“Mad Men collectibles on offer include Joan’s emerald necklace, Stan Rizzo’s bongos; Bert Cooper’s tea set; plus a wide assortment of vintage barware, ashtrays, briefcases, luggage, lamps, carpets and period toys.”
Nearly 1,400 items from the Lionsgate-produced series will open for online bidding at ScreenBid, starting Friday, July 31, at 12 p.m. PT. Lots will begin closing Aug. 6.
In addition to the Coupe de Ville (bids start at $1,500), items on the block include Draper’s Brooks Brothers suits, sunglasses and business cards; wardrobe, office accessories and personal effects for every major character including Peggy Olsen, Pete Campbell, Roger Sterling, Betty Draper and Joan Harris; Megan Draper’s wedding ring; and Don Draper’s Manhattan penthouse furnishings. Read the rest of this entry »
As Jon Hamm explained to Jimmy Kimmel last night, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner had been thinking about ending the show with that iconic Coca-Cola commercial for years before the company cleared the way for him to use it. If things had gone a different way, the ending might have had a slightly different impact…(read more)
The Real Story Behind ‘Mad Men’s’ ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’ Ad
(Warning: spoilers) John Jurgensen writes: For Don Draper, enlightenment apparently came in the form of the perfect advertising pitch. After sinking to the depths of anguish, loss and emptiness in the series finale of “Mad Men,” Don ended up in lotus position, bathed in sunshine on a hillside, with a sphinx-like smile on his face. Cut to a grainy 1971 commercial for Coca-Cola, one of the most famous TV spots in advertising history.
The implication (which sharp viewers predicted, after so many Coke allusions in recent episodes) was that Don would return to McCann Erickson with a brilliant idea in hand for a commercial featuring a multiracial cast singing about a world living in “perfect harmony,” thanks to a particular soda.
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In fact, the real-life person behind the idea was a creative director at McCann Erickson named Bill Backer…(read more)
The “Mad Men” finale will be analyzed and rated, debated and recapped. Meaning will be ascribed to it that the writers likely never intended, and much of fans’ pleasure and disappointment will be expressed in real time…(read more)
The falling men on a 1967 LIFE cover seem to presage the falling man in the AMC show’s opening credits
Eliza Berman writes: Analyzing the title sequence to Mad Men has become something of a sport for the show’s fans. Does the suited man hurtling toward earth foreshadow protagonist/anti-hero Don Draper’s literal death or his figurative demise? Does it echo the chilling photograph of a man who jumped from a burning World Trade Center tower? (Showrunner Matthew Weiner has said emphatically that it does not.) Whatever it represents, where did Imaginary Forces, the agency that produced the sequence, get the idea?
Here’s another idea: it’s now been pointed out that the design has many similarities to a 1967 LIFE Magazine cover, the first in a four-part series on “The Struggle To Be an Individual.” The cover, like Mad Men’s credits, features silhouetted men against the backdrop of a 1960s-era skyscraper. Both suggest a sense of helplessness, of ceding control to powerful forces beyond one’s self.
“The cover, like Mad Men’s credits, features silhouetted men against the backdrop of a 1960s-era skyscraper. Both suggest a sense of helplessness, of ceding control to powerful forces beyond one’s self.”
The Imaginary Forces team that produced the credits has spoken about some of the inspiration behind the design. Weiner initially approached them with the skeleton of an idea — a man walks into an office building, takes the elevator to the top and jumps — and they began developing storyboards. Those boards included a Volkswagen ad, movie stills and, as designer Steve Fuller told Print, “the design stew that’s been swirling around in our head over the last 15 years since we left college.”
Though AMC could not confirm, as of publication time, whether this particular LIFE cover ever made it onto those storyboards, the photo essay the cover advertises in many ways articulates the existential crises Draper faces in Mad Men. As an ad man, Draper sells access to an American dream he himself hasn’t entirely bought into. Even as he accumulates successes in the boardroom and the bedroom, the satisfaction never lasts longer than a few drags of a cigarette that might kill him anyway.
The ethos of the 1960s is, of course, omnipresent in Mad Men — and not just in its fastidious commitment to the furniture and fashions of the time. In post-WWII America, many Americans had settled into the comfort of corporate jobs that afforded them the same white picket fence and station wagon their neighbors boasted. Responding to that phenomenon, books like William H. Whyte’s The Organization Man, published in the mid-1950s, lamented how modern workers’ collectivist group-think ran in opposition to creativity and innovation. Read the rest of this entry »
Mad Men Retrospective on Google Play Includes Free Episode
Todd Spangler writes: “Mad Men,” as it nears the finish line after eight years on TV, is getting a virtual retrospective on Google Play that will allow fans to relive the show’s run — a promo that includes free streaming access to the series’ very first episode.
Under a pact with Lionsgate, Google Play is debuting “The Mad Men Experience,” at madmen.withgoogle.com. The website is billed as an interactive, art-exhibit-style destination set in the world of 1960s Madison Avenue with more than 300 pieces of content released for the first time in a digital environment. Those include rarely seen artwork interviews with cast audio commentaries and other features.
The deal is Google Play’s first digital fan experience for a TV show, and it’s aimed at driving viewers to purchase episodes and full seasons of “Mad Men” from the online store. In addition, for a limited time Google Play will stream season one, episode one (“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”) for free on Google Play, available to users in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia. All prior seasons of “Mad Men” also are available for streaming on Netflix, and for purchase on Apple’s iTunes and Amazon’s Instant Video services. Read the rest of this entry »
“Mad Men” is going out with a bang, setting a series of events for the evening of the show’s May 17 finale, including Television Academy panel sessions moderated by Variety‘s Debra Birnbaum.
“The Television Academy Presents a Farewell to Mad Men” at the Montalban Theater in Hollywood will feature Birnbaum moderating a Q&A with creator Matthew Weiner and star Jon Hamm. That conversation will be followed by a panel with cast members January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, Vincent Kartheiser, John Slattery, Kiernan Shipka and Jessica Pare, as well as key production staffers including costume designer Janie Bryant and production designer Dan Bishop and d.p. Christopher Manley.
The 5 p.m. PT event will stream live at TelevisionAcademy.com…(read more)
Cynthia Littleton writes: Next to Matt Weiner, nobody knows the look and feel of “Mad Men” better than Phil Abraham. He was the cinematographer on the pilot, and he made an auspicious debut as a director for the series with 2007’s “The Hobo Code.” Abraham took a break from helming an episode of AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire” in Atlanta on Monday evening to talk about directing his final “Mad Men” episode, the May 3 installment “Lost Horizon,” from a razor-sharp script by Semi Chellas and Weiner.
This episode had so many pause-worthy moments for Joan, Don, Peggy and Roger. Did you know that going in or did it evolve as you were shooting?
“Mad Men” is different than any other show because the objective is to create those moments on camera and define them in a precise way. They are so special and so carefully crafted by the writers. As a director you’ve got to make sure they play visually and performance-wise and that everyone who is watching is aware of them….That’s what makes “Mad Men” such a different show than any other I’ve worked on. There is a precision to everything.
Does that precision make it harder or easier for you as the director?
The rigor with which these episodes are crafted is something special. The only way you can have moments like the one where Don is sitting in the conference room hearing the research thrown out and seeing the disembodied hands open up their portfolios and all take their pens out at the same time — that’s all scripted. But it has to be visualized to resonate. When you have Jon Hamm it’s not hard to make those things resonate. … It’s this amazing dance of performance and staging and everything that makes “Mad Men” the unique series that it is.
Christina Hendricks steals the episode with Joan’s showdown with McCann’s Jim Hobart.
She’s so strong-willed and I thought such a worthy adversary to (Hobart). I remember going through those scenes with her. Those are long scenes, there’s a lot of words. We talked about the emotion and the lack of emotion she would need to go toe to toe with the big boss. It was great. (Actor H. Richard Greene) was fantastic as well. The two of them played off each other so well. That scene stole the show for me. The dance they dance. It’s been a year since we shot it so it was great to watch it.
Roger and Peggy had a long and entertaining ‘moment’ together. How is Elisabeth Moss’ roller skating?
Peggy says to Roger ‘I don’t think you’ve ever paid this much attention to me.’ I don’t think they’ve ever had such a big scene. Read the rest of this entry »
Eric Thurm writes: TV is an odd mishmash of a medium. It shares enough qualities with film that we can use the word “cinematic” as a blanket compliment, yet its traditional broadcast model more closely resembles radio. In fact, with the advent of original programming from online-only platforms, it’s increasingly difficult to tell what, exactly, TV is.
“At its core, that self-reflexivity is rooted in anxiety for the future—as well it should be. Because as it turns out, the end of Mad Men is not the end of TV, but rather the end of a particular era for the medium, one that has been repeatedly canonized in books like Brett Martin’s ‘Difficult Men’ and Alan Sepinwall’s ‘The Revolution was Televised’.”
Maybe that’s why, dating back to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, TV is so often about itself. There’s a long history of scripted TV that’s about making TV. Yet, for all the literal examples of it—Sports Night, 30 Rock—Mad Men, which returns for its final seven episodes on Sunday, is the most self-reflexive series of them all.
[Order Brett Martin’s book “Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad“ from Amazon.com]
Mad Men‘s ad firm Sterling Cooper & Partners (né Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, né the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency) is itself a representation of the process of making television. The writers’ room pitches, the long nights, the fights with executives over the creative integrity of material that, with varying degrees of explicitness, is ultimately about selling products. Many of the show’s most triumphant moments come not from interpersonal dynamics, but the act of intellectual conception—being struck by writerly inspiration, often in a room full of people trying to come up with their own perfect idea.
And the show’s behind-the-scenes dynamics become manifest in its characters. Critic Todd VanDerWerff has described episodes as “fan fiction Matt Weiner is writing about his own writers’ room,” something that’s especially apparent in the relationship between Don Draper and his protege-turned-peer, Peggy Olson.
“The writers’ room pitches, the long nights, the fights with executives over the creative integrity of material that, with varying degrees of explicitness, is ultimately about selling products.”
Their tempestuous creative partnership prompts fights over the ownership of everything from ad campaigns to each other’s careers, culminating in the infamous “That’s what the money is for!” scene from “The Suitcase”—an episode in which they argue over what you can and cannot do on TV.
In later seasons of the show, even that layer of metaphor has fallen away; the show has become much more explicit in enacting its own struggle to surpass the limitations of TV storytelling. In particular, the merger between Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and onetime rival agency Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough is a self-conscious solution to the problem of keeping Peggy on the show once she had naturally grown past the point of needing Don as a mentor and professional champion.
“Many of the show’s most triumphant moments come not from interpersonal dynamics, but the act of intellectual conception—being struck by writerly inspiration, often in a room full of people trying to come up with their own perfect idea.”
Don and Betty may have gotten divorced, but their relationship is effectively unchanged from what it was in Season 1—because to send her offstage is to deny Don his true moral foil. Will any of these characters ever change?
Maybe not, but they’ll certainly keep trying, and stay painfully aware of their failures. Matthew Weiner and his staff threaten change, but it’s never real; they’re just daring us to confront what would happen if the status quo ever seriously shifted. And it’s all so artfully done that Mad Men more than justifies the level of Talmudic recap coverage it has historically received.
“Indeed, many of today’s prestige shows feel like the creative efforts of people who watched ‘Mad Men’, ‘The Sopranos’, and ‘Breaking Bad’ and then tried to replicate them without understanding what actually made them so good.”
But at its core, that self-reflexivity is rooted in anxiety for the future—as well it should be. Because as it turns out, the end of Mad Men is not the end of TV, but rather the end of a particular era for the medium, one that has been repeatedly canonized in books like Brett Martin’s Difficult Men and Alan Sepinwall’s The Revolution was Televised. The Difficult Men narrative of “visionary” showrunners provides a picture of what Good TV is supposed to look like, and how it’s supposed to be made: by exacting geniuses like Don Draper. Read the rest of this entry »
Marc Myers writes: When “Mad Men” returns to AMC on Sunday with the first of its final seven episodes, viewers will be wondering how ad-agency executive Don Draper ends the series—emotionally awakened or drifting down from his office window, as hinted by a falling silhouette in the show’s opening credits. For fans of the series’ 1960s wardrobe and sets, the more pressing question is how the show’s fashion and furnishings will evolve as its timeline inches past the moon landing and enters the shaggy, burnt-orange decay of 1970.
“Through the lens of series creator, producer and writer Matthew Weiner, the adult world of the 1960s is much more jaded and complex than the rosy, adolescent one recalled by many baby boomers who grew up then.”
The runaway popularity of “Mad Men” owes much to its dark story lines of personal demons, office power struggles and noirish character interactions with historical events. But from the start, in 2007, the series’ appeal has also been rooted in its richly detailed look that transports viewers back to an age of sleek office furniture, space-age design, meticulous grooming and colorful clothes. All are represented in “Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men” at the Museum of the Moving Image, an exhibit that celebrates both the show’s vision and visuals.
“The show is not a history lesson or intellectual exploration. It is entertainment based on tension, irony and storytelling that is closely related to today’s life.”
— Matthew Weiner, summarizing the show’s guiding principle
Through the lens of series creator, producer and writer Matthew Weiner, the adult world of the 1960s is much more jaded and complex than the rosy, adolescent one recalled by many baby boomers who grew up then. As the decade unfolds beginning in 1960, the show’s characters find themselves caught in a cultural riptide, with rock, civil rights and feminism changing the balance of power faster than they can adapt. Many turn to alcohol, drugs and serial affairs to ease the stress and hold on to the world they once knew.
Staged in a winding series of rooms, the new exhibit sheds light on how ”Mad Men” was developed by Mr. Weiner and his writers and designers. The exhibit begins with a glass case of books that most influenced Mr. Weiner’s approach, including Helen Gurley Brown’s “Sex and the Single Girl,” the “Journals of John Cheever” and David Ogilvy’s “Ogilvy on Advertising.” The book display is followed by a full-blown re-creation of the room used by the “Mad Men” writing team, complete with their 1960s Danish modern teak conference table, 10 black leather executive chairs, and character-development cards on a wall board. Read the rest of this entry »
Despite Peskov’s best efforts, the theories about what could be behind Putin’s mysterious absence have continued to swirl
Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t been seen in public since March 5, and depending on whom you ask, he’s either dead, has had a stroke, has cancer, is being overthrown in a palace coup, or, contrary to his spokesperson’s denials Friday, has been out of the public eye because he has fathered a lovechild.
“Information that a child has been born to Vladimir Putin is not true,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Forbes Russia. “I am planning to appeal to people who have money to organize a competition for the best journalistic hoax,” he added.
Speculation on Putin’s whereabouts began when he canceled a high-level trip to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, and then several other meetings this week, including the signing of a treaty with South Ossetia and an appearance at a meeting of top brass at the FSB, Russia’s domestic intelligence service. Putin’s absence has sent the Russian Twitterverse and media into overdrive, sparking the trending hashtag #ПутинУмер (Putin Died), as well as a cottage industry of theories — some absurd and others more believable believable — to explain what is keeping the usually omnipresent Russian president from the public eye.
Peskov, meanwhile, has been on the offensive, steadfastly denying the Russian rumormill — often with colorful details. After shooting down rumors about Putin’s ill-health earlier this week on the radio station Ekho Moskvy, Peskov added that “his handshake is so strong he breaks hands with it.”
Yet despite Peskov’s best efforts, the theories about what could be behind Putin’s mysterious absence have continued to swirl. The Kremlin’s website has been posting photos of the Russian president attending meetings during his physical absence, but the Russian news outlet RBC investigated Putin’s schedule and found discrepancies. According to RBC, the meeting with the governor of the northwestern region of Karelia, reported on the official site as having taken place on March 11, had actually occurred a week earlier, and a Karelian website had actually already written about it on March 4. On Thursday, the Kremlin claimed that Putin spoke on the phone with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. Sargsyan’s website issued the call with an identical transcript.
On Friday, the Kremlin issued three images showing Putin in a meeting with the head of the Supreme Court in Moscow on Friday. The state television channel, Rossiya 24, also aired video footage of the meeting. However, the dates of those photos have not been confirmed, and the footage have not been authenticated. Read the rest of this entry »
And now eMC, the emotional movie channel, presents Mad Men. Mr. Draper is looking for solid ideas on the Happy Honey Bear account, ideas that are going to make him happy about honey.
For National Review Online, Thomas S. Hibbs writes: With the conclusion of the first half of season seven on Sunday, May 25, Matthew Weiner’s acclaimed AMC series Mad Men has only seven episodes left (which we won’t get to see until next spring).
“…it is not difficult to see in the show’s unmasking of the illusions of the self-made man a critique of the world of capitalist advertising with its construction of images of happiness…”
Main character Don Draper began this season at the nadir of his career and personal life. The previous season began with Don on a beach with second wife Megan, now an actress. Reading the opening of Dante’s Inferno, he intones: “Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.” The book is a gift from Sylvia, a married neighbor with whom he is having a torrid affair but whom he tells at one point, “I want to stop doing this.” The despair in his voice indicates how incapable he is of freeing himself from something he knows is wrong.
Season six proceeded to portray a descent for Don, perhaps reminiscent of Dante’s journey into the depths of hell: progressive alienation from his new wife, a heart-wrenching scene in which his daughter Sally catches him in sexual congress with Sylvia, and his self-destruction in the middle of a business meeting in which he breaks down and tells clients about his childhood in a brothel. The last move put him on an indefinite leave. Unlike Dante, however, Don has no clear path and no Virgil as his guide.
“…But Mad Men also manages to capture something of the attraction of the life of the entrepreneur.”
The question of season seven is whether, like that of Dante, Don’s descent will be followed by an ascent or at least a return to form as a Manhattan master of the universe. In the concluding episode of the first half, Don finds himself facing loss on multiple fronts: the end of his marriage, as he and Megan realize they have been leading separate lives; and the imminent loss of his job — especially with the death of Bert Cooper, who had reluctantly continued to support Don’s presence at the firm. But the episode ends on a high note, with Don’s job and his connections to the longest-standing members of the firm restored. In a final note of whimsy, Don has a vision of the now dead Bert doing a song-and-dance routine of “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” Is this a sign that Don is coming unhinged or that he has found his Virgil? Read the rest of this entry »
In honor of Morse’s magical musical final moments as Bert Cooper on Sunday night’s mid-season finale of Mad Men, Here’s Robert Morse the Broadway star, from half a century ago, singing the song he’ll always be identified with in the 1967 film version of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”
For Vulture, Jen Chaney writes: This year’s last Mad Men episode — the finale of season seven, part one — airs Sunday night on AMC. In the days leading up to that momentous Memorial Day weekend event, Mad Men fans will do what they always do on such occasions: spend ludicrous amounts of time speculating about what will happen in that pseudo-finale, even though they know all their theories will be rendered moot come Sunday at 11:10 p.m. Because … eh, what else are you gonna do?
We at Vulture, will help fuel this absurd plot-prediction process by offering a list of 10 theories about what might happen on Sunday’s Mad Men. In order to compile this list, we’ve used all the tools at our disposal. Those tools include:
- The official AMC promo for the episode, which is chock full of information. (Just kidding: It’s just a bunch of scenes from previous episodes that tell us nothing!)
- The summary of the episode, called “Waterloo” (uh-oh). It states: “Don is troubled by a letter; Peggy may seek a new future on a risky venture; Roger receives a phone call; Pete and Cutler butt heads.” So it tells us something, and yet, at the same time, also nothing.
- Random crackpot ideas from the internet.
- Random crackpot ideas that percolated in our brain after one too many shots of rum from Lou Avery’s office tiki bar.
Now, in no particular order, here’s the list of theories, some of which are credible and some of which are flat-out cuckoo. But let’s be honest: If anyone had told you before the season-six finale that Pete Campbell’s mother would go on a cruise with Manolo and fall off the ship to her death, would you have believed it?
Theory 1: Don gets a letter that says the Department of Defense is investigating him for posing as Don Draper and deserting his military post.
As the helpful DVR description of “Waterloo” notes, Don will be “troubled by a letter,” a statement that sparked a flashback to the season-four episode “Hands and Knees,” when DOD officials questioned Betty as part of a background check on Don. (“Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Draper isn’t who he says he is?” one of the G-Men asked.)
That background check happened because Pete had finally landed North American Aviation as a client, and also because Megan, then Don’s secretary, unwittingly filled out a government form on Don’s behalf without sufficiently flailing her arms and screaming so Don would know he shouldn’t sign it. Pete took a bullet for Don, squashing the $4 million account in order to eliminate the possibility that Don would be investigated. But somewhere, in some government office, that form peppered with Don Draper red flags is still sitting there. Perhaps its information has even been sucked into a database housed in one of those dreadful computers Harry Crane loves so much. And perhaps it could resurface, especially if Betty gets background-checked as part of Henry’s attempt to become New York’s Attorney General. (Betty mentioned Henry might pursue that job in episode three of this season, “Field Trip.”)
Theory 2: The finale will focus in part on the Stonewall Riots, in which Bob Benson will be involved.
Mad Men Redditors have been speculating in various threads about which 1969 events will be featured in upcoming Mad Men episodes. One possibility for this week: the Stonewall Riots, which kick-started the American gay-rights movement.
For Vulture, Margaret Lyons writes: Mad Men‘s half-season finale is Sunday, wrapping up a run of seven episodes that have started to bring the show’s guiding themes into sharper focus: mortality, morality, companionship, self-regard. This season has revisited ideas and characters from early on, retold stories from other episodes, and found many of our characters in uncannily familiar situations. Don and Peggy exemplify that same-but-different feeling of this season, with last Sunday’s “The Strategy” using many of the same ideas from season four’s “The Suitcase” — Peggy’s birthday, office drunkenness, the frustration of trying to wring an idea out of thin air. Don and Peggy’s relationship goes way beyond these thematic echoes, though; it’s the definitive relationship of the series, one that reflects and metabolizes both characters’ interactions with all the other characters on the show.
More so than with any other pair on Mad Men, the story of Don and Peggy pokes at the show’s central question: Who am I? Don and Peggy ask and answer that question together, and even as their relationship has grown and changed over the course of the show, the mirror they hold up to one another remains as inspiring — and unflattering — as it ever was.
Don and Peggy meet on the pilot, which is Peggy’s first day at Sterling Cooper. If you haven’t rewatched the first season in a while, do so: It’ll make Peggy’s eventual ascension seem even more impressive because she faced an appalling level of constant sexual harassment from day one. (Particularly, though not exclusively, from Pete.) Don initially walks right past Peggy, instead greeting only Joan, so the first time Don and Peggy talk, she’s waking him up from a nap. Everyone in the office spends the rest of the episode encouraging Peggy to be sexier, to show off her legs, to capitalize on her “darling ankles,” to flirt more with Don. He tells her to “entertain” Pete, and she asks, meekly but with the kind of internal steely disposition we come to recognize, “Do I have to?”
For PopWatch, Jeff Jensen writes: The Monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most cryptic icons in all of pop culture. Back in the heat of the cultural conversation about the film, moviegoers wanting to crack the secrets of those sleek alien obelisks concerned themselves with many questions about their motive and influence. Do they mean to harm humanity or improve us? Do those who dare engage them flourish and prosper? Or do they digress and regress? To rephrase in the lexicon of Mad Men: Are these catalysts for evolutionary change subversive manipulators like Lou, advancing Peggy with responsibility and money just to trigger Don’s implosion, or are they benevolent fixers like Freddy, rescuing Don from self-destruction and nudging him forward with helpful life coaching?
“…optimism is a tough sell these days.”
Of course, Don Draper is something of a Monolith himself. The questions people once asked of those mercurial monuments are similar to the questions that the partners and employees of Sterling Cooper & Partners (and the audience) are currently asking of their former fearless leader during the final season of Mad Men, which last week fielded an episode entitled “The Monolith” rich with allusions to Stanley Kubrick’s future-fretting sci-fi stunner. Don, that one-time font of creative genius, is now a mystery of motives and meaning to his peeps following last season’s apocalyptic meltdown during the Hershey pitch. (For Don, Hershey Bars are Monoliths, dark rectangular totems with magical character-changing properties.)
Watching them wring their hands over Don evokes the way the ape-men of 2001 frantically tizzied over The Monolith when it suddenly appeared outside their cavern homes. Can Don be trusted? Do they dare let him work? What does he really want? “Why are you here?” quizzed Bert during a shoeless interrogation in his man-cave. Gloomy Lou made like Chicken Little: “He’s gonna implode!” (His pessimism wasn’t without bias: He did take Don’s old job.)
There are knowing, deeper ironies here. Read the rest of this entry »
It involves a critical moment in sports history in New York in 1969. Only fairly dedicated baseball fans, or those familiar with the history of New York, would ever make the connection. it’s unimportant to the story, except as a background detail. But it’s the kind of clue that’s meant to reward an observant viewer, like Walter Dellinger, who sees a link between the New York Mets and Don Draper‘s future.
Season 7, Episode 4, ‘The Monolith’
“..the metaphor for his (coming) revival is not the new computer, but the 1969 New York Mets. At his lowest point, Don finds a discarded Mets banner under his file cabinet. He drops in the waste basket. But the next time we see Don, he has retrieved the classic orange banner and hung it on the wall.
When he awakes from a drunken stupor, he sees it from upside down and stares at it. And he calls Freddy to take the day off (from doing no work, anyway) to see a Mets game.
And so all you Don Draper fans who don’t follow baseball need to know that there is indeed hope for Don this season, at least if this deliberate invocation of the Mets has any meaning (and what on this show doesn’t?). The New York Mets were relatively new to baseball and in their eighth season in 1969. They had never had a winning season, and were at that point a metaphor for futility. But in that year they became the “Miracle Mets” winning 100 games and upsetting the great Baltimore Orioles team to win the World Series…”
If Dellinger is right, and Don Draper’s fortunes are finally about to turn, it couldn’t come a moment too soon. After a nearly unbearable string of misfortunes, a downward spiral lasting throughout season 6, unwinding into season 7, Don self-destructive personality has worn out its welcome, for his partners and coworkers, but also for the viewers. I wonder how many of Mad Men’s original fans are still along for the ride. Read the rest of this entry »
For Daily Finance, Annalisa Kraft-Linder writes: Millions of Americans are addicted to “Mad Men,” the AMC drama chronicling the lives of the people at ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Enthralling us over seven seasons are their mostly sordid sex lives, boozy business lunches, snazzy apartments, period clothes and finned Cadillacs.
“They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure as hell buys everything else.”
— Bob Benson
Although money is rarely addressed, suck-up Bob Benson of season six (James Wolk) sums up their attitudes neatly: “They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure as hell buys everything else.” Here’s what else you can learn about money from the hit show, which wraps up this year.
‘Happiness Is the … Freedom from Fear’
Agency creative director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) leads a complicated life. He had been on unscheduled leave after a major meltdown in front of the Hershey (HSY) clients. He conspires with his former secretary to keep his family in the dark about his out-of-work status. His relationship with his work and money is so tied in to the ’60s concept of the masculine breadwinner that on the April 27 episode he finally admits his fear to wife, Megan (Jessica Pare),”If you found out what happened, you wouldn’t look at me in the same way.”
“I’m just acknowledging that life, unlike this analysis, will eventually end, and someone else will get the bill.”
— Roger Sterling
Draper could have taken a job at another agency for less money but submits sheepishly to be part of the SCDP fold under humiliating conditions to keep up his lifestyle and win back Megan. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the more involved and insightful deep-dish Mad Men pieces I’ve seen this season, from an unlikely source, it’s a pleasure to read TV show analysis this dedicated. If you’re a Don Draper fan like me, read the whole thing.
Are Don and Megan Draper finally over? In the major arc before the first commercial break, Don speaks long-distance to Megan’s agent and learns that Megan has been exhibiting desperate (stalker-like) behavior toward industry types in L.A. Don flies out unannounced in the middle of the week. Megan’s libidinal delight upon his arrival turns to melancholy as she reflects on her rejections (“It’s sunny here for everyone but me”) and then to outrage when she learns the reason for Don’s visit (“You came out here to, what, pull me out of a bathtub where I slit my wrists?”) and then to suspicion and accusation (“You’re never [in the office] when I call. … Who’s your new girl, Don?”—by which she means mistress, not secretary). Don confesses, not to having an affair, but to having been on leave from SC&P since Thanksgiving (it is now early spring). Megan is furious over the secrecy, and furious that all this time he could have been with her in L.A. but chose not to. She throws him out, with “This is the way it ends.”
I indulge in bald plot-summary here because I have waited so long in patience for these two to split up. As Megan ca. 1968-69, Jessica Paré is a tedious screen presence in hideous clothes. Their crackup has always seemed a foregone conclusion, given how impulsively Don proposed (at Disneyland!) in Season Four and how incapable he is of husband-like qualities (sustained honesty, loyalty, sobriety). The writers have been flirting with it since the midpoint of Season Five. Get on with it! A long-distance phone call later in the episode may or may not herald a rapprochement; let us hope not. Read the rest of this entry »
On the red carpet at Mad Men’s Season 6 premiere, BuzzFeed asked the show’s stars where their characters would be in the ’80s. Here’s what they’re predicting, along with our interpretations of them as contemporary ads.
Darren Franich and Jef Castro match classic movie art style to Don Drapers world
What worked for Breaking Bad might not work for Mad Men
AMC unveiled the first half of Mad Men‘s split final seventh season to the lowest debut audience since the show’s second year. But unlike the cable network’sBreaking Bad — which climbed in the ratings with every season, including its similarly split two-year final run — only 2.3 million viewers watched Don Draper’s return Sunday night at 9 p.m. The acclaimed period drama then had two repeats for a grand total of 4.4 million. This marked the first of seven episodes that will air this year, with the final seven planned for 2015.
AMC pointed out to reporters that Mad Men is “the most upscale show on ad-supported television among adults 18-49, and sees significant time-shifting activity.” The network also noted these numbers are not far off from the sixth season’s average.
— Mad Men (@MadMen_AMC) April 14, 2014
Good news, via popgoescultureblog:
For the record, I’m among those that question AMC’s decision to split the final season. To me, it smacks of either artistic vanity, or business concerns trumping loyal audience. I understand it’s a demanding show to produce, and maintain the extraordinary quality, so it benefits the creator and his crew. I’m inclined to think that AMC’s got a valuable property, they know it, and they’re milking more advertising dollars out of Mad Men. Enjoying a more relaxed writing and shooting schedule isn’t likely the primary driver of season-splitting decision.
[For collectors, Amazon has Mad Men: Seasons 1-4]
If the final episodes can be delivered with as much audience-pleasing closure as Breaking Bad, these complaints will dissolve. The show is already on track to become an enduring TV masterpiece.
I remember this episode. One of the highlights of season 4 (before Draper went into alcohol-fueled decline in season 5) when Don’s new Manhattan apartment, new Ad Agency, and hot new French-Canadian replacement wife (who sings, too, ooh la la!) looked like the ingredients for professional success and domestic bliss. And Zou Bisou Bisou made a splash, too. The only person in who didn’t like the performance is Don Draper, but everyone else at the party thought it was sexy as hell.
Though I admire January Jones‘ acting, the Betty character was overexposed. When Draper remarried, I welcomed the introduction of the Megan character as wife #2. Besides being more of a 1960s modern girl, let’s face it, actress Jessica Paré is sexy. Even though this marriage is not destined to succeed, either.
Draper, well, he’s a complicated guy.
For collectors, Amazon has Mad Men: Seasons 1-4
(and if you do get it, order it via this link, or above, it’s like a micro-tip jar that helps support this site)
I have all four. I’ve been collecting them along the way, though I haven’t added season 5 yet. (the Draper-in-decline ‘bummer’ season) Season Six starts this spring. I can’t wait.
Recalling Don Draper’s creative peak, his most poignant pitch, to Kodak. Before his unresolved personality disorder, cracked identity and mid-life crisis led him to his epic season 5 meltdown.
One of Don Draper’s memorable pitches
Could Don Draper finally be growing up?
Most fathers are not a mystery to their children; most adults are not quite so hobbled by tortured pasts. But most people are not Don Draper, who, in the course of “Mad Men’s” six seasons, has tried to shield his kids from the most basic truths about himself. Where he’s from, how he grew up, what kind of life he had: Those were all things that he lied about, to co-workers, clients and those closest to him. But as viewers saw in the show’s Season 6 finale (which I wrote about here), Don is in the process of shedding that false skin.
The final image of Season 6 was Draper showing his three children the house of ill repute in which he grew up. We don’t know yet if his bold gamble will pay off, or if his daughter Sally, who grew especially disenchanted with her father this season, will continue on her path of rebellion and barely-suppressed fury at her father.
Don also revealed the truth about his origins during a meeting with an important potential client, and everyone in the room was appropriately stunned. According to “Mad Men” creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner, however, Don’s behavior in the Hershey meeting is not what got him fired (or placed on leave). That meeting, shocking though it was, was “a very minor infraction in all this,” Weiner said. As he explained, the entire penultimate season of the show (and all the questionable behavior it contained) was meant to lead Don to the point where he felt he could — and had to — start to be at least partially truthful about himself to the people around him.
In the interview below, Weiner discusses the events that led Don to this moment, as well as his future (or lack thereof) at SC&P, the paths that Joan and Peggy took this season, the conspiracy theories surrounding the show and Megan Draper’s infamous “Sharon Tate” T-shirt, among other things.
This interview has been edited and slightly condensed.
Don went in to that Hershey meeting thinking they weren’t really serious about taking on an agency, so in a way, there wasn’t much at stake for him. But could you talk a little bit more about his motivations for coming clean about his past in that setting, especially given how his colleagues were likely to react?
I think that he is not thinking about his colleagues and I think that he is in a crisis. As you can tell, he’s planning on going to California; he has quit drinking. Ted has just told him that he wants to go to California, and I think a lot of what Ted said is resonating in his mind. But our whole goal for the season was to put Don in a position where he knew whether he was going to change or not. At least looking in the mirror and admitting who he was, in some ways, was going to make him feel better, and alleviate that anxiety that he has been feeling all year — [the anxiety] that led to him destroying his relationship with his daughter, that led to him destroying his business and his role in his business.
It’s not that the Hershey meeting has no stakes. It’s that the Hershey meeting actually has a very personal connection to him. You see him get up there and just lie his head off. And we know that everything he is saying isn’t true. We were sort of building to one line the whole season, where the client says, “Weren’t you a lucky little boy?” [In that moment, Don was] looking over at Ted and realizing that he was a liar and that he had to confess. That’s what I think that was: a confession.