PLEDGE NOW
Matthew Weiner on the New 'Mad Men' Season

MadMen_Don_Pete

“Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner joined us Friday to talk about the Emmy-winning show’s new season and how it’s developing.

Host Tom Ashbrook asked Weiner about the claustrophobic feeling of season one — the “box” of social restrictions that define those opening episodes — and how he sees that cultural “box” opening up. Weiner pointed out that his characters are moving through historical time, as the stuffy early 1960s give way to a new era:

TOM ASHBROOK: I wanted to ask you about the writing, let’s say, Season One versus Season Two. We’ll come to Season Three. But in Season Two you seem to open up and have a lot more sort of range in the way you approach the narrative and the characters. I wonder if you consciously felt in Season One like, “We’ve got to keep showing ‘the box'” — and how steely and hard and inescapable the “box” of that time was. Did you feel more freedom in Season Two to sort of work the edges of the world that you had described in [season] one?

MATTHEW WEINER: No… I try to do a new story every year, and the story of the first season was about Don’s identity. And it was important to constantly distinguish this personal world and this public world for all of the characters. And then I think the second season was a chance to go a little deeper internally…. And now in the third season you really get to sort of, starting over again.

I have a theme for the season. I always have an idea of what I’m trying to express. In the first season, I had this story not unrelated to Gatsby, as you mentioned, about this man who was living a lie and who was living in this world and what was good about it and what was bad about it. And I wanted it to be funny, and I wanted to see Peggy progress and Peggy succeed but also get fatter and suffer for this as she was being sexualized…. It turned out she was pregnant, which was just a story telling thing, but I had the idea of the stories I wanted to tell.

It’s interesting to hear you say it that way. It’s not deliberate. I’m learning as I go along. I’ve never done a show before. I’ve never written 39 episodes of TV before, and I’ve never been in charge. And I really just try and find my way along. I think that part of the story is that the “box” was different in 1960 than it was… Right now we’re in 1963… It was very, very different.

Weiner went on to explain that the show this fall season will continue to explore the wrenching changes in American life as the country moved deeper into the ’60s:

Season Three to me is about chaos. It’s about how people respond to change. And we’re in a period of great change in 1963, and right now. And I wanted to sort of show that the culture is in a reaction, where some people are just digging in so deep and they’re so terrified. And some people are saying, “Here it comes. Let me have it.”

You can listen to that full exchange here:

And you can listen to his full interview with Tom here.

Weiner joined us when “Mad Men” first started in 2007. It’s worth a listen if you want to learn more about how the idea for the show was initially hatched.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
May 22, 2015
Crashed cars with airbags deployed are shown to visitors as part of the display of Toyota Motor Corp.'s safety performance standards at the automaker's exhibition hall in Toyota, central Japan. (Shuji Kajiyama/AP)

ISIS rolls on. A TPP vote. Biggest recall ever – airbags. And Letterman’s last bow. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

May 22, 2015
The Barden Bellas, the all-female a cappella group at the center of Pitch Perfect 2. (Richard Cartwright/Universal Pictures via AP)

Pitch Perfect 2 is the number one movie in the country, and it’s over the top on a capella.

RECENT
SHOWS
May 21, 2015
Ships dock at the piers at the seaport town of Murmansk on the Kola peninsula in Russia. Russian authorities have detained a Greenpeace ship 'Arctic Sunrise' and 27 crew and they face charges when they arrived at Murmansk. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

The Arctic Circle is opening up at a gallop as the ice disappears. Oil, gold, armies, spies. Big opportunities and fear of the consequences.

 
May 21, 2015
In this photo taken Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, late light falls on Wheeler Hall, South Hall and the Campanile on the University of California campus in Berkeley, Calif. This famously liberal college town is known as the cradle of the Free Speech Movement, but speech isn’t the only thing that’s free here. Whether you’re strolling the redwood-shaded University of California, Berkeley, campus, or slipping across the Oakland border for a dose of Golden State history, you can exercise your limbs and your intellect without giving your wallet a workout. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

With student debt topping $1 trillion, a renewed call for radical change – maybe even free public university tuition. We’ll hear more about it.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
A Former Bike Gang Member Explains "The Life"
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Larry called in from Lawrenceburg, KY and told us he was once a member of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, a mid-Atlantic biker gang. He didn’t sugar coat the facts as he explained the draw of the brotherhood and what makes the outlaw motorcycle corner the underworld go round.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: May 15, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015

We cancel a few hours and suddenly all of you get convinced of a global radio conspiracy! Plus, dragon zoos.

More »
1 Comment
 
Caller: ‘It Doesn’t Always Turn Out Okay’
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

One caller shares her own story of an extremely premature birth. Her daughter, born at 22 1/2 weeks in 2012, was taken off life support after seven days.

More »
Comment