'Mad Men' "Severance" Episode Credits Song "Is That All There Is?" Is Very Telling About The Show's Trajectory
There's nothing more complex and informative than a Mad Men credits song, and Sunday night's "Severance" episode did not disappoint in that regard. Though most of the evening was spent with viewers (and Don himself) grappling with his odd and possibly foreshadowing dreams, the evening also made sure to both open and close with the same exact song: Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" Clearly, Matthew Weiner is trying to tell us something in these lyrics, right? And, if you think about it, it's actually the perfect tune to loom over our beloved characters before this era comes to a close.
As the lyrics clearly indicate, the song revolves around a woman who continuously finds herself disappointed with the experiences life has to offer — always expecting it to be greater than it actually was, whether that be going to the circus, falling in love, etc. (Hence the perpetual question: "Is that all there is?") And what do human beings have a tendency to do when life doesn't go their way? They drink and party their troubles away: "Let's break out the booze and have a ball, If that's all there is." (Gee, if only there was a person on this show that is famous for this kind of behavior.)
We've known Don for seven seasons now and understand that he has the tendency to always want what he can't have. And even once he has it, he doesn't want it anymore since nothing can compete with the pedestal he had placed upon it in his head. (If you don't believe me, just look at all of his failed marriages for a start.) He's never satisfied and tries (and fails) to fill that void with other distractions. But before you start writing this off as yet another indicator of Don's inevitable demise, let me direct you to some of the final lyrics of this little ditty:
"I know what you must be saying to yourselves. "If that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?" Oh, no, not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment."
Even death would be too much of a disappointment to bother with. Could this be Weiner's way of hinting that Don's fate won't necessary end on such a morbid note? He may be disappointed with different aspects of his life — much like the person in this song — but that doesn't mean he's ready to punch out his time card. There may be nothing more to this life, but it's still a life worth living. So call me an optimist (or just plain naive), but I think there may just be some shred of hope for Don Draper's fate yet.
Image: Jaimie Trueblood/AMC