Exactly a week ago, the Paley Center in Manhattan featured a panel with the cast of Mad Men. Fans and the media filled in every sold out seat in the main theatre and the second floor. Despite seeing the festivities through a screen, this was one of the best panels I have ever attended anywhere.
Mad Men’s ensemble cast and crew was represented by the creator Matthew Weiner as well as actors Jon Hamm, Jessica Paré, John Slattery, January Jones, Vincent Kartheiser and Kiernan Shipka. Brian Williams, best known for anchoring NBC Nightly News), shed his serious side and showed his fanboy colors as moderator. Very few secrets for future episodes were revealed, but here are the questions and comments fans will be most interested in:
“White men in suits did just fine”
This quote from Weiner stuck with me long after the discussion turned away from the way 1968 will be protrayed this coming season. The social unrest, anxiety over the future of the country, and the growing anti Vietnam sentiment will be important themes in the rest of Season 6. Most of the characters will be insulated from the worst of the social turmoil, but they will still feel the anxiety of the times.
Pete the Skunk
Kartheiser tried very hard to defend the indefensible parts of Pete’s personality and actions. He believes Pete is seeing behind the curtain of Don’s work habits. This season for him is more about controlling Don than becoming Don or exceeding his achievements.
The End Of Mad Men
Don’t Rank The Mistresses
Jon Hamm refused again to answer which of the many women Don has had affairs with was the best or the favorite. He believes Don himself doesn’t even have the ability to judge his experiences in that way. Hamm did point out that many people believe Rachel Menken from Season 1 was different from the rest. Rachel was the only one who did not know Don was married.
The Big Mistake
Mad Men’s writers rarely make factual errors, but a throwaway line in ta recent episode ended up making headine news. Joan tells a friend she will make reservations at Le Cirque, but the iconic Manhattan restarant did not exist until 1974. Weiner apologized profusely for the error and also noted that the reaction shows how much of an impact Mad Men has on current pop culture.
“Why Did Lane Have To Die?”
This was the first question from the audience, and it is by far my favorite because it was the same question I would asked Weiner if I had the chance. He revealed that Lane’s tragic suicide at the end of last season fit with his cultural background. British expatriates were under enormous pressure from family and others to suceed in whatever venture they pursued. Failure was unacceptable, and those who failed could not go back. Lane chose death before facing the consequences of his mistakes and dealing with expectations that that did not match the results.
Sunday’s episode already highlighted some of the trends mentioned at the panel. I’m defnitely looking forward to the rest of Season 6 as well as to the next major Paley Center event.
This “Mad Men” Paley recap was widely shared via Twitter/direct clicks. This was also my all time favorite panel I’ve ever covered because Brian Williams was an amazing moderator.