The Allure | Mad Men | The End of an Era


The Allure | Mad Men

"Nostalgia: It's Delicate, But Potent."

by Joshua P. Ferguson

In the age of enlightened TV, aficionados have fallen into a handful of diehard camps, call them Team Sopranos, Team Wired, Team Breaking Bad and Team Mad Men. There's little secret which roster I land on. Discovering Mad Men after discovering it in an in-depth cover story for the New York Times Magazine in 2008, I was immediately hooked. I must have put down 5 episodes that Sunday alone. I've been a devotee ever since, watching and re-watching seasons, collecting the show on DVD, organizing theme parties complete with casseroles, shrimp cocktails and too many regular cocktails. 

I've also made a yearly tribute to the style of the show, sharing the cast photos that have come to herald the coming of new episodes. Yet, alas, this is the last time I'll get to indulge in the smokey stares of Don and Betty, the sly side eye of Peggy and Pete, and the inches that are added to Roger's sideburns with each passing year. It's the last time I'll get to envy Don's skinny ties and flat front trousers and admire Peggy's transformation from frump to fashionable sophistication. With the finale of Mad Men looming large, it's got me in a place where I wanted my send off to be about more than just the show's style. 


As an ad man myself, Don Draper's professional dominance held a particular allure right from the start. He's a man with a way with words both on and off the page, and one who can seemingly see inside the soul of the collective of American humanity during the swinging '60s. Who out there making a living as a copywriter or creative director doesn't admire Don's charisma? Even as it's ebbed over the show's lifespan, I haven't lost my love for his finest moments—like the one quoted above, taken from season one finale "The Wheel," when Don pitches Kodak on the carousel for their new slide projector.

Of course, over the years SC&P life is still there but the work and clients have become secondary as the tangled web of character relationships dominate. There in lies the true draw of Mad Men. From Sally and Glen to Joan and Roger to Ken Cosgrove and the GM execs to Don and his myriad loves, these are tales that I could go on watching for a dozen more seasons. If only the '60s could last that long. 


Our final turn with Mad Men takes us to the eve of a new decade and with it a changing political landscape, changes in the business of advertising, changing style, changing lives and a lot more polyester. These pages have never been used to speculate on show plots or character developments, rather to admire the the look and the feel and the, well, allure of what a stylistic landmark a show like Mad Men has become. 

Rather than speculate on Don's fate, I want to tip my hat and tap my keyboard in praise of Matthew Weiner's eye for detail as a showrunner, costume designer Janie Bryant's skill for recreating the time period, and Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery's embodiment of these unforgettable characters. Every element has made this series a show for the ages—classic cinema for the small screen.


Just seeing the Nostalgia spot promoting the final season that AMC aired during the Oscars has an air of timelessness to it, like you're seeing a clip of something you, as an avid consumer of cultural quality like me, know you are supposed to see and study and savor. Don's face is youthful, he's at his most vibrant and it only reinforces how far we've gone with these characters and how sad it will be to let them go. With no one other than Weiner and his cast at the helm would I be confident that our final goodbyes will be as powerful as any moment up until now, the end of an era.

See AMC's final spots for yourself below, and get a taste of the sweetest hangover.





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