‘Mad Men’ and The End of an Era

People say that with every ending there is a new beginning. But on Sunday May 17th, 2015 I don’t believe that old adage rang true. Mad Men, AMC’s breakout television drama, was airing its’ final episode of the series. 7 seasons, 8 years, 106 episodes and 4 Emmy awards; those are the statistics. But the television drama transcended statistics. It made us pause, reflect and think about what are lives meant in the context of a rapidly changing world. And it made us constantly reexamine ourselves. For good or bad, Mad Men was there to greet us, focus us, council us, and confront us. So is this the end of just another television drama, or is it the end of something more?

I couldn’t even watch. For me there was no excitement in seeing this show disappear from the landscape of our current entertainment culture. I enjoyed how thought-provoking and provocative the drama was. It has been one of the only reasons to ever sit through the agony of cable television and the onslaught of incessant commercials.  Various episodes of Mad Men have stayed in my mind since they first aired. Like a good read, Mad Men held the special power to entice us to willingly put down all the distractions, all the other competing technology, set aside all the excuses and enjoy something unique and intriguing. During that hour on Sunday nights we found a piece of ourselves that, before then, we didn’t even know existed. There was a peace, a quiet, to that hour which captivated us and afforded us the rare opportunity to reflect on who we are.

We question ourselves everyday. Even those of us with the utmost confidence of our place in this world know that something…something just isn’t right. And so we remain ever curious. And that curiosity is what led us to keep watching. Hoping we would find some catharsis in seeing these lives unfold on screen, we concentrated on the tragedy, the irony, the selfishness, the denial, the anguish, the hopefulness and the loneliness. From outside looking in we were observing ourselves.

And as this comes to pass we can’t help but feeling like we have lost something. There is a void; one that has been quickly torn open in our surprise. A bullet was speeding towards us, we never knew what hit us and we never saw it coming. And it has caught us off-guard.

Where do we go from here? How do we regain what we have lost? And how do we begin to fill the void?

There are no answers given in the final episode. There is no voice saying the soothing words “You are okay.” And that is the beauty of all things meaningful. We are not meant to get answers to the riddles of our lives from those around us but rather we are stimulated by our external environment to a point where we come to a conclusion within ourselves.

A tip from Don; Think very hard about this, then…take a nap.