Famously "difficult" Mad Men creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner recently sat down with The New York Times to talk about the show's upcoming season, and revealed that he actually quit the show during negotiations with AMC.
See, the network wanted to trim the runtime of the episodes and turn some regular characters into recurring ones to cut down on costs, but Weiner was not having it. His commitment to not just the integrity of his show but of his work life is solid as stone:
I quit. I had come to terms with the fact that it was over. And I always end every season like it’s the end of the show. So, yeah. There was a terror in me that someone else would come in and do it. And I don’t know how they would do it, but I would have to live with that. In the most protective and demanding way, I did not feel that it was worth going back to work to make a show that was not the show I’d been making. I had this argument with my wife, where I said, “You don’t understand – it’s not just a matter of changing the show. I don’t want to go to work and do it different. I just figured out how it works.” This is what the audience likes, these are the characters the audience likes, and this is the length of the show. And I definitely feel that the longer part of the show is part of its commercial uniqueness. And it’s a scarce product to begin with. There’s 13 a year. So you have to give them that in the form it is. It’s like changing a novel into a short story, to me.
Just to remind you here, we're talking about only a few minutes cut from each episode. But, well, a purist is a purist is a purist. Weiner wants to do the show how he wants to do it, so we should probably respect him for that. And of course we're very glad that he un-quit, as a season of the show without him would be strange indeed. ("Welcome back to J.J. Abrams' Mad Men!") That said, sometimes it can feel like Weiner is a leeettle heavy in the ol' complaints department, just a tad bullheaded about the creative process. He was really willing to sacrifice all the magic and wonder of Mad Men for a few measly minutes! (And a few reduced characters.) That's commitment to art, but it's a dangerous commitment.
Anyway, the point is we're glad that ultimately Weiner decided to re-board and we're very excited that it's only a couple weeks until we're once again living in the gorgeous, detailed, horrifically depressing world of Mad Men. It's almost time to get our sad on!