Matthew Weiner Has Already Heard Your Great 'Mad Men' Ending
Matthew Weiner Has Already Heard Your 'Mad Men' Ending
"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner says people have approached him since the show began to tell him how it should end -- and many of them have the same idea.
Maybe we can hazard a guess: Do they suggest someone jumping out a window?
"Yes," he laughed. "They do. People think it would be just an amazing rhyme to have that in the opening every week -- and then in the last episode have it happen."
Weiner has a different ending in mind, and whatever it is will conclude seven seasons of glasses half-empty, flawed men in flawless suits, and that poor silhouette falling, at the start of each episode, through a Manhattan that will shine on without him.
As "Mad Men" prepares to wrap its penultimate season Sunday, the end weighs heavily on viewers' minds. And with the death of James Gandolfini Wednesday, so do thoughts of "The Sopranos." Weiner was a writer and executive producer on the show under David Chase, whose cut-to-black final "Sopranos" scene remains television's most debated.
We spoke to Weiner earlier this month, before Gandolfini's passing, about his favorite TV endings, drugs, and whether "Mad Men" will be his last show.
Tim Molloy: Who on the show are you rooting for at this point? Are you in Don Draper's corner, or have your allegiances shifted?
Matthew Weiner: My allegiances? I hope it should be clear that I am not in judgment of the characters. Don is the protagonist of the show. He does a lot of unpleasant things, but he also does a lot of good things. This season is kind of about him being in a crisis. Even though I see him doing terrible things, I feel for him. I wish he could stop himself -- and he wants to stop himself.
Everything you do in the sixth season carries a lot of weight because it's the second-to-last one. Are you planting traps and setting things up to pay off next season, or are you just putting it all out on the table?
I'm putting it all on the table for this season. One of the great things about the show is that even though we do a different show every season, the writers and myself are always calling on the history of the show. We hopefully never ignore what has happened. A lot of times, things feel like they're in reference to something a while ago, and they really are. We always try to keep in mind previous relationships, and something ends up being a setup and you don't even realize it. But I would say honestly, it is so hard to do 13 episodes of the show. I wish I were smart enough to figure out how to map the whole thing out, but I really go season-by-season.
With so many people saying the show should end with a jump out the window, that must be pretty much the only thing you can't do.
It never even occurred to me. I'll be honest with you. Never occurred to me. That jump out the window was always meant to be symbolic and internal. I never meant it literally. I think it's fascinating, though—I think people think it would be cool. But it hasn't been an option. And now that we've had this conversation, I really can't do it.
Do people suggest "retirement party" a lot? A flash-forward to a retirement? That seems like one way to go.
No, I haven't gotten that. I think the whole history of series endings is an interesting study in itself. David Chase made a joke about how "Seinfeld" and "The Sopranos" should have switched endings. "Seinfeld" should have ended in the diner, and "The Sopranos" should have ended with them in jail. It is a momentous and permanent thing, and it's hard to not have a lot of pressure on it. I sort of figured out what I wanted to do about two seasons ago now, and I'm gonna stick to it. You'll have to trust me when I get there that I thought of it a long time ago. I didn't write it down and lock it in a box.