It looks like Lionsgate will find a way to come to terms with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner on a third season of Mad Men. That's good news for fans of the show, 49 percent of which — we learned in the solid ratings for Sunday's finale, perhaps due to Jon Hamm's SNL appearance the night before — make over $100,000. That so many rich viewers aged 25-54 watched each week is certainly a plus for advertisers, but the secret to the show's continued success may be the expanded audience it received off . Click to find out just why lower income viewers aren't tuning into Mad Men with greater frequency.The last show Weiner worked for was The Sopranos, unique in its ability to hit both demographics. Set in New Jersey as opposed to the glitzy Manhattan of Mad Men, it was hardly a glowing portrait of the underclass, but it featured a more accessible, middle class fantasy for those without means. Carmelo Soprano aspired to what being rich is for lower class folks: shiny SUVs, tacky furniture and owning your own home in a leafy burb. It's a vision deeply different from Mad Men's slice of 1960s Manhattan, a sexy playground that's only really available to those who are already wealthy.
The character that those making less than $100,000 should be locking in on is rising copywriter Peggy Olson. Her homosexual-aided transformation from working class stalwart into professional businesswoman comes at the expense of her Brooklyn-based family. Her mother and sister's desire for her to stay rooted in her community was presented as a most unappealing option this season. The local pastor's constant haranguing also tried to make Peggy feel bad for surpassing her modest origins, but in the end she took her rich boss' advice and put the pain out of her mind completely. The Peggy storyline should attract aspirational viewers who can see themselves in her meteoric rise, but with a such a strong anti-religion, anti-community angle, it's a complicated brew for viewers to digest. This is not to say the very rich characters of Mad Men aren't similarly savaged — Sterling Cooper exec Roger Sterling is motivated entirely by funding his costly divorce, and new company president Duck Sterling is a power mad dog-hating bastard. After all, this is the advertising industry. But in the end, the rich get their desserts without even asking for them: after Don comes back from flaking on work for three weeks, his company congratulates him with a $500,000 dividend and the promise of a new contract. This is not to speak of how little the men of Sterling Cooper have found themselves working at all this season. This is a show that values people that drink and screw all day and come up with a miracle pitch by the seat of their pants, a fantasy that bears little resemblance to reality today or back then. Weiner — whose eventual deal with Lionsgate for Season 3 will turn him into a very rich man himself — has said that next season will deal with working class issues more directly:
The economy stuff hadn’t even happened [when he wrote the finale script]. We all thought it was bad but no one knew it was this bad. We’re going to look at this period, from Bill Clinton to 2008, as the Roaring 20s. It’s going to look like a bubble. ... And that’s part of prosperity. Prosperity comes, and you’re already looking at the other aspects of your life, then if it’s suddenly taken away. … I mean, this whole generation — the story of the show — [is that] they were raised in the Great Depression and they never got over it. And we’re about to see some of what that is.