Matt Weiner Talks About Mad Men's Finale

Interviews with a point.
June 11 2012 4:23 PM

A Conversation With Matthew Weiner

The Mad Men creator on the season finale, Joan's big decision, and how Pete Campbell takes a punch.

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Slate: If this is the kind of pragmatic decision Joan makes, how come she turned down Roger’s offer to take care of her baby financially?

Weiner: I think her relationship with Roger is over. She does not want what comes along with that. We tried to make that as clear as possible. She does not want his money or his involvement. With that comes Roger back in her bed.

Slate: Do you think Peggy needed to leave to the firm to get the respect she felt she deserved?

Mad Men (Season 5).
Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss)

Photograph courtesy AMC.

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Weiner: Freddie says it to her: She was always going to be Don’s secretary. And the fact that she and Don are close emotionally—it means that she’s family and she’s the person he can behave that way to. It’s never going to be the way she wants it to be. This is one of those things—like Betty sleeping with that guy in the back of the bar during the Cuban missile crisis—where, like it or not, this is the kind of person she is. This is what we created and this is what had to happen.

Slate: In last night’s season finale, what did Don see when he watched Megan’s screen test? What did you hope to convey in that scene?

Weiner: It’ll mean different things to different people.If you watch these screen tests, they’re always silent. And I looked at a bunch, from Marilyn Monroe to James Dean, and you get this sense that you’re getting a really good look at somebody’s private self. And I thought it was a chance for him to evaluate her and his feelings for her and make a decision. He realizes how badly she wants this—and how unhappy she is.

Slate: He seemed disappointed last night that she was giving up on theater and film to do a spot—had he come around to supporting her artistic ambitions?

Weiner: Don is still annoyed at the fact that she rejected advertising. The same way he was when they want to see America Hurrah. I think he is appropriately defensive about this idea that what he’s doing is not valuable, and he found it ironic, on some level, that now that she wants to be an actress it’s OK to be in an ad, when she thought it was below her in some way before that. I really do think it’s that ugly. It’s a real sacrifice for him to then put her in this ad because he’s right that it doesn’t work that way: It is compromising his position to just say “Oh I’m going to put my wife in it.”

Slate: I’m curious about the source of Pete’s unhappiness this season. My sense had been that he and Trudy had found a measure of happiness together in Season 3.

Weiner: We were always talking about how he definitely had the strongest marriage of anyone. They’d sort of grown into each other, especially after he had slept with the au pair and Trudy basically says, “You’re not going to do that anymore.” And he says, “You’re right.”