It seems hard to come across an article for any current TV show without seeing the phrase “Spoiler Alert” scrawled across the top of the page.
In the case of a lot of popular shows, major details might get leaked long before the new season even starts. But “Mad Men” has a strong track record of surprising its audience. Last night, a character from season one returned with absolutely no hints prior to the season premiere.
Creator Matthew Weiner believes that even minor plot details can spoil an entire episode, so he does as much as possible to prevent information from getting out.
The show’s vague plot synopses has become something of an inside joke for fans:
The “Scenes from next week” that play at the end of each episode are equally as vague.
“I’ve always felt like not knowing what happens was our niche in the marketplace,” Weiner told E! “That there would be something where you would watch it the first time and you would have no idea, and then it would create tension. Because to me, coming attractions and trailers and things like that relieve tension, so that then you would know the story and you could relax a little bit, and I didn’t ever want people to do that.”
But the real secret weapon that Weiner and the cast have figured out to keep stories secret is to avoid almost all social media.
During an interview on “Today,” Jon Hamm (who plays Don Draper) had this to say:
“Well, I mean, not a lot of us are active kind of social media-ites. There’s a few Instagrammers and Tweeters but not very, very… for the modern world, we’re pretty luddite in that sense.”
Elisabeth Moss (who plays Peggy Olson) added:
“We were never a part of that. Our show was around before all of that became crazy. So… it was never really our thing. So it’s been easy to stay out of it.”
They are not exaggerating. The likes of Weiner, Hamm, John Slattery, and Christina Hendricks are absent from all social media. Moss just joined Instagram last week. Meanwhile, Rich Sommer, who has been on the show since season one, isn’t even verified on Twitter.
When the castmembers do post about the show, they seem less intent on showing what is ahead and more focused on nostalgia:
Meanwhile, someone like Mindy Kaling might use social media to reveal an upcoming guest star on “The Mindy Project” rather than keep it a surprise. And any little thing an actor from “Game of Thrones” posts could somehow be seen as a spoiler. Luckily, nobody from “Mad Men” ever seems to live tweet episodes as they air.
Despite winning multiple Emmys and getting solid ratings, “Mad Men” never became a social media phenomenon. Unlike “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men” relies more heavily on traditional advertising methods such as outdoor ads and TV commercials.
Given that “Mad Men” is a period piece, it is fitting that a show set before social media doesn’t rely on it for success at all. The lack of information that leaks out about the show gives it a “commercial uniqueness.”
While nobody in the cast is forbidden from tweeting about the series, Weiner wouldn’t even tell the cast the ending during the show’s final table read. In a Reddit AMA, Weiner described his reasoning for such extreme secrecy measures simply as a respect for the viewers: “I think if you like the show, you will watch the show, and I dont want to ruin anything.”
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