Matt Weiner Interview, Part 4

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I remember all this stuff.  And I was kind of like, god, I’m a person.  Which is a very 22-year old thing to say but hearing my father say “them” I thought ohh this is very playboy, very 1961.  You’re a gentleman.  You open doors for women but it’s not the same thing.   But of course he’s a real lberal, he’s a doctor for poor people.  He always was.  At a  public county hospital.  Just a real do gooder.  That generation, there’s a bunch of doctors who read Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith and they went out there to help people. 

He’s an amazing physician but for me the idea that every woman I knew had the same desires that I did was…well, it was by the person, it was about people.  That’s where I came from.  In the show when you start seeing how these people are trapped.  And they’re just regular people like Peggy.  Who is an ambitious person, obviously.  But she wants to be told what to do.

Mary:  The scene between Peggy and the other copywriter when he suggested she could be a copywriter. And then her weak moment w/ Pete…

Matt:  Peggy lets Pete into her apartment.  Because she cannot believe that he noticed her.  She is a 22 year old girl. And you can put as much ambition on that person as you want to but this man NOTICED her.  He took TWO trains out to see her.  I’m sorry but that’s HOT.  That is desire.  Who would NOT want that.  I don’t care who you are.  Even for one night.  And the consequences are immaterial.

We can say that she wants to get ahead and she hits on her boss and they got rid of Eleanor, and Mr. Draper was tired of her, and you have to do what you want to do.  But she didn’t let that man in because she’s some genius who thinks he’s going to help her w/ her career.  He NOTICED her.  She cannot believe it.  And when he’s talking to her about her clothing.  I hate to believe that there’s a woman in the world, even in the way he says it, who would not on some level think “I cannot believe he’s looking at me this way.”

THAT is where I live.  And the concept of the irony you’re getting and I wanted to address this on the panel, the idea that the audience knows something that the characters don’t.  I’m constantly trying to establish scenes where the audience knows the character has something else on their mind and then letting them act it out.  There’s no more pleasure for me in the world.  Especially when you have a character like Don [Draper] who has such a terrible temper, is frustrated and kind of outraged.

And you talk about him as a man, why does he not want his wife to see a psychiatrist?  One some level he’s afraid that she’s going to find out he’s unfaithful.  But the truth is he doesn’t like people talking about themselves because it’s not right.  And he really sticks by that.  And it’s an insult to him as a provider and a husband that this woman is unhappy.  Because he does love her.  It may be paternalistic but he does love her.  He wants that to work.

Mary:  But there is something terribly missing in the relationship.  There’s another side to Don Draper that really craves liberation.  Setting a series at such an interesting point when the culture is on the cusp of another big shift.  And that’s set out so well when Draper’s wife opens up the drawer in a friends bathroom and there sits a diaphragm….

Matt:  She was snooping.  But the divorced woman, by the way she behaves, she has everything she wants.  That woman is getting to have sex w/ whomever she wants.

Mary:  I remember thinking, oh, I didn’t know they had diaphragms in the late ‘50’s!.

Matt:  There are a lot of mistakes in the show but that diaphragm case is period.

 [laughter]

 Mary [laughing]  Everybody has a secret.  What else do you think critics may have missed about the show?
(click here for part 5)

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