Anxiety awaits in sixth season of 'Mad Men'
This publicity photo provided by AMC shows Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene of "Mad Men," Season 6, Episode 2. “Mad Men” returns for its sixth season Sunday, April 7, 2013, on AMC with 13 new episodes. Series Creator Matthew Weiner says he plans one more season for the 1960s drama. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the first episode of the first season of "Mad Men," Don Draper's next-in-line affair, Rachel Menken, hears his brutal philosophy: Love is nothing more than an ad man's myth, and everyone is born alone and dies alone.
Stack up five years of equivalent cynicism and unfulfilled dreams and the result is a drama with a core of shattered glass, dazzling but menacing.
As the series returns for what creator Matthew Weiner says is the penultimate season, he's asking viewers to embrace other, more comfortable concepts: belief and trust.
They must believe that he knows what they will find satisfying for Don, Peggy, Pete and the other souls of "Mad Men," and trust in his vision as the AMC drama returns 9 p.m. EDT Sunday with a two-hour episode.
That he's putting his characters on the knife's edge of dread may not make that trust any easier — especially since Weiner believes we are living uneasily with a 21st-century version of their 1960s mindset.
"This season is very much capturing what's going on right now, in a strange way," Weiner said. "I think we have been thrown into a state of individual anxiety, based on being disconnected from events outside our control," including economic disarray.
The writer-director paraphrases a line from Sunday's episode that he deems key to the sixth season: People will do anything to alleviate anxiety.
This publicity photo provided by AMC shows Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene of "Mad Men," Season 6, Episode 2. “Mad Men” returns for its sixth season Sunday, April 7, 2013, on AMC with 13 new episodes. Series Creator Matthew Weiner says he plans one more season for the 1960s drama. (AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish)
If that's intriguing but maddeningly cryptic, that's how Weiner wants "Mad Men" to be approached pre-debut. No spoilers, not even a hint of what happens, when it happens and whether Don finally is taking the institution of marriage to heart.
But if Weiner won't talk about what the season is, he's at least willing to say what it's not.
"It's not about Lane's suicide. There is no eulogy for Lane. It's not all about Joan and the Jaguar guy," he said.
The references are to two of last season's more startling twists: the hanging death of ad agency partner Lane after he's fired for theft, and Joan's prostituting herself, under pressure, to win the luxury car account for the agency.