Seventeen months is an excruciatingly long time to wait for anything — let alone TV’s best drama — to return, but your patience/frustration is about to be rewarded/end: The fifth season of AMC’s Mad Men finally hits the air on March 25. That’s right, the entrancing and nuanced series about ad execs in the ‘60s — which has claimed the Outstanding Drama Emmy four consecutive years — is ready to restake its claim to your Sunday nights. To mark the occasion, EW has put Jon Hamm on this week’s cover. No one commands a room, or a cigarette, quite like Don Draper. (Kids, it’s a terrible habit. Don’t start. They didn’t know what they were doing back in the ‘60s.) We visited the set and spoke with creator/exec producer Matthew Weiner along with key cast members about the upcoming batch of episodes, why that hiatus turned out to be so darn long, and what to expect from Don, who was last seen throwing us a WTF by proposing to his secretary, Megan (Jessica Pare).
“A lot of the decisions that Don makes may seem strange to the audience, but they’re going to seem strange to the people around him, too,” notes Weiner. “He is coming into middle age, which was closer to old age back then. Existentialism is a young man’s game, and you can say what you want about how death nullifies things. But when you get closer to death, it starts to become more serious, and it’s harder to laugh it off and say, ‘I’m living for the moment.’”
Fans can breathe easier knowing that they will be getting plenty more Mad moments: After some tense, protracted negotiations last spring, the show was renewed through a seventh and final season. Weiner felt that seven was the lucky number for the show to end on, and, well, that suits Hamm just fine. “I love going to work, so in that sense I could play Don for 100 years,” he says. “But I realize we’re not on a treadmill, we’re on a thing that moves forward… And so I think these things should end, and they should end the way the guy that started it wants it to end.”
For much more on Mad Men — including teases for season 5 and a look back at the first four seasons and their best episodes — pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Mar. 9. Also, remember to follow @EW on Twitter.
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‘Mad Men’ scoop: First season 5 promo is here! — EXCLUSIVE
Should Don and Joan hook up in season 5?