Mad Men in the '70s? We Speculate What Could Happen
While Mad Men fans won’t know for sure until Sunday’s premiere, it’s been widely speculated online that the second half of the show’s final season won’t pick up where the first half left off. In fact, it may skip ahead to the 1970s.
It may seem hard to imagine Mad Men in any time period other than the ’60s, but how else to explain those outfits? Or the trailer’s use of Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover,” which debuted in 1976? And most importantly, what will happen to our beloved but broken characters in this new decade?
We let our imaginations run wild.
Don (Jon Hamm)
“Technology is a glittering lure, but there is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash.” Yes, it’s the Kodak carousel pitch again, but this time it’s to court the lucrative Pong account. Don gets it, but the victory leaves him unfulfilled.
Later, a drunken midday matinee results in Don missing the point of Chinatown and suddenly nostalgic for L.A. There, he re-reinvents himself as Dick Whitman and lands a job selling used cars, where he feels ever-so-slightly better about himself. Most tellingly, he finally loses the part in his hair and grows his locks perceptibly longer than they’ve been since 1960. For Don Draper, this is progress.
Peggy (Elisabeth Moss)
As New York City crime increases, Peggy’s neighborhood gets worse. It’s only when her next-door neighbor turns out to be the Son of Sam killer that Peggy finally picks up and moves to New Jersey.
A string of successful pitches gradually earns Peggy the respect of her male colleagues at Sterling Cooper & Partners, but she realizes she doesn’t want to be the next Don Draper. (You know, because she knows better than anybody.) In the end, Peggy leaves the world of advertising to edit a feminist periodical called Ms. Magazine, where she leads a whole team of Peggy Olsons and – for one week – she mentors bright-eyed intern Sally Draper. It does not end well, but gosh darnit, Peggy gave it her all.
Betty (January Jones)
We’re hoping there’s some truth to the rumor that Betty goes feminist after a public disagreement with Francis. She’s spent so long letting the men in her life tell her what do to that the second-wave feminism of the ’70s might offer her the strength to stand up on her own. She is Betty, hear her roar.
Then again, there’s some charm in imagining Betty jumping on the Studio 54 disco craze and finally letting loose. She’d dance, she’d win friends and she’d finally achieve her thwarted dreams of being a spokesmodel when she becomes the face of Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific.
Pete (Vincent Kartheiser)
After being scalded in a fondue accident, Pete leaves advertising to work for the government, where, of course, he becomes a senior official on Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President. What a better fit for Pete than CREEP, right? After Watergate, he’s never heard from again.
In short, Pete would get everything that’s coming to him.
Joan (Christina Hendricks)
Clearly, the age of the maxi dress would afford Joan a whole new level of comfort in the office, where her authority would become indisputable among all employees – not just the secretaries. Everyone tolerates her new affinity for crystals.
She stays single, because the new feminism movement would do nothing to dissuade her that she’s just fine on her own. But she stays close with Bob Benson (James Wolk) and supports him in his evolution into a gay activist. She even helps him plot the famous Anita Bryant pie incident of 1977.
Roger remains just a phone call away, but it’s Joan who would make that call.
Sally (Kiernan Shipka)
Sally leaves New York and heads out to start over among the free-thinking types in Berkeley. After the abrupt departure of her first new friend, a newspaper heiress named Patty.
Sally ends up picking beans for a few years on a cult commune north of San Francisco. However, a chance meeting with her former stepmother, Megan, ends with her escaping to L.A., where she lands a job as a PA on Charlie’s Angels. She realizes she has her dad’s creative spark, and she ultimately lands a job writing for Dallas, where she specializes in writing dialogue for sharp-tongued ice queens. When she wins her Emmy, she thanks her mom.
Roger (John Slattery)
Roger continues to Roger about in and out of the Sterling Cooper & Partners offices, often Rogering anything that moves. However, during the New York Blackout of 1977, he stumbles into a key party and accidentally makes love to a woman his own age: Mona (Talia Balsam), his ex-wife. They figure “What the hell?” and stay together but continue to swing.
Roger’s ties get wider and his sideburns more ostentatious. You can see him in the background of a party scene in Annie Hall, where he’s visibly drunk but having a good time.
Megan (Jessica Paré)
Let’s assume she continues to flit about in Don’s life, as most of Don’s exes tend to, and continues pushing for Hollywood stardom. But because it’s Mad Men, let’s also assume things don’t work out so peachy. After supporting roles in disaster flicks such as The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, Megan settles into a recurring role on The Love Boat and a side gig as a panelist on Hollywood Squares next to Paul Lynde, who cracks jokes about her trademark toothy grin. The hair gets bigger even if the roles don’t.
Hey, it’s better than the Sharon Tate route everyone thought the show would take, right?