TV

Final season of 'Mad Men' deals with truth and consequences

March 25, 2014 at 6:09 AM ET

It is well known that “Mad Men” executive producer Matthew Weiner hates spoilers. When a funny movie puts all its jokes in a trailer, Weiner is deeply disappointed. From his time as a writer on “The Sopranos,” he learned that less is more. To keep his secrets, Weiner sends letters to the press with his screeners to make sure everyone is on the same page about what can be discussed about new episodes.

During a conference call with the press on Monday about the first half of the final season, Weiner was asked about his predisposition. He began saying he personally loves surprises.

“Part of it was being on ‘The Sopranos’ — how much fun it was before this whole machinery of spoilers was even in operation, to say you’re gonna sit down and you have no idea what's going to happen,” he added. “You have everybody’s full attention. You can create tension and even more importantly for our show, because the plots are not told in extremes, they're happening on a very human scale. So Don forgetting to pick Sally up at school, it’s a big story point. And if you tell this stuff, I worry that it will be boring.”

Betty Francis (January Jones), Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), Megan Draper (Jessica Pare), Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joa...
Frank Ockenfels / AMC
Betty Francis (January Jones), Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), Megan Draper (Jessica Pare), Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) star on "Mad Men."

Theme of the final season
"It's really a theme that goes for the entire season, which is about the consequences in life and if change is possible. And the things in your life that you can change or not change, when your needs are met, you start thinking about other things. There’s a real growth over the course of this last season over what are the material concerns of your life versus the immaterial concerns of your life. That’s really what the ending of the show is about."

Can someone like Don Draper really change?
"Honestly, that is the question. The great thing about this show is I have these incredibly talented writers with me where we get to investigate that question. Is making an effort enough? By announcing to the world that you’ve changed, that changes you, does it do anything else? I think what you’re really seeing is a turning inward for Don at the end of the season. It’s a turning outward to share his life with his daughter and to come clean at a Hershey meeting. But it’s a turning inward to say, ‘Oh I’ve been acting impulsively and trying not to think about what I’m doing.’ You do something bad, you want to be different, you are different, but does anybody else care?"

Don and Megan’s relationship
"I think Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) is a classic second wife, where Don is finding that he has an opportunity — maybe because she’s younger than him or younger than his first wife or he’s in a different place in his life — but he feels he has an opportunity to be seen the way he wants to be seen. The power has shifted as Megan has matured. The story of season five was about Don’s romantic fantasy being destroyed by her having a will of her own and her own dreams…If you look at his affair with Sylvia and how lackadaisical he was before she rejected him, you see a guy who is having a really hard time seeing where romance fits in his life. And love. There’s conflict in it, which I love, but I don’t think that woman is a symbol of anything other than a fresh start for him. He re-committed to her in the finale last year because he had finished with his affair and he had hit bottom with his drinking and he had to renege on his 're-proposal' to her to go to California. It really felt like he was asking her to marry him again. And he just didn’t follow through on it. Are there repercussions for that? Yes. That is the story of the season for me. I think he really loves her and he, for whatever reason, guilt, shame, a desire for love, a desire to restore that love, she is in a slightly powerful position."

Airplanes and airports in promotional materials
"A lot of this comes from me but picking the airport for the promotion, the people who are executing that, that has nothing to do with the content of the show. But are airplanes more and more important to American culture by the end of the '60s? Yeah. Mobility — cultural, social and physical — is a big story. But none of that was on my mind—not at the front of it anyway."

Stan Rizzo (Jay R. Ferguson), Michael Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) and Ken Cosgrove (Aaron ...
Frank Ockenfels / AMC
Stan Rizzo (Jay R. Ferguson), Michael Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) and Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) star in "Mad Men."

How setting of advertising panned out
"It’s been a gift. It's been a great environment. It's been great to investigate all the personalities of the workplace because they’re all there in an advertising agency. Whether it’s the people who have the commercial concerns or those who (have) creative concerns, the overlap of those two things…it yielded more fruit than I thought it would. Every time I’d think of something that was either going on in my life, or the writers’ lives, we'd be able to find something in the advertising world that could support that story. I didn't set to make a show about advertising, and on some level, it really isn’t. But as an environment to tell the story, it’s just the idea of how important buying things and selling things as an American pastime and identity."

The ending
"I want to end the story, as a writer, the way I think the story was told. And that’s what I’m interested in. It is weird that in the future if anybody’s watching the show, they will know the whole story and that’s a weird thing."

Which character he will most the most writing
"I’m going to miss all of them. That’s the greatest gift about this show. They're so different from each other, and there are so many different voices. That when you are in the mood, whatever mood you’re in, when you’re writing, you have every flavor there is. It’s hard for me to imagine not writing these characters anymore. I can't even imagine it actually. I don’t even want to think about it. That’s really the closest thing. And they're so tied to the actors that play them that the loss is something I can’t really think about."

The first half of the new season of "Mad Men" premieres on April 13. (The second half will air next year.)

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