How Mad Men Will Really End—With a Shaky Leaf

Mad-Men-DNA-GenealogyIf you watch Mad Men (and maybe even if you don’t), you know that the end is near. There are three episodes left, and then it’s all over. The internet is abuzz with speculation as to how it will end. Is that guy falling in the opening sequence really Don Draper? Is Roger going to live long enough to see that mustache go out of style? Will Pete and Trudy end up back together? Are people fighting over Mrs. Blankenship’s memorial on Find-A-Grave as I type this?

I’m a Mad Men fan, but I’m also a DNA-obsessed genealogist. That means I’m watching all this unfold with one eye on the real prize: The Mad Men: Where Are They Now? show that airs in 2016, sponsored by Ancestry.com. (Note: This is not a real thing. It only exists in my head. So far.)

Here’s how I think this plays out:

Kevin (Sterling) Harris—Joan’s son Kevin thinks that Greg Harris is his dad. Greg was a weenie, so Kevin didn’t know him growing up. In April 2015, he does a Y-DNA test with Family Tree DNA. He’s shocked when the results come back showing all these relatives named Sterling. He does an autosomal test (with our sponsor AncestryDNA, natch), clicks some shaky leaves, eventually finds Margaret Sterling Hargrove (Roger’s daughter) on Facebook. She left her family to be a hippy, but now she’s a retired stockbroker. Roger’s long gone, but Kevin finds a copy of his book, Sterling’s Gold, on eBay.

Don Draper/Dick Whitman—Don thought Archie Whitman was his dad, but when he’s an old man, it suddenly dawns on him that if his mother was a prostitute, it’s unlikely that his paternity was that clear cut (please tell me I’m not the only one who has watched all seven seasons of Mad Men wondering about this. How could he possibly know who his father was?). Don is very old now, and he mostly sits around watching TV in that plaid bathrobe he’s had since 1961, so he sees a lot of Ancestry.com commercials. He finally orders a kit, and when his results come in, it turns out that his real father was Bert Cooper. This is why he had that wacky dancing vision when Bert died, because that was really weird, and it’s pretty much the only way it makes sense.

Peggy and Pete’s baby—This kid knows he’s adopted, so he takes a 23andMe test in 2010, before it even becomes a trend. The admixture predictions weren’t that good back then, but he’s determined to find his roots, so he tests at the other sites too. Eventually, he can see that he’s probably Norwegian, Dutch and Scottish, and the Dutch ancestors seem to be deeply rooted in New York (which he learned from that DNA Circles or Ancestor Discoveries or whatever it’s called. I wouldn’t know, because I don’t have any. My ancestors seem to be unwilling to bend to the algorithms of any company.). Baby PegPete doesn’t get his big break until 2014. That’s when Stan (who married Peggy in 1973) orders a DNA kit for her, hoping it will help her find her son, who she hasn’t mentioned since that once time they talked about it in 1970. Peggy leaves that DNA kit sitting on the kitchen counter for three months, and throws the dish towel over it so she can’t see it. The lump under the dish towel haunts her every time she goes in the kitchen to get something. Eventually, though, she spits in the tube, and quick mails it before she loses her nerve. Four weeks later, her results are in, and she already has an email from her son. They have a tearful reunion, and although Peggy is a little brittle at first, she softens when she realizes that her son had a great life with a great family. Yay for Stan for knowing that she needed this before she knew it herself. A few weeks later, the son gets to meet Pete. Pete introduces him to Tammy, who is thrilled to have a brother. There’s lots of hugging, and then we cut to a shaky leaf commercial.

Note: This is one of those posts I’m writing in a goofy, sleep-deprived state. I’ll look at this in two days and think, “Man, I published that? Really?” But then I’ll remember that even this is better than talking about Ben Affleck and his slave-owning ancestors that we only know about because of North Korean hackers and Julian Assange’s website, both of which are WAY worse than Ben Affleck. I have had more than enough of that whole thing.

Photo by Athena Lao

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