Everything you need to know to start watching Mad Men today

15 Cards

CURATED BY Dylan Matthews

2014-04-14 09:26:45 -0400

  1. What is Mad Men?
  2. Who is Don Draper?
  3. What is Don Draper's secret?
  4. Who are Sterling Cooper & Partners?
  5. Who is Peggy Olson?
  6. Who is Roger Sterling?
  7. Who is Joan Harris?
  8. Who is Pete Campbell?
  9. Who is Betty Francis?
  10. Who is Megan Draper?
  11. Are there other, minor characters I should know?
  12. Where do things stand as of the end of season six?
  13. Who writes Mad Men?
  14. I don't have time to catch up. What are five episodes that give me a sense of the show?
  15. Okay, I'm sold. How do I start watching?
  1. Card 1 of 15

    What is Mad Men?

  2. Card 2 of 15

    Who is Don Draper?

    Mad Men features an ensemble cast, but it's fair to say that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is the show's main focus. Don began the show as creative director (and, as of episode 11 of season one, a partner) at Sterling Cooper and later became founding partner and creative director at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and a partner at its successor firm, Sterling Cooper & Partners. He's undisputedly good at his job, with a tendency of knocking client presentations out of the park, but is less good at interacting with clients. While he has genuine affection for a handful of people in his life — such as Peggy Olson and Joan Harris — he can treat his colleagues and subordinates cruelly, even those he cares about like Peggy. He is regarded as extremely handsome by women in the show, and has a reputation as a womanizer.


    Don Draper looking contemplative in a season seven promo photo. Photo courtesy of AMC.

    For the first three seasons, Don was married to Betty Draper (née Hofstadt; January Jones). At the end of the third season, she divorced him and married Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley), an aide to then-New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Don and Betty have three children: Sally (Kiernan Shipka), Bobby (variety of actors, now Mason Vale Cotton), and Gene, who was born in the third season. At the end of season four, he proposed to Megan (née Calvet; Jessica Paré), his secretary, whom he married between then and the start of season five and to whom he is still married at the end of season six (though their relationship is in tatters).

    Don cheated on both Betty and Megan numerous times, including with Midge Daniels (Rosemarie DeWitt), Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff), Bobbie Barrett (Melinda McGraw), Joy (Laura Ramsey), Shelly (Sunny Mabrey), Suzanne Farrell (Abigail Spencer),  and Sylvia Rosen (Linda Cardellini). He also slept with Betty in season six, while married to Megan. When single in season four, he dated Bethany Van Nuys (Anna Camp) and Dr. Faye Miller (Cara Buono), an advertising consultant for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce; had one-night stands with his secretary Allison (Alexa Allemani), a jingle singer named Alice (Amy Motta) and a waitress named Doris (Becky Wahlstrom); and hired a prostitute named Stacy (Alyson Croft).

    Here's a video from AMC meant to catch viewers up on Don's arc so far:

  3. Card 3 of 15

    What is Don Draper's secret?

  4. Card 4 of 15

    Who are Sterling Cooper & Partners?

  5. Card 5 of 15

    Who is Peggy Olson?

  6. Card 6 of 15

    Who is Roger Sterling?

  7. Card 7 of 15

    Who is Joan Harris?

  8. Card 8 of 15

    Who is Pete Campbell?

  9. Card 9 of 15

    Who is Betty Francis?

  10. Card 10 of 15

    Who is Megan Draper?

  11. Card 11 of 15

    Are there other, minor characters I should know?

  12. Card 12 of 15

    Where do things stand as of the end of season six?

  13. Card 13 of 15

    Who writes Mad Men?

  14. Card 14 of 15

    I don't have time to catch up. What are five episodes that give me a sense of the show?

  15. Card 15 of 15

    Okay, I'm sold. How do I start watching?

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