Mad Men may have ended in 2015, but everyone’s favorite AMC show about ad agencies in the 1960’s is still very much a part of our pop culture and the zeitgeist of our last decade. That being said, it’s getting to be time for a rewatch — after all, it’s almost been five years since the show ended, and it’s been over a decade since the show originally started in 2007.
As you’re rewatching Jon Hamm as Don Draper making mistakes and “living” the “dream,” make sure to look out for the little details about the ad agency that you never noticed the first time you watched the show through all those years ago.
10 The Lawnmower’s Turning Point
It’s hard to forget season 3, episode 6 of Mad Men, entitled “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency,” or, as many people refer to it, the Lawnmower Episode. In this episode, a handsome, brand-new, leading-man type character is introduced, possibly to overthrow Don, become the new star of the show, who knows! However, the episode’s conclusion comes after everyone in the office drinks far too much, and his foot is run over with a lawn mower. Matthew Weiner actually said his intention was to change the entire show with this moment, which you probably didn’t know: having a man come in to usurp Don without actually usurp him actually changes things without literally changing them.
9 Comedy of Kartheiser
Vincent Kartheiser, the actor who plays Pete Campbell, one of Don’s annoying coworkers that everyone loves to hate, is a master of physical comedy. Tragically, Pete Campbell is pretty much the opposite of a physical guy, and so the fact that Vincent Kartheiser is actually a very physical actor remains a secret. For example, remember when Pete was blackmailing Don in the first season, and Don came at him? Kartheiser gave a great physical response through his body language! The same goes for the moment in season 5 when Lane challenges Pete to a fight. What a waste of Kartheiser’s talent!
8 Vincent’s Secret Hairline
Everyone involved in Mad Men strove for the utmost of accuracy. This not only includes details like what major global events happened when in the 1960s, or what outfits certain people would wear in certain regions at certain times, but also specific character details. You probably never noticed, but Vincent Kartheiser actually physically changed his hairline to properly play Pete Campbell. He shaved his hairline back further than his hair actually was so he could give Pete a more anxious, envious air to him when he was among his thicker-haired friends at the ad agency.
7 Since Season One
Though [spoiler alert!] Lane dies by suicide in season 5, episode 12, “Commissions and Fees,” this was a long time coming for showrunner Matthew Weiner. From season one onward, Lane was something of a foil to Don, or maybe a natural opposite. Whereas Don Draper is a chameleon in the show, excellent at advertising because of his never-ending ability to adapt to interacting with pretty much anyone and anything, Lane is completely incapable of that sort of change.
Even beyond this, though, Matthew Weiner had the idea for so long because he’d heard of a story of a man hanging himself in his office so close to the door his coworkers couldn’t get in — just like Lane Pryce does.
6 Period Props
Little you might know, but every prop in the ad agency in Mad Men is period-accurate. The prop departments not only put their backs into a great deal of difficult research, but also went about the hard work of either finding the props themselves in the forms of antiques, or, when worse came to worst, actually recreating period-accurate props to use on the show, which they ended up needing to do quite often. As a result, though, the ad agency is full of tiny little hidden details prop-wise that create a very real 1960s environment.
5 Same for the Sets
If the props are all period-accurate, but the sets are a total mess, it won’t matter how good the props are! That means the set department for Mad Men also had to make sure that every inch of every set and every stage used in the show were just as period-accurate as the props. That means that, when you see the interior of the ad agency while watching Mad Men, you’re seeing sets that countless people put countless hours and days of effort into creating, making sure that every last detail would be accurate to a real 1960s ad agency. Go, crew! The unsung heroes of television.
4 Not Actually in New York
You could probably guess that Mad Men isn’t filmed in New York, since so few shows short of Saturday Night Live (“And live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”) are actually filmed in New York. You’d be right; Mad Men filmed all its scenes inside the ad agency at Los Angeles Center Studios in downtown Los Angeles, California. This twenty-acre studio held most of the major Mad Men sets.
Well… we say all the ad agency scenes were filmed there, but that’s not true. What you actually never noticed about the ad agency is that the first episode was filmed in New York! Season 1, episode 1, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” was filmed in and around New York City. Specifically? Silvercup Studios.
3 A Family Affair
A lot of the cast and crew of Mad Men actually have familial ties to one another, believe it or not! For example, showrunner Matthew Weiner used his own son, Marten Weiner, as the actor to play the child Glen Bishop, who has a weird dynamic with both Sally Draper and Betty Draper. This isn’t the only family tie on the show, though! Remember Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell? His real-life wife, Alexis Bledel, played his lover, Beth Dawes, later in the show, before he divorced his wife, Trudy Campbell (expertly played by Alison Brie). Want another real/show couple? Actor John Slattery, who played main character Roger Sterling, was married to the actress who played his wife (for some of the show) Mona Sterling, Talia Balsam.
2 Matthew Loves Don
Many people love to hate Don, or hate to love Don, or have many mixed feelings on Don Draper. Regardless of your feelings on Don Draper, showrunner Matthew Weiner’s mind will not be swayed: he loves Don Draper, and he wants that to be felt every time Don is on screen, even in the ad agency, when he’s putting on the big ad man persona. Matthew Weiner is known to confess that the secret of show lays in loving Don and not judging him, but simply witnessing him.
1 The Last Line Came First
Though Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson, had already been acting for nearly twenty years when she started on Mad Men, but the show rocketed her to well-deserved stardom. In spite of this, though, she could never plan more than a few episodes in advance, because she was very vocal about the fact that the actors only got their scripts one episode ahead, a couple days before they were actually going to film those episodes. What you may not have known, though, is that Matthew Weiner knew the last line long before he wrote the last episode, and he knew it wasn’t going to take place in the ad agency!