Mad Men: a Personal and Somewhat Premature Memoriam to Mid Century Modernism, Don Draper and Madison Avenue

I thought there were only going to be six series.

I have built myself up for the end of my regular thirteen week fix. I have bought the back series from Amazon. Sadly, I am onto Series Three already. This morning I settled in the tv room with a cafetiere of black coffee, overwhelmed by the knowledge that this was about to the end of my viewing life as I know it. Overwhelmed also by a visceral desperation to watch the episode and love Don one last time.

Mrs Carmichael's weekly fix (
Mrs Carmichael’s weekly fix (

It’s been a dark series, building, I believed, to a terrible conclusion that prohibited further episodes being made. With Mad Men’s production pedigree being The Sopranos top guns (RIP, James Gandolfini), I knew it would be executed to perfection.

My love for this series started with the decade it is set in. The 1960’s for me are far enough away to know most of their detail from history books but to also know that I was there. Yes, I was a child. Yes, I was in New Zealand but I remember my parents’ grief at John and Robert Kennedy’s assassinations. I remember the Vietnam War and licking envelopes for my father in his role as secretary for the Anti Involvement in Vietnam Committee. I remember my mother and father laughing about the fact that he was at Wellington Airport protesting Johnson’s arrival and our next door neighbour was at the same chain link fence cheering the President on.

I remember wanting an American accent and two tone shoes.

And I remember the Mid Century Modern furniture that features so exquisitely in Mad Men’s Madison Avenue offices and Don and Megan’s ‘to die for’ apartment.

Mrs C's next abode (
Mrs C’s next abode (

I remember the furniture because I lived it. My parents loved all things modern, had a split level, open plan house designed by Bill Toomath (Group Architects) in the late 50’s and filled it with Eames and Bertoia chairs, a Danish dining table, George Jensen cutlery and Lucie Rie pottery to name drop but some.

Yours ruly on the trike and ooh, look at the chair (Bill Toomath)
Yours Truly on the trike and ooh, look at the chair (Bill Toomath)

Thank you Roger Stirling for your love of great design and all things Saarinen.

And the clothes, we cannot, mustn’t forget the frocks. It’s all so perfect and polyester is queen. On the underground last week I saw a twenty something dressed like Joan, Mad Men’s super-secretary and femme fatale. Right down to the red hair.

still my beating heart (
still my beating heart (
I want, my mother had (
I want, my mother had (

The series appeals to way more than my baby booming generation.

Men too got into the act. Look right at Jantzen’s answer to Don’s wardrobe malfunction in Palm Springs.

Don, a word to the wise, fewer drugs, more swimsuit combinations please.

But of course, he’s excused. I excuse him everything. Because as you know (we’ve shared this secret before) I have been in love with him since 2007. Others pretend to his affections ( but ya’all, Mrs C’s the real Mccoy.

I don’t see him as a father figure, oh no, although I do think he looks like my father. Perhaps there is something in that then and I did beat Sally to those eyebrows by quite some years. But I don’t see him as a father figure because, we can all agree on this, he’s not a very good father.

But it’s not his fault. We know that and as I come to the end of Series Six it’s obvious, to all but the most callous, that Don Draper is falling to pieces. He needs our help.

Get a grip Mrs Carmichael, you’re becoming a touch hysterical. It’s only a television programme. One that just happens to have got to you. Touched your buttons. Big time.

So as my morning’s viewing builds to a crescendo, I’m enjoying a three cup coffee high and Don speaks the truth in a Hershey presentation I see the script writers have done us all proud. They are tying the dying moments of this epic to its theme of themes, identity. Identity, or lack thereof, in all its guises: work, gender, role, background, love. Life.

Don stands with his three children outside the whore house in which he lived as a teenager and he does something he hasn’t before. He tells them the truth.

Judy Collins sings Both Sides Now and I cry. I cry because I love Don Draper, because the choice of music is perfect, because this is a sublime ending to the series and because I’m devastated that its over.

And then I read there’s to be a Series Seven.

I don’t know what to think.

I’m discombobulated.

I’d said ‘goodbye’.

Our parting was perfect.

I so hope the final series isn’t a mistake.

22 thoughts on “Mad Men: a Personal and Somewhat Premature Memoriam to Mid Century Modernism, Don Draper and Madison Avenue

  1. //I’m discombobulated.//

    fabulous MrsC – I haven’t heard that for quite a while!

    And I love your post too – I also enjoyed Mad Men, but then it was no longer shown on terrestrial TV over here so the series ended some time ago for me 😦

    1. Oh no… what episode did you get to? You must purchase.
      I do think it should have stopped with one it was a perfect place to say adios.
      what about ‘conniption’? as a word. I love that one too 🙂
      I’m annoyed that when you post a video it overrides the photo you’ve specially picked to show up in the reader.

      1. Series 2 or 3 maybe. I should buy the box set (I guess there is a box set?) but I never get round to these things. As for conniption I have never heard of it. Thanks for introducing me to something new today. Now I just have to find some way of using it. 🙂

  2. Oh, not fair Mrs. C. Now you took me back waaaaay too far! LOL! I love looking at my mom’s photo’s as my granny used to make her dresses like that. Those thin waists! 😀 And that image from made me think of the sewing patterns. They always had that beautiful images in front. Oh dear me…now I am quite nostalgic. LOL! I don’t know the series you’re talking about but I will definitely google it. Maybe I’ll like. I’m actually a horror and sci-fi fan and sometimes I get in the mood for something else. 😀
    Great post and have a lovely weekend. 😀 *hugs*

  3. I’m so happy that you had a cafétiere handy to comfort you, Mrs. C!
    It would break my heart to think you were facing the end of an era without caffeine.
    (We who lived through all this, OTOH, manage a good deal of equanimity. But that’s a whole nother story.)
    You may be right about continuing the series, sometimes it’s better to leave ’em wanting more!

    1. Yup, I a ‘leave ’em wanting’ kinda gal. Always love a movie that does that (usually French) and The Sopranos finale was uber perfect.
      This would have been good too.
      Cannot view without my cafe negro.

    1. Gary, Gary, Gary yes it was but I’m such a retro kinda’ gal needed the original (and it came without the annoying ad up front).
      I may have to change it now. What a quandary.

  4. I bought Mr Litlove seasons 1 and 2 for Christmas and he really enjoyed it. I didn’t watch it that much (he’s a complete telly addict) so maybe I should give it more attention. It’s got a fabulous look to it and the dresses are great. Honestly? They look better than the things my mother wore back then, and I guess the joy of being at the end of the 20th century is that you can cherry pick the best clothes from previous decades!

    1. And if you’ve read my comment to your holiday post this was one of the posts to which I referred. So thanks for commenting.
      watch it. I bet you’ll love it.
      When you get home.

  5. I’m a big fan too though I can’t say I’m in love with Don and I think it would be hard to do. Don seems to me to have been hollowed out by his horrible Dick Whitman childhood, and while he’s fashioned an entirely new live for himself as Don – the hollowness remains and is growing. The opening credits have been saying as much since Season 1. The silhouette man falling falling. Now if my wife would let me … I wouldn’t mind having dinner with Peggy. The smart sexy nerd who is tougher than you think. Maybe we can double date?

    1. ooh yes please – in the NY apartment. Or at least cocktails there first.

      Have they split the last series in half your way? Here, we must wait till 2015 for the last 7 episodes. However, I can’t say I’m loving the last series. I bloody knew it!

      1. I actually don’t know because I don’t have cable and only catch up with a season after it hits Netflix. Puts me behind the times, but then I can watch the whole thing in one go.

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