‘Mad Men’ creator Matthew Weiner ’87 speaks extensively with The Atlantic magazine about the show ahead of its final season’s premier. He discusses the evolution of several of the show’s main characters, including which characters are audience favorites; his philosophy in writing dialogue; the real-life drama that inspires his writing; the era of the anti-hero; and the possibility of redemption.
“When the first episode of ‘Mad Men’ aired, in July 2007, Weiner’s hope was to have the show renewed for enough seasons to cover the entire decade of the ’60s. Since then, we’ve followed the characters from the suburban ennui of the early part of the decade through the turmoil of 1968, a span that includes the introduction of free love, Hare Krishna devotees, wide lapels, and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. By now, Weiner has lived with these particular characters long enough to have the ‘meta-experience, if you go back and watch the first season, of nostalgia.’
“…[In the final season] whatever happens to Draper will take place against the backdrop of an era Weiner clearly sees as disappointing, in which hopes are deflated, various hypocrisies are laid bare, and cynicism eventually reasserts itself. ‘The chickens are coming home to roost,’ he says. ‘The revolution happens, and is defeated,’ in 1968. ‘There is cultural change, but the tanks roll into Prague, the students go back to school.’ All of that leads to the era Weiner witnessed as the child of a liberal father in the 1980s…”