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BBC Culture: Matthew Weiner: Mad Men’s creator on its final episodes

The creative force behind the period drama talks about where his characters are as his show begins its final episodes. “We left off with everyone’s material needs being met in an extreme way,” says Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner of where we last saw the characters on his critically acclaimed period drama when the show went on hiatus 10 months ago. “Then the issue is, what else is there?” That is the central question with the return to US TV of the AMC hit, one demanding to be answered by both the show’s characters, and its creator whose success is the envy of the television industry. Mad Men has been a defining part of Weiner’s life for the last 15 years. He wrote the pilot script on spec while he was a staff writer on CBS’ Ted Danson sitcom Becker in 1999, using it to land a writing gig on HBO’s The Sopranos in 2002. It would take another five years, filled with multiple rejections, before the first episode of Mad Men would make it on the air. Someone with less determination or vision

BuzzFeed: "Halt and Catch Fire: AMC Has Found A New Don Draper And He’s Ginsberg’s Worst Nightmare"

The Lee Pace–led Halt and Catch Fire , set in 1983 Dallas, offers up a pitch-perfect pilot about ambition, greed, and visionary dreamers at the heart of the tech revolution. At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, "AMC Has Found A New Don Draper And He’s Ginsberg’s Worst Nightmare," in which I review the pilot episode of AMC's new period drama Halt and Catch Fire , which begins Sunday at 10 p.m. Mad Men has made the world safe for period dramas: Nearly every cable network seems to be launching a time capsule program (and quite a few broadcasters have tried and failed) designed to penetrate our cynicism and trap a bygone era in amber. As Mad Men, the blue chip iteration of the period drama, wraps up its seven-season run, Showtime’s Masters of Sex and even Penny Dreadful, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and AMC’s Turn have sprung up in its shadow. Which brings us to AMC’s latest deep dive back in time, the ’80s–set computer drama Halt and Catch Fire (which begins June 1

BuzzFeed: "The Midseason Finale Of Mad Men Is One Giant Leap Forward"

Don’t be fooled: Matthew Weiner’s period drama has always been about the future. Warning: contains spoilers for “Waterloo.” At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, "The Midseason Finale Of Mad Men Is One Giant Leap Forward," in which I review the midseason finale of AMC's Mad Men ("Waterloo"), which represents a giant leap forward for the characters and for the show itself. For a show about the past, Mad Men has always been about the desperate pressing of the future against the figurative glass. In looking back to the 1960s, the show has held up a tarnished mirror to our own society, our own failings, our own future. A moon landing is full of promise; an old man lives just long enough to see the impossible made possible. Old ways — and the literal old guard — slip away. Companies perish and new ones are formed. Alliances, once fractured, are renewed. This dance is eternal, the combustive pressure between the past and the future, between cynicism a

BuzzFeed: "Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner On The Show’s Jet-Setting Final Season"

The mastermind behind AMC’s period drama tells BuzzFeed what to expect from the final go-around with the ad men and women before the April 13 premiere. At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner On The Show’s Jet-Setting Final Season," in which I talk to Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner about the seventh and final season of the AMC period drama. Over the course of its last six seasons, AMC’s period drama Mad Men has taken the audience into the inner lives of the damaged ad men and women who glide through the 1960s often on a volatile mix of booze, self-loathing, and bad behavior. In the hands of its creator, Matthew Weiner, the show has offered a window into the souls of these characters, offering up their flaws and their virtues, their successes and their losses. With the show concluding next year, it does feel as if it’s the end of an era, both for its network AMC and for the television landscape as a whole, as well as Weiner, who

BuzzFeed: "This Breaking Bad Alternate Ending Must Be Seen To Be Believed"

Was it all just a terrible nightmare? Malcolm in the Middle ’s Hal may have eaten too many fried Twinkies before bed, according to a new DVD extra. [UPDATED] At BuzzFeed, you can check out my latest post, "This Breaking Bad Alternate Ending Must Be Seen To Be Believed," in which I take a look at an alternate ending for AMC's Breaking Bad , one that invokes Newhart and, well, Malcolm in the Middle . Fans of AMC’s Breaking Bad continue to mourn the death of the antihero drama in their own unique ways, but thanks to this DVD extra — from the Breaking Bad: The Complete Series DVD box set, out November 26 — fans of the science-wielding antihero have yet another chance to imagine a different fate for Bryan Cranston’s Walter White. In this case, an alternate ending to the show itself, which — heavily borrowing from the iconic ending of Newhart (which referenced the earlier The Bob Newhart Show ) — imagines that the entire narrative of Breaking Bad was a dream exper

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner on the Season Finale"

The AMC series’ season ender offered upheaval in the lives of SC&P’s employees. I speak with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner about the finale and what’s next. Warning: Spoilers ahead! At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner on the Season Finale," in which I speak with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner about the sixth season finale, going overboard, that look, California, and much more. Not since the end of Season 3 has AMC’s Mad Men—created by Matthew Weiner—ended a season with as much physical, emotional, and psychological upheaval as it did in Sunday night’s episode (“In Care Of”), which closed out the period drama’s sixth and penultimate season. Written by Weiner and Carly Wray, the final episode restructured some of the show’s key underpinnings: Don Draper (Jon Hamm) spilled the truth about his awful childhood in front of his partners and clients; Megan (Jessica Paré), Pete (Vincent Kartheiser), and Ted Chaough (Kevin

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men: Who Is Bob Benson?"

The truth of who Bob Benson is was finally revealed on Sunday’s episode of Mad Men . My take on the revelation and how it connects to Don Draper. Warning: spoilers ahead! At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men : Who Is Bob Benson?" in which I offer my take on this week's episode of AMC's Mad Men and what the true identity of Bob Benson (James Wolk) means for the show and Don Draper. “I used to wonder how you were so expertly servile.” On Mad Men, James Wolk’s eager-to-please ad man Bob Benson—a sort of golden retriever in an impeccably preppy suit who was always ready with an extra cup of coffee or a deli platter for a funeral—offered one of the season’s most hotly discussed mysteries, second only to whether Jessica Paré’s Megan Draper would be murdered. Theories were rampant. Was the perpetually chipper up-and-comer, who inexplicably seemed to materialize at SCDP (later renamed SC&P), a spy from a rival agency, an undercover reporte

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men: The Bizarre Megan Draper as Sharon Tate Conspiracy Theory"

Is Mad Men ’s Megan Draper about to be murdered à la Sharon Tate? Internet conspiracy theorists say yes. My take on the rumors and what the show’s costume designer has to say. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men : The Bizarre Megan Draper as Sharon Tate Conspiracy Theory," in which I examine the current Internet conspiracy theories swirling around Mad Men 's Megan Draper and see what the show's costume designer, Janie Bryant, had to say about the star t-shirt and more. On AMC’s Mad Men this season, Megan Draper (Jessica Paré), the actress wife of Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, has had some success in her own career, landing a meaty role on an ongoing daily soap opera where she’s now playing twins Colette and Corinne. In this week’s episode (“The Better Half”), Megan took to the balcony of the Manhattan apartment she shares with her adulterous husband. Nearby, Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) has accidentally stabbed her boyfriend, Abe (Charlie Hofheimer

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men Season Premiere: Matthew Weiner on the ‘The Doorway,' and More"

Hawaii, hell, and heart attacks! Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner discusses Sunday’s sixth-season opener (‘The Doorway’), Don’s quest for paradise, Betty’s transformation, and more. Warning: spoilers abound! Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men Season Premiere: Matthew Weiner on the ‘The Doorway,' and More," in which I talk to Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner about the sixth season opener ("The Doorway") and some of the themes, questions, and characters within. “Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.” Mad Men ’s sixth season started with a bang, with the season opener (”The Doorway”) offering us a look into the psyche of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), flitting between a doorman’s near brush with death, the weight of mortality, and the bliss of paradise, in this case the hot, white light of Hawaii. Throughout the two-hour opener, a jumping-off point for issues of

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men Returns: A Recap of Season Five"

Can’t remember what happened to Don, Peggy, and Joan? Ahead of its sixth season premiere on Sunday, I bring you up to speed on what happened last season on AMC’s Mad Men . Plus, read our review of the Season Six premiere . Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men Returns: A Recap of Season Five," in which I round up all of the important plot points of Season Five of Mad Men in order to get you ready for Sunday's premiere. Season Six of Mad Men begins Sunday evening at 9 p.m. with a stellar two-hour premiere, 10 long months since we last traveled back in time with AMC’s devastatingly elegant period drama. In that time, your brain may have erased precious details about what happened to Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in the dentist’s chair, whether he and “Zou Bisou Bisou” chanteuse Megan (Jessica Paré) repaired their marriage or ended it, and just what Joan (Christina Hendricks) did in order to secure herself a seat at the partners’ table. What ha

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men Season 6 Review: Triumphant, Lyrical, and Way Existential"

Mad Men ’s Don Draper returns for his penultimate season on AMC Sunday—and he’s as down in the dumps as ever. I write about the dark mood hovering over the show’s brilliant sixth season. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men Season 6 Review: Triumphant, Lyrical, and Way Existential," in which I review the fantastic sixth season premiere of AMC's Mad Men , which returns on Sunday at 9 p.m. for its penultimate season: "Don isn’t so much a person as a reflection, a shadow, the wet ring left on a bar by a glass of Scotch." Spoilers are funny things. It’s tricky enough to write about a show without delving into the plot mechanics, and even more so when you can’t even touch upon certain aspects of the plot in even a cursory way. But that’s always been the case with AMC’s Mad Men , which returns for its sixth—and penultimate—season on Sunday at 9 p.m. Creator Matthew Weiner wants to ensure that even the most quotidian of details a

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men: Creator Matthew Weiner Shares 10 Facts About Season 6"

Mad Men returns on April 7! I talk with creator Matthew Weiner about what to expect from Season Six of the period drama, from a time jump to Don and Megan’s marriage. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men : Creator Matthew Weiner Shares 10 Facts About Season 6," in which I talk to Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner about what lies ahead for Don Draper and the staffers of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in Season Six of AMC's Mad Men. Hold on to your period-appropriate hats: AMC’s Mad Men will return for its sixth season on Sunday, April 7 at 9 p.m. with a two-hour premiere, the network announced today. (The Emmy Award-winning drama will settle into its regular time at 10 p.m. ET/PT the following week, with an episode directed by series star Jon Hamm.) “To be able to continue exploring the stories of these characters for a sixth season is an amazing opportunity,” said series creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner in a statement. “We lo

The Daily Beast: "Denmark's Leading Export: Sofie Gråbøl, Star of Forbrydelsen"

Sofie Gråbøl may not be a household name in the U.S., but around the globe she’s now legendary for her performance as Sarah Lund in the Danish television drama Forbrydelsen . At The Daily Beast, I explore Lund’s appeal and the sensational third season of the original The Killing , which premieres on BBC Four in the U.K. on Saturday. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Denmark's Leading Export: Sofie Gråbøl, Star of Forbrydelsen, " in which I explore both Sofie Gråbøl and Sarah Lund’s appeal and the gripping tension of Forbrydelsen III . It is tragic that American viewers have been denied the chance to become obsessed with Forbrydelsen and with the show’s magnetic star, Sofie Gråbøl. The Danish detective drama exemplifies the power of the provocative and globally significant Nordic noir genre, and the show's lead delivers one of television's most haunting performances of the past decade. Gråbøl, 44, has achieved cult status in Britain and

The Daily Beast: "Homeland Sweeps the Emmys: Why Showtime’s Thriller Exploded"

Mad Men is triumphant no more. I examine Showtime’s superlative terrorist thriller Homeland , which took home the Emmy for best drama Sunday. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Homeland Sweeps the Emmys: Why Showtime’s Thriller Exploded," in which I take a look at Homeland 's victory at the Primetime Emmy Awards last night and look at why the premium cable drama toppled Mad Men . Not only did Mad Men not win the Emmy Award for best drama, the AMC period drama went home empty-handed Sunday, leaving the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards with not a single statuette in its possession. In the weeks leading up to the awards telecast, Mad Men seemed very much like a sure thing: it had won four of the four times it was eligible for Best Drama, and the odds seemed very much in its favor once more. In fact, Showtime’s Homeland—the taut psychological drama that also nabbed best-actor and -actress awards for Damian Lewis and Claire Danes—had cooled in

The Daily Beast: "Best Drama Race: Will Mad Men Make History?"

The race for the Emmy Awards’ top drama prize is fierce (hello, Downton !). Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Best Drama Race: Will Mad Men Make History?" in which I assess the field to see whether Mad Men will make history with a fifth win. Can Mad Men could do the impossible on Sunday and win a fifth Emmy Award for Best Drama? After walking away with the statuette four years in a row, all eyes are on AMC’s Emmy darling, which could make history with a five-time win. Currently, Mad Men shares the record for most Best Drama wins with such notable programs as Hill Street Blues, The West Wing, and L.A. Law, all of which were crowned victors four times. But a win at Sunday’s 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards would make Mad Men the undisputed drama record-holder, no small feat for a show that is about to go into its sixth season—reportedly the show’s penultimate—and whose loyal viewers are considerably dwarfed by HBO’s and Showtime’s entries. Ma

The Daily Beast: "TV's New Prostitute Fixation"

When Mad Men 's Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) received her indecent proposal this season on the AMC period drama, viewers were sharply divided about her actions within the controversial and polarizing episode. But Hendricks' Harris is emblematic of a larger trend within television this year: the virtual proliferation of prostitutes within scripted dramas. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "TV's New Prostitute Fixation," in which I examine the sudden proliferation of prostitutes on television, from Game of Thrones and Crimson Petal to True Blood and Copper , and what may be behind the trend. On BBC America’s period drama Copper, which premiered on Sunday, the first person encountered by Kevin Corcoran, the 19th century New York City policeman played by Tom Weston-Jones, is a child prostitute who promptly offers to “pleasure” him in exchange for coin. No more than 10 years old, Copper’s Annie (Kiara Glasco) acts as a conduit t

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men: Matthew Weiner and Christina Hendricks Dissect 5 Scenes From ‘The Other Woman’"

Mad Men ’s creator Matthew Weiner and star Christina Hendricks go deep into five pivotal scenes from the Emmy-nominated episode “The Other Woman” in the second of a two-part conversation. Read Part 1 here . At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men : Matthew Weiner and Christina Hendricks Dissect 5 Scenes From ‘The Other Woman,’" in which Weiner and Hendricks discuss five scenes from Season Five's controversial Joan-centric episode, "The Other Woman." In Mad Men’s controversial fifth season episode “The Other Woman,” Christina Hendricks’ Joan Harris is offered an indecent proposal: sleep with the head of the Jaguar dealership association and receive a partnership in Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Over the course of the episode, Hendricks’ Joan battles with the decision, ultimately choosing to sell her body for a seat at the table next to the men. In Part 2 of a two-part deconstruction of “The Other Woman,” series creator Matthew Weine

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men: Matthew Weiner & Christina Hendricks on ‘The Other Woman,’ Part 1"

Season Five’s ‘The Other Woman’ was a controversial, polarizing episode of Mad Men . Show creator Matthew Weiner and star Christina Hendricks offer an oral history of the heartbreaking, Emmy-nominated Joan episode, the first of a two-part conversation. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men : Matthew Weiner and Christina Hendricks on ‘The Other Woman,’ Part One," in which I talk to Weiner and Hendricks about the controversial Joan-centric Season Five Mad Men episode, "The Other Woman." (Part Two is slated to run tomorrow.) Among the topics covered: the thematic undertones within the episode, Peggy's departure, and what would happen if the writers put Christina Hendricks' Joan Harris and Jon Hamm's Don Draper together. AMC’s Mad Men has never shied away from uncomfortable or challenging circumstances, but Season 5’s “The Other Woman”—during which Emmy nominee Christina Hendricks’s Joan Harris had sex with a potential clie

The Daily Beast: "The Rise of Nordic Noir TV"

The Duchess of Cornwall is just one obsessive viewer. Nordic Noir—embodied in Scandinavian dramas like The Killing, The Bridge , and Borgen —have become cult hits in the U.K., and are about to become the go-to formats for American TV pilots. I explore the genre’s appeal, its breakout female characters, and why audiences in the U.S. are unlikely to see many of them in their original form (but it is possible to see them!). Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "The Rise of Nordic Noir TV," in which I explore why these Scandinavian dramas have become cult hits in the U.K., how they are ripe for American adaptations, and their universal appeal. While AMC’s The Killing has been dumped in a trunk to die like Rosie Larsen, its progenitor, Denmark’s Forbrydelsen, continues to slay viewers around the globe on the strength of its moody wit and strong-willed protagonist. Forbrydelsen (in English, The Crime) became a cult hit in the United Kingdom when it air

The Phantom: Thoughts on the Season Finale of Mad Men

"Are you alone?" I had a feeling that there would be some discontent among the viewers of Mad Men when faced with the finale of Season Five, after such a breathtaking and momentous episode as last week's "Commissions and Fees," which saw the death of one character and featured startling and concrete change. Airing directly after, the season finale ("The Phantom"), written by Jonathan Igla and Matthew Weiner and directed by Matthew Weiner, could feel a bit anti-climactic. To me, however, "The Phantom" offers a necessary coda for the fifth season, paying off the season's diverse themes and allowing the viewer to see the after-effects of the suicide of Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) on both Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the firm as a whole, exploring the ways in which we seek out what we believe will offer us happiness--however temporary or fleeting--in order to assuage the rot inside us. Once we achieve the thing that we dreamed about and want