Mad Men, Season 5
Rich Sommer on the one time he disagreed with Mad Men’s writers.
Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) of Mad Men
That thing with Joan has never been forgiven by anyone. I still get yelled at on the street for that. And it speaks interestingly to your question about whether anything has ever felt not-quite-like-Harry.
I hope I don’t get fired for telling you this, but as the story behind that episode was originally explained to me, Harry was embarrassed by Joan. He chose not to work with her to punish her. That, to me, felt weird. I mean, who am I to say? I don’t write the guy. Maybe Harry is actually a secret agent, pretending to be a hapless Head of Media. Maybe he was abused, and that led to him never being quite comfortable enough in his surroundings. Maybe a billion things that the writers know, but I don’t. But when I got the rewrite of that episode, and Harry merely failed to notice that Joan was the perfect person for the job, it felt a little better. Harry can be stupid, but he’s not malicious. So far, anyway.
Other than that, there have been almost zero times that I’ve disagreed with the writers. And again, I didn’t really disagree with them then. It was just, “Well, they must know something I don’t know.” Which is always, always true. They know tons of stuff I don’t know.
It can be hard not knowing what’s around the corner. I really had no idea Paul Kinsey was not going to make it out of Season 3. Frankly, I don’t know episode to episode whether Harry is going to keep his job. Sure, I’ve worried about Harry’s future. We saw what happened to Paul, who was not great at his job. (Michael Gladis was great at his job, but Paul wasn’t. To clarify.) Harry has made some boner moves in the past. I can think of a jillion off the top of my head. But I think his job successes outweigh his mishaps. Don doesn’t like him, as Megan said in Episode 1 this year, and Don showed in Episode 3. But he’s an asset to the company. No one else has the contacts he has. He got into TV at the right moment, when there were few enough people around that he could get to know all of them. That has proved pretty valuable, I think. I am fairly confident that, in his own socially awkward way, he will continue to be successful for quite a while.
I do follow many of the week-to-week rumblings about the show. I love hearing what people think about particular moments. I read about some people interpreting Harry’s pitch to Joey as a flirtation. I mean, um, no. Harry was, as you said, just trying to use every angle he could to get on the phone with the folks in L.A. It’s like when I find an interesting news story, and I call my agents and say, “Did you see that thing on Slate? Crazy, right? Also, is there any work for me in the universe?” That’s how I took it, anyway. Best case, he brings the people at Peyton Place a new face, and he’s a hero. Worst case, he gets on the phone with them and reminds them he exists.
And like you’ve never gotten drunk and worn a boa. I’ve done it. And I’ve done far worse. Ask anyone I went to college with. Or grad school. Or any bar, ever.
Oh, and the furniture. You’re right: Harry and Roger don’t have the same decorator. And I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that neither of them had even a modicum of input on their office decors. You might want to check with Jennifer and Jane on that one.
Rich Sommer plays Harry Crane on Mad Men.