'Mad Men' casting cuts? Who could you not live without?


Image Credit: AMC

There’s trouble brewing at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and AMC are at loggerheads over his next contract, and the cable station announced today that season 5 of the Emmy-winning series, once hoped to arrive this summer, will be delayed to 2012. The two parties remain at odds over creative issues related to monetizing the revered but modestly-rated series, and some reports claim that AMC asked Weiner to ditch two characters in a cost-saving measure. Everyone in last year’s cast is under contract for season 5, but after that, who knows?

If true, I’m immediately in Weiner’s corner — no matter that he refuses to take a reported $30 million offer that would make him the highest-paid showrunner on cable television. If there was ever a series that made the most of a deep cast, it’s Mad Men. Take, for example, affable Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton). He was missed when he was left behind after the break-up of the original ad agency, making his return in the middle of season 4 like greeting an old college chum.

Of course, there are minor characters that don’t drive the story, but if the network is asking for cast cuts, it’s not going to be Secretary #3 who gets pink-slipped. It’s going to be someone at the top of the payroll. Clearly, our flawed hero, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), is not going anywhere, but looking far into the future, which other characters are most essential to completing the journey? Who’s non-negotiable? I can’t imagine a Mad Men without Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Don’s protege and moral conscience. Self-righteous Pete Campbell (Vincent Cartheiser) is indispensable as Don’s sometimes-foil, and I can’t imagine the series without Christina Hendricks’ Joan, with her Sphinx-like smile and weary worldliness. They all need to be there at the end — whenever and wherever that leads.

Who are your non-negotiables? Who needs to be there at the bitter(?) sweet(?) end?

Read more:
‘Mad Men': Season 5 airing in 2012
‘Mad Men': Season 5 likely to be delayed
January Jones on ‘Mad Men’ future: Relax, people!
‘Mad Men’ returning for season 5, says AMC
Matthew Weiner on his expired ‘Mad Men’ contract: ‘I am not looking for a new job’

Comments (134 total) Add your comment
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  • darren72

    I think January Jones’ Betty could gracefully bow out and not be missed. I like her character but her role seems more symbolic at this point rather than vital to the storytelling. I think her storyline with her new husband is a bit of a snooze and has run its course. Would hate to see anyone go but if I had to pick from the main cast it would be her. Sophie’s choice wasn’t so tough.

    • Mireille

      Agreed and possibly Roger if they use this long break to give him a fatal heart attack.

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      • Vivienne

        Roger better not be going anywhere. Where would the show be without Roger’s humor and one liners? He is essential to the show. Not to mention John Slattery is hot as hell.

      • joey

        Especially since Joan is about to have his kid. Roger has to stay around.

    • Matt

      Yeah, I’m surprised that I agree with you (Betty used to be one of my fave characters), but you’re right; considering the trajectory of the show, I don’t think Betty is necessary anymore.

    • anonymous

      I agree. I think Betty’s departure would be one of the least disruptive options available.

    • Eric

      I like losing Betty, but that likely means no Sally & that is a dealbreaker for me.

      • Anna

        If they kill-off Betty, Sally would have to move in with Don and his new wife. That means more Sally.

      • Ally

        They wouldnt have to kill Betty- just not show her anymore. Im sure they could still bring Sally around to stay with Don- they usually have a nanny who takes them everywhere anyway

      • Two ideas

        Yep, I have been encouraging them to lose Betty for years now. Past that, I would hope it could be Pete, but I know it won’t be. They could probably drop Bert Cooper for peanuts as he is not in every show anyway, so that would not be enough of a cut. Luckily with Draper married (again) maybe they won’t have to work in so many sets for his dates. Plus if Betty is gone (and Henry too) then the kids go to Don and we would benefit from that interaction again. Weiner really should get his act together and just figure something out. I think the additional ad placements and losing 2 minutes of each of the 13 episodes would be the easiest way to make everyone happy. Regardless, Weiner is now making another name for himself with fans and the industry, and it is not “genius” this time around…

      • Alan

        Betty makes the most sense but I totally agree with Eric! Sally is way more important to stay, she superb in her role.

      • Keep U Hands Off

        Drop the new wife! That is doomed to fail anyway!

    • Bill C.

      ITA. Betty is totally forgettable and Sally’s getting to a great age to give Don fits. Great suggestion!!

      • Flo

        I disagree with getting rid of Betty. Yes, her character is often extremely unlikeable. But, she’s still one of the most fascinating characters on the show. And her relationship with Sally is incredibly complex and interesting. The only characters I could stand to lose would be Harry and Ken.

    • Mr. Holloway

      Yeah, I think January Jones is great as Betty, but the character already began to be somewhat marginalized last season. (She wasn’t in entire episodes a few times.)

      If they HAVE to cut someone, that (and Henry Francis) would be an easy one to make, but I’d rather keep them around because I like going outside the halls of SCDP every once in a while. (And Betty and Henry’s marriage was compellingly train wreck-y.)

    • angelcop74

      I totally agree. You need, Peggy, and Pete, and i cant imagine the show without Joan, but Betty was on her way out as soon as she left Don.. Even though her relationship with Sally is very interesting in it’s disfunctionality, and i’d like to see where it goes, there’s no guarantee we’ll ever see that anyway..
      Besides, she’s been in a few movies this year, one of them being the New X-Man movie, which if it’s good, will rocket her somewhere else entirely.

      • angelcop74

        D’oh! “X-Man?!?! hahah oops.

    • jared4ever

      TOTALLY, Betty could leave and I wouldn’t miss her much.

  • Laura

    I need Betty to be there, I really want to see her character develop. I know not many people like her, but I missed her this last season.

  • ally

    I could do without Pete’s wife

    • Matt

      Whoa!!! She is beautiful, and rounds-out Pete’s character. Without her, I think Pete would really break-down.

      • ally

        And wouldn’t it be great to see that break-down? If she ever found out about Peggy and their child, she’d leave in a min – a good way of getting her character off, and bringing back that storyline.

      • betsybug

        Plus, as someone else pointed out, she’s on Community.

      • E

        I love the relationship between Pete and his wife, and would really miss it. They’ve developed into one of the healthiest and most supportive couples on the show, which is not at all what I’d have predicted.

      • dipstick

        I think that price would not be missed. wish they would bring back sal.

    • MCS

      No way, if there is one minor character who is necessary it’s Trudy

      • Peaches

        agreed and i don’t think we are talking minor her anyways. they r talking main characters and i really don’t want anyone to go. but if they had to get rid of someone i would say betty. january jones is not that great of an actress to me

    • Mr. Holloway

      Hell’s bells, ally! Take it back!

      Seriously though, I’m not even sure if she counts since she only pops up a few times per year. Plus, as others said, I LOVE her with Pete.

    • Kendra

      I agree about Trudy. I think this is a way to introduce a great storyline for Pete. He was extremely underused last season and his relationship as is with Trudy is not very interesting.

    • Carol

      No, not Trudy! I love her.

    • Gogina

      Islam is actually about peace and farretnity . Are you kidding me? Yes maybe for some people it is but like Christians they pick and choose in their scriptures. The Koran says, Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. (Surah 9:121-)Peace and farretnity my ass.

  • robert

    ally is correct. i too could live withoutjanuary and her old husband

    • Nick

      Thats not who she is talking about, but Darren is, ally is refering to the character played by Community’s Allison Brie

  • commentor

    No one. I couldn’t live with anyone being cut. Well, except for creepy Glen (not a principle, I know.)

    • Vivienne

      Glen is played by Matt Weiner’s son. So, I don’t think that kid’s going anywhere.

  • Mr. Mom

    Getting rid of Betty would ruin a major point of the show for me. Ditto Roger. But I could do with a LOT less of Sally. A lot. Ditto Glenn, and any other child characters. I’m bored with them. It would be sad to lose Bert, but it seems like it would be a natural to kill him off from a story line arc. I think Don should also lose his new wife! It would be hilarious if we came back a year later and she had already left him! I guess since we’re cutting characters there is no way we can get Sal back. But I feel Don’s work has really suffered since Sal was cut loose.

  • Jan

    Miss the Betty-Megan battle? No way. That is going to get UGLY in a good way.

    • z

      I know, they have to go along with that storyline.

    • Jacq

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  • Elizabeth

    Betty and her new husband are no longer interesting. Pete and his wife have potential to be interesting. Get rid of Pete’s rival who was recently hired on, (can’t remember his name) and BRING BACK SAL!!!! He was the best part of the show.

  • betsybug

    Couldn’t he kill off Cooper? I don’t want to kill Roger unless I know Joan went through with the abortion. It seems from a timing perspective that Cooper could go.

    Or he he not considered a regular?

    • Fan

      Cooper quit last season — maybe for good?

    • Jared

      Joan kept the baby. We found out in the season finale when she was telling her husband about it. (And you could figure it out before then, because they clearly set up the idea that if she had another abortion, she would be unable to have kids ever again, which was something she wanted eventually.)

  • ABC123

    January Jones and the kids gots to go first, second and third.

    • Elizabeth

      …and 4th don’t forget the baby. He ain’t gonna do anything interesting.

  • dee

    In the 60’s and 70’s, most divorced men’s families just faded into the background of their lives. Men remarried and the focal point was their new family. This should be reflected in the show.

  • TheDude111

    The Scientologist

  • NMO

    I would kill off Bert Cooper and fire Ken Cosgrove, neither of whom added much to last season.

  • JC

    Get rid of Bert, the kids, and Betty’s husband.

  • tracy bluth

    could do without: betty, henry, bobby, gene, jane
    couldn’t do without: everyone else
    also, bring back sal!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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