I have not seen the season premiere of Mad Men yet — I will watch it on Sunday like the rest of you — which means I can’t spoil anything. Matt Weiner’s insistence that critics not give away anything about the show, even stuff that doesn’t traditionally constitute a spoiler, has become one of his defining characteristics in the public mind. (The other is his tendency to put his name as a co-writer on almost every script. I can’t help wondering how his writers feel about that, particularly since most showrunners, even the most hands-on ones, don’t do that kind of “credit hopping.”) I suspect the reclassification of everything as a spoiler is as much a marketing tactic as anything; Mad Men doesn’t have a large audience, and one way to get people talking about it is to withhold as much information as possible, making people curious about what’s going to happen. The more information is released, the more it starts to feel like it’s a show where not much happens — which, in pure plot terms, is true — and it doesn’t become as tempting to the uninitiated.
However, Weiner’s spoiler-phobia inspired someone (I think it may have been Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune) to invent “fake Mad Men spoilers,” usually referring to events from the year the show is about to cover. So here are some of the fake 1964 spoilers I’ve come up with so far. Other suggestions welcome. In season 4 of Mad Men, we will see the following stories:
– Don creates an ad for Barry Goldwater that can compete with Lyndon Johnson’s below-the-belt “Daisy” ad. He asks Sally to play the part of the girl who gets nuked, but Betty opposes it.
– The gang goes to see the original production of Fiddler On the Roof. Deeply affected by the story of Tevye adjusting to new social realities, Don walks home reflecting on his life while singing “Now I Have Everything” — but does he?
– Allan Sherman asks Don’s firm to create a promotional campaign for his new comedy album. A casual suggestion that he try expanding into less ethnic material leads to the disastrous release of his white-bread “Allan In Wonderland” album, and a heartfelt conversation about the morality of depriving the world of more songs like “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.”
– Peggy and Joan’s trip to the New York World’s Fair ends in disaster.
– After the inevitable Beatles appearance, the gang — having learned nothing from its Ann-Margret fiasco — hires the pop sensation The Ladybugs to make a competing commercial.