Forgiving Don Draper

Donna Bowman

Donna Bowman
May 18, 2015

How we respond to the Mad Men finale says as much about our theological perspective as it does about our aesthetics.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
May 18, 2015

You convinced me, Donna. I had been among those anticipating a self-inflicted bad ending for Don, of the sort Steven Koster had predicted here at TC: http://thinkchristian.reframemedia.com/why-i-think-mad-men-is-headed-for-the-abyss I just couldn't imagine a way, in these final few episodes, Weiner would be able to artfully arrange for Don's redemption.

Your piece suggests that Weiner simply, convincingly set the stage for such a next step. We talk in Reformed circles about God acting first, outside and beyond our own efforts. I think the finale very much functions in this manner. "Don can't expunge his crimes," as you wrote, or "use his power to save the people he's wronged." If the finale initially left me deflated, it's because I'm so eager to see Don's response to grace. Will there be something truly, deeply different this time? As you suggest, perhaps the answer lies in how we interpret the final Coke ad. I love that Weiner allows for enough ambiguity to leave that answer up to us.

Donna Bowman
May 18, 2015

In Reply to Josh Larsen (comment #27150)
Thanks, Josh. It's striking that Don only gains access to redemption when he stops trying to achieve it via his own half-assed programs (marry this one, divorce that one, take off to find himself, have another drink) and submits to someone else's program. The redemption isn't in the details of Esalen, but in ceasing to resist -- ceasing to reserve that pocket of autonomy that sneers "this is stupid, I'm not falling for this", the one that makes him cross his arms and look askance at the woman who expresses how she feels about him with a shove. I think one of the most powerful self-preservation instincts in changing times is "Whatever happens, I'm not going to be a sucker," and that's what keeps us aloof from relationships -- including with the self, but also with the transcendent -- and their risky pathways to grace.

May 18, 2015

Thanks for this..
You may be interested in this #MadMenFinale piece.

THE FINAL CONFESSION OF #DONDRAPER http://www.mbird.com/2015/05/the-final-confession-of-donald-draper/

Ironically the precursor has your same title. :)

FORGIVING DON DRAPER http://www.mbird.com/2011/02/forgiving-don-draper/

Steven Koster
May 18, 2015

Weiner has always promised nothing more than a sense of what happens to the characters, and not some "what it all meant" ending.

Still, I don't think Don does reach any redemption. His life of reinvention and façade has occasionally brought him to moments of despair--he gets reflective, and it's all for nothing. He can't help but get metaphysical. But like the benders that dull the panic of the abyss, all he needs "is a shower and a shave" to get back in the game. So he wrestles with his demons at the commune, but in the end, it's a new day, a new dawn, and a new Don, just like many times before. It's just another cycle. Nothing has changed, because that's what Don does. (And if he did go make that commercial, it would mean he really does go home to McCann. )

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