Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner sat down with Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Jeff Garlin for a live conversation at an L.A. theater over the weekend, and during it he said some very interesting (and spoiler-y) things about Mad Men's eventual series finale. Here’s the quote (transcription by Lane Brown of Grantland):
I do know how the whole show ends. It came to me in the middle of last season. I always felt like it would be the experience of human life. And human life has a destination. It doesn't mean Don's gonna die. What I'm looking for, and how I hope to end the show, is like ... 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. It's a very tall order, but I always talk about Abbey Road. What's the song at the end of Abbey Road? It's called 'The End.' There is a culmination of an experience of people working at their highest level. And all I want to do is not wear out the welcome. I was 35 when I wrote the Mad Men pilot, 42 when I got to make it, and I'll be 50 when it goes off the air. So that's what you're gonna get. Do I know everything that's gonna happen? No, I don't. But I just want it to be entertaining and I want people to remember it fondly and not think it ended in a fart.
There’s a lot to digest in that one statement. For starters, Weiner, never one to shy away from trumpeting his own genius, compares his show to Abbey Road, widely considered to be one of the best records of all time, if not the best. And as we all know, John Lennon famously compared The Beatles to Jesus Christ. So Weiner is kinda sorta indirectly likening Mad Men to Jesus Christ. Just saying.
Furthermore, I highly doubt Mad Men will end in a fart, unless of course Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is awarded the lucrative Imodium account, and Pete Campbell, desperate to be made partner, delivers the slacks-soiling client presentation to end all slacks-soiling presentations, and the last image before the final credits roll is that of his last name being stenciled onto the agency’s glass doors, while a still-flatulent Pete looks on approvingly.
But let's focus on the part about Weiner ending Mad Men in 2011, with an 84-year-old Don Draper. Obviously, with two (possibly three) more seasons left, this will require leaping ahead in time. And having just seen J. Edgar, my first reaction is this: Please, for the love of god, lay off the age makeup, people. If there's one 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 to one or more of its stars. And Weiner won’t stop at Don. No, we’d have to see old Peggy, old Joan, old Pete, old Sally (if she survives the ‘70s), and, most terrifyingly, old Betty. That is altogether too many old versions of characters we have come to know intimately and love (except Betty). Quite frankly, I don’t need to see them slapping the backs of their hands against iPad screens held for them by a grandchild and reminiscing about the Telex machines and Smith Coronas of yesteryear.
That said, I'm kind of secretly dying to see how the show handles 2011. It’s the future! It’s like a sci-fi version of Mad Men! Are they going to drive to work in hover cars that fold into suitcases? Who knows!
How do you think Mad Men should end, when the day comes?