After already leaving an indelible mark on the television world with his award-winning and oft-copied series Mad Men, the show’s creator Matthew Weiner admits he has been thinking about the future of Donald Draper and how the show will end its storied run.
While chatting with Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) in front of a live audience for Jeff Garlin in Conversation With… the writer and producer spoke frankly about a multitude of topics, but, as is likely always the case, Weiner was mostly asked about his AMC program Mad Men. Perhaps most surprisingly is the way he addressed his approach to the inevitable finale of everyone’s favorite period drama.
Following the lengthy and tumultuous contract negotiations with AMC – that led to the series taking an extended hiatus before starting up season 5 – Weiner essentially let it be known that Mad Men would call it quits after seven seasons. So, naturally, knowing that the end is drawing ever nearer, Weiner has begun to focus his attention on the destination that will certainly be scrutinized long after Mad Men has left the airwaves.
After being asked by Garlin if he had an end point in mind for the series, Weiner has this to say:
“I do know how the whole show ends. It came to me in the middle of last season. I always felt like it would be the experience of human life. And human life has a destination. It doesn’t mean Don’s gonna die. What I’m looking for, and how I hope to end the show, is like … It’s 2011. Don Draper would be 84 right now. I want to leave the show in a place where you have an idea of what it meant and how it’s related to you. It’s a very tall order, but I always talk about Abbey Road. What’s the song at the end of Abbey Road? It’s called ‘The End.’ There is a culmination of an experience of people working at their highest level. And all I want to do is not wear out the welcome. I was 35 when I wrote the Mad Men pilot, 42 when I got to make it, and I’ll be 50 when it goes off the air. So that’s what you’re gonna get. Do I know everything that’s gonna happen? No, I don’t. But I just want it to be entertaining, and I want people to remember it fondly and not think it ended in a fart.”
Now, before you go worrying the last episode of Mad Men is going to feature Jon Hamm’s dapper duds replaced with a pair of high-waisted Dockers and some orthopedic shoes, it’s highly likely Weiner is being purposefully indirect in his description of the show’s end. For one, Weiner has always been notoriously tight-lipped about the direction his series was headed; so to think he’d spill the beans on the finale (in front of a live audience, no less) is nearly preposterous.
Additionally, more than any other program, Mad Men has long been about looking toward the future – not in the sense of how the show’s central characters will look and act, some forty-years from when it takes place, but in how the themes each episode explores have, directly or indirectly, dictated our world today. Perhaps Weiner is merely summarizing thematic intangibles intended to demonstrate the long road that brought us to where we are.
Whatever the case, it’s good to hear that Weiner is being proactive in the plotting of what will be the final three seasons of Mad Men. The narrative running through the show these last four seasons certainly deserves to go out in style – and for Weiner to commit to a ‘destination’ means the episodes leading up to that will have the proper chance to build something that is emotionally resonant and rewarding.
Mad Men season 5 will premiere on AMC sometime early 2012.