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Mad Men, 10 years on: Creator Matthew Weiner reflects upon the series

'There was a lot more laughing than you can tell from when you watch the show'

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 19 July 2017 15:17 BST

It's hard to believe but Mad Men, the beloved period series from the mind of creator and showunner Matthew Weiner, began ten years ago today.

The series, which won 16 Emmys, starred Jon Hamm as protagonist Don Draper, the esteemed Creative Director of a New York advertising firm at the heart of the series. Surrounding Draper were characters who became regular fixtures in people's homes, including Don's wife Betty (January Jones) and colleagues Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks).

Across 92 episodes which aired over seven seasons from 2007 to 2015, Mad Men - a term the show suggests was coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue in reference to themselves - tracked the changing face of 1960s culminating with a series finale - deemed one of the golden age of television's finest - set in the winter of 1970 showing Don finally at peace.

Jon Hamm in the final moments of 'Mad Men'

Weiner last year contributed to an official companion book about the series filled with notes he wrote in its preparation, and while promoting it reflected upon the legacy of his show (which side note: features one of the greatest opening credits sequences of all time).

When asked if he feels at peace with the show, he said: “I've made peace with it. The interesting thing for me is at this point, if I watch any part of it, I don't see the equipment anymore, I don't remember the editing room anymore, I don't really remember writing it anymore. I remember all the people and everything, but it has become its own thing, which is something time does to you.

“But the strangest thing was, we did it one year at a time. And while you can see [from the notes] that I always had a plan, I don't even think I knew that I could, even with the help of 500 people, execute that plan. And so you watch the show, the issues, as we picked a story for each season, which was something unusual, I'm super proud of the fact that we never repeated ourselves. I don't think we ever repeated ourselves in an episode, never told the same story twice, which is a lot of effort. I'm super-proud of the fact that there's no murder, or procedure, in it. Which was disturbing initially to the people who paid for it. They're like, 'Well, who's the client this week?' And I'm like, 'There isn't one!' So there's no formula, but the reality is, I look back on it and say, one year at a time, you can see all of us learning, you can see all of our lives changing.

“So it's kind of like reading someone else's diary, to look at the show. Some of it's embarrassing... it's not perfect, obviously, and everyone who worked on it was a perfectionist, so I always say, that means you feel like you're failing, all the time. That's what perfectionists are like. But I stand by the heart of all of the people involved. We had an amazing time; it was really fun. There was a lot more laughing than you can tell from when you watch the show. But people did it with an earnestness that I would never criticise it at this point.”

Mad Men airs weekdays at 8pm from 19th July on AMC, exclusive to BT.

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