Spoiler Alert: We are talking about the last episode of Mad Men. If you have not watched it yet, don’t go any further.
One of the things I have found to be most interesting about Mad Men is the way the show portrays the engine of desire fueling everything we do. Desire runs our lives. From greed, to power, to revenge, to lust, to wanting to matter, desires run the lives of our favorite characters. Make no mistake, Mad Men has shown us how the wrong desires can lead to destruction and damage our relationships. We have seen Don ruin every meaningful relationship with a woman he has had. We have seen Roger lose a wife, a mistress, and a daughter. Peggy no longer has any relationship with her family. Pete’s life goes to shambles. Over and over we see selfish desires ruining relationships. This theme through Mad Men has been a dark but real ride. Mad Men has not sugar coated what selfishness looks like.
But, in the finale we saw the fulfillment of many of the main characters deepest desires and therefore we leave many of them in a much happier place. These desires having driven their work, their relationships, their whole lives are finally fulfilled. The sex, the drinking, the greed, the revenge and envy are surface desires fueled by much deeper desires we see come to fruition in the finale. Joan is no longer dependent on any man for her worth. Peggy has finally found love. Pete has a job where he is respected and honored. Roger finally has someone to leave his legacy to. Don finally finds peace as he reveals his real self to Peggy.
Don finds this peace in confession. I thought the phone conversations were a powerful way to display the distance between Don and every woman in his life. Sally exerts her independence from him. Betty tells him the honest truth about his incompetence. But, it is his conversation with Peggy that makes the last seven seasons worth it for me. Don confesses. He confesses all of his sins, what he thought could never come to light, what he had been hiding and suppressing for years, and it is in this confession he finds his peace. He confessed many of these things to Betty out of desperation to keep her around in an earlier season, but this was the first sign of real regret we have seen. This is a beautiful picture of a peace found in honest relationship with others. It is the kind of relationship Don has been incapable of having, and it is in this exchange with Peggy he finds freedom from the darkness of his transgressions.
There is much to be said about what this episode in particular can tell us about the human heart and our desires. Simply, we can see from all seven seasons our desires drive all that we do. Our deepest desires to belong, to be loved, to have meaning and purpose push us. Sometimes we just need to admit these desires. In our broken world we need to have these desires redeemed and reoriented towards the kingdom of God. Right desires produce a godly life. It is not desire itself that is sinful. Mad Men reminds us we all have desires pushing us, motivating us. What are your desires that run your life?
We also see the importance of honest relationship. We need a place we can be ourselves. A place we can open up with repentant confession. There is a peace found in this kind of relationship. Don had been searching for someone who would love him for him. His deepest longing was to be known and loved for who he really is and for who he was. He first had to find out who he really was before he could be known. Throughout the series you want Don to get it together. You want him to find a real, honest relationship. You want him to be loved. He tried to live by a just move past it philosophy. The past is the past, forget it and move on. And, in this finale we see him finally come to the realization of the impossibility of this mantra. In the phone conversation with Peggy Don comes clean and the next morning I think he comes to realize who he really is, at peace with who he has been and now moving forward having faced this past. We can see the power of the Gospel at this point. Jesus knows us, all of us, every bit of our past and He loves us still. He knew our past when He came to earth to die in our place. He knows our lies and our deceptions. He knows our deepest desires and He still loves us. By our faith in Him we are declared righteous, we are accepted, we are adopted. Confession of our sin is good for our soul.
Mad Men has been powerful because it has shown us our own sinful hearts and the power of our own desires. Throughout the series this has taken the characters to many dark places and left a path of destruction in its wake. In the end though we see the power of love, the power of confession, and the power of our ultimate desires. There is much more than we have the room for here to be discussed from this finale and this series, which left us rooting, and loving men and women a lot like ourselves. But, we close reminded Mad Men helped open a window into our own life and our own desires. Ultimately, in light of the Gospel, it has shown us the importance of right desires, the freedom of honest relationship, and the amazing truth of the love of Jesus that pursues us just as we are even with our messy pasts. Our deepest desires ultimately find their fulfillment in Him. Jesus gives us the peace, the fulfillment, and the joy for which we are all searching. The right desires are a very good thing. We need our desires reoriented to the kingdom of God. We need men and women we can be ourselves with. Thank you Mad Men for this reminder week in and week out, season after season, and especially Sunday night.