It seems as if AMC is going the ultra-subtle role in promoting season 5 of Mad Men, set to premiere on March 25: Michael Surtees uploaded this photo to his Flickr, the first official poster… and it doesn’t even mention the show’s title. The network is relying on true fans to recognize a) the typeface in the date and b) more importantly, the iconic image of a man tumbling through white space. After all, the much-applauded opening sequence concludes with the little black-and-white Don Draper falling alongside full-building ads, only to be OK and smoking a cigarette in his favorite armchair.
But so far, the response has been to assume that this poster is hinting at a depressing season 5. Ology makes the argument for someone’s suicide; the lack of any other visuals makes me want to agree. Similarly, Copyranter is criticizing the designers behind this poster for making it look way too similar to the stomach-turning 9/11 photo “The Falling Man.” (Here’s a link to the photo on Wikipedia, since it can be tough to look at.)
A Copyranter commenter points out yet another way that the photo is offensive: Back in 2008, the creative chief of a top Chicago advertising agency jumped to his death. So now the designers have managed to offend New Yorkers who suffered through the September 11 attacks, and advertisers in general.
Creator Matthew Weiner recently teased some of the themes of season 5, including the promise that each character will have to deal with his/her changing world on his/her own. “And the other thing is — and it really just kept coming up and it’s actually in the show — I’ve never talked about this before, where the line is in the show in episode three and it’s ‘When is everything going to get back to normal?’” he said at a recent cocktail party.
However, it’s this quote from Weiner that makes us think the season could be as bleak as the poster hints at: “We talked about ‘life isn’t fair’ before on the show, but the realization of, like, you really have to deal with your own problems by yourself and other people are not interested—that self-interest can be a surprise, especially if you’re trying to be good.”
So let’s keep guessing until the two-hour premiere (which Weiner says will more resemble a movie than two episodes spliced together) on Sunday, March 25.