Overanalyzing Mad Men Teasers Has Always Been a Losing Game

By  · Published on February 20th, 2015


Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s relentless dedication to concealing any and all details about his beloved television series before a new season arrives – like even the year it takes place! even the year! — has spawned a fervent dedication among his fanbase that has turned regular ol’ TV fans into genius-level sleuths. People want to know what’s going to happen on Mad Men (even if, just maybe, they really don’t – spoiler culture and all), and they’re willing to do a lot of legwork to dig up the details. Here’s the problem, though: most of those frequently well-crafted theories don’t pan out (no matter how good they are, damn you, Manson family, for not offing Megan in spectacular fashion), at least the ones based on Weiner-approved pieces of marketing disseminated to the entertainment-loving public in advance of a new season.

Like teaser trailers.

Mad Men’s final season (or, more accurately, the final half of the show’s final season) will kick off on April 5. The last seven episodes of the series are already being billed as “The End of an Era,” an appropriate enough title for the finale of any series, but one perfectly suited to Mad Men. In support of this final run, AMC has started gently trickling out pieces of marketing material, from galleries of new stills (as ever, the outfits, my God, the outfits) and a new teaser trailer.

This one, to be precise:

As The Huffington Post points out, that little slice of vintage goodness is set to Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover,” a song that didn’t hit the airwaves until March of 1976. When we last left our mad men, women, and children, it was 1969. Wait, what?

It’s okay, because as much as Weiner adores hewing close to history, he has always taken great liberties with his anachronistic musical choices, as this piece from The Atlantic illustrates. Even the the clothes our various characters are wearing aren’t too much to go on, despite their seventies feel. Perhaps everyone has gone cutting edge (well, except for Don), but perhaps it also doesn’t matter much, considering the long history of Mad Men teasers not telling us a damn thing about the work to come.

Here, take a look at a teaser from the first half of the seventh season:

What does that tell you, that everyone will get addicted to drugs during the latest run? Didn’t happen (despite a few well-timed forays into recreational drug use for a few players, though it certainly didn’t inform the entire season).

What about season six? This teaser was all about everyone looking slightly bored at a formal event:

Season five teased Don just doing Don (and marrying Megan, easily the biggest reveal to ever hit a teaser for the show):

The fourth season was all about action verbs! Drinking! Screwing! Starting (new agencies)!

This promo for the third season would have us believe that Roger Sterling was dying and that Pete Campbell’s hairline wasn’t an issue:

The second season? Honestly, AMC could play this teaser right now, and it wouldn’t be entirely out of place in season seven:

These teasers do just that: they tease. And that’s what the Mad Men team loves most.

A handful of other shows have inspired similar levels of investigative devotion – most recently, HBO’s True Detective pushed both ardent fans and intrepid members of the press to dig for any and all info regarding what was happening during its first season and what we could expect to see in its second (and, yes, I briefly fell down the rabbit hole of wondering what the hit series’ next installment could have in store for us) – but even just one season in, it’s pretty clear that all those theories won’t pan out, just like with Mad Men. That’s not to say it’s not fun, but digging for material can rob the final, finished, and real product from actually satisfying its most dedicated fans.

Still, the desire to engage with material like Mad Men and True Detective remains strong. In June of 2013, I considered a series of then-favorite Mad Men fan theories and the probability of them panning out. So far, a couple of them actually have – shocking! – though we’re still dying to see Don become an American folk hero, though that’s not what has made the show pleasurable. Back in May, I wrote about how some of SC&P’s (very real) accounts were going to fare, historically speaking, from the Chevy XP to Burger Chef, all in the hopes that such an investigation could give us some insight into the trajectory of the firm itself (final verdict: kind of mixed, really). It was a fun exercise, but it did not add to my enjoyment of the show itself in the slightest. Being able to yell, “I knew it!” at your television is a temporary fix, the real entertainment, however, comes courtesy of the show itself, big mysteries and all.

Though, yes, we could stand to know the year. It’s 1976, isn’t it, Weiner? You mad man! The time jump! The time juuuump!

Mad Men begins its final run on April 5.