Following the series finale of the critically acclaimed show, Mad Men’s creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner chatter with close friend and renowned author A.M. Homes at the New York Public Library, offering up the last behind the scenes details that we’re likely to get for a very long time.
Official comments on the finale have been scarce so far, with Weiner choosing to let each fan decipher the ambiguous final moments however they please.
The creative genius might just have the right idea since series finales are always tricky. They’re supposed to tie together five or seven years of stories and satisfy multiple fractions of the fandom, each with their own believes, preferences, desires and expectations.
So, having said that, first thing’s first – Weiner is happy with the overall reception of the series finale. When talking about the show as a whole, the showrunner said that he “wanted it to feel like that there was a vision and a point to the entire thing”. He is happy that people followed the show this long, and is pleased that most fans enjoyed it and understood what he was trying to do.
He also informed that the entire final season of the show was based on the idea that the revolution failed in some way, meaning that it’s time to deal with what you can control, namely yourself. He wanted to turn everything inward.
He revealed that the much talked about Coke commercial at the end of the episode was not meant to be cynical, ironic, or satirical, and was disturbed when some people called it corny. He said that people who find the ad corny are probably experiencing a lot of life the way it was portrayed in the ad, and that they’re probably missing out on something.
The showrunner passionately explained that five years before the ad aired, social norms dictated that black people and white people couldn’t even be in an ad together, and “the idea that some enlightened state and not just co-option might have created something that is very pure, and yeah, there’s soda in there with good feeling, but that ad, to me, it’s the best ad ever made”.
He feels that the ad is a product of its time and first though of using it for the show when it was renewed at the end of season four.
And speaking of the end of season four, that’s also when he realized that Betty had to die. Weiner reminded fans that her mother had just died in the pilot episode, and his sense of the character was that she wasn’t going to live long after that.
He loves the beauty of the moment when Betty realizes her purpose in life right as she runs out of time to do anything about it, and thinks that there’s a lesson to be learned about the randomness of things.
Of course, the showrunner could not end the chat without talking about the show’s complex protagonist, Don Draper, whose journey ended at a spiritual retreat in Northern California. He liked that Draper would consider coming to such a place and have it be about other people, and was clear that, while Draper may have looked like John F. Kennedy, he was much more based on Richard Nixon.
Every fan knows that during season one’s “The Long Weekend”, even the character himself admited it – “Kennedy, I see a silver spoon. Nixon, I see myself”.
Weiner stressed that both men had a powerful drive to reinvent themselves. He is fascinated that a guy with no breeding, no Ivy League and no friends becomes vice president of the United States only six years after he gets out of the Navy. He calls Nixon a “psychological fascination” and “a big important part of Don”.
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