"Mad Men" grapples with identity crisis in penultimate TV season

Wed Apr 3, 2013 7:40am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Mad Men" returns to television on Sunday to find suave advertising executive Don Draper on a beach in Hawaii reading Dante's epic poem "Inferno."

That is about all the detail that Matthew Weiner, creator of the Emmy-winning 1960s-era drama, wants viewers to know ahead of the two-hour premiere of the sixth, penultimate season that he says is packed with more than its usual share of action.

Weiner, who is known for eschewing the plot leaks, trailers and teasers that promote most other TV shows, says the opening scenes capture the overall theme of the new season.

"This season is really an answer to the question (posed to Draper) at the end of last season - 'Are you alone?'," Weiner told Reuters.

"This season is about Don Draper's identity crisis and that of all the show's characters. ... It's not being caused because he is out of touch with society, or because he is old. This is his problem and society has caught up with him. The whole world is in the same state as Don Draper."

The last season of "Mad Men" ended in the spring of 1967 with enigmatic advertising genius Draper (Jon Hamm) newly married to his vivacious aspiring actress wife Megan (played by Jessica Pare), his protégé Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) departed for a rival outfit, and his New York firm on the brink of expanding after a tough financial year.

Just as the United States and much of the Western world was on the brink of big social and political upheaval in the late 1960s, so too are the characters of "Mad Men."

"Mad Men," broadcast in the United States on cable channel AMC, is credited with driving a new era of smart, complex drama on both cable and network television since it first appeared in 2007 and went on to win four Emmy awards for best drama series.   Continued...

Actors Jessica Pare (R) and Jon Hamm, stars of the AMC drama television series "Mad Men", are shown in this undated publicity photograph provided by AMC and released to Reuters April 2, 2013. REUTERS/Frank W. Ockenfels 3/AMC/Handout