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Matt Weiner on ‘Mad Men’ Finale: ‘We Leave Everybody Slightly Improved’

Maybe even “Mad Men” deserve a happy ending.

In a new video posted on AMC’s site, “Mad Men” creator and executive producer Matt Weiner offered more explanation of his iconic show’s series finale. In the end, he says, “We leave everybody slightly improved.”

The episode begins with Don racing a car across the Bonneville Salt Flats, but he’s still unhappy. “Now that … Don has run away to find himself, he’s a millionaire on the road with no problems and he’s completely isolated,” says Weiner. “The idea that the only thing that’s keeping him from being happy is the belief that he’s alone. … Don is in the process of becoming something.”

That’s the theme, he says, of the finale: “The other stories in it are about this idea about becoming something else.”

For Don’s ex-wife, Betty, who’s been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer: “It’s about becoming someone who’s not there,” says Weiner. When Don calls her upon hearing the news, “He wants to get back involved (with the children), and Betty says absolutely not. Now Don has to listen to the wisdom of his ex-wife, his child, and he’s a mess.”

For Joan, “She’s in the position of being a lady of leisure,” says Weiner. “But Richard says you’re starting a business … and Joan ends up basically picking her job. In some strange way, Joan is the feminist of the show. She is a single mom who is going to be running her business and will not let a man decide what she is going to do. If you look back to the first episode, you would never imagine that’s what this woman is looking for.”

And for Peggy, “Stan tells her to be happy where she is, but what he is really saying is, ‘Don’t go,'” says Weiner.

The final scenes find Don “on the verge of having a nervous breakdown basically, and he is taken into an encounter group,” says Weiner. “He’s just sitting there numb and then this man (Leonard) starts to tell his story. That moment when he is moved by another human, he goes outside himself. Don is not alone. That is his growth is realizing that.”

And with that, says Weiner, “that’s all I’m going to say.”

 

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