She may be the beloved author of dozens of bestsellers and the fairy godmother of feminist lit, but when it comes to TV, Judy Blume is just like the rest of us. For years, the author's Sunday nights consisted of being glued to her set, watching the latest installment of Mad Men alongside her husband, George. She'd debate episodes, cheer on couples, and, memorably, tweet her advice to the show's most troubled characters. So it's no surprise that Blume, who calls herself a "huge" fan of the show, has some thoughts about the series' finale episode. In an interview with Bustle earlier this week to promote her latest novel, In the Unlikely Event (out June 2 — when you can also catch a full Blume profile on Bustle), she happily shared them.
"It was really interesting," Blume said. "A great, great show.... [the Coke ad] was genius."
Like many Mad Men viewers, the episode's final scenes — first, of a grin slowly forming on Don's face as he meditates, and then, of Coke's iconic "Hilltop" ad from 1971, implying that the character had just dreamt up the commercial — left the author in awe.
"That face — that Cheshire cat face on him with the Coke ad really surprised me," she said. "It really was, I thought, just brilliant. Really creative and interesting."
For a bit, however, Blume assumed that Don's future was much less promising.
"I thought he was gonna go off the cliff over there, but then I thought, no no no, you’re never gonna kill off Betty and Don, that’s not gonna happen," she said.
In the penultimate episode, viewers learned, to much shock, that Betty would soon die from lung cancer, and in the finale, the fate of Don and Betty's two young children (their oldest, Sally, is in boarding school) was left unclear. Her husband, Henry, was a possible caretaker, but Betty had expressed her wishes that after her passing, the kids would go live with her sister. Blume and her husband, however, think that that's a terrible idea.
"George said she's a bitch," Blume said, laughing. "Her husband is a jerk, so it was like, Don has to come home and take them and be responsible, but that would be such a different Don. Of course, we’re never gonna know that Don, and we shouldn’t, because we don’t want to. But maybe he’s gonna step up to the plate... I thought that he would."
"Sally’s gotta have her own life!" she argues. "She’s still in
high school. She’s just a kid."
Many Mad Men fans would agree — Sally is one of the show's most beloved characters, and viewers would hate to see her not get the chance to explore all the possibilities for her future. The same goes for Joan, another favorite, who fans watched deal bravely with sexism and abuse for the show's seven seasons. Her constant struggle to receive equality angered many viewers, including Blume, who, after watching the character take on yet another misogynistic employer, voiced her frustrations on Twitter — directly to Joan herself.
"I said, Joan, you need to contact the sex discrimination clinic at Columbia Law School!" Blume recalls, laughing.
Unfortunately, the author's advice went unheeded — but as finale viewers saw, Joan did go on to start her own business, with other women hired to help out. It was a satisfying ending to the character's story, one of the many reasons the finale was so well-received by fans.
"It was just great," Blume says. "The characters were great, and the story... it was just really, really good."