The End of an Era

by Site Author

The last episode of Mad Men aired this past weekend. Over seven seasons, Don Draper, the show’s protagonist, went through two marriages, an estimated 18 affairs, three advertising agencies, and who-knows-how-many cigarettes. Now, the show is over.

In one of the last scenes, Draper, appropriately devastated, sits in group therapy. A new character—one who happens to resemble the show’s writer, Matthew Weiner—explains to the group why he’s unhappy.

“I should be happier, I guess,” the man says. “I’ve never been interesting to anybody. I work in an office, and people walk right by me and I know they don’t see me, and I go home and I watch my wife and my kids. They don’t look up when I sit down… It’s like no one cares that I’m gone. They should love me. Maybe they do, but… I don’t even know what it is. You spend your whole life thinking you’re not getting it, that people aren’t giving it to you. Then you realize they’re trying, and you don’t even know what it is.

I had a dream that I was on a shelf in the refrigerator. Someone closes the door and the light goes off and I know everybody’s out there eating, and then they open the door and you see them smiling, and they’re happy to see you, but maybe they don’t look right at you and maybe they don’t pick you. Then the door closes again, the light goes off.”

With that, the man breaks down in tears. Draper, deeply moved, hugs him and the two cry together.

By the time Matthew Weiner wrote the show’s first episode, he was a successful screenwriter and producer. He wrote 12 episodes of The Sopranos and won two Emmy Awards. But, he kept asking himself, “I’m already successful, why am I not happy?” Mad Men is a show about a man who struggles with that very question.