Happiness breaks out as TV's 'Mad Men' ends packed with surprises

Mon May 18, 2015 2:31am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Television's "Mad Men" swigged their last drinks and made a final, brilliant, advertising pitch on Sunday in a series finale that saw many characters find happiness in unexpected places.

After eight years and multiple Emmy awards, the 1960s era show set in the New York advertising world, pulled down the shutters on a turbulent decade with an ending that was one of the best-kept secrets in television drama.

While the TV series that examined the sexism, racism and alcoholism of the Sixties was notable for its dark tone, Sunday's 75-minute finale turned unusually optimistic.

One time secretary turned ad agency executive Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) surprised herself by finding love, playboy Roger Sterling (John Slattery) found a woman that was his equal, ambitious Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) reunited with his estranged family, and voluptuous Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) finally chose business over romance.

But the biggest surprise lay in the fate of star Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the deeply troubled but genius ad man whose search for identity and contentment was the driving force of the series.

Despite years of fan speculation, Draper did not end up dead. Instead, after walking out on his ad agency and hitting rock bottom emotionally, he finally found inner peace and a beatific smile while practicing yoga at a California hippie commune.

"Don was finally able to love. I loved him finding enlightenment. It was a spectacular episode," said New Yorker Liz Klein, who has watched every episode of "Mad Men" since its first broadcast in 2007.

But there was also a tongue-in-cheek edge. "Mad Men" closed with one of the most famous commercials of all - the 1971 "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" ad for Coca-Cola - and the suggestion that Draper returned to his agency and helped create that blockbuster ad.   Continued...

"Mad Men" stars (L-R) John Slattery, Christina Hendricks and Jon Hamm take part in a donation ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque