Analysis

Mad Men's ending revealed: Is Matthew Weiner's plan satisfying?

The creator of the retro AMC drama confesses that he knows how the series will conclude — with a flashforward to modern day

Though the long-delayed season five of Mad Men hasn't even begun, the show's creator has already decided how he wants to end the entire series. In an interview with Grantland, Matthew Weiner says he hopes to conclude the retro-sixties series — current contracts specify at least seven seasons — with a fast-forward to the present day. The show, says Weiner, tries to capture human life and "human life has a destination… It's 2011. Don Draper would be 84 right now. I want to leave the show in a place where you have an idea of what it meant and how it's related to you." Are Mad Men's ever-vocal critics pleased with Weiner's proposed wrap-up?

This sounds awful: "Please, for the love of god, lay off the age make-up, people," says Seth Abramovitch at TV.com. If there's a surefire way to turn a "potentially enduring piece of art into a cloud of toxic methane gas, it's through the application of fake-looking latex makeup." And Weiner isn't going to stop at aging Don. Other favorite characters like Peggy, Joan, and Pete will all get the embarrassing, kitschy treatment. I don't need to see synthetically wrinkled characters man-handling iPads in modern day to get a satisfying sense of closure. "Can Mad Men make us nostalgic for right now?"

What a fantastic way to end the show: Seeing today's world through Don's eyes would give us an interesting perspective, says Natalie Zutter at Crushable. "Imagine his consternation at today's advertising standards," from music videos to recent trends in text-message voting. Could you imagine his reaction to "the tech-obsessed kids with their iPhone apps filling his shoes?" And that's not to mention his take on the cheap, token use of sex to market products these days. "Mad men, indeed."
"Matthew Weiner wants Mad Men to end with Don Draper's twilight years"

I think Weiner's being more abstract: At first I had visions of Don in unsightly old-age makeup, says Darren Franich at Entertainment Weekly. But perhaps Weiner was talking more loosely about linking the show to the present. Mad Men has always been about "the creation of the modern era — how the postwar rise of consumerism and the simultaneous pursuit of personal fulfillment directly led to a society built around self-promotion... I'm betting that Mad Men will end at some pivotal turning point in American history which symbolically connects the show forward." The election of Richard Nixon, for example — or perhaps the circa-70s invention of the Apple II. "Matthew Weiner knows how Mad Men will end. Hint: It won't be like Sopranos"

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