Earlier today, the premiere date for Season 6 of Mad Men was announced, along with news of the opening episode being a two-hour special. Unfortunately, April 7 is a long way away, and Matthew Weiner clearly doesn’t take pity on us with his “can’t tell you” attitude (actual quote — his lips are padlocked.)
However, with enough reading between the lines of interview quotes and just a little stalking of on-set photos, we’ve been able to compile everything we do know about this season, which apparently will be too good to completely avoid talking about it from excitement.
So far, we know:
- This will be the second-to-last season, and there are 26 episodes left in total.
- But, the good news is, Matthew Weiner saved a lot of his best stuff just for this season, lest he may not have room for it in the last one: “I was like, ‘I want to save that for the last season, I want to save that; I want to wait on that’ and I was pulled aside by Maria and Andre Jacquemetton, my executive producers, who said, ‘Don’t do that. You’ve never done that before. Let’s just use all the story that we have and we’ll deal with it on the other side of it.’ It really helped. Because I don’t want to change — part of it is superstition and part of it is the only way I know how to do it.”
- The new season jumps in time (“It’s more than a week, I’ll tell you that,” says Weiner) and will parallel our lives today: “There’s always the intention to have it have something to do with the world we’re in right now,” Weiner said. “That’s only because I only can write from what I know. And for some reason or another, this season feels particularly related to where I feel that we are right now, as a country and as a society…. There’s been a bit of a blow to our self-esteem. None of the economic realities of the ’60s, of any of the years that we’ve done the show, reflect what’s going on right now. It was really a boom time for the economy, for job creation, and American industry. But I think that the social order, the blow to our self-esteem and turning inward as we deal with the loss of something. The loss of our — Now I’m being super-vague about it. I’m not prepared to talk about it.”
- None of the cast has been let go, which means Peggy and Betty are definitely coming back, and that theories of Pete committing suicide are wrong. “I never said to anyone that Elisabeth was leaving the show. I just said that the character was moving on and you’ll have to watch,” says Weiner. He also debunks all the suicide rumors surrounding Pete, who was pretty gloomy last season (and after Lane hanging himself, well, who knows?) “I don’t see Peter Campbell as someone who would ever commit suicide. He is very judgmental about mental illness. He eventually said it in Episode 13 that he views it as weak, and that was already written and shot when all of this hubbub started.”
- The last 10 minutes of the season 5 finale foreshadow more than you realize. To jog your memory, the last scene involved Don at a bar, with a woman asking him if he’s alone — and we never hear his answer. No doubt this is highly indicative of the internal struggles he faces in his marriage to Megan. “Is he going to try and repair that relationship? Is going to move on from it? I can’t tell you,” Weiner says. “I would love for people to just watch the last 10 minutes of Season 5 right before Season 6 starts. I think you’ll have a really incredible experience as we get there.”
- In fact, a lot of this season will focus back inside Don Draper, instead of looking at him from the outside. Just when we thought Don would propose to Dr. Fay back in Season 4, he ended up asking Megan (only an ambitious secretary/weekend babysitter to him at the time) for her hand, resulting in a lot of nearly-smashed-in TV sets and one of the most unexpected turns the show has ever taken. “[The audience] thought he was dealing with psychological demons. He was trying to stop drinking. And all of the sudden he asked Megan to marry him in this very impulsive way and he had this goofy smile on his face, and they’re like,
‘I don’t know him anymore,’” Weiner explains. Now, with the Draper’s marriage on the rocks, and Don possibly returning to his philandering ways, at least we’ll find him recognizable again.
- Don and Megan, despite potential marital issues, will have a lovely vacation in Hawaii, and Don will serve as a witness to a mystery couple’s wedding on the beach.Or so the pictures tell us.
- Jon Hamm and John Slattery will direct episodes. Hamm made his directorial debut in Season 5, and Slattery already has three episodes under his belt.