He calls the end of his show "a life moment" and said he's proudest of his female characters
“I had spaghetti bolognese [with wife Linda at the Chateau Marmont], and then I went home and looked at my phone and saw all these messages of love from people,” Weiner, 49, told PEOPLE Monday at the 10th Annual Global Women’s Rights Awards at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
“I didn’t go online or anything, and I just sort of fell asleep holding my phone with my wife at my side.”
The writer/director’s experience watching the finale itself, however, wasn’t so quiet.
“I celebrated with a live audience of about 1,600 people, and they were dressed up and we were in this incredible theater downtown. And it was preceded by this live reading with a lot of really great actors with one of the scripts from the first season which Jason Reitman did,” Weiner said. “Then I got to hang out with the crew, the actors, my friends, my family.”
He added: “It was a tremendously emotional experience to feel the audience react to the show. It always gets a lot of laughs when you’re in a group, which is a lot of fun, but this was a life moment, and strangely, afterward I felt better than I’ve felt in months!”
Weiner said he’s most proud that his female characters served as voices for women of the 1960s and ’70s, whom he called “pioneers.”
“I was raised by a strong woman. I have two powerful, professional older sisters. My wife is a powerful, professional woman. And I have four sons, so I haven’t been able to pass that much on – except the fact that [as a man] you’d better listen, and you’d better not act like you’re in the majority, and you’d better perceive the world as a human being and not in terms of gender,” he said.
“I’ve seen the attitude towards sexism change, and change back, and change back again,” he added. “And I’m thrilled that the show got to be an important part of a conversation about inequality, about America being a better place, about men’s voices not being more important than women’s voices, and about picking the best person for the job, and recognizing the fact that we have some abstract bias against what really is 51 percent of the population.”
• Reporting by REAGAN ALEXANDER