TIME Television

Pope Francis Has Missed Out on So Much Good Television Since 1990

Cast members from HBO's "Sex and the City," from left, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Craig Blankenhorn—HBO/AP Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker in "Sex and the City."

From Survivor to Mad Men, the religious leader has had better things to do

In a recent interview, Pope Francis said he has not watched television since July 15, 1990, when he swore to the Virgin Mary that he’d cut the habit. It’s clearly worked out well for the Pontiff, who’s become one of the most important figures in the world—but what has he been missing out on in his television-free years?

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The 1990-1991 television season, the first to commence after a young Jorge Maria Bergoglio swore off the tube, saw the debut of Will Smith’s breakout role, as well as hits including Beverly Hills 90210, Dinosaurs, and Law & Order. That’s how long the Pope has been refusing to watch TV: The entire Law & Order universe has escaped his notice. (With 456 episodes of the flagship series alone, it’s no wonder he’s so much more productive than the rest of us.)


The leader of the Catholic Church stopped watching TV before NBC’s “Must-See” Thursday lineup entered its 1990s renaissance. The appeals of the sometimes-raunchy Friends and the openly amoral Seinfeld gang might have been lost on him, but Frasier, assaying as it did an aesthete’s search for contentment and meaning in the universe, might have provided some light entertainment. We’ll never know!

Sex and the City

This Sarah Jessica Parker series, along with The Sopranos, established HBO as the 800-pound-gorilla of cable TV in the early part of the 21st century, and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable to show on TV. (Not that the Pope would know!) But both HBO series, too, came in for criticism from Catholics in America; the mob drama for its depiction of Italian-Americans and the louche comedy for several plotlines, including one joking about the baptism of Miranda’s child. Perhaps it’s for the best the Pope missed out on the pay-cable boom!


The reality series, about a group of Americans marooned in the wilderness for 39 days (one fewer than Jesus in the Biblical story of the temptation of Christ) has earned more than its share of faithful viewers over its 15 years on the air, but the show’s pan-theistic tone would seem to be a turnoff for viewers in the priesthood. Contestants, for instance, flout the First Commandment when they compete to win immunity “idols”—to say nothing of their hunger for a cash prize.

Mad Men

Don’t ask Pope Francis whether or not he thinks Don collaborated with Peggy on the Coke ad! But other aspects of the recently-concluded AMC drama, and of Peggy’s story arc, might resonate more poignantly with any Catholic. Through the conflicted copywriter, the show examined the evolving role of the church in the lives of the faithful in the years following Vatican II. And there’s, perhaps, an argument to be made that streaming it on Netflix isn’t quite the same as watching TV, which brings us to…

Grace and Frankie

Series star Jane Fonda, like the Pope an icon born in the mid-1930s, is an avowed fan of the Pontiff. That may not be enough to lure the Pope back to watching TV, but the series’ chilled-out, live-and-let-live attitude has a little in common with Francis’s famous humanism. And just as no one expects the 78-year-old Pope to watch TV again, 77-year-old Fonda’s star turn was something of a surprise—a testament to just how central to the culture television has become in the past 25 years.

TIME fashion

This Is How Mad Men Changed the Way We Dress

Lee Garner Jr. (Darren Pettie) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) - Mad Men - Season 3,  Episode 9 - Photo Credit: Carin Baer/AMC
Carin Baer / AMC Lee Garner Jr. (Darren Pettie) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) in Mad Men

Suit sales have surged since 1998

While Mad Men may be over, its effect on menswear will no doubt live on in the U.S. and abroad. The show has long been charged with inspiring a fashion trend for men and women harkening back to the show’s 1960s setting. In a recent article, The Guardian said the Mad Men effect is very real. In fact, when the show began eight years ago, menswear was already seeing a surge in sales. Between 1998 and 2014, for example, suit sales doubles in the U.S.

Quartz, too, reported on the fashion effect inspired by the show. Tailored articles of men’s clothing sells for $4.8 billion each year, Quartz said, citing data from NPD Group. In fact, some of the biggest fashion brands, such as J. Crew, used the show as inspiration for new lines. Per the article:

Mad Men‘s brilliant costume design helped fuel that demand. It bred obsession among menswear publications, such as GQ, and created a crowd of guys wanting to emulate Draper’s dapper look. And then J.Crew stepped in to satisfy it, in the form of its slim-cut Ludlow suit.

The Guardian, meanwhile, characterized the men’s fashion that appears on the show as follows:

  • Michael Ginsberg embodied the style plate, or extroverted fashion sense
  • Don Draper was the traditionalist, or the person who sticks with what he already enjoys
  • Pete Campbell served as the old soul, or the man who dresses in older fashions
  • Roger Sterling was the rake, or the person inspired by fun menswear
  • Stan Rizzo dressed as the rebel, or the casual dresser

For the full list and explanations from the newspaper, see here.

Interestingly, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner explained the premise behind the 1971 Coca-Cola ad that played in the show’s final minutes in a recent interview.

TIME viral

Allow Christina Hendricks and Elmo to Teach You About Technology

Find the Mad Men allusions!

In Mad Men‘s first episode Joan tells Peggy, “now, try not to be overwhelmed by all this technology” while unveiling a typewriter. Even though Mad Men is now over, Christina Hendricks is still doling out technological wisdom alongside Elmo for Sesame Street.

Maybe Mad Men is just on the brain, but the show’s DNA is all over the clip. “If I need to record myself playing the ukelele, this is the tool of choice: the tablet,” Hendricks says. Doesn’t she doesn’t mean the accordion?

TIME advertisements

The Mad Men Finale Wasn’t a Paid Ad for Coke

"No money exchanged hands"

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the past day or so, you know that the AMC series Mad Men ended with the iconic “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” ad Sunday night. And it turns out Coke neither paid nor received any money for the inclusion in the show.

A Coke spokesman told People that “no money exchanged hands” as part of the show. While Coke did know that its brand would play into the finale, officials say they were not aware exactly how the show would end.

Read more at People.

MONEY Advertising

Jon Hamm Just Predicted Don Draper’s Future After the Mad Men Finale

Film Independent At LACMA Special Screening Of "Mad Men"
Amanda Edwards—WireImage Actor Jon Hamm on May 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

The actor offers some clarity on the ambiguous series finale ending.

After AMC’s hit show Mad Men took its final bow on Sunday, fans took to the Internet to debate the meaning of its ambiguous ending (caution: spoilers ahead).

The final scene shows ad man Don Draper smiling blissfully at a spiritual retreat in California before cutting to the iconic Coca-Cola “Hilltop” ad from 1971. Some commenters have argued that the ad signals Draper’s escape from the clutches of Madison Avenue—and his role as a “Mad Man”—just as the ad world has begun using countercultural emblems to help sell its wares. Others have taken a more cynical view: that Draper will mine the experience to create the iconic commercial.

Turns out that actor Jon Hamm, who played Draper during the series’ seven-season run, falls into the latter camp.

“The next day, he wakes up in this beautiful place, and has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man,” Hamm told the New York Times. “And so, this thing comes to him. There’s a way to see it in a completely cynical way, and say, ‘Wow, that’s awful.’ But I think that for Don, it represents some kind of understanding and comfort in this incredibly unquiet, uncomfortable life that he has led.”

Whether you think that’s cynical or not, it certainly suggests that Hamm and show creator Matt Weiner took to heart the Coke ad‘s multilayered message:

“I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony! I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.”

TIME Television

Jon Hamm Thinks There’s a Correct Interpretation of the End of Mad Men

Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Season 7, Episode 14
Courtesy of AMC Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Season 7, Episode 14

The actor says it's all about a moment of self-realization. (Spoilers ahead)

Mad Men fans have made much of the show’s final moments on Sunday night, with many agreeing that Don Draper had a moment of meditative clarity that led to the iconic Coca-Cola jingle “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

Jon Hamm weighed in on his character Monday in an interview with the New York Times, and it sounds like he agrees with that interpretation. Asked whether there’s a correct way to view the scene, he said “I think there probably is. But I think, like most stories that we go back to, that it’s a little bit ambiguous.”

In his interpretation, Hamm says Don wakes up the day after his emotional group therapy session and “has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man. And so, this thing comes to him.”

Nevertheless, Hamm doesn’t necessarily see that as a cynical conclusion, but as a moment of self-acceptance. He also pointed out, contrary to some of the episode’s critics, that the happy endings for certain characters shouldn’t be interpreted as sappy: “No one is suggesting that Stan and Peggy live happily ever after,” he said, “or that Joan’s business is a rousing success, or that Roger and Marie come back from Paris together … these aren’t the last moments of any of these characters’ lives.”

Read more at the New York Times.

TIME Television

‘Buy the World a Coke’ Songwriter ‘Amazed’ to Hear it Ended Mad Men

Roger Greenaway says he only found out the morning after the finale

When “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” played out the final scene of Mad Men on Sunday night, it took social media by storm—but one of the tune’s songwriters, Roger Greenaway, had no idea it was even being used.

Greenaway, who admits he hasn’t watched Mad Men, tells TIME he woke up to an email about the news this morning, and says he was “amazed” to hear about it. As he recalls, the iconic jingle that first aired in 1971 might have never made it to primetime without a bit of luck.

The songwriter and a partner, Roger Cook, had come up with the melody while on vacation in Portugal, and later played it for McCann-Erickson employees on the Coca-Cola account. As has been widely reported, creative director Bill Backer got held up in Ireland due to bad weather on his way to meeting with the songwriters in London, and was inspired by the sight of fellow travelers chatting over bottles of Coke. That gave birth to the lyrics about buying the world a coke and keeping it company.

The song was at first only meant to be a commercial for radio, Greenaway says, not TV, and when it hit the airwaves in the U.S., he adds it was hardly a smash hit—there was “basically no good or bad response to it.”

Coca-Cola’s website states that Backer “put his creative team to work to come up with a visual concept” for the song, but as Greenaway recalls, it happened more organically.

As he remembers, another McCann employee, Harvey Gabor, came up with the idea of doing an ad that featured young men and women of different nationalities singing together on a hilltop with Coke bottles in their hands. According to Greenaway, Gabor told Backer: “I’m sure this will work, but I need something musically anthemic. Do you have anything in the musical library that would suit such an idea?” Backer suggested listening to the commercials they’d recorded for Coke in the last few years, some by Greenaway and Cook and some by other writers. After listening to for a few days, he picked “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

This time, when the song played on television, it was a huge success. Within a week, Greenaway says, thousands of people had sent letters to the Coca-Cola headquarters asking where they could find the music.

“Had it not been for Harvey Gabor and his idea with the kids on the hill, it would probably have never seen the light of day,” Greenaway says. “That’s what we in the business call luck.”

TIME Television

What the Fates of Mad Men’s Women Say About The Show’s Stance on Feminism

How the outcomes for Peggy, Joan and Betty correspond to their relationships with feminism

Despite its name, Mad Men was as much about Madison Avenue’s women as it was about its men. Its name reinforces what these women—women like Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks)—were up against: a sexist, exclusive boys’ club that forced them to work harder for less pay and a near-daily dose of sexual harassment. Peggy and Joan are well-rounded characters, but they are also case studies in 1960s-era feminism, though they might not have defined their struggles in those terms.

In Sunday night’s season finale, Peggy and Joan both ended up as successful women forging ahead in their industry. But a look at how they got there is an exercise in opposites: Joan strikes out on her own while Peggy works her way up in the corporate machine. Joan chose work over romance whereas Peggy found romance at work. Joan raises her son without a partner, and Peggy gave her baby up for adoption. And Joan has succeeded despite a physical appearance that drew constant unwanted attention, whereas Peggy had to compensate for her plainness in an environment that values beauty.

Serving as a counterpoint to Peggy and Joan, throughout the series, was Betty Draper (January Jones), who, though she was certainly more than a symbol, served as a stand-in for the miserable housewife described in Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique. Showrunner Matthew Weiner read works by Friedan and other feminists while researching the script, and Betty embodied much of the dissatisfaction and entrapment so many housewives felt at the time.

In 1970, when the show ends, women weren’t necessarily discussing work-life balance in the sense of “having it all,” as the conversation sometimes goes today. But applying that framework, anachronistically, to the lives of Mad Men’s leading ladies yields some noteworthy insights. If “having it all” can be defined as balancing a fulfilling career and personal life, then Peggy, Joan and Betty draw sticks of varying lengths.

Betty, of course, draws the shortest by far—terminal lung cancer—and just as she was finding her calling. Joan draws longer, but not as long as she would have hoped. She gets the fulfilling career but at the price of losing a would-be fiancé, and she’s stuck in a role—motherhood—which she struggles to fully embrace. Peggy, however, seems to get as close to “it all” as any woman on the show, finding both love, in the form of Stan Rizzo (which some would argue was a rom-com cop-out), and a promising career at McCann Erickson.

Is it a coincidence that Betty, of the shortest stick, holds the most regressive ideas about women? That Joan, who’s relied, at least in part, on the advice she gave Peggy on the latter’s first day—go home, put a bag over your head and be honest with yourself about what needs improvement (to paraphrase)—gets only a portion of “it all”? And that Peggy, who has always relied on her intellect above her appearance, gets the most robust version of a happy ending? On a show on which even the apples and bananas in the Drapers’ kitchen are deliberately small—because these were the pre-GMO days—it would seem that nothing is a coincidence.

Of course, Mad Men‘s writers are presumably more sophisticated than doling out fate based on characters’ adherence to modern-day feminist values. It’s an unfair measuring stick with which to play God. But if they were, beneath the narrative, hoping to send a subtextual message to viewers about how women today should be valued and appreciated, this would be one way to do it.

The feminist struggle on Mad Men was often an implicit one, explored less in terms of outspoken ideology than in terms of the daily struggle to move forward in the workplace while possessing lady parts. Though Joan and Peggy proved that this struggle could be expressed in wildly different ways—and finally put their differences behind them in a satisfying win for female solidarity—the juxtaposition of their characters was also limited in an important way: They are both white women.

Second-wave feminism, a movement which Peggy and Joan never explicitly claimed but which rose to prominence during the era of Mad Men, was widely criticized for its exclusion of non-white women. The characters of Dawn (Teyonah Parris) and Shirley (Sola Bamis), two black secretaries with more minor roles on the show, offered an opportunity to explore the richer territory of the racial divisions within feminism during the 1960s.

Dawn and Shirley face racism in the office, both overt and subtle, in addition the sexism Peggy and Joan face. But the decision not to feature their stories more prominently—or, more likely, the lack of a proactive decision to feature them—was a missed opportunity for a fuller examination of women at work in the ‘60s.

Though Weiner has said there will be no spin-offs, many seem to be holding out hope that we have not seen the last of Dawn and Shirley. And in the absence of a spin-off, we can only hope that the fictional Dawn and Shirley found the same satisfaction that Joan and Peggy did. Shirley, we know, bid adieu to advertising for good. As she told Roger on her way out of the office, “Advertising is not a very comfortable place for everyone.” Joan and Peggy would certainly have agreed, though they would not have fully understood.

TIME Television

Meet the Actor Who Made Don Draper Cry on Mad Men

Evan Arnold delivered the finale's pivotal refrigerator speech

Near the end of Mad Men‘s finale Sunday night, the show spent some time with an unfamiliar face: A man named Leonard. He shares his story during a seminar at the retreat where Don Draper has ended up.

Leonard discusses his emotional isolation, despite a life with a wife and kids, and articulates his feelings by sharing a dream about being “on a shelf in the refrigerator.” After he’s done speaking, he breaks down in tears. Don, previously at his lowest low, moves to hug him.

Evan Arnold, an actor who has appeared on shows like The West Wing and Masters of Sex, played the pivotal role of Leonard. When Arnold got to the table read for the episode he immediately looked for his part in the script. “I’m rifling through it trying to see where my scene is so I’m ready and I realize it’s right at the end,” he told TIME. “I’m part of the last few pages of the entire script, which means the entire season, the entire series of Mad Men. I was blown away.”

Arnold spoke to TIME about what it was like to be part of Mad Men‘s final moments.

TIME: When you went into audition did you know that this would be in such a prominent place in the finale? Did you know really anything at all?

I was not given the entirety of the script, nor did I think I was going to be privy to that…I had auditioned for the show a few times before, always wanting to be on such an incredible show, and it hadn’t gone my way thus far and here was my last shot.

At what point did you realize what this speech meant in the context of the episode?

In terms of the context of the episode and the series as a whole, it was very intense, emotional, incredible. I was invited to a table reading. That’s when I had the opportunity to hear the script. I came into a room, a big conference table, writers and producers all sitting around, the cast. Matthew Weiner gives a beautiful, sincere, emotional speech, he seems on the verge of welling up with tears or perhaps he was thinking about how important this is to him.

I read that there was a fake out at the table read, and then Weiner pulled some people aside and gave them the real ending. Was that the case?

I’ve been holding on to this—signing an NDA and Matt Weiner gave a very clear speech about keeping the secret—for about nine months. I’ve been a good boy and trying to suppress it, trying not to think about it and not talk about it to anybody. But then as it got closer I started peeking at articles seeing if anyone was writing about it and I saw these articles and I started freaking out, thinking, oh my gosh, wait a second, am I in it? Was it all a ruse? Was it 20 pages of a different ending? How much of a different ending? Is that Matt messing with the media? What’s the bait and switch? Is there an additional ending? I started doing a slight, neurotic, anxious actor freak out.

Based on the script as I remember it from 10 months ago, it actually wasn’t an additional 20 pages with respect to what I saw put together on air last night, but I had no idea about the Coke ending. That was absolutely a surprise to me.

I was wondering how Matt Weiner explained that speech to you and how he worked with you on it both before and during filming.

I wanted to get the lines down perfectly way ahead of time so I could really be open and vulnerable and present so I could have access to my emotions and be able to be there for him when he gave me directions. We did the scene multiple times and it was a big challenge for me to have access to my emotion again and again and again, but I was very happy with the level of support and focus I felt there. Mr. Weiner gave me direction between each take: sometimes it was technical and very simple things like, hey, you were looking down a little bit too much, let’s see your eyes, look up a little bit more. Sometimes we just did some different takes where I started crying earlier, I started crying later, it was bigger, it was smaller…I felt they were minor adjustments because he felt that I got the character well enough. But there was definitely one moment where he came up to me and we had a little chat about what the speech means in terms of death.

Don’s reaction to that speech are such an important clue and part of the episode. What was it like interacting with Jon Hamm and playing to that moment with the hug?

He’s a big beautiful man. He’s a charming fellow. He was a consummate professional and he came over to me for that hug and he was right there in my ear and I felt his diaphragm against my diaphragm as he’s breathing and sobbing and crying himself. I have a lot of respect for him and his acting and how present he is. But we didn’t actually chat all that much before that scene in that moment because we didn’t have dialogue to practice.

What was your reaction to the speech’s place in the episode? Have you been a fan the whole time?

I’m still shaking. It is such an honor and an incredible opportunity and I’m reading a lot of nice things both about the speech and the perception of my performance… and that’s blowing me away. I have been a fan of the show the entire run… I had heard something about Mr. Weiner telling [casting director Laura Schiff] he wanted an actor who was pretty darn good and pretty unknown, definitely not recognizable in a significant way in the public consciousness at this point in time. I felt so honored that Laura thought I fit the bill.

I’m still very excited right now. It was just last night. I wasn’t at the cast and crew screening. I didn’t see this ahead of time, I saw it on the West Coast with the West Coast feed and I’m still processing it all right now.

TIME Television

How You Can Do Yoga Where Don Draper Did

Here's where he seemed to end up in the Mad Men finale

Don Draper ended his journey on Sunday night’s Mad Men series finale at a picturesque California retreat, doing yoga. Though the name of the retreat is never mentioned, many have pegged it as the Esalen Institute.

The Esalen Institute, located in Big Sur, was founded in 1962 by Michael Murphy and Dick Price, who envisioned, according to a 1970 article in TIME, “a university without academic trappings, which would combine the best of Western humanistic psychology and Eastern thought.”

The institute, which is still operating, describes itself as “neither a school, nor a church, nor a spa, nor an inn, nor a monastery… and yet its utterly unique mixture contains a bit of all of the above,” and boasts number of notable names as guests: Joan Baez, Joseph Campbell, and Aldous Huxley all have been connected to Esalen. (Hunter S. Thompson was hired by Murphy’s grandmother as a “guard,” according to a profile of Murphy in the New Yorker in 1976.)

In 1987, upon the Institute’s 25th anniversary, TIME’s Pico Iyer described Esalen as such:

If feeling good is a religion, its cathedral is Esalen. The nerve center of the counterculture, the cradle of Gestalt therapy, the inspiration for a thousand adult-education courses (with the emphasis often on adult), the Esalen Institute, perched on the windswept cliffs of Big Sur, Calif., along one of the loveliest stretches of unreal estate in the world, has long been the Platonic model of an Aquarian think tank. From Buenos Aires to Berlin, it has also become a symbol for the beauty, and something of the folly, of the peculiarly American belief that perfection is just a day away.

TIME cast a skeptical eye on its Esalen role in the “human potentials movement,” in November 1970—right around the time Don would have been visiting. The fall 1970 “catalogue” for Esalen included “a smorgasbord of workshops, labs and seminars,” and highlighted Esalen’s “hot sulphur baths” and its massages.

Mad Men‘s seminar scenes, including the one in which a man’s confession seemingly inspires an emotional, tearful breakthrough for Don, recall Esalen’s “encounter groups.” TIME’s Andrea Svedberg, explained: “People touch, hold hands, kiss, throw each other up in the air, fight, use all the dirty words, tell each other cruel truths. Every aspect of so-called proper behavior is discarded. Every emotion is out in the open—everybody’s property.”

In a 2012 interview with the Huffington Post—upon Esalen’s 50th anniversary—its current president Gordon Wheeler framed Esalen in opposition to the world of Mad Men: “I can’t watch Mad Men without an anxiety attack because that was the world I saw looming ahead of me. But instead, Esalen happened.”

Esalen also likely happened to Mad Men‘s protagonist but whether or not the experience actually transformed him, or simply led him to come up with one of the greatest advertisements of all time, is still up for debate.

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