For “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, Monday is the day to begin “officially resting on my laurels” and staying off the Internet while he basks in the twilight of the television show that has occupied his life for the last eight years.
“This whole thing has exceeded all of my childhood dreams, honestly,” Weiner said at a Sunday night screening of the series finale in Los Angeles, surrounded by cast, crew and fans of the AMC drama about the dark advertising man, Don Draper, against the deep changes of 1960s America.
“I am expecting to wake up feeling a little different,” he told Reuters. “I am not going on the Internet, I can tell you that. I made myself a promise.”
Those who know the 49-year-old writer and director say that promise will probably last half an hour before he caves to the temptation of seeing the reviews of episode 92, entitled “Person to Person.”
“There’s no way he won’t read them,” said Bob Levinson, a co-producer and advertising consultant for the show. “He has to know what they say.”
When he does break his promise, Weiner will see lots of ink about what he was trying to say with the seminal Coca-Cola ad “I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke,” the final note of the Emmy-winning series.
After a life of cheating, lies and way too much alcohol, Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, surprisingly finds enlightenment at a retreat in California that looks a lot like the real-life Esalen Institute in Big Sur. Meditating with a group, he chants “Om” before breaking a smile of contentment.
Then comes the Coke ad that made waves in 1971 for its youthful, multi-ethnic invitation to share Coke and peace, in, what the episode suggests, might have been the creation of a rejuvenated Don.
Weiner won’t explain it, and neither will anyone in the group of people that wrapped up filming last summer and managed to keep all seven episodes of the second half of the seventh season a secret.
Variety TV critic Brian Lowry had a mixed review, noting that “while the hour mixed in some wonderfully graceful notes and tied up a few loose ends, others were left dangling, starting with the cryptic question of whether meditation and peace with the universe birthed that famous ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’ Coca-Cola campaign.”
For Alessandra Stanley at the New York Times, there was no ambiguity. She called the ad “Don Draper’s idea.”
Stanley saluted the finale’s endorsement of the women in “Mad Men,” like Joan, played by Christina Hendricks, and Peggy, played by Elisabeth Moss, who after seven seasons of often crushing chauvinism prevailed professionally.
“A new era is at hand, and fittingly, ‘Mad Men’ ends with the dawn of the strong women who get to work and the sensitive men who get in touch with their feelings,” said Stanley.
As for Weiner, he is working on a few things, “just not telling anybody,” and looking forward to spending more time with family, taking kids to school and teaching them how to drive.
“I didn’t want to straddle into something else,” said Weiner. “I was back at zero when I moved out of my office in December, creatively. Ninety-two hours of this, I got to do everything that I wanted to do with this.”