This is, then, a hopeful ending, not just for Don, and for the other characters — all of whom reinvented themselves professionally and personally, and showed signs of having learned from past mistakes — but for America itself. Hopeful is not the same thing as simple-minded. Mad Men was never a simple-minded entertainment. Like The Sopranos, In Treatment, The Larry Sanders Show, Seinfeld, and a handful of other psychologically astute TV series, it told us hard truths about what it means to be human, believing you’re moving in a straight line when it’s more likely a stumbling, semi-conscious, serpentine progression, or worse, a wheel of experience that keeps returning you over and over again to the same images and situations, like the Kodak Carousel that Don pitched in season one. Like those other great series, Mad Men was never so cynical as to say people are never capable of deep and lasting change, only that it requires more sustained concentration, work, and self-inquiry than most of us can manage. The show’s characters tended to be comfort-driven creatures who didn’t know themselves well enough, or understand psychology deeply enough, to repair the damage done by conditioning and trauma, much less the dedication required to follow through on anything they did figure out.