Saturday, November 27, 2021
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Forget about Don Draper — what happened to these ‘Mad Men’ characters?

🕐 5 min read


Sunday’s “Mad Men” finale is shaping up to be the Don and Peggy Show, given that the stories of the other main characters have been gradually winding down for the latter half of season seven.

Few obvious questions remain. There are two big ones: What’s going to happen to Don, and will Peggy be able to find a way to flourish at McCann? Of significant, but somewhat lesser import: Will Stan ever be more than just Peggy’s work husband?

Here’s where we stand so far:

Joan has financial security, a burgeoning relationship with Richard Burghoff, and she doesn’t have to deal with horrible Ferg Donnelly anymore.

Roger’s off to the geriatric wing, also known as floor 26 of McCann-Erickson, and is making a go of it with Marie Calvet.

Pete, Trudy and Tammy are about to become the Royal Family of Wichita, thanks to Duck Philips, of all people.

Ted is happy plugging away in his shirtsleeves at McCann where he doesn’t have to bother with anything remotely related to leadership or inspiration.

Betty is going to die of lung cancer.

Ken’s found a home at Dow Chemical.

Megan made off with a boatload of cash thanks to Don’s generosity and is basically a non-entity.

Television czar Harry Crane is still a sleaze, but is incredibly important to McCann and once again is working with a staff of humans rather than the giant Borg-like computer that got its own room at SC&P.

Even Lou Avery got a happy ending on the other side of the world and really, who cared about him?

But there are still some folks we just can’t get out of our minds, even if their story lines have technically been wrapped, and there are others whose fates we fear will be lost in a sea of ambiguity.

– Dawn Chambers

What the heck happens to Dawn? Remember that weird slate of episodes where Matt Weiner tried to develop Dawn’s character by having her go out after work and talk about men with one of her girlfriends? And we learned that Dawn is an incredibly buttoned-up woman who thinks the women at her church dress like whores? It was an awkward departure, though really, you could argue that Dawn’s entire relationship with SC&P has been a series of stiff, awkward encounters, like the time Joan tried to hug her when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Still, she proved to be a more than capable secretary, and earned a promotion to office manager so that Joan could actually perform the duties of an executive.

What happened after the McCann move?

We know what happened to Shirley, who bounced to take a job at an insurance agency after diplomatically informing Roger that she didn’t find advertising welcoming, but what happened to Dawn? Did she suffer a demotion and join the secretarial pool at McCann? That would be so crushing, given her rise through the ranks under Joan’s watch.

– Meredith

Poor Meredith, who just wants some stability of her own, is now having to contend with the fact that her boss has gone off and left her in a lurch. She can’t cover for Don’s absence forever, and we hope for her own sake that she hasn’t already started decorating his new apartment.

– Michael Ginsberg

What are the chances that Ginsberg is simply going to be drugged and held in a sanitarium for the rest of his life? Or end up homeless? It was really disturbing to see Ginsberg, who was clearly talented, get wheeled out of SC&P during a time when we know he’s probably not going to get the mental health care that will allow him to continue to function in society. Is he lonely? Will Peggy or Stan ever visit him?

– Sal Romano

It took forever to get over the fact that Sal just wasn’t coming back after he refused Lee Garner Jr.’s advances. Out of all of the characters who have been written out of the show alive, Sal is the one everyone wanted to see again. Here’s hoping he moved to West Hollywood and made a nice life for himself, and that he randomly bumps into Don.

– Anna Draper’s niece, Stephanie

The last we saw of Stephanie was when she was hugely pregnant and homeless and Megan wrote her a check hoping to make her disappear before Don arrived in California for a visit. Here’s a happy ending with a bow on it: What if Don moved the kids to Anna’s house and he and Stephanie raised them together? It’s way too neat, and Weiner’s already warned that the series will have an ambiguous conclusion, but it would certainly benefit both of them. One of the things in the envelope from his old apartment that Meredith handed Don was Anna’s ring — the one Stephanie gave him, which he eventually gave to Megan. Now that he has it back, it would make sense that he find Stephanie too. A reunion with her would certainly satisfy his need to fix a broken woman the way he so badly wanted to fix Diana.

– Bobby and Gene

It’s not as though we were ever as invested in Bobby and Gene as we were in Sally. Heck, we’ve witnessed four different Bobbies — in truth, did anyone really notice? — but we’re approaching a situation where their mother will soon be dead and their sister will be shipping off to college. Probably Smith. Or Vassar. Or Wellesley. At any rate, Don will be their surviving parent. As decent a guy as Henry Francis is, does anyone really think that he’s going to fight Don for custody of his stepchildren? Henry’s a political operative. He will mourn Betty and eventually move on to someone else with Pat Nixon hair who can fill the role of first lady in his life.

– Wishful thinking

Of course, Matt Weiner doesn’t care about our feelings, and what we get is what we get, but is it too much to hope that he takes a couple seconds to show Herb Rennet getting creamed by one of his own Jaguars? This is a universe in which a guy’s foot was shredded to bits with a lawn mower. It could happen.

(It probably won’t happen. Please don’t go to Vegas and bet money on this happening, even if it does make way more sense than Don turning out to be D.B. Cooper.)

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