abstract, I did think, why not end this show with the greatest commercial ever made? In terms of what it means to people and everything, I am not ambiguity for ambiguity’s sake. But it was nice to have your cake and eat it too, in terms of what is advertising, who is Don and what is that thing?”

    For Matthew Weiner, that is as close as you are going to get to a confirmation that Don wrote the ad.

    Afterall, Matthew Weiner is the master of sub-text!

    I thought it was pretty clear all along that Don wrote the ad, especially given several deliberate scenes, such as in 7.13, when Don is asked to “fix” the broken Coke machine at the motel and in 7.14 there is a young woman at the retreat office with ribbons in her braids that closely resembles one of the “hilltop singers” in the ad. Then came a very deliberate sequence of images with Don hugging a stranger during the encounter group, meditating on the hilltop with hippies, we hear the sound of the “ding” (suggesting an insight or idea that comes through enlightenment), the grin on Don’s face, and then the episode cuts to the 1971 Coca-Cola “Hilltop” commercial. The sequences of these events and images are supposed to lead the viewer to make the inference that Don returns to McCann-Erickson and creates that ad.

    Some more definitive statements were made by Jon Hamm in an interview with the NY Times when he said: “My take is that, the next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man. And so, this thing comes to him.”

  12. That was my sense as well. I’m probably in the minority, in terms of “did he or didn’t he?” create the Coke ad. I’m actually at the point now, where I could convincingly argue it either way.

    The consensus seems to be that Don’s Big Sur Breakthrough came when he got his nose out of his navel long enough to recognize Leonard’s pain. He related to it and saw that he, too, was similarly anguished. In his embrace of Leonard, he gave someone else the very thing he himself most needed to receive.

    For me, the question becomes: “What happened next?”

    I got the impression that the final scene on the hilltop didn’t happen the very next day.

    Everything about Don looked so different to me. His garb, his posture, certainly his face. He was practically beaming. Also, the ever present pack of Lucky Strikes was missing from his shirt pocket. It’s entirely possible that it was the next day and he simply forgot to take his smokes along, but I suspect that some time had definitely passed.

    It’s true that a long time smoker can quit “cold turkey,” but I think that’s the exception and not the rule. Then, there’s the matter of booze. I doubt that we’d see Don looking so magnificent, the day after quitting alcohol and cigarettes. It’s not uncommon that long after people have quit booze, they continue to puff away. I have no personal experience with A.A., but until restrictions about indoor smoking came about, it was not unusual, at a 12 Step meeting for the people there to be smoking furiously and swilling vast amounts of coffee too. Simply based on the difficulty of suddenly stopping alcohol and nicotine, some time had to have passed.

    It’s obvious that Don’s breakthrough occurred with his experience with Leonard, but that’s “just” the breakthrough. What about his transformation? I get that transformation occurs in an instant, but I also get that transformation can play out as a process and the signs of it can show up gradually. It is that process that has me wondering.

    I’ve noted elsewhere, on recent threads, why I don’t think Don returned to McCann, so I won’t rehash that here. Instead, I’ll explore what might have happened if Don did spend time at Big Sur.

    Perhaps one of the distinctions that he latched onto there, was the difference between “deciding” and “choosing.” In the realm of “deciding,” it’s picking either this or that. Think of ice cream cones. Do you want vanilla or do you want chocolate? You can give a long list of reasons for why you picked the one you picked, but in the final analysis, it comes down to this or that. In the realm of “choosing,” it’s not a matter of one or the other. It’s not even about cones. The universe is wide open before you. Reasons and reasoning become irrelevant. A shift happens and puts you in the realm of “unreasonableness,” and into a space where it’s about “possibilities.” It’s uncharted territory. You’re on a higher plane, a different level. It becomes about being. “Because” doesn’t enter into the conversation. “Be Cause” in life, is now the Prime Directive.

    Throughout the course of the series, we’ve seen Don, as told by the past. Now, he’s in a place where he can create his future – not through the rearrangement of aspects or considerations of that past – but through him declaring who he is in the matter of who he authentically is. It’s a realm that you are living into, on a momently basis. Anything else is simply a flawed construct of the cobbled together aspects of the past, mislabeled as “the future.”

    Perhaps Don did spend some quality time at Big Sur and gained such insights. If he did, he would likely find himself unencumbered and uninhibited, in terms of his future. The past may inform that future, but it will no longer define it or drive it.

    Does Don create the Coke ad? Of course!
    Does Don not create the Coke ad? Of course!

    It works either way. And however it played out, I’m just glad to see his life finally working for him.

    • I like the idea that the meditation scene took place some time later, not the next day after the Leonard hug.

  13. […] the Mad Men season finale at the New York Public Library.  While we await a later sitdown with Roberta, you can read a summary on the NYPL event at The Hollywood Reporter, or watch it at […]

  14. Tremendous interview.

    My favorite moment (as you might expect, especially after all our discussion of it here two weeks ago) was Matt making a point of saying that, yes, he has read Moby Dick in its entirety.

    Take that, whoever said nobody ever finished it!


  15. A few things. First, the livestream starts with the clip–which was easily shown 20-35 minutes into the actual conversation. The talk was scheduled from 7:00-9:00. It did not start promptly at 7:00, and it ended a bit early, but there’s a whole lot missing.
    Second, I also do not recall Matt specifically saying Don wrote the spot. I’ll point out that A.M. Homes never asked him. I don’t think it was ever really a question. What he discussed was the cynicism angle that has flooded the internetty response to the episode. He was addressing it very much from the understanding that he’d written the ad, so now, WHY did he write the ad. That was the mystery he delved into. I don’t believe he considered Don as creator of that ad a mystery that needed clearing up.

    • Roberta;
      Could you ask MW, when you sit down with him, what Don’s frame of mind is when we see him meditating at Esalen? If he writes the ad, does he do it to express new-found spiritual insight? Perhaps this could clear up this issue. While recognizing the validity of individual viewer interpretations, it would be interesting to understand the intent of the creator of the work.

      • Sure–Deb and I don’t have anything scheduled. Matt wanted to go quiet for awhile after the finale, with the exception of the NYPL appearance. So we don’t know when. Could be a few weeks, but could be longer.
        I thought this conversation confirmed a lot of that (I haven’t watched the whole livestream, so again, not sure what was said in the missing early portion of it). Coop, jump in if you have clarity of recall on this.

        • I hadn’t realized that the video of Mett’s post-finale chat that I posted on the BOK Facebook page the other day, wasn’t the whole conversation. Is the full video online anywhere?

          Also, when you do get the chat with him, please ask about the Great Diana Expedition too. She probably had some other meaning or significance for Don, but I kinda think her main purpose was to move him and the show into the Midwest, then to Utah and California. Thanks!

        • Don’t recall him addressing this in particular. The overriding message was that Don’s breakthrough in group therapy was a genuine moment that led to him having greater self-awareness, and, to tie in another tributary from Matt’s comments, perhaps more empathy.

          As Deb wonderfully articulated in her non-recap recap, it was the moment he realized he’s not alone.

    • Yesterday, when I clicked the link above, the stream started with part 2 and seemed to run about 20 min. Then a link appeared on the screen to “part 1”:

      which has links to both parts. Part 2 now shows 1 hour runtime, and Part 1 half an hour.

  16. last week…”person to person”….this week…”keeping up with the kardashians”…oh how the mighty have fallen! ugh!

    • Last night, the guest who was on with Charlie Rose was Neil deGrasse Tyson. At the very end, they showed a clip of his show, “Startalk,” as he interviewed George Takei, who noted that “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” has been on TV longer than the original “Star Trek.”

      And people wonder why I get depressed sometimes…

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