After seven seasons that captured the zeitgeist of the ’60s, “Mad Men” is finished. Or is it? From the beginning, the show attracted a lively group of Twitter role-players — people who snapped up Don Draper, Peggy Olson and other show-related nom de tweets and presented a lively commentary and auxiliary reality to the AMC program.
Becoming a Twitter version of a character on a television series is the latest iteration of fan fiction. I follow 317 of them, which is nowhere near the complete number. As the Sunday series finale approached, I reached out to some of the better, most active “Mad Men” tweeters to see how their online worlds would deal with this cataclysm in the real one. (Most wanted to keep their actual identities mysterious.)
Sterling Cooper art director Stan Rizzo’s Twitter account (@StanRizzo_SCDP) is run by a young “New Yorker in the media.” But he said he hasn’t “figured out how (if at all) I’ll end the account.” He plans to attend the Museum of the Moving Image’s “Mad Men” finale party on Sunday, “most likely doing primarily Stan tweeting.”
One of Don Draper’s ex-paramours, Sylvia Rosen (@SylviaRosenNYC) is also unsure of the future. Rosen has been live-tweeting each episode, then publishing the results on madmenreplay.com, the Web site she runs with another mad tweeter, @UnemployedDon.
“We’re taking a break from our replay routine after the finale through the summer,” Rosen said. “Then we will re-visit. Otherwise, I’ll just go on about life as usual: corporate lawyer by day, fictional Mad Men character by night (so to speak).”
But at least one Roger Sterling (@RogerSterlingNY) has no intention of quitting: “Yeah, I’ve got tons of thoughts. Writing Roger has been a big part of my life for years now. He’ll go on, spouting wisdom and snark.”
Sterling — who also tweets as one of the more active Peggy accounts (@PeggyOlsonMCWW) — plans to continue in character, noting the stellar tweets of @WillMcAvoyACN, a spot-on Twitter account based on the Jeff Daniels character from Aaron Sorkin’s HBO show, “The Newsroom,” who regularly engages in political Twitter debates. One is tempted to believe that it’s actually the work of Sorkin himself.
Because staying in character is vital for the best role-players, “you can’t understand a reality beyond 1970,” Sterling said, who in real life is a 54-year-old social media strategist from New York City. “I try and think like [Roger Sterling], tweet what he might say. It’s creative, and a lot of fun.”
“I always hoped [Mad Men producers] or the actual writer would want us to contribute or help market the show,” Sterling said. “We’re fans, we advocate.”
One of the regular “Mad Men” live-tweeters who doesn’t pretend to be a character is Dr. Stephanie Newman (@MadMenOnCouch), the author of “Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show.” Newman says that she isn’t sure if she’ll “continue to tweet about the show. I will certainly miss chatting with some of the other fans.”
“People who tweet to create a new persona or shore themselves up will experience a loss,” Newman said. “They will go back to being ordinary once the show ends. Maybe they will join forces and try to do something adaptive, like go on Kickstarter and raise funds for a spinoff. But some will likely feel a void next Monday morning and thereafter.”
That void will also be felt by people who have gotten used to coming to Twitter for extra “Mad Men” action, like when a group of role-players “live-tweeted” the Great Blackout of 1965, or when they held a “funeral” after Don’s secretary Ida Blankenship died at her desk. “It only works when the tweeters respect the characters and their personalities,” the Sterling Cooper Mouse (@SCMouse), who participated in those events, said. (That character was created after a brief glimpse of a rodent was shown in one episode.)
One of the most outrageous pretend “Mad Men” players seems unlikely to feel any void. Senile Don Draper — “89 Years Old And Still The Top Pitchman In the Advertising Game,” according to his Twitter bio — is not letting age or reality stop him. Contemptuous of his current peers in the ad biz, Senile Don rails that “we’ve lost sight of our ideals. Less than 70% of us are even drunk during office hours. Sometimes it barely makes sense to wake up and sell a gluten-free motorcycle with broadband access syncing to your wife’s Fitbit®.”
(Take a listen to actor Jonathan Root doing an impression of Jon Hamm reading tweets from Senile Don Draper. It’s wonderfully NSFW.)
Once the show’s over, Senile Don says he’ll just “go to work, of course. Ford is coming out with a line of functioning trucks made of Doritos. We’ll market them to obese schoolchildren.”
There’s your “Mad Men v2.0.” I’ll be following.
Dave Nuttycombe is a Silver Spring writer, filmmaker and musician who tweets @nutco.