The final seven episodes of Mad Men begin airing Sunday night on AMC, truly marking the end of an era. The series started as a look into the dazzling, devastating, cutthroat, and chauvinistic world of ad men that ruled Madison Avenue in the late '50s.
Over the past seven seasons, it became a larger journey through the '50s, '60s, and now the '70s. Those three pivotal decades marked times of immense change in America, and through the lens of Madison Avenue, Matthew Weiner made historical moments that many of us didn't live through feel personally evocative.
The story of Don Draper is one of an antihero, yes, but it's also a purely American tale of an outsider pulling himself up by his bootstraps. He lied about his past and his identity to achieve the supposed dream of a house in the suburbs with a wife, 2.5 kids, and a dog. Watching Don unravel in a slow, tormented, alcohol-fueled downward spiral is like watching how the American dream pans out once it's achieved. We're only ever taught how to get there, not what we're supposed to do when we finally have all the purported keys to personal happiness at our fingertips.
Mad Men isn't just about Don, though, which is why this quick catch-up is worth your while. Here's what was going on in each of the major characters' lives when the first half of season 7 left off.
It goes without saying, but SPOILERS AHEAD.