A word of caution to angry Internet commenters and recappers: “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner knows what you’re writing about his show. Or at least he used to until he was banned from visiting blogs and sites by his wife and writing staff. “This is a terrible job for someone as oversensitive as I am. When I was on ‘The Sopranos,’ [blogs] didn’t even exist,” Weiner says. “I try and stay away from it. What usually happens now is somebody — a friend — will send me something. And it’s still this addiction.”
To Weiner, it’s pointless to fight the compulsion to seek out criticism. “This is human nature,” he says. “There’s two jars in the next room. One of them is filled with little fortune cookie fortunes, and the other one has two of them in it. [The big jar] is the good things about you, [the little jar] is the bad things about you that people have written. Go in there. You get to pick one piece of paper. You pick the bad one. I will keep looking until I find something bad. I don’t even know how it works.”
For an example, he offers an episode from last season, “Signal 30,” that garnered some reactions he didn’t appreciate. “It was Vincent [Kartheiser]’s performance, you know, when he’s in the elevator and says, ‘We’re supposed to be friends. I have nothing,'” Weiner remembers. “That to me is like the saddest thing I ever wrote. I was very emotional about it, and when it aired people are like, ‘A Pete story. I hate that.’ So I just try and stay away from that stuff as much as possible.”
Hence the banning. And he’s been good for the most part, but he did slip up a few times last season. “I really was off it for a while, and then [the season five episode] ‘The Suitcase’ happened and everyone was like, ‘You’ve got to read this. You have to read what people said about this thing,'” he says. “So I read it and I loved that episode, but the episode that was on the week after that was actually my favorite of the season, ‘The Summer Man.’ It’s a very emotional story for me. So of course I read [the reactions] the next week and it’s, like, brutal. The immediate response is, you know, hatred, anger, disgust, betrayal. And I kind of am like, I can’t believe I let these strangers hurt me.”
With season six debuting, maybe it’s time for Weiner’s wife and staff to look into some parental controls for his web browser.