Your Comprehensive Mad Men Season 5 Character Guide
“Everyone would love to walk into a room and pick the biggest sandwich and take the best chair and have sex with the best-looking women.” —Matthew Weiner discussing his time on The Sopranos and perhaps revealing some of the motives of the characters on Mad Men.
Vital Stats: Tall, dark, handsome, morally conflicted but ultimately corrupt, stewardess/teacher/Jewish department-store heiress/beatnik/secretary and occasionally wife-banging creative director and partner at SCDP. Infuriatingly self-centered, with destructive taste in adult pastimes. Had a bad childhood, to put it mildly. Formerly known as Dick Whitman, he adopted the “Don Draper” identity after the war, taking on his dead trench-mate’s identity and building himself a brand-new life with the blessing of the real Don’s widow, Anna Draper, whom he then financially supported until her death. Night-schooled, he was a car salesman and a fur-coat salesman before getting into advertising, weaseling into Sterling-Cooper by getting Roger Sterling drunk and convincing him he’d hired Don. Married model Betty Hofstadt — who became Betty Draper and had three of his kids — then cheated on and lied to her until she got fed up enough to leave him for elder gent Henry Francis. Thinks with his gut, which is located in his crotch. Dominates almost all situations to the extreme, for better and worse. Likes getting slapped in the face, slapping others in the face. Spent Season 4 learning that he was far from infallible. Either a genius or a great liar or both.
Last Seen: Sinking into pathetic alcoholic despair, then cleaning up his act. Taking out an ad in the paper to make it seem like SCDP dropped client Lucky Strike due to an altruistic interest in public health, rather than the truth that they were fired. Dumping his most recent girlfriend — co-worker and plausible equal Dr. Faye — in favor of his ravishing young French-Canadian secretary Megan after a dreamlike Los Angeles sex vacation, this time with the kids in tow. Failing to get a handle on his notoriously poor locus of control.
IRL: Jon Hamm stole scenes as super-dick Ted in Bridesmaids, co-starred in girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends With Kids, did guest shots on cult comedy shows The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret and Children’s Hospital, and voiced Mercedes commercials. Look forward to seeing him in suits on the cover of every men’s magazine until the end of time.
Vital Stats: Sharp-witted, adventurous, double-standard-loathing career girl, marijuana enthusiast, undercover sexpot, lapsed Catholic, blunt, secretarial-school-educated, poetic-imagery-generating, ham-stunt-pulling, pro-choice copywriter with very strange/specific taste in haircuts and men. Got knocked up after an office couch tryst with star-crossed (married) soul mate Pete Campbell and gave the baby up for adoption, on the advice of mentor (and sometime tormenter) Don. Confessed what happened to Pete, but not to her creepy priest. Promoted from secretary to copywriter. After a spate of awful luck with dudes, she took up with alcoholic Duck Phillips, realizing quickly what a terrible idea that was. By Season 4 she had a wet-blanket boyfriend, whom she eventually blew off to hang out with cool new hipster friends.
Last Seen: Finally meeting a decent guy to date and bringing in a new account, being disappointed that Don wasn’t as excited about her company-saving contributions to SCDP as he was about his own engagement, telling Don that his new fiancée is beautiful and then going to bitch about how little respect she gets around the office to Joan Holloway.
IRL: Elisabeth Moss macked on Keira Knightley in a London production of The Children’s Hour. She plays Galatea Dunkel in the upcoming On the Road movie and finally shaded ex-husband Fred Armisen to the press, repeating a friend’s observation that “He’s so great at doing impersonations. But the greatest impersonation he does is that of a normal person.”
Vital Stats: Bizarrely charming, forward-thinking, blackmail-attempting, white-bread, self-hating, hunting trip daydreaming, chicken-tossing, DKE brother, corporate ladder-obsessed, mom-hating, chip-and-dip-set-exchanging, descendent of Silas Dyckman, grudge-harboring, blue-eyed killer, unintentionally friendly, prep-schooled, impudent, good at choreography and keeping secrets about himself, not the best at controlling his temper or learning when exactly to keep his big mouth shut.
Last Seen: Becoming a father (again), this time with wife Trudy Campbell. Covering for Don’s shadowy past by dropping the Defense account. Becoming a new partner in the agency. Mellowing out? Probably not.
IRL: Vincent Kartheiser did voice acting in Rango and The Cleveland Show, plus a role in The Justin Timberlake Time Travel Movie, a.k.a. In Time. Kartheiser and Timberlake also co-starred in the hilariously overwrought 2006 teen Valley murder drama Alpha Dog, which could have been called Justin Timberlake White Rappers Pool Party Cocaine White Girls Awesome Murder Scene And Sharon Stone.
Joan Holloway Harris
Vital Stats: Breathy-voiced, generous-breasted ginger goddess whose intelligence and experience are undervalued at her job and at home. Smart, flirty, gossipy, bitchy when hurt. Plays the accordion and all sides. Dated Paul Kinsey. Was Roger Sterling’s mistress for a number of years, now married to hunky but controlling doctor Greg Harris. Once got to be a script-reader for five seconds until head of the TV department Harry Crane decided he didn’t like being upstaged by a busty redhead. Worked as a shopgirl and led a Christmas party conga line. Hates being made to feel “like a helpless, stupid little girl.” Gives incredible side-eye.
Last Seen: After her husband enlisted in the army as a doctor without asking her and went to Vietnam, Joan got accidentally pregnant by former fuck-buddy Roger Sterling during an impulsive tryst. Telling Peggy to shut the door so they can dish the tea.
IRL: Christina Hendricks, whose IMDb says she is a “redhead known for playing intelligent, dominating women,” played the outfield in I Don’t Know How She Does It (A: pure uncut speed), Drive, and Tony Kaye’s latest, Detachment. Also, the subject of sexting scandal that we cannot link to here.
Vital Stats: One-liner-slinging, womanizing, blackface-wearing, inherited-wealth-wasting, Roman-orgy-enabling, freakum-dress-fetishizing, two-heart-attacks-weathering, incapable of not turning everything into a joke, spoiled little boy old man. Navy veteran, charismatic but narcissistic and occasionally racist company scion, former boxer, and silver fox with deep streaks of tenderness.
Last Seen: Accidentally knocking up ex-flame Joan during a rare post-Greg Harris tryst inspired by getting mugged together. Realizing that marrying a 20-year-old he knew nothing about was a very bad call. Writing a very thin autobiography called Sterling’s Gold. Getting misty about his feelings for Joan.
IRL: Boston-born John Slattery is the voice of Lincoln automobiles, on the cover of this month’s issue of GQ, and stars in upcoming indies Bluebird and In Our Nature (which just screened at South by Southwest).
Vital Stats: Childlike ice queen, non-nurturing, Grace Kelly doppelgänger, dresses-and-pearls-wearing conservative fashion plate, bathroom-one-night-standing, serious-daddy-issues-possessing, Medgar Evers-themed-dream-having, prim yet sensual mother of the year. Finally found Don’s box of secret Dick Whitman artifacts and kicked him to the curb, remarrying local political adviser Henry Francis and moving to Rye, New York, with him.
Last Seen: Trying to learn to control her temper under the tutelage of her new daddy-husband, Henry Francis. Being less of a bitch than usual to rebellious daughter Sally.
IRL: January Jones, named for a Jacqueline Susann character, got pregnant and wouldn’t ID the baby daddy to the press (maybe somebody ought to GRILL her, if you know what I’m FLAYING). Starred in the X-Men reboot as Emma Frost.
Vital Stats: Cocktail-mixing, underage-driving, Coke-drinking future smoker and Beatlemaniac dubbed a “little lesbian” in training by her mother for her interest in tools. Masturbates to television, spits up food as a rude gesture, reads The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, gives herself DIY haircuts, pours rum on pancakes, runs away from home on the subway, befriends weird neighbor boy Glen Bishop.
Last Seen: Being forcibly separated from creepy Glen by Betty, going to Disneyland with her dad on a California vacation, and warming to new mother figure Megan.
IRL: Kiernan Shipka did a nice lil’ interview with Rookie Magazine.
Vital Stats: Ambitious yet laid-back, insightful blond, Rothko-explaining, short-story in The Atlantic Monthly publishing, panty-dropping, Vermont maple-tree tapping, Alex Mack-marrying, “All-American idiot who fell into everything,” makes slightly more than you golden boy. Accounts.
Last Seen: Left behind when Sterling Cooper became SCDP, spent some time “floating along laterally” at a firm after leaving McCann. Rehired by SCDP, bringing along his accounts.
IRL: Played main character Cole Phelps in acclaimed ’40s detective video game L.A. Noire and did two episodes of Mad Men‘s modern network soul mate The Good Wife.
Vital Stats: Horndog in horn rims. Head of the self-created media department. Cheated on his wife with Hildy from the steno pool, but seemingly worked it out, staying in his marriage and becoming a father. Always sucking up to network execs. Pervs on girls on the subway. Would have a casting couch policy if he could get anyone to stay on the couch.
Last Seen: Experimenting with Yiddish and becoming increasingly thinner and oilier.
IRL: Rich Sommer starred in a short film about “inner mustaches” called Mr. Stache. About his performance he said: “I don’t have the confidence to pull off a mustache,” which is a neat guy-flavored gloss on when actresses talk how about much they learned from playing a stripper. He’ll also be in Fairhaven and The Giant Mechanical Man.
Vital Stats: Wife of Pete, nouveau riche girl, appearances-obsessed, wearer of babydoll nightgowns, pretty and petulant, prone to Veruca Salt-style fits of entitlement.
Last Seen: Giving birth to a little Campbell.
IRL: Alison Brie is equally (or better) known for playing Greendale Community College’s no. 1 prudish grade-grubber Annie on Community. She’ll also be seen in Jason Segel’s Five Year Engagement and Dylan Kidd’s next movie, Get a Job.
Vital Stats: Senior partner at Sterling Cooper. Nixon-supporting fan of Ayn Rand. Connoisseur of modern art and hentai porn.
Last Seen: Calling civil rights “a slippery slope” and retiring to the imaginary second floor of the office, saying it has been a pleasure. Quitting the agency after Don’s Lucky Strike shenanigans.
IRL: Robert Morse is a stage and screen legend, known best for playing J. Pierrepont Finch in the ’61 musical and ’67 film How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Vital Stats: Chocolate Bunny-loving, Godzilla-enjoying, steak-belt-wearing, abusive cane-wielding-father-surviving, British export financial officer. Happiest when working, “the incorruptible exception” to Joan Holloway’s charms.
Last Seen: Joining Sterling Cooper after they merge with Putnam, Powell, & Lowe, and then eventually freeing Draper, Cooper, and Sterling from their contracts in order to avoid a buyout by rival agency McCann Erickson. Creating a line of credit to keep SCDP in business after Lucky Strike leaves.
IRL: Jared Harris is playing Ulysses S. Grant in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
Vital Stats: Neck-scarfed Canadian beauty “of French extraction” who takes over as Don’s secretary after his previous one dies on the job. Has sex with Don on his couch, knowing that he is otherwise involved, and then betrays nothing. Mothering to Don’s kids in a way that makes Don’s motor run.
Last Seen: Singing in French to Bobby and Sally. Accepting Don’s out-of-the-blue proposal while in Los Angeles, city of fantasies.
IRL: Jessica Paré is also French-Canadian, and went topless in Hot Tub Time Machine and cult lesbian romance Lost & Delirious.
Vital Stats: Mohair sweater-wearing, Orson Welles-worshipping, “mary jane” muse-calling, science fiction-reading, office jerk sesh-having, grocery store checkout girl-dating, Tigertone-harmonizing, Jersey boy and Princeton alum playwright who usually overshoots his talents, tragically sympathetic poseur.
Last Seen: Getting axed from Sterling Cooper during a round of downsizing.
IRL: Michael Gladis is on Chris Elliott’s Adult Swim action show parody Eagleheart and played the owner of The Stork Club in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar.
Vital Stats: Beloved, closeted homosexual, Italian-American illustrator and former head of the art department. Does a great Ann-Margaret. Married to Kitty Romano, who may have realized her husband’s true sexual proclivities after seeing said impression of Ann-Margaret. Received an interrupted hand job from a bellhop in a hotel on a business trip, the afterglow of which was witnessed by Don.
Last Seen: Cruising for NSA sex in the park after turning down the advances of Lucky Strike heir Lee Garner Jr. and subsequently being fired by Don.
IRL: Bryan Batt has an amazing website and is the author of the memoir She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Mother.
Vital Stats: Known to lie to escape blame. Loves sweet potatoes. Played by four different child actors to date.
Last Seen: Being 7 years old as of the end of last season. According to John Slattery, the reason for the many child actors is as follows: “They’ve had about five Bobby Drapers and they can’t seem to find one who doesn’t look straight into the lens.”
IRL: Mason Vale Cotton, a child actor who has been on Desperate Housewives, is the newest Bobby Draper. Playing Bobby Draper is a job that is approximately about as stable and long-lasting as being the drummer for Spinal Tap.
Vital Stats: The Drapers’ housekeeper, she continued taking care of the kids after Don and Betty’s divorce. Puts up with more than anybody could reasonably be expected to.
Last Seen: Getting fired by Betty for letting Sally hang out with forbidden friend Glen Bishop. Calling Henry Francis to get a reference for her résumé, which Betty refused to provide for her.
IRL: Television acting vet whose first role was on basketball drama The White Shadow, Deborah Lacey is best known for playing Sarah Sisko, mother of Benjamin Sisko, on the last season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Vital Stats: Dog-abandoning, plane crash-exploiting former Marine, sad-sack soggy drunk, and former director of account services at Sterling Cooper.
Last Seen: Working at Grey agency and embarrassing himself at the Clios. Trying to shit on Roger Sterling’s chair. Calling Peggy a whore on her birthday.
IRL: Mark Moses plays an anchorman in Lorene Scafaria’s upcoming apocalypse comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and guested on USA’s Fairly Legal.
Vital Stats: Makes out with Peggy at a warehouse party at Dave Kellogg’s place. (You know, Dave Kellogg? He throws those parties. Cool guy. Really great space.) Arranges for a second date during which he patronizes and insults her by way of attempting to flirt, pioneering the PUA technique now known as negging. Writes her a politicizing screed called “Nuremberg on Madison Avenue” that only serves to further put her off, but succeeds in making her question her commitment to selling capitalism.
Last Seen: Finally hooking up with Peggy after seeing her at Jones Beach, being so impressed by her bedroom technique and infatuated with her general Peggy Olsonness that he brings her a package at work.
IRL: Charlie Hofheimer’s first role was in the 1994 film version of Lassie. He works regularly as an actor on network dramas like Rizzoli & Isles and Cold Case.
Vital Stats: Governor Rockefeller-employed political adviser, Betty Draper-stealing, friendly father figure, elder statesman-type.
Last Seen: Eloping with Betty in Nevada and moving into the former Draper residence with her — to Don’s fury — then finally looking for a new place when the house was mysteriously vandalized.
IRL: Christopher Stanley is in Ben Affleck’s next directorial effort, Argo, about an American CIA mission during the Iranian revolution.
Vital Stats: Switchboard operator and then secretary who moonlights on prank calls to Peggy as burn-disfigured “Elaine,” a tannery secretary who works with animal carcasses and requires frequent unguents and salves.
Last Seen: Accidentally cutting off visiting British businessman Guy MacKendrick’s leg with a John Deere riding lawnmower.
IRL: Crista Flanagan went topless in Playboy, and was a longtime cast member and contributing writer on MADtv.
Vital Stats: House-trashing, hair-clipping, twine-cutting, bathroom-spying, lanyard-making, playhouse-living, oddly pragmatic, “Maybe I’ll call you”-ing hellion from next door to the Draper house. Son of Helen Bishop, who is divorced but later remarries. Has a creepy crush on Betty Draper, and then Sally Draper.
Last Seen: Being forcibly separated from Sally by her mom.
IRL: Marten Weiner is the son of Matthew Weiner. For a show so concerned with issues of nepotism and inheritance, Matt Weiner sure cast his son on it.
Vital Stats: Pants-pissing, zipper-symphonizing, strip-club enjoying, Pete Campbell-avoiding, Santa-playing, arrowhead-collecting drunk and former senior copywriter at Sterling Cooper.
Last Seen: (Re)joining Sterling Cooper Draper Price with a $2 million Pond’s cold cream account after getting sober. Stepping into the culture wars with Peggy with regard to his thoughts on women and telling her that if she wants a man to respect and eventually marry her, she can’t sleep with him.
IRL: Joel Murray is Bill Murray’s brother, and played Joel Calamari in One Crazy Summer.
Dr. Faye Miller
Vital Stats: Brassy, bobbed, cookie-bearing, expert at drawing people out, fake wedding ring-wearing, paternally mob-affiliated, Don Draper-interrogating, blonde Jewess psychologist/consumer reports researcher.
Last Seen: Fight/flirting with Don, then getting together with him romantically. Learning Don’s secret identity of Dick Whitman, encouraging him to open up more, seeing him off on his business trip to L.A., and getting dumped on the phone for Megan, his secretary.
IRL: Cara Buono was in the hilarious Rob Lowe-as-Drew Peterson TV movie Untouchable, but is known mostly for playing Kelli, the woman Christopher Moltisanti took up with and married after losing Adriana La Cerva on The Sopranos.
Jane Siegel Sterling
Vital Stats: Gorgeous, eating-disordered, hotel poem-writing, silly-but-sometimes-snarky twentysomething that Roger Sterling married in a fit of spontaneity.
Last Seen: Congratulating husband Roger on finishing his autobiography and remaining oblivious to Roger’s cheating with Joan.
IRL: Peyton List guested on House of Lies and Hawaii Five-O, and is in the Luke Wilson and Samuel L. Jackson revenge movie Meeting Evil.
Vital Stats: Marlon Brando-looking, hillbilly joke-telling, mediocre doctor, sometimes oblivious but other times very sweet to his wife Joan. Enlists in the army as a surgeon after failing to hack it in a hospital. Also known as “Dr. Rapist” for the time he raped Joan on the floor of Don’s office after turning down her sexual advances the night before.
Last Seen: Asking Joan if her boobs had gotten even bigger from pregnancy. (Yes, they did.)
IRL: Sam Page has done stints on teen girl faves Switched at Birth and Gossip Girl.
Vital Stats: Sensitive, gift-bringing, Christmas bonus-receiving, Don-confronting secretary.
Last Seen: Having an ill-advised sexual encounter with Don, which led to her being hurt when he then pretended it had never happened. Lobbing something heavy toward Don, which was as satisfying for Mad Men fans as it was for Sopranos fans when Gloria Trillo beaned Tony Soprano with a steak.
IRL: Alexa Alemanni did a voice in L.A. Noire, which used a lot of Mad Men‘s stock company.
Vital Stats: Art director, nudie magazine-subscriber, secret crush on Peggy-haver, proto-bro.
Last Seen: Trying to make a move on Peggy and getting shown the door.
IRL: Jay R. Ferguson played Ponyboy Curtis in a 1990 TV version of The Outsiders.
Jimmy & Bobbie Barrett
Vital Stats: Grating show-business couple that Don gets involved with when Jimmy becomes the spokesperson for Utz.
Last Seen: Getting punched in the face/left tied to a bed by Don, respectively.
IRL: Sci-fi connection — Patrick Fischler is a character actor best known for playing Phil on Lost, Melinda McGraw played Scully’s sister on The X-Files.
Vital Stats: Bohemian brunette illustrator, prone to throwing televisions out windows and going to underground poetry slams in the Village. Former mistress of Don.
Last Seen: Conning Don into coming over and springing the fact that she now has a heroin-addicted husband and a habit herself, then offering to screw Don for junk money if he buys one of her paintings. He turns down the sex, but buys a painting.
IRL: Rosemarie DeWitt is in Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret and Ry Russo-Young’s Nobody Walks.
Vital Stats: The widow of the real Lieutenant Don Draper, a nice blonde lady who lives in a California mid-century modern, eggshell-blue cottage in San Pedro and fulfills all the L.A. clichés about chill hippies who like to smoke grass. Polio survivor. Knows everything about Dick/Don and still loves him. Despite her positive vibes (and UFO spotting), she dies of advanced bone cancer that she doesn’t know about.
Last Seen: Being a ghost. No, seriously. That happened.
IRL: Melinda Page Hamilton is in Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America, and played Malinda on Big Love.
Vital Stats: Peggy’s doofy ex-boyfriend. Once brought her cookies with shaky icing. Likes to read about Swedish lovemaking. Bought Peggy’s lie about being a virgin and accepted her old-fashioned hand jobs for God knows how long. Kisses like a dweeb.
Last Seen: Getting nexted by Peg.
IRL: Blake Bashoff played Karl Martin on Lost.
Vital Stats: Assistant photo editor at LIFE magazine, lesbian, cool girl, friend of Peggy.
Last Seen: Picking up a beautiful voluptuous actress that Harry Crane had been trying (and failing) to put the moves on.
IRL: Zosia Mamet will be seen soon as a velour-sweatsuit-wearing girly-girl on Lena Dunham’s Girls on HBO.
Vital Stats: Graphic designer, plaid suit jacket-wearer, caricaturist, prick.
Last Seen: Telling Joan that she walks around looking like she wants to be raped, drawing a picture of Joan giving Lane Pryce a BJ, calling her “mom” and then admitting he hates his mom, refusing to apologize, and getting fired.
IRL: Matt Long played Jack on The WB’s Jack & Bobby and a young Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider.
Father John Gill
Vital Stats: Wormiest, most overinvolved priest since Father Phillip “Phil” Intintola.
Last Seen: Pressuring Peggy into doing unpaid work for the church as a favor, not liking the work she did, then trying to get Peggy to confess she had a child out of wedlock. Playing folk-rock guitar.
IRL: Colin Hanks, son of Tom, did a stint on Dexter and can be seen soon in the Barbra Streisand/Seth Rogen/Adam Scott comedy (you read that right) The Guilt Trip.
Vital Stats: Sexually frustrated wife of Salvatore Romano.
Last Seen: Watching husband Sal hit on Ken Cosgrove during dinner. Later failing to arouse her gay husband while in a lime-green negligee.
IRL: Sarah Drew plays Dr. April Kepner on Grey’s Anatomy.
Grandpa Gene Hofstadt
Vital Stats: Terrifying, dementia-suffering, Oedipal feel-copping father of Betty Draper.
Last Seen: Dead.
IRL: Ryan Cutrona, who has played a lot of military men, was Admiral John Smith on 24.
Bethany Van Nuys
Vital Stats: Perky blonde, supernumerary, friend of Jane Siegel Sterling whose last name is a district of Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley famed for being the locus of the pornography industry. Knows how the whole “I’ll walk you up” trick works.
Last Seen: Giving Don a blowie in a cab.
IRL: Anna Camp was in The Help, plays Caitlin D’arcy on The Good Wife, and had an arc on True Blood as an evangelist’s wife.