The TV Watcher’s Guide to Mad Men


Mad Men, created by Matthew Weiner, a former Sopranos writer, enters its third season this Sunday night on AMC. The show, which was recently nominated for 16 Emmys for its second season that aired in summer/fall of 2008, follows New York City ad-man Don Draper (Jon Hamm) through his trials and tribulations both professionally and socially. Join us below as we look ahead to what season three might have in store for all of your favorite Mad Men (and dames)…

The Characters:

Don Draper: Born as Dick Whitman, Don found a new life for himself by stealing someone else’s during the Korean War. As Draper, he rose quickly through the ranks at Sterling Cooper Ad Agency and is now the Creative Director and Junior Partner for the organization. He’s got a wife and two kids (with a third on the way), but that doesn’t stop Don from having many, MANY extra-marital affairs.

Betty Draper (January Jones): Don’s wife. Slightly crazy. Attention-craving. Trophy wife. In season 2, Betty grew into her own as a more independent woman after kicking Don out of the house (during which time he had an extended affair with a free-living minx in Los Angeles). Betty had an affair with a stranger before inviting Don back in to her home to help raise a third child alongside Sally (the oldest) and Bobby (the cutest).

Peggy Olsen (Elizabeth Moss): Started out as Don’s secretary/assistant and eventually became one of his employees in the creative dept. She had a baby with co-worker Pete Campbell and gave the baby up for adoption. She finally told Pete about it at the end of season 2, during a scene that will probably earn her an Emmy. Peggy struggles to balance the independent-woman-in-the-working-place side of her while still being extremely vulnerable to the actions done by the men around her, including her priest (played by Colin Hanks).

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser): A young account executive who was once gunning for Don’s job until eventually siding with Don to overthrow last season’s power struggle with “Duck” Phillips. He has a wife who can’t conceive children, which is making it hard for Pete to establish himself in the workplace. Kartheiser’s portrayal of Pete is unique–he plays the role as if he were knowingly imitating Rock Hudson or some other screen icon, thinking that the way you see men being MEN in the movies works in real life. He has some deeply-rooted social problems which make him come off as awkward or heartless which I hope will be delved into this season.

Roger Sterling (John Slattery): The “Sterling” of Sterling Cooper, he is a charming and engaging employer that is more hands-on with the workers (especially with the secretaries) than co-partner Bertram Cooper. He is also a womanizer and an alcoholic who recently left his wife of 20+ years and is now engaged to the 20 year-old Jane (super, duper hot).

Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks): The head of the secretaries who constantly has to find a new woman to sit in front of Don Draper’s office (since he goes through more secretaries than Spinal Tap does drummers). She has a serious affair with Roger, who ended up not leaving his wife for her, but for Jane, and in season 2 was even engaged. Hendricks is the resident bombshell in Mad Men–she is curvy and flirty and walks like Marilyn Monroe. Her character does a lot of funny stuff but Hendricks plays it as straight as possible, forcing us to take her talent seriously. Expect to see more fireworks and flirtatious bickering between her and Roger this season.

Harry/Sal/Paul/Ken: Other account executives who usually get a combined one side plot per episode. These are the men that answer to Don. Paul Kinsey (Michael Gladis) is arrogant and pretentious, but is so willingly. He has no furniture in his apartment, but he does have expensive conversation pieces. Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton), in addition to being an account exec, also fancies himself a writer. Sal Romano (Bryan Batt) is secretly a homosexual who fancies Ken Cosgrove. His wife Kitty has suspicions, but very little screentime has been utilized to showcase Sal’s true feelings. The writers and directors and Batt do a terrific job of selling Sal’s closeted homosexuality without being too forward. Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) is kind of a twerp. He created the TV Dept in an effort to be recognized by management and laments in how much extra work it has created for him.

How Season 2 Ended:

See this nice recap:

Expectations for Season 3:

Season 3 picks up in the middle of 1963. Betty is expecting a baby any day now. The British have bought out Sterling Cooper (and there will be lay-offs). The Beatles and JFK should play a big part. Marijuana might make an appearance here and there. Roger is still engaged, so that means the lovely Jane will be around for at least a little while longer to foil our heroin Joan. But we can stare at both of them. That’s a win-win if ever there was one.

Mad Men Airs at 10/9c beginning this Sunday night on AMC.

Josh is a multi-tasker. He's been a cubicle monkey for the last few years, a veteran stage actor of over 10 years, a sometimes commercial actor, occasional writer of articles, a once-legend in the realm of podcastery, purveyor of chuckles in his homecity of Chicago as he has trained with the world renown iO (Improv Olympic) and Second City Conservatory and performed with both theaters, and can be seen doing a thing that actor's do on the website of his online sitcom, LackingDirection.com. Josh also likes to tackle the beef of his bio with one run-on sentence, because it befits his train-of-thought.

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