Even before the episode began, I could feel the tears building up. All week long I have been re-watching the entire past seven seasons, like an extended version of flipping through a year book. So many things I had forgotten, so many things that have changed, but not simply because the story changed, but because, I too, had evolved.
One of the brilliant things about this show is that, just like Don, they like to build things up, draw them out, and have often taken a very long hiatus between seasons, keeping us, their audience, hungry for more. So naturally as a viewer, out lives change and we too are a different set of eyes every time we meet again with our favorite Ad Men from Manhattan. When I first started watching Mad Men, I was still struggling through college and mourning the loss of The Sopranos. So naturally when I heard Mad Men had some of the writers from The Sopranos, I became an instant fan, before it even began. However now, in my post-grad years as an female, and a rising executive, the show has taken on a completely different meaning.
So here we are, Sunday night and the first of the final episodes, “the last call” (their genius hash-tag) The iconic intro music begins, containing refined strings and that dark, deep, stimulating sound of the base…all things Don Draper…
As the episode progresses I am enthralled and unable to even blink, for fear they might disappear and I would have missed out on everything. As most fans, I was quick to catch up on the story lines for all our old friends and fawn over the fashion (which is so amazing it deserves it’s own blog.) We see our favorite gals, Joan and Peggy head into a meeting for pantyhose and of course, they are having to make their points, all while dodging chauvinist pig remarks. As things have always been with Joanie and Peggs, there is tension as they return to the office and share an awkward elevator ride. They both agree the men were inappropriate but in true Peggy fashion, she almost chastises Joan and claims “you can’t have it both ways” implying that if she is going to look like a sex goddess then men will treat her in that manner. (Um hello Peggy, it’s not her fault she’s a bombshell, in the words of The Rock from last week’s episode of Lip Sync Battle…”God delivered and I signed” lol.) Joan, always quick to put haters in check, serves it right back to Peggy, and later we see Joan take her power back by buying several new outfits all which, I hope, will continue to be Joan-esque. Power to you Joan!
In this episode we also find out that one of Don’s great loves, the intellectual and brunette beauty, Rachel Menken has passed away. Although she was only in a few episodes during season two, she is such an important character to me, because she represents ‘the other.” Although it is clear that our leading man has a type; the women that have MOST captured our “Don Juan’s” heart are usually strong, smart, brunette and defiant. She was one of the first females to come on the screen as his equal, his match. Brilliant, successful, a CEO, powerful, wealthy, needing nothing from him. There is this great scene when she first takes him on a tour of Menken’s and she brings him to a jewelry display, she then tells the lady behind the counter to bring out the case, she picks these “knight” cuff-lings and places them on Don’s shirt. The way she did it though, so commanding, making the choice for him without asking him a thing, just like the men.
I bring this up, so that you can understand the next sentence. I realized at the end of episode, why this was so emotional for me, why I have tears every time I think of the end. It is because with them, go my fellow sisters. Each female character has been a piece of who I am, or who I was, who I want to be, or who I will become.
Even in 2015, as I am the only female on my team, traveling across the nation, attending so many events, but still living in a Mad Men’s world. I am ambitious and married to my job, struggling to find love, like Peggy. Yet, in order to navigate through male infested waters of corporate america, I have sometimes relied on my female charms, like Joan; and like both of the women, I am often pushed aside from being regarded in matters of business simply because I am female. In real life, my male counterparts remarks about women have really annoyed me, in the past I used to get in their faces about it, but my lectures fall on deaf ears, they still objectify women in my presence, except now they just use some stupid analogy, like baseball. Idiots.
I can’t imagine who I will lean on after this show ends, these have been my fellow warriors, almost like mentors. I have been learning through their trials and errors, although the show may be a piece of fiction, human nature is still the same; the “Madonna/Whore” – “Marilyn / Jackie” dichotomy is still alive and relevant. I know what you are thinking, “oh times have changed, it’s not like that anymore …blah…blah…” but it is. Especially for women of color, we are still constantly viewed as sex objects and sexualized in the media, so when those of us “peggy’s” don’t fit that “Latina sex symbol” mold, we are just as ousted as if we did. It’s a little bit of a damned if you do or damned if you don’t situation.
And now these women, that have been there, will no longer be there. I won’t have them present for our weekly venting session. We won’t be able to share in the victories, like when Peggy won her first lipstick copy or when Joan became a partner. It is like having sat in a women’s history course…and now graduation is upon us, only to live, and be relived, in our memories…and syndication…