Sentiment can be polarizing for high-profile series finales, and Mad Men’s conclusion Sunday night was no exception. The period drama’s final episode, titled “Person to Person,” drove more than 202,000 Tweets to close the book on another excellent AMC series (while that may sound like a lot, Breaking Bad’s series finale, which was arguably perfect, received more than 1.2 million Tweets as measured by Nielsen Social).
Luckily, we have Canvs at our disposal to parse through those 202,000 Tweets to better understand how fans and critics of the show felt about the send-off of Madison Avenue’s best and brightest advertising executives of the 1960s and ‘70s.
According to Canvs, “Person to Person” drove 64,758 Tweets with emotional reactions, the series’ highest total (surpassing the previous high of 63,279 from Season 5’s double-episode premiere back in 2012). Of that, 40% of reactions fell into the love category, 14% called the episode good, and 10% of reactions expressed hate terms.
I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke and Keep it Company
But first, let’s start with the ending. More than 14% of the night’s total reactions occurred between 11:15 and 11:25 p.m. EDT as fans were coming to terms with Don’s moment of clarity atop that hill in Northern California.
Thirty-nine percent of the 9,107 reactions during this time expressed love while 14% used hate terms like “unsure,” “sucked,” and “worst.”
Rounding out the reactions included a more tempered 14% good, 11% crazy, 10% happy, 6% disappointed, and 4% sad.
The next biggest social moment occurred 10 minutes earlier when Stan and Peggy confessed their feelings for each other, resulting in 3,326 reactions between 11 and 11:05 p.m. EDT.
Looking further, 1,553 total reactions mentioned either Stan or Peggy, with love and happy reactions driving two-thirds of the emotional conversation. On the contrary, 8% of reactions fell into the hate and disappointed categories.
Some fans seemed annoyed by poor Leonard, the sad sack who took up valuable time telling his story in Don's group therapy session near the episode's end. Nearly 38% of reactions about Leonard between 11:05 and 11:15 p.m. EDT expressed disappointed reactions, with fans saying they didn’t care about his story.
Still, his story served as the impetus for Don’s immediate future. While the above reactions occurred in real time, what followed soon after made the time spent on Leonard’s story worthwhile.
Series finales are never going to please everyone, and I’ve already come to terms with the fact no finale will be as good as Six Feet Under’s or Breaking Bad’s. I even loved The Sopranos’s ending. As far as finales go, it’s not in the “elite” category, but it’s not there with the dregs like How I Met Your Mother, either.
Mad Men has never been a show to neatly wrap up things into a bow, so a finale was always going to seem inherently rushed.
Don began the series fooling consumers about the dangers of cigarettes (“It’s toasted”) and (presumably) ended the series using a happy, optimistic song to sell Coke to the entire world. Don made a significant journey over the past eight years, even if only within the ad world, but ended right back where he started. It was appropriate to end this way.
Much has been made about UPROXX and Vox predicting the ending. While this was never explicitly shown and could still be open to interpretation (a la The Sopranos), Jon Hamm agreed that Don likely ended up back in New York and at McCann to pitch this idea to their Coca-Cola clients. The two well-timed bell dings are the biggest indication of what ultimately happened.
Most of the characters, in the end, got what they deserved (it was pretty brutal Betty learned her fate in the penultimate episode on Mother’s Day, however). Peggy, Pete, Joan, and Roger all found their versions happiness. Don likely realized advertising would always be his calling; him dying would have just seemed gratuitous.
Mad Men will be missed. Without it, there’s yet another void in my Sunday night television schedule that I will struggle to fill. But one thing is certain: I will not miss the terribly unhelpful, cryptic upcoming scenes.
AMC also has a penchant for creating spinoffs. What’s stopping the development of Mad Women featuring Sally Draper?