‘Mad Men’ boss weighs in on Sharon Tate, D.B. Cooper theories

01.10.15 3 years ago


Sharon Tate was a sex symbol and fledgling movie star. The “Fearless Vampire Killers” and “Valley of the Dolls” star was married to Roman Polanski. Tate and four others were killed by The Manson Family in August 1969.

Megan from “Mad Men” is not Sharon Tate.

D.B. Cooper is the name given to a man who hijacked a Boeing 727 in 1971, secured $200,000 in ransom and parachuted out of the plane, never to be seen again or definitively identified. 

Don Draper from “Mad Men” is not D.B. Cooper. Probably.

For reasons that are vaguely baffling to me, a recent trend in “Mad Men” viewership has been to decide that despite no indications at all in those directions, the Emmy-winning drama had been heading toward one or possible two grand historical revelations in which our fictional characters turned out to be famous or notorious real world figures.

“Mad Men” hit the Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday (January 10) morning and I asked series creator Matt Weiner about this form of audience interpretation, starting with a question about which audience reactions have most surprised him.

“I can tell you one of them,” Weiner said. “When you end an episode with Betty on a plane to get a divorce with her new beau and Don moving out of his apartment and getting a place, the kids by themselves, and the question that I get the entire time is, 'Are Don and Betty getting back together? Like what”s going to happen with their marriage?' It”s… part of the reason there was some controversy, I guess, to some degree about when Lane committed suicide, about showing his body, and that was a response to learning what I learned about the audience, which is that, if you do not see that man, no one”s going to believe he”s dead. They will not believe it. They will be like, 'All right. When is where did Lane go? Does D.B. Cooper have an English accent?' So I am a television viewer, and I take a lot of my cues, as all viewers do, from the information I”m given, and then there”s the Rorschach Test about me. What I think, what I say, and I get that a lot from hearing people talk about it. That”s always a surprise to me is people”s hope for what will happen in the story.”

That was, of course, a perfect intro for me to ask a follow-up specifically about the Sharon Tate/D.B. Cooper theories and, specifically, to ask if hearing about those rumors made Weiner think “People are watching my show wrong.”

Fortunately, at least on that count, Weiner's kinda got your back, conspiracy fans.

“If you”re watching the show, you”re watching the show right,” he said, to some laughter.

And if you're a believer, though, you may want to stop reading.

“I have no complaint. I don”t care how it”s being watched. I mean, I hate the screen within a screen within a screen watching, but I love that people watch the show,” Weiner said. 

He continued, though, “No, I mean, it”s done by the time people start saying that stuff. And you get in this weird situation the first season where people were like, 'I know Don Draper”s secret. He”s Jewish.' And I was like, 'Did I ever put anything in there that said he wasn”t?' Because he”s not. I mean, I know that. And the Sharon Tate thing, you know, it”s so flimsy and thin, and at the same time, I”m like, 'Wow, that”s a lot of coincidence.' I don”t know what to tell you. I would like to think that people would know that the show”s striving for historical accuracy that I would not add a person who was not murdered by the Manson family into that murder. So that in itself is the dumbest argument in the world for me. But I love that people have conspiracy theories, that they have all this other stuff, and I don”t know what to tell you. I immerse myself in “60s culture from a literary and historical point of view. I”m not a historian. Maybe some of the stuff is just happening, you know.”

So actually, that's only dismissing the Sharon Tate theory.

That means Weiner ignored the D.B. Cooper side of things, didn't he?

Well there you go. Megan isn't Sharon Tate, but Don Draper could absolutely be D.B. Cooper.

Hope springs eternal!

“Mad Men” begins its seven-episode concluding arc on April 5 on AMC.

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