Saying goodbye to a beloved TV show is so hard. Get your cocktails ready. The nostalgia-fueled 1960s drama Mad Men — featuring a menagerie of flawed-yet-fabulous characters anchored by Jon Hamm’s enigmatic Don Draper — slips off into the sunset this spring.
The final seven episodes of Mad Men left to air begin on Sunday, April 5th at 10 p.m. on AMC, and will wrap up its run with the series finale on May 17th.
After seven seasons of brooding, boozing, womanizing, and coping with a monumental identity crisis, how will it all end for Don Draper?
Bio spoke with Mad man Jon Hamm about the series ending, to which he naturally began with, “I can basically tell you nothing,” because the show is notoriously sworn to secrecy about any and all plot details. But he did offer that he found the finale “satisfying.”
“It was pleasing to have a satisfying ending, and to have an ending,” Hamm told Bio. “It’s a story; it needs to have an end. If there’s no end to the story, you never get to go to bed. So it’s nice to go to bed.”
Indeed, Hamm took some time to “decompress” after the series wrapped, which we later learned included a trip to rehab for alcohol addiction at the end of February.
“Yeah, I’m thrilled that it’s ending,” Hamm joked earlier to TV critics during a January press conference in Pasadena. “So looking forward to being unemployed for as long as I’ll be unemployed. I’m so happy not to see any of these people ever again. Hash tag sarcasm.”
More seriously, Hamm added: “There’s no version of this ending that is not super painful for me and mostly it’s because of these people [his castmates] and this person [pointing to series creator Matthew Weiner] because they’ve been the single constant in my creative life for the last decade.”
What will he miss the most? “All of it, everything,” said Hamm, who endured seven auditions to land the part of advertising executive Don Draper. Did he take any mementoes from the Mad Men set? Nope. “I took nothing from the set other than memories, and they were delightful.”
Series creator Matthew Weiner knows the pressure is on to pull off a series finale that the fans will also find satisfying. Some shows do it well (Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under); some do it not so well (Dexter, Lost); some do it so controversially that it will be debated until the end of time (The Sopranos)…
“I’m extremely interested in what the audience thinks,” Weiner told reporters during the press conference, “so much so that I’m trying to delight them and confound them, not frustrate and irritate them. I don’t want them to walk away angry.”
“But I don’t want to pander to them,” he continued. “Sometimes people have to be protected from what they want to see happen and the story has to have its own organic thing. You just can’t give them everything they want.”
What viewers will get are seven solid episodes that make an impact in some way.
“There’s a uniqueness to each of the episodes,” Weiner said. “Each one of them feels like the finale of the show.”
In the second half of this final season, which was split into two parts airing over two years, “The shows are more concentrated on these characters. We’re going to focus on our main people,” Weiner explained, so fans can expect to see all six original cast members get their due as they tie up the loose ends on the lives of Don, Peggy, Joan, Roger, Pete and Betty.
January Jones, who plays Don’s ex-wife Betty, says she was “a mess” during the final few weeks of filming. “It was very emotional,” Jones told reporters of reading the final pages. “I kind of knew a little bit of what was going to happen in the last script, but it was hard. It’s a beautiful story. It’s perfect in a way, and I read it over and over.”
“By the way, the script was delivered incomplete,” Jones added. “The last like ten pages weren’t there, which was really F’d up.”
“It was surprising to the end,” added co-star John Slattery (Roger Sterling).
Due to the nature of Mad Men – it’s a character study and a chronicle of an era – there aren’t too many burning questions that need answers in the finale (though we’re still rooting for Joan and Roger to reunite and are a little curious if Peggy will ever see her and Pete’s baby again), and no overarching mysteries that need solving (no, Megan will not suffer a Sharon Tate fate) – except for maybe one: Who is the man falling off the Manhattan skyscraper in the opening credits of the show and has it been foreshadowing Don Draper’s death all this time? Or is it just symbolic of Don’s downfall from season to season? Will he be redeemed?
“It’s modeled after me, yes, it’s my body that’s animated, it’s Don Draper…” Hamm told us. “It’s an incredibly evocative 30 seconds that starts the show, and hopefully we live up to it.”
Mad Men airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on AMC, beginning April 5th.