Matthew Weiner predicts some viewers probably won’t like the ending of Mad Men.
In a revealing interview with Esquire, the creator and executive producer of the Emmy-winning AMC series admits he’s already steeling himself for unhappy feedback when the show finally wraps next spring.
“The road has been paved for a mixed review, no matter what,” said Weiner. “I do what I’ve always done on the show and rely on the people around me. The actors, the writers and my wife all liked it, so that’s all I can go on at this point.”
But by this stage of the game, Weiner is accustomed to public critique of his time-warp series set in the sixties New York advertising industry.
“I hate to say this – obviously ending the entire series is significantly more pressure – but it’s been that way every year,” said Weiner. “I never knew if the show was coming back for most of the series, so we treated every episode 13 like it was the end. It’s very bittersweet and high pressure.”
Launched by AMC in 2007, Mad Men is the first basic cable program to win the Emmy for outstanding drama series, which it accomplished in its first four seasons.
The Mad Men timeline documenting the fictional lives of ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and other characters began in 1960 and left off in 1969 when the show finished the first half of its seventh and final campaign last May.
In the same interview, Weiner admits that before filming the very last Mad Men episode, he consulted with fellow producers who were also forced to find satisfying endings to their popular TV shows.
“Despite all that emotion, there has been this little safety net,” said Weiner. “The people at Breaking Bad, Lost, everybody told us this, too, what a safety net it is to not be off the air yet. We all know that, whatever splitting the season meant, the true ending of the show hasn’t happened yet.”
And naturally, pulling the curtain down on an hour-long drama with a large ensemble cast has Weiner feeling sentimental about the relationships with his actors.
“Certain things, like Kiernan [Shipka, who plays Sally Draper], I’ve known this girl since she was six and seeing her there and her parents on her last day…I’m getting emotional just thinking about it,” said Weiner.
But Weiner, who also worked as a producer and writer on the final two seasons of The Sopranos (including the cut-to-black finale episode that still has fans speculating), was composed enough to take home one souvenir from the Mad Men set: The bar in the office of tippling ad man Roger Sterling (John Slattery).
“Roger’s bar is the happiest bar on the show,” said Weiner. “So I always thought that would be nice.”
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