But, it's also what drives us berserk, and Weiner knows it. Every year, the publicity team releases key art, teaser trailers, and the occasional screenshot a couple months in advance of the premiere. And, every year, Weiner makes casual claims that they're just simple promotion. We know better, Matt. A rose ain't just a rose in the world of Mad Men, and internet dramaturges have long studied these objects for cryptic clues. Some lead nowhere, some point to red herrings, and a select few can actually be connected to plot points and seasonal themes. But, they all mean something. Or nothing. Or everything.
If not, we'll see you on the space station.
The first season poster consisted of perfect, slightly confusing simplicity. Mad men? Are they mad at us? Are they Mad Hatter mad? Who smokes anymore these days? What is this mad man doing on the side of a bus and when will I get to work so I can Google the crap out of it?
(Ed. Note: You must watch this trailer if only to hear the cast's bizarre first-season baby voices. Elisabeth Moss sounds like an 8 year old, and Jon Hamm comes off like a vague, mysterious college sophomore.)
The plot thickens. Here, we find Don, as ever, the standout in the maddening crowd. Conspiracy theorists began to sit up and take notice with this poster, placing Illuminati overlays across Jon Hamm's head, screaming "Look, the Eye of Horace!"
We think this poster might be more about "Look, Jon Hamm is very handsome!" (Also: "We won some Golden Globes, remember?!"
The teaser takes a bigger leap from the first season's fun, drunk, and naked times. For a speechless 30 seconds, we're reminded of our lead characters as they sit in shadowed tableaus pondering all the trouble they got into — and what trouble is yet to come.
Try not to rewind and watch Jon Hamm make vicious eye contact with you while lighting a cigarette at the end. I'm probably the first person to say this, but Jon Hamm is very handsome.
Okay, here we go. The first poster that got tongues wagging was this (not photoshopped!) shot of Don sitting in his sinking (flooding?) office. Is he drowning, or is his company going under? Where's his cocktail? (Is he inside the cocktail?) Why are the Lucky Strikes floating away? Is that an ashtray on his right or an umbrella holder? WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH UMBRELLAS?
The teaser employs the maddening editing we're used to seeing on scenes-from-next-week clips. It's 30 seconds of shots without context, and people saying things like "Close the door," "What do you mean?" and "You shouldn't have done that." The only finished thought we get is: "Don is important." Great. Thanks for that.
In exchange for this completely unhelpful clue, AMC and Weiner docked us a teaser.
Another poster that led to weeks of theorizing. Seems simple enough: Don's looking at his own life, or the life he'd like to have, or the life everyone thinks he has? He is faceless, without identity, as is his lady friend. Perhaps he's only playing house? Again, his double makes an appearance. But, this year, instead of in the background looking away, the doppelgänger is up close and personal. Which one is the real Don?
Of this poster, Matt Weiner said, “By the end of the season, I guarantee you’ll know what it is about.”
There he is again! A veritable Where's Waldo of questionable clues, looking back a year later, the season 6 poster is definitely telling us something. You've got riot cops in the background, reflecting the violence that runs through every episode; A dark-haired woman over Don's shoulder is most certainly his downstairs neighbor-lover, Sylvia; A plane ascends into the sky; Street signs point in various directions; And, in the middle of it all, Don holds hands with a mystery woman, glancing over his shoulder at his other self.
At which man is the one-way sign pointing? Either way, it seems Don's days of double-living are over. There can only be one.
So far this year, we've been given two mysterious promos to chew on. The poster (and most recent teaser) reflect Don's trippy walk into the '70s. It also takes us back to the season 1 poster, featuring our faceless, smoking mad man staring off into oblivion.
"It's all up in the air."