I got some personal news a few days ago that has shaken me. Whilst I skirt around the details, it has lead me to think of acceptance.
As a parallel to this I have been making my way through MAD MEN, starting way back in mid May, I finally finished it tonight. This had been my first rewatch, and while I was enjoying revisiting moments (the lawnmower and Lane vs Pete are highlights) the last few episodes had hit a chord.
Betty Drapers final character arc moments have her accepting her fate. To be in control. Sally’s moments were her accepting her own being with her mother. Peggy and Stan shared an acceptance of each other. Pete finally accepts a chance at flying (both metaphorically and literally). Roger Sterling has found a woman to accept him for who he is. Joan has become the independent woman, forming her own path, and accepting that she doesn’t need a man to be her own woman.
And Don. And Dick. And whoever. This is interpretation for how I read the ending of his story. I know some believe that he left the commune and then created the Coke ad we see over the credits. However, I take it to be that he has finally accepted himself, whichever identity (if any) he takes on. His call with Peggy is the key to this. In a short call he bears all to her. And he only calls her to say goodbye. I feel this is because he has let go of New York. He can’t move after hanging up, he is broken now. The pieces of Don/Dick have eroded away. Stephanie has abandoned him with the line that he isn’t apart of her family (something which is true, but Anna would disagree), the Draper name from that side has been taken from him. He has never been Dick Whitman in moments of confidence, only in his relationship with Anna. This is a broken man now looking for a place of identity.
Has he found acceptance in his final moments in the closing shots?
The 5 stages of grief are well established. But the key one is acceptance. The final stage. What are we grieving for in the end? It’s a long hard road ahead, but if the ending of MAD MEN has helped me realise something its that I have to go with whatever comes my way. And when it’s time, I will know when to accept it.