“Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship; it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel; it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.” Don Draper – Mad Men: Season One, “The Wheel” (The Kodak Carousel Pitch)
And so goes the end of Mad Men tonight. It began for me with my mother saying that I should watch this show about the advertising business. I scoffed thinking, “what do you know?” Wow, was I ever wrong. It was awesome. I was hooked.
But what did a TV drama, set in the 1960s, have to do with today’s industry? Everything. All the things that I loved about my job were on full display – warts and all. Mad Men was in essence a tribute to the excesses and tragedies of the business.
My first job as a young account exec at a small high-tech shop exposed me to a career that immediately felt more like a calling. Everything was tremendously important and sometimes dire. Good times always led to bad. Bonuses became lay-offs. Account wins turned to losses. Our fate at times seemed predetermined – like a Greek tragedy.
My take away, I wouldn’t have missed any of it. It was exciting. It still is exciting. And, while we can be nostalgic for the “good ole days”, the best is certainly yet to come.
So, goodbye Don, Roger, Peggy, Pete, Joan and the rest – you reminded some of us why we love this work. Coincidentally, I actually have a father-in-law named Teddy who is Greek and occasionally waxes poetic…for real.