Matthew Weiner on The Art of Writing Mad Men: The Paris Review Interview


This weekend, AMC aired episode 7 of Mad Men’s final season. The show will now take a break, until episodes 8-14 hit the airwaves early next year. Before you turn your attention elsewhere, you may want to spend some time with the Paris Review‘s big interview with Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men. The interview covers a lot of ground.

We learn that Weiner is a particular fan of John Cheever. “[W]ith John Cheever, I recognized myself in the voice of the narrator.” “Cheever holds my attention more than any other writer. He is in every aspect of Mad Men, starting with the fact that Don lives in Ossining on Bullet Park Road.” (Find the Paris Review’s 1976 interview with Cheever here.)

We also discover that Weiner studied poetry in college with Christopher Reeve’s father, Frank Reeve, and there were a couple of years when Weiner considered T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land “the most interesting thing in the world.”

Then the conversation turns to Mad Men, where Weiner reveals what’s at the heart of the show: “I’ve always said this is a show about becoming white. That’s the definition of success in America—becoming a WASP. A WASP male.” “Don Draper knows he’s poor, very much in the model of [Lee] Iacocca or [Sam] Walton, who came out of the Great Depression, out of really humble beginnings. Or like Conrad Hilton, on the show. These men don’t take no for an answer, they build these big businesses, these empires, but really it’s all based on failure, insecurity, and an identity modeled on some abstract ideal of white power.”

Weiner has lots more to say, including about his days writing for The Sopranos. Read the complete interview here.

Related Content:

T.S. Eliot Reads His Modernist Masterpieces “The Waste Land” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Gay Talese: Drinking at New York Times Put Mad Men to Shame

The Paris Review Interviews Now Online

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