What We Know About 'Mad Men' Season Five So Far

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The long delayed fifth season of AMC's Mad Men, TV's current Best Show, finally premieres in three weeks, meaning Mad madness is kicking into high gear. But what do we really know about what's about to arrive? Well, not much, unfortunately.

AMC has released this season five "preview" that isn't much of a preview at all. Sure we hear some vague generalities from show creator Matthew Weiner and some of the cast, but what are they really saying? Nothing, really.

If you want to do a little art-analysis guess work, you could try to dissect the recently released promo poster that features a chapeau-clad Don gazing into a store window. The lady mannequin is naked while the man mannequin is dressed in leisure wear. Is this a nod to Hugh Hefner? Might some sort of Playboy something be in the offing? Is Don living a life of comfort now that he's engaged (or married) to his French-Canadian secretary? Does she not own clothes? There are a million (non-) clues to be gleaned from this. And series creator Matt Weiner has promised, "By the end of the season, I guarantee you’ll know what it is about." So, consider the fifth season spoiled.

There had been some speculation, by us at least, about how much January Jones would be on the show this season, as her character Betty is divorced from Don and not really central to the story anymore. (Well, she is, but not as immediately as she used to be.) But it appears that yes indeed we will be getting plenty of Jones' frozen cardboard stylings, at least if this "Betty Is Back" ad isn't misleading us. So that's kind of exciting! Jones might not be Uta Hagen exactly, but Betty Draper is a great, complicated weirdo of a character that we want lots more of.

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Perhaps the most concrete info we have about the upcoming season comes from an interview that Weiner did with Alan Sepinwall, in which he dropped some vague nuggets when asked what the season's themes will be:

It's hard to boil it down, and I always preface it with that, but the things that were on my mind were a couple of things. One is one that I realized it turned out as we got through it, but it's really every man for himself. We've talked about how life isn't fair before on the show, but that realization that you really have to deal with your own problems by yourself, and other people are not interested, and that self-interest can be a surprise, especially if you're trying to be good. And then the other thing is, and it really kept coming up -- the line is in the show in episode 3 -- is, "When is everything going to get back to normal?"

So that doesn't really say all that much, of course, but that "every man for himself" line is repeated by Jon Hamm in a Vulture interview, so either Weiner and Hamm coordinated interview talking points together or it really is a prevalent theme of the season. This could mean more fights, more rifts, more firings, more alienation, more secrets and anger and sad bartering and all that other stuff that makes this show good. Though, really, when hasn't it been "every man for himself" in the cold wilds of Manhattan and Ossining?

Maybe someone can divine something from the five episode titles currently listed on IMDb. The two-hour premiere is called "A Little Kiss," which could mean the ad agency is going after the chocolate market. (It almost certainly does not mean that.) Meanwhile, "Mystery Date" sounds the most exciting to us -- we're assuming that Sally gets the board game? Eek, Sally the teenager! (Or at least almost-teenager.) Sally liking boys! It's all awfully scary, but also intriguing.

Finally, these pictures from the set show Don and his new lady in some kind of fight. So, shockingly, it would seem that not everything is sunshine and roses in the new season. But, we ask again, was it ever?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.