The ‘Mad Men’ Finale: What It All Means [Spoilers]

The Mad Men finale aired on Sunday. After eight years and 92 episodes where Mad Men maintained its high quality of storytelling and deep exploration of characters, the end of it all has sent dedicated fans into a grieving tailspin that’s created at least one Mad Men support group.

Mad Men is the story of an advertising agency in the years spanning between 1960 to 1970. But what Mad Men is really about, as seen through each of the characters on the show, is the way we advertise our self to those around us and even to ourselves and how that goes to war, each and every day, with a deeper part of us that’s on a never ending quest to find the truth behind the facade.

Matthew Weiner talked at the Austin Film Festival’s On Story TV show about the creation of Mad Men, in general, and its antihero, Don Draper, in particular.

The finale saw Mad Men‘s highest ratings ever but the debate about the meaning behind the episode, and the final scene in particular, continues.

Q13 Fox offers an in-depth exploration of the hidden meanings behind key dates and the theme of travel throughout Mad Men relating to plane crashes that happened on those dates. It’s an interesting look at what it means to each character.

But ultimately, it all relates back to Don Draper and his sin of taking another man’s life, both literally and figuratively.

In an interview with the New York Times’ Artsbeat, Jon Hamm talked about the meaning of the “Coke” commercial scene at the end of the Mad Men finale.

“I think, like most stories that we go back to, that it’s a little bit ambiguous. We had talked about this ending for a long time and that was Matt [Weiner]’s image. I was struck by the poetry of it. I didn’t know what his plans were, to get Don to this meditative, contemplative place. I just knew that he had this final image in mind. 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. There’s a way to see it in a completely cynical way, and say, ‘Wow, that’s awful.’ But I think that for Don, it represents some kind of understanding and comfort in this incredibly unquiet, uncomfortable life he has led.”

In an AMC’s Inside Episode 714, Matthew Weiner talks about the final episode of Mad Men.

“[Don] is a millionaire on the road with no problems and he’s completely isolated… For Betty, it’s about becoming somebody that’s not there… Joan ends up basically picking her job. In some strange way Joan is the feminist of the show… [Stan] tells [Peggy] to be happy where she is, but what he’s really saying is, ‘Don’t go.’… We leave everybody slightly imperfect.”

[Image courtesy AMC via Collider]