Dear Mad Men,
You’ve been in my life for a while. I started watching you on Netflix in 2012, back when I lived in Lakeview, when I was new to the city, a million years ago. I had four seasons to catch up on at that point and used to watch episodes back to back while I did my ironing or sat morosely in my tiny bedroom. You’ve always been gritty and gloomy and irresistible, and for a long time, I was completely under your spell.
I don’t have AMC, so for the last several years I’ve settled for watching each new season a year late, when they finally arrive on Netflix. Each year, I have utterly forgotten the plot points from the last season, but I don’t bother refreshing my memory, because it doesn’t matter. Even when I’m deep into a binge, the storylines remain vague. Don sulks and drinks and makes terrible decisions; Roger is yelling about something I probably don’t understand; Peggy is a hardass; Joan is undermined at work, again and again, because she’s pretty.
I hate most of these characters, even when I love them. There are only a few that I can always root for, chief among them Meredith, Don’s latest in a long line of secretaries. Meredith is smart and competent, but I love her most of all for her squeaky voice and her baffling, 10-year-old-girl-on-Easter fashion sense:
Anyway. Here’s the deal, Mad Men: I have four episodes to go before I’m done with you forever. I started the last season, like, two months ago, and haven’t been back yet. I almost hit play on the next episode yesterday, but I just couldn’t go through with it.
It’s not like I’m sitting here desperately wondering how the show will end. Since I have not been able to avoid using the internet in the past year, I know all about the ambiguous last shot, about (spoilers! lol) Don’s Beatlesque yogi retreat and the Coca-Cola song. I know that Betty gets some kind of cancer and will be dead by the last episode. I don’t know much else, but I can make a reasonable guess that wherever we end up, no one will be happy and everyone will stare sadly at themselves in a mirror–metaphorically or otherwise–wondering how they got here and where they’re going next. Moody music will play and everyone will take a long drag on their cigarettes, and we’ll all feel a little worse about ourselves.
I want to be done with you, Mad Men. I want to put you behind me, most of the details forgotten but the larger themes imprinted on my mind. But today the sun is shining and I’m in a pretty good mood, and I just can’t bear it. I can’t be dragged down into this melancholy world again. Okay, we all get it, nostalgia is a trap and the 60s weren’t all that great! But can’t someone on this damn show be just a little bit happy for once?
No, I know. That’s not what you are.
Let’s be completely honest: I watched you, Mad Men, to ogle the dresses and feel smug about not being an alcoholic. Unless the last four episodes were guaranteed to just be 180 minutes of a Christina Hendricks fashion show I’m not sure I can do it.
Until later or maybe never,
5/2/16 edit: I did it! I finished this fucking show yesterday. Okay, so Betty isn’t technically dead by the last episode, but who cares? I did it! I watched it all! And I’m really happy for Peggy and Stan even though the way that happened was so cheesy and out of place with the rest of the show. Sometimes people CAN be happy. Thank you!