Matthew Weiner knows he can’t please everyone. The “Mad Men” showrunner is already prepared for mixed reviews when the final episode of his Emmy winning AMC drama airs next year. In an interview with Esquire posted on Monday, Weiner said, “The road has been paved for a mixed review, no matter what. I do what I've always done on the show and rely on the people around me. The actors, the writers, and my wife all liked it, so that's all I can go on at this point.”
For a hint at what type of ending he may have created for Sterling, Cooper and Partners, Weiner dished that he really never knew one year to the next if the show would be renewed so he tried to end each season accordingly.
“I never knew if the show was coming back for most of the series, so we treated every episode 13 like it was the end,” he revealed.
Past “ending” episodes included Season 2’s “Meditations in an Emergency,” which had Betty Draper (January Jones) telling her cheating husband Don (Jon Hamm) that she was pregnant. Of course, she had cheated too, and viewers had to ponder if the baby she was carrying was even Don’s.
Two years later, Season 4’s “Tomorrowland” had a then-single and temporarily happy Don proposing to his secretary Megan (Jessica Pare). But the episode ended with him looking pensive as he as he gazed outside at the New York sky while Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe” played in the background.
And then there was season 5, which left things on an ambiguous note when Draper, put off by his wife’s role in a commercial, sat at bar and got that familiar glimmer in his eye when a pretty woman asked him, “Are you alone?”
In other words, past seasons have signed off with open endings subject to hours of analyzing by superfans.
As for the actual series finale, Weiner told Esquire that wrapping up the show has been emotional, but he added that the split season (the first part aired this spring, the second part will air in 2015) left him with a bit of a “safety net.”
“The people at ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Lost,’ everybody told us this, too, what a safety net it is to not be off the air yet,” he said. “We all know that, whatever splitting the season meant, the true ending of the show hasn't happened yet. So yes, it will be a reunion and then after the last episode airs, that's going to be interesting.”
Of course, in an interview last year with NPR, Matthew Weiner gave another clue about the series finale. “You know the show is going to end on an ambiguous note," he said. "My God, people must be prepared for that."
That doesn’t tell us much, but it tells us something.
The final seven episodes of “Mad Men” are slated to air next spring on AMC.