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Mad Men Series Finale Recap: There’s Always The Real Thing

By Anne T. Donahue 

Mad Men was the greatest Coca-Cola commercial ever. Or, at least that’s what we can take from the ending, which transitioned from a meditating Don (Meditations in an Emergency, much?) to “I Want to Buy the World a Coke” which, well, okay.

We didn’t get there right away, though. First, we open on a desert in Utah, where Don is test-driving cars and hooking up like it’s 1961. But it isn’t, and reality is a lot less sweet: Sally finally tells Don that Betty is dying, and when he wants to swoop in and save them, she advises against it—big time

“Let me finish,” she says, in between his protests. “I’ve thought about this more than you have.”

Truth. But what this scene indicates is that despite her protests a few episodes back, Sally has grown into the product of her parents. She is practical (in some ways) like her Dad and cold (to survive) like her Mom. If she were to give in to her feelings, she wouldn’t be able to have a frank conversation about Betty’s death with Bobby—nor would she be able to take on household duties while Betty smokes in front of her, doing the very thing that led to cancer in the first place. Sally’s childhood is over now. Which is where we leave her.

We leave Betty at the end, too. Only in her case, it’s at the end of two chapters: the first, hers with Don, during a heartbreaking phone call in which they acknowledge that neither will ever see the other alive again. (“Birdie.” “I know.” Pause for tears.) The second, her own life, as she waits out the rest of her life, believing her sons have no idea what she’s going through, despite the tragic obviousness of it. RIP Betty. You really did your best.

Don never has, though and he’s reminded of that when Betty asks when it is he last saw his children. And then again when he’s chewed out by Anna Draper’s niece Stephanie. And who can blame her?

Read the complete Mad Men finale recap on


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