Interview with Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner

In celebration of the beginning of Season 3, here is a link to an interview […]

David Browder / 8.18.09

In celebration of the beginning of Season 3, here is a link to an interview with Matthew Weiner, writer of the television series Mad Men (my favorite show of all time). Below are two of the most poignant questions and answers:

Q: Is there a fixed moral center to the show, or does it shift?

A: There’s a fixed moral center of the world, and we all deal with it the way we can — the same way the characters do. And there’s a lot of embracing of it, a lot of moments of superiority, and a lot of moments of rationalization. I’m trying to imitate our experience. Whenever we talk about other people’s moral issues, it’s very clear to us. But I think for ourselves there’s a lot of wavering, a lot of relative morality. Anybody who has a clear picture of what’s right and wrong uses it to judge other people. And a lot of times when we come to our personal situations we’re pretty loose. Or we just feel guilty and horrible about what we do. Peggy gave that baby away because she had to, she had to, she had to. But how do you judge her? I don’t know. That’s what I’m interested in: Here’s the objective standard of what’s good and bad, and here’s the way we behave.

Q: What is the one thing you really wish someone would ask you in an interview that no one has yet asked?

A: It reveals more about me than it does about the show, but I am always surprised that no one asks me why I was writing about Don Draper. [Laughs] I think it’s about admitting the most negative qualities in yourself and how you overcome them. I’m not some crazy philandering guy; I don’t look like Don, but I was definitely struck with the idea of the confusion that sets in about feelings that you have from when you’re single and ambiguous feelings about family and all these institutions that you’re craving. I guess people think that the story was so sexy I just couldn’t resist it. [Laughs] The story is pretty sexy, but I’ve always identified with Don and Peggy and all of those characters. They’re multiple sides of my personality, and I’m thrilled there’s an audience out there that’s not threatened by investigating what’s wrong with us. And that’s why there’s no judgment. A lot of entertainment is about making you feel that you’re OK. That’s what Don says in the Pilot. But life is more complicated than that.