In Search Of: Mad Men Characters’ Closure

Last night, we said a final farewell to the folks on Madison Avenue, or rather the folks who ran away from the grind of the advertising life and the ones who decided to stick it through.

I personally was pleased with the way everyone’s story was wrapped up, as that was one of the main concerns of mine as we counted down to the final episodes. Would the last installment be just about Don? Would we ever get a Don/Sally scene? Or Roger/Joan? Or even Peggy/Pete? Luckily, we got all of those, and despite the fact a lot of people might not think enough “happened” in the series finale, I thought it was the best way to shut the door (and have a seat) with the characters we’ve been following for almost eight years.

And even one-liners about other characters like Dr. Rapist Harris/Joan’s ex-husband (lived through the war, is married with twins) and Margaret Sterling (still in that cult), gave us some sort of ‘cherry on top’/’tied with a bow’ ending.

But what about the characters that have been long gone? What happened to the ones who didn’t get a carefully crafted montage in the finale? I realize Mad Men/Matthew Weiner’s whole M.O. is that sometimes people leave without saying goodbye (see: series finale), but I just can’t help but wonder what happened to some of the people who used to be in the Mad Men inner sanctum.

Carla

HONESTLY, STILL MAD ABOUT HER LEAVING. Still mad at Betty for the way she fired her. Still the number one character I love to this day and held out hope for a return in the future. I bet she’s doing great things with her life. Honestly, any boss after Betty is an upgrade.

Sal Romano

Oh Sal. His storyline was heartbreaking – a closeted gay man who couldn’t come out and his homosexuality was ultimately what led to his firing from Sterling Cooper. Sal was a fan favorite and many still hoped he would make at least one appearance in the later seasons, but that never came to fruition. Is he still with his wife Kitty (played by Sarah Drew/April Kempner from Grey’s!), or by 1970 is he out and proud? Was he a part of Stonewall? Let’s just say yes.

Jimmy Barrett

Jimmy Barrett was an annoying son of a bitch. To this day, if I see that actor in another show, I’ll immediately hate him (**series finale mild spoiler***** kinda like that older woman just shoving Don at the retreat. They didn’t say a word, but she still felt like he needed a push (in the right direction?). I hope he and Bobbie called it quits. He should be single and doing his act in a bar in old Las Vegas.

Joyce Ramsay

Remember when we thought Peggy was gonna be a lesbian? Lezbehonest, it totally could’ve happened, and it totally could’ve happened with a pre-Girls Zosia Mamet. Joyce, and I think Peggy probably thought this too, was a breath of fresh air, the type of person she didn’t normally encounter during her corporate advertising travels. She was sure of herself and confident enough to wear a blazer in the 1960s. Did she become super feminist activist or just Shoshanna Shapiro’s mom?

Helen Bishop

If you forgot how Creepy Glen got into Betty’s life, it’s because his mom, Helen, was friends with her. Glen and Betty’s relationship got super weird, and by the time Betty gave young Glen a lock of her hair, Helen refused to let Glen get anywhere near her. Of course, he managed to avoid her stern request and met with Betty anyways. We get to see Glen as an 18 year old adult in one of the final episodes, right before he shipped off to war. Does Helen still hate Betty? Is she supportive of Glen’s decision to fight on the frontlines? Is there any possibility of a Mad Men/Scandal crossover-spin-off show?

Lois

This is the person who drove the John Deere tractor over someone’s foot. Where is she now??

Paul Kinsey

It was bound for one of the mad men to become a hippy dippy/granola/crunchy/spiritual type, considering the era. That person became Paul Kinsey and I solely correlate Hare Krishnas to him now.

Beth Dawes

Pete’s affair with the woman on the train ended up in crazy town – literally. She was sent to the looney bin, and that’s the last we see of her. I don’t think she was ever right for Pete anyways, but you always hope for an ending that leaves the character at peace. But I guess Alexis and Vinny lucked out IRL, since it turned out they were right for each other all along.

Stevie Wollcott

***series finale spoiler alert***

I am totally on the Peggy/Stan (Steggy) ship, but when I thought there was no hope for them, I was kind of rooting for Peggy to date Stevie, aka Mathis’ brother-in-law. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, whose proposal of going to Paris didn’t seem too insane, but just crazy enough. But again, this is all moot because OMGZ STEGGY FEELS!! Also, he apparently was on My So-Called Life.

Bob Benson

Like Sal Romano before him, Bob Benson had a lot of hide. He even went so far as to propose to Joanie in hopes of living a ‘typical’ 1960s family, but she knew his secret, and luckily for him, said no. TBH, I don’t care where Bob Benson is now, I just think this exchange with Pete is one of the most iconic in Mad Men history.

Chauncey

No, but really. Where in the world is Duck’s dog Chauncey???

Mad Men Crush Monday

Our beloved Mad Men kicked off its final seven episodes of its seventh season on Sunday (hello alliteration), and while I’m so glad it’s back, I’m equally sad that these will be the last seven stories we’ll get to see of Don and company as they head into the 1970s and into the abyss of New York City forever.

While Mad Men has obviously provided us with plenty of “mad men” over the years, there are definitely some better than others. And although #ManCrushMonday is technically purely about attraction, I’m bending the rules a bit today and ranking the Mad Men on their overall likability, because frankly, in a male-ruled world of advertising in the 1960s, there are a handful of egotistical, cheating, at times misogynistic douche-bags, so they can’t all be crush worthy in the traditional sense. So if there’s anything Mad Men has taught us, it’s that there’s more to people than it seems on the outside, and it’s that very complexity that makes us, as human beings, interesting and worth knowing.  These are the men that have kept the world’s attention for the past eight years, and the ones we’ll miss the most.

12) Bobby Draper

The fact that four different kid actors have played Bobby is reason for him to make the list alone, and a running joke throughout the series (to the viewers, at least). It’s the current Bobby that has really taken the cake, as well as the title for longest-held position as Bobby Draper. He can actually act and not just spit out lines, and he’s sassy at that.

11) Harry Crane

So Harry Crane is kind of a dud. He may have started Sterling Cooper’s TV division but just makes poor life choices. He’s cheated on his wife (but I guess, who hasn’t), he’s a pushover – he asks Roger for a raise from $200 to $310, and Roger gets him to accept $225 and Harry is super stoked about it. He’s often ignorant and can be dumb, and Don doesn’t like him. I guess what I’m saying is, there’s a reason why he’s on this list… but I just can’t pinpoint why.

10) Pete Campbell

The things Pete Campbell says are usually arrogant and offensive, he is always seeking approval and resents his co-workers when they find their own successes. He’s a white child of privilege who gets away with sleeping around and being a double standard. He has a face that is extremely punch-worthy, so when you see scenes of him getting into fights or walking into walls or falling down stairs, it brings you pure joy. Pete may be the biggest douche on the show, but at least he’s interesting. He’s like a car crash on the side of the road that you can’t help but slow down and watch.

9) Freddy Rumsen

Freddy had a rough start. When we meet him, he’s already hammered, and he stays that way for most of the earlier seasons. It’s no surprise that Freddy is an alcoholic, seeing the environment he works in, but when it comes to a point when he unknowingly pees his pants right before a huge presentation, it’s a problem. Incidentally, that pee incident led to Peggy stepping up and pitching a campaign which ultimately helped her move forward within the company, and it was always Freddy who believed in her talent. He showed up sporadically throughout the rest of the series, and when he becomes sober, the tables are turned and he’s the one confronting a drunken Don. For a man whose life seemed to be in shambles at the beginning, he’s one of the only ones that seems to have it together in the end.

8) Ken Cosgrove (Accounts)

Ken Cosgrove is the Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration of Mad Men. He’s one if not the only one who actually has good intentions and is constantly the guy you can count on. He always wants to be the best at his job and tries not to get caught up in the drama or politics at work. Instead of cheating and drinking excessively, he spends his time writing sci-fi stories that get published in magazines, and I’m pretty sure if Ken was alive and real today, he’d be one of those cult writers signing books at sci-fi conventions. And he’s unintentionally endearing, since he doesn’t exactly have the best of luck. He lit’rally got shot in the face by a client and has had to wear that eye patch for a couple seasons. Also he’s married to Alex Mack.

7) Michael Ginsberg

We meet Ginsberg (played by the delightfully handsome and charming Ben Feldman) in season five, when Peggy wants him on board as a copywriter. He seems a little off when they first hire him, which is obviously foreshadowing of his future at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. He’s got good ideas, but unfortunately for him, Don doesn’t care much for him. And poor Ginsberg, when a huge-ass computer takes over the office, he slowly starts to go crazy. His proclamation of being a martian is truly Xenu-worthy, and his paranoia that the computer somehow transmits signals to make men engage in gay sex takes over his brain. He eventually professes his love for Peggy and in the most shocking/disgusting scene since the lawnmower/foot incident of season 3, Ginsberg hands Peggy a box containing the severed nipple he just cut from his person. Honestly, I just feel really bad for the guy.

6) Stan Rizzo

Stan joined SCDP in season 4 as the art director and was this misogynistic type who flirted with every woman that passed by. The one woman who hasn’t reciprocated romantic feelings for (and never should) is Peggy. It’s their relationship that ranks him at number six. They literally bare their souls for each other by actually stripping down and for the last few seasons, we’ve seen Stan turn into seemingly the only stable mad in Peggy life since Don goes off the deep end as we approach the 70s. Stan and Peggy have both helped each other evolve into better people, and that’s really all you can ask for in world where it seems everyone’s going downhill.

5) Sal Romano

SAL! I miss Sal. A lot of fans miss Sal. Ever since he made his last appearance on the series in season three, people keep asking when he’s coming back. Unfortunately the answer to that is never. The closeted art director who was married to a woman and finally had a tryst with a bellhop but then when a big-time client tried to come on to him, Sal refused and in turn the client forced Don and the other bosses to fire Sal. It was a super warped sexual harassment case that was sad to see play out on TV, especially knowing how difficult it was to be gay back then, and comparing it to the world we live in now.

4) Don Draper

Even if you haven’t seen Mad Men, you know that Don Draper isn’t exactly the most moral protagonist. He’s no Walter White, but he’s no Phil Dunphy either. In the pilot, it’s not until the very end that we find out that the womanizer we meet in the beginning actually goes home to a wife and two kids in the suburbs every night. While Don may be the head honcho at work, his secrets, as we come to find out, are deeper and more complex than we ever could have imagined, and that’s why he’s such a flawed character. Even in the title sequence, we see a man in a suit free falling from the top of a building, and it seems as if Don has been living a parallel life to that image for the past seven seasons. We don’t know where and how he’s going to end up, but like the promo pic above – he may be in over his head soon enough.

3) Dick Whitman

Speaking of Don’s secret background, we find out that Don is actually Dick Whitman. After taking on the Don Draper persona from a fallen fellow soldier in the war, Dick Whitman “dies”. But in a turning point in the show, we get to see not only the real Dick Whitman’s origins, but his interactions with the late Don Draper’s wife, Anna. That guy who shows up to Anna’s door to tell her that her husband is dead is someone we’ve never seen before. He’s a compassionate, almost shy man who is the complete opposite of the often arrogant Don Draper. In any scene with Anna, we get to see the real Dick Whitman – the one that happily provides for a widow, spends every Christmas with her, and gushes about how much he loves Betty when he tells Anna they’re going to get married. Fast forward to years later, when most of the people close to Don not only know about his sordid past, but don’t hold it against him – a feat he’s had since the beginning. Now we just have to see if he can get over his past himself.

2) Bert Cooper

Bert provided the Cooper of Sterling Cooper, founding the company with Roger Sterling’s dad in 1923. He basically played the seniority card throughout the show, often walking around without shoes (because he didn’t have an office), staring at his Rothko paintings, and providing excellent advice to the young blood around the office. Bert was like the strong grandfather of the office who everyone trusted. He was smart and loyal and frank – and to that I say, Bravo.

1) Roger Sterling

Roger Sterling has so many faults. He, again, like many others in the show, is an adulterer, constantly drinks and smokes, gets naked, participates in orgies, has threesomes (and ends up having a heart attack), gets high on LSD, and says the most inappropriate politically incorrect things to clients and co-workers alike (and has a book to prove it). But like other memorable TV characters like Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson, they all have their own quirks and oddities and beliefs that we may not agree with, but it sure is fun to watch it play out. And I’ll miss that.

(Dis)Honorable Mentions: Dr. Rapist Greg Harris, Henry Francis, Ted Chaough, Duck Phillips, Jim Cutler,  Glen Bishop, Bob Benson

Roger Sterling, Silver Fox: My Top Old Man Crushes

Mad Men is back on the air, and with it, is one of my favorite grey-haired characters, Roger Sterling. I’d like to say this is outside the norm for me, this attraction to a mature gent, but truth be told it isn’t. Even though I’m young-ish, most of the time I’m into a celebrity, it begins with the phrase “I have this weird crush on…”.

If, like me, you think that Roger Sterling is pure platinum, then maybe you will understand the following weird crushes:

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was my first weird crush, probably. This dates back, embarrassingly enough, to his sex scandal days. However, I probably didn’t fully understand that at the time, because I was a pint-sized 11-year-old at Catholic school. In hindsight, I don’t know if my crush began with Slick Willy himself or with Clinton as played by Darrell Hammond, because I was really into SNL at the time. Actually, the latter is probably more embarrassing, so let’s just say not that. Really, I like Bill in spite of the Lewinsky thing, not because of it. He’s so smart and charismatic! Babies love him, as do some old people. Bill’s a charmer. Besides, if anything or anyone is Hillary Clinton-endorsed, they can’t be half bad.

Friedrich Bhaer

Friedrich Bhaer is a fictional character. He’s not what you’d call real, exactly.  He is a  much-older German professor who takes up with Jo March at the end of Little Women, but he’s exactly the right match for her. She and Laurie wouldn’t have worked out, long-term. Anyway, in Little Men, they open up a boarding school for boys and it’s pretty much the cutest. In the 1994 film adaptation, Bhaer was played by a dapper, gray-tinted Gabriel Byrne, and it really worked. Or, it really worked if you were the world’s creepiest third-grader, anyway.

Christoph Waltz

As I sort of suddenly discovered during the Oscar liveblog, I have a weird crush on Christoph Waltz. I don’t know. I guess my type is middle aged, kindly, intelligent German nationals. But he is kind of appealing, right? No? All the more aging Bavarian men for me, then.

This One Professor I Had In Law School

This guy taught… I don’t know, civil procedure? Criminal procedure? He taught a class in law school that I definitely attended. We called him the Silver Fox and he was, he really was. I wish I still worked in his legal market so I could run my hands through his glimmering locks… or, I mean, attend one of his CLEs.

The Late Paul Newman, Circa 1980s

I’m not even sorry about it.

The Gracefully Aging Matt LeBlanc And Matthew Perry

In normal cases, I’d list these two without reservations. The only problem is that their greying hair also carries with it the demise of my youth. I don’t like that reminder. But still…

Roger Sterling

Obviously.