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The symbolism of McDonalds [Season finale spoilers]


I just binged the entire series and while watching the finale, I couldn't help but notice just how prominently McDonald's was featured in the finale.

It was obviously Philip and Elizabeth's last real meal in the US, and seeing as how they were in a hurry to leave, I first saw that as reflecting their own hurry to leave the US.

But then I thought about how the first McDonalds opened up a few years later in Moscow, and it made worldwide news. It was all a part of Gorbachev's plan of globalizing Russia and was seen as revolutionary. Could this have been reflective of a western/capitalist ideology that Philip and Elizabeth might be bringing to Russia? Like, they were the seeds of change that revolutionized Russia in the early 90's?

Maybe I'm reading way too much into it, but I can't help think that there was a reason why the finale featured McDonald's so prominently. It could have been just a regular burger joint and it wouldn't changed the plot at all.

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  1. I don’t know that I agree with the idea of P&E bringing western ideology to Russia. I’d love to hear more about how you got to that conclusion because I don’t see it. Philip is a(n admittedly) failed capitalist and Elizabeth is (seemingly) still wholly devoted to Communist ideals, at least from my viewing.

  2. I saw the use of McDonalds as key because of how classically American it is. What is the most American fast-food place one can think of? McDonalds. To me it was one last goodbye to something so purely American (at its core).

level 1

For me, the McDonald's scene represents basically an american society at its fullest. It's the symbol of the capitalism we've known for and it was born in the US. In that sense, given the context of the finale, it's fitting that their last meal is at a place that's the protagonist of north american culture.

Overall, I'd say that it ties to the idea that P&E are Americans. Throughout the entire show, we've been seeing them on the verge of losing it all and running away to Russia, but it never happened. It never happened because their lives were in the US, that's where their "american kids" are at and where they'd been building their lives for the past 20 years. Even if Elizabeth never lost her devotion to Mother Russia -- the same can't be said about Philip, however --, the argument of the show in this finale was that they made their home in America, and now that they are in Russia they have to recreate their lives. The Russia they once knew isn't there anylonger. And the Russia they are right now (1980s) is about to change drastically.

Nevertheless, I don't really see where you are coming from when you say P&E are bringing western ideology to Russia.

level 1

to me there is nothing more symbolic of 1980s America than McDonalds

level 1
2 points · 1 month ago

The McDonald's scene for me was slightly off. Surely, they would have gone through the drive-through, since they were eating in the car. Plus, the car culture aspect of that would have been even more symbolic.

Maybe Philip needed the john.

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