The Return Of Mad Men: A Refresher Course

“What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.” – Don Draper

With that devastatingly simple one-liner, delivered by Jon Hamm in the role of Sterling Cooper’s golden boy ad executive Don Draper, AMC’s lush, stylized drama Mad Men revealed it’s true colors, and even truer message, and viewers realized they were watching a TV classic.

Watch the season two premiere “Those Who Think Young” here

This Sunday, Mad Men sails into its third season on a crest of Emmy nominations, and though its anemic 1.8 million viewers makes it the best show on TV that too few people are watching, the series set in the sexist, booze-soaked world of Madison Ave. in the 1960s is a testament to what great TV can truly be.

Don’t believe me? Check out the Mad Men-themed window displays at Banana Republic, the Man Men guide to cocktails at Barnes and Noble, or the Saturday Night Live and (upcoming) Sesame Street parodies that indicate its place at the red hot epicenter of pop culture.

If you haven’t seen it, watch this video of the 10 most shocking moments from the show’s two previous seasons; it’s enough to prepare you for any Mad Men viewing – with cocktails – this weekend.

While the second season ended in 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis, the third season opens up in 1963, a year that saw battles over segregation and civil rights, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“These people are going through the time of their lives, but also a time in history when things are shifting and changing,” Hamm told us. “When you see what happens to them, what they are going through and what they’ve been through, you’ll see that’s what it’s all about for them…this really is the year that things change.” he said.

Watch the countdown to season three here

Having already screened the first episode, I can tell you that change happens quickly. One of the big changes to look out for? The British Invasion, and no, I’m not talking about The Beatles – that doesn’t hit until ’64 – I’m talking about the merger with Putnam, Powell, and Lowe.

Below, I’ve compiled a handy refresher course on where we left off with Mad Men’s major characters, plus thoughts from the cast on the new season, their characters, and some other anecdotes for your reading pleasure:


Name: Don Draper
Relationship Status: Married to Betty Draper – with two children Sally and Bobby – and countless extramarital transgressions under his belt; most notably Midge Daniels, Rachel Menken, and Bobbie Barrett.
Where We Last Saw Him: After returning from an extended sojourn in California, Dick Whitman Don Draper was slapped with two shockers: Betty’s pregnancy with their third child, and Sterling Cooper’s merger with British agency Putnam, Powell, and Lowe.
What He Is Hiding: A stolen identity
Likes/Dislikes: Escaping/His Past, Himself, Incompetence.
Quote: “I get on a plane, I don’t care where I’m going. I just want to see the city disappearing behind me.” For Those Who Think Young
What Jon Hamm Has To Say: “At a fundamental level, Don is a survivor. When he senses the mood of the room or the street or anything shifts, he’s very in tuned to that, he’s an adapter. There is no denying the cultural shift that happens in the middle of the sixties and Don will be very aware of that.” — On his character.


Name: Betty Draper (aka Bets or Betsy Draper)
Relationship Status: Married to Don Draper – mother to Sally and Bobby – with one backroom dalliance at a bar. Also of note: an emotional affair with her neighbor’s 9-year-old son, Glen.
Where We Last Saw Her: Saddled with the stress of an unwanted pregnancy, and the knowledge that both she and her husband are cheaters.
Likes/Dislikes: Horseback Riding, Smoking/Being A Suburban Mother, Impropriety, Her Stepmother
Quote: “I know people say life goes on, and it does, and no one tells you that’s not a good thing. Why is that?” Long Weekend
What January Jones Has To Say: “The writing lets you take your own path in the story. And as an actor it’s great, too, because each take I’ll do something different and they’ll just use it how they want to use it. A lot of the stuff that I do with Betty is in the eyes. A lot of the feelings that I evoke with her are unspoken, so that’s been fun to play with.” On playing Betty.


Name: Roger Sterling
Relationship Status: Engaged to Sterling Cooper secretary Jane Siegel after leaving his wife Mona – Slattery’s real life wife Talia Balsam! – with whom he has one daughter, Margaret. Carried on a lengthy affair with office manager Joan Holloway.
Where We Last Saw Him: Banking a wad of cash from the Sterling Cooper merger, and recovering from his second heart attack.
What He Is Hiding: His affair with Joan.
Likes/Dislikes: Highballs and women, preferably together/Aging
Quote: “Remember Don…when God closes a door, he opens a dress.” Long Weekend.
What John Slattery Has To Say: “We’re only half way through shooting, and I’ve heard rumors of what’s to come–and I am shocked to hear what is to come–I was really surprised. That doesn’t happen in a normal TV series structure.” — on season three.


Name: Joan Holloway
Relationship Status: Engaged to Dr. Greg Harris. One known affair with Roger Sterling before meeting Greg.
Where We Last Saw Her: Preparing to get married.
What She Is Hiding: Her ambitions, being raped by her fiance on her boss’ office floor, and her affair with Roger.
Likes/Dislikes: Playing By The Rules/Unprofessionalism
Quote: “He may act like he wants a secretary, but most of the time they’re looking for something between a mother and a waitress. And the rest of the time, well…” Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
What Christina Hendricks Has To Say: “In season one I really loved the episode Babylon, which had the lipstick scene. It was one of my favorites. It had the guys on one side of the glass and the girls on another side, and it was very sexually charged. It showed the office politics, and I thought it kind of defined what you were going to see in the show and in this office. I thought it was a really sexy naughty inappropriate scene.” — On her favorite scene of the show.


Name: Pete Campbell
Relationship Status: Married to Trudy Campbell. One known affair with Peggy Olson.
Where We Last Saw Him: Alone in his office with a shotgun after discovering he has a child with Peggy, and subsequently confessing his love to her.
What He Is Hiding: His affair with Peggy.
Likes/Dislikes: Ambition/Ken Cosgrove, Adoption
Quote: “This is ridiculous. If I’m going to die, I want to die in Manhattan.” Meditations in an Emergency
What Vincent Kartheiser Has To Say: “I would say this season’s surprised me more than any season so far. Things come out of left field, it really moves, it hits the ground running. We get right into the business in the first episode. There’s some really, really good s*** this year. And new s*** that no one is going to see coming. “ – on the new season.


Name: Peggy Olson
Relationship Status: Single. One known affair with Pete Campbell.
Where We Last Saw Her: Settling in to her new office, and job, as Copywriter.
What She Is Hiding: The truth behind her weight gain in season one – a baby, her feelings for Father Gill, and bailing Don and Bobbie Barrett out of jail.
Likes/Dislikes: Living alone/Being alone
Quote: “I don’t understand. I try to do my job. I follow the rules and people hate me. Innocent people get hurt, and, and other people, people who are not good, get to walk around doing anything they want. It’s not fair.” Nixon vs. Kennedy
What Elisabeth Moss Has To Say: “Peggy is not out to . . . to break through any glass ceiling, or, you know, take a stand because it’s the ’60s. She literally is like, ‘I love advertising and I have some good ideas and it would be great if someone listened to me.’ And she’s lucky enough to have . . . in the character of Don Draper, sort of a mentor and a person who’s listening and recognizes that she’s actually pretty good at it and gives her a chance.” — on how she sees Peggy.


Name: Ken Cosgrove
Relationship Status: Single
Where We Last Saw Him: Expressing concern over the news of the merger, pursuing a side career as a writer.
What He Is Hiding: He’s an open book.
Likes/Dislikes: Convertibles, Being One Of The Boys, Writing/Unattractive Women
Quote: “Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you’re just supposed to experience it. ‘Cause when you look at it, you do feel something, right? It’s like looking into something very deep. You could fall in.” The Gold Violin
What Aaron Staton Has To Say: “I would say he’s not bogged down and clouded by the sort of – not that people are desperate – but there’s a sort of day to day search for happiness that sort of clouds the existence of the characters and people not getting, you watch them sort of go after, or seek happiness. Ken has either found it, or he’s not bogged down by it.” — On what he thinks about Ken.


Name: Salvatore Romano
Relationship Status: Married to Kitty, despite obvious romantic feelings towards men (even though he’s never acted on said feelings).
Where We Last Saw Him: Struggling with the internal conflict of his secret desires.
What He Is Hiding: A proclivity for men, including Ken Cosgrove.
Likes/Dislikes: Art/His Secret
Quote: “I’m an artist, okay? It must mean something.” The Gold Violin
What Bryan Batt Has To Say: “We’re gonna go deeper into our characters, but that’s expected you’d think in a third season. But also – what you think will happen, doesn’t. But what does happen is so damn interesting and fascinating. What I love about the show is they tell stories that have not been told. If it seems like something that is hackneyed or a story that’s been told, they won’t do it.” – on the upcoming season.


Name: Harry Crane
Relationship Status: Married to Jennifer, who is pregnant with their first child. Had a one-night-stand with Hildy, Pete’s secretary.
Where We Last Saw Him: Reaching for a salary hike as head of the self-created Television Division.
What He Is Hiding: His affair with Hildy
Likes/Dislikes: Being Unappreciated/Being in Charge
Quote: “If Kennedy’s speech goes past 8:30 that’s Lucy, then Danny Thomas, then Andy Griffith. I’ll take it in the shorts.” Meditations in an Emergency
What Rich Sommer Has To Say: “When I first read him, he was no different from Paul (actor Michael Gladis’ character) or Ken (Aaron Staton). In fact, in the pilot, the three of us were meant to be the same, sort of this Greek chorus. As the first season went on, our characters took on specific personas. A lot of Harry is me, for example, and Paul Kinsey is Michael. Aaron, who plays Ken Cosgrove, is not a womanizer. He’s happily married. But there are a lot of his personality traits in Ken.” — his thoughts on first reading Harry.


Name: Paul Kinsey
Relationship Status: Presently single, after having once dated Joan and Stella White, who ditched him after the two traveled to Mississippi together.
Where We Last Saw Him: Enjoying the Downtown scene, and attempting to get involved in the civil rights movement.
What He Is Hiding: A stolen typewriter
Likes/Dislikes: Pipe Smoking/Conformity
Quote: “Sterling Coo is positively Cro-Magnon. I have a friend—I’m not even going to say what agency—but all they do is smoke Mary Jane and play darts. And honestly, I think they’re the best store on the street.” Ladies Room
What Michael Gladis Has To Say: “Well, I think the track that he was on with going down south, and joining that movement. For Paul I would love nothing more than for him to continue to be a part of the kind of radical social swing that was the mid-late 60s. Protest movements and all that. So when Vietnam does fully kick in, let Paul, even though even though he’ll be on the upper end of the age scale that can be fully involved, whether he’s a poseur in doing it or not, let him be there. I would love to see him in the thick of it.” — On his hopes for Paul.


Name: Bertram Cooper
Relationship Status: N/A
Where We Last Saw Him: Reluctantly agreeing to the merger
What He Is Hiding: His beginnings
Likes/Dislikes: Going Shoeless, Modern Art, Japanese Influences/Snitches, His Sister Alice
Quote: “Mr. Campbell, who cares?” Nixon vs. Kennedy
What Robert Morse Has To Say: “I love to go into the studio on days when I’m not even doing anything. It’s like my senior club. Some people go to senior centers, well I go to my senior center. I think I’m the oldest of the group — the only one who has lived through this period. I just love this show: I show up and hit the marks and say the lines and go home. And then show up the next day with the paper and visit with everybody and have a free lunch.” on showing up on set on his off days.

With additional reporting by Tracy Phillips and Brian Gianelli.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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