Banana Republic

'Mad Men's' true legacy: Bringing high art to the TV masses

The state of Megan and Don's marriage, the return of Bad Mom Betty Draper, the advent of the Computer Age and the new tyrannical Peggy have been the subject of much communal handkerchief-twisting as "Mad Men" begins its extended-version swan song. (There is also, apparently, some concern that Megan is being set up for a time line-appropriate Sharon Tate-like death, which seems tonally impossible.)

Television recapping has become its own art form, but there is something elegiac in the minute description of Betty smoking cigarettes on the lawn during a field trip or the slumber-party speculation of Don's drinking. Where once it drew essays in the New York Review of Books,...