THERE ARE WORSE THINGS I KNOW, BUT………

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Sunday night we say farewell to one of the most stylish, intelligent, historically accurate television shows of our time.

Mad Men is that show, and I go into mourning at approximately 11 PM, EST. , Sunday night.

For the past seven seasons, this classy show has taken us on a journey from the late 50’s to the early 70’s, with style, flair and brilliantly written dialogue.

Dashing Don Draper, Joan, Roger, Peggy, Pete, Sally and entourage extraordinaire  have enchanted, engaged and enraged us with a superb portrayal of life in those turbulent times. Six Emmys for best drama in seven seasons to boast… it was something!

The story centers around the  mostly functioning alcoholic “Ad Men” from Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price, Inc. The male characters started drinking by noon and took long, post lunch naps, while wheeling and dealing in the world of advertising in Manhattan. The men were unfaithful as a rule, as they worked and navigated the changing times. Their spouses dieted and chain smoked away the stifling housewife days, while the working girls fended off pre-feminism sexual advances from their “superiors”as seemlessly as they typed ad copy. All in a days work, sometimes shocking, sometimes sad and sentimental. And oh, those CLOTHES!.

The character that most intrigued me in this great drama was that of the tragic Betty Draper, Don’s beautiful, Grace Kelly-esque ex-wife and mother of his three children.

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Betty was the original “Breck Girl”. A sorority sister beauty, Bryn Mawr graduate with a degree in anthropology, who never managed to get out from under the men in her life.  First her dad, then Don, then husband number two, the politically connected, old-monied Henry….always a man to look after her, always a man to dictate what and how she should do and be. No wonder she was bitter, and as ugly inside as she was beautiful out.

For seven seasons, Betty was the portrait of an unfulfilled life, as she seethed below the surface to be seen and heard for her brain as well as her beauty. She lived her days in a sort of quiet desperation, until she finally realized in the early 70’s that women were more than just accessories to men, and she found her voice.  She discovered her spine , followed her passion, and enrolled in grad school, aiming for a master in psychology and a career outside the rose trellised fences of home. The scene where she tells Don that she is going back to school is poignant because she is absolutely radiant with possibility, and finally on the road to personhood in her own right.

We female fans said a little, “you GO, girl” at the end of the episode….

but because writer/producer Matthew Weiner could not leave well enough alone and let Betty sail off into the sunset of academia…

~SPOILER ALERT!~

in the next episode, she is diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

Game over for Betty…

and she was just getting started.

The messages were plenty in this drama if you looked for them. This story line illuminates what I have always believed…that no one but you can make you truly happy.  You have one life.  You have to live it striving to make YOURSELF happy and fulfilled.  No one else, not children, a nice home, a large bank account or even Don Draper can do that for you.

If you chase happiness through other people’s visions and dreams, if you exist to please and make those around you happy, but forget who YOU are, you lose something really precious.  You lose yourself and your chance to live your life as only YOU were destined to.

I will greatly miss this show and its subtle lessons.

and OK, I will miss flawed, perfectly imperfect Dashing Don, too!

Sunday I will paint my nails “50’s red”, raise a Vodka Gimlet and a Pall Mall cigarette and toast the ending of a true television classic, the likes of which we won’t soon see again….I just won’t inhale.

Have a Lovely, Mad Men weekend….I promise I won’t jump ~

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